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Need advice about itinerary for a 12-day trip in Italy

Need advice about itinerary for a 12-day trip in Italy

Old Jul 7th, 1999, 09:30 AM
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Need advice about itinerary for a 12-day trip in Italy

My husband and I are planning our first trip to Italy early September. I would appreciate any input on our planning. We both are amateur photographers, 40 years old, and enjoy nature and adventure immensely. We like culture events and good museums, too. Some of our previous trips may tell you more about our taste: Alaska from Seward to Arctic Ocean (air and drive), Norway (driving across the country), Holland (Amsterdam and some small towns), most parts of China, and most national parks in the U.S.

The places we really want to go during this trip include Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, and Rome. But we only have 9 full days excluding air travel and probably have to drop at least one of these places this time. My questions are: If visiting all these places is too much, which one should we drop? Should we rent a car or rely on public transit?

Thank you for your input.

Old Jul 7th, 1999, 09:45 AM
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Don't miss Rome, it is an amazing city like no other in the world. I would drop Venice. Venice is beautiful but I think it was much too touristy and the food and service was not as nice as it was in Rome I called it the "Fisherman Wharf" of Italy. It is also more expensive than Rome and other cities.

Since you have only 9 days I would not recommed trying to do too many cities. You will spend more time packing and in transit than enjoying the cities you are visiting. I think u need at least 4-5 days in Rome and 3 or 4 in Florence. Although we didnt go, many people we met in Italy suggested going to Sienna.

By all means DON'T RENT A CAR! Rome is not an easy city to drive in, The people drive like maniacs and there doesnt seeem to be any road rules. In Rome you dont often see a trafffic light or stop sign, people seem to go as they please. When the traffic is bad, they drive on the sidewalks! Daredevil Vespas are everywhere and pedestrians cross wherever they wish and walk in the street when the sidewalks are too crowded!. Also parking in Rome is nonexistant. The trains in Italy run everywhere and will also give you a chance to hob nob with the locals and other travelers!

For more info see my postings from my recent trip--


I will bring them to the top for you.

If you have any other questions, feel free to Email me!
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 10:05 AM
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I would definitely cut down on the number of places you plan on visiting in a 9 day trip. On our first trip to Italy we saw 4 cities in 12 days, and even this was too many. Only you can really decide which to cut, but although Florence is one of our favorite cities in the world, and I wouldn't go back to Italy without going there, unless you are an art fanatic you may want to consider skipping Florence on this trip. I'm going to disagree with Richard about Venice, we love the city and have had two wonderful visits there, complete with great food. It is more expensive than the other cities, but we did not find it at all unaffordable, even on a budget. Although we prefer Florence and Venice to Rome, Rome does have a wide variety of attractions (the ancient ruins, Vatican city, etc.), and may be a better choice than Florence for people who don't necessarily want to spend all of their time seeing art.
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 10:48 AM
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Joni, In that time I would plan only 3
destinations and they should all be in
the north. Your travel style and photo-
graphy suggests the best of natural beauty. I would go into Milan, drive to
Lakes Orta/Maggiore for 2 nites, then
down to the Cinque terre, and finally to
Tuscany---staying outside of Florence.
You can drop the car in Florence and then train to either Rome or Milan for
your departure. Nine days is not long.
Choose 3 good destinations and bring lots of film--this will give you 3 of my
top five favorites in Italy and maximize
your brief stay. Do more next year.
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 11:13 AM
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Joni, I tried to email you but it got
returned---is your address in error??
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 11:22 AM
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Joni, for your first trip to Italy, I would choose Rome, Siena, and Florence. Cinque Terre is beautiful but save it for a later trip. Venice will take too long to get to, get in to and out of. Do that on another trip also. From Siena you can visit some of the old wine towns and tour around in Chianti. If this doesn't appeal, Bob the Navigator's suggestions would be my 2nd choice.
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 12:12 PM
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Thank you all for your advice. Bob: Try the following e-mail address:

[email protected]


[email protected]

I'm not sure why you got your message returned.

Old Jul 7th, 1999, 12:44 PM
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I highly recommend renting a car and using one or two centrally located towns as a "base", then taking day trips to smaller towns. Have fun!
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 05:55 PM
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We just returned from a trip to Wimbledon followed by Italy. We started in Verona, where we did rent a car, and drove to Santa Margherita Ligure, near Portofino, and then dropped off the car in Florence.
I loved the Cinque Terre and would definitely include this in your itinerary. We stayed in Santa Margherita and used it as our base.
As for driving a car, I would probably do it again now that I know how their system works. However, make sure that you find out ahead of time. Also, if you're going to rent a car, do it before leaving the U.S. When dropping off our car in Florence (not a good idea - use the airport instead), there was a couple ahead of us who had paid twice as much for 3 days as we had paid for 4 days.
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 06:44 PM
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You should cut at least one of the areas you have chosen out of your trip.

