What NOT to miss in Italy

Old Dec 13th, 2007, 05:55 PM
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What NOT to miss in Italy

Just decided that we will spend 2 weeks in Italy in September. Never been, but very excited. Any place that you would not miss? Don't want to do too much running around, just two or three places, but any assistance would be appreciated. Love art, architecture and culture, as well as beautiful scenery. Any suggestions?
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 06:46 PM
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I can't give you any specific info on Italy since we are leaving next week for our first trip, but I would suggest that you do a little research, get a very general itinerary established (pick your 2-3 preferred cities), and then post again. Reading thru some guidebooks or checking the "Destinations" part of this webpage will give you some idea of the things to see and do.

THe folks on this forum are fantastic and provide an incredible amount of valuable info - but it helps to know where people are going, what their budget is, who is travelling (adults, kids, teenagers), and what their specific interests are.

I'll be writing a trip report in the New Year for our trip to Rome and Venice.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 06:59 PM
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Um, it's a whole country, and a big and varied one. How did you decide to spend two weeks there? When you plunked down the money for the airfare, what was going through your mind? What's the basic attraction? People don't usually buy tickets to someplace a few thousand miles away without SOME idea of what they plan to do there

There are dozens of places I'd say not to miss in Italy, but they're probably irrelevant to your trip. Surely you have done, or can do, some basic research and figure out what general parts of the country attract you. Years ago we travelers had to pore through endless books and maps to plan trips - today you can do it with the flick of a finger on the internet. Get started and then come back when you've got some sort of basic plan in mind. Then we can debate the merits of your choices and make useful suggestions.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 07:06 PM
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I'd say don't miss just strolling in the evening. Don't miss having espresso at a great cafe standing at the bar crowded in with Italians. Don't miss editting your itinerary because you will get masterpiece fatigue very quickly.

In terms of more traditional advice - I'd say that making arrangements for the scavi tour at St. Peter's is worth the effort.
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 07:33 PM
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Hi TOtraveller, it doesn't sound like you have purchased your plane tickets yet. If not perhaps you might think about flying into Venice. How many nights will you have in Italy? With two weeks does that include flying time?

Anyway it is easier to fly into Venice then departing from Venice as most flights leave quite early in the morning.

So Venice, and if you don't want to rent a car you could go by train to Florence which takes about 3 hours and spend some time there and than go by train to Rome which takes something like 90 minutes and again spend some time there and fly home from Rome. I am assuming you live in the US.

Just one thought. It is what a lot of travellers enjoy for their first trip to Italy. And in that you love art, architecture and culture (I do also) you would no doubt enjoy these three most important cities in Italy.

Arriving in one city and flying home from another city is called a MultiCity or Open Jaw flight. Generally it is not more then arriving and departing from the same city and in doing this you would not have to back track. Have fun researching Italy. It is a beautiful country and I understand your excitement now that you have made your decision to visit it next September!
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 08:31 PM
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stcirq, having a bad day???

TOtraveller, I had my first trip to Italy this past October and am already planning return trip in 2009. September is going to be a lovely time to go, too. The later, the better. Temps still good, but tourist crowds thinned out some by then. We went in mid-October and got stuck with a few very cold days...but that dampened nothing in our travel spirit!

I loved all of Italy, but Rome and Venice both stole my heart. If you love art, architecture and culture, Rome would be the "don't miss" spot I would suggest. It will blow your mind the minute you step out into Rome! My brain was in overload from the first minute... but what a heavenly overload!

I also agree with teach2travel re the Scavi tour. We took it and it was a highlight of our trip. Especially if you are a Catholic (I am).

The art and architecture will awe you in Rome (take a tour of the Vatican Museums with Context Rome Tours. Awesome! We had Hilary and she was amazing.)

DO get your planning underway and make reservations as soon as you can. You'd be surprised how quickly the less-expensive rooms book up! I can highly recommend the Corte 1321 B&B in Venice. Owners are American mother/daughter; rooms are huge by European standards, bathrooms also large and we LOVED this place. Just five minutes from the Rialto Bridge in San Polo district.

Our hotel in Rome was as centrally-located as you can get, and the staff were very friendly and helpful. Hotel Giardino is within walking distance to almost anywhere in Rome, except the Vatican. We walked to Trevi Fountain, Colosseum, Santa Susanna, etc. Room was pleasant, shower tiny. (standard for Europe)

When you find hotels that look promising, check them out on TripAdvisor.com. If you will be staying for at least one week in each city, then an apartment is a less-expensive option. Search this site for dozens of recommendations for good apartments.

