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Options galore... schedule critique needed!

Options galore... schedule critique needed!

Old Oct 31st, 2004, 05:08 PM
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Options galore... schedule critique needed!

I spent 2 weeks in Italy on my honeymoon in 2002. Did the planning here (love this board, special thanks goes to the regulars!), visited Lake Garga, Venice, Florence, Rome and CT. Didn't love Rome, the rest were wonderful.

I am now in charge of planning a 13 night trip for a group of 6 in Sept 2005. Have so many options, and though flights will not be posted until next week, my head is spinning already!

Group is husband and I, late 20's, grandparents 50+, 60+ and aunt/uncle, 60+. I have no worries about my family's mobility, but do question their stamina and adventurous nature compared to myself and DH. I plan to to coach all into packing with just a rollaboard, and would like to travel by train at least Tuscany to Venice, perhaps from Rome to Tuscany as well (know with a group car can be cheaper).

The only part of the itinerary NOT negotiable is the last 3 nights in Venice, and at least a visit to Civita. Flights not set, but feel like we should visit Rome. I can be convinced not to, and to stay more northern. I have thought about skipping Rome and doing Lake Como, but would like to see Ostica Antica, as well as the catacombs.

We plan to spend some portion of the trip in a villa in Tuscany. I want it to be within walking distance (less than 2 miles) from a town with restaurant options, but am worried that if I plan 7 days there we will all want to do different things and will be stuck. Have thought about renting 2 cars, but not entirely comfortable with that option. I also know that in 13 nights we should try to move only 3 times, but I still might choose to do 4. Enough rambling... here are the options in my head so far:

Fly into Rome: 4 days
Civita 2 days (?)
Near Chianti 4 days (?)
Venice last 3 days

OR
Rome 3 days
Tuscany (?) 7 days
Venice 3 days
(this options seems least agreeable for 6 people who have never traveled together, but limits our number of moves)

OR
Rome 4 days, afternoon visit to Civita on last day
Near Chianti 4 days
Florence 2 days
Venice 3 days

I'm leaning towards the last one, any reason I shouldn't be?? I want to show them the major sights, but also want to experience the hill towns.

Advice/suggestions welcome!


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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 05:30 PM
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Travelphile,
What is Civita? Civitavecchia? If so, why?
I wouldn't spend 4 days in Rome, go with 2 or 3. 5/6 in Chianti area to day trip around sounds good. 2 in Florence and 2 in Venice.

Rent car leaving Rome, get two cars in case part of group wants different plans in Tuscany...I'd turn the car(s) back in at Florence or possibly Venice.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 05:35 PM
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With the differences in age and presumably interests, I'd spend more time in the cities. They provide more variety, and with the transport options available in the cities, people can go out on their own to do whatever they want.

I'd go with your last schedule, not more than 4 days out in the sticks with this group and having to haul them around.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 05:50 PM
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Sorry, Traveler863, Civita di Bagnoregio, its a small (dying) town near Orvieto. It has only 14 little residents, and is supposed to be just an interesting experience.

As for the 3 or 4 days in Rome, we spent 3 days last time and didn't love it. Suggestions from a few people were that more time to get the feel of the city, might leave us enjoying it more.

Also, just wanted time to settle in for our first few days and overcome the jetlag!

When I looked up what Civitavecchia was, I understood your concern! And I agree with Rufus that city time is more for us. Just today the 3rd couple was sprung on us, as of yesterday it was 4 people, then I was all set for a week in a villa... keep the suggestions coming!
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 05:52 PM
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For age recommendation, it certainly depends on the people however for an example, I'm taking 22 people over next summer...from one spectrum to the other, half 18-21 year olds and other half 45-60, with a smattering inbetween....they all want time in cities and countryside split in two...total agreement.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 06:15 PM
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For more information... http://www.civitadibagnoregio.it/english/civitabb.htm is where we would stay if we do the 2 days in Civita. I'm torn, but have plenty of time to be swayed by all the knowledgable fodorites!

Though I visited Florence on my first trip to Italy, due to a train strike that left us 'stranded' (what a wonderful place to be stranded!) in Venice, we were only in Florence for 18 hours, and never left the neighborhood around the Duomo. That's why I'm trying to make it there for 2 days. I suppose we could do:

Rome 3 nights
Civita 1 night
Chianti 4 nights
Florence 2 nights
Venice 3 nights, but then we're moving a lot...

Definitely too much moving in that plan??? Because it is currently looking like a winner. (ask me again tomorrow though!)

