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Italy/France 22 day Itinerary - Help :)

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Mar 16th, 2014, 08:45 PM
  #1
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Italy/France 22 day Itinerary - Help :)

Hello!

My mom and I are traveling through Italy and France for 22 days in June and would love any suggestions/help with our potential itinerary. It is our first time in Europe so we want to see as much as possible but we also don't want to cram so much in that we don't really get to enjoy our trip.

Also we are planning on taking trains between the destinations so any help or suggestions on the most logical or easiest routes...

Below is our potential itinerary - no hotels booked yet so changes can be made

Day 1: Arrive in Rome in the Morning
Day 2: Rome
Day 3: Rome
Day 4: Rome and then travel to Siena that evening
Day 5: Siena and travel to florence that evening
Day 6: Florence
Day 7: Florence
Day 8: Travel to Cinque Terre
Day 9: Cortona
Day 10: Venice
Day 11: Venice and travel to Nice that evening
Day 12: Nice
Day 13: Nice
Day 14: Nice/travel to Provence
Day 15: Provence
Day 16: Provence and travel to Liore
Day 17: Liore
Day 18: Travel to Paris
Day 19: Paris
Day 20: Paris
Day 21: Paris
Day 22: Fly Home


Thank You for All Suggestions!!!
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Mar 16th, 2014, 09:09 PM
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This June??? or 2015???

If you could consider renting a car for some destinations - then we could talk.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 16th, 2014, 10:41 PM
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Some of this won't work. You can't realistically see the Cinque Terre in a day from Florence and then get to and see Cortona the next day. It will take you most of a day to transfer from Provence to the Loire - so you'll have a single day for Provence - and it is such a beautiful place, you will barely have time to look around. You'll have to find an evening flight from Venice to Nice, and that may not be possible. EasyJet only flies at midday, and not every day of the week either. Explore your air possibilities using whichbudget.com.

All in all, this is really rushed, especially for a first trip. It's easy to underestimate (1) just how much there is to see and do in these places and (2) how much time it takes to move around in addition to the time you spend sitting on/in a mode of transportation - you have to pack, check out, get to the airport/train station (and go through security at the airport), get from the airport/station to your new hotel, and get checked in. If you have a two-hour train ride, expect it to take four hours from the moment you leave your hotel room until you are checked in at the other end - a half a day gone. Flying takes longer at both ends. I really suggest you thin out your destinations by one or two so you'll have a decent amount of time the places you do go.
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Mar 17th, 2014, 07:21 AM
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>> I really suggest you thin out your destinations by one or two so you'll have a decent amount of time the places you do go.<<

Ditto - but I think you need to eliminate more than 1 or 2. Visit just one country.

You have waaaayyyy to much time "getting there", and not enough time "being there".

Stu Dudley
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Mar 17th, 2014, 07:45 AM
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We spent three weeks in Italy and STILL did not get to see all we wanted to see. I agree with StuDudley that you would be better off visiting just one country. Have not been to France for a lengthy vacation but Italy was well worth it and made us hungry to go back.

We used the trains for the entire trip and they were great. I would suggest you go to Trenitalia.com and view the routes. Best to organize your itinerary using the high speed trains as they are the most comfortable and have the fewest stops. The few trains we traveled that were local, while reliable, will wear you out if you take them all the time.

Naples was a nice stop for us including stops along the Amalfi Coast. Spend another day in Venice and Cinque Terra. Orvieto was a nice day trip from Rome. We also visited Milan and Genoa but don't recommend them given the other places to visit.
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Mar 17th, 2014, 08:01 AM
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Ok, get a really good map and some train schedules.
It will take a good half day of travel to get from Florence to CT.
It will take another more than half day to get from CT to Cortona, and you would not want to do that anyway because you would be backtracking back south of Florence to go there, then north again to Venice. If you must go to Cortona, do it between Rome and Florence.
Consider making Siena a day trip from Florence.
Do you like hiking? If not, cut the CT.
Getting to Venice from Cortona will take another half day minimum.
Provence is large and you can't see much of anything in a day.
There are companies that do day trips to Loire valley from Paris. You might also consider dayrils on your own to other places closer and easier from Paris.
You have many options: here are a couple.
1. Cut Cortona and CT, add time to Provence or Loire Valley.
2. Cut Nice & Loire, fly from Venice to Marseilles or Avignon, tour Provence, TGV to Paris.

Start with the three things that are of absolute most personal importance to you. Cut the two that are least important. Create an itinerary, including travel times. Do not include sight seeing on travel days, so no Provence & and travel to Loire. Come back with that and I think people can help you more. They can also suggest great places near your bases that you may not have considered.

