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2butterflies Jan 18th, 2018 04:54 PM

Italy trip with 4 days to spare
DH and I are planning a two-week trip to Italy this spring and need to fill in some gaps in our first pass trip plan which is as follows: Rome (3 days) – Assisi (2 days) – Siena (2 days) – Florence (2 days) – Rome to fly home (1 day). We have 4 days to spare and would like your input on whether to add other cities (and which ones) or add more days to the cities listed above. We prefer not rushing from one city to the next but also don’t want to spend more time in a place than there are things to do. Prefer train travel over having to rent a car. Our last trip to Italy a long time ago included Venice so we aren’t planning to go there. Do you think we’re allowing enough time (or too much time) for each of the above cities? We love art and architecture but also get a little burned out with too much time in museums. Also any tips on train travel or sightseeing would be greatly appreciated.

Leely2 Jan 18th, 2018 06:40 PM

If it were me, and it obviously is not, I'd add two days to Rome, one day to Florence, and a day either to Assisi or Siena (for me it would be Assisi because I prefer Umbria). This would give you more time to freewheel in some of the lesser-visited sights in Rome and Florence, and some time to unwind in one of your hill towns.

isabel Jan 18th, 2018 07:27 PM

First of all I wouldn't split the Rome time, rather put it all at the end (it will be better to be there before your flight out). That gives you four nights for Rome but five would be better.

I'd go straight to Florence on arrival. There are frequent trains and it only takes about 1-2 hours. I would also add a night there (so 3), you most likely won't run out of things to do but if you did a day trip to Pisa/Lucca is easy and good.

I would then either add one each to Siena and Assisi or keep it at two each and add two to Orvieto.

kja Jan 18th, 2018 07:32 PM

I think isabel's suggestion to go straight to Florence and put all your time in Rome at the end makes sense.

Are you sure you can see and experience what you want in the time you have? I wanted 6 full days in Rome and 5 full days in Florence, but that's just my interests, and what matters here are YOUR interests. Here's what I recommend: Get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, check their opening/closing times on the internet, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from your lodging, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting lost/oriented, etc.)

And if you don't already have one, please get yourselves a good guidebook or two! The cost will be nominal in comparison to the cost of your trip, you will have a wealth of information at your fingertips (including tips on train travel and sightseeing), and you will have answers to questions you don't even know to ask.

Hope that helps!

Jean Jan 18th, 2018 08:41 PM

Are you willing/interested in renting a car for a couple of days?

If yes, you could wander in Tuscany or Umbria, using either Siena or Assisi as your base.

If not, I'd add the days to Rome and Florence and plan one or two day trips from each.

2butterflies Jan 18th, 2018 11:56 PM

Thanks for all the great suggestions. I like your idea Isabel, of seeing Rome all at the end, less time wasted checking in/out. The reason for splitting the time was that we’re arriving in Rome after a 17-hour international flight from home and to get on a train to another destination sounds exhausting. We could alternatively spend just the first night in Rome for jet lag / get oriented, leave on day 2 for Florence and see Rome at the end but we’d still be splitting it which does seem a shame. I forgot to mention we went to Florence on our first trip and loved it, so this will be our second visit. We’ve used with Frommer’s guide books in the past, Rick Steve’s Provence (just so-so) and haven’t selected one for Italy yet – thanks for the reminder kja, will start researching guidebooks this weekend. We’re not opposed to renting a car, Jean, but didn’t think of renting a car just for a couple days – that could be fun. At one point early on we talked about getting a place in Tuscany for a week and renting a car but lost that idea someplace along the way. We once rented an apartment in Provence and drove to small towns; just loved it. We could add that back in as we haven’t yet booked our air – rent an apartment in a base town in Tuscany or Umbria to drive around and add a few days to the trip if that would be worthwhile. We aren’t into wine but do love small towns. It could be a nice contrast to the large cities on our itinerary.

greg Jan 19th, 2018 12:19 AM

Originally Posted by 2butterflies (Post 16654311)
The reason for splitting the time was that we’re arriving in Rome after a 17-hour international flight from home and to get on a train to another destination sounds exhausting.

Have you actually worked through the scenario as opposed to prima facie assumed without doing analysis that it would be exhausting?
What time are you arriving in Rome? If you are arriving in the morning, where do you think you can spend time in Rome that is not exhausting until you can check into your accommodation?

