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Planning First Trip to Italy — April 2014

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Sep 7th, 2013, 11:55 AM
  #1
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Planning First Trip to Italy — April 2014

I'm beginning to start planning my wife and I's first trip to Italy for late April 2014.

Right now, we're working with our Travel Professional to set up the places we will stay and the general itinerary, leaving open the tours/excursions we would be doing.

As of now, we are planning to start with 4 nights in Rome then onto 3 nights in Florence, 2 nights in Milan and finishing with 2 nights in Venice. I may have the flexibility to add one or two more nights to our trip.

My wife is a designer and we are interested in taking in quite a bit of the art and history that Italy has to offer. We certainly want to see most of the big sights when we visit. My personal interest would be to also hit an opera in Milan and maybe take a brief excursion to Pompeii.

I'm going to start checking out the rest of the forums to see what other people have done, but I'd appreciate any advice for a first-timer that you may have as we start building our trip, starting with the overall itinerary.

Thanks
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Sep 7th, 2013, 12:15 PM
  #2
 
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You have the right idea... Read through trip reports and questions on this forum to get a good sense of what has worked for others. The hardest part of any trip is deciding what NOT to see. It is often tempting to try to visit multiple towns and cities to "see it all," but this often ends up as just a tour of various train stations. Make sure you'll be spending significantly more time IN places, rather than traveling between them. Most people would advise to visit a maximum of 3 cities in a 12 day trip.

Also, most people on this forum opt to plan a trip themselves, rather than pay for the services of a professional. One can research and book practically anything over the Internet. You may find that you get enough help on sites like this, so you can spend extra money on your trip, rather than on the services of a TA. Happy planning!
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Sep 7th, 2013, 12:34 PM
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Hi mm,

firstly, i would seriously think about adding those extra days to your itinerary - 2 night stays are pretty tight when you remember that you lose at least 1/2 a day when you move from one place to another.

secondly, are you flights fixed yet? conventional wisdom usually has US travellers flying into Venice and out of Rome because US bound flights out of Venice tend to leave very early in the morning. you could also think about flying into or out of Milan and putting it before [or after] venice, though there are few things, IMO, which compare to arriving in Venice by air and then water.

thirdly, please don't even think about trying to take in "most of the big sights" in the short time you've got. 3 nights in each place gives you only 2 whole days which is nowhere near long enough to do more than scratch the surface of any of these wonderful cities. Even 4 nights in Rome gives you only 3 real days when 3 years wouldn't suffice.

nor is it possible to take in "quite a bit" of the art in Italy in 10-12 days - art is in every pore of virtually every village, town, church, villa - so all any of us can hope to do is to see the things that we think will interest us most, and plan for the next visit!

BTW - what services is your "travel professional" providing? if you are simply visiting 4 of the major cities of Italy for such short periods of time, s/he really can't do anything that you can't do for yourselves with the help of the internet and forums like these. travel between the cities will presumably be by train [see trenitialia.com for tickets and timetables and http://www.seat61.com/Italy-trains.htm for help in how to use it].

there are lots of threads about Rome, Venice and Florence, rather fewer about Milan, but perhaps your wife has some specific things she wants to see there? certainly the Last Supper [book in advance] and the Cathedral are popular things to see.

have a good trip, whatever you decide to do.
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Sep 7th, 2013, 01:21 PM
  #4
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Thanks so much for taking the time to reply! Both replies were very helpful.

First, my TA is a friend who is booking only the airfare, hotels, and transfers as I want to plan the other tours, etc... But, the point is a good one. And, that is very helpful to suggest starting with Venice. Nothing has been booked - not airfare or anything! Planning on starting to book this week the accommodations first. So, I'm going to spend time on the forums this weekend and with my books researching more.

Yes, I will add the extra two nights. If I kept the four cities, where would you suggest I add them to as a first timer? I'm thinking one more night in Rome and one more night in Venice, but would appreciate the advice. And, yes, I'm hoping this will be the first of many trips, so I understand that I will have only scratched the surface.

