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Spring 2011 - Italy, Provence and Greece - order of visit?

Spring 2011 - Italy, Provence and Greece - order of visit?

Apr 28th, 2010, 09:10 AM
  #1  
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Spring 2011 - Italy, Provence and Greece - order of visit?

I am in the early stages of planning a trip and am trying to decide if there is a best "order" to visit the following:
* Athens and then Mykonos, Santorini, Crete, Rhodes
* Rome, Florence and Tuscany
* Amalfi Coast
* Provence

What would be the most practical path to follow> start in Greece, then Italy and end in Provence? I expect that flying into one country and flying out of another may make the most sense, but may not be the least expensive flight option.

We will fly from east coast of US [most likely NY] and are planning a trip of approximately 4 weeks.

We would most likely last week of April and end last week of May.

Is there any better place to be at a particular time, for weather purposes?

I know this is vague, but it's a start. Thanks for any suggestions/input.
DebitNM is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 09:31 AM
  #2  
 
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For reasons of history and weather, I would want to visit the Amalfi area after Greece.

I would rather see Sicily than Florence and Tuscany on a trip beginning in Greece, but that's just me.
zeppole is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 09:36 AM
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Are you planning on beach activities? Then, how early in the spring are you going? Weather will help you decide.

Definitely do an open jaws ticket - it will not cost any more than a roundtrip.
nytraveler is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 09:39 AM
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Four weeks isn't a lot of time to accomplish all on this itinerary. Why don't you save Provence for another trip.
I agree with Zeppole regarding the historical locations.
If this were my trip, I would do Greece or Italy.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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Shoulder season seems to start rather late in Greece--if you want outside--not even necessarily beach--time on Greek islands, then I'd head there last.
I have often found open jaw tickets cost the same or even less than round trip, and the time you save will be invaluable.
I would play around with the flight options a lot and let that guide you, as well as typical weather--wunderground is a good source. Even with 4 weeks, you might end up scaling back a bit.
yorkshire is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 09:55 AM
  #6  
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This is just the kind of input I was looking for - thanks. I realize I need to fine tune this trip and am really looking for suggestions - so please feel free to offer ideas,/i>.

I thought 4 weeks would be enough to do what I had listed, but perhaps not. I thought 5 days in Provence, 10 days in Italy and 10 days in Greece, not including travel days.

I would like to include cooking school while in Italy, which is how Tuscany ended up in the mix.

Sicily - hmmmm.

Provence was an add on, French is the only foreign language I speak and the thought of Provence in spring sounded so nice.

Perhaps scaling back to just 2 or 3 islands?

I have never been [DH has been in Greece and Italy, long ago] to Greece or Italy and have only been in Paris.
DebitNM is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 09:57 AM
  #7  
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Sorry about the italic goof.

I forgot to reply about beach - we would like to be able to enjoy the beach and water, but swimming isn't a necessity.

We would probably spend the month of May on the trip.
DebitNM is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 10:33 AM
  #8  
 
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With 4 weeks I agree with those who would scale back a bit. We spent over a week on Crete and could have stayed longer...lots to see. For Greece I would do Athens, Crete and Santorini and maybe Mykonos. Last trip we wanted to see Rhodes, but the logistics made it more time consuming, so we cut it out and did Paros & Naxos instead.

Hard to choose among the Italian destinations -- the Amalfi coast is so gorgeous. Sicily will be warmer weather in your time frame. However, if this is your first trip to Italy, then perhaps Florence and Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. Or skip the Amalfi Coast and go to Rome, Florence and Tuscany countryside. It really depends upon what u want to see. U wont go wrong with any of your choices.

As much as I love Provence, I would save it for another trip. And defintiely do an open jaw. I've found then to be the same price wise or less if one of the ways is closer to your home point. Have fun planning.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 02:21 PM
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10 days is not enough for the cities/areas you listed in Italy. 10 days would barely let you cover Rome, Florence, Venice. You need to scale back a bit as you aren't factoring how long it takes to travel to all the islands/cities/countries. Do book open jaw (into Athens out of Venice?, Nice?), but between Greece and Italy look at Aegean Airlines.
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 28th, 2010, 06:49 PM
  #10  
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How can I trim this down so that I can do 5 days in Provence, 10 in Greece and 10 in Italy. I can leave off some greek islands. What can I do to trim Italy that will get me to see Rome, Tuscany and Amalfi?
DebitNM is offline  
Apr 28th, 2010, 07:19 PM
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I would start in Greece and stay 3 days in Athens. I'm not a huge fan of Athens and would want to hit the main sites and leave. You could then either go to Crete and spend 6 days there. Crete is fabulous, lots to see and do, very different from Athens or the other islands. If you don't want to go to Crete, then I'd go to Santorini for 3 days, take a ferry to Naxos for three days and fly back to Athens from there and then onto Italy. Or u could reverse order and go to Naxos first and end in Santorini--if I remember correctly more flights go from Santorini. Mykonos was a fun island, but I liked it the least of the islands I've visited. Once u decide be sure to keep checking the Aegean website. They have great sales.

