Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Starting early on a trip to Italy and need ideas

Starting early on a trip to Italy and need ideas

Jun 9th, 2014, 05:53 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 233
Starting early on a trip to Italy and need ideas

So Husband and I had our 3 weeks in London and Paris. Overall...really great. Of course little glitches, but nothing near serious. We did A LOT of walking, through museums, streets, meandering, etc. we saw Harry Potter (didn't get to Oxford), Disney (per Husband) and Versailles. Loved pretty much everything. And, no, we ran into not a single rude Parisian.

We're hoping for a trip to Italy in 2 years, knowing NOTHING really about traveling there. We're planning on 2 weeks, plus travel from the West Coast (LAX or SFO--we live in Fresno, so puddle-jumping to either of those hubs). What we need to know is, based on our interests (museums, architecture, churches, wandering around), what cities should we hit and what's a good order for intercity travel and time for each city? We know we want Rome, Venice, at least a stop in Pisa, and are wondering if we can include Florence and Pompei--or anything elsei. We do carry ons, so not toting huge pieces of luggage, choosing to hit a laundry.

Any ideas?
propita is offline  
Jun 9th, 2014, 06:00 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,899
If you felt comfortable with three weeks in London and Paris, then you'd probably want only a few destinations for a starter trip to Italy: perhaps a week in Rome and a week in Florence + Venice (easy day trip from Florence to Pisa). It's easy to take a high speed train between those three places. Try to open jaw into Venice, out of Rome. (Venice departing flights tend to leave early and getting to Marco Polo airport is apparently not cheap/easy at the crack of dawn.)

You can do a long day trip from Rome to Pompeii, I think (I did it from Sorento), if you don't want a separate excursion there. You may even want to get an organized day tour to save time.

Otherwise: pick up a good guide book for Italy and see what grabs you in each city. We all have our preferences. I prefer Rick Steves as my primary guide book.
Andrew is offline  
Jun 9th, 2014, 06:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 950
If you love museums, architecture & churches then you must go to Florence. I am not sure what time of year you are planning on going, but you will want to visit Florence & Rome, for sure.

We went in the winter and did Venice (4 nights), Florence (5 nights) and Rome (7 nights) and felt we really did those places justice - we were able to see all the big sites and take in the beauty of the cities.

You could certainly shave a night or two off our timelines if you plan your time carefully and pack in multiple churches/museums on each day.

We washed our clothes at a laundry mat in Florence.
halfapair is offline  
Jun 9th, 2014, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 436
Fly into Venice, 4 nights. train to Florence - 4 nights. Day trip to Pisa +/- day trip to Sienna. train to Rome -rest of trip. Day trips by train to Assisi, Maybe Orvieto, and Ostia Antica. Pompei can be done as a day trip, but it will be a long day. I'd leave pompei to another trip.
leuk2 is offline  
Jun 9th, 2014, 07:08 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,385
We fly out of LAX, and I can tell you that you'll jump multiple puddles no matter where you start and end in Italy. We like the Swiss/United o/n flight from LAX to Zurich where we've connected to Venice, Florence and Rome. We prefer Zurich over London and Frankfurt, and the overall journey has a good timeline for us. Leave in the early evening and arrive at the destination in the early evening. Check into the hotel, go to dinner, take a brief walk, then go to bed.

Right now, the Swiss flight from Venice to Zurich that arrives in time for the non-stop back to LAX departs at 9:50a, so I'd probably see Venice last. You'd have to leave your hotel for the airport early but not crazy early. In contrast, if Venice is first, there are additional steps from the airport and possibly a bit of a walk with luggage before you reach your hotel. If Rome is first, you can take a taxi directly from FCO to your hotel door. Also, if Venice is last, you arrive by train right into the historical center and have a few days to get a feel for the transport before you head to the airport.

