Questions about Italy Itinerary

Mar 24th, 2016, 06:16 PM
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Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 1,055
Questions about Italy Itinerary

Hello all. Currently planning a trip for September to the Florence area and am torn about the itinerary. Planning about 9-10 nights. Will use Florence as a base for several days. Then was considering 2-3 nights in the CT and then 2-3 nights in Bologna to use that as a base for some trips. But then I began worrying that going from Florence to CT to Bologna with day trips on many days was just too much, so am considering dropping the CT. Would love to see it but worried about trying to do too much.

Current plan is as follows:
Florence--6 nights total, with 2 days in Florence proper and then day trips to Lucca/Pisa (1 day), Siena, and a day driving around Chianti area (we are not wine drinkers but still want to take in that area for a day). Then 3-4 nights in Bologna with 1-2 days in Bologna and then day trips to Parma and Modena (and possibly Ravenna to see the mosaics).

If I add the CT back in, I would take a night away from each of Florence and Bologna probably (and maybe even add a day to the total trip due to time lost traveling).

So just wanted to get some of your thoughts about whether the above plan without the CT sounds good, or whether adding in the CT would make it better.

Thanks for any input.
almesq is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 08:07 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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CT requires a investment in travel time, about 3 hours from Florence and 5 to Bologna with [2 changes], plus about an hour on either end of a journey when changing hotels. Chianti you can google for wine festivals. Parma have lunch at La Forchetta, then visit the little gelateria behind the doumo. Siena you take bus, vs the train, which goes to the center of town.
RonZ is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 08:35 PM
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I think it really depends on YOUR interests! Example: I spent 5.5 full and VERY busy days in Florence, during which I never left that city, and I still felt that I short-changed myself, as there was so much more that I would have liked to see there! Other people feel satisfied with a day trip to Florence. Viva la difference!
kja is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 09:34 PM
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Hi alm,

I suggest either the CT or Bologna.

Why no Venice?

ira is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 10:00 PM
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Personally I am not happy unless I see one coastline per visit to Italy. You might have different priorities.
sundriedtopepo is offline  
Mar 24th, 2016, 10:22 PM
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What airports are you using? If you can fly into Bologna and out of Pisa (or Milan or Genova) or vice versa, you might be able to pick up some time on the ground, especially if you are willing to travel on a bit by train after landing in the airport.

But is your worry about "too much" about (a) having wall-to-wall schedule of sightseeing everyday or (b) switching hotels too often?

If it's (a), then part of the answer depends on whether you are by nature early risers and super-efficient organized sightseers who execute a well-researched plan, or generally prefer to be more loose on vacation about when you get up and how you go about each day. Also, are going to Le Cinque Terre to hike/sightsee or to lay-off sightseeing for a relaxing mini-break? For some people, getting a break from sightseeing would be needed to enjoy the trip, for others, heading to crowded le Cinque Terre in September to gawk and do the famous hikes would be cramming too much in.

If "too much" for you means (b), multiple train trips with luggage and switching hotels, then only you know if you are OK with 3 hotel stays.

Many travelers to Italy find Ravenna to be one of the most rewarding places they've ever visited. Depending on your interests and travel style, one way to see both Modena and Parma in the same day is to go to Modena in the morning to see the covered food market and visit the town's historic sights (not many), and the proceed on to Parma in the afternoon. However, if you are more interested in cultural sights than food tourism, a few important sights in Parma are only open in the morning, so you should go there first.

If you see Ravenna on one day, and Modena/Parma on a different day, those are both rather long day trips from Bologna.

Since you are not wine drinkers, something else you might consider is hiring a driver to give you a scenic tour of the Chianti hills in the morning, and then dropping you off in Siena for the lunch and an afternoon of sightseeing. Depends on how much you want to see in Siena.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 03:22 AM
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Thanks everyone for the replies, great info.
Ira, no Venice on this trip, we have actually spent time in Venice. This will be our third trip to Italy, but have not done Florence and the other areas I mention yet. Absolutely love Venice, but would like to see these other areas this time.

Sandra: as for airports, I know that does depend on the ultimate plan, we have not booked flights yet. As of now, since I was leaning towards Florence/Bologna, the thought was to fly into Florence and out of Bologna. Could certainly change that up, perhaps fly into Bologna, do that first, then head to Florence, then CT, so I am not backtracking too much. As to what we mean by "too much," that is a good point and everyone is different. I don't have as much of a problem with changing hotels a few times, have done that before. Although for this itinerary, I do know that we would lose a good part of at least one day in transit if we were to go Florence, CT then Bologna, but would be able to solve that by reversing the order a bit. We also are fairly early risers on vacation and like to be up and about doing what we can. And in CT, that would likely mean doing some of the hikes. While some down/relaxation time sounds great, I think those hikes and seeing at least a couple of the CT towns is just too much to pass up if we go there, so probably won't use that as a "rest stop."

Again, thanks for the suggestions, we'll give this some more thought and try to settle on a plan. So much to see and do, but I know we can't do it all on this trip--we will leave something for next time!!
almesq is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 09:22 AM
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If you can fly into Pisa, then you can go to le Cinque Terre as your first stop -- or if you prefer le Cinque Terre as your last stop, then fly into Bologna, and then fly out of Pisa (or Genova or Milan). If you don't mind traveling onward for your first day, flying into Milan and then taking a train to Bologna the same day can win you some time.

One thing that is worth thinking about as you do some more thinking is how you might react to booking days in le Cinque Terre and then getting rain the days you are there. If you are okay with booking hotels with a 24-48 cancellation policy, and then watching the weather before you get to le Cinque Terre, you can cancel your CT booking and find someplace else to go last minute if the rain on the coast is terrible.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 09:54 AM
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We had rain for 2 of 3 days in Cinque Terre; it was the most amazing storm watching ever, with the waves washing over the castello in Vernazza, and all the little fishing boats hurriedly being pulled out of the water.

Now I am aware that rain in the CT has resulted in some real damage, but for the time we were there, it was so dramatic, something we will never forget.

And the third day we were able to hike because the sun broke out.
sundriedtopepo is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 01:05 PM
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Thanks, I'll look into Pisa flights and see how that works. I'm sure I'll change my mind on a daily basis until we finally book something. Part of the fun of planning though!
almesq is offline  
Mar 25th, 2016, 02:06 PM
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I love CT, been there twice, first time we stayed in Manarola, second time in Monterosso. If you want to relax after busy days in CT I highly advice you to stay in the out of CT, Levanto, Porto Venere, La Spezia, these towns are a short train trip from CT and give you a cheaper option and a relaxation atmosphere needed after a busy day of hiking.

We flew out of Pisa on Ryanair to Barcelona.

If we had time we would go to CT again, I just love it's dramatic majestic ambiance.
pookymimi is offline  

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