I'd look at flts to Italy from Greece and see which is the least time consuming in terms of where u land first - direct flight with good flt times. Spending 4 days in Rome and 3 days each in Amalfi and Tuscany is doable. You'll get a quickie view of Rome and an overview of the Amalfi Coast and Tuscany.

Then onto Provence for the final days.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 06:20 AM
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Do you plan to rent a car in Italy?

Getting from Athens to an island can eat up a day of travel and you are going a bit off season so you might not have as many travel options because of reduced schedules. I seem to recall some college party break (similar to US spring break) where everyone goes to the islands around the first of May. Check into that so you can avoid the mobs.

Every time you change locations you will lose at least half a day (checking in and out of hotels, getting to and from train stations/ports, getting to and from your location) and possibly close to a full day.

The connections between Athens and Italy aren't that great so you will likely have to fly to Rome and then head south to Amalfi. There's an overnight ferry from Patras, Greece to Italy, but that would involve getting to Patras from Athens (which would be great if you did a night in Delphi on the way) and from the port in Italy (Brindisi or Bari) to Amalfi. If you fly, getting from Rome to Amalfi will take 4-5 hours.

Make a chart listing your itinerary (put estimated arrival/departure times) so you can see how much time you might have in a place.

Day 1 - Depart US
Day 2 - Arrive Athens 2pm (travel into your hotel will take an hour probably)

This lets you see you really won't have any sightseeing time on Day 2. Once you post a list, we can help with transportation and how much time you need to allow in each place. Some places will be your "must sees" so be sure to mention things you aren't willing to drop.
kybourbon is online now  
Apr 29th, 2010, 09:15 AM
  #13  
 
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My thoughts on the whole itinerary question include:

(1) When you ask for advice, consider the source. Yestravel says "do Greece first" and also "I'm not a big fan of Athens". Obviously not a "greece person" -- maybe like Rick Steves, who openly says he prefers Turkey. (Turkey, the cradle of Western Civ -- not). Take advice about each country from someone who's an enthusiast about that country.

(2) Drop Provence. You may not have thought it through when tacking on Provence just because of "the thought of Provence in the spring" and your school french. Alert: no matter how much French you speak, the French will snoot you for your accent, believe me! Whereas Italians & Greeks APPLAUD any tiny effort you make to express something in their language. They bring you special desserts, another carafe of wine! So forget that reason. If you limit yourself to 2 countries, you can see a decent amount in a month without rushing. Then, another year, you can do France or England-France. OR France-Spain.

(3) If you do the month of May, do Italy first, and Greece May 15-30. by that time, it's warm enough to swim (at least for us Northeasters), and the ferry schedules are MUCH better and more accommodations and wonderful tavernas & cafes will be open and welcoming you, yet the crowds will not be there. I consider May 15-June 15 to be the IDEAL time in Greece. Italy revvs up much earlier, so May 1, things will be buzzing there.
travelerjan is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 09:36 AM
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I kinda agree with the others - you are perhaps trying to do too much, and covering too large of an area.

We've never visited Greece, so I can't comment on that portion of your plans.

I've found it somewhat difficult/complicated to get to the Amalfi Coast by public transportation. Depending on where you start the day (Greece or Italy) you may need a combination of different transportation methods that could consume a good portion of the day. We've visited the AC 4 times, but we've always traveled by car - which sat in a parking lot for as many as 4 days while we were staying in Positano & Capri. We decided on a car for transportation because we wanted to visit Pompii or Herculaneum on the way to/from, stay in Positano, stay in Ravello, drive along the coast, pottery shop in Vietri, and then also visit Paestum. I would suggest that you spend some time researching transportation to/from the AC and also “nail down” exactly what you want to do on the AC. If your itinerary is Greece, AC, Rome - a car would seem like a bad idea because you would only need it for a short time (assuming you'll return it in Rome - and driving into Rome is not something I enjoy) and for much of that time you may not even use the car. A car, however, gives you flexibility if the weather is bad. We’ve taken hydrofoils, boats, buses between Positano, Amalfi, and Capri and these methods work well – but they won’t “conveniently” get you to Ravello, coast drive, Vietri, Paestum, Pompii if these sites are in your plans.

