Italy - Request for Help

Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 09:56 AM
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Italy - Request for Help

Hello! After reading a lot of great topics and advice I am requesting some help for a first time trip that we are planning for in April 2012. Due to work restrictions, my wife and I are traveling to Italy from April 4th through April 18th (at least) and we are trying to pack in as much as possible without over exhausting ourselves. We also have an opportunity to add a few extra days on the front or back end of the trip. This is what we have planned so far:

Travel Day
Day 1: Venice
Day 2: Venice
Day 3: Cinque Terra
Day 4: Cinque Terra
Day 5: Florence
Day 6: Siena (Day Trip from Florence)
Day 7: Florence
Day 8: Rome
Day 9: Rome
Day 10: Rome
Travel Day *or* Extra traveling

We are thinking of spending some additional time (3-4 days) in Tuscany or the Amalfi Coast area at the end of our trip. So, my questions are as follows:

How does the above itinerary look for a first time trip?
What suggestions would you have for some additional (3-4) days?

Thanks in advance!!!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 10:00 AM
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Asume you are not counting the day yuo arrive and the days you depart.

You have not allowed any time to travel between cities - which will take half a day - includinghotel check out, trek to train staion, train ride and reverse at other end.

I think it makes more sense to see Florence and Tusany after Venice and then head to CT later, when weather may be better - and to avoid backracking.

Don;t know what date Easter is next year - but you do NOT want to be in Rome then.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 10:12 AM
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Your itinerary needs work and a bit of reality touch. You need to acount for "in transit time" which in Italy it can amount to a considerable amount of time. You really have 10 days of sightseeing; base yourselves max 3 major cities: Venice, Florence, Rome. Sightsee from there to minimize the tremendous amount of time that gets "wasted" in moving/locating hotels, etc...
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 10:12 AM
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nytraveler - first of all, let me thank you for all of your advice in other topics on this site, it has really been beneficial!

Thanks for your reply! We were planning on traveling on each of the mornings that we were in a new city (i.e. Days 3,5,&8). You make a great point about the time line; however, in the interest of being succint I didn't mention that we are traveling with my in-laws during the noted itinerary above and they are set to this schedule. They will flying out on the last day. My wife and I wanted to stay for a few extra days after they leave which is where we are looking for advice.

To clarify, you recommend Tuscany over the Amalfi/Sorrento area?

Easter is April 25 - I've heard from other sources too that it is NOT the time to be in Italy.

Thanks again for your help!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 10:26 AM
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5 cities in 10 days? Really?

I would take your 3-4 "extra" days (hopefully 4) and add 3 night more nights in Rome and 2 more nights in Venice.

Rome is 10X the size and population of Florence (and has 10X the places to see and things to do) yet you have allocated an equal number of days in your initial plan.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 10:45 AM
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It's grueling enough at this pace for two people, but for four (and in-laws!), I strongly suggest cutting something out.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 11:01 AM
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Wow - I want to thank everyone for your replies. I suppose this is why the forum exists - to ask questions and obtain information from subject matter experts. We have been working off of the Rick Steves book and it (maybe wrongly) suggests the itinerary above.

To manage assumptions, my wife and I are 30 and 27, respectively, and my in-laws are 63 and 58 (and in great shape).

We aren't wealthy and this may be one of the few times we get to go to Europe and, admittedly, we are trying to pack in a lot. Moving forward, what do any of you suggest that we cut out?

Should we skip Siena and spend the extra days in Rome? Should we cut out CT?
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 11:09 AM
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I would also move the Cinque Terre to after Florence. Amalfi coast for the few extra days would be perfect...to me, Positano is one of the most romantic places in the world and it would be a nice way to end the trip, especially if you can fly home from Naples.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 11:17 AM
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Thank you owlwoman! Moving CT after Florence was one of the things we were considering - great advice. We were trying to schedule the itinerary so we weren't in Florence on Sunday & Monday where, as I understand, many museums and churches are closed. Regardless, we will certainly look at changing those around.

Positano looks absolutely amazing!
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 11:22 AM
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I would cut the Cinque Terre. It's out of the way, the main attractions are hiking trails and beaches. If if wasn't for Rick Steves, it would NEVER be on anyone's first time trip to Italy. Maybe there 4th or 5th visit...