It would also help to know some of your main interests: food, architecture, art, scenery, hill towns, castles, etc.

example of laying out itinerary:
Days 6, 7 & 8, Florence (day trip to Siena)
Day 9, travel to CT
Day 10, CT
Day 11, travel to Venice
Days 12 & 13, Venice
Day 14, fly to Avignon
Days 15 & 16, Provence
Day 17, TGV to Paris
Etc.
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Mar 17th, 2014, 08:09 AM
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Cortona, struggle to think why and I've been there. An easy drop for me
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Mar 17th, 2014, 08:09 AM
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Classic first-timer itinerary - way too much and no time accounted for getting from one place to another. You've already been given one example; here's another: you are traveling from Nice (which is IN Provence, btw) to "Provence," which will eat up half a day, spending one night and a day there (where?), then leaving next day for the "Liore" (it's Loire), which will also take a full day (if you can even find a suitable train route), then one day in the Loire and off you go again! In both places, you'll hardly have time to even figure out your whereabouts, never mind actually get to do any looking around.

It is perfectly possible to spend a few weeks in any one of these regions. For one day, it's hardly worth even going. You are spending loads of money to go places you'll never see, and instead of sightseeing, spending hours looking at the insides of trains and stations.

Pick a couple of places and slow down and actually see them. It could be someplace in Italy plus someplace in France, or 2-4 places in both countries.
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Mar 17th, 2014, 08:48 AM
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>>Cortona, struggle to think why and I've been there. An easy drop for me<<

I think it appeals to a lot of people that have read or watched "Under the Tuscan Sun". It doesn't appeal to us - compared to the other dozen or so villages in the area. Many/most of the countryside scenes in the movie were not filmed near Cortona. They were mainly from the Val d'Orcia - where I would spend my time WITH A CAR.

Also for Julie - watch where you are on Sundays and Monday mornings when most of the shops will be closed in some of the places you plan on visiting. Siena, Cortona, Venice, some in Nice, Avignon/Provence.

I think the train station in Cortona is not in the hill village - but down below in the ugly industrial/large-apt area. You'll have to figure out how to get up the the "main" section of Cortona for your 1-2 hr visit (that's all the time you need to see Cortona, IMO). Getting to/from Cortona to the train station will consume some time, naturally.

How had you planned to visit any chateaux with only 1 day in the Loire & no car??? You could take the train from the Avignon TGV station to Blois or Amboise which have chateaux in town - but the train goes through Paris first, where you would need to take a taxi from one train station to the other to get to Blois/Amboise. You can take a train to St Pierre des Corps/Tours - but I don't think there is a "memorable" chateau in Tours.

Do what sassafras suggested - a map & train schedules. I use this for train schedules

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en

Dates are in DD/MM/YYYY format, and choose a date before June (June & later schedules may not be loaded yet). Schedules may be different on weekends.

Stu Dudley
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Mar 17th, 2014, 09:16 AM
  #10
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THANK YOU all for your suggestions and help - always great to learn from those with experience!

Sounds like we definitely need to pare down our trip..

We are definitely doing Italy and France as we fly into Rome and out of Paris and our tickets are bought so paring all the way down to just one country isn't an option.

I would say our main interests are art, food, and experiencing culture.

We definitely want to do at least one hill town in Tuscany - if you only had to choose one to see, what would be your must see hill town? (sounds like we should drop Cortona)

Also if we rented a car in Rome and dropped it off later in Florence or Venice, do you think we would be able to manage more than one hill town or are we being overly optimistic?

Stu - Thanks for the reminder about Sun/Mon! Remembered when we planned Rome and then forgot after that..

A lot of people have suggested The Amalfi Coast - should we try to add this and cut something else? Could this be a day trip from Rome?
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Mar 17th, 2014, 09:39 AM
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Hill town, well Siena is the obvious city but very crowded in mid summer (the cathedral is wonderful just finished in time for the black death to sweep through Italy), San Gim is very much the town most people go to but gets overrun in the day. Volterra is a little different and again packed. Montepulciano can be busy but the steepness puts people off.

Pienza is very much a false city paid for by the Papel states to make a Pope happy and just on the top of a ridge. Colle di... is interesting as the old town is up on a ridge with the modern town below and has the old back passages (where women walked to stay out of the sight of men)

Then there are walled hill top villages. I like Monteriggioni which is tiny and full of little workshops and shops.

What ever you decide to do get there early.
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Mar 17th, 2014, 09:47 AM
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Visit Rome (you need more than the two full days there that you've allowed - three nights somewhere only gives you two sightseeing days), train to Venice for a few days, train to Florence (maybe day trip to Siena by Sita bus), pick up a car leaving Florence (or Siena if you must overnight there), head towards CT (stop enroute at San Gimignano? Volterra?)and drop car at La Spezia. CT is short train ride from there. Visit CT and train on to Nice then Paris.

I think you have too many places and too much travel for 22 days (even after dropping Cortona).
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Mar 17th, 2014, 10:09 AM
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As far as hill towns (and other small towns/cities) in Italy, I have been to only a dozen or so in different areas, but so many are charming or beautiful, I would pick based, not only on the beautfy, but what is logistically reasonable to give the most time to enjoy it. For me, it would be Siena. It is beautiful and interesting and reasonable from Florence.