Getting from Tuscany to Provence is also difficult & somewhat costly. We’ve driven it 5-7 times, and we hate the drive around Genoa – hundreds of tunnels (at least it seems like 100), and many opportunities to make a wrong turn & end up on the streets of Genoa. The last time we needed to get from Tuscany to Nice, we drove the car to La Spezia, and took the train to Nice. It was 1 train change then (Genoa), but it may be more now. If you decide to drive from Italy to France, the “costly” enters in. In Italy, cars are usually more expensive to rent and you are required to purchase CDW. In France, you are not required to purchase CDW and if you use your Gold or higher CC – CDW will be included at no cost to you. So if you rent a car in Italy and drive it to France, you’ll be paying a higher daily rate while in France than you would have if you used the train to get to France & picked up a car there. You also will have the “other country” drop-off fee.

There may be another complicated transportation issue if you spend your last day in Florence before going to France. You won’t use your car while in Florence, but getting from Florence to Provence is quite time consuming by public transportation (at least I have not found a good way to do this).

So, given all of these transportation issues and keeping your original itinerary, this is what I would do:

1- Greece as planned
2- Fly to Rome & stay in Rome for 4 nights
3- Rent a car in Rome (at the train station – the drive out of Rome is not as bad as the drive into Rome). Head to Pompii for a guided tour. Stay in Positano for 3 nights (I’m not a fan of Sorrento). It would be nice to visit Capri, but I don’t think you’ll have the time.
4- Stay in Ravello 1 night – and visit the villas there & enjoy the views
5- Leave the Amalfi coast, and head south if you want to pottery shop in Vietri or visit Paestum. Head north if you want to skip these 2 places & perhaps visit Pompii if you did not visit it before
6- Stay overnight in Tivoli and visit Villa d’Este and also Hadrian’s villa.
7- Drive to the Val d’Orcia (near Pienza) and stay there for 4 nights. Visit Orvieto on the way .
8- Get an early start & drive to Florence & stay somewhere where you can park the car. Stay there for 2 nights but make sure that includes 2 complete days.
9- Either drive all the way to Provence (6 hrs or so) or drive to San Remo or somewhere in Italy where you can dump the Italian car, take a train to Nice, and pick up a French car. This latter plan is only a cost saving thing.
10- Spend 2 nights in Nice if you like. We love Nice.
11- Drive to Provence & spend 5 nights there
12- Fly home from Marseille or take the early TGV to CDG (Paris) & fly home.

This is about 22 nights – not including Greece.

If this seems reasonable, let me know & I’ll e-mail you my 27 page Cote d’Azur itinerary and my 20 page Italy itinerary. They have more details.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 09:37 AM
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IMO, you can make it all within four weeks and it won't be too rushed.

Swimming will only be possible in Greece and at the Amalfi Coast in late May, not in April or early May. That might be a factor to consider. Provence can be pretty cold in April, when the Mistral is blowing, so May might be better for Provence.

Climatewise, Italy - Provence - Greece will make most sense, but travelwise Provence - Italy - Greece might be better. I would suggest to check airfares first, sometimes there will be surprises.
Echnaton is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 10:56 AM
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I'd like to second the suggestion to visit Ravello -- its beautiful with fabulous views.

travelerjan -- to set the record straight, I love Greece and have enjoyed several trips there. People are great, islands are beautiful and the parts of the mainland I've visited are fascinating. Just don't happen to like Athens aside from the incredible sites. I suggested going there first because I prefer to start my vacations with the furthest destination and work my way back, not because I think less of Greece than Italy or Provence.
yestravel is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 11:30 AM
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DebitNM, No matter what you do, you are going to love your Europe trip!

But that being said, I have a few questions for those who have traveled to Italy and Athens. DebitNM might also find it useful.

I stayed in Rome for 4-5 nights last summer. I was content with the amount of ancient columns/sites my mind can take in. After spending 4-5 nights in Rome, I was happy to leave that city.

In planing my Athen's adventure,I wonder the minimal amount of days I should spend in Athens if I have already seen Rome?
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 11:57 AM
  #18  
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You have all provided with lots of great suggestions and input. I will review what you've said and try to firm things up a bit and will return to once again seek your welcomed help.
DebitNM is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 12:01 PM
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"In planing my Athen's adventure,I wonder the minimal amount of days I should spend in Athens if I have already seen Rome?"

Huh? What the heck does having already seen Rome have to do with how much time to spend in Athens?
hazel1 is offline  
Apr 29th, 2010, 12:17 PM
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hazel1: granted I am no travel expert, but when I see images of Athens, sometimes they remind me of Rome. My greatest fear in traveling is seeing split images of places I have already visited.
hobbitthefoodlover is offline  

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