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Italy - Revised Itinerary for critique, per piacere!

Italy - Revised Itinerary for critique, per piacere!

Old Jan 25th, 2005, 05:52 PM
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Italy - Revised Itinerary for critique, per piacere!

I posted a few months ago, but we have more ironed out for our trip - which is the last week of Sept - 1st week of Oct 2005. See http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34538535 for background, but much of it has changed...

There are four of us traveling. Two were in Italy for 2 weeks in 2002, one was there during military service (1960's), one has never been. Ideally we will fly into Pisa or Florence, and out of Venice. Plan B is to fly into/out of Milano (I like this for option #2, as it only involves one change of planes in JFK or BOS, then train to where we stay the 1st night. Flight prices still too high to book yet).

We have two weeks. Here goes -
(When I talk of 'day 1', you can read it as 'where are we sleeping on that day', and all 14 are accounted for)

Day 1 - in flight
Day 2 - Land in Pisa - stay in Lucca, check out the city within the walls
Day 3 - Daytrip to Pisa, Volterra, San G Sleep in Lucca,
Day 4 - Train to Fiesole, stay there - check out town
Day 5 & 6 Stay in Fiesole - check out Florence
Day 7 - Down to Pienza, planning to stay in Agritourismo just outside of town (4 or 5 nights)
Day 8-10 or 8-11 - Daytrips around Pienza (Siena, Orvieto, Civita di Bagnoregio, M towns...) We will rent a car for this period.
Day 10 or 11 - Car to Venice. Stop in Bologna for the afternoon on the way.
Day 11-13 - Venice!
Day 14 - If flying out of Venice, great! If not, day 13 everything was pushed up, and we left for Stresa for our day 14 flight out of Milano.

IF we fly into Florence, I'll just switch the Lucca/Fiesole stay.

Questions I have...
1. It seems 'possible' to daytrip from Lucca to Pisa, Volterra, and San G... but is it PRACTICAL with public transportation? If no, could we hire a driver (suggestions?)? If NO, then should we do Florence/Fiesole first and rent a car the last day in Lucca and explore San G and Volterra on the way to Pienza?

2. Can we go BUDGET in Fiesole and still have public places to take in the views/scenery? I know Ira has mentioned a great bar to have a drink/enjoy the view - are there also picnic spots? Can we enjoy Fiesole on the bare basics for hotel? (I would like to splurge in Pienza and Venice, so would like to be cheap/bare bones in Lucca & Fiesole)

For background, we want to stay in Fiesole, b/c DH and I were in Florence (he refers to it as Flowtown, lol) in 2002 and he found it overwhelming/unenjoyable as a place to stay, but since it has enjoyable things to do, we'd just like to escape it for peace and quiet at night.

3. Can we really stop and see Bologna in an afternoon? Now, I know we can't see all the highlights, but can we park, explore for a few hours and have a nice lunch? Enough to leave us wishing we had stayed for a two nights and hoping to come back? Or is it a city too hard to navigate and we shouldn't bother if we only have the afternoon?

4. Any opinions on taking 3 flights on the way over, versus two and then a train ride to last destination? As of now it doesn't seem more expensive to fly into Florence or Pisa, it just involves more stops. Thoughts?

Whew - its enough for now! Sorry if I'm a bit wordy, but I try to anticipate questions... thanks to those who gave input on the first try - hoping I did it better this time!

Ciao - A domani! (started my Italiano class yesterday, its OVERWHELMING, but hopefully the payoff is worth it )


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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 06:27 PM
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If you are only interested in seeing the tower in Pisa then stop after you land and then go onto Lucca. Have you considered flying into Rome and picking up your rental car? Drive to the agriturismo in Pienza, next Lucca area keeping car,Bologna stop on the way to Fiesole,Florence and last train to Venice?
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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 06:48 PM
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travelphile,
I am planning a first trip to Italy and am thinking of staying in Fiesole for the same reasons you mentioned.