Thanks again
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Sep 7th, 2013, 01:35 PM
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First, my TA is a friend who is booking only the airfare, hotels, and transfers >>

fine - but do make sure that the flight times, in and out, are the most convenient you can find. for example, leaving in the late afternoon can be as bad as leaving very early - you would probably have to vacate your room and leave your luggage with the hotel, and IME it's very difficult to fill a last day satisfactorily, when you're watching the clock. much better to be up and away first thing, if it can be achieved.

as for transfers, what's to book? if you arrive in Venice, your choices are one of two buses, the alilaguna water ferry or a water taxi, none of which need special booking by a TA. and if you are leaving from Rome, there is a choice between a train from the main station in Rome [Termini] to the airport or a car service, names of which can be found on this forum.

if you are adding nights, I agree with you about where to add them - one in Venice to give you time to recover from jetlag and to enjoy that fabulous city, and one in Rome as you can never have enough time there!
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Sep 7th, 2013, 01:39 PM
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I just checked Orbitz for non-stop flights, and the times appear to be the same if I arrive in Venice first or Rome first, same with departure. So, if the flight is not an issue, I'm taking it that your recommendation is to fly into Venice first regardless.
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Sep 7th, 2013, 01:47 PM
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I'm taking it that your recommendation is to fly into Venice first regardless.>>

absolutely. as i said up thread, there are few places that are more exciting to arrive in, especially if you opt for the alilaguna [or splash out on a water taxi]. it takes longer by water but is infinitely nicer, especially if the weather is good. and Venice is a very good place to begin to acclimatise to Italy, whereas Rome could be a bit of a shock to the system if that's where you started off!
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Sep 7th, 2013, 02:02 PM
  #8
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You've been so helpful, I appreciate it!

So, the dates I've found airfare on would have me flying into Venice on Saturday, April 5th and out of Rome on Friday, April 18th. I've decided to do earlier in April as I did not realize Easter 2014 was April 20th next year. So now the question is... If I started on Venice and ended on Rome, is it overwhelming to be in Rome during Holy Week and to fly out on Good Friday?
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Sep 7th, 2013, 03:15 PM
  #9
jgg
 
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We have been to Italy twice at Easter time. Once leaving Florence on Good Friday and this past Easter we were in Sorrento on Easter and drove to Rome on Easter Monday. I think you will be fine if you are in Rome during Holy Week, particularly since you are leaving before the Easter weekend. It is good that you are planning now as hotels/apts will book up and probably best to also book tours, etc. as all that can fill up quickly that week, but Rome is always crowded and I would't worry too much about it.

Here are some links to my trip reports from those places:
http://www.fromhometoroam.com/catego...eflorence2005/
http://www.fromhometoroam.com/2012/0...in-milan-2010/
http://www.fromhometoroam.com/2013/0...nds-of-venice/
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Sep 7th, 2013, 04:08 PM
  #10
 
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Has your TA friend spent some time in Italy? If not, you should post hotels being considered and get feedback here before booking. Many TA's have never been to the places they book.
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Sep 7th, 2013, 05:18 PM
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If you plan on seeing the Vatican, some things may be closed and/ or difficult to see during Holy Week.
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Sep 7th, 2013, 05:43 PM
  #12
 
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Good suggestion to check here before booking hotels. If TA's do not have familiarity with your destinations, they sometimes book hotels that are outside the cities and not convenient for you.
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Sep 7th, 2013, 06:43 PM
  #13
 
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Actually, if your wife is more interested in design, architecture, etc, the Vatican may not be a primary interest for you...You WILL be back to Italy, so realize that you can always see what you've missed on this trip.
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Sep 7th, 2013, 08:59 PM
  #14
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The only two hotels so far that we're serious about are Hotel Lunetta in Rome (http://www.hotellunetta.com/) and Grand Hotel Cavour in Florence (http://www.albergocavour.it/eng/index.html). Any feedback on these two would be appreciated!

I'm almost positive he's been to Italy before, but can't swear to it.

Some interest in seeing the Vatican, but interested in other Rome offerings more...

Thanks for all the feedback, this is great!
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Sep 8th, 2013, 01:08 AM
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The Vatican during the holy week means not trusting the hours mentioned in the guide book as it is superseded by the special events. For 2013 days, http://www.vatican.va/liturgical_yea...3/index_en.htm. A TA who was supposed to be an expert in Rome came up with an itinerary that included a visit to the St. Peters on Thursday morning, but alas, the TA did not bother to check the holyweek schedule and did not realize that the St. Peters was closed on Thursday morning for general visit on this week.

Does hitting an opera in Milan mean visiting the La Scala museum or actually seeing an opera? If you actually want to see an opera, he need to realize that it is one of the toughest ticket to obtain. Here are the examples: http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...a-422774-3.cfm and http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...-for-tosca.cfm.
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Feb 6th, 2014, 07:20 PM
  #16
 
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Hello,
I know this has been posted a long time ago, I am also planning to go to Italy on April 2014 because I work in/with Wagner Archela design. We will be attending the The Salone del Mobile, which is the global benchmark for the Home Furnishing Sector, held on 8th-13th April 2014 in Milan. I don't know what type of designer your wife is but it would be interesting to go check it out! Top designers from all around the world will attend!
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