Venice and Rome or Tuscany and Rome?

Jan 28th, 2009, 05:00 AM
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Venice and Rome or Tuscany and Rome?

I'm attending a conference near Bologna in May and my husband will meet me afterward for only a week. He'll arrive on Saturday and we need to leave the following Saturday. Should he fly into Venice, we can spend some time there and then travel to Rome? Or should he fly into Rome where I would meet him and we can see Rome and Florence or Tuscany? I've heard one "must" see Venice, but maybe dollar wise it would be better to rent an apartment for a week in Rome? I'd love some advice - this is our first time in Italy.
marell is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 05:11 AM
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Your thoughts are on the right track. For only seven nights I's stick with one or two locations. By locations I mean hotels/apartments--that way you only waste time changing hotels perhaps once.

Both of your itinerary ideas are good, but we can't give realistic ideas of "must-sees" for you without knowing your interests. Also tells us your budget so we can suggest accommodation options.
ellenem is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 05:15 AM
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Do you already have your final flight booked for home? Both areas (Tuscany is a region) are spectacular but obviously very different. Have you done any research to get a feeling of what you really want to see and do? All of your options are wonderful, and should all be experienced at some point but tell us which way you might be leaning or some of the top 10 things you want to get out of this trip.
sandi_travelnut is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 05:40 AM
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Since Venice is car-less, the choice is a no-brainer. I definitely consider Venice a "must see" if you haven't been there.

I adore Rome but I'm also Catholic, love ancient history and live in NYC. You don't need a car in Rome and the city is large with many, many fascinating things to see and do. I could easily live there.

Florence is small, lovely, and the art and shopping are precious but, with only one week and the strong Euro, I'd come back and combine Florence with a Tuscany excursion. The best way to fully explore Tuscany is by car. And you can easily find paradise 20 minutes south of Florence by car. Public transportation is NOT a way to visit Tuscany.

May is a great month to visit all three places. You can't go wrong no matter what you decide.
NYCTS is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 06:12 AM
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Sometimes I think when people call decisions about travel a "no-brainer" their choices are more accurate than they know!

One thing you need to know is that Florence (Firenze) is 45 minutes by train from Bologna and 90 minutes by train from Rome. Also, Firenze is not a small place, especially if you like art and architecture. It's extremely dense with sites of incomparable historical significance, and makes a good base for seeing several other urban masterpieces of the Renaissance., all by using public transportation. So beware the advice you get on the internet!

I highly recommend that you peruse some books about Italy and find out for yourself what appeals to you most in terms of period of history, art offerings, ambience and food.

The dollar is getting stronger, although no guarantees and the savings between renting an apartment and hotel costs shouldn't tip the balance. You don't have to spend a fortune to get a good hotel in Italy.

No place is a "must-see" -- although Venice seems to provoke more "no-brainer" talk about it being so than any single other Italian city I can name. Because Venice is so packed with foreign tourists, and so expensive, many people prefer other Italian locales to explore for a first visit Italy, so they leave knowing more about Italy.

I agree with the others who recommend that the more people know about you and what you hope to enjoy while in Italy, the better the advice you will get. What are your keenest interests? Museum going? Food and wine? People watching? Fantastic architecture? Shopping?

zeppole is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 07:05 AM
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Although I could spend the entire week in museums, my husband does not share my love of art. So, ideally, some time to visit museums, he wants to see the "important" sites, and some relaxing time as well. We don't want to be exhausted from our trip when we return home! He is leaning toward Venice and Rome; I was leaning more toward Florence and Tuscany and Rome. As far as a budget, this opportunity has just arisen, so we're trying to keep costs down somewhat - certainly not an unlimited budget. I'm not really sure what it will realistically cost to spend a week in Italy, especially with the state of the dollar these days. That's why I was thinking of having an apartment as a home base.
marell is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 07:15 AM
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"Because Venice is so packed with foreign tourists, and so expensive"

Italy is more expensive now than in the last 30 years of visits. Life on the Adriatic Sea has ALWAYS been expensive. The reason Venice is so adored: a city built on water is extremely unique. There's no place quite like it. In the month of May, Venice is less crowded than Florence with foreign tourists.

Compared to Rome, Florence is a very small town.

Zeppole, I find your pettiness disappointing. Your snide, irascible competitiveness is also noted. None of these are attractive qualities.

So, yes, readers, beware of the advice you get on the internet. Some people have an agenda, which often has nothing to do with travel. Their agenda says more about their personality than it does about their actual travel experience.
NYCTS is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 07:20 AM
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The dollar is so much better than it was that those of us who live here (spending dollars) are feeling so much better these days! But budgets are budgets!

If you end up renting a car to see the most famous small towns in Tuscany, and if you don't know how to drive stick shift, it will end up adding to your costs considerably -- although some of those costs can be offset by the lower costs of rural accommodations.

I'm going to suggest you consider relaxing in Venice with a day Verona, and then including Florence, with day trip possibilities for Pisa, Siena, or Lucca -- and perhaps be sure to have a nice long lunch in Fiesole.