Do not try to include the AC this trip, unless you are willing to cut all of France except Paris. Based on your interest in food, I would keep Provence. For your interest in art, allow plenty of time for Rome, Florence, Venice and Paris. Since you did not mention hiking as an interest, cut CT for sure.

Day 1 is basically jet lagged. Day 22, you depart. You have 20 days (21 nights) for sightseeing and travel within country.

Something like this: change about to suit your interests.

Rome: 5 nights, 4 1/2 days
Travel to Florence, 1/2 day
Florence: 4 nights, 3 & 1/2 days
Travel to Venice, 1/2 day
Venice: 3 nights, 2 & 1/2 days
Fly to Avignon, 1/2 day
Provence: 5 nights, 4 & 1/2 days
TGV to Paris, 1/2 day
Paris: 4 nights, 3 & 1/2 days

I would probably cut a day from Florence and add it to Paris, but you might cut something else. Anyway, this is all you have time for. It you include something different, you have to cut something.
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Mar 17th, 2014, 10:39 AM
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Here is what I would do - mostly adding to what kybourbon already posted.

Day 1. Fly to Rome and spend 3 nights

Day 4. Catch the 8:00 or 9:00 train that arrives in Venice 3 1/2 hrs later. Spend 3 nights in Venice.

Day 7. Catch the 9:25 train that arrives in Florence 2 hrs later. Spend 2 nights in Florence.

Day 9. Very early in the morning, pick up a car (watch out for rental offices being closed on Sundays) and drive to San Gimignano so that you get there by 10 when the hoards start to arrive. Spend a couple of hours in San G and then drive to the Val d'Orcia around Pienza. Stay in Pienza, San Quirico, Montepulciano, or Montalcino for 3 nights. Visit lots of hill villages, abbeys - but mostly enjoy the fantastic countryside. You'll need the "Tuscany Countryside" after three big cities - Rome, Venice, & Florence.

Day 12. Get an early start and drive to La Spezia, return the car, and take the train to whatever CT town you want to stay in. (we've done this). Stay in the CT for 3 nights.

Day 15. Take the 6:40 train from Monterosso to Nice that arrives at 12:37. Three train changes. There is another train that leaves at 10:55. Stay in Nice for 3 nights.

Day 18. Fly to Paris & stay for 4 nights.

Here is something I posted around 1 year ago about a drive in the Val d'Orcia.

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...y-171368-2.cfm

Stu Dudley
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Mar 17th, 2014, 11:09 AM
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Small towns and villages are beautiful and worthy of time, and Rome is certainly a big city. However, the centers of Florence and Venice are both small enough to be entirely walkable, even for me (and I am getting pretty old), so don' t think they are going to be intimidating. Each does have many, many museums and churches to see, plus the cities themselves are beautiful for walking. Even much of the center of Rome is walkable. So, while they are cities, what makes them overwhelming is not their size as much as the quantity of things to see in them.
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Mar 17th, 2014, 02:25 PM
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What Stu said !
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Mar 17th, 2014, 03:21 PM
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ditto what Stu said.
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Mar 18th, 2014, 09:52 AM
  #18
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Thanks to Everyone!

We are working on major revisions to our itinerary based on your advice - truly invaluable!
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Mar 18th, 2014, 01:54 PM
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good luck Julie - don't be afraid to come back!
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Mar 18th, 2014, 02:17 PM
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Building on Stu's post: I would exchange the CT for "Provence". Also consider Siena for a stop in place of San G on day 9.

Day 1. Fly to Rome and spend 3 nights

Day 4. Catch the 8:00 or 9:00 train that arrives in Venice 3 1/2 hrs later. Spend 3 nights in Venice.

Day 7. Catch the 9:25 train that arrives in Florence 2 hrs later. Spend 2 nights in Florence.

Day 9. Very early in the morning, pick up a car (watch out for rental offices being closed on Sundays) and drive to San Gimignano so that you get there by 10 when the hoards start to arrive. Spend a couple of hours in San G and then drive to the Val d'Orcia around Pienza. Stay in Pienza, San Quirico, Montepulciano, or Montalcino for 3 nights. Visit lots of hill villages, abbeys - but mostly enjoy the fantastic countryside. You'll need the "Tuscany Countryside" after three big cities - Rome, Venice, & Florence.
Then

Day 12. Get an early start and drive to Savona or Genoa or San Remo (there are other possibilities), return the car, and take the train to Nice. Stay in Nice for 3 nights.

Day 15. Rent a car in Nice, and drive to St Remy, Uzes, a Luberon village, Arles, or Avignon for 3 nights. On the way could stop in Aix.

Day 18. Take the TGV from Avignon to Paris. Stay for 4 nights.

Day 22. Fly home
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