Keep Sienna, add a few days to Rome, maybe add a day to Venice.

Keep the number of home bases smaller.

Rick Steves encourages a frenetic level of travel that most people find not only too tiring but at the expense of really SEEING any one place and totally void of any relaxation. His whole business model is encouraging breakneck tours. It makes for good business and television (an episode featuring multiple destinations keeps the viewers eyes on the screen.

You'll find some experienced European travelers here that agree with his style - but not many.

Th Amalfi coast is its own 10-14 day trip - it is NOT something one simply "tacks on".

A typical 10-14 day (and still pretty fast paced) trip might entail:
2-3 nights in Naples, 2 nights in Capri, and 5-6 nights somewhere along on the coast Amalfi Coast from which you do 4-5 day trips to the other towns along the coast.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 01:44 PM
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It depends so much on what you want to see and do. CT is a series of small villages, primarily for hiking between them along the coast. I would put this at about #25 to do in italy - but many people love it.

Amalfi Coast is a charming area but is primarily a beach resort - and I wouldn;t visit before the end of May or so (to me, beach resosrts out of season are just depressing) and it will be too cold to swim etc.

I am a history freak and want to see every monument, church and museum that exists. For a first trip to Rome I would want at least 5 days (6 nights).

Florence is fantastic and Venice a wonder - but to me neither compare to Rome - but that is absolutely a personal preference. As I said I am a history buff - and also love big cities - get bored in small towns after a day or two.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 01:47 PM
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If you want to go to the AC, skip CT, add one of those days to Venice and the other one to your time on the AC. If you can put together five days at the end, then the AC would be very worthwhile, a perfect ending to a visit to Italy.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 01:50 PM
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Hi,

You might want to consider a tour group. I have done Globus for an Italian tour and it was great. Not sure how you plan to get around, but I would not want to drive in Rome for sure. With a Tour its really hassle free but its not for everyone. I would say cut the cinque, to get to the Amafi cost from Venice would be a drive so you would lose a lot of your day to just keep in mind. If your on a budget I heard Cosmos is a good tour group for people on a budget. I took a best of Greece a year ago and I has some people from Candana who said they did tours with Cosmos and it was great just with Cosmos the hotels aren't centrally located. If your never going back to Italy, your on a budget and need to put the tour in two week max, you want to see a lot and do it on your own, i'd do three days in Rome, Three Days in Florence, 3 Days in Venice, 3 days in Sorrento so you can see the Amafi coast and pompeii.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 01:55 PM
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Sorry -

with your additional days I would stay in Rome. If yuo want you might do a day trip to Orvieto to see a hill town. Or you cold do a day trip to Pompeii. But my typical rule is no more than 4 hotels in a 2 week vacation.

And, sorry, but I think Rick Steeves is really least common denominator - as well as being kind of creepy. And we don;t travel the way he does.

Not too bad when I was 20 - but we have reached a point in life when we want a lot more comfort and services in hotels, nice sit down meals versus picnics (except VERY rarely), and do road trips because it gives much more freedom than travel by train - unless you are just visiting a couple of major cities.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 02:00 PM
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Aw well poor Rick, I feel compelled to speak up for him. I saw an interview on 60 minutes and he was quite eloquent about travel and what it means to get out and see the world and meet people, but of course I do agree that he is doing people a disservice recommending this pace of travel.
You have some wonderful advice from the many Italy experts here, and I wish you happy travels! I haven't been to all of these places, but I think I have a good eye for travel planning and I think the recommendation to skip CT and use AC as your extra time at the end of the trip is an excellent plan.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 02:04 PM
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Yeah, it's he 'nice Jewish girl' here telling you've incorrectly identified when Easter falls next year ..... well, actually Apr-25 is date for Eastern Orthodox Easter in 2012. Since Italy is a Roman Catholic country, Holy Week begins earlier.
4/1 -- Palm Sunday;
4/6 -- Good Friday;
4/8 -- Easter Sunday.