Where are planning on staying in Fiesole?

I came across a cute looking b and b there called Le Cannelle. Ever heard of it?

Good luck with the rest of your planning. Be sure to post the final itinerary.
Thanks.

-Bill
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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 07:07 PM
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KyBourbon - I'm against flying into Rome for a few reasons... 1. I feel like if we fly into there, then we HAVE to spend at least 3 days. I can't see being that close and skipping one of the greatest cities in the world. 2. I'm against the drive to Pienza the first day if I could skip the city. We drove Milan to Lake Garda in 2002, and we weren't the most alert drivers, so we said we didn't want to do that again (though that time we stopped in London for a bit on the way over) and 3. I want Pienza to be the downtime mid trip, the vacation while on vacation... all that being said, I appreciate your suggestion b/c if flight prices end up being an amazing deal, I could throw my plan out the window and go with yours!

iamq - have seen Le Canelle, but was dismayed that they didn't list prices. I did find this on another site this eveing, not their main one, but am not sure how old it is...
Room Price in Euro with buffet breakfast:
Single: 78,00
Double: 114,00
Triple: 140,00
Four bedded rooms: 180,00

Restaurants 50 m

http://www.emmeti.it/Welcome/Toscana.../index.uk.html is the website.

We stayed at Hotel Boticelli last time, in Florence and enjoyed it, but again, want to stay in Fiesole this time for the serenity. I was hoping for some more suggestions for Fiesole lodging! I've seen some non-budget places that get good reviews in Fiesole, but that's it. When are you going?
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Old Jan 25th, 2005, 07:25 PM
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travelphile,
I found a complimentary review of Le Cannelle on slowtrav.

We are going in June 2006 for two weeks. The plan at this point is to do Florence for 3 nights, Tuscany in some way for 7 nights and Venice for 4 nights.
-Bill
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 09:07 AM
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The train station in Lucca is outside the old wall but not really far. We took the train to Pisa which took about 20-30 minutes. It's an old regional train and we got off at S. Rossore which is closer to the tower. Busses are more efficient to some locations than the regional trains because they don't have as many stops and usually drop off in the old part of town.
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 09:26 AM
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I'd go to Venice by train. Pienza to Venice is a long (non-fun) drive.

"It seems 'possible' to daytrip from Lucca to Pisa, Volterra, and San G... but is it PRACTICAL with public transportation?"
Rent a car for this. San G. and Volt. are possible in a day with public transportation,but adding Pisa in ,IMHO,is too much.
With a car it's doable (assuming that you'll spend very little time in Pisa).
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 09:56 AM
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Travelphile, sorry I don't have an answer for any of your questions, but I do have a question, if you don't mind. What specifically did your husband dislike about Florence - enough to drive you out to the hills (LOL)? My husband does not like noise, pollution, etc. and I hadn't thought of staying in Fiesole (we are travelling spring 2006), although we'd planned to spend an afternoon there. Good look on the language class!
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 10:42 AM
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rickmav, I can offer some insight into Florence. It has some of the most amazing art you will ever see and is certainly worth a trip. I really, really wanted to love Florence.

However, the streets are narrow and the autos and vespas are right on top of you as you walk around the city and the noise becomes overwhelming. We would actually leave a busy street and wander the side streets to get away from the noise. The other negative, which is a personal issue, is that there were many vendors selling their wares and people having lunch right on the steps of the Duomo. I found that to be so disrespectful. The carabenieri would drive by, chase the vendors, and as soon as they police car was gone, the vendors were back.

After a few days there, we left for the serenity and slower pace of the Tuscany countryside and were very pleased with our journey south on S222.

We will return to Florence because we just touched the surface on all its offerings, but, sadly, it was not my favorite city.
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 01:40 PM
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Regarding Fiesole, I don't think there is a train to Fiesole. We stayed there in 1996 but had to take a 20 minute bus ride from Florence (8 kilometers).

