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Italy trip: need help with one more destination...

Italy trip: need help with one more destination...

Old Jan 4th, 2010, 12:22 AM
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Italy trip: need help with one more destination...

Well the 16-day trip to Italy that was supposed to happen this past October is rescheduled for end of March/early April. This is due to a crazy case of the flu, work nonsense, and family melodramatics. Ay ay ay. Nevertheless, the trip is approaching and I'm trying to finalize details and could use some more of your very trusted help.

I am looking for one more place to visit on this trip. The weather will be crazy and unpredictable this time of year, not to mention it is smack dab in the middle of Easter. Here is what I have so far:

3 days - Venice
1 day - Bologna
5 days - Florence/Tuscany
5 days - Rome

I have a good mix of touristy and non-touristy things planned, but I have two more days to spend somewhere. I would obviously love to go to the coast but it's off-season and could be very rainy. Because I will be spending most of my time in large cities and doing a lot of sightseeing, I would like to splurge on something that's beautiful and relaxing.

Any suggestions would be great!!!!!
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 02:45 AM
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You might add a night or two to Venice, especially since it is at the beginning of your trip. That will give you time to unwind from the flight. Three days in Venice will go quickly. Or you might add two nights in Umbria -- if you'll have a car. You mention Tuscany, so I'm thinking you might. We spent several nights on the outskirts of Siena with a car, drove to Southern Tuscany where we spent four nights, then one night in Orvieto at an agriturismo before heading to the Rome airport where we turned in our car. We wished we'd had another night or two in Umbria.

You refer to your trip in days. It might be easier to refer to the trip in nights. That way it will be easier for people to respond to your question, i.e., will you be spending one day in Bologna or one night? Also, tell us a little about what you would like to do. That will also help us in making suggestions. Tuscany or Umbria would be great if you're looking for a cooking class and/or wonderful hill towns.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 06:24 AM
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We loved Bologna and spent 4 days there last trip to Italy. Not only it is a great little city on its own, but it is great for access to other gastronomic highlights like Parma.

I would add a night to Bologna.

Personally, I would limit Venice to two nights but I am not a fan.

We enjoyed our day trip to Orvieto and I would like to spend more time there as well.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 06:42 AM
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You could add a day each to Venice, Bologna and Tuscany easily in my humble opinion.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 06:46 AM
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I agree with all of the above - another day to Bologna, Venice and Tuscany, in that order.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 07:04 AM
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Agree that adding a day to Venice and Bologna would do it. Use one of those days to see Ravenna, if you have any interest in Byzantine mosaics.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 10:25 AM
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luvtotravel- here's my itinerary in nights:
3 nights - Venice
1 night-Bologna
5 nights-Florence(w/day trips to Siena, Pisa/Lucca)
5 nights-Rome

I arrive early evening in Venice, so I wasn't planning on doing much more than dinner that first day. From what I've been told from friends/family with similar taste to mine, I won't want to stay any longer in Venice. If I did add a night it would be to take a day trip to Verona.

I will not have a car in Tuscany...just taking some easy day trips from Florence and doing a bike tour(weather permitting).

I am 25yo, this is my first trip to Italy, and I'm going by myself. I am very into the arts and history so I'll be doing a lot of museums,etc. I am a singer so I'm taking advantage of all of the wonderful music experiences. I'm a food and wine lover, as well. I will also be doing some Holy Week related things which I'm very excited about.

I have been going back and forth on Umbria...I would love to visit Perugia, Assisi and Orvieto. But I also have to take into account that this will fall on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.

Hope this helps. Thanks for all of your suggestions so far!
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 10:46 AM
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Your itinerary looks good and as others have suggested rather than add another destination I'd add the extra night or nights to your existing locations.

If you have only one extra night then add it to Bologna. single night stays on trips are a large time waster. by the time you pack, get to your hotal and unpack you've wasted half a day and then you get to repeat the process again the next day.

If you have two extra nights, I'd add the other one to Venice, but I love Venice and find that we never have enough time there.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 11:18 AM
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You can add days to Bologna, and to make day trips from there to Ravenna (splendid mosaics), Ferrara, San Marino.

Or to add to Venice and make day trips to Verona, Vicenza or Sirmione.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 11:21 AM
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If you are a singer, I think you would very much enjoy the Oratoria of Sant Cecilia in Bologna


Also in Bologna, the extraordinary terracotta statues in the church of Santa Maria delle Vita, and the Bolgonese opera house:

"Bologna's opera house is one of the top theaters in Italy. It is a stunning example of 18th century baroque architecture. Located in the heart of Bologna's historic district, the Teatro Comunale di Bologna holds opera, musical, and symphony performances."


