Venice, Tuscany and CT in October

Old Aug 11th, 2014, 06:24 AM
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Venice, Tuscany and CT in October

Hello,
My friend and I are travelling to Italy - first time for me - in the first week of Oct. A 12 day trip. We are flying into Milan, planning to train to Venice for 4 nights, - rent an apt? - then train to Florence, pick up a car and at this point probably travel to Ameglia to a small villa rental we found so that we can use that as a base between Tuscany and CT, for 5 nights, then drop the car maybe in La Spezia and train to Milan for the last night before we fly out at 10 the next morning. Would recommend any thoughts or recommendations. Up for the Venice experience, sadly not going to spend time in Florence this time as my friend was there for a good stay before; in Tuscany, looking to see Lucca, and start researching a nice path through the area for a day trip or two...CT and also portofino...hoping to hire or go by boat to the villages. Won't be doing much hiking as my friend just had surgery on knee. She'll be in good shape, but probably not for any lengthy hikes or walks.
Thanks for any thoughts, the biggest adventure will probably me packing only in a carry-on, but I'm determined.
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 06:38 AM
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Sounds lovely, although I am immediately concerned that if your friend's knee is not up for lengthy hikes or walks then the many bridges of Venice might start out your trip literally on the wrong foot. Have you both considered this?

Likewise, while I have never been to Ameglia, it is strikingly quite a steep hill town, even when viewed from highway. Have you checked out whether the location of the villa has suitable access for your friend? Sometimes villas in Liguria can have very steep and uneven paths and stairs to reach them.

If you are not familiar with the website called A Path to Lunch, it has lots of information about the area around Ameglia.

If you end up deciding that the bridges of Venice are a not wise for your friend's healing knee, then consider Parma, and consider renting a car to visit the many charming castles and small art towns in the area, in addition to Modena. Or Bologna without a car, to visit Ravenna. Modena and Parma by train. These are flat towns with good walking surfaces.
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 06:45 AM
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Ameglia is a good base for the Cinque Terre and other places in Liguria, and it's only about an hour's drive from Lucca, but it's not convenient for most of Tuscany. Do you know what otherr places in Tuscany (besides Lucca) you want to visit? I suggest you make up a list of places you'd like to see on a day trip and then use Google maps or viamichelin.com to see what kind of a drive it would be.

Twelve days isn't a very long time,and it sounds as though you really have only ten nights in Italy (9 full days). Is there a day missing somewhere? If you want to see some of Tuscany, you might want to spend at least two or three nights in Tuscany, taking a bit from Venice and bit from Ameglia. Or maybe you really do have another night unaccounted for.
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Old Aug 11th, 2014, 11:35 AM
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Ferrara is a lovely small city near Bologna, almost perfectly flat, with an impressive ducal palace. It's one of my favorite towns, one of the few where I could see myself living if I had to leave the town I live in now.
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 05:24 AM
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Thank you very much for your replies. Just getting back to planning after some interruptions. We have booked a villetta outside of Ortonova for the 2nd half of our trip - from the 11th to the 16th. The 16th, our last night, we will spend in Milan, flying out the next morning. Any suggestions for a little hotel there would be appreciated. I think we will be taking the train in from La Spezia.
Landing in Milan on the 7th, we will train to Venice for 4 nights. Would love some help on accomodations suggestions. Moderately priced would be great, a good and convenient location...hotel, penzione, apartment...
From Venice on the 11th we are taking the train to Florence, and renting a car there. The trains confuse me...I understand there is a fast train to Florence - recommendations on reservations for that?
Thank you again, appreciate the help!
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 05:46 AM
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You might want to check this site for rental reviews in Venice-
http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/vr/list.asp?r=Venice

I've stayed in this apartment many times and love it-
http://www.palazzofoscarini.com/pf/en/

If you take the train to Florence, I suggest then taking the airport express bus from there to the airport and renting your car there. It will be much easier driving from the airport than driving out of downtown Florence. The bus leaves from the bus terminal just across the street the from the train station. As you walk out of the front of the station, go to your right, cross the street, and the bus terminal (kind of hidden from obvious view) is right there in the first block. If you can't find it, just ask someone. I believe the cost is 7 euro and the ride takes about 15 minutes. Of, you can take a taxi to the airport for around 23 euro.

Check car rental rates at kemwel.com. They usually have the best rates and offer excellent customer service. Call them if you have any questions. Be sure to check deductibles when comparing prices.
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 03:40 PM
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The drive from Florence to Ortonova is neither fun nor scenic. At a minimum I suggest picking up the car at the Pisa airport but better would be to delay your departure from Venice so that you arrive in La Spezia during after office hours (provided you are not traveling on a Saturday or Sunday when only airport rental offices are open). It is a very short drive from La Spezia to Ortonova.

If the trains confuse you read the website Man in Seat 61 for clear instructions on booking and using Italian trains.
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Old Aug 27th, 2014, 03:43 PM
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Actually it is spelled Ortonovo -- with 4 Os.
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