Italy help

Oct 19th, 2010, 01:39 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 43
Italy help

I’d like to ask some questions of all you experienced people, please…. It’s been awhile since I posted (went to Scandinavia in 2009… on a cruise). But now I’m planning to take my mother (76 y/o) to Italy in Oct. of 2011… She’d like to see Venice and Rome… plus some “countryside”. I’ve been to Milan and Venice in 1987 (first trip ever to Europe) then again with my Girl Scout troop to Rome, Florence, Pisa and Venice in 2004. I have no idea about the “countryside” place she’d like to stay… I’m thinking we’d fly into Venice (is it more expensive to book open jaw trips?) spend a couple of nights… then head to that “countryside” place… via train…. Maybe spend 2 nights there… then train to Rome for maybe 4 more nights.
This whole “countryside” thing came about from her watching some episode of “Everyone Loves Raymond” where they went to Italy and stayed in some little village/town… My mom would like some picturesque little town or village where she can see more how people live and less “tourist” stuff… She’d like to walk around and buy some bread or something in a little grocery store….
Once I can get some suggestions of little towns I think I’ll go thru a travel agent to get the flights I’d like and some hotels along with the train tickets. Good idea?? A waste?? I’ve always used travel agents before for the basics.
We live in Phoenix so for us to fly to Italy is a very long flight. So my mom prefers to fly to the east coast somewhere… like Atlanta, say…. spend the night in a hotel right by the airport… then get on a plane the next day to go to Italy… same on the way home. That's one reason I believe a travel agent might be of help.
So… questions…
A little town/village you enjoyed somewhere between Venice and Rome??
Inexpensive, but safe hotels in Venice, Rome and said “little town”??
Am I correct in assuming the weather should be fairly ok at that time of year?? I went before in the summer… way too humid for me… Don’t mind a bit of rain…
Should I get direct city to city train tickets? A pass wouldn’t make sense for our couple of little trips, correct??
Thanks for any time you spend reading this and answering my questions… everyone has been a big help in all the times I have traveled…
GirlScoutMom is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 01:46 PM
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I can't help with the little towns - we've mostly been in bigger places. We are going to Venice in a month, taking my mother-in-law who is about 85 years old. She's so excited!

You can do without a travel agent - there are a gazillion people on Fodors who will be really happy to help. is a good place to start the search for hotels. The planning for a trip is such fun.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 01:54 PM
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If you have only 8 nights I would encourage you to choose two places to stay, not three. Your first day you will be tired and jet lagged so that is pretty much lost - and you will be connecting at least once.

I use open jaw often and rarely is it more expensive for me to do so.

I like October for the weather as well as the seasonal foods.

My mom is 78 and I have taken her twice to Italy. Rome was a bit overwhelming for her but she loved Florence. We stayed a bit away from the busy center and in a residential area where she was comfortable going out to stores, etc. I would not take her to Venice now (she was there many years ago) as the many bridges would be hard on her knees and legs. Perhaps this is not a concern for your mom but it is worth mentioning.

Unless you are planning to rent a car, a small town may not be a great choice for you. Perhaps a small, not too touristy city would be an option. We loved Bologna and your mom would enjoy the outdoor markets there and the small stores and cafes. The residents were very gracious and it was so enjoyable to be in a place not overloaded with tourists.

I do think three places in 8 nights is too much moving about. While the trains are convenient, it was also a hassle getting my mom's bag and mine up into the train and off the train in the short time allotted - then you have time spent checking out of and into hotels.

Could you perhaps add a day or two to the trip?
kfusto is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 01:55 PM
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Some initial thoughts: suggest a pricepoint for "inexpensive".

The overseas flights from Atlanta go out in the evening - you can fly direct to Venice so if you spend the night in Atl you will have the next day to???? You might as well fly from Phoenix to ATL or any other city with a direct Venice flight and go across the Atlantic in the evening. Coming the other way, maybe an overnight is not such a bad idea.

I really don't think you need a travel agent - you have this board and I'm willing to bet there is WAAAY more direct knowledge here than with any agent. Most agents have NEVER been to the places they book - how could they cover the globe as well as this community of happy travelers!

Now for the town, village, maybe Assisi - even if you are not Catholic it is a lovely "stone village" and the cathedral is amazing. I'm sure other posters will have their own favorites to suggest!
suec1 is online now  
Oct 19th, 2010, 02:03 PM
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A travel agent is not going to find you a town that isn't a tourist town.

On the train line between Venice and Rome, an untouristy small town but quite a characteristic Tuscan/Etruscan town is Chiusi. You can get a single-seat ride from Venice to Chiusi that take just over 4 hours. The train from Chiusi to Rome is about 90 minutes.

Chiusi is a hilltown, so she would need to be able to walk up a few steep inclines.

The name of the town is pronounced (roughly) "Cue-zee"

I think it is great your mother is inspired to see an untouristy area in Italy.
zeppole is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 02:06 PM
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We loved Assisi, and we stayed here:

It is the new town. If you are there on a Saturday night, the sung rosary which starts about 8:45 PM in the cathedral is pretty special.
A little trip report:
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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The Original Poster wrote:

>>My mom would like some picturesque little town or village where she can see more how people live and less “tourist” stuff<<

Assisi is one of the most heavily touristed towns in Italy. It gets thousands of tourists per day and is a major bus tour stop.
zeppole is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 02:41 PM
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Zepp, some times you are right. And some times you are wrong. When we visited in January 2007 it was pretty quiet, and our hotel was about 30% occupied.

