Need help for 11 day itinerary in Italy

Old Feb 7th, 2017, 01:24 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 26
Need help for 11 day itinerary in Italy

We will be traveling to Italy in April and need some help determining where to stay during our visit. We are a family with high school and college aged kids, plus will be traveling with parents (in their 70s), there are 7 of us altogether. We are hoping to rely on trains and buses, since it seems as though driving over there would be difficult. We will be flying into Milan and most likely flying out of Venice (this part may change.) The places that we definitely want to visit are: Cinque Terre, Lucca, Siena, Finale Emilia (ancestors from there),Florence, and Venice. We would like to have 3 bases in which to do day trips from, but would like these bases to be towns versus cities (maybe populations of 15,000 or less). Is this a possibility, given that we'd be relying on trains/buses? Can someone recommend 3 possible bases for us given the areas that we want to visit? And what day trips would be feasible from each of those bases? In regard to the number of days, we'll have 11 full days in Italy....I did not count the day that we arrive (around noon) and depart (afternoon.). Thank you so much for any suggestions!
walkonthebeach is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2017, 01:48 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
For train info check www.trenitalia.com -Italian State Railways site for schedules and booking your own tickets for long-distance fast trains - trains or buses to Lucca and Siena and to CT are mainly regional trains that are dirt-cheap flat just buy as you go along.

But long-distance fastest trains have nifty discounts if you book far enough in advance to get those limited in number discounted ducats. Also book early to get seven seats together or near each other.

Anyway for lots on Italian trains check www.seat61.com - keen advice on booking discounted tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com

Your wish list in 11 days seems too ambitious, especially for such a large group. Staying in small towns sounds nice but I'd suggest Venice and Florence are better - especially for young adults.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2017, 02:52 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,166
I really think your plans are a bit too ambitious, and I'm usually not a person who insists you need a week to see Florence, etc.

The first problem I see is that not many of the places you want to visit are near enough to each other for a day trip. From Florence, you could easily take a day trip to Lucca and Siena, but Florence is a very crowded city, which you don't want.

From Lucca, you could take a day trip (3 hours round trip) to Florence, and, in theory, you could take a day trip to the Cinque Terre, but wild horses couldn't drag me there on a day trip. If I ever go there again, which I probably won't, it would be for a stay of two nights at least, so that I could enjoy the place in the early morning and evening, when the hordes of tour-bus visitors either haven't arrived, or have left. Here's a video that will give you an idea.

http://video.repubblica.it/embed/edi.../213075/212250

(I hope it doesn't get stuck on the commercial.)

Venice is not in day-trip range of any of the other places you want to visit.

Finale Emilia would be a long trip from any of the other places: about five hours from Venice, by train and bus.

Finally, you have very little time to visit so many places. Small towns are usually not good hubs for day trips, because you usually first have to get to some large town or city which has more transportation options.

Lucca sounds as though it would be good for a base. It's about an hour and a half from Florence by train. To get to either Siena or the Cinque Terre would be over three hours each way, to which you'd have to add the time to get to and from the train station.

Verona would be a possible base to visit Venice, about 1 1/2 hours away by train, and a very nice town in its own right. From Verona, you could conceivably visit Finale Emilia. Verona is about 1 1/2 hours by train from Modena, with a change of train in Bologna. Then you'd have to get a bus (which leaves from the bus station, about a 15-minute walk from the train station, and then it takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes by bus to Finale.

Ferrara would be a possible alternative to Verona; it's about the same distance to both Venice and to Modena as Verona is.

Perhaps you could head straight to Riomaggiore, in the Cinque Terre, when you get to Malpensa. The trip would take about 3-4 hours by train, and I would stay there two nights, so that you could see the towns when they're not sinking under the weight of tourists. While there, you could take a boat to Vernazza and hike from there to Monterosso, about a two hour hike, if I remember correctly. Leave very early in the morning!

You could also hike on some of the upper trails near Riomaggiore. The lower trails are mostly closed because of the risk of landslides, and won't be opening any time soon. After two nights, you could head to Lucca. If you spend three nights there, you could visit both Florence and Siena on day trips, but the trip to Siena would involve a change of train in Florence, and an awful lot of time on the train.

