Italy adventure

Old Mar 24th, 2013, 04:23 PM
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Italy adventure

Hello, my husband and I are flying into Rome on Sept 8. We have till Sept 26 or 27th to fly home out of Venice.
So much to see, suggestions? Has anyone used the AirBnB for places to stay, they are very affordable and in less touristy areas.
We are thinking Rome, for 5-6 days, Pisa for two days? Then Florence for 3 days and maybe somehwere else after Florence for a day or two then on to Venice for 4 days?
Suggestions greatly appreciated.
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Old Mar 24th, 2013, 04:41 PM
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Sounds like a lovely trip! My only suggestion would be to consider dropping Pisa and adding those days to someplace in Tuscany (or other countryside area) between Florence and Venice, giving you 3 or 4 days there total. This would be a nice contrast to the three cities you are visiting and if you wanted to see the leaning tower, you could still do Pisa as a day trip from either Florence or Tuscany. Otherwise, I think you have the right number of nights planned for each location. Buon viaggio!
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Old Mar 24th, 2013, 04:46 PM
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My choice would be to add a day to Florence and see Pisa as a day trip by train from Florence. After Rome, I'd rent a car and spend 3 days exploring small towns in either Umbria or Tuscany. Alternatively, rent a car after Florence and spend 3 days exploring small towns in either/both Emilia Romagna and the Veneto. From Venice, you could see Verona as a day trip by train.

I have no opinion on AirBnB, but I'd choose locations carefully. If you get too far out of the "touristy areas," you spend time and money every day getting to/from all the sights.

If you haven't booked your flights yet, compare your options into Venice and out of Rome (as opposed to the reverse). Depending on where you're flying to out of Venice, the departure could be painfully early. Also, going from north to south might give you a little relief from potentially high temps in Rome in early September.
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Old Mar 24th, 2013, 05:18 PM
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I agree with Jean overall.

To me the most important factor in european cities is a central location - you don;t want to spend an hour or more per day trekking back and forth from your lodging in outer suburbs. You really want to be where you can walk out the door and be a couple of minutes walk from the major sights. I would start there - then look for price and amenities. Also be aware than many modest lodgings in europe do not have eleavtors or air conditioning - even in areas that are routinely in the high 90s in the summer.

Also I would rent a car and do a couple of days in some of the countryside - visiting a few of the hill towns to get a change from larger cities.
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Old Mar 25th, 2013, 12:55 PM
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Thanks, excellent suggestions. We have not booked a flight yet as I keep hoping it will drop a bit. I had noticed the painfully early flights leaving, I will now look at it in reverse. My husband is opposed to renting a car. We have heard such dreadful comments on the drivers, but it does sound like to see some of the countryside we might need to. Thanks again
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Old Mar 25th, 2013, 01:13 PM
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"Dreadful comments on the drivers"...? We've found the local Italians to be very good drivers.

That said, you can see a lot using only public transportation as there are many day trip options from Venice, Florence, Rome and somewhat smaller cities like Bologna, Perugia and Siena. If this is your first trip to Italy, don't feel that driving is mandatory. You can have a wonderful trip either way.
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Old Mar 25th, 2013, 01:22 PM
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Thanks, my sister and her husband were in Italy last year and have made several comments. I am thinking with this though we could just rent a car for the countryside as stated.

I don't want to sound silly, but I live in the northern Nevada and we have no public transportation to speak of.

I am completley intimidated by the train thing with public transportation. I have been driving forever and have never lived anywhere that has anything beyond the most basic of bus service.
Where can we read on this to feel more comfortable with taking trains/buses?
Thanks
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Old Mar 25th, 2013, 01:44 PM
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Also any advice on moderately priced lodging, we are going to have fun and enjoy the area, we can't see everything and would rather enjoy the trip and not at a dead run.
Any suggestions for restaraunts too! Thanks
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Old Mar 25th, 2013, 03:27 PM
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Have you traveled in Italy before? If not, I would recommend getting a guide book such as the ones Rick Steves writes. He explains quite well how to navigate public transportation. (I am sure other guidebooks do as well but I am most familiar with Rick's.) He also has good recommendations on moderately priced hotels.

If you are worried about using public transportation, I would try to stay as close as possible to the sights you want to see. In Florence, for example, most places you will want to visit are within walking distance of a centrally located hotel.
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Old Mar 25th, 2013, 04:03 PM
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What is "moderately priced" in your definition? Please give a number in one currency or another.

