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sac63 Aug 12th, 2014 03:28 AM

Italy Summer 2015
I am planning my first Italy trip with my husband and 22 year old twins. It will be the first trip to Europe for the 22 year olds. We are very outdoorsy and I know that I would like to see sites in Rome but more than one day of art is too much. I would like to spend some time in Tuscany and am thinking about a Bike tour if anyone can recommend one. Also would like to take the kids to Munich, Switzerland, Austria (probably not all but at least one). I think they would love the beer gardens in Munich and I would really like for them to see the Swiss Alps but this may be accomplished via a train ride. Venice would be a nice stop as well but not for long. I know I do not want to spend the entire time in cities (just not my thing). Would love to do a wine tour but I think that can be accomplished on the bike tour. I do not want to cram too much into the trip so no 2 days in all locations and 6 locations kind of itinerary! Does anyone have a suggestion on route?

Oh and BTW we are flying in and out of Rome. Although I know this is not optimal, the flights are free so that makes that part non negotiable. We could however take a plane directly North from Rome when we arrive or take trains North and then fly back to Rome to depart. We actually have 13 nights arriving lunch time on a Sunday and departing dinner time on a Saturday (not sure if this will play into the plane ride in either direction).

Thanks for suggestions. This is a college graduation trip/gift for the kids (young adults).

bvlenci Aug 12th, 2014 03:45 AM

You'll find beer gardens in Austria and Switzerland, as well as all over Germany. If you don't care for cities, there's no reason to go to Munich, a rather large city, for a beer garden.

I would choose one of the three locations based on other criteria, and then decide how to get around.

Even if you're not much into art, there are tons of things to see in Rome apart from museums. I wouldn't go to any museums if they're not your thing. You won't be punished if you don't go to the Vatican Museums. In fact, I've been there four times at all times of the year, and wild horses couldn't drag me there again in the summer. I'd just skip that one altogether. Even with no museums, I'd give Rome two full days (three nights).

Two nights would be enough for Venice, probably. It's extremely crowded in the summer, but you can avoid the crowds by staying away from all the top-ten sites. There are beautiful little canals where the tourists never venture.

The train ride through the Alps is spectacular, and you can get from Venice to Switzerland, Austria, or Germany by train without problems. Cheap flights are a good alternative.

I've stayed in Lucerne, where there are lots of hiking possibilities, and it's a beautiful town. I've also stayed in Salzburg, where we spent a day hiking near Hallstatt. I loved Hallstatt and would have gladly spent more time in that region (the Salzkammergut). I haven't been to much of southern Germany apart from Munich, but my daughter spent several months there studying. I know that all three countries sometimes have abundant rain in the summer, which could interfere with your hiking.

nytraveler Aug 12th, 2014 03:55 AM

Agree to give Rome more time even if our ignore art museums entirely. Give yourself te time to see a couple f the major ancient monuments and St Peters (climb to the top of the Dome for a great views and see the Treasury). Also allow yourself time to just absorb the city, sit in a cafe across from the Pantheon in late afternoon with a drink (and perhaps free munchies) and watch the world go by. You really need at least a tiny feel for Rome. Venice - depends on what you want to see/do. We love visiting a couple of the outer islands (Torcello and perhhaps Burano as well as a day seeing the canals, bacino and historic center.

If budget is an issue I would choose someplace in Germany or Austria rather than Switz. I ADORE Switz but the prices can be shocking and Germany is usually much less expensive. And there are several areas with a ton to do in the outdoors (hiking, hiking and everything you can think of) including the Bavarian Alps, Black Forest and Lake Konstanz area.

adrienne Aug 12th, 2014 03:59 AM

If you're not interested in art, definitely avoid Florence as there is art everywhere.

Venice is a city but it never feels like a city to me as there is no car traffic. That, combined with the small, narrow streets, makes it feel like a village as long as you avoid the crowds near St. Mark's square.

Do you want a 1 day bike tour or a multi day tour?

For your 1 day of art I would visit a couple of the major churches in Rome, the Borghese Gallery, and 1 of the national museums. You'll have a better time doing this than going to the Vatican Museums.

LucyStanmore Aug 12th, 2014 04:07 AM

If you're interested in the outdoors, then you could take into consideration visiting the smaller towns and villages in Italy located along the coast. They are gorgeous and will keep you away from the crowded cities like Rome or Milan. Try Manarola, Polignano a Mare, Portofino for sailing or Praiano.

isabel Aug 12th, 2014 04:10 AM

For practical reasons I would do it in this order: Tuscany, Venice, Germany/Austria, Rome.

Put Rome at the end since that is where you are flying out of. You don't want to be flying from Germany on the day you fly out (if that flight is delayed then you miss your 'free' flight back, then it become far from free). I would give Rome at least two or three full days - and you don't need to go in any museums, in fact in only 3 days I wouldn't do any, there is so much else to see in Rome.

Upon arrival you can take a train to where ever you are basing in Tuscany. It's more expensive to buy train tickets once you get there, but no where near as expensive as buying plane tickets at the last minute (not even possible usually). So since Tuscany is closest to Rome, the train tickets won't be that much. Then when you are done in Tuscany, train to Venice, then train to Germany/Austria/Switzerland and then fly back to Rome a few days before the end of the trip.

I agree two days in Venice is OK (more is better but two days will give you a nice taste). Also agree that for the Alps, Switzerland is much more expensive than Germany/Austria.

I'd probably do 3-4 days Tuscany, 2-3 days Venice, 3 days Alps, 3 days Rome.

adrienne Aug 12th, 2014 04:15 AM

In Austria (outside Salzburg/Hallstat/Werfen) you can visit an ice cave and a salt mine.