From Lucca, you could head to either Verona or Ferrara, and spend four nights there. This would give you time for a day trip to Finale Emilia, and a day trip to Venice, plus some time in the town you're staying in.

This is nine nights, and more train travel than I would want to endure in 11 days.Add up those hours I mentioned above, and add another hour to each trip for the time to get to and from the train stations at each end.

If your 11 days really is 12 nights, you could add a day to each of these places, or maybe stay for two nights in Siena to avoid the long trip there from Lucca.

Most of the places you want to visit will be very crowded even in April. Easter is the 16th of April this year, and if your trip includes any dates from the 15th through the 23rd, the crowds will be even more intense than they usually are.

Is there any chance you could fly into a different airport than Milan? Maybe Pisa? That would be nearer Lucca.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2017, 02:56 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,166
I want to add that all of the possible bases I've mentioned are much larger than 15,000 people. Such small towns would be even harder to get to, and even more unsuitable for day trips. All of them, though, with the possible exception of Siena, are less crowded than cities like Florence and Venice.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2017, 04:12 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,160
Connecting flights from Venice generally leave very early. Sometimes it's hard to find transportation to the airport that early.

If you switch your endpoints, fly into Venice and out of Milan or Pisa, that works better. Or omit Venice (which I love) and use Milan and Pisa as your entry/exit airports, since those airports are closer. Better yet, fly into and out of Pisa.
Mimar is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2017, 04:50 PM
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 26
Thank you so much for all your suggestions! So it appears as though I need to scale it back. After watching that video (which reminds me the crowds at Disneyworld during April vacation...not fun) I'm wondering if that was shot during the summer or if it would be that busy in April? We just really want to see the beauty of CT and do some hiking there. I'm also wondering if I considered renting a car/s if that would make the trip easier and more able to see some of the smaller towns? I read that driving/parking in Venice is a huge challenge; are some of the other areas that I mentioned also a huge challenge to drive/park? In regard to where we fly into, I can not change that unfortunately since it would require a hefty change fee for 7 people. Thanks again for any help!
walkonthebeach is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2017, 05:25 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 78,322
I read that driving/parking in Venice is a huge challenge; are some of the other areas that I mentioned also a huge challenge to drive/park?>

If you fly into Venice forego renting a car until you leave not only is it a huge challenged to drive in Venice (you'd have to water a car that drove on water!) but you have to pay a lot just to park them at Pza Roma parking garages.

and in just about every sizable Italian city there are now no-go zones for private vehicles with cameras catching scofflaws who often get tickets for something they did not even know they did wrong weeks/months after getting back home- many threads attesting to this.

If car forego big cities or get a hotel on the periphery and take public transit in.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2017, 06:16 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,645
Hello, walkonthebeach

It is funny, but I looked at this website to find answers for the trips I am planning, but I see your post, and I think I can give answers to you because we are always in Emilia Romagna. So I registered and here I am!

You come to Milan, and then you sleep there for 1 night, and the next day you go to le Cinque Terre on the train. After that, go to Florence on the train, and make a visit to Siena from there, but instead of going to Lucca, leave Florence and go to Ferrara. It is just as good as Lucca! From Ferrara, you can hire a car or hire a driver to visit Finale Emilia. After that, you go to Venice and fly home.

Does that sound good?

In April, le Cinque Terre is not crowded. Maybe if it is a nice weekend, but not as crowded as summer.

If you don't want to fly out of Venice, then you do the trip the other way. Go to Milano and sleep, then go to Venice. Then to Ferrara, then Florence, then le Cinque Terre. Then if you can go to Milan to fly.

But I think the first way is better. If you want you can even go to Lucca on your way to Florence, but probably it is better to spend a night there.
massimop is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2017, 06:22 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 26
Very helpful indeed! And if we decide to eliminate Venice (3 in the party have been) and fly out of Pisa instead, where would you suggest spending more time?
walkonthebeach is offline  
Old Feb 7th, 2017, 06:44 PM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,645
Are you coming from America? If you are tired, you might want to spend more time in le Cinque Terre if you go there first so then you are not tired for the rest of the trip.

