Italy where to go this time?

Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 03:52 PM
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Italy where to go this time?

After an absolutely wonderful holiday last year to France, its time to plan next year and I can feel the excitement buzzing. But I need help in deciding where, so all suggestions appreciated!

We have been to Italy many many years ago and saw major highlights, but would like to return to specific places. High on my list is as follows:

- Cinque Terre - staying for a few nights and walking the villages
- Florence - as a base and exploring the surrounds
- rent a villa for a week - Sienna, Montepulciano maybe? or any other region?, Umbria?

Will have at least 2 weeks, only must is Cinque Terre all other areas is open. We like smaller villages rather than big cities but happy to have a mix. As with our France trip last year we liked nothing more than savouring the area and exploring the small towns peppered with days of more famous places.

Can either just train it or have a car for some of our stay. Time of year will be late September and October. At either the start of the holiday or end we want to return to France maybe for just a week - I can't be that close and not visit - either Burgundy or Normandy.

All suggestions of itinery will be most appreciated
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 05:19 PM
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I'm a big fan of the Cinque Terre. When I visited in 2007 I wound up staying in Levanto, because it's a more conventional town (technically part of the park that includes the CT but not one of the "five villages" - the next town north of Monterosso al Mare). You can book stuff online in the five villages but there is less (at least in 2007) that is conventionally book-able. Next time I'd probably stay in Vernazza or Riomaggiore and perhaps wing it and show up early in the day and find something.

I used the train to get around the CT (and on my whole trip) and I think you wouldn't want a car in the CT at all. The trains connecting the villages (including Levanto and La Spezia) come roughly once every 45 minutes or so as I recall and are covered by one of the "park" passes. The train stations in the five villages are well located and the villages are small enough that it doesn't much matter.

The trails will probably be quite busy even in early October - sure were in 2007. I'd love to go back - and I'd hope to visit mid-week rather than over a much busier weekend, if I go back in September or October.

And I assume you mean HIKING the villages? Between Coriglia and Vernazza and Vernazza and Monterosso are moderately difficult hikes, with many steps up and down and occasionally narrow passages (but otherwise safe and very doable). I mean, I'm in good shape but not an avid hiker - and I found these hikes a highlight of my trip but still a bit taxing. Just want to make sure you understand that!

I loved Siena and hope to go back there as well! I have a friend who spent a week there earlier this year and loved it. Sounds like Siena is a nice base for the area and really magically at night; not mobbed with tourists (at night anyway) like Florence is.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 05:32 PM
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Do you have two weeks in total or two weeks in Italy plus one week in France?

Do you know what airports you would like/need to use in Italy?

You'll get all the fans of Tuscany and Umbria cheering for their teams, so I suggest you research a bit about both regions and get a sense of which area suits your interests best. FWIW, I like Umbria.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 06:01 PM
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Thankyou Andrew & Jean for your replies.

We will have at least 2 weeks in Italy and then another week in France and another week to expand our itinery. About 4 weeks in total.

Andrew, yes we are walkers/hikers, I want to stay in one of the villages, so that when day trippers go home we can enjoy the ambience. The midweek suggestion is good.

Jean as we will fly from Australia it will probably be via a large city eg London, Frankfurt, Rome so will have to change to get as close to Cinque Terre - suggestions?

I probably lean towards Tuscany but I have read some great trip reports on both areas.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 06:14 PM
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I can't be of much help right now, DH and I will be in Tuscany next month (I will comment then).

But the link below is one to a report I read which made me regret not including CT, then again, maybe next time?

http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...t-to-italy.cfm

and specifically
http://www.lamala.it/en/index.html
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 08:24 PM
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Italian Lakes-Stresa-Lake Maggiore
Lake Como-Bellagio
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 10:50 PM
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We have jsut spent one week in Padua, renting a flat right in the historic centre. It is a beautiful university town, lots to do, great ambience. You can also do day trips (if you want) by train to Venice, Verone, Vicenzia. Padua is lovely and not very "touristy".
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 10:58 PM
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At some point see if you can swing by Ravenna - probably best to stay the night, it is a nice non-razzamattazzi (that's a technical term) "normal" town, and the reason for going are the many mosaics that have been there for well over a thousand years and are as shiny and spectacular as ever.

Except for the San Apollinare in Classe location (where you take a bus or taxi), they are at walkable distances within the town. Expect to just stand and watch your jaw drop!

www.classicalmosaics.com/photo_album.htm
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 11:04 PM
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Sunflower Guides have good information on walks/hikes. "Landscapes of Umbria and the Marches" was updated earlier this year, but you may have difficulty finding a copy of "Landscapes of Tuscany" although I see used copies are available through Amazon in the U.S.
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Old Sep 3rd, 2010, 11:35 PM
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We are a bit influenced on this answer because we are from Umbria. Anyway if you like small villages we have plenty of them here. Then we can add one word to help you: authenticity. That's what Umbria is for us. You can still find people of the village living in the village, which is not an easy thing to find in general. We do a lot of small sunday trips and tell them on our blog, maybe you can find some inspiration to decide better: http://umbrialoversblog.blogspot.com
Hope to have helped a bit.
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 01:10 AM
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Thank you for your replies and suggestions I have been looking them all up.

Lake Como does look beautiful but I think it will be too far north. Had looked at the Venice area but also thought maybe trying to fit in too much.

