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Narrowing down your travel destinations (specifically Italy, for us)...

Narrowing down your travel destinations (specifically Italy, for us)...

Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 04:48 PM
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Narrowing down your travel destinations (specifically Italy, for us)...

Out of curiosity, when you have decided, let's say, to go to Italy (or Spain, or France, or wherever), how do you narrow down where to go first when you are in the early stages of planning? I'm mainly referring to a first time trip to wherever it may be, when you want to see & experience "everything." I realize that it's important to take into consieraton interests, weather conditions, budget, etc.. But for example, if I were to say that my husband and I are going to Italy, we're interested in museums, wine regions, wonderful food, historical points of interest, culture, and our budget for lodging is say, around $1400 per week (give or take a few), where do I start? That is so wide open.

How do you "seasoned travelers" (that sounds like food - I must be hungry) decide, without becomming overwhelmed with the options?

In other words, I'm overwhelmed with the options because today's my first day of doing research, we've never been to Italy, and just decided last night on next year's vacation. I've been on this board all afternoon & haven't narrowed it down to anything, except "we want to make sure to have lots of good Italian wine & food." Somehow, that doesn't give me a lot to go on.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:01 PM
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I will decide first of all how many days are you going to stay. For a first visit I think there are two options : one is an overview of Rome, Florence and Venice and the other is staying more time in only one or two of these and do some day trips for other places next to them.
But, repeat, it all depends on the time you have, not so much in the budget, $1400 a week it's a lot of money
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:17 PM
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Hello Katiebug, my trips to Italy are not the typical trips that most people take so rather then answering your question may I ask some questions?

How long will you be able to stay in Italy? Your budget of around $1400.00/per week is $200.00per night. I assume this price is in US dollars? The Euro will buy you about 80cents or less for every $1.00US Dollar I believe. So if that is the case $1400.00US dollars is not a lot of money but you certainly should be able to find good lodging.

Museums, well a lot of the art is in the churches in Italy but of course Florence has her museums. Wine regions seems that you will be happy in most places in Italy. Tuscany, Chianti, Veneto and even S.Italy is becoming known for their wine. Culture and history seems to scream Rome. And of course Venice has that too plus so much beauty. So many places do actually. Food in Italy is wonderful so I don't think that will be a problem.

There is no way that one can see "everything" in Italy no matter how many trips they take. Even the Italians have not seen all of their country. And one does not want to rush so much that they do not have the opportunity to enjoy where they are at the moment.

So - do you have a map of Italy? And what pulls at your heart strings? There must be a reason why you chose your next trip to be in Italy. What exactly (cities/areas) interest you?

Do you like cities or do you prefer more the country atmosphere or mountains or lakes or the seaside.

Maybe these questions will help you think about your trip and than you can post back here on your thread and a lot of people here can help you. Have fun researching your trip to Italy. I know you will love Italy!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:19 PM
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You're talking about next year, so therefore you have plenty of time to think this through - and to plan.

I find this phase (the planning) to be almost as much fun as that of the going; I think that's true of others as well.

So start your research and I think that the answers will soon be self-evident...
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:19 PM
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My question was mostly posed because I'm interested in how to choose, as opposed to asking "where should we go." There are so, so many places we're interested in, and I'm sure I could get hundreds of recommendations as to where to go (not to mention all the past postings which are available on this, and other sites).

Does that make sense?
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:25 PM
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Yes, I understand the question.

Two answers: books... and...

...books.

Books you read, and books full of pictures.

Everything else is looking through a selective keyhole. Selected by someone else.

Best wishes,

Rex
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:25 PM
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Part of my problem is assuming there is an optimum solution. But often there are numerous, equally good solutions. So once you work out a few possibilities, flipping a coin can be as good a method as any. Think about weather at the time of your visit, your preferences for urban or rural, your favorite types of sites, etc.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:26 PM
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It is hard work and very time consuming. Keep reading and it will come to you.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:49 PM
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I suggest tacking a large map of the country on your wall at home, then start reading. As others have mentioned things will pop out at you as you do research.