If you are not going to Venice and you decide to fly to America from Pisa, then maybe you can go first to Milan to sleep, then to Ferrara (or Bologna) so you can visit Finale Emilia. Then you go to Florence and spend a little more time if you want to visit Siena, then you go to le Cinque Terre. When you leave le Cinque Terre, you can go to Lucca and sleep there and the next morning you get a taxi to bring you to Pisa airport. For your family, it is not expensive. Lucca is not very big and if you go there after lunch and to have a dinner and sleep, you will see the town. But it is also nice to have a dinner in Pisa instead of Lucca. There is a nice hotel called Relais I Miracle with a view of the tower, which is very beautiful at night with lights. It is a more expensive than some other hotels because it has the view, but if you are going for just one night, maybe it is a nice thing to do.
massimop is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 06:01 AM
  #11  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 26
Thank you for all these suggestions, they have been very helpful. I think we will stick with not getting a car and simplify my original plan a bit. Does anyone know, if we need a cab to Finale Emilia, will there be one large enough for 7 people? Or do any buses go there?
walkonthebeach is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 06:39 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 6,775
Bases: 5Terre, Florence and Venice are set.
Finale Emilia is a short bus or taxi ride from Ferrara (along the Florence - Venice railway line). As there is no left luggage office at Ferrara railway station, you may sleep at Ferrara in order to get a place where you can deposit your luggage during your Finale trip.

As an alernative, you may put your luggage in the Bologna railway station lockers and take a bus from there to Cento and then another one to Finale. But in this way, you risk to waste your time. For example:
Bologna dp 11.11 - Cento 12.05/12.10 - Finale ar 12.40, dp 13.40 or 16.28 - Cento 14.10/14.20 or 16.58/17.20 - Bologna ar 15.20 or 18.20.

Bus timetables may change: https://www.tper.it/o
neckervd is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 06:54 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Mar 2013
Posts: 6,775
.....or sleep at Finale Emilia. The hotel offers taxi and shuttle services.
http://www.casamagagnoli.com/hotel/storia/?lang=en
neckervd is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 08:13 AM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,166
I had suggested the bus from Modena to Finale because it was suggested on the web site of the town of Finale Ligure. Looking at it, it seems to have more departures than from Ferrara, and, unless I'm missing something, also more convenient departures than from Cento. Cento is better than Ferrara, in any case, and the bus trip is shorter than from Modena.

Here is the schedule from Modena (which is a different bus company than the one that runs from Ferrara):

http://www.setaweb.it/linee_mo/Linee...o_2017/400.pdf

The first two panels are for travel from Finale to Modena, and the last two are for service from Modena to Finale. The columns with V1 do not run on Saturday and those with V2 run only on Saturday. There is no Sunday service. The columns in bold are buses that are guaranteed to run if there's a strike.

The first and third panels are for when school is in session, and the second and fourth are for when school is closed, which would probably include the week after Easter.

And here is the schedule from Ferrara and Cento:

https://www.tper.it/sites/tper.it/fi...er_fe360_0.pdf

The columns with scol run only when school is in session. The columns with an A don't run on Saturdays; those with a D run only on Saturdays. (Scol A would mean, "when school is open, except Saturdays.) The asterisk means the service is guaranteed if there's a strike. The numbers following the letters, as well as the other notes, are about route changes and don't affect the departure and destination points. There is no service on Sundays.

If you travel by bus, avoid Sundays, when service is very scanty or nonexistent, because the service is mainly used by students. Saturday service is also rather infrequent, so Monday-Friday is best.

Strikes are announced well in advance and never last more than 24 hours.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 08:51 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,645
It is a nice idea to sleep in Finale Emilia. The hotel will make sure to have a car that is big enough for all. If you come to Milano first, you can go immediately to Bologna with the train, and the hotel in Finale Emilia can have the driver pick you up at Bologna Centrale train station and take you to Finale Emilia. It is very quiet there and you can have a nice rest. The taxi might be expensive, but the hotels in Milano are expensive, so maybe in the end the amount is equal.