Personally, I loved Venice and yes, it has tourists and yes it is more expensive but it is unique. As photographers, there are many a back walkway to photograph there. It is so awesome just to go on walks away from the hustle and bustle of the San Marco area. First you are in a narrow alleyway and then voila, the next thing you know, you are in a neighborhood piazza with children playing, etc. The Accademia and the Guggenheim museums are great and so are the churches.

Florence is very close to Rome by train - only about 1 1/2 hours. Florence is beautful as well and the museums are terrific.

Rome is a big city. It took me awhile to like it but now I love it. It is so chocked full of history.

I would suggest flying into Rome (4-5 days), taking the train to Florence (2 days) and Venice (2 days), then flying out of Venice home.

Believe me, I loved what I saw of Italy so much, I went back again the next year. I doubt that this will be your last trip. This would be a great overview. Next time, you can rent the car in the Tuscan Hills and visit Siena, San Gimignano (sp?), etc.
Old Jul 7th, 1999, 08:02 PM
Cheryl Z.
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Hi Joni - for only 9 days, try Florence and Rome and surrounding areas. Skip Venice til another trip. 9 days just isn't enough time to travel between cities and sites and do each place minimum justice. A car is ok BUT you will NOT want to drive IN the cities (and you can't in Venice anyway if you choose Venice.) I'd go with 3-4 days in Florence and area, 4-5 days in Rome. Have a wonderful trip and report back to us.
Old Jul 8th, 1999, 07:25 AM
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Joni, One more opinion. First, September is a great time to be in Italy. Arrive Rome and spend 3 days touring. Back to the airport to pick up a car, drive out to Hadrian's villa, near Tivoli, tour villa and start north, 1 day. Visit Orvieto and near-by Civita di Bagnoregio, 1 day. Visit Siena, 1 day. Visit Lucca and continue on to Cinque Terre, 1 day. Tour Cinque Terre, do the hike, 1 day. Back to Fiumicino, along the coast, 1 day. I would spend 2 nights in Orvieto, 1 in Siena, 2 in Monterosso. Check with the Italian State Tourist Board for a copy of the booklet "La Mia Italia", good maps and sundry information.
Old Jul 8th, 1999, 01:38 PM
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You can't use a car in Venice and, in Rome, it reaslly isn't worth it. I think you'd be better off just using the train. that being so, it would make more sense to go to the 3 cities you mentioned. Try to fly into one of them (Venice) and leave from another (Rome) to cut out backtracking, which wastes time. I think Cinque Terre would be better seen in a longer trip that would allow more time for driving. I hate to say it but I'd stick with the big 3 and divide my time equally in each. Granted that you could spend a longer time in each but I think you could have a very enjoyable short trip and see all 3.
Old Jul 8th, 1999, 07:19 PM
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Joni- We stayed in San Gigimano (sp) and really loved it. It is a covenient drive to most anywhere in Tuscany. We stayed at a lovely B&B L'Antico Pozzo inside the "fort"-I highly recommend it. Any other questions, just email me-have a good trip Italy is fantastic! Sharon [email protected]
Old Jul 8th, 1999, 07:42 PM
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I would use the train for the cities you plan on going too. Cinque Terre is one of my favorite places on earth, so I would recommend going there. If you are efficient travelers, you could see all 4 places. If you are flying into Rome, you could see the Forum and Colosseum on your first afternoon there. The sunlight will also help you get over your jet lag. On your first full day, see St. Peter's early, then hit the Vatican Museum. You will have the rest of the afternoon to explore the other Roman sites. Catch a morning train to Florence, depending on how much you like art, you can see David and the Uffizzi in an afternoon. At a slower pace, spend 2 nights in Florence and take a bus up to Piazza Michelangelo for a wonderful city view. Next head to Venice for one or two nights. The main thing to experience in Venice is the city itself, with only a few required sites like St. Mark's and the Doge's Palace. Next your off to the Cinque Terre for a vacation from your vacation, two nights would be ideal to recharge you batteries and think about when you can return!
Old Jul 9th, 1999, 07:47 AM
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My suggestion would be to leave rome off this trip, and save it for the next, when you can do Rome, and then head south to Naples, and tour the Amalfi Coast. That is a trip within itself. I would fly into Milan, honestly there isn't much there, but the Duomo is worth a trip downtown, and I do suggest you take the Metro, and get off at Duomo. It's spectacular. I would spend a day at Lago da Maggiore, and do a boat tour of the Bormorrean (sp) Islands. The islands are close together, and just adorable, the lake itself is beautiful. To me the Lakes of Italy are one of the most gorgeous places, and thank god, not incredibly overrun with tourists. My husband and I went 2 years ago, the first 2 weeks of September, and it was spectacular. I would then head on to Venice. You could stay either in Venice or on the outskirts, staying on the outskirts is no big deal. You can take the train in, there is no parking in Venice to speak of. I've done both, stayed in Vencie itself, and also stayed on the outskirts. The train ride is 10-15 minutes depending on where you are staying. You might want to look into staying in Vincenza or one of the surrounding cities that might appeal to you. Then I would head to the Cinque Terre and spend at least 2 days there, it's a wonderful area. Then I'd head down to Florence, you will need 2 days at a minimum, more if you can do it. Other possibilities would be going out into the Tuscan countryside and going to the hilltown cities, fabulous! My husband is from Tuscany and didn't even know many of these places existed. If you like wine I would go to the 222 and just wander around Chianti country. I have visited these places I have told you about extensively, and can give you advice if needed. We did the same trip 2 years ago. But I have to spend alot of time at my husband's family's hone in Viareggio, or I would spend all my time runnung around Tuscany. September and October are the two best months of the year as far as I'm concerned. Dawn
Old Jul 9th, 1999, 08:08 AM
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My first trip to Italy was with my sister who had been living in Bologna. We had one week and we based ourselves out of Bologna for the first part of the week, driving one day to Florence, training it to Venice for one day, driving to Pisa and then to Sienna through the hilltowns (and I mean through them, we didn't have time to stop and see them. Then we took a train to Rome and spent 3 days there where we were able to see a great deal of the main sites. That first trip whetted my appetite to return again to wonderful, beautiful Italy and spend more time in one region. This last May we flew to Florence and spent 5 days there and a week in Tuscany on a hiking trip. With five days in Florence one can see most of the art (I'll never use the term all--there's just too much!). Tuscany is so beautiful and being a photographer also, you'll find the walled hilltowns magnificient.

