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Suggestions for Northern Italy Trip Sept. 1st-17th

Suggestions for Northern Italy Trip Sept. 1st-17th

Old May 5th, 2010, 09:42 AM
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Suggestions for Northern Italy Trip Sept. 1st-17th

Hi Everyone! You gave us some OUTSTANDING advice a few months ago and thanks to you, we have finalized our plane reservations for a SEPTEMBER 1st-17th 2010 trip! We'll be flying into Venice at about 2:15 on Sept. 2 (after an overnight flight from Washington, DC) and we have to fly out of Rome at 1PM on Sept. 17th.


We MUST see Venice, Florence, Siena and Rome, but beyond that we have no plans. How many days in each? What other cities should we visit? Where shall we stay? What shall we do in each place? We want to hear about your favorites!

Some important factors to note:
There are two of us traveling (husband and wife)- late 20s/early 30s in decent health)
Our budget is small (About $4,000-$5,000 after airfare)
We don't mind hostels/monasteries/etc. one bit, but we'd like one or two nights in a nice B&B if possible.)
We want to walk or take public transportation ONLY. No driving.
We're happy to get our meals from local markets and street vendors as long as we get LOTS of gelato and the occasional sit-down dinner or lunch. We're not big wine-drinkers but we LOVE good food. Cheap but tasty hole-in-the-wall places are IDEAL!
We want to save as much money as we can to go to museums/historical sites and buy lots of local crafts and souvenirs!

Thanks in advance for your ideas!
2Aquilas is offline  
Old May 5th, 2010, 09:53 AM
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In addition to a good basic guidebook (I like Lonely Planet and Rough Guides), the Blue Guide has fantastic background information, especially on art.
I am also enjoying the food books I have purchased, so I can recommend a few:
A Culinary Traveller in Tuscany: Exploring and Eating Off the Beaten Track
Walking and Eating in Tuscany and Umbria
Italy for the Gourmet Traveler
Food Wine Rome (Downie)

To focus your research, you have all cities selected, so for one additional stop, I would select a small town (somewhere you won't visit as a day trip from your selected cities).
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Old May 5th, 2010, 09:59 AM
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Hello Aquilas. It sounds as though you will be touring Italy by train. When you leave Florence and train to Rome think about stopping at Orvieto for either a day visit or an overnight visit. You can than catch the train to Rome which is about an hour trip from Orvieto to Rome. Just one thought and my wishes that you two have a wonderful time in Italy, I am sure you will!
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Old May 5th, 2010, 10:16 AM
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with travel days you have 14 actual days in Italy.
With 4 must see stops, that is about 3 days in each place with travel in between. I dont see you adding any other place.

I have been to Venice, Florence and Rome 3 times.
They all warrant at least 3 days each IMO.

If I were you I would do this

Venice Sept. 2-5
Florence Sept. 6-8
Siena Sept. 9-11
Rome Sept. 12-16
Home on Sept. 17th

wishing a fabulous time in MY Italy
Less is always more. Take time to wander.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 11:16 AM
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Yes now that I am counting correctly, I completely agree with jetsetj!
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Old May 5th, 2010, 12:11 PM
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For planning your time in Vencie I recommend a combo of books:
1. Venice for Pleasure 2008 edition by J G Links a different approach to walks through Venice.
2.Touring Club of Italy, Venice. This may be out of print but well worththe effort to find.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 01:48 PM
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I agree with jetsetj, but would take one day away from Siena and add in Orvieto. Check out chowhound.com for good cheap eat suggestions. Eat at Sostanza in Florence - one of the best meals of our trip. Get take-out from Roscioli in Rome. Check out parlafood.com for good reviews from a "local".
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Old May 5th, 2010, 02:40 PM
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I second ekc's suggestion to spend one night in Siena and one night in Orvieto. These two small towns will bring a nice balance to spending time in the Big 3.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 03:31 PM
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Nerbone, in the San Lorenzo market in Florence, is my favorite cheap eat in the city. The atmosphere is lively and the food is wonderful, although I wouldn't go for their (or anyone else's) tripe sandwiches again. It does have some of the best Tuscan dishes you'll find anywhere and you don't have to order a whole meal, nor will you be frowned upon for sharing whatever you order. There are no waiters, just countermen, but go early because you'll need a place to sit and it's only open for lunch. I'd check about the days as well as the hours, but as I recall it's open when the market is. Of course, the market has take-away options as well. While I agree that Sostanza has the best and biggest steaks and their communal tables are like going far back in time--- in a good way--- it's pretty pricey.