When is Easter 2012? .....
http://catholicism.about.com/od/2012...aster-2012.htm

GREEK Easter & other Greek Public Holidays ......
http://www.greekofile.co.uk/page23.html

------------------------------------------

As for your tentative itinerary, it takes 6 hours on the train to get from Venice to the Cinque Terre, and depending on route, will also involve at least 1 or 2 train changes. Essentially, it's a full day of travel to get from one side of the country to the other. Plus, the weather in April in that part of country can be variable ..... should you catch cool rains, not much to do there ..... CT is all about scenery, hiking, strolling around little towns.

It's pretty, but I don't think of it as a 'must-see' for a 1st trip to Italy. As already suggested by another poster, I'd eliminate the CT from your itinerary. Rather stay another day in Venice, and give another day to either Florence or Rome.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 02:27 PM
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Thanks again!

nytraveler, I will definitely discuss your suggestions with my wife tonight. It sounds like you travel a lot! Unfortunately, we seldom have opportunities to visit Europe so we are trying to find the appropriate balance between visiting numerous cities/sites and being comfortable. It is so interesting to hear the stark differences of opinion - especially about Rome. Some people love it, some people hate it.

DBianco03, thank you for your suggestions; however, I really dislike the "all-encompassing" tours. I would rather research ad nauseam then lose the ability to explore and travel at our own pace.

Obviously, as bardo1 pointed out, I was out of line to suggest visiting the Amalfi Coast in 3-4 extra days.

Based on all of your suggestions, I am thinking about cutting out CT and sticking the extra days in Venice, Florence, and/or Rome.

So travel experts, with the thought that this will be our only trip to Italy for quite some time, should we dig deeper into experiencing Rome or scratch the surface of another city that has been suggested, like Sorrento or Positano for the last four days of our trip?
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 02:30 PM
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Hi Wes.

First, disclaimer: have not been to Cinque Terre. . Somewhere on this forum, people asked, if limited time and had to decide, chose (Amalfi Coast or CT). Majority said AC.. We loved that area and can hardly wait to return when our funds are improved!!!

I totally understand what you mean about limited time and money. Not all of us have major income or unlimited days off work. It's easy to recommend "slow trav" etc when you KNOW you'll be back and you have a source of big funds.

Also--are you driving at all? The part of the trip where you should get a car (although it is not absolutely necessary) is for Tuscany. Then, from where you stay/base you can drive to local train stn to see Florence for a full day; on another day, go to Siena. if you dont rent a car for that segment , you can still use public transportation. Or a private car (split with i-laws)? Maybe a wonderful agriturismo or bed and breakfast so you can enjoy and "feeL" Tuscany, albeit for "only" 5 days, but also see Siena and Florence on day trips.

IMHO,I would divide your time like this IF you have 15 nights. With one or two more nights for just you and wife, I'd add on AMalfi Coast (either Sorrento--not strictly soeaking ON the AC--or Positano)

2 nights Venice;

5 nights Tuscany area, preferably with car (including day trip Florence and Siena) but stay based in the countryside in a convenient place--it will be a good way for you to all relax in the evenings (many such places also serve late dinners).

4 nights Rome

4 nights Sorrento, with either a day trip (easy via the coast SITA bus) or even an overnight stay in Positano. And Pompeii is 30 min train ride from Sorrento.

Did I miss you arrival and departure airports? If you have not yet booked, can you fly into Venice and out of Naples (or Rome) assuming you do a North to South trip?

By the way, I think Rick Steves has GREAT advice for seeing specific places once you are there.
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 02:34 PM
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JBX, thank you for pointing out my Easter oversight! We have a little flexibility in the dates - would you recommend going earlier or later to avoid the crowds - or - will it be ok as long as we stay away from Rome during the holy week?
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Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 02:35 PM
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Are you from the U.S.? If yes, have you traveled to Europe previously? Is "Day 1" the day you fly into Venice? I'm wondering because often people traveling from the U.S. tired and groggy after an overnight trans-Atlantic flight. This might make one of your only two days in Venice a bit unpleasant.

one suggestion:
Travel Day
Day 1: Venice (arrival/jetlag day)
Day 2: Venice
Day 3: Venice
Day 4: Florence
Day 5: Siena (Day Trip from Florence)
Day 6: Florence
Day 7: Rome
Day 8: Rome
Day 9: Rome
Day 10: Rome (parents' departure day? nothing but packing and getting to the airport)
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