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Italy (Roma and Tuscany) Itinerary Help

Old Feb 23rd, 2009, 12:37 PM
  #1  
MYP
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Italy (Roma and Tuscany) Itinerary Help

Hello there,

I am looking for some Italy help. I know it's early, but I am a ridiculous planner. My boyfriend and I are thinking about going to Italy for 9 days in October for my 30th birthday. We are active (hiking, camping, etc), enjoy eating and wine (but don't know all that much about the latter), and enjoy learning about other cultures. I might even try to learn some basic Italian for the trip. When I was there in May / June 2001 (for like 9 days), we went to Rome, Capri (with 2 pizza stops in Naples before and after Capri!), Florence, a day trip to Venice from Florence, and Milan for a night. I think this time around we'd like to go to Rome for 2 days (he has never been to Italy), and head up to Siena and use that as our home base. We'd probably do day trips to Florence, Pisa, Lucca and Cinque Terre.

I was wondering if you had any recommendations for an amazing 9 day trip to Italy that includes Rome and parts of Tuscany. Any favorite places to visit (and stay)? I truly appreciate your suggestions! Thanks in advance for your help.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2009, 12:43 PM
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Oh, um, we both graduated from business school, so we'd want to keep this a fairly affordable trip!
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Old Feb 23rd, 2009, 01:31 PM
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Assuming 9 nites to sleep in Italy, here is a popular itinerary:

Arrive FCO--train to Termini---go to Florence--3 nites
Get car, drive to Tuscany location south of Siena--3 nites
Drop car in Orvieto--train to Rome--last 3 nites

That is a start--9 nites is not very long.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2009, 01:34 PM
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You're thinking 2 days Rome and 6-7 days seeing Siena, Florence, Pisa, Lucca and CT. Will you have a car for Tuscany? If not, Florence would be the better base for using public trans to reach the other towns.

FYI, if budget is a concern, I'd have the hotels booked by April/May. In some parts of Italy, October is the most popular tourist month.

And you're more likely to get useful lodging recommendations if you tell us your budget.
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Old Feb 23rd, 2009, 01:54 PM
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Early?
I am going to Rome and Umbria in October and I have had my preliminary reservations booked for about 6 weeks.
They could, and probably will, change before then, but planning is well over half the fun.



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Old Feb 24th, 2009, 08:07 AM
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We will most likely have a car (haven't yet looked into how much train / bus tickets would be, but saw it would be about $330 to rent a car for 6 days). I think we would like to max out lodging at about $100 or EUR 75 / night. We don't mind hostels, as long as they're not super loud or really dirty. It would be nice to get some reasonably priced B&B recommendations (or even agriturisimo!). Thanks in advance!
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Old Feb 24th, 2009, 08:59 AM
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The trip you're describing would be astonishing - and exhausting. With only 9 nighte I would do 2 stops - 3 at absolute most - or you spend al your time on trains, in train statins and checkng ina dn out of hotels. And some of the "day trips" you escribe aren;t possible - unless youwat to spend about 2 hours i the place you'r "tripping" to.

Suggest you get a map and a train schedule - then figure out what you want to see where - and how many hours those things will take. It will giveyou a whole new perspective.
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Old Feb 24th, 2009, 01:37 PM
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Nytraveler, I think you misread the OP. It's only 2 hotels over 9 days.

MYP, having a car is a mixed bag. Yes, you can be spontaneous and see more little Tuscan towns than you can easily see using public trans. But having a car in some of the places you listed is the opposite of an asset, and it will probably cost you more than the total of public trans costs. If it were my trip, and I only had 9 days, I'd keep it simple and stay in Florence. Siena is an easy bus ride from Florence. I don't know when the last bus back to Florence departs (can someone please advise?), but the last train leaves at 9:18 p.m. It's easy to explore Lucca and Pisa in one day by train, or you could see them over two days. CT is a little far for a day trip (about 2.5 hours one way to Riomaggiore) but doable if you have your heart set. Bologna is only 1.5 hours away by train.

Do you have to return to Rome for your flight home? If so, you may want to do as Bobthenavigator suggested and head immediately to Tuscany when you arrive and see Rome at the end.

Your hotel budget is not impossible but will be challenging. I'd nail them down ASAP.
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Old Feb 24th, 2009, 02:07 PM
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hi MYP,

if your chap has never been to Italy before, can I throw Venice into the mix? not only is it unique, but it's a fairly gentle introduction to Italy, unlike Rome which is mad!

if you can, I'd fly into Venice, stay 4 nights, then get the train to Rome, stay 5 nights.

florence, Siena and Tuscany wall wait til another trip.

if you have to fly into and out of rome, I'd get th etrain to Florence on t heday yo arrive, spend 5 nights there, [makes allowance for jetlag and tral time] then train back to Rome, spend 4 nights.

regards, ann
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 07:55 AM
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Thanks for your suggestions. I think we might use Florence as a base and take some day trips from there. We actually don’t mind traveling less than slowly, so we can see more. We tend to get up early and make the most of the day, so sitting on a bus at 8am isn’t completely horrific! I would love to go to Venice, but I’m afraid we won’t have time for that. I am making this more of a Tuscany trip, since it’s my birthday and he said he’s game for anything.

We are going to do a day trip to Pompeii from Rome on the tail end of our trip (I know, it will be rushed, but we figure we might as well make the most of our trip and time away…plenty of time for rest when we get back to Chicago!). I’m sure I just horrified many of you…my apologies!