People talk about loving their day trips in Tuscany, but I'm worried about spending too much time traveling from town to town and not feeling like I'm 'seeing' anything, so I would not mind 5 different home bases and less daily travel. Now, I know the views/sights will be wonderful, but I don't want to feel like I am missing being a traveler while just traveling alot!

I really am enjoying all this distress
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 06:26 PM
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Travelphile,
I've been to Civita Di Bagnorgegio, I would not spend the night there...its a good stop but close enough to Orvieto, spend the night there...great town and more to do, everyone will love it.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 06:37 PM
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Why in the world would you want to stay overnite in Civita Di Bagnorgegio? A couple of hours is plenty to look around and catch the views.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 06:43 PM
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I'm not sure you really can, unless you want to haul your luggage or have it hauled up the "umbilical cord" otherwise the closest accomodation would be the town of Bagnoregio which is uninteresting. Go to Orvieto for the night.
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Old Oct 31st, 2004, 09:13 PM
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You can easily go from Rome to Orvieto by a short train ride. It is a wonderful place to spend the night, one of Italy's most beautiful cathedrals. Then you can either take a bus or rent a car and drive to Civita.
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Old Nov 1st, 2004, 04:24 AM
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I had thought about Nothern & Southern Tuscany home bases...

4 nights Rome
3 nights Orvieto
3 nights Chiati
3 nights Venice

or
3 nights Rome
2 nights Orvieto
3 nights Chianti
2 nights Florence
3 nights Venice

My group keeps telling me to make all the decisions, so all your advice is wonderful! Thanks - Kristy
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Old Nov 1st, 2004, 09:02 AM
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Civita Di Bagnorgegio is a nice side trip (with car obviously) from Orvieto. You could have lunch there, but 2 hours is more than enough.The bigger town nearby is not at all scenic or interesting and Civita is REAL small.
We loved Rome, but spent 7 nights there. We will return for 4 night next year. It really takes at least 2 days there before you start to "feel comfortable".
Using your "design", how about?:
4 nights Rome
3 nights Montalcino/Multipulciano/Pienza
3 nights Chianti
3 nights Venice
I like Orvieto and Umbria, but if you do north and south Tuscany, you'll have a great trip. I also think this makes for an easy driving trip.
I think the idea of 2 cars is great.
If you want to stay in Umbria, hit Orvieto from Rome and stay somewhere else (I love Assisi) and finish in north Tuscany.
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Old Nov 1st, 2004, 10:55 AM
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Just got back last week from a trip to Italy that included a little time in Civita. It is very interesting town, very small, not much to do. I would think 4 - 6 hours there would be plenty. We were staying in Orvieto and did this as a side trip. It might be interesting to stay in Civita, you could arrive in the afternoon, tour the town, spend the night and leave the next morning.
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Old Nov 1st, 2004, 11:16 AM
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Knowing how hard it is to travel with a group this size(everything takes a lot longer than with 2 or 3 people), I would minimize the number of moves. I suggest Rome-3 days, Tuscany countryside-5 days, Florence-2 days, Venice-3 days. If you can work in a stop in Civita on the way from Rome to Chianti, that should be enough. As it is, you will be moving a lot.
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Old Nov 1st, 2004, 11:24 AM
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Hello Travelphile, As the planner you are caught in the middle. I know the feeling, but it is best if you do not try to plan by committee.
I like you first itinerary above, with 2 nites near Orvieto and 4 nites in Chianti. You can see Civita from there, but also southern Umbria to include Spoleto, Todi, and even Assisi if you are ambitious. I would not take that group into Florence. Stay at the right location in Chianti to allow THOSE WHO WANT to day trip into Florence by public transport. That keeps your options open for the group.

Let me know if you need more details. I have done that route several times.
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Old Nov 1st, 2004, 05:43 PM
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Thanks to all... bobthenavigator, once flights are posted next week and we have our dates firmed up (by Thanksgiving I expect) I will ask for help with more specifics!

I'm thinking...
Rome 3 nights
Orvieto or Pienza 2 nights (just a stop, perhaps an early dinner in Civita, they have one hotel/eatery)
5 nights near Chianti
3 nights Venice

The 'near Chianti' (Greve?) stop will need to be easily accessible to Florence by way of public transportation that way we can either use the car for hill towns, or head into the city.

Thanks once again, I love hearing different views on the sublties of each proposed itinerary!
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Old Nov 1st, 2004, 11:18 PM
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What a delightful dilemma!

It's good that you have planning authority, but on the other hand, wouldn't it be nice to know what your group would prefer to do?

