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Just Starting to Plan Trip to Italy --Need Help

Just Starting to Plan Trip to Italy --Need Help

Apr 25th, 2007, 09:18 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 4
Just Starting to Plan Trip to Italy --Need Help

Hey all-
Its my first time posting. I have just started to plan for a trip to Italy. Our date's aren't nailed down yet but I'm thinking it may be the week of President's day next year (Feb). I'd be going with my husband. Neither one of us have traveled over seas before and we are 28-so that gives you a general idea of who you are dealing with.

I am hoping to fly out on an overnight flight on a Friday night and return on Sunday. That gives us basically 8 days (we may try to add another two days if we can swing it with vacation time).

Our goal is to see Rome, Venice and Florence. I'd also like to take a day of so to visit the Tuscan Conuntry side. From what i've read to date i think we would fly into either Rome or Venice and out of the other. I'm just at a loss as to how to really start putting an itinerary together. Where to start and where to end and how much time to spend in each spot.

I have been dreaming about this vacation for years and want to do everything i can before hand to plan and make sure we make the most of our time and really get to see Italy.

Thanks for you advice!
Italyorbust is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 09:42 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Hi Italyorbust,

First of all, what city are you flying from? If out of the US, this will be a short trip!

Assuming you have 8 days including a jet lagged arrival day. I would highly recommend limiting your trip to 2 destinations. Do Rome and Florence with a day in Tuscany. Or, do Rome and Venice.

Don't try to do it all in 8 days, or you will end up seeing nothing the the insides of planes and trains with schleping luggage to and from in between!

Give us an idea of your interests; art, architecture, history, food, wine?

Check out some basic guidebooks to start getting ideas.

Dayle is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 09:46 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 1,126
Wecome to Fodors!
Fly into Venice and leave from Rome.
Most here want to help you have the best trip possible. If you have been reading other posts,I assume you know that most would say that you are trying to do way to much for such a short schedule.
This is wise advice and is given from people who have traveled many times overseas and to Italy.
I have always said that Rome "needs" 4 days. I have had friends not believe me because they "like to stay on the run" or something similar. They now (after 3 days in Rome) wish they had an extra day or two.
Venice,IMHO, is okay in 3 days.
Well, this obviously would mean that you would only have 2 days for the middle portion of your trip.
Hopefully you can add a couple days.
While I hope that you either skip something or add more days,here's a rapid-fire schedule:
Day 1&2 Venice.
Day 3 &4 Florence
Day 5 rent a car and drive through Tuscany and stay in the southern area.One day rentals are generally rare and expensive,but may be doable in
Day 6-8 Rome
That's a lot of territory for a week.
jabez is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 09:51 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,025
I think that 8 days in Italy would be lovely. I do agree that perhaps, given your time constraints, you should consider limiting your vacation to two destinations. Given that you want to visit some of the Tuscany hillside, maybe you could consider either Rome and Florence or Venice and Florence. If you could squeeze in an extra couple of days, then I think doing all three would work out quite nicely.

I would start by deciding what you want to do in each place. The trains run frequently between each city so I think that is the way to go.

I've been to Rome three times and I still have a list of things to see. I think you need at least 4-5 nights to really get a feel for the city and see the main sights without feeling too rushed. I found 3 nights in Florence to be plenty but that depends on your interests and how much time you want to spend in the museums.

Good luck and happy planning!
tcreath is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 10:00 AM
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I think you're trying to cover too much territory in so few days. (IMHO for Rome you need at least 4 nights, 3 for Florence and 3 for Venice - and that's not leaving a lot of time for La Dolce Vita). Remeber - each time you change cities you lose most of the day - between packing, checking out, geting to the staion, train trip and doing the reverse on the other end. Esp if 7am wake ups are not your idea of vacation (they're definitely not mind).

I would tend to do just rome and venice - leaving Florence and Tuscany for another trip. But - unless you can get several more days I would leave something out.

nytraveler is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 10:04 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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>I have been dreaming about this vacation for years and want to do everything i can before hand to plan and make sure we make the most of our time and really get to see Italy.<

My problem with your plan is the time of year you've chosen. No amount of before hand planning can account for rain and winds.

The dreams you speak of could be dashed by inclement weather, which is more likely to occur than not during the month of February. It's so much more fun when the days are balmy and bright!

Please try to re-think your timing...
TuckH is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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Welcome to Fodor's!

Don't be to hard on yourselves if you don't get to do everything you've planned. In 8 days that's a tough travel plan. I would suggest you keep a base hotel and travel from there. Even if it's extra to keep the room it's better to leave your luggage than pull it through the narrow cities of Italy. And take the chance of losing or getting it stolen or should I say misplaced.

Pompeii is a must is you can possibly swing that. Pictures can't do it justice.