Yes, there would have been a thousand people in the Basillica of St Mary for the rosary on Saturday night, standing room only. That's what made it special, being part of a community of faith, special even for this non-believer. The old town was very quiet.

Maybe you've only been there in August.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 04:02 PM
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Often times "open jaw" plane tickets are not more expensive, or only a few dollars more.

I stayed at twice in Venice, but the prices have gone up in recent years so I don't think it's considered "inexpensive" these days. But it's a lovely 3-star, breakfast is included, and it's easy to reach from the train station by vaporetto.
suze is online now  
Oct 19th, 2010, 04:38 PM
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Zeppole: You are correct except for one small point. The tourist buses stay down the hill. Every person I have ever spoken to who has taken a tour to Assisi has never walked up the hill. They have only gone to the Cathedral. We took some friends who had taken a tour a couple of years before. We stayed up the hill. They were amazed there was so much to Assisi. They had no idea because their tour never went past the parking lot.

The only problem days are Italian holidays. Then Italians pack the town and you can't even get a parking spot. Been there at that time, too.
Ann1 is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 06:03 PM
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Just returned from 2 weeks in Italy -- Venice was a favorite - full moon and all. We stayed at the Rialto Hotel - at the bridge - and were very pleased -- nice breakfast in the morning - great restaurants on the back streets -- and do try the Venetian Liver -- we took a tour over to Murano, Burrano this I would not do again - tour only gave us 30 mins of free time and the valporette goes and comes regularly -- somethings you learn along the way. Lost my camera in Venice if anyone found a camera at the booth for the valporette along - would love to have disk - you can keep the camera -- had pictures of Florence, Tuscany. Glad I had another camera along that I had been using also.
foxpalmetto3 is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 06:04 PM
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Hi girlscoutmom,

Could I ask a favor? It helps a lot if you use double returns to create paragraphs. Much easier to read and then give advice and help.

Grazie and buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 07:06 PM
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If mom wants to see Venice and Rome ... then Venice and Rome it is.

Fly into Venice, stay a couple of nights, train to little town, stay a few nights there, train to Rome and spend 4 nights before flying back home.

Little towns? so many to choose from!

Search these boards for ideas/recommendations. Does mom have any "little towns" in mind? You might be surprised at all the answers you get by plugging that town's name in the Search box.

Travle agent? no, you don't need one. If you are willing to do the leg work yourself.

Have a fantastic trip!
screen_name_taken is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 07:09 PM
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Forgot to mention - DH and I will stay in Il Fontanaro (near Paciano?) in a few days. I will write something here when we come back. Click on my name sometime in November, and see if it appeals to you.
screen_name_taken is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 07:22 PM
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I have to say Assisi was the first one that came to my mind, but if you and your mother have little interest in seeing the basilica in Assisi you might consider the town of Spello which has to be one of the prettier (and quieter) small towns with train service.

I'll echo everyone's comment that you don't need to use a travel agent for a simple trip such as you're considering. You also don't need to buy train tickets before you leave home.
Jean is online now  
Oct 19th, 2010, 09:46 PM
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I saw the "Raymond" episode you refer to. I believe it was shot on the Amalfi Coast, but you could easily google to find out.

Do not use a travel agent. You have plenty of time to plan it yourself using this forum.
PeaceOut is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 09:48 PM
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I was wrong Here, I found it, regarding "Raymond"--

The Season 5 premiere, Italy I and II, were shot in location in Anguillara, a small fisherman's village on Lake Bracciano, about 45 minutes drive NW from Rome.
PeaceOut is offline  
Oct 19th, 2010, 11:21 PM
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Peace Out, you are a hero!


Here are some links to Lago Bracciano and Anguillara Sabazia (its full name), including some public transport information and hotel information

Also, I wanted to add that on second thought, a better transliteration of the pronunciation of Chiusi is "Cue-see."

Should you end up wanting to buy a train ticket, the full name of the station is Chiusi-Chianciano Terme (and the second part of that is "Key-Ann-Chee-Anno Term-ay"

As for Assisi, if you are going in October, the first week of October marks the birthday of St Francis of Assisi, who is the patron saint of Italy. Hundreds of thousands of pilgrims head to the town (think "mecca") and its major sights go under extremely tight security because the Prime Minister of Italy also makes the pilgrimage. This ends by around Oct. 7

But at any time year, Assisi is not only one of the prime day-trip bus-trip tourist destinations of Italy, it is tourist magnet for the entire Catholic world. It is the most important religious shrine in Italy other than the Vatican! Many visitors are taken aback by the tacky commercialization of the shrine and the loads of plastic tourist tat and junk for sale. Even when the tourists leave for the day, the town has no ordinary Italian life independent of the tourist economy and the religious orders who run the entire town. Many, many people come to Italy to enjoy the tourist attractions or to worship don't mind --- or even notice -- the difference in character between a tourist destination like Venice or Assisi or Rome and the kind of experience YOUR mother asked to have.

Anguillara Sabazia in October could be lovely.
zeppole is offline  
Oct 20th, 2010, 04:41 AM
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Zeppole: Sorry to disagree with you again. I have been to Assisi many times. Assisi has a life of it's own without tourists. As mentioned before, the day tourists stay at the bottom at the Cathedral. The rest of the village is far from plastic tacky. It's a wonderful town to visit and wander. All you have to do is walk up the hill from the Cathedral and a whole different world opens up.
Ann1 is offline  

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