As far as bargain accommodations are concerned, we stayed at "Camping Panoramico Fiesole"

http://www.campingtoscana.it/panoramico/enindex.html

Their number is 055-599069. It's 3 kilometers above Fiesole. The campground has a small market, a restaurant, and great views of Florence. We stayed in a two room wood cabin bungalow. Our bungalow was immaculate. It had a mini kitchen too and a clean bathroom.

According to the web site, the 2003 price was 90 Euro for 4 people.

We had no car, so to get to Fiesole we took the short cut. We walked from the back of the campground straight down to town. The hike back up was a good workout.

There are many benefits in staying at this campground. First of all, it's lovely. There are lots of trees and gorgeous views. It's quiet and peaceful. The cabins are great. The downside is that for those without a car, you have to hoof it. The short cut through the homes of Fiesole is a steep, windy walk which is pretty.....unless you're out of shape. If you have a car then I would totally recommend staying here. If you don't have a car then you should only stay here if "walking and exercise is your friend" .

There is a hotel at the bus stop in Fiesole. I think it's called the Aurora. It looked like a nice place to stay. The food in their restaurant is divine. I had lobster ravioli (twice)!
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 01:45 PM
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wantagig, when you mention this walk, how long would it take? Would the steepness be like going up some of the hills in San Francisco (if you've been there)? Would you feel safe walking this alone?
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 02:02 PM
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Hi WT: The walk was probably 10-15 minutes down and at least 20 minutes back. I think San Francisco would be a good comparison. In fact probably not as steep as SF.

I'd feel very comfortable walking by myself during the day. At night I recall that it was quite dark but not pitch black--that would have frightened me a bit. One night after spending a day in Florence and returning by bus to Fiesole, my friends and I walked back to camp. As a group we felt very safe. The neighborhood is a nice one. The single family homes along the walk back to camp are really lovely, large and modern. I remember thinking "these homeowners must have some bucks". I'd describe it as a nice hilly suburb.

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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 06:36 PM
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rickmav - "I didn't have a good feeling about it" is his answer this evening. One thing I can say is that we were there late June (CROWDED), and we arrived on the day of a Florentine Holiday (unsure of its name) and the city had been holding a celebration/parade. It was a mess. It looked like New Orleans around Mardi Gras. So I think that turned us both off. Also, Lorac nailed it - just a busy, chaotic, crowded, noisy city.

It also didn't help that a train strike kept us from our planned time in Florence, and we ended up with just about 18 hours there - so we stayed around the Duomo, explored the market (Lorenzo?), and saw David - didn't have time for much else. Would have loved to see the Ponte Vecchio, Medici palace, etc...

Wantagig - I was psyched about your campground bungalow - till DH reminded me that our travel partners are my grandparents!, While they are in excellent shape, and I would worry about me more on the walk, my grandmother has never been to Europe and would KILL me for taking her to a campground (though I did get her camping in the Adirondaks last year!)

Anyone have ideas on the Bologna or flight question?? Opinions even?
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 07:40 PM
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To again address rickmav's 'what was it about Florence' - I don't think that it was so much something wrong with Florence, as our enjoying the surroundings we had in other cities.

For instance, we started that trip with 4 days in Garda, on Lago di Garda. Absolutely wonderful small town, we could walk in, wander around, see things, head back to calming hotel with no problems. Venice, no traffic noise, no being run down by cars. Rome, we loved the sites, but not the city. Ended our trip in Manarola, again, calm quiet, but easy enough to get to places for sightseeing, eating, etc...

It seems like people speak of staying in Fiesole much like the destintations we enjoyed the last time we were in Italy, so we're trying to tailor this trip to include those simple enjoyments!
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Old Jan 26th, 2005, 08:05 PM
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Thanks for the insight into Florence. Let us know travelphile how you found Fiesole as a base to visit Florence. I'm really thinking it would be an alternative for my husband and I, as well.
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