Italy in Sept.--general advice please


Jun 18th, 2016, 01:42 PM
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Italy in Sept.--general advice please

My husband and I are going to Italy in September for our 25th anniversary, and I am experiencing trip planner's block! I am moving into panic mode here...I was trying to research everything we were thinking of doing before booking anything, but I am just not finding the time for that kind of detailed research. The weeks are clicking by, so I'm hoping some of you will share some general advice to help me get started.

Here is what I am thinking so far. We were planning to go the first two weeks of September, but I am thinking of moving it to the last two weeks of September instead, to buy just a little more planning time and to also try to avoid any lingering late summer crowds. We will arrive on a Saturday and depart on a Saturday two weeks later. I thought we would fly into Rome and leave from Venice, making stops in a small town yet to be selected in Tuscany, Florence, and Cinque Terre in between. However, after reading more on Cinque Terre today and how overwhelmed the area is with tourists, I am reconsidering that stop, and wondering if we have time to visit the Amalfi Coast instead. That would involve either some backtracking if we start in Rome, or a change in plans for arrival. I also have a concern with flying into Rome that many places might be closed on our primary days there, Sunday and Monday. (Not sure yet how many days we will allocate to Rome.) So I was also considering flipping the trip, starting in Venice and ending in Rome. I hadn't really considered the Amalfi Coast until today, because the other route seemed to make so much sense, but I was reading here today that the Amalfi Coast might be a better choice than Cinque Terre due to the crowds, and possibly more to do in AC. My husband is a big hiker and I enjoy a bit of day hiking. I thought CT might be a way to get a little of that into the trip--but it is not an important goal because he will be hiking the Dolomites next year. And another thought is that we could leave out both CT and AC, and spend more time en route to Venice from Rome (or vice versa).

I welcome and appreciate any and all advice you may have to offer! Thank you in advance!
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Jun 18th, 2016, 02:00 PM
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There are many wonderful hikes along the Amalfi coast. One called pathway of the gods, I believe. And I did an interesting one coming down from Ravello into the town of Amalfi.
You could fly into Naples, rent a car or get a driver, stop and see Pompeii then head to the Amalfi coast. Afterwards train to Rome. There is train service to Orvieto or you could go to Chiusi then rent a car to visit Tuscan villages. Drop the car in Florence. Visit Florence then train to Venice. fly home from there. Just a thought.
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Jun 18th, 2016, 02:02 PM
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First, look at your flight options from Venice to home. Many departures to the U.S. (which is where I assume you are) leave gawd-awful early. You might want to start with Venice.

I second your idea of pushing the trip to later in September.

Check which trails are even open in the CT as many are not. FYI, there are also hiking trails on the Sorrentine Peninsula, although I would describe most of them as being (overall) more challenging than those in the CT area. And you're going to love the hiking in the Dolomites which, IMO, is much more enjoyable than either the CT or the AC.

You would only have 13 days not impacted by your arrival and departure. If you start losing half days here and there moving from place to place, you'll end up with little time to explore each destination so I wouldn't make too long of a list.

Depending on how you envision your time in Tuscany, you may need to have a car for a few days.

And, yes, you need to make sure the things you want to see are open on the days you'll be there. I find Florence more tricky than Rome or Venice.
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Jun 18th, 2016, 02:03 PM
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If you could push your trip into October, that would be even better. A couple of years ago my daughter and SIL were in Rome in late Sept., and they said the crowds were unbearable. Couldn't imagine what it was like in high summer. I'd go in Oct., start in Venice, then to Florence and Rome, and then to PUGLIA. See the NYT Travel section for a recent article.
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Jun 18th, 2016, 02:12 PM
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In fall I tend to plan north to south travel and in spring, south to north, to go with the cooling/warming weather. It may not make a great deal of difference for just 2 weeks but leaving from Rome has the advantage of more choice of flights. I hear people complaining here from time to time about the ungodly early hours flights often leave from Venice.