But maybe for your family it is better to sleep in Milan when you leave the plane if you will be tired. So if you arrive with your luggage in Bologna, you have these choices:

1) stay in Bologna,
2) change trains in Bologna to go to Ferrara and stay there
3) have a taxi take you from Bologna to Finale Emiila
4) change trains in Bologna to go to Ferrara and have a taxi take you from Ferrara to Finale Emilia.

If you stay in Bologna you can use the train and buses to go to Finale Emilia. But it is not easy to have your luggage on the buses in Emilia Romagna. From the airport to Milano Centrale the bus is easy. There is space for your luggage. But the buses in Emilia Romagna are just for people with not too many things. So if you sleep in Bologna or Ferrara it is not a problem to use the bus to go to Finale Emilia. But if you want to sleep in Finale Emilia, it is best to have a taxi to bring all the luggage.

There are many things to do in Ferrara so it is a nice place to stay more than one day. But if your ancestors are from Finale Emilia then you might want to sleep there and to eat the food of your ancestors. Ferrara is very close but it is different food. Both types of food are very good, but you might prefer your grandmother's recipes more. There is a tipical cake in Finale Emilia called 'sfogliata' or "torta d'ebrei" that is a tradition which I hope you can find in April. It is not a sweet cake but made with parmigiano cheese and you drink an anise liquor with it. Keeps you healthy!
massimop is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 08:58 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,166
According to reports from the Ligurian region, the high season in the Cinque Terre begins on March 1st, so I don't know how anyone can say it wouldn't be crowded in April. You can expect big crowds in the week after Easter, which is the 16th of April this year, and also in the week between the 25th of April and May 1st, which are both national holidays. The adjacent weekends to these holidays will also be very crowded.

I'm not saying you shouldn't go there, and it's probably not as crowded as it would be in July and August, but I would never venture to say that it wouldn't be crowded in April.

I quote from a Ligurian newspaper:

Senza una rigida regolamentazione degli arrivi, «la sicurezza è messa a rischio – continuano all'Ente Parco - nelle stazioni i piccoli marciapiedi sono affollati dai passeggeri, con furti, il violento spostamento d'aria dei treni che passano in velocità, file indiane negli stretti sottopassaggi delle stazioni». Un incubo per i residenti, che puntuale si presenterà ai primi di marzo, quando la stagione entra nel vivo: «Come un congegno a orologeria – spiega Vittorio Alessandro – uno stress sociale ingiusto».

[my translation: Without a rigorous regulation of the arrivals, "security is put at risk", continues the Park Service [spokesperson]. "In the stations the small platforms are overcrowded, with petty thefts, with violent blasts of air from passing trains, single files [of passengers] in the underpasses of the stations." A nightmare for the residents, that arrives punctually at the beginning of March, when the season starts. "like a watch mechanism", explains Vittorio Alessandro, "an unjust social stress." (My emphasis.)

Trenitalia employs people to stand on the tracks and pack people into the cars.

I've been to the Cinque Terre twice. The first time was on a rainy day in October, about 12 years ago, and it was even then too crowded for my taste. We took the boat between towns, and I remember that the people walking along the trail known as the Via dell'Amore looked like a column of ants from the sea. Since then, the cruise port at Livorno has been enlarged so that big cruise ships can dock there, and since then the number of visitors has greatly increased. Cruise passengers don't have a choice of visiting on one day rather than another, so it little matters if it rains (unless it's a heavy rain) or whether it's a weekend.

I live in Italy, for the past 18 years, and have read numerous Italian newspaper and magazine reports about the problem of too many tourists visiting. I also hear frequent reports on the radio and TV about the problem. The total population of the five towns put together is less than 5000 people, and they get 2.5 million visitors a year. Experts have estimated that the maximum number that can be supported is less than half that number. Various solutions have been proposed, but the restaurants, hotels, and other tourist businesses are opposed to all of them. One was to run a special tourist train, for tourists only. The train company said that this couldn't be managed; even if it ended up being less crowded, they couldn't forbid nontourists to use it. Another was to require visitors to buy an entrance card, which would be sold in limited numbers. The end result is that so far nothing has been done.

