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Itinerary Help: Rome, Venice, Como & Milan

Itinerary Help: Rome, Venice, Como & Milan

Nov 10th, 2010, 06:15 AM
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Itinerary Help: Rome, Venice, Como & Milan

Now that we've bought our plane tickets, this trip is official! Here's a more specific itinerary - I would love your comments.

"Us": two women, ages 29 and 30. Me: love planning. Friend: perfectly happy to leave alllll the details to me. Interests: photography, history, seeing beautiful things, eating delicious and not-expensive food. We've both been to Italy, but only very briefly - less than five days each (some combination of Rome, Venice, Florence and Pisa for each of us). Big crowds are not generally my thing (no claustrophobia or agoraphobia or anything, just not my idea of fun), though I realize they will be a necessary evil in some places, and that's fine. Museums: I like some, but not an overabundance of Renaissance art. (I like the Orsay but got bored in the Louvre. Heresy, I know.)

Budget: Trying to stay around 100E/night for a hotel, but that's somewhat flexible. Thinking about an apartment in Rome, maybe near the Campo dei Fiori, so we can eat in, have more space and have an excuse to shop in the market!

We're not "slow" travelers, really. We don't want to be rushed or absolutely exhausted when we get home, but we also don't get to Europe very often, so we want to see the most we can when we're there.

Our tickets are into Rome on a Saturday in May, and out of Milan on a Friday two weeks later. So here's the tentative plan:

Rome - thinking about staying in an apartment here, possibly asking Sleep In Italy to help us find a good fit. Campo dei Fiori/Navona area, maybe? The following days are pretty interchangeable to me, except for the museums not open on Mondays:

Sunday: Arrive at FCO 10:15am; hopefully check into hotel/apartment or at least leave luggage. Get our bearings, go to Pantheon or Colosseum area depending on how we feel.

Full day one: Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, St Peter's. Plan to book ahead, maybe with the "Art & Faith" tour (36Epp)? The tour lasts three hours. I have a feeling we'll be pretty done after that, so most likely we'll have time to fit something else in this afternoon as well. But that may just be shopping in the market or something along those lines.

Full day two: If we didn't do the Colosseum area on Sunday, see Colosseum, Forum, etc. Capitoline Museums? I would love to do the underground Colosseum tour, if they keep offering it past November.

Full day three: I really, really want to do the Scavi tour. Also Castel Sant'Angelo or the Borghese gallery on this day.
Question: How early should we try to book the Scavi tour - would it be too early to write them now for a tour in May? The official site doesn't seem to say anything about how far in advance to book, other than that payment must be made 20 days prior. Obviously the rest of our itinerary will work around that tour if we get in.

Full day four: Cooking class in Trastevere (I found this one that gets universally great reviews on TripAdvisor [which as far as I can tell are legit]: cookingclassesinrome.com); explore Trastevere, including Santa Maria.

In the evenings or as able, we'll see other things - Santa Maria della Vittoria, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona, etc. If for some reason we finish everything we want to see or want something different, we might take a day trip to Ostia Antica or something like that.

Friday: Train from Rome to Venice.

Venice - have a reservation here at Al Campaniel
Saturday: Doge's Palace/Secret Itineraries tour, St Mark's, climb Campanile
Sunday: trip to Murano and/or Burano?
General wandering and exploring

Monday: Train from Venice to Varenna (open to other towns/lakes, though)

Varenna/Lake Como, or another lake
Tuesday: Vila Monastero; hiking - castle above Varenna? I'm having trouble finding out much information about hiking around this area. We're interested in easy/moderate hikes that we can get to via public transport.
Wednesday: Day trip to Bellagio, Menaggio, and/or Tremezzo.

Thursday: Early train from Varenna to Milan. See Duomo, and Last Supper if we can get tickets.
Question: Should we stay in central Milan Thursday night, or take the train in, store our luggage while we sightsee, and head to an airport hotel that night to be ready to go for our flight? I'm not sure what getting to MXP during rush hour on a Friday would be like.

Friday: Fly home from MXP, leaving around 10:30.

Thank you in advance for your help!
jent103 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 06:46 AM
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We booked the Scavi Tour about 6 weeks out, when I emailed 10 weeks out they didn't respond, so I would wait if I were you. If you get that booked it will probably take a whole day to do that, the Vatican, and St Peters.

The Colosseum and Pantheon are great activities for the first day, I do better if I stay outside with jetlag. We also spent an entire day doing the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Capitoline Museums.

In Milan, the Duomo is amazing, try to go up on the roof! We weren't able to get Last Supper tickets, they sold out the day they went on sale online, but it was a Saturday in June.
lindy27 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 06:58 AM
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Re Venice: Sounds OK. Be aware that going to Murano or Burano will eat up most of the day, between the round trip by boat and walking around. If you're going to go to either, suggest you try to get there in the a.m., to leave time for "wandering" in Venice when you return.