Other considerations such as do you prefer cities or the countryside? do you like to rent a car or take the trains? will continue to help narrow things down.

I've taken trips for no better reason than a single photo in a travel brochure peaked my interest.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:53 PM
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As much as I treasure the advise on Fodors, I find it a confusing place for preliminary planning. Everyone has their own preferences, which may or may not reflect your own. You could drown in the hundreds of options and opinions.

I feel a big pile of guidebooks from the library is an easier way to get started. Then back to Fodors and other internet resources once you have a general idea for your trip.

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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:58 PM
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You know... you're all right. I, of course, know the duration of our trip (3 wks.), whether we want city of country (a combo), train or car (we're flexible),etc.. The thing is, we're so open & thirsty for it all. I also am aware that we can't do "everything" in one trip, that's why I'm trying to figure out where to begin.

LoveItaly: When we were in London & Paris in May/June, we rented flats. We had a really nice one in Chelsea, with an excellent location, and a flat in the 7th arr. in Paris, about 1 1/2 blocks from the Eiffel tower, with a view of the tower. Both were right around $200 per night, give or take a few. I was basing our accommodations on that point of reference. We may change our minds & opt for a hotel. Who knows. We do enjoy having a flat or a villa, or whatever, where we can cook, etc., however.

I didn't get into the details of our preferences, etc. earlier because I really wanted more information about how to make the choice.

I need to go to the bookstore!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 05:59 PM
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Hi Katiebug, how to choose. I hear your question. My question is this - what made you consider going to Italy? What one thing? Do you understand my question? I know what made me always want to go to Italy from the time I was a little girl. What is your reason? That will be a good start I think. Cincin!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 06:05 PM
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Suze: I know what you mean about basing your vacation decision on one photo. Been there, done that, an excellent vacaion, by the way.

LoveItaly: Sorry, I didn't mean to avoid the question. Hmmm. What makes us want to go to Italy. Probably so much that I've heard about: culture, art, history, wine, food, people, scenery, did I mention wine? I think this is a good topic of conversation over dinner or tea later tonight. I do know that both of us are very interested in Rome, Tuscany & Venice. (Who was it that decided they should be so spread out, anyway?!) That just doesn't look so feasible to me (yes, I do need a map of Italy, itself). We have an atlas, but I haven't looked at the actual distances between those locations. We don't want to be spending days traveling from one destination to another. We also would like to keep each location to no less than 5 nights.

P.S. The coastlines are so gorgeous, too!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 06:21 PM
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Yes, buy a Italy map, you need it Rome to Florence takes about 1'30 hours and Florence to Venice it's about 3 hours by train.
Buy some guides too, they are helpful and at the same time entertaining , it's like beginning the trip right now
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 06:23 PM
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Hi Katiebug, do not know how much time you will have to spend in Italy but if you have at least two weeks (hopefully a bit longer) you sure can visit Rome, Tuscany and Venice. May I suggest that you go to a book store (like Barnes and Nobles) and buy a map of Italy. I understand your interest in Italy, you obviously need to go there, LOL, it will offer everything you are looking for. And the wine, oh sigh, it is so good! You have time to make your plans and as others here on Fodor's have stated, planning the trip is part of the fun. And you will find that people here on Fodor's are so willing to share their knowledge. Enjoy your conversation about your Italian trip later tonight, and in the forthcoming days! Best wishes to you.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 06:31 PM
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We will have three weeks.

I'm encouraged with your encouragement. I, actually, LOVE the planning stages of vacation. The antici..........pation is addictive. (That's one of the reasons I'm here a year before our trip!) You all were so wonderful when I was planning our last trip. Looking forward to hearing more from everyone in the months to come.

