Northern/mid Italy Itinerary suggestions

Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 07:31 AM
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Northern/mid Italy Itinerary suggestions

I am pondering a trip to Italy for September 2013. (I'm so excited that I have to start early)

The actual trip will be: England, followed by France and Italy. (or Italy then France)

Cities I am interested in seeing in Italy(and Switzerland): Venice, Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Bernese Lauterbrunnen/Murren, and Florence (with day trips to Sienna and Chianti area)

I only have 8 days, so it will be 3 days in 2 places and 2 days in a third place.
Therefore, I need to choose three of those five places above.

Travel for France and Italy: mostly by train.
I understand that the logistics for traveling to Murren from Italy could take too much time from what I have and might not be worth it?

Things my husband and I are interested in: Pretty scenery, seeing something different (we live in Cape Town), interesting street scenes and walks, sweet coffee shops and restaurants - great food.

Not as interested in art, history, museums etc.

I need suggestions on what to choose in our very short 8 days, which are overrated and which truly are must-sees.

Thank you!
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 07:45 AM
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Going to be tough with the lack of interest in art, history or museums to find a real purpose in going to Sienna but lets try.

If you insist on staying in a train then getting enjoy Tuscany is going to be difficult but you can take a bus or hire a car to get into the Tuscan hills. At this point many small cities open up for you of which Sienna is just one. I'd suggest you also look at Pienza (just south of Sienna), it is built on an escarpment looking over lovely hillsides (great in the evening) with some fine walks and restaurants.

Montepulciano has similar and again bus or car needed. San Gimignano looks very nice but actually looks nicer from the hills to the south on the way to the natural spa of ? Therme

Florence offers you nothing that you have said you want and even the better cake shops are set back a little from the tourist paths but you might find nicer ones in Rome or the other cities mentioned.

Venice, too many museums and art for your tastes but the setting is unique (and I mean unique not nearly unique) so I would leave it in

Lake Como, its a lake with a mountain backdrop, you must have these in SA

Cinque Terre, this is a good view and best done walking and reachable by train. I'd keep it in.

Bernese Lauterbrunnen/Murren, nah drop it.

I've culled a lot but with 8 days you do not have time to visit most of these. I'd do Venice, Cinque Terre, Pienza/Sienna/San Gim as you decide . If you can afford two nights then make is San Gim, one night Pienza, a week Sienna.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 07:53 AM
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So far, that sounds great. Thank you.
We don't have a total lack of interest in art and history, but just less so. We are interested in the amazing and old architecture though.
We love good food, coffee, good views, photogenic towns; and we are more relaxed travelers than whirlwind, preferring to explore an area for only a few hours and then relax somewhere beautiful.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 08:03 AM
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>>>I only have 8 days, so it will be 3 days in 2 places and 2 days in a third place.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 08:16 AM
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I haven't done any planning as of yet; I am just trying to decide the places first. And the best travel logistics thereafter.
8 actual nights, with a preference to arrive about mid day on the first day, and leave late on the last day.

We will be staying with a friend in Antibes, and visiting some towns from there.
Travel-wise, we were thinking of taking a train from Nice to Cinque terre (I understand this is 6+hours), followed by Tuscany, ending in Venice. Or, the reverse, starting in Venice, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, then on to France.
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 10:12 AM
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Are you talking about 8 nights total? This is actually only 7 days - and IMHO I would stay in a single place. Or do you have 7 days for Italy and then time to spend with friends in Antibes.

If the former - I would stay in Antibes and just visit various places on the Cote D-Azure
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Old Aug 2nd, 2012, 11:11 AM
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I'm confused. 8 days in Italy, or 8 days in Italy and Switzerland combined/
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Old Aug 3rd, 2012, 06:06 AM
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8 days/nights in Italy. (If we head into Switzerland, whether a day trip or stay for a few days, that is included in the 8 days).
I've decided it's probably silly to try and do Switzerland as well, and it's probably best to leave that for a full Swiss trip one day... (husband's dream to snowboard)

France is separate from the 8 days.
It is another 6 days in France, which will be either before or after Italy, depending on the logistics and travel costs.

We start the entire journey in England to visit family for a week, and then on to Italy and France.

I have been researching a bit more, and what appeals to me so far is:

1. Venice (2 full days - arrive, by flight, in the morning; leave 2 mornings later)
2. A small town in Tuscany such as bilboburgler suggested above: San Gim, Pienza or Montalcino. With day trips around that area (3 nights - arrive afternoon, leave morning)
3. Either Cinque Terre with a trip to Portofino & Santa Marghertia Ligure, OR stay in Sestri Levant, with one day trip to Cinque Terre, and one day trip to Portofino and SML (3 nights).

How does that sound so far?

bilboburgler is right in that we have mountains + lakes in SA so Como, while beautiful, can perhaps be left off this time

I am so afraid of missing out, hence the day trips everywhere.
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Old Aug 4th, 2012, 06:51 AM
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Agreed, Switzerland is more than worthy of it's own trip!

I also agree that you are trying to do too many places. Your plans are "whirlwind" and just walking around and exploring some of the towns, or driving through Tuscany, stopping at a surprise cheese shop or Abbey is relaxing and beautiful.

The first time we went to Italy we did some of the southern parts ~ Rome, Paestum, Amalfi Coast (daytrip to Pompeii) and Tuscany ~ 2.5 weeks

The trip we will do this September will be 4 nights in Venice, 5 nights in Chianti (Florence as a day trip from Chianti) 2 nights in Lucca, and 3 nights in Imperia to spend time with our friends from Germany. We also have "travel days" on either end.

As others have said, a car is really the best way to see Tuscany. Just have a GPS, and I always get an automatic, even though more expensive. Driving through the countryside is part of the joy of Tuscany. Not sure of the logistics, but maybe you could train or fly to Venice, and then pick up a rental car outside Venice.

I originally planned on staying 2 nights in Venice, when we were able to extend this trip I added two more days to Venice.

Others on this forum who are more familiar with Italy may be able to suggest a town as a base from which you could do some day trips to Florence, CT or Northern Tuscany. Maybe Greve in Chianti?

The more we travel the more we have learned that the people on this Forum are correct, don't rush, don't plan too many places.
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Old Aug 4th, 2012, 08:10 AM
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Your revised itinerary is a little less rushed, but still doesn't allow for a huge amount of relaxing time.

You have two nights in Venice; you could easily spend lots more time there. While there are always many tourists in Venice, the city as a whole is quieter, because no cars. And once you're away from the main area of San Marco and the Rialto bridge, you'll see many fewer tourists and even Venetians going about their daily lives. The best thing about Venice, despite its beautiful art, etc., is to wander the streets. So for relaxing, even though it's a famous city, you can do well here!

How are you planning to get from area to area? Rental car is the most efficient way to get around in rural Tuscany, and it's an easy drive from Venice to the San Gimignano area, but it will take at least 3 hours. From San Gimignano to the Cinque Tere by car - which IMHO isn't so difficult either, is at least 1 1/2 hours, though I would suggest making a couple of stops on the way.

In terms of where to stay in rural Tuscany, all of the towns you mentioned are lovely, but given your time, I'd suggest the northernmost town, San Gimignano. It's packed with tourists during the day, but delightfully quiet at night.
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Old Aug 14th, 2012, 05:54 AM
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Thank you very much for the suggestions
I cannot wait!
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