I'd also say that between Venice & Rome there are more than enough places to keep you busy for 2 weeks and advise not to spread yourself too thin in number of stops and days spent on the move. I'd be perfectly happy with a week in Venice & surrounding country and another week in Rome & environs. You'll gain sightseeing and relaxing time by not changing abodes.
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Jun 18th, 2016, 02:27 PM
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I also would suggest flying into Venice and out of Rome, for the reasons listed above. And, if it fits into your budget, taking a water taxi from Marco Polo airport into Venice is a very special experience.

Whether you drop the Amalfi Coast and/or the Cinque Terre depends on your interests and how you want to spend your time. You could easily include Florence and some time in rural Tuscany, and even do some hiking there. (I love the Cinque Terre, but haven't been since the big rains and the problems with the trails, so I don't know the current status. And I haven't been to the Amalfi Coast.)

We took an interesting walk/hike to an abandoned castle just south of San Gimignano, if something like that would satisfy the hiking desire.
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Jun 19th, 2016, 05:04 AM
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I think that if you have only two weeks, it's to little to visit also the amalfitan coast. If you do for example three days Rome, then the "big cities" you want to visit and two or three days Venice two weeks nothing! If you also travel to the Amalfitan coast (which is really beautifull!) you "lose" to much time!
I think it's better to really visit cities and maybe some museums than run through it and at the end you've seen nothing!
Then you can always come back to visit the Amalftan coast, Naples and Pompeii!!
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Jun 19th, 2016, 06:20 AM
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Thank you all for the very helpful advice! I had seen the early flights out of Venice and was dreading that, but I did like the idea of a nonstop arrival flight. Overall, though, I think it's a great idea to flip the trip and push it back as far as we can. My husband is a CPA so we are dealing with that 10/15 deadline.

I also think we will skip Cinque Terre. It looks like three trails are closed right now, weather is risky, and we might get more out of those days lingering at one of our other destinations.

I was concerned that the Amalfi Coast would be too much to fit into our Rome to Venice (or reverse) itinerary, and you all confirmed that.

Skipping both CT and AC leaves more time for wineries and maybe even some bike riding in Tuscany. I do like to really see and experience places rather than pass through. We will have to plan a second trip to see the Amalfi Coast and southern Italy!

Thanks again for the advice. Any other tips are welcome too!
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Jun 19th, 2016, 06:41 AM
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A lot will depend on the amount of stress you wish to endure.

For me, travel days are a bust, and those include local travel, where you have to schlepp your luggage from one place to another. Unless you're 23 or travel with one carry-on, I find travel days in Italy utterly exhausting. Unless you stay in 5-star resorts, it's very difficult to find anyone to help you. Depending on where you stay, the number of steep hills, stairs, and limited parking spaces will take its toll.

With travel days and five locations, 14 days can suddenly drop to 7. Five locations in seven days is a recipe for disaster.

When it comes to Italy, I pick north vs. south. Unless I have a month, I do not mix the two. I know some people do it. Way too much hassle for me. You can eliminate a lot of stress by not trying to over-accomplish. Get used to the fact that you can't see it all, and find a way to bite the bullet. Plan a second trip instead, and put those ideas on a shelf somewhere.

For me, Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast are individual trips. These places require special considerations which can easily complicate a trip.

Rome, Florence, Tuscany, and Venice will have its challenges, but at least the to-and-fro is rather tight and logical. IMO, 12 nights covering these four areas will only give you 3 nights each. I'm not this sort of traveler.

September, no matter what date, is the most expensive month to visit Italy. The data is clear. A rental car price for one week drops $200 if you begin on Oct 1. September is also one of the busiest months, and October is not too far behind. For the past few years, Acqua Alta flooding has arrived earlier in Venice, as early as Oct 15. Venice floods require additional considerations.

