Italy Itinerary--reasonable?

Old Mar 9th, 2010, 04:04 PM
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Italy Itinerary--reasonable?

My wife and I are taking our first trip to Italy. We arrive in Genova Aug 4, and fly out of Genova Aug.12. I am a foodie-I plan on gaining 5-10 lbs during our visit! With that in mind, here's our proposed itinerary:
aug 4: land in genova at 9:30AM, pick up car, drive to Pisa.spend the day and sleep there.
aug 5--drive to tuscany. spemd 3 days.
aug 8-drive to orvieto, spend the day & night
aug 9--to umbria
aug 10-to firenze, for the night
aug 11-back to genova, spend the day & night
aug 12--fly out 6:30AM

Any suggestions of what towns to stay in and where? if there are b&b's that are less $$$ then hotels, that would be great. I'm not looking for 4 star accomodations, but porbably no less than 2. I also need internet ideally whereever we stay.

Also, any suggestions of 'must eat at' places are most welcome!

Thx.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 04:12 PM
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What I would do, is go to Orvieto from Pisa. Then Umbria, on to Tuscany, Florence and finally Genoa. Visit www.slowtrav.com for information on Italy. Richard
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 04:15 PM
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P.S Actually, I would skip Umbria and spent another night in Florence. Otherwise, you will only have half a day in Florence and that's not enough time.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 04:26 PM
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Not even one day in Florence - one of the most fascinating cities in the world in my opinion. If you had more time to spend in Umbria, say 3 or 4 days, I'd spend time there. As it is, I'd limit my visit to Pisa, Florence and the Tuscan countryside. I'm not sure about Pisa but in Florence/Tuscany you will have wonderful food.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 04:30 PM
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What makes Florence so special?
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 05:07 PM
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What makes Florence so special?

Hmmmmmmm . . .
I keep asking myself the same question. Been there three times and have no desire to return--ever. Good for a day to see the highlights of the Uffizi gallery and the Davide--other than that I have many places I'd much rather be.

I feel the same way about Pisa--stop quickly and visit the leaning tower and surrounding campo, but move on to better things for the evening and following day. Or skip entirely and just look at everybody else's travel pictures.

In Tuscany, visit Siena, Montepulciano, Pienza and maybe Cortona for a good sampling of the area. In Umbria, I like Todi, Montefalco and Spoleto--also the towns around Lago Trasimeno. Orvieto is a great town for a day trip--keep that on the itinerary.
Nearer to Genoa, it might be fun to spend the first or last nights in the Cinque Terre region.

You have plenty of time between now and August--take your time and read guidebooks to hone in on your interests and plan a trip that will mean something to you.
P.S. I'm a big RemDog fan too! Go Sox!
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 05:10 PM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/florence Everyone is different. Decide for yourself.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 05:15 PM
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Um, the Renaissance.

Well, sorry to be snarky, but what makes Florence "so special" is the greatest collection of Renaissance art and architecture, medieval art and architecture, history, religion, shopping, surrounding scenery... I could go on.

Pisa isn't as attractive, accessible or interesting as Florence. By accessible, I mean it isn't as easy to wander around and bump into great stuff as it is in Florence. Visit the Campo Miracoli and get out of town.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 05:25 PM
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First, i f you plan on gaining 10 pounds in 8 days that would make you a glutton - not a "foodie". I love food and on vacation I eat larger meals, more with wine, than I do at home. But I always lose weight since there is almost constant walking. Can't imagine how many calories you would have to eat to gain weight - unless you're just sitting n between.

Second, you are mixing cities (Florence and Orvieto) with provinces (Tuscany and Umbria). If you mean to stay in hill towns you need to pick specific ones. And IMHO you need to get a map and plot out a route that makes sense. I don't believe in constant hotel changes - but would stay in a couple central places rather than constant checking in and out - but that's your preference.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 05:43 PM
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The first time we visited Florence was when we were in our early 30s & we wanted action, action, action. We were there for 1 night (typical early travel mistake - trying to do too much in too short a time) and we really liked Florence. Later, we returned in Sept when we were in our 40s, and after 2 days of too much congestion, too much noise, too many vespas, too many people - we vowed we would not return till we had the opportunity to visit Florence in the off season. We were in the vacinity with some friends we were traveling with when we were in our 50s (had seperate cars). The friends went to Florence for 2 nights & we went elsewhere. Our friends said the best part of Florence was seeing the sign saying they were leaving Florence. Several years ago in late April when we were in our late 50s & were staying with other friends who had a house in San Quirico (near Pienza), we took the train to Florence for 2 nights/3 days. LOVED it. We were second in line when Accademia opened, & we saw David with only 5 other people in the room.

So - if you don't mind the crowds, noise, congestion, lines, action - Florence in August might be fine for you.