Either way have a great time. I know you will.
Mamaw is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 10:19 AM
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Thanks for all your quick replies. I appreciate you reigning me in on my time table. There is also a possibility we could plan the trip for late March, early April. The only other time of year that really works is August and I really don't want to go in the dead of summer. If we go in April we may have an easier time of adding a few days.

In terms of my travel my husband and I have very different goals. He is a sights kind of guy. He's going to want to visit all the typical museums and sights. I am really interested in getting a feel for the country. I get crazy just thinking about the fantastic food and great wine and walking around at night visiting open air markets and packing a picnic etc. I really want to experience the romance and culture of Italy.

So needless to say we will have a balancing act to make sure that we both get what we want out of this trip.

I have and Italy for dummies book that i have read and just picked up the Rick Steves Italy 2007 book which i am making my way through.

Again, thanks for the help and keep the advice coming.
Italyorbust is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 10:32 AM
Join Date: Mar 2005
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We went the first two weeks of April 2005. I am not sure I would want to go much earlier. We had high 60s in Rome and 40s by the time we ended our trip in Venice.

With eight days and based on your interests, I would spend four days in Rome and four in Florence. You could visit Oriveto on the way from Rome to Florence and you could take a day trip from Florence into the Tuscan countryside, leaving you with two day to do Florence herself.
motor_city_girl is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 10:41 AM
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>There is also a possibility we could plan the trip for late March, early April.<

By all means - do that!

Also - realize that you'll have many trips to come in your lives. There's no need to cram...
TuckH is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 02:48 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
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I did exactly the trip you propose with my niece (a first-timer in Europe) last year. Here's our trip:

FRI: dep NYC
SAT: arr Venice
SUN: Venice
MON: Venice
TUE: dep Venice--early train to Florence (3 hrs)
Florence: check bags at station, lunch, stroll, gawk
dep Florence--late train to Rome (1.5 hrs)
WED: Rome (Vatican)
THU: Rome (Ancient Rome)
FRI: Rome (daytrip to Orvieto, 1 hr each way)
SAT: Rome
SUN: dep Rome/arr NYC

Yes, we hardly saw Florence, but my niece won't have the opportunity to travel for some time, so she liked getting this little taste.

The daytrip to Orvieto was to get a taste of a hilltown--it is easily reached by train from Rome. Even witht his day trip, we had plenty of time for wandering in Rome.

Our trip was in March. In Feburary it will be dark earlier so plan accordingly.
ellenem is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 03:00 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 3
My husband and I are leaving for Italy at the end of May, and it is our first trip, and my "dream" trip. I know there is so much to see and do, but what you have to do is decide on the "biggies" and prioritze. We want to see the sights as well as participate in Italian life, but I think to focus on one without the other would be a shame...it is a total cultural experience. Using the Rick Steves, Fodor's guidebooks will help you select the most important sites along with allowing you to understand what you may be missing if you decide you don't have time for a particular site. To save time, be sure to buy your tickets for certain sites on the Internet to expedite entry and save precious time. We are spending 4 days in Rome, and we will only begin to scratch the surface. I suggest either Florence or Venice but not both...at least not in 8 days. Just read the guidebooks...RS's has itinerarys for the number of days as well as do other guide books, and you can get good information from all of them. Have a great time, and toss a coin in the Trevi Fountain so that you will be sure to go back to Rome to see anything you may miss.
sujomo is offline  
Apr 25th, 2007, 03:25 PM
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My wife and I were there last year for about 2 weeks. We drove down from Germany and stayed for 1 week at a castle just west of Florence. Toured the hill towns for 3 days, 2 days in Florence...took the train to Rome for 3 days and then took the train for the last 3 days in Venice.
1) I would recommend renting a car and driving to Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano and Siena....minimum.
2) If you're interested in the museums and galleries....book your times in advance for the big ones like the Uffizi and Accademia in Florence, otherwise you risk waiting in lines for hours.
3) You can walk to most of the popular sights in Rome in a day but allow at least a full day for the Vatican museums and St.Peter's. (again...book in advance).

Good luck....whatever you decide it will be great. We'd like to go back again...you'd need years to see it all!
leighssister is offline  
Apr 27th, 2007, 05:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 11
Hi, I just did 12 days in Italy with my mother. We had to fly in and out of Milan, I work for Continental, however transfers were easy and swift. 2 days in Florence, w/a day trip to Pisa, 5 nights in Venice, 3 days back in Milan and 2 nights in Turin. Wish I had stayed in Florence longer. You msut see the Ponte Veccio in Florence, also known as the bridge of gold.
cookie05500 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2007, 12:13 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
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I agree with the limit-the-number-of -places-you-visit-or-take-a -longer-trip advice of others. Rome and Florence combined is the easiest in terms of little travel time lost for 8 days. Orvieto is right between the two if you want to add an Umbrian hill town.

We stayed a week in Rome in late Feb/early March this year and had great weather but others have not been so lucky at that time of year.
I would not do August if you can possibly avoid it.