If you are in Rome on a Sunday or Monday, most of the restaurants and markets are closed or over-priced except for the ones on Via del Porto d'Ottavio, in the heart of the Jewish ghetto. There are kosher and non-kosher restaurants, outdoor cafes and snack bars on this pedestrians-only street and a bakery with down-home pastries. It feels like a real Roman neighborhood, not so touristy, but filled with folks out to eat well and have a good time without the heavy traffic noise. Other days of the week, the Campo de'Fiori market is open with much the same high energy and wonderful produce, meats and cheeses to choose from as you'll find anywhere in Italy.

Any of the cities and towns you visit will have these kinds of dining options, but smaller towns really do tend to shut down entirely during certain hours and on Sunday and Monday.
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Old May 5th, 2010, 03:52 PM
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Flying into Venice and out of Rome is perfect, IMO. Venice is dreamy and good for getting over jetlag; Rome is vibrant and intense and fun for your last night in Italy.

You will get plenty of great advice from fodorites; here's my two cents on some of the places you are going to.

Two places I've stayed in Venice:
Just check out the website to get an idea of Casa Martini. We completely enjoyed our stay there; charming and pretty.

Also recommend:
Ca'Turelli; I booked it through www.veniceby.com
Look in the B&B section: http://www.veniceby.com/turelli/
It was simple but very clean; great bathroom, mediocre breakfast, excellent location.

My favorite thing to do in Venice is wander the streets and teeny alleys(esp. early a.m. and night), savoring the architecture, colors, and sounds of the water. If you like contemporary art, the Peggy Guggenheim museum is excellent.

I love the shopping in Venice; make sure what you buy is made locally to support the local artisans, even if it costs a bit more. Murano glass jewelry and prints/watercolors of Venetian scenes are my favorite buys.

In Florence, besides the amazing Renaissance art, check out the Science Museum near the Uffizi. Galileo's instruments (and his finger!) as well as gorgeous maps and globes, and some weird medical stuff that made me glad for modern science.

Traditional Florentine crafts include leather goods (I love my green gloves) and beautiful paper products. These make good and lightweight gifts to bring home.

I did not stay in lovely Siena, but here is a "hole-in-the-wall" restaurant you might enjoy: Osteria della Chiacchiera (the Chatterbox) near St. Catherine's house. It is small & simple with rustic Siennese food. We had a good dinner despite some funny mis-communications! We bought ricciarelli (yummy-almondy local cookies) at a bakery for dessert.

In Rome we were very happy with the Nicolas Inn:
It's popular, so fills up quickly. The multilingual owners Melissa and Francois were super helpful with transportation tips and restaurant suggestions! We walked there from the train station (about 15-20 minutes, but we wanted to walk after taking the train from Venice).

It is on a busy street; courtyard facing rooms are quieter, but one of our rooms was on the street side and with the very good soundproof windows, noise was not too bad. Contemporary furnishings, excellent bathrooms. The simple, lively trattoria next door became our hangout, and there was delicous pizza down the street towards the Roman Forum (ask Melissa).

In Rome, walk around at night, enjoying the Roman vibe and seeing all the monuments and fountains lit up. Rick Steves' Italy guidebook outlines a decent night walking-route.

San Clemente Church is one of many of Rome's amazing churches, but what I liked about it was that you can descend from the main mosaic-filled church underground to an ancient temple to the god Mithra. Very atmospheric!
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Old May 6th, 2010, 04:48 PM
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Once again, Fodor users offer brilliant guidance! Thank you, everyone for the book recommendations, itinerary suggestions and FOOD ideas! I'll share your feedback with my husband- it's a huge help! Happy travels!
2Aquilas is offline  
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