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Northern Italy itinerary critique - please

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Apr 22nd, 2014, 12:36 PM
  #1
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Northern Italy itinerary critique - please

We have not finalized any plans yet. Looking at flying into, out of Milan in October 2014 for 12-14 days. We do not want to use a rental car, prefer rail or bus transportation between cities. We are 2 women, mother and daughter (23):

Milan/arrival - 1 night hotel
train to Siena, visit Siena and day trips to San Gimigano - 2 nights hotel
Train to Florence, visit cultural sights - 3 nights hotel
Train to Lucca, sightseeing - 1 night hotel
Train to Rapallo (Cinque Terre) - 2 nights hotel
Train to Milan, 1 night near airport

Does this make sense? Any cities you would cross off list or add? Thanks!
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 01:51 PM
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Siena to Florence is much quicker, cheaper by bus which goes straight vs train which takes a round about route via Empoli.
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 04:11 PM
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Rapollo is not of course the Cinque Terre but close to it for day trips there - the 7-mile hiking trail between the 5 Lands is the thing for active folks to do. Otherwise the tiny towns get old quick IME.

except for Milan to Florence high-speed train you are using regional trains and for these just buy tickets once there - flat fare and no reservations even possible.

For Milan Centrale to Florence trains check www.trenitalia.com for discounted fares which however are non-changeable from a specific train and cannot be refunded at that price. For lots of goodies on Italian trains check these sites: www.seat61.com; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com. Again regional trains just buy tickets at stations, in machines with euros is the easiest as there can be IME long lines at ticket windows.

I think you overall itinerary is sweet.
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 06:12 PM
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Lucca is a day trip from Florence via the train unless you just want to spend a night there. We did it a few years ago... can not have enough time in Florence as far as I am concerned. Great city. R u leaving from Lucca to Cinque Terre or going back to Florence?
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 06:31 PM
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We actually loved Lucca and if you asked my kids, they would spend less time in Florence and more time in Lucca. We got an apartment in Lucca, and from there, it was easy to do a day trip to San Gimignano - with a stop in Vinci (as in the museum Leonardo da Vinci - although maybe not a place for mom and daughter).

One of the fun things we loved about Lucca was at night when it was just the kids walking home from school, the parents buying their groceries for the night, and families just out and about. We rented bikes and rode around the walls - and enjoyed it so much, we went around twice! We also visited Pisa from there -

I'm jealous - sounds like a great trip!
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Apr 22nd, 2014, 07:00 PM
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So many hotel changes!

If this was my trip, I'd head to Florence immediately after landing at Malpensa. From there, I would take easy day trips to Siena, San Gimignano and Lucca using public transportation. If you'd be in Florence on a Sunday/Monday, those particular days are especially good for day trips as many museums/sights in Florence may be closed.

Under your plan, you won't be in Siena, free of luggage, and available to sightsee until after noon (probably more like after lunch). So your time in Siena is 1.5 days or less, and during that time you want to make a day trip to San Gimignano.

Unless your departing flight is at the crack of dawn, spend the last night IN Milan. The airport is less than an hour away by train, bus or taxi, and the airport area is boring.
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 07:17 AM
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Often crowded tourist towns like Siena, Lucca, etc are best savored after the tourist mobs have gone - Siena after 5pm or so is a very different Siena - in its historic center of course - than when one tour group after another is around.
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 07:42 AM
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As above Lucca and Florence need one hotel and day trips.

San Gim is best at night so why not aim to hit the place at say 4pm walk about as the buses leave and have a meal latish before a drive back to Siena or other base.

What else to do before San Gim, find a pool, cool off.
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 09:38 AM
  #9
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I like the idea of staying for a week in an apartment rental in Florence and doing day trips. This is what we have done in the past in Budapest, Paris, and other cities.

Any rental agency recommendations for a week rental for 2 people in Florence? We would like to stay center city, as we won't have a car, and accessible to bus/train transportation. A studio or one bedroom would do it for us with a washer/dryer. We usually don't cook, generally carry in breakfast stuff and snacks and go out for lunch and dinner. Thanks!
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 11:14 AM
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I can't help with an apartment rental, but I'll point out that Florence isn't very big. You can walk across the historical center from west to east or north to south in about 15-20 minutes. There are buses, but I tend to walk everywhere. Don't disregard apartments on the other side of the river (Oltrarno) in the Frediano and Santo Spirito neighborhoods. They would be convenient.
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Apr 23rd, 2014, 11:35 AM
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When I went to San Gim it was mobbed and I guess I expected more than those towers and the great views but perhaps that is enough. I do not think it compares to Siena but it is worth a short visit IMO.
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