I recently posted some scenic drive suggestions in the Val d'Orcia (around the Pienza). Here is the link - without Zepppole's approval.
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-20th-28th.cfm

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 06:01 PM
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In Umbria, I thoroughly enjoyed Assisi! And, if interested, I can give you the name of the restaurant where I had the best gnocchi with gorganzola sauce that I have EVER had in my life.

Although it wasn't available for my stay, I wanted to stay at the Umbra Hotel.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 06:22 PM
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>>Several years ago in late April when we were in our late 50s
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 07:08 PM
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I'd take the train from Genoa to Pisa and rent the car the next morning. I'd drop the car on arrival in Florence and take the train back to Genoa. What happens in between is your call, but I agree with nytraveler's comments about choosing destinations (not regions) and developing a logical route.

The Florence question is unanswerable. The city either grabs you (and won't let go), or it doesn't, and you won't know whether you're its latest victim until you're there. But Florence in August would be one of the worst times to go.
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 11:15 PM
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Jean is right. It is much simpler to take the train from Genova to Pisa if you cannot fly into Pisa directly. If you are not interested in seeing Florence (a drag in August for sure!) I would keep the car and drop it off in La Spezia and spend the night there, and then train to Genova. It's not the Riviera's most scenic town, but you'll have a breeze and good food.

I personally am a huge advocate of open exploration in the Tuscan and Umbrian valleys. I think a great deal is lost by adopting driving itineraries and a destination mentality in these two areas. The Tuscan and Umbrian valleys and hills are jammed with accommodations, safe roads, wonderful towns and scenery to discover on one's own. So what if you don't see Montepulciano or Spoleto and instead saw Montechiello or Bevagna? So what if you took the SS99 instead of the SS347? It's all beautiful and fascinating and you don't need a nanny to keep you from making "mistakes."

All that said, your biggest problem with having an open exploration "road trip" of Tuscany and Umbria is that you are going in August! Plus you want internet wherever you go, and apparently you don't want to spend a lot of money on accommodations.

You can buy the Red Michelin Guide to Italy and a guide to farm stays in Itay and try to wing it, but obviously you are taking some risk. There is so much accommodation in the region, I don't think you'll find yourself sleeping outdoors. But I do not think you will have internet unless you book in advance. And it's always a possibility that if you don't book in advance in August you could run into a situation where you ended up having to take a very pricey room because that was the only one you could find. You will need to find accommodations before dark EVERYWHERE you go.

The red Michelin guide is available in Italian only but its symbols are easy to figure out.

http://www.amazon.com/Michelin-Guide.../dp/2067145118

And this is the Italian Touring Club's guide to farm stays in Italy

http://www.amazon.com/Italian-Farm-V...4&sr=1-3-fkmr0


Up to you! Talk it over with your wife!
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Old Mar 9th, 2010, 11:21 PM
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Stu,

I don't mind when you post a link to your fixed driving itinerary for the val d'Orcia. I do think it is a thread-killer and unfair to an OP when you cut and past the whole thing into somebody else's thread.

We'll never agree on the best way to enjoy Tuscany and the best way to advise people who don't know anything about it. I think a great experience of Tuscany can't be planned. I think it is a pity the trip planners have sold people on the idea they need itineraries and restaurant recommendations instead of staying of farms and following their own noses with no destination in mind.

I don't wish to become an evangelizer of anything in Italy, but the plug-and-play, one-size-fits-all-formula and computer programmer model of travel in Italy seems to me to be clearly an American idea imposed on a culture and geography that isn't at all like that -- and I think people get less out of Italy when they follow that kind of thinking than when they take a more flexible, less formulaic approach with rules about how long here, where to go there.
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Old Mar 10th, 2010, 06:11 AM
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Zeppole
The thousands of people who have requested my itineraries don't seem to feel the same way you do about them. I get 2-4 requests almost every day, with "thank you - this is just what I wanted" replies when they receive them, and often longer "thank-yous" when they actually followed my ideas on their vacation. I think getting many different perspectives on how to visit places is a positive. Like you stated - one size does not fit all - but it is always helful to try on many different sizes & discard the ones that do not fit.

Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 10th, 2010, 06:45 PM
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Thanks for the feedback and some, um, 'lively' discussion about the merits of planning a trip in Tuscany. I am starting to understand that if we were to just stick to staying in Tuscany, there is plenty to do and see, all in an appealing, laid back beautiful countryside. If this is the case, then it sounds like thats what we'll do. That said, are there any 'not to be missed' towns to see in Tuscany? Also, wondering about the coastal part of Tuscany--are there any beaches or the like? If so, where are good locations to stay in that area? Also, if we are to spend a few days in Tuscany, what location would be best as a central, 'leave from here for a different day trip' everyday type of location?
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Old Mar 10th, 2010, 08:30 PM
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Remdog - e-mail me at [email protected] & I'll send you my 20+ page Italy itinerary. It contains my recommendations of where to stay & what to do. You can discard it if you like, or use it and blend in other people's recommendations.

regards
Stu Dudley
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Old Mar 10th, 2010, 11:52 PM
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Hi! Remdog:

There are so many amazing places to visit in Italy and it can be overwhelming for a first-time visitor to decide on an itinerary! Last fall, I went to Italy for the first time with my husband. I remember the excitement & all the questions that came up as we planned our trip!