On our next trip, it will be off to the Lakes Region in Italy and I'm going to use Bob the Nav's itinerary!
Old Jul 9th, 1999, 07:20 PM
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Joni - We (45 yo couple, sounds like similar interests to you) did N Italy June-July '98: 9 nights=Venice 2, Florence 3,tiny town in Tuscany 2, Cinque Terre 2.

Venice was the big surprise - - I expected an Italian Fisherman's Wharf but fell in love - could probably live there. Anywhere with no cars is great for me, to start. The museums, palaces and churches etc. were excellent, but even if they hadn't existed, I'd love the place for the city itself. Spend at least equal time deliberately going to out-of-way parts of the city, with few tourists; we met some wonderful native Venetians who spent time to talk, hole-in-the wall restaurants with the best squid ever, and all at the height of tourist season.
NOT cheap; lodging is tight.

Florence was beautiful, back in the 20th century. Stendhalismo indeed. CRITICAL to make a reservation at the Uffizzi beforehand (avoid 3-6 hour wait in hot sun - no kidding)! Agree that driving was a challenge.

Tuscany is very laid-back, we used a base near Monterrigione and did a daytrip to Siena, which is a must-see. The intensity of the rivalry between Contrade (neighborhoods) is the best model of human tribalism - dazzling and appalling.

Cinque Terre very beautiful, worth the time if you've got it. We were fairly museum'd out so it hit the spot. Vernazza would be the ideal town to stay in (no cars!) but VERY limited lodging; we made arrangements at a tourist office in La Spezia (mixed picturesque/ grimy port town - - beware thieves + saw creepy KKK bar near train station) which the Vernazza innkeeper screwed up, so stayed in Monterosso which was pleasant enough. There was a guy in Vernazza named Mike who ran a de facto room rental service - - ask around for him; some great rentals. Trains go through all C.T. towns every few minutes so it's easy to check out then keep on going if needed. The terrain is very much like Big Sur, with steeply terraced vineyards and olive groves throughout, and without the highway.

I agree with others that fewer places would be better. For our 9 days, I would have preferred to skip Florence and had three more nights between Venice and Tuscany, and seen Florence some other time off-season, as per Spanky.

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