In the meantime, I'll go buy a map, a bunch of books & sit down with a good red wine! Sound like a good place to start? (I think so.)
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 06:42 PM
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Yes, do read books.
Yes, do buy a good map.
Then, decide how long you have to spend in Italy, how much you want to spend, and pick your destinations based on an average of at least 3 nites per destination. It takes at least 6 weeks to see Italy well so your first trip may be a compromise. Here are some sample itineraries to get you thinking:
BOB the NAVIGATORS’ FIVE FAVORITE ITINERARIES
__________________________________________________ ______________

MAGICAL FAIRYLANDS:
* Arrive and depart Munich--14 nites--May thru Sep.--car travel
* ITINERARY: Salzburg, Dolomites, Venice, Lake Garda, Bavaria
============================================
BELLA ITALIA:
* Arr Milan, dep Venice--15 nites--car & train travel--April thru Oct.
* ITINERARY: Lakes, Ligurian coast, Tuscany, Florence, Venice
============================================
CLASSIC ITALIA:
* Arrive & depart Rome--12 to 14 nites--car & train travel, all year
* ITINERARY: Florence, Tuscan & Umbrian hilltowns, Rome
============================================
LA DOLCE VITA:
* Arr & dep Rome--12 nites--car & train travel--March thru Oct.
* ITINERARY: Amalfi coast, Tuscan hilltowns, Rome
============================================
OF ALPS & LAKES:
* Arrive and depart Zurich--12 nites--train travel--June thru Sep.
* ITINERARY: Berner Oberland, Lugano, Lake Como, Luzern

THE VILLAGE SAMPLER: My personal favorites—north to south.
• Arr Milan & dep Rome---car travel---plan 3 nites per location
• Lake Orta, Castelrotto, Portovenere, Montalcino, Ravello
=======================================
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 06:51 PM
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Whenever I plan a trip, I like to focus on 3 destinations within the trip, each offering something slightly different. Maybe one large city, a beach hangout, then a town in the country. For example, you might want to do something like Rome,a Tuscan village, and Lake Como. I can also enjoy doing 2 large cities on a trip, as long as I sandwich a non-city destination in between... Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence might be a good option for you?

You'll also want to consider what day trips you can do from each location. For example, Siena, Pisa, or Ravenna can be done from Florence. You could probably do do Pompeii from Sorrento. They are lots of options! Happy planning!
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 07:00 PM
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Hi Katiebug, see, you are already getting other ideas from travellers!
May I make a suggestion? Before you go and buy a bunch of books why don't you go to your local library and see what they have in their travel section and check out some of them. There are travel books that are good and some that are not. When you find a few you really like than you can buy them. Also, you can find books about the history of Italy in your library also which would help you appreciate sites that you visit.

Katie, having three weeks is so great! I am happy to hear that. Three weeks will allow you to enjoy Italy a lot more. You will have so much fun planning this trip. Take care.
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Old Jul 3rd, 2005, 07:14 PM
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Great question! To add to your thoughts, and the suggestions of others, consider your previous trips, and what you've done and not done, and what you've liked about them. It sounds like you've done a bit of that analysis already, in saying you like staying in flats, and 5 days in each location, combo of city and country, etc. But also think about the cities you've enjoyed, and why (do you like good walking cities, or bustling, noisy cities, or quieter places), and the same with the countryside (do you like staying at agriturismos outside of villages, or do you want to stay inside the village?). Also think about whether you want to stick with the more common tourist destinations (the big three of Rome, Venice & Florence; Tuscany; Amalfi Coast; Cinque Terre), or with 3 weeks, you want to include some lesser-known spots as well (Bologna, or the Dolomites, or Verona, for example).

I second the public library - I check out every book they have on my future destinations. I find the Eyewitness guides particularly good for that "first cut," as their pictures are very good.

Lastly, think about whether certain historical eras, wines or foods appeal to you more than others. For example, I was very eager to visit Rome because I wanted to visit Pompeii (marvelous, BTW), so Rome was high on my list. My husband is really into wine, so we usually include some time in a wine region during each trip. Since he is a bigger Brunello fan than Chianti, we've spent more time in the Montalcino area. And for a last example, I'm much less interested in the tomato-based southern-Italian cuisine, but love risottos, so that's one of the reasons that we've spent less time in southern Italy (Rome excepted).

Have a great time planning!
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