I'm sure it's worse in the summer, and I don't know when that video was shot. The article was run in September, and the foliage seems to indicate it was summer, or maybe September.

I would suggest using the boats to travel from town to town. The lower (easier) trails between Riomaggiore and Corniglia, including the famous Via dell'Amore, have been closed since 2011 because of the high risk of landslides, and they won't be opening any time soon. I think the best trails for hiking, that are not strenous, are those between Monterosso and Vernazza, and maybe on to Corniglia, although as you get close to Corniglia, there is a rather steep part.

Here is a drawing that shows the town, the boat route, and the railway, but it doesn't show which trails are open.

http://www.cinqueterre.eu.com/images...ntieri-big.jpg

Here is an up-to-date trail map for the whole park. The easier trails are in black. In the list at the bottom, the lower Cinque Terre trails are the ones whose numbers begin with 592. The ones with the red circle in front of the number are closed, and the list is kept up to date. However, I just noticed that the trail from Monterosso to Vernazza, which was open just last week, is now closed, so the only easy trail open at the moment is the one between Vernazza and Corniglia. If you don't want to do the steep part, you should stay in Vernazza and turn back if it gets too strenuous. Do check the map closer to your trip.

http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/E...ri-outdoor.php
bvlenci is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 12:27 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2017
Posts: 1,645
walkonthebeach,

I came back to see if you needed more assistance, and again I find this same person, who first told you it would take 5 hours to go to Finale Ligure, now telling you the Trenitalia employs people to push tourists on trains in Italy. The same person is saying the same things to other people who ask questions here about le Cinque Tere and because I live in Italy, and I go to these places all the time, I have neve seen any such thing. This person writes long complicated posts making everything sound like it is impossible to do, and when I ask the person in the other thread to show me where is this information about pushing people on trains, there is no answer. The person just goes to make a new post, to a new person, saying the same thing.

Even when people do not say where they are coming from or where they going ,, the person assumes they are going here or going there and writes down a whole book of complicated instructions to go past the train station and not get off, or don't go up these path or down that path. You will get killed by landslides and if you say you want to go to make a nice walk, this person tells you to take the boats.

I hope you have a nice trip to visit and don't listen to people who only read the newspapers (in Italy, they are hysterical exaggerations of everything). I hope you know that if you come to Italy you must share the spaces with other people. It is not like America, where you go always in a car by yourself, or all the streets in your town are empty with no one walking, or you have a place to park your car with your name on it. Even sometimes when you eat you share the same table and if you go to where it is very beautiful other people will share the view with you.

Go in peace. I am not going to keep a discussion. It is like talking to a lawyer who needs to prove things even when they only read and don't know about life.
massimop is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 01:08 PM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Jan 2017
Posts: 26
Thank you so much for all your help. I know this will sound ridicuous, coming from a tourist, but would Venice be any less touristy and crowded than CT in April?
walkonthebeach is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 02:34 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,166
Venice is much bigger than the Cinque Terre towns, so there's a lot more room to spread out. Most of the tourists stay on the beaten paths to St. Mark's Square, the Rialto Bridge, etc., and it's very easy to get away from them.

As I said above, you can expect more tourists than usual between Easter and May 1st.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Feb 8th, 2017, 02:49 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,166
Here's the the article which mentions Trenitalia employees pushing people onto the train. It's from La Repubblica, one of Italy's foremost newspapers.

http://www.repubblica.it/venerdi/rep...uso-142059965/

« Nelle piccole stazioni i «buttadentro» di Trenitalia pigiano la gente dentro i vagoni che pare la metropolitana di Tokio, alle biglietterie c’è una ressa da stadio.»

My translation: In the small stations, the "shovers" of Trenitalia push people into the cars, which seem like the metro of Tokyo. At the ticket office there's a stampede like at a stadium.

The article is from the 15th of June, 2016.
bvlenci is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

FODOR'S VIDEO