You might also want to get your hands on a copy of John Berendt's "City of Falling Angels", which tells the story of when the opera house of Venice, Le Fenice, burned down in 1997. Although I am not enamoured of Venice, its museums and art treasures are incomparable (most especially the Accademia and the island of Torcello) and you should think hard about how you are allotting your time, given your interests in art and music. Only you know whether you want to spend more time with the Renaissance art of Florence, or the somewhat different Renaissance art of Siena (and I would think twice about a daytrip to Lucca, given the riches of your other destinations), or the unique treasures of Venice and Rome.

But for something extra that is "beautiful and relaxing" -- Ravenna is marvelously beautiful for art, although it is a city (easily accessed from Bologna or Venice). San Gimignano is terribly touristy, but less so in March, and it has beautiful, beautiful frescoes in its churches. (It is reachable as a bus daytrip from Firenze). A trip up the hill to Fiesole -- with its Roman ruins and Fra Angelico history amid olive groves and vines might do you for ease of access and a countryside day.

During many afternoons, vespers are sung in the gorgeous San Miniato al Monte, just directly above Firenze and its Piazzele Michaelangelo. You might enjoy hearing them.

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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 12:11 PM
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This forum is a beauty and a curse! So many great suggestions, so not enough time to do them all. I guess the lesson learned is this: It's Italy and you can't really go wrong wherever you go.

I am definitely going to add a night to Bologna. Just deciding now where I should add the second night for another day trip.

stepsbeyond- Thanks for all of the great info! San Miniato al Monte will definitely be added to my list. Is it possible to reach Fiesole by foot from Florence???

On a side note: Has anyone been to any good jazz clubs in Italy???
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 12:18 PM
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Our biggest mistake last year was scheduling only 2 nights in Bologna.
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 01:06 PM
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hi mallory,

I haven't been there [so what do I know?] but I suspect that you will regret not spending both your extra nights in Bologna. it's definitely at the top of my "italy" to do list, with lots of fabulous restaurants and options for day-trips.

as for fiesole on foot, you might prefer to get the bus up there [from piazza san marco at the top of via cavour, great cafe on the corner and accademia just round the other corner] and walk back down. I can remember looking this up before and it said that it was 30 mins by foot - and the rest!

have a great trip,

regards, ann
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Old Jan 4th, 2010, 01:47 PM
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ann is right about taking the bus to Fiesole. For San Minato al Monte (which isn't in Fiesole, but just across the Arno in Florence itself), it is a pleasant if longish uphill walk to the Piazelle Michaelangelo, with more than one way to get there, easily traced on tourist maps, but there are also buses if you are footsore.

By the way, if you are planning a trip by bus to the town of Fiesole, consider beginning the day by visiting the Museo San Marco in Florence, the stunning monastery of Savanorola where each monk's cell was decorated with an inspirational small mural by Fra Angelico. And ann is right that there is a great cafe just opposite the museo for a lovely coffee before or after the museum, or when you return by bus from Fiesole.


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Old Jan 5th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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Thanks annhig and stepsbeyond!

stepsbeyond-I actually have the Museo San Marco on my list of things to do! If you have any other recommendations, I would love to have them.

I have decided to add the second night to Florence so I can do another day trip. Right now I'm debating on San Gimignano, Volterra, Cortona, or Montepulciano. Any thoughts?
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Old Jan 5th, 2010, 09:05 AM
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Add both days to Bologna. This will also mean that you will add time to Venice since you won't need to leave Venice early in the day to maximize your time in Bologna. Ravenna is well worth a full day trip and Bologna itself is wonderful with many things for you to do and you will be able to see it with less rushing.
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Old Jan 5th, 2010, 09:23 AM
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Did anyone see the news coverage last week of the high water in St Mark's? The cafe chairs were practically floating away.
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Old Jan 5th, 2010, 09:48 AM
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I also see a rationale for adding the time to Bologna, although I can also see a rationale for adding all your time to Firenze and then daytripping back to Bologna (unless you intend to go to a nighttime concert there).