FWIW, I live in L.A., so I understand the lack of experience using public trans. We've done several trips to Italy when we didn't rent a car. For some trips, a car can actually be more trouble than it's worth. The big cities (even Rome) are not as big as you might think, and as long as you're able/willing to walk you can reach just about everything on foot from a centrally located hotel. Or use public trans and taxis.

This website provides a lot of info about train travel in Italy:

http://www.seat61.com/Italy-trains.htm

I second KTtravel's suggestion of getting a Rick Steves guidebook. I'm not crazy about all of his travel tips, etc., but the one thing I think he does well is explain public trans. I do not always agree with his hotel recommendations, but if you're on a tight budget he's another info source (besides us on Fodors!).
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 09:05 AM
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Last October was my 4th trip to Italy and during my 3rd week there I rented a car. The next day I took the train into Rome! LOL, so much for the car!
Between picking up and returning the rental, navigating, trying to understand road signs, dead end streets, parking, tolls, gas$$$$ ($9+/gallon!!!)...Yikes!
I didn't have a problem with the actual driving but didn't enjoy my time getting to the next place.
Trains are THE way to go. Easy - get a ticket from the kiosk, or counter person, find the right track and hop on your train. You'll be able to enjoy the scenery, have lunch or read. It's only a 90 minute ride between Rome and Florence.

Florence and Rome are very walkable. Get hotels as central as possible so you can walk out the door and go in the morning.
By all means, take a taxi to your hotel when you arrive but once you get your bearings hop on the local transit to get around.
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 11:48 AM
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Thank you, we are looking at places up to 125.00 a night. I do have Rick Steves, just never really using public transportation scares me. But then it will be part of the adventure.

We were looking at renting a car out of Florence to go into the country side, NOT drive into Rome per Jean's suggestion.
Thanks again for the excellent suggestions, we are now flying into Venice and out of Rome, thanks Jean, and you are so right, the flights out of Venice are early!
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Old Mar 26th, 2013, 11:59 AM
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dc, depending on how long you're going to be in each city, you might want to consider renting apartments vs. hotel stays.

There are several advantages to an apartment: 1) Less cost per day 2) you can fix some of your own meals and save money not having to eat out for each meal 3) you live like a local.

I only rent hotel rooms if my stay is less than 3 days in any city. Otherwise, I look for an apartment.

You can do searches here and find lots of recommendations from other Fodorite posters.

Good luck!
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Old Mar 27th, 2013, 02:47 PM
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Thanks, we have been looking at apartments and B&B's they look nicer and there are alot close to things so we can still walk.
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Old Mar 27th, 2013, 03:00 PM
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I agree with dropping the 2 days in Pisa. I'd take those days, plus the free days your have after Florence, and choose another option for three nights. The Ligurian Coast is very pretty. We stayed in Santa Margherita Ligure for three nights and it's a nice little harbor town, with day-trips to Cinque Terre and Portofino. We stayed at the Hotel Nuova Riviera, charming B&B-style lodging, in a converted mansion. I recommend it and it is probably in your budget.

We did Rome-Florence-Venice-Santa Margherita Ligure-Nice, in 15 nights. Staying 3 nights at each, which is my minimum stay.

My impression of airbnb is that it is for people who are comfortable with 'couch surfing'. You might have a sofa sleeper in someone's spare room or even front room. A young traveler we met in Portugal was going everywhere like that. He was about 27. He relied on AirBnB and liked it a lot because he could find a place at the last minute, and the reviews from previous visitors were very helpful. But he was a young kid traveling on a shoestring.
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Old Mar 27th, 2013, 03:06 PM
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dcinnv,

if you start with Venice you will get a good introduction to public transport as it's almost impossible to get around Venice without it! first of all, unless you want a private water taxi at cost of about €100 you will need a bus [or the Alilaguna water bus] to get from the airport to the city. then you'll need a vaporetto [water bus] to get from the piazzale Roma [where the buses stop and also where there are huge car parks and car hire offices] to your apartment.
there are lots of vaporetti lines and they operate just like buses with routes and stops. your apartment owner/agent will tell you which one you need.

then to travel onwards from Venice, you will need a train from the main railway station - easiest is to get the train to Florence where the station is pretty central too. in Florence you won't need to use public transport unless you want to do a day trip to Siena or San Gimignano [bus] or Pisa [train], though a bus trip up to Fiesole, a little city just north of Florence is very pleasant.

then you get back on the train to get to Rome; en route you could spend a night in the wonderful city of Orvieto where you get to use a funicular as well as the bus to get up to the main part of the city from the station.

finally, back on the train to get to Rome - where you might well get a bus to your apartment, or possibly the metro [underground] - but you'll be old hands by now, won't you?
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