Try to get an idea of your group's interests and comfort level; looking at their past vacation activities can be helpful. For example, do they live in a big city, but vacation at the beach? Or do they live in a rural location, and never venture into the city, even when vacationing? Or do they live in the city, and can't wait to escape to the mountains? Do they walk on their vacations, or never? How are they with "foreigners" and different kinds of food? Are they likely to want to split up, or everybody does everything together? And about driving - who will do it? Is everyone ok with the designated driver, whether it's you or another member of the group? With 6, you probably need a mini-van, how does that sound? All of those questions and their answers will help you narrow down your choices and decisions.

You might try sitting your group down for a short time one evening with a couple of picture-type guidebooks (like the Eyewitness guides) and see what seems to truly thrill them.

I would definitely agree on Civita di Bagnoregio; it's idyllic for a couple of hours, but not to stay overnight or even for dinner. Orvieto is a good place to visit Civita from. (Not everyone will understand the charm of Civita.)

Even though you initially sounded not quite interested in Rome, every itinerary includes it. What about flying into Milan (or whatever flight near Florence works with your departure location), 3 days in Florence, 3 days in one Tuscan destination, 3 days in another Tuscan destination, and ending in Venice?

Instead of, or in addition to, the Chianti area, consider also the Siena area. Others may feel otherwise, but I think there's more variety for day trips from the Siena area. (Florence is also an easy train trip from Siena, if you choose to do that.) Siena is large enough to be a city, but small enough to get around easily (and semi-easy to do day trips from).

Re driving around in Tuscany, you probably wouldn't feel like you spent all your time driving if you (for example) visited two towns a day. Remember, in Tuscany, part of the enjoyment is the driving, and seeing those gorgeous views around every bend in the road. And many of the villages aren't far from each other (for example, San Gimignano and Volterra are only about 1/2 hour from Siena).

I've never rented a villa, though I've thought about it! Remember, though, that at a hotel, you'll always have staff available to help out and give advice, and consider whether your group will want to cook their own meals. Villas tend to be outside of town, also, and would your group really walk up to 2 miles home from dinner, possibly in the dark, if you ate in town in the evening?

Happy planning
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Old Nov 3rd, 2004, 08:56 AM
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Hi Travelphile!

I love how your itinerary is sounding!
I also would highly recommend staying 2 nights in Orvieto (we stayed 3). It's a wonderful, beautiful, interesting town. Be sure to do the Sottoterranio (underground) tour of the caves. Facinating! There is also an archeological Estruscan tomb site, the Duomo (of course) and many excellent restaurants, galleries, and wonderful shops.

From Orvieto we did an afternoon trip to Civita. My travel companions loved it and thanked me for putting it into our itinerary. Yes, it's good for about 2 - 3 hours.

We stayed in San Sano, in Chianti just north of Siena ( 4 nights). From there we did days trips to: San Gimignano & Volterra (very long day), Siena, Greve, and a lovely lazy day of tasting and lunch at La Badia di Coltibouono.

3 nights Rome,
2 nights Florence,
3 nights Venice

sounds great to me!

Buon viaggio!
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Old Nov 3rd, 2004, 05:38 PM
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Dayle,

Can you tell me more about this day of tasting? We want to do a tasting day, but I've heard that its not as easy to go taste at winieres in Italy as here (we live near the Finger Lakes and go often).

I'm sure there are posts about it, but I haven't looked yet.

Can't wait for flights to be posted!!! We're either going the last two wks of Sept or the last week, into the first week in October.

-KAMG
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Old Nov 4th, 2004, 07:39 AM
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I'll jump in on the wine tasting. I'm not sure what wine tasting is like near the Finger Lakes, but I've been to vineyards in Napa Valley and in Italy (and France).

The best place to try wine in Italy, really, is at an enoteca. It's kind of like a wine bar, in that they stock a variety of wine producers that you can try by the glass, but you can also buy bottles to take home. They are usually located inside the towns (for example, there's a well-known large enoteca in the city walls of Siena).

Many of the smaller (high-end or not) producers you can visit; some require advance reservations. But it's not a big production, usually, like it is in Napa, with a setup for visitors. There may or may not be someone who speaks English. And you might be expected to buy some wine, though the tasting itself is usually free. (Which is easy if you plan to drink it right away, but if you plan to save and take home, you need to worry about where to store it if your car will be warm.)

I'm about to post a trip report on our recent Italy vacation that includes details on my husband's visits to wine producers; keep an eye out for that.
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