As for your other choices of towns, do realize that you have identified some of the most daytrip -jammed "under the Tuscan" bus tour destinations in Italy. If that doesn't bother you, forge ahead, but double check the logistics of using public transportation to reach Volterra and Montepulciano from Firenze (the latter might be simpler as a long day trip from Roma).

As for other things to do and see in Firenze, the more you tell Fodor's posters about yourself the more than can help you zero in on what you are most likely to find rewarding. For instance, I'm somebody who simply walks past the markets of San Lorenzo and tries to find some other way to cross the Arno other than the Ponte Vecchio with its tourist-choked jewelry-selling stalls. But if you love jewelry, there is a jewelry museum in Firenze of international importance. I've never been. Scant interest -- yet I think to go into the museum of the Duomo in Firenze in fantastic to see the actual real doors of the Bapistery rather than the reproductions that now are attached to the Bapistery. (Do go inside the Bapistery itself). The real doors have a level of astonishing craft the reproductions miss, and you really get why they were so inspirational to other artists. And the museum has other terrific treasure in a smallish space.

Yet for me, the reproduction of David outside in Firenze is enough Michaelangelo for me! ' And I positively dislike goingin to the Uffizi as much as I love museums and painting. It's too suffocatingly crowded with tourists who really have zero interest in what they are seeing. They were just told it was a "must-see". (If you do go to the Uffizi, at least stick your head into the NIobe room, nearly destroyed by a terrorist bomb in 1993 and only fully restored in 2006.)

So it is hard to advise. However, if the Cappella Brancacci has not made it onto your list, consider adding it:


Have a great trip!
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Old Jan 5th, 2010, 10:03 AM
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By the way, if you are looking for another destination, have you considered Lucca, birthplace of Puccini?

From now until 2011, Lucca is pulling out all the stops to have a daily celebration of Puccini's music, with special programming every day. The small walled city is a multiply-rewarding destination in its own right, but all this Puccini might give you an added reason to go. Lucca is not hard to reach by train from Firenze, but if you are attending an evening concert, double check when that last train leaves or spend the night.

You can use this website to keep up with what's scheduled for March/April 2010 (Be careful clicking: It has a loud opera soundtrack, which you can switch off at the bottom of the left column):

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Old Jan 5th, 2010, 01:35 PM
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I am several thousand years older than you and I have done the walk from over the Ponte Vecchio, up through the hills to San Miniato, on to Piazza Michelangelo, and down the steps and back to Florence central. On a nice day, it is a great thing to do.

If you are interested, the interior of the Duomo is San Gimignano is breathtaking. Yes, it is a touristy town, but it is well worth seeing for these frescoes. I copied this from aboutitaly.com:
San Gimignano Attractions:
Besides the towers, San Gimignano's historic center has several interesting tourist attractions.

* La Collegiata - San Gimignano's 11th century duomo, la Collegiata, has an interior lavishly decorated with 14th century frescoes, floor to ceiling, illustrating the Life of Christ and the Old Testament. In the Chapel of Santa Fina is a 15th century fresco showing San Gimignano's towers as they were then.
* Palazzo del Popolo Civic Museum - The Civic Museum is inside the Palazzo del Popolo. The museum contains some outstanding art work and frescoes from the 13th-15th centuries, including the famous Sala di Dante with frescoes by Benozzo Gozzoli.
* Torture Museum - The Museo della Tortura is inside the Torre della Diavola. It has a large display of torture instruments, some of which are still in use today in various parts of the world.
* Archaeology Museum - The Museo Archeologico, in a former convent, has a small collection of Etruscan artifacts. The Etruscans were the first civilization to occupy what's now San Gimignano.
* Museum of Sacred Art - The museum has a small collection of religious art including 14th century illuminated choir books.
* Sant'Agostino - The small 13th century church of Sant'Agostino is worth visiting for its charming frescoes, its elaborate marble altar, and the 15th century carved tomb of San Bartolo.
* La Rocca - The remains of the 14th century fortress above the town are worth visiting for the views of San Gimignano's towers and the countryside. Walk up the hill from Piazza delle Erbe. There's also a wine museum and an outdoor cinema in summer.
* Medieval Fountains - The 9th century Fonti Medievali on Via delle Fonti is where medieval townspeople got water and did their laundry.

Other than the Torture Museum, you will find that the tourists who flood this town aren't flooding all these attractions.

It's kind of like Murano: no one wanders to the cathedral. If you are on the trail of art, make sure you get to the churches, no matter how touristy the town is.
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