People here can help you find reasonably priced acommodations in Venice. I will suggest Tourist House Ghiberti for Florence.

Save Rome for another trip when you have more breathing room. I think you can create a nice mix of art-seeing and relaxing in Venice. There is much spectacular art to enjoy by going into small churches and scuole on a wandering around basis. It doesn't have to be a forced march, and there are pretty vistas everywhere.

My advice only chances if you tell me either of you hates crowds of foreign tourists. If so, skip both Florence and Venice and go straight to Rome the whole time. It gets loads of tourists, but it's a big town that absorbs them, and Italians still dominate. Take easy day trips to Orvieto and Ostia Antica.
zeppole is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 07:21 AM
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hi marell, the above post was a response to you, not NYCTS
zeppole is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 08:47 AM
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"Italians still dominate"

Many are simply sweet, kind, loving, generous, and sexy. All good reasons why Italy is a favorite place to visit.

"he wants to see the "important" sites, and some relaxing time as well."

Venice in May is simply gorgeous, one of the best months to visit. It's not crowded at all and the Venetians are happy as can be (until June 1, when the day-trippers start to arrive). Strolling the calli and getting lost with your husband: It doesn't get any more romantic and relaxing than that. There's only one La Serenissima and it shouldn't be missed, especially in May.

"We don't want to be exhausted from our trip when we return home!"

Then I would rent an apartment in Venice and stay there the entire time. Visit the Lido. Visit Burano. Go to the Vivaldi concerts. Bellinis at the Grand Canal Restaurant at The Hotel Monaco & Grand Canal. Lunch at La Laguna at The San Clemente Palace. Boat launch to Cipriani on Giudecca. Oh my, I'm ready to book my flight. See you there!
NYCTS is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 09:14 AM
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Venice is a must see in my book.
i have been there 3 times and it is my heaven on earth.
dandj2 is offline  
Jan 28th, 2009, 11:10 AM
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Thank you so much for the wonderful suggestions!!!! After some additional research, I'm longing to go to Florence/Tuscany and Venice. I would travel from Reggio Emilia (not far from Bologna, I think) and go on to meet hubby in Venice. Are 3 nights enough? Then travel to Florence - stay in Florence, or outside? 4 nights here? Lucca sounds wonderful, and Siena as well. I wish we had more time! Would you suggest more time in Venice or Tuscany? Rome is reminding me too much of a big city, and although wonderful, maybe it doesn't have the flavor of Italy that we are looking for as first time visitors....Maybe we should do Rome on another visit??? We will fly out of Rome on the last day.
marell is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 02:30 AM
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The "flavor of Italy"...

Let's cut through the polemics between two New Yorkers to a few facts.

The population of Venice is about 60,000. It receives over 20,000,000 visitors a year. Doing the math, that comes to an average of about 55,000 visitors a day. I can assure you that in May, when all the cruise ships are already sailing into Venice, the number of daily visitors (in every sense of the word; most of them are only there for a day) will be higher than the number of Venetians.

Rome, on the other hand, has a population of about 3 million and receives about the same number of visitors as Venice. Yes, it's a big city, but for that reason, the visitors are just a little less evident. And believe me, the historic center of Rome is totally unlike any American city.
Zerlina is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 03:50 AM
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You can't go wrong with any choice UNLESS you try to do too much in too few days. You will LOVE Italy!
rbnwdln is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 04:18 AM
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To me this it sounds as though this is the most important consideration - "Although I could spend the entire week in museums, my husband does not share my love of art. So, ideally, some time to visit museums, he wants to see the "important" sites, and some relaxing time as well. We don't want to be exhausted from our trip when we return home!".

Although I love Rome, it's big and tiring so a week there would not fit the bill IMO. Venice is beautiful and romantic and there's nowhere else like it. Yes, the area around and between St Mark's Square and the Rialto is crowded with tourists, but it's easy to slip away and lose the crowds which are mainly confined to the 'main drags'.

So I'd suggest the first half of the week in Rome seeing the major sights (most of which can be enjoyed outside, if he's not into museums - the Colosseum, the Forum, St Peter's, the historic centre - then the second half of the week in Venice, staying in a quieter part (we like Dorsoduro). You don't need to go into any museums or churches, the best part is just strolling round / sitting around, taking it all in - so just do that and stop frequently for drinks, eats and ice cream !
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 04:19 AM
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I just returned from Italy and agree with both NYCTS (1/28) and rbnwdln (1/29).

I asked someone why Venice was so crowded (December) compared to Rome and Florence. I was told that due to the uniqueness of the city, Venice gets lots of tourists all year.

I loved Italy and will have to go back!
Cringo is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 04:22 AM
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Hit 'post' too soon. I meant to say that although Tuscany is lovely, it doesn't comapre with the wonder that is Venice - it's basically just nice countryside, nice small towns (much like many other Italian small towns) and Florence - and Florence is *all* about the art. I also find the crowds in Florence more distressing than anywhere else, including Rome and Venice, as the centre is quite small and you can't escape them.
caroline_edinburgh is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 10:55 AM
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"Let's cut through the polemics between two New Yorkers to a few facts."