If you like to read, there are several threads with great recommendations for fiction and non-fiction books about/set in Italy. You can also watch movies and travel videos. You are probably too young to have seen one of my all-time favorite BBC series, I Claudius (based on the excellent historical novels by Robert Graves). They would be a wonderful introduction to ancient Rome.

Happy planning!
Vttraveler is offline  
Apr 28th, 2007, 12:49 PM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 10
I'll add my 2 cents worth. I studied the Fodors guide to Italy, and had to pin down where to go in a week. We had already spent 4 days in Rome, and were coming off a cruise that had already been to Venice, Naples, and Livorno (we went to Lucca) and some other places. We landed back north of Rome, and decided to concentrate on the food, in the area around Bologna. We spent a night in Siena, two in Bologna (with a day trip to highly recommended Ravenna), and 4 in Florence. You can't do Rome, Venice, and Florence in the time you have. I strongly agree with the other posters on that. Stick to the 2 closest together - either Venice and Florence, or Rome and Florence, but not all 3. There is SO much to see in Italy, wherever you go, you will have more than enough to fill your days!
Aliceb_good is offline  
Apr 28th, 2007, 02:49 PM
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I would not go in Feb. if you can go in late March/early April. I just took my daughter to Italy for her Spring Break. We were there 11 nights and stayed in Venice, Florence, and Rome in that order. We DID NOT have enough time with 11 nights. I too would have a hard time deciding which two cities to choose, but I agree with most of the others here. I wouldn't try to do all three with just 8 nights.

We flew into Venice and out of Rome and from what I have read here, that is the prefered order for the cities we visited because most flights out of Venice are very early.

One thing I will point out, as it sounds like you might teach based on your choice of dates, we encountered a lot of families and teenagers on Spring Break. The other thing you might want to check is if the spring dates coincide with Easter. Our trip started on March 28th and ended on April 9th, so we were is Italy for the entire week of Easter. Things got more crowded as the week progressed. We knew that would occur because we chose to be in Rome for Easter. We were able to attend Easter Mass at the Vatican and that was pretty awesome. Here's what we did:

WED: Depart ATL on overnight flight
THURS: Arr at Venice hotel early afternoon (just walked around and had dinner)
FRI & SAT: Venice (not the best weather; chilly and rained all day FRI)
SUN: Train to Florence with day trip in Verona for the day
MON: Florence but most things are closed so day tripped to Pisa
TUES: Florence
WED: Train to Rome with day trip in Assisi (wished I could spend the night as it was lovely)
MON: Depart mid-morning

I'd be happy to give you more details regarding sites and restaurants if you are interested, but I was not able to do quite a few things I would have liked to.

Good luck with your planning and keep checking here. My trip started out as an organized tour for a slightly shorter period of time (I think it was 9 nights but with more locations) and morphed into a trip I planned on my own with the help of all of these wonderful Fodorites.
Deb15July is offline  
Apr 28th, 2007, 04:52 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,252
Welcome to Fodors! April sounds like a nice time to go.

I would do Rome for 4 days and then rent a car and go somewhere in Tuscany for 4 days and make day trips to the Tuscan towns from there.

Or, I would do Rome for 4 days and then train up to Venice (possibly stopping for 1 night in Florence, but probably not).

The cities are fabulous but the countryside is intriguing too. I guess for a first visit, you might not want to skip Venice, since it is a place like no other.

Our first trip to Italy was when we were 28-29 and at that time we were not impressed with Rome. Now, 15 years later, after several return trips, we are now completely captivated by Rome.

I think you will just have a wonderful time wherever you go and I'm so happy for you!
travelgirl2 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2007, 04:54 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,252
One more thing... it is very easy to stay in the Tuscan countryside and drive into Florence for the day. We usually stayed in Castellina in Chianti and it was less than an hour drive into Florence.
travelgirl2 is offline  
Apr 28th, 2007, 06:16 PM
Join Date: Mar 2007
Posts: 296
Congrats and welcome to Fodors.

We're making our first trip to Italy this summer.

We went with our hearts planning our first trip. You're younger than we are, but take the time to enjoy the places your visiting. You don't want to be packing and traveling for the whole trip.

If you really want Venice, Florence and Rome try to save a bit more and extend by a few days. You'll know when the plan feels good.

Get the flights and hotels pickedfirst. For the flights, I logged on to Expedia (or whatever website you choose) and watch the fairs. When you see them at a low point, book them.

For hotels, I read the reviews on Expedia, Orbitz, and Slow Travel. I didn't know about this site. But I do for my next one.

Then I read my books over and over again. I felt so familiar with the places I was going. And one day it clicked and I knew what I wanted to do and what I didn't want.

Use this website for lots of tips, money saving ideas and reviews.

Have fun planning and going!
GranthamMommy is offline  

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