If you want to do a museum visit in Venice w/o the Renaissance art, consider the Guggenheim.
k9korps is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 07:27 AM
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lindy - thanks for the Scavi information. That's sort of what I figured, but I would love to be able to go ahead and book the cooking class. I guess I can just tell the Scavi office we only have three days of availability rather than four! I'm planning to mark the Last Supper sale date on my calendar and get on top of it - hopefully we can make that work.

k9korps, thanks! The Guggenheim is on my "maybe" list depending on how we feel. There's so much I want to see in Rome that I feel like I need to plan it more carefully, but Venice and Lake Como will be more flexible, I think. I'd like to see Murano, but if we don't make it I won't be heartbroken. So if we don't do that, the Guggenheim might take its place!
jent103 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 07:36 AM
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Murano is just a 10-minute ride from Fondamenta Nuova on the north edge of the manin islands of Venice. From you hotel location, it would be quickest to cross the Grand Canal and walk to this stop. Plus it would give you a glimpse of a different neighborhood. Burano is 30 minutes past Murano, so that is the part of the visit that really takes the time, but for me Burano is more interesting. It will be easy for you to decide once you are in Venice how you want to spend your time. (I wouldn't make the trip to Bruano if was a rainy day.)
ellenem is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 07:50 AM
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MAIN islands of Venice . . .

Try to visit St Marks at midday when the mosaic ceiling is illuminated.
ellenem is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 07:51 AM
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You might find the Vatican Museums more crowded than normal on a Monday since other things are closed that day and the museum is also closed on Sunday. Many times that is the only time escorted tour groups can work out going if they arrived on the weekend and are departing for another city.

I popped in the Scavi office the first week of September to see if they had any availability that day and they said they were booked until the end of Oct.
kybourbon is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 08:16 AM
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ellenem, those are great tips! The glass on Murano is more interesting to me (in theory) than the lace on Burano, but if the island of Burano itself is more interesting, we'll definitely think about that. As you said, I think a lot will depend on the weather and how much we want to relax after Rome vs. explore the area.

kybourbon, I wondered about that with the Vatican. I wonder if it might be a good idea to try to do the cooking class on a Monday, to try to avoid crowds at the Vatican and have the rest of our days free to do the things that are closed on Mondays.

I may just go ahead and email the Scavi office pretty soon - the worst that'll happen is they'll ignore it and I'll try again later, right? (Unless there's a list of "annoying people" and I'll get blacklisted!)
jent103 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 11:04 AM
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Murano can be interesting for its glass, but some are put off by its nature: a succession of glass shops that are either cheap tourist glass that may not even be produced in Murano andglass demonstration followed intense sales pitches OR high-end glass galleries that are inspiring but priced out of the reach of many. Much of the same glass can be seen on the main island. But if glass is of interest to you, a visit there may be best for you, especially since the glass museum is located there. Plus as mentioned it is relatively close to the main island of Venice.

I like Burano for the way it looks, with its colorful buildings--very photogenic--and its connection by bridge to Mazzorbo, a parklike island village, a real contrast to Venice central. Also, once you've made the trip all the way to Burano, Torcello is a short boat ride away, with its farm-like setting and amazing mosaics in the church there.

It depends on YOUR interests (not mine) and how much time you want to spend from your short visit for this excursion. Fortunately, it is easy to change your mind about this when you are there--no reservations needed for any of this.
ellenem is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 11:17 AM
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With only 2 days in Venice, I'd forget about visiting any of the smaller islands. There's too much to see and do in the main part of the city.
PaulHahn is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 11:37 AM
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You beat me to it, I was about to say the same thing


Can I humbly suggest you play it by ear when you reach Venice? It is much more likely that you will find you wish you had another 4 days just to see the main part of Venice. If by some chance you really feel you've seen all you want to on Venice proper in one day, THEN decide if you want to tour the smaller islands. There is no need to decide now.
bardo1 is offline  
Nov 10th, 2010, 12:59 PM
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I do think we'll end up playing Venice by ear - no worries there. The islands are not "must-dos" for me, but they did sound interesting, so I wanted to include them as possibilities. I've been to Venice before (just for a day trip, though), but my friend has not. So I think a lot will depend on how much we like Venice proper during the first day and a half or so that we're there.

If we do decide to visit the smaller islands, ellenem, you've put Burano higher up on my list!
jent103 is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 02:16 PM
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Hiking: Menaggio TI has a slew of information about things to do in the area, including hikes. You can also find information online - google Menaggio tourist office/information.

I started a thread earlier this year regarding "things to do" on Lake Como, if you click on my name and are willing to click through a few pages, you will come across it. I have a lot of useful links on it.

In general though, if you are looking for "easy hikes" by public transport, consider visiting all the villas in the middle lake area. You will be doing a fair bit of walking and it's all level.
flygirl is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 02:24 PM
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ps. forgot to mention: Eremo Gaudio in Varenna is close to your budget. It should be around 125E for a room in the upper hotel, with utterly stunning views over Lake Como.

Here is the view:



flygirl is offline  
Nov 25th, 2010, 04:05 PM
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Since you confessed the heresy of not enjoying the Louvre, may I commit the heresy of asking you why you are committing yourself to a tour of the Vatican Museums and the Doge's Palace?