Am leaning towards Cinque Terre, then train it to Florence for a few nights and then somewhere south. Still not sure where.

When we were in France we stayed in an appt. in Paris, rural farmhouse in Provence (small village) and then Sarlat (Medieval town). So we liked the mix of all types of places.

So suggestions of a rural base to spend on day trips from would be great.

Thank you
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 04:51 AM
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It would help if you detailed which parts of Italy you already know. Italy is full of wonders big and small in every part of the country, and almost every inch of this country is worth visiting, so it's not as if Tuscany and Umbria were the only options.
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 05:41 AM
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franco - I have been to Italy twice, last time 25 years ago so it will all be with a new appreciation. Have been to Venice, Pisa, Florence,Rome,Sorrento, Capri, Naples. It was on a bus tour when I was younger so got an Italy taster holiday. All up about a month.

Soo......I am really quite open to suggestions other than Cinque Terre which has been on my must see list for some time. I guess I am leaning towards Tuscany or Umbria as they are areas which after reading about and seeing photos I thought I would like to experience in more depth.

We like to sample good food and wines, see beautiful countryside and buildings and meet the locals.
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 06:40 AM
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These are a couple of towns i have been to and really enjoyed in Puglia region.

Ostiuni

Alberobello

Small i could spend a few days in each but i am into photography and and there is a new picture around every corner.Check them out to see if it's something you might like.lots of other small towns in that region i really liked but these were my favorite.
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 07:12 AM
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We stayed in Saturnia (small town known for it's hot springs) this past summer at the home of a Tuscan family - friends of ours. We loved this area and were happy to be off the usual tourist trail. A couple amazing little villages nearby - Montemerano and Sovana. There are many agriturismos in the area. The landscape was breathtaking -- what a lovely time we had there.
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 08:42 AM
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So you're basically open to everything... which makes recommendations more difficult, not easier as it may seem.
First of all, be prepared to be very disappointed by the Cinque Terre! With all the tourism overkill that they've been experiencing, you can guess that they're hardly the same as 25 years ago!
Second, if you want to rent a villa for a week & explore the area by daytrips, you need an area with a very high density of sights, and it's certainly true that Tuscany and Umbria spring to mind as such... unfortunately not Tuscany's utmost south, which chickenlittle rightly recommended - a wonderful region, but for one entire week, I'm not sure... unless you really want to relax and not do or drive or visit too much, then this part of Tuscany is of course perfect. If sightseeing matters, the classic Val d'Orcia-Siena is certainly preferable, as well as Umbria; or Tuscany's north, of course, where it's perfectly possible to rent a villa in the countryside between the larger cities. If you're looking for something off the beaten track (yes, the crowds have arrived in Umbria, too, very unfortunately), two areas of Lazio would work well, too: either the "Etruscan" north (somewhere in the area between Sutri and Viterbo) or the Ciociaria (Anagni - Alatria - Ferentino - Arpino). Yet another possibility is the northern part of Le Marche (somewhere between Urbino and Pesaro). Or Emilia-Romagna, a third possibility, in the Po valley. Great, as well, would be the Veneto region (somewhere near Padova or Vicenza or Treviso), but that's perhaps too out-of-the-way between the Cinque Terre and France.
If you're willing to split that week between two locations (or to drive longer distances), I'd be tempted to recommend you to stay in Piemonte, which would be the logical region since it's in the middle between the Cinque Terre and Burgundy.
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 09:17 AM
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Aussie_10,
See http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/tuscany/hs_planning.htm
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 03:58 PM
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If you have only 2 weeks, that is not a lot of time to visit an area of France and 2 areas of Italy, because so much time is "lost" getting from one place to the other. Maybe this might interest you: you could drive from CT across to the eastern side of Italy. We did this in June: Lucca (2 nights) - a really lovely, elegant town, not particualrly touristy and very inetersting. Then drove to Arezzo (1 night) - some wonderful frescos there, and a beautiful town (it is the setting of the movie Life is Beautiful). Then drove to Urbino (2 nights): stunnin setting, beautiful buildings, a university town with a relaxed and friendly ambience. We then drove to Ravenna (superb mosaics in teh churches, an easy to visit town) and onto Padua (all in one day). As I said (above) we stayed there for a week. We don't like rushing and though it might look like a "lot", it was easy-paced. You can fly from Venice to France. We actually flew to Lyon from Venice. There would be other destinations in France. If you decide to stay in Normandy and visit the D Day beaches, then Bayeaux is a lovely town to base yourself in. We stayed ina delightful B and B there, and "did" the beaches and museums ourselves (not on a tour). There are some very interesting museums there too.
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 04:04 PM
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I must spell-check before submitting!! Sorry about the typos. Here is the place we liked in Bayeux: Hotel de Sainte Croix, and many reviews here on Tripadvisor:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Rev..._Normandy.html

It is not a hotel, in spite of the name, it is an elegant B & B, great location, charming hostess and terrific location.
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Old Sep 4th, 2010, 04:25 PM
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Hi again, I've just read your wonderful trip report for your last trip. We are Aussies also, and have been to France several times recently. This year (amongst other places) we stayed in St Remy de Provence (1 week) and Sarlat (8 nights) so I loved reading your report! Let me know if you would like any further info on the places I mentioned in Italy, if they interest you. On reading your report, it sounds as though we travel in a somewhat similar style (and age group! Cheers.
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