If it were my first trip to Italy and I had 2 weeks, I'd see Venice, Florence/Pisa/Siena and Rome. I'd leave Pompeii for another trip that included Naples, the Amalfi Coast, Capri and other sights in this southern area.
Jean is offline  
Jun 9th, 2014, 07:11 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 46,736
I wouldn't even see Pisa, unless I'd researched and learned about all the interesting things to see there besides that wretched tower.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 9th, 2014, 07:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,899
Some of us think the Tower of Pisa is an icon and a must-see. It sure was for me.
Andrew is offline  
Jun 9th, 2014, 07:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,385
IMO, if the tower gets people to turn around and look at the Campo dei Miracoli, it's a good thing.

"A very large but hidden part of its appeal, aside from the beauty of the buildings, is its spatial geometry. The piazza's medieval engineers knew what they were doing. If you take an aerial photo of the square and draw connect-the-dot lines between the centers, doors, and other focal points of the buildings and the spots where streets enter the piazza, you'll come up with all sorts of perfect triangles, tangential lines of mathematical grace, and other unfathomable hypotenuses."

Did you know that all of Pisa's ancient churches face the sea?

Check out "Exploring the Rest of Pisa":

Jean is offline  
Jun 10th, 2014, 07:59 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 233
You guys are great! This is just the kind of information I was hoping for at this point, narrowing the number of cities to something that's actually doable. And the general info on flights is very helpful, though I know airlines (in general) may make changes, ease in and out of specific cities often remain the same.

And, yes, open jaw all the way. We did it for DC and NYC, taking Amtrak between, and into London/out of Paris. No point in extra travel when the flights are available.
propita is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 04:19 PM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
I also think that Pisa is one of the great architectural wonders of Europe. I would just put this thought into the mix as you spend the next two years planning your trip.

The marvels of Rome, Florence and Venice are almost infinite. Whether you spend 3 weeks or 3 years or 30 years, you will not be able to see it all -- and I am seriously not exaggerating.

Given your interests, and given that you have so much time to plan, I suggest that you give some consideration to selecting some very important sights in the major cities, but also giving yourself some real glimpse into another town in Italy that has tremendous beauty and charm. I would suggest Verona for you, but there are myriad other cities, depending on what you like. Naples is also revelation. Mantova or even tiny Parma is amazing.

I just feel that it is important on even a first trip to Italy to understand the extent to which Italy is overflowing with incredibly beautiful small cities of fascination and historic importance. It helps give you a sense of what Italians live with and what is the bedrock of the country. These places are immensely rewarding to walk around, eat meals in, etc. The big tourist sights in the big tourist cities can feel a bit empty, and the medieval villages -- astonishing as they are -- can also feel like stage sets (especially the popular tourist ones). But to spend even 48 hours in Verona, or Padova, or Parma, is to get more of a feel of "backstage" Italy, where only some tourists take a peek.

So if you go in knowing that no amount of time is "enough" for Venice, Florence or Rome -- and certainly not 4 days as opposed to 5 or 3 -- then maybe you can be realistic about those cities and leave some time to visit just one place less famous but no less moving.
sandralist is offline  
Jun 11th, 2014, 07:06 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2012
Posts: 233
I completely understand what you meant at the end. We loved London and Paris, and even with 3 weeks, and lots of meandering, we know we couldn't have seen everything. Husband agreed that wandering through Paris was one of the best parts of our trip.

Oh, and my fasciitis? Yes, it was a pain in the...feet. It did curtail some of our activity, but I plodded on, even though I was limping at times. Walking down to the Grand Trianon? In the rain? With my feet already sore? Well, may not be back this way, so let's do it. And Husband agrees that I rarely did complain; didn't have to, he could see me limping.
propita is offline  
Related Topics
Original Poster
Last Post
May 20th, 2018 04:50 PM
Oct 26th, 2016 02:44 PM
Sep 29th, 2010 02:00 PM
Jun 28th, 2010 03:08 PM
Dec 2nd, 2006 05:08 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 04:12 AM.