Let's. (I didn't realize there was more than one New Yorker here. Also, IMO, there is no polemic, just someone with a disputatious personality.)

"The population of Venice is about 60,000. It receives over 20,000,000 visitors a year. Doing the math, that comes to an average of about 55,000 visitors a day."

Tourist numbers are grossly exaggerated for Venice and, in the current economy, they're sure to come down in substantial percentages. (Day-tripping on weekends will always be popular because it's easy to pop-in and pop-out of Venice.) Every person arriving for cruise ship transfers gets counted whether they visit the Rialto/Piazza San Marco or not. Cruise ships stay on average between five and nine hours at each port. Most cruise ship passengers spend an average of two-four hours in Venice and most tourists never veer off the most beaten paths. May is not the busiest month for Stazione Marittima.

It's disingenuous to use "average visitors-per-day" calculations since Carnivale skews the numbers dramatically. Venice is never as crowded as the last days of Carnivale, which is a similar experience to Times Square at New Year's Eve but imagine the crowds spread out from Piazza San Marco to the Rialto over a ten-day period. Crossing the major bridges can take up to 30 minutes at peak times.

"Crowded" is a relative term, of course, which explains why I remind readers that I have a NYC perspective. With almost 2-million daily residents on our 23-square mile island (not including tourists), we tend to view people walking on the streets a bit differently than someone living in Columbus, Ohio or Birmingham, Alabama or Panzano, Italy.

Here's a truthful quote from Rick Steves on Timing Your Trip: "Many people energetically jockey themselves into the most crowded square of the most crowded city in the most crowded month (St. Mark's Square, Venice, July) and then complain about the crowds. You could be in Venice in July and walk six blocks behind St. Mark's Basilica, step into a café, and be greeted by Venetians who act as though they've never seen a tourist."

I would not be inclined to visit Venice in July and August but, even during these months, you can find peace and calm a short distance away from the heavily touristed main drags. As Caroline mentioned, the perfectly delightful Dorsoduro is a joy year round.

My last visit to Carnivale, when the temperature hit a sunny 60 degrees, one could easily enjoy a fairly empty Zattere. The ACTV boat schedule used to change on June 1 to accommodate more boat runs. (The boats and schedule changed last year.)

Through the years, I have visited Venice numerous times in the month of May and, sometimes, I have stayed for the entire month. I've enjoyed lengthy apartment rentals in Santa Croce, Cannaregio, San Marco, and Dorsoduro (my favorite). There were no lines to enter any of the museums, no restaurant waits, and no over-packed vaporetti. In fact, I remember one May having the Ca d'Oro museum to myself.

Feel free to challenge my personal experience (if you dare) but no matter what anybody says, I know the difference between a bridge you cannot cross and a vaporetto you cannot board because the crowds are too numerous. Such inconveniences simply don't occur in May. They don't even come close.
NYCTS is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 01:17 PM
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With such a short amount of time, the Rome and Venice options seem best.

Just to add my two cents to the crowds issue: Most of Venice is not at all crowded. I had visited there in May. The only sections busy with tourists were a few streets near San Marco Square and the Rialto Bridge. If crowds bother you, just avoid those streets. I found the rest of Venice (which is MOST of Venice) to be wonderful, very peaceful.

I visited Florence during the same May trip, and had the exact opposite experience. There were horrendous crowds everywhere, because all the main sights of interest are where the crowds were. Walking on the streets there was an exhausting experience. There was also a lot of car traffic. The art in Florence is wonderful, but unless you are going to Florence only for the art museums, I would skip Florence on this trip. As a city, Florence does not come even remotely close to being as scenic as Venice.

JoyceL is offline  
Jan 29th, 2009, 02:18 PM
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hi marell,

being of the "less is more" school, I'd opt for a week in one place, two at a stretch, and IMHO, Venice is a MUST, however many places you visit.


1. it's time may be limited - the recent very high tides, if repeated, may soon change it irrevocably. Go while you can.

2. as it has no traffic to speak of, it's an excellent introduction to Italy for those who haven't been before.

3. Variety. there's something for everyone, except perhaps football, and there's usually a group of lads knocking a ball about somewhere.

4. Compactness. in a week, you can see most of what there is to see, and feel that you have really got to know it reasonably well.

5. Beauty. there is truly nowhere else like it.

6. cost - if you rent an apartment, it needn't be ruinous.

if you decide that a week is too long for venice and you must go somewhere else as well, I'd suggest getting the train to Rome, and spending 3-4 nights there. it's nowhere near long enough for rome, but you'll get a taste of it.

as for Florence and Tuscany, i agree with the other poster who said to leave them for another trip.

one point - are you able to get an "open jaw" flight for your DH into Venice and out of Rome? if you had to back track, you'd lose at least half a day if not longer, and that would be another argument for just staying in one place.

good luck,

regards, ann
annhig is offline  

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