StCirq Jan 19th, 2018 02:29 AM

If you haven't booked your airfare yet, consider buying open-jaw tickets (into one city and out of another) to save you the expense and time of having to backtrack to Rome.

I also wouldn't discount the option of continuing on to Florence after you land in Rome. In theory, it sounds exhausting, I suppose. In reality, it's a lost day anyway and you'd be exhausted whether you were on a train or waiting to get into a hotel room anyway.

Re-figure your itinerary counting nights instead of days. When you say 2 days in Place X that usually means you're coming in from somewhere else the day before, spending one night, then leaving for somewhere else the next day...which means you have hardly any time at all in Place X.

dreamer320 Jan 19th, 2018 04:30 AM

I prefer to do Rome first rather than at the end (but not split). Rome was wonderful, but our time there is so busy and energetic and usually wearying. Even if we're not running around like mad, just the busyness of getting around the streets makes it seem frantic at times. I like immersing myself there first, and then heading to calmer places for the remainder of our time. When flying out of Rome, we spend the night before the flight in Orvieto, but obviously with a mid-day flight.

2butterflies Jan 20th, 2018 11:16 AM

All great suggestions, thanks! Open jaw is a great idea so that's what we'll do. Also thanks to Jean's suggestion, DH and I now plan to rent an apartment and drive around Tuscany and Umbria and we'll add a few days to the trip. If anyone has suggestions for a good base town in Umbria or Tuscany that would not be too crowded, would love your suggestions. We're planning to start our trip in late April.

PalenQ Jan 20th, 2018 11:24 AM

Just a word on train tickets - fbook your own online weeks in advance to get deep discounted fares - Acquista il biglietto con le nostre offerte - Trenitalia or - two separate rail companies using similar trains over same tracks and into same stations. has tons of suggestions for that; BETS-European Rail Experts and has lots in general on Italian trains.

Take bus between Assisi and Siena and Florence - no pre-booking needed IME.

I'd add Venice just about 3 hours from Florence by train. to me the absolute highlight of Italy!

StCirq Jan 20th, 2018 12:03 PM

Tuscany is huge. Umbria isn't much smaller. You need to narrow down your geographical interests before anyone can help you.

PalenQ Jan 20th, 2018 12:37 PM

I'd rent a car in Assisi and putz around there and drive to Siena and putz around there and add some of those 4 extra days in too. If you like driving Provence you'll love Tuscany and Umbria though I found driving in hilly areas tedious at times and parking in hill towns can be near the bottom. Buses will get you anywhere and they go frequently enough but seting your own times and pace by driving is nice.

PalenQ Jan 21st, 2018 12:05 PM

Montepulciano is a favorite with many here - could do Assisi -there and then Siena.

2butterflies Jan 21st, 2018 01:18 PM

Thanks for all the great links to train info PalenQ - Seat61 alone is so helpful! It's funny you mention Montepulciano, I was just going to look into it and here's this post from you.Also found another thread on home bases in Tuscany/Umbria so no longer need help with that. Thanks all for sharing your knowledge, it's been a big help in our planning.

bvlenci Jan 22nd, 2018 12:42 PM

I'm not sure you really have four extra days. I don't see that you'll allowed any time for getting from one place to the other. If I'm counting right, you have four half days, the other half of which will be spent traveling and getting settled in to a new base.

I would prefer to head on to Florence on arrival. It really doesn't take long to get there, and the train trip is usually trouble-free and relaxing. After a long trip, you probably won't feel like doing much that day anyway, There are even two direct trains daily from the airport to Florence, leaving Fiumicino airport at 11:08 and 15:08, if those times suit.

kawh Jan 22nd, 2018 06:47 PM

We have a 3 night rule and always find plenty to do and to explore... so I would add a day to several of the cities... and 2 days to Rome if possible.

If you are opposed to that, maybe one of the smaller towns on the train route north of Rome.... like Orvieto. ??

PalenQ Jan 23rd, 2018 11:02 AM

Orvieto would be a great place to start a motoring part- not far from rome by train - then spend the night in Montepulciano and then basing in Siena makes sense. Return car there and bus to Florence.

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