Anyway, I do truly appreciate your help and advice. I am sure we’ll cut some smaller day trips out, but I want to explore all possibilities first. Thanks again!
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 09:09 AM
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MYP,
If your time includes the last weekend in October you might want to see this http://www.montalcino-tuscany.it/sagra_del_tordo.htm
I have a large file of places to see in southern Tuscany, it is too big to post but if you e-mail me I will send it. [email protected]
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 10:03 AM
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MYP,

A good resource for researching your trip to Italy is the "Slow Travel" website (and NO, you don't have to move at that speed!) --- http://www.slowtrav.com/italy

Renting a car to explore the smaller towns in Tuscany does afford more flexibility. As others have said, you do want to keep in mind the parking issue. For instance if you're basing in Siena then you'd want to stay outside the city walls w/ rental car. And if you are using a car for transportation, then take advantage and explore towns that aren't readily accessible by train or bus. Florence/Siena/Lucca/Pisa -- these are all places that people can get to via public transportation.

Also, that $330 price for a rent car is likely for a manual. If you need to drive an automatic that may cost more.

As to accommadations, look on both Venere --- http://en.venere.com/hotels_tuscany/ --- and EuroCheapo --- http://www.eurocheapo.com/rome/

Finally, I'd suggest you also look on the travel board for Lonely Planet --- http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree
Altho the Fodorites on this forum are comprised of especially savvy travelers, you'll find alot more 'budget-minded' (i.e. CHEAP!) travelers on the Thorntree.
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Old Feb 25th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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You can't bring a car in to Cinque Terre, so you can take the train from Florence to La Spezia and then a local train from La Spezia to CT. I would otherwise skip Pisa unless you want to get out and take a happy snap 'holding up the tower' on your way to La Spezia. It is very touristy and you will get hounded near the tower to buy trinkets, leather, etc. It is over-the-top.

If you do decide to make CT a day trip, you must (MUST!) get there in time to take the ferry...the views are unforgettable. I did a day trip to CT from Florence with my mom 2 yrs ago. We only had time to get settled in, ride the ferry and have dinner, then we were off the next day. It was a shame we didn't plan more time there (we had a lot planned on that trip!) but it makes me want to go back and spend more time there.

No matter what you do, make sure you give yourself the option to "cut" out parts of your itinerary if you want a day to just 'do nothing'.
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Old Feb 27th, 2009, 10:46 AM
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MYP
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Thanks so much for the tips so far. We actually decided to cut Rome out (though will be flying in and out of Rome, since it's about $350 more to fly directly to Florence). Our dates are Oct 8 - 18.

I was researching Cinque Terre...seems like getting there from Florence will take about 3 hours, which wouldn't give us much time to hike for the day there, through the 5 towns. Where would you recommend staying for a night to go to CT and get a full day there? I think we would tack that on to the end of the trip, before we have to go back to Rome. Thanks and have a great weekend!
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Old Feb 27th, 2009, 11:15 AM
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The Sentiero 2 (Auzzoro or blue) trail is about 11 kilometres long,and steep in parts... hiking the Cinque Terre trail without stopping would take about 5 hours. But surely you would want to stop? We have friends that just did this last August and took a week. But, as a cautionary note, your timing is not ideal for this part of your plans. October can be very rainy,as this is maritime weather and often by November parts of the CT trail(s) are impassable. Why not make CT optional? you sure have enough else going on!
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Old Feb 27th, 2009, 04:55 PM
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We've been in CT in October twice -- in 2006 and in 2008. The weather was perfect! This past trip it was a bit cooler, but still lovely. I highly recommend October as a time to visit CT.

BUT: I would not visit for a day. Nor would I want to do the hike in one day, even though it is "doable." It's not a marathon event...it's something you want to savor and enjoy. Kind of like eating a 7-course meal in an hour: you can, but why would you want to?

My husband and I stayed in Manarola (one of the 5 towns) both times. Marina Piccolo in 2006, and Ca d'Andrean in 2008. Both places are wonderful. The thing about staying overnight in CT is that you get a much better feeling for the place in the early morning and the evening, before and after the day-trippers descend on the towns to hike.
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Old Feb 27th, 2009, 08:34 PM
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Did you price flights to Pisa (closer to CT than Florence) and Genoa?
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Old Feb 28th, 2009, 04:58 AM
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If you are hikers, you must do Cinque Terre! We did it in a day by driving to the second town (Manarola), hiking to the next 2 towns, then taking the train back to Manarola. I'm sure the boat would be incredible too, and spending the night would give you more time.

After hiking from Corniglia to Vernazza, we ate in a cute place above Vernazza with a gorgeous view looking down on the town. (It's actually before going down into the town.) My daughter had been complaining about the hike, and I said, "Look at that view! Wasn't it worth the hike?" She said, "No, but the pesto lasagne was worth it!"

It was cool and drizzly in early June--not sure about October.

By the way, I used the Pimsleur tapes before going to Italy, and was surprised by how much I could actually use when we went. (They're not cheap, but maybe the library has them.)
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Old Mar 3rd, 2009, 09:08 AM
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MYP
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Hello all. Unfortunately the cheapest flight (by at least $300) is in and out of Rome, so we'll be doing that. However, we decided to actually skip seeing Rome and waiting to do that on another trip. We will take the train from FCO to Rome to Florence the day we land and arrive back in Rome the evening before we depart.

Quick question - have any of you taken an Italian cooking class in Florence or Bologna (or another place where it will be relatively easy to get to via train / bus)? I am looking for one (so many options!) that wouldn't set us back more than about EUR 100/pp for a day or half day class. Obviously if there is some amazing class that is a bit more, we would take that...any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Grazie!
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Old Mar 3rd, 2009, 01:54 PM
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MYP - you are flying into and out of Rome but giving it a miss? that is, if may resepctfully say so, bonkers. it took me 50 years to get to Rome and I kicked myself that I'd felt it so long.

If you decide to cut out Venice so be it, but don't miss Rome.

regards, ann
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