I would give the Guggenheim a miss. I'm terribly interested in modern art and I am not alone in saying that Peggy Guggenheim's collection is not the tops.

But I'm wondering if you would far more enjoy the Borghese Gallery instead of the Vatican museums -- heresy, I know.

And in Venice. there are so many wonderful scuolae and prize churches to fill your obligatory art and history dance card (Torcello is incredibly atmospheric), that given your allergy to crowds, I'm not sure the Doge's Palace is a "necessary evil."

There are so many "must do's" in Rome, why not go for the enjoyable rather than the crush, the mob, the MEGO? A few minutes with the mosaics in Santa Maria in Trastevere or with the Caravaggio in the piazza del Popolo can mean more over a lifetime than a jaw-clenched stomp through the Vatican.

You dearly want to do the Scavi tour. Do it. Then decide if you want the rest of the Vatican.

Stay in Milan your final night. Enjoy the cocktails, the nibbles, the life of the town. It's a lot of fun.

Have a great trip!
zeppole is offline  
Nov 26th, 2010, 01:52 AM
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Here's some info about a long walk, that you can do bits of, up above Lake Como

alihutch is offline  
Nov 26th, 2010, 06:58 AM
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hi jent,

I'm with Zeppole here; i would happily swap time spend inside museums [especially in May] for a day or so exploring the islands around Venice. in the week we spent there a few years ago [in March] we went twice, the second time in order to go to Torcello, which is lovely. The cathedral alone is worth the trip - last renovated in 10 something - with the most magical mosaics. and on the boat back we could see the Dolomites in the distance. subject to the times of the boats back, it would make a lovely afternoon/evening trip, with supper on Torcello or Burano to finish.
annhig is offline  
Nov 26th, 2010, 07:35 AM
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I visit the Peggy Guggenheim museum with the idea it was her house (with a front porch on the Grand Canal!) And the art's not that bad, a great contrast to the style of art in the rest of Venice.
Mimar is offline  
Nov 26th, 2010, 05:53 PM
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Hi there, we were in Italy sept/oct, we walked up to the castle above Varenna. It was steep but managable & the views were worth it. The birds of prey were awsome.

We pretty much judge a place by food experience so I'm not sure if you've heard about http://www.comacina.it/en/restaurant.php ? What fun it was.
And if you find yourself in or near Carate Urio do drop in for a wonderful dinner a the Piccolo Hotel. Wonderful host & amazing meals. (we were on the lake for 10 days and ate here 4 times)

We used Sleepinitaly, & were really worried when we had an email the day before arrival to say that there had been a double booking! Our fears where short lived, they had us in a wonderful apartment near Campo Dei Fiori, not sure if its in your budget.http://www.sleepinitaly.com/en/show-...id_appartam=21 a wonderful location. We walked everywhere, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Coloseum etc.

And do try to eat at Cul De Sac (Piazza Pasquino) a short walk from Campo Dei Fiori.

Hope some of this is helpful
aussiedreamer is offline  
Nov 26th, 2010, 07:12 PM
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Wow - thanks so much, y'all! I'll answer your questions/suggestions:

flygirl, I hadn't thought about looking at the Menaggio TI site. Thanks! And I will definitely check out your thread. We ended up booking with Orange House b&b in Varenna. I emailed Eremo Gaudio, but the room they offered us was on the lower level, and I gathered from the reviews that that wasn't as desirable. The Orange House doesn't have views, but gets great reviews, is near the train and ferry, and is only €63 a night, so for us I think it's a good choice.

zeppole, I think *I* would actually be okay with only doing the Scavi tour and seeing the inside of the basilica again (my first visit was only for a few minutes - we got kicked out because they were setting up for a funeral mass). My friend, however, hasn't been to the Vatican at all, and I think she does want to go in the museums and see the Sistine Chapel. We'll see if I make the trip with her, but as you say, it's not tops on my personal list. (We did get a Scavi reservation confirmed last week for our first full day in Rome, which was really exciting.) I need to look more into what's in the Borghese and decide on that.

The main appealing thing about the Doge's Palace was the Secret Itineraries tour - without the tour, I give it the equivalent of a shoulder shrug, probably. That's one of those things I'll keep looking at. The more I travel, the more I realize that I like the idea of museums and the feel of being in them, often more than the articles inside!

alihutch, thank you for that PDF! It looks great - I'll check it out in more detail. And aussiedreamer, the castle walk is definitely on my list - it's the one that kept popping up!

annhig, Torcello keeps coming up more and more in my reading. That might be high on my list for our time there.

I am really happy to say that we've got all our accommodations sorted out. We'll be at:

Rome - 5 nights at the Piazza del Fico apartment with Sleep In Italy (the one I posted the other thread on)
Venice - 3 nights at Ai Tagliapietra b&b
Varenna - 3 nights at Orange House b&b
Milan - one night at Hotel Berna

Everywhere we booked seems to get great reviews and is centrally located, and we've managed to stay very close to €100 on average for the entire trip, so I'm happy! Please, keep the suggestions coming if you have more. Now that the logistics are mainly worked out, I can think about the fun stuff!
jent103 is offline  

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