London and which area(s) of Italy??

Dec 1st, 2014, 05:10 PM
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London and which area(s) of Italy??

My husband and I are starting to plan a trip to Europe this summer (I know, worst time to go lol… but we’re both teachers and it makes no sense to plan a trip during the year when we have some of the summer to go; either last week in June into first week of July, or 1st two weeks in August).

We decided on London (because while I’ve never been to Europe, my husband has been several times- Barcelona, Paris, Lyon, Nice, Geneva, Florence, Venice, Milan, Rome- and I thought he should get to pick a place he’s never been) and Italy (location TBD because of details below). We would like to go between 10 and 14 days (depending on how well we can budget).

Reason for TBD Italy Location: Husband has been to the major Italian cities; he has no input. For me, this is serving as the big trip before we have kids. That being said, I am touring with my chorus students in February 2015 with the following intinerary:

Florence- 2.5 days ½ day rest when we get there, 1 day seeing Baptistery Doors, Duomo, Piazza Della Signoria, Santa Croce, timed visit to the Accademia, free time for afternoon and most of evening; 1 day Siena for Duomo and Piazza del Campo, San Gimignano, and a concert in Lucca

Rome- 3.5 days- ½ day at Colosseum after we settle in and free time; 1 day attending weekly papal audience and singing for Pope, afternoon is spent at Piazza Navona, followed by dinner and performance at Piazza Navona; 1 day visiting Pompeii in the morning and early afternoon, free time and dinner in Rome; 1 day visiting Vatican City with Vatican Museums, Sistene Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and final concert at nearby church.

As a result, there are things I’m going to see on tour that I don’t necessarily need to see while on vacation with my husband. However, since it will probably be at least a little while until we come back by ourselves (I’m determined to travel with my kids but I know there are a lot of different elements involved with that), I still want to get as much of a real “feel” of Italy while we’re there. I want some major things to see, while still getting a very local feel at times.

Some places I’m considering are:

Florence and Tuscany – I’m technically going there already with my students, but I want to spend more time seeing things like Piazzale Michelangelo, the Uffizi Gallery, spending more time at Accademia, Cupola del Brunelleschi, people watching and exploring the city and places like Ponte Vecchio and Boboli Gardens; plus spend a few days in more rural, quaint villages in Tuscany… go bike riding, wine tasting, just walk around etc.

Cinque Terre- My friend showed me this area and it looked GORGEOUS not sure if we should be spending our whole time there, but it looks like a fun area to explore
Lake Como (or a cheaper equivalent lol) and/or Italian Dolomites- Not sure how it is during the summer, but I thought it would be cool to be so close to the Alps and do some sightseeing

I was thinking about 5 full days in London, including a day trip to Stonehenge and/or Dover, a full day to travel between London and Italy, and then ideally hitting one or two places in Italy (depending how close they are). We want to see a lot of stuff, but not feel overly rushed and also have some time to meander and actually enjoy the vacation!

Any suggestions on how to make this work for 14 days (obviously we’re flying open-jaw)? If we had to make it 10-12 days, any suggestion how to pare it down? We know we can’t hit everything on this trip so we’re not even go to try- just enjoy as much as we can with the time we have. Also, any input on taking the train from London to Italy? Is it cheaper than a plane? More or Less? Thanks in advance!
sbrosnan813 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 05:32 PM
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With the time you have I would do just London and Venice - leaving yourself time for a couple of day trips in each place.

If you want to do more an dhave 14 days do London, fly to venice and then train to Lago Como or Maggiore and fly home form Milan (a business city not worth time in midsummer unless you want to get reserved tickets to the the Last Supper.
nytraveler is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 06:10 PM
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Awesome thanks for input! I'll definitely check it out!(ps- I should say that I'm going with my Chorus in 2016 not 2015, but the London- Italy trip is this Summer- whoops!)
sbrosnan813 is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 07:24 PM
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I was going to suggest exactly what nytraveler said... Venice and Lake Como or Maggiore. I'd also suggest late June/ early July as slightly preferable to early August. Be prepared for heat and crowds at either time, but I think earlier in the summer might be slightly better. Happy planning!
msteacher is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 09:46 PM
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I vote with nytraveler--excellent plan. Flying into Venice is a very very special experience. You can take day trips if you like. Venice is an underrated art city and it is possible to avoid crowds there. I'd take the train back to Milan, then go an hour to the village of Varenna on Lake Como for a few nights (very romantic) and arrange for a taxi (only moderate) to take you straight to Malpensa airport in Milan, missing all the craziness of transfers from the city.

I also agree with msteacher.
cmstraf is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 09:47 PM
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train from London to Italy bad plan.
cmstraf is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 09:57 PM
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Given your interests, I think your ideas for seeing more of Florence worth further consideration. FWIW, I spent 5 full and VERY busy days in Florence, never made it out of the city, and NEVER stopped thanking my lucky stars for the opportunity to see such magnificent things. So you could easily combine Florence and a few days in Tuscany with your time in London.