I hate to add to your panic, but September is only two months away. Most repeat September visitors to Italy plan their trip a year in advance to get the best places and the best rooms. Good luck trying to pull something together at this late date.
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Jun 19th, 2016, 07:44 AM
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Thank you, NYCFoodSnob...personal circumstances have not been in my favor to devote time to trip planning. I have been thinking about punting to a travel agent but wanted to see what I could get done myself first. Also, I didn't get great vibes when I spoke with a travel agent on Friday. If the late date becomes too much of a problem we could always apply the same plan to next year--then we will be planning a year ahead. In the meantime, I will forge ahead in the hope it will all work out. Thanks for your warnings and advice!
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Jun 19th, 2016, 09:17 AM
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freshman, I certainly understand the temptation to go this year. My inbox has never seen so many coach sale fares to Italy in the past months, and the prices have been quite low. I suspect many people cancelled after the attack in Belgium, and then a lot of people decided not to travel abroad. There was a non-stop to Milan for $420 out of JFK if you purchased 2 tickets, amazing for the month of September/October. I've seen other non-stops for Rome and Venice for a little higher. I kept sending those emails to friends. Delta rarely puts its Venice non-stop on sale.

IMO, the average traveler would find two weeks a luxury. For me, a twelve-day trip is a good place to start. It deserves some research time. But I know from experience how quickly those days can pass in Italy. There's just too much to see and do. If you cram the schedule, you won't give yourself a chance to breathe or ponder what you're seeing. The need to stick to your itinerary will always play with your mind and your feet.

Much of my enjoyment of Italy stems from the fact that I know my way around, I speak the language, and I know exactly where I want to stay. My choice of lodging can make or break a trip. I absolutely must have a fabulous room. Some people need to be on the go 24/7, so lodging to them is just a place to sleep. That's not the way I travel.

If you care about lodging, if you care about securing a room with a special view, a lot of research is required, and it takes time to secure those reservations. If you're relying on email, it can take days or weeks for a hotel to get back to you, and then tell you they're fully booked. The time-suck can be very frustrating.

Lodging details can be found on the internet these days, but it takes time to do the research, and you'll need to take notes. If you care about food, a lot of research is required there, too. The what-to-see-and-do seems to be the easy part, once you've decided on a location.

Good luck pulling it all together. Two weeks in Italy is an effort many wish they could afford.
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Jun 19th, 2016, 03:29 PM
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Hi freshman,

we are also traveling to Italy at the beginning of Sept, flying into Rome and out of Venice (Air Transat's flight leaves at 2:30 so no early morning rush). We will spend 4 nights in Rome, followed by 5 nights in Spello (the only time we will have a car), then 3 nights in Florence and 2 nights in Venice.

We have cut, added, cut and added and I am sure our itinerary will change again. This is my first visit to Italy and I cannot wait. Happy planning!
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Jun 21st, 2016, 07:30 PM
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Hi Jackie! I am making some progress, and the good people here gave me just the push I needed! This is my first trip to Italy too. My husband hiked Trail Mont Blanc a couple of years ago, so he's been in Italy but just that little corner--it hardly counts. I hope you have a great trip!
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Jun 21st, 2016, 09:51 PM
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Freshman- We did In Venice / out Rome with a stop in Florence and Siena a few years ago in early /mid October. It was our 20 th anniversary and a wonderful trip.

We stayed at Ca Maria Adele in Venice, lovely ,right next to Santa Maria della Salute

Firenze Number Nine in Florence very near the Duomo
Villa Elda in Siena , a little out of the way ,but comfortable

Mario de Fiore in Rome, very nice and we liked the location
I'm sure others can give hotel advice once you have flights booked.

You can do this!!
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Jun 22nd, 2016, 03:33 PM
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Cjar, thanks so much for the hotel names! You did the trip we are hoping to do! I haven't booked flights yet, just trying to make sure we can get hotels when we want them first, especially Venice. We are not luxury travelers, but we like a clean room with a decent bed to sleep on in a safe area. We have just a little wiggle room in our dates if we need it for hotels, but so far we are sticking with our original dates. I wish we could go in the time frame of your trip, but such is the life of a tax man and his wife!
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