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Italy Driving Itinerary - Comments?

Old Jan 17th, 2007, 07:39 PM
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Italy Driving Itinerary - Comments?

In Sep/Oct my wife & I plan to drive a big loop from Paris taking in Burgundy, Alsace, Lower Germany, Austria, Italy, Provence, the Dordoygne, and back up to Paris. That's the short version! If time allows we hope to take in the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Croatia as well.

We're reasonably au fait with much of this territory, but Italy is an unknown to us. I would be grateful for fodorites' feedback on the following draft outline from Venice to Menton. (If we build in Slovenia & Croatia we may take a ferry from Split to Ancona, but let's stick with Venice as our Italian start point so as not to complicate the issue)!

To forestall certain comments at the outset, let me admit up front that this is a long and ambitious itinerary that some might find daunting. Regrettably fares from Australia are such that to "do" Europe in shorter bursts would be uneconomic. We're stuck with the marathon! But we're used to it from previous trips, and thankfully we're both people who like to pack our days with activity anyway. Holidays idling on a beach are not our thing!

What I hope fodorites can help with are: (1) comments on the time needed for this itinerary bearing in mind we would stop overnight at only some of the places listed; (2) suggestions as to which places would be good overnight stops considering pleasantness of location and driving distances; and (3) if we do not want to drive in Rome or Florence, where would the logical places on this itinerary be to leave the car and strike out for these cities by train?

Our draft outline is:
Venice-Arezzo-Cortona-Assissi-Spello-Montefalco-Spoleto-Todi-Orvieto-Civita-Montalcino-Montepulciano-Siena-Dan Gimignano-Volterra-Pisa-Lucca-Cinque Terre-Portofino-San Remo-Menton(France).

Just a few other things: is Gubbio worth a detour? would Arezzo be a good jumping-off place for Florence? or would Lucca be better? should we add on Terdi & Narni as jumping-off places for Rome? or is Orvieto better?

Grateful for any help.
twoflower is offline  
Old Jan 17th, 2007, 09:02 PM
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ttt. Sorry mispelt San Gimignano. Also, have I left any unmissable places out?
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 06:02 AM
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I would change the itinerary to go from Venice to a little farther East, in the Marches, to Urbino, Gubbio, Perugia, Assisi, then back to your original itinerary. Of course that leaves Arezzo and Cortona out. Instead of Arezzo, you could leave your car in Lucca to go by train to Florence.

Yes, Gubbio is worth the detour, and so is Perugia. You can figure out the actual driving times on www.viamichelin.com
But only you can decide how leisurely you want this to be.
With your itinerary, I think Orvieto is the logical place to leave the car and train into Rome. But I don't know about the availability parking.
lovisa is offline  
Old Jan 18th, 2007, 08:11 AM
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Hi twoflower,

Another vote for including Gubbio. I had planned 2 days there, but due to unsatisfactory hotel, only stayed 1. Very interesting and ancient town with many unique features and great views. Lively in the evening. Very few tourists. Very unique ceramics.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Old Jan 18th, 2007, 04:04 PM
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For a place to spend the night, we found Orvieto charming - especially in the evening! By happenstance we were there on the eve of the Feast of the Assumption, and the religious music piped into the piazza was magical.

For a day trip we did the loop from Orvieto to Spoleto for a few hours, passed Assisi, passed Perugia, to Deruta to buy ceramics, to return to Orvieto for early evening. Most of it done on charming country roads. Granted, this is the opposite of your itinerary but it gives you an idea of the amount of ground that can be comfortably covered - at least by us - in a day's drive.

From Orvieto, I think you could easily manage stopping in Civita, Montalcino, Montepulciano on the way to Siena; spend the night there. Explore a little of Siena in the morning, stop in San Gimignano, Volterra, Pisa on the way to Lucca; spend the night.

None of this will give you an in depth knowledge of the towns but enough time to get the flavor of them. To see what the guide books are talking about in person. The words don't begin to do any of them justice.
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 04:39 PM
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Many thanks for the suggestions. Seems like Lucca for commuting to Florence, and Orvieto for commuting to Rome. I'll check out parking in Orvieto, but in other parts of Europe when we commuted to big cities during a driving tour, so long as we stay in the same B&B either side of the commute, the B&B has been happy for us to leave our car with them.

I like the sound of Perugia, Gubbio and the eastern Marches, especially if we arrive by ferry from Split to Ancona (but then I have to find a way to fit Venice in)!!

Sounds like Gubbio, Orvieto, Siena and Lucca are the recommended overnighters, with everything else fitting as lunch or cafe or get-out-for-walk-around stops in between?

Thanks all
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 07:57 PM
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Hi again twoflower,

The timing Toni suggests is quite rushed in my opinion. Yes, you can cover that much ground, just "passing by" some of the town mentioned, but if you want to actually stop and at least have a short visit - follow the 2 hilltowns per day rule of thumb!
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 09:03 PM
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Thanks Dayle. I hadn't heard the "2 hilltowns per day" rule but it sounds like good advice. Maybe I should have said I plan my overnight stops to be 2-3 nights each, giving me around 2 weeks to cover the area suggested. Does that sound more do-able?
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Old Jan 18th, 2007, 11:58 PM
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Hi, if you wish I know a great small company that works in Northern Italy that helps in trip planning. They even offer a travelers assistance program if you utilize the service, they will provide you a phone number to call if you need assistance or even get in a bind traslating or otherwise.
You can email me at [email protected] if you want the info.

Good luck
Mcclimb is offline  
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