St. Gilgen looks delightful for hiking. You have the mountains and the water.

If I were looking for an outdoor type of trip I would have chosen Austria over Italy, especially as it will be cooler and greener.

vincenzo32951 Aug 12th, 2014 04:17 AM

I think from what you said, you have 12 days on the ground, starting and ending in Rome, and you want to include time in Tuscany and time in Germany or Austria or Switzerland and maybe Venice.

So let's say you spend the first two-three days in Rome, since you're already there, and catch the major sites -- Colosseum, Vatican Square, Sistine Chapel, etc.

Then, what, four days in Tuscany on a bike tour? Friends of ours did something like that with a company that provided the bikes and transported their luggage from place to place. Sorry, don't know the name of the company, but a search on Tuscany bike tours should reveal something.

Then, maybe, at train to Venice for two days. I'd spend longer there, but it's your vaca, not mine.

From Venice, you can train or fly north. I'm partial to Germany. Munich is OK, but the small towns and riverside castles are, for me, the real attractions. Plus, IME, Germany is the better bargain. Build in a day of travel time there, and then 3-4 days in country, and return to Rome.

That's about 12 days.

sandralist Aug 12th, 2014 04:21 AM

Have you asked the young adults what they would most like to do? I realize college students have a lot on their minds and can't plunge into trip planning details, but they might prefer some activities more than others. As outdoorsy people, do they enjoy the sea? Think they might like mountain bike riding and windsurfing on Lago di Garda?

Part of the reason I ask is that I would not want a bike tour of Tuscany sprung on me -- maybe a Vespa tour -- but not a bike tour in summer! Also, I am not sure I would want to go to Venice, period. Even if my mom wanted me to see the Swiss Alps, I'd actually rather see the Dolomiti, unless of course I was giving her the present rather than the other way around.

And maybe they would love the idea of Munich. Sure there are beer gardens everywhere, but Munich is iconic.

Maybe they've already signed on to the general plan and you just didn't mention it here, or maybe they told you to plan whatever you think best and they'll love you for it and every minute. But if you haven't gotten their votes….

bobthenavigator Aug 12th, 2014 05:54 AM

It is your trip, but in your short time I see a max of 4 destinations and all of them in Italy:

Train back to Rome

The Dolomites are the best hiking in Europe and as spectcular as any portion of the Alps. That area was part on Austria until 1918 and still has a decided Germanic ambiance.

Save Austria and Bavaria for another trip--it deserves at least a week.

Mimar Aug 12th, 2014 06:50 AM

When next summer will you be taking this trip? August is a vacation month for everyone in Italy. Italians will be flocking to the beaches and lakes and mountains. If you could go as early as possible in the summer, it would lessen the crowds.

I kinda assume you don't like crowds as well as cities. Venice and Florence will be very crowded. Given your interests, I'd skip Florence and minimize Venice. Rome is more spread out.

I like your idea of moving on immediately upon arrival in Rome. When you leave, you'll need to be in Rome at least the night before your flight. (You can't trust trains or even buses to get you any distance to the Rome airport the same day your flight leaves. Things happen in Italy, also known elsewhere here as friction.) So bunch your days in Rome together at the end for the most efficient use of your time.

bobtn suggested a good itinerary. You could reverse it, taking the train into Rome upon arrival and on to Venice. Or you could look into cheap flights on from Rome. Check out and

Finally I agree with sandralist's suggestion that you involve your adult sons in the trip planning. Make them active participants not baggage.

nytraveler Aug 12th, 2014 08:50 AM

Sorry - I had assume the "kids" were in on the planning. the first time we took DDs - they were 11 and 14 - they did a lot of the work in terms of sights they wanted to see, things to do and alos some restaurants. The only things I did alone were air and hotels.

kybourbon Aug 15th, 2014 04:06 AM

With only 12 days, I wouldn't trek to another country. You don't have as much time as you think.

sandralist Aug 15th, 2014 04:39 AM

I think the notion of there being some huge difficulty about a "trek to another country" in today's Europe is in dire need of adjustment. Likewise, the notion that time spent in Italy or any country is inflexible and everybody has to spend the same amount of time doing the same things and if they want to do something else, then "you don't have as much time as you think." You know how much time you have. You should spend it doing what would make your sons enjoy the gift they are being given. If they want to go to another country instead of dutifully following the tourist trail in Italy, it is not a "trek." It's a trip. It's travel. It is what lots of people do all the time in today's European Union with open borders and high speed transportation.

Mimar Aug 15th, 2014 08:20 AM

Well, I do think you learn more about a culture the longer you stay in one place or one country. You pick up a little of the language, learn the local ways, like lunch is over at 2:00 no matter how hungry you are, and you must ask for the check, they won't bring it. But that assumes you want to absorb some of the local culture.

If you want to tick the maximum number of sights off your list, then you can fly or train between stops all over Europe. However, though you get more sights for your money that way, you spend a lot of time in train stations and trains or in airplanes and airports and getting to and from airports.

When people come to Fodors, they're looking for help. But we don't all have the same priorities. All we can do is give help from our point of view.

kybourbon Aug 15th, 2014 03:23 PM

>>>If you want to tick the maximum number of sights off your list, then you can fly or train between stops all over Europe.<<<

Right and the notion that one person thinks their opinions are the only ones people should listen to and if you see another tourist your trip is ruined is in dire need of adjustment.

bobthenavigator Aug 15th, 2014 03:50 PM

Yes, it is so sad.

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