I was very glad to see the Cinque Terre, but I believe it can be uncomfortably crowded at the time of year you'll be going, and from what I read on a recent thread, I believe the trails were seriously damaged this last year and might not be open SO if you decide to go there, DO check on the trails before you finalize your plans!

I haven't been to Lake Como, but did enjoy Lakes Maggiore (aka Langen) and Lugano, both of which are in the southern part of Switzerland. LOTS of gorgeous things to see / do. BUT Switzerland can be expensive....

BTW, you might want to consider adding a day in either Oxford or Cambridge to your time in London, and maybe a day in Bath.

Hope that helps!
kja is offline  
Dec 1st, 2014, 10:31 PM
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Yes to Bath in England - do an overnight though, not just a day trip.
Agree with others that Venice would be great choice. Fly from England to Italy or reverse.
Sassafrass is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2014, 05:34 AM
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So, if I understand you correctly, you'll have about 6 days in Italy?

With so little time, you'll want to limit the number of places, and the travel time between them. That means you're probably looking at two places that are not too far apart. So maybe Venice and the train to Varenna on Lake Como would suit you. Varenna is a good base because (a) the train goes there and (b) it's a nice place.

(BTW, two things I disagree with: 1. Milan is "just a business city" and not worth a visit. Often said by people who've never spent much time in Milan. It's a great, interesting city. 2. You can avoid crowds in Venice in the summer. Good luck with that. Yes, there are quiet spots you can go to, but the crowds are unavoidable for the most part, and you should prepare yourself for that.)
vincenzo32951 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2014, 07:31 AM
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I'm a bit confused - when you stated YOUR preferences I did not see is that where you want to go? Hopefully you are flying between London and Italy? Florence and the CT are close so that combo makes alot of sense - but where are you flying home from? that would be a factor to me. Lucca is a neat city that is not far from Florence - you can also do the Ct from there (but is a long day) and would give you a new location for your husband. But IMO the deciding factor might be, where are you flying into Italy and out to the US. You really don't have too many days for Italy so I'd limit the time of moving around. Bon viaggio!
suec1 is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2014, 07:49 AM
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Wow everyone! Thanks for all of the replies! You've given me a LOT to think about (and when I'm not at work, I'll look at them more in-depth);

To clarify suec1, I didn't initially include Venice because that was actually my husband's least favorite city (he didn't NOT like it, but he liked a lot of the other cities better), and I figured that Vencie would be a better place to visit in cooler weather some years from now(although I'm sure most places I go will be hot and humid and crowded). That being said, I'm pretty open to suggestions and didn't rule it out completely. I think given the travel time considerations and the other things I mentioned, that's probably why people suggested it. Like I said, I'm open to all input so I'll probably start at least considering Venice as an option.

I also totally agree about deciding where I'm flying in and out of. What are the main airport options from London- Milan, Rome, and Venice?
sbrosnan813 is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2014, 08:07 AM
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Hello! My fiancee and I spent 2012 vacation in Italy and loved it. as you said about Tuscany, there are a lot to be seen there that you could possibly enjoy.
When we went we decided to rent a car after leaving Rome and drove upwards, having some bases. in summary the bases were: Montalcino, Florence, Ferrara, Venice and then Bolzano (DOLOMITES!!!).
If I were to suggest you something, you could go to Montalcino (the land of the Brunello and Rosso) or Montepulciano. From there you can enjoy the SS22 (think this is the road) that goes through the Chianti region, it's worth stopping by all the tine little villages, Greve, Castellina...and then would go to Ferrara, which was a pleasant surprise for us! A little off the beaten path. There you can enjoy the city, the river coast...
And for your point, we went in October, Bolzano is a great city, totally different from central Italy, almost a german city. We went to see the Earth Pyrimids (incredible!!) and then drove up to Innsbruck for a day trip!!

Hope this can help somehow, and if you need any recommendations on B&Bs in these areas, feel free to ask, we were very lucky in our stays

imonaroundabout is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2014, 08:07 AM
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for flights from London to Italy - check out skyscanner - I would think there would be alot of options!
suec1 is online now  
Dec 2nd, 2014, 08:59 AM
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I feel as your husband does about Venice -- and I felt that way before I moved to Italy and gained a lot more points of comparison. He is hardly alone in those feelings. While it is true if you stick to your present wish list that you could end up in places hot and crowded, even the other most popular destinations in Italy are not as crowded as Venice is these days, especially given the size and configuration of Venice, which makes it hard to fit in the 30 million tourists it gets every year, most of them during the summer months.

Whatever strategies some people employ for trying to get away from hordes of foreigners in Venice, I'm not sure it would work out well for you if your constant travel companion already knows this place is what he enjoys most about Italy. For your first trip, I'd go someplace he's looking forward to seeing with you.
sandralist is offline  
Dec 2nd, 2014, 09:01 AM
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typo alert -- meant to write: if your constant travel companion already knows Venice is NOT what he enjoys most about Italy.
sandralist is offline  
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