First: Take a deep breath!

Second: It sounds like you have decided to visit Tuscany on this trip. You have chosen a beautiful, diverse, historically rich & large region in which to stay. With 7 nights (plus your last night in Genova), I would suggest choosing two places to base yourself, taking day trips if you wish.

Third: You need to arm yourself with a map of Italy & borrow current guidebooks from the library: Fodor, Frommer, Cadogan, Eye Witness, Michelin Green & yes, even Rick Steves! Some guidebooks will suggest itineraries which you may find helpful as a starting point in planning your time. You also have a great resource here! (Personally, I found Stu's itinerary very helpful - full of good information. Thanks again, Stu!) You can read about these places & begin a list of things you want to see/do! Whether you choose two hilltowns or a hilltown & Florence, you will have a wonderful time!

Next: You will undoubtedly have other, more specific questions as you fine tune your itinerary. Come back to us & we will do our best to help you!

Finally: Have fun planning your trip to Italy!

Good luck!

2010
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Old Mar 11th, 2010, 03:27 AM
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Hi Remdog,

Asking "what are the must-see towns" in Tuscany or Italy is like asking "who are the must-kiss girls" -- !!! --

Of all the guidebooks mentioned above, only the Michelin Green will give you not-dumbed down information about the historic, artistic and cultural significance of the most popular Tuscan towns (prepare to find the most tourists there, too.) If you have a specific interest in art, architecture, history or wine, there are towns or abbeys described in the Michelin Green Guide you will not want to miss after reading up on them.

But the most likely response to your question on a message board is going to be "you MUST see Sant'Antimo!!!" because somebody loved there hour there, while if perchance you are most interested in Etruscan history -- the core history of Tuscany, doh! -- and mention you are headed for Chiusi, be prepared for a chorus of "Skip it!" "Not worth it!" "Not what Tuscany's about!" because -- despite Chiusi's superior Etruscan museum, fantastically well preserved town, good restaurant and authentic Tuscan ambience, most tourists with a fixed image of "Tuscany" in their heads don't find Chiusi "cute" or "picturesque" or "quaint" etc.

So, read Fodor's with your salt shaker close at hand, look at pictures of Chianti, le Crete Senese and the val d'Orcia regions, gather all the quality information you can, and I'll add this to the pile:

http://brunelleschi.imss.fi.it/itine...yIndexTem.html

If nothing jumps out as you as a must-see for you, don't worry: Tuscany is a place you can go and explore and be whimsical about your destinations every moment. It helps to have the Blue Guide to Tuscany if you go exploring, because if you find a fascinating town, it's almost 100 percent certain the Blue Guide can tell you its history, no matter how small, whereas the popular guidebooks (including Michelin Green) only steer you to the famous towns.

http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Guide-Tus.../dp/0393319490

I like to encourage visitors to Italian farm country to stay on a farm, in an agriturismo that serves dinner onsite. Restaurant eating for dinner is a poor substitute I think for a home-cooked Italian meal, and agriturismi are incredibly inexpensive and charming. Most have pools. Many have Wi-FI.

The scenic areas of Tuscany are so small, you can reach into all of them from one location. Tripadvisor has current reviews for agriturismi in the Chianti, val d'Orcia and le Crete Senese areas. You can also use these websites to locate more:

http://en.agriturismo.it/tuscany/index.jsp

http://www.cretesenesi.com/en/

Have fun!

(Stu,
as you know, MacDonalds can make the same claim and does, and I see happy tourists all the time on bus tours, Rick Steves tours, slow travel tours. A lot of tourists latch onto a formula or a guru, and I'm all for people gathering info in advance on where they are going, your info included. But people coming here for the first time need to know that Fodor's message boards has NO experts on the val d'Orcia or Tuscany. Sure, several blowhards are here to tout testimonials to themselves and imply they've distilled some touristy wisdom from hundreds of trips that can be universally followed, no matter who is taking the trip. But it is astonishing how incurious these same people are about the history, town architecture, religious art and even the basic wine and food that is the whole reason for the Tuscan landscape. I think people planning a first trip to Tuscany are probably more curious than these self-appointed trip planners and so I encourage to get better advice, and not shortchange their curiosity to explore on their own.)
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