Have a WONDERFUL trip!

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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 08:37 PM
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Having been to Italy many times to visit my husband's relatives in a small village before I ever set foot in any of the cities, I would say this: Venice is NOT to be missed and after that, it is all a matter of preference and discussion. Although there are unique aspects to every place in Italy, Venice is unique in itself and therefore, I wouldn't miss Venice if I were you.

The suggestion to fly there and arrive there is a good one. If you do that, you can organize your itinerary from there onward. There have been some wonderful discussions on this forum as to which cities to visit if you must limit the number to two or three and what the guidelines are for a great trip in terms of the number of cities to visit in relation to the total time of the trip.

Someone previously posted the comment that on their trips to Italy, they try to intersperse the cities with the town or village destinations so Venice would be followed by a town or village followed by a major city like Florence followed by a town or village followed by a city like Rome. I think that advice is wise.

You might visit a hill town in Umbria or Tuscany or a town on one of the lakes or a destination in the mountains or a coastal village, but it's personal preference as to which category to choose and how these destinations will fit into your overall itinerary. Just remember to make time, as teach2travel said, for the evening strolls and unscheduled cafe visits for espresso and gelato.

I agree with Sarge56 that Rome is a must-see. I would strongly recommend Florence as your third major city. I was there last August and loved the Hotel Davanzati ~ it had high ratings on tripadvisor.com and I would not hesitate to return there tomorrow. You can read my review on tripadvisor.

If you intersperse those three cities with destinations that are smaller and are mostly on the way, you'll have a great itinerary.

Have fun planning your trip!
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 09:05 PM
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I did a daytrip to Sardinia yesterday. Although I could only stay there for about 5 hours, it was quite nice. Folks were friendly, hardly any tourists in town and great cappuccino for 1.25€ a cup.
Roundtrip from Munich was 19.90€ on tuifly. Can be recommended, brought home a few kilos of coffee . After you've gone where all the tourists go, why not try some the better non touristy spots??
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Old Dec 13th, 2007, 09:15 PM
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I would suggest that with two weeks (not sure if that includes travel time) 3 places at the most would be maximum as one looses at least a half a day for each change in location. Throw in some jet lag on arrival and having to pack up and check out of the hotel and get to the airport to fly home the last day is usually a "lost" day.
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Old Dec 14th, 2007, 04:44 PM
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Thanks to all for the great responses. St. Cirq, I certainly hope that this was just your response on a bad day. Of course we didn't simply "plunk" our money down on tickets. We booked the time off, decided on Italy, bought a couple of guidebooks, and began looking at places to go. My inquiry was about "not to be missed" experiences that might be suggested as we begin to plan our trip, to give as an idea about an itinerary.

So any other ideas would be very much appreciated.

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Old Dec 14th, 2007, 06:38 PM
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Everybody has their favorites, and it's hard to choose a "bad" place to visit in Italy. There are so many "don't miss" places, but you have to choose what appeals to you most.

For a first time trip, I'd suggest visiting Rome and Venice, with a brief stay in a scenic area so you aren't seeing only cities. Some (deservedly) popular choices are the Amalfi Coast (Amalfi/Positano/Capri), Tuscany (Montepulciano/Siena/Lucca), the Cinque Terre, and Lake Como.

If you have a particular interest in art (which you say you do), then you might prefer Florence over Venice. But I wouldn't skip Rome on a first trip. Choose either Venice/Florence as a second city, and then choose a scenic area that makes sense with your city choices. And fly open jaw: into Venice, home from Rome, etc.

Two years ago I went to Italy with a friend who had never been, and I told her to choose 3 places for me to join her. She chose Rome, Venice, and the Amalfi Coast.

So we flew to Venice, spent 4 nights there, flew to Naples and ferried to Positano, spent 3 nights there (visiting Amalfi, Ravello, Capri, Pompeii), and then ferried to Naples, trained to Rome, and spent 4 nights in Rome, and then I flew home. With 2 weeks, you can spend 4 nights in 3 places, and if you have another night, spend it in Rome.
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 06:45 AM
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Hmmm ! I must have seen this question hundreds of times. After 14 trips to Italy , my answer is this. It takes 6 weeks to see Italy well, and another 2 weeks for Sicily. Plan now for 3 trips to Italy since you will return. Stay north or south--hard to mix both.
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 10:30 AM
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Don't miss Venice.
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 11:10 AM
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Took our 3rd trip to Italy this summer and we still have not seen it all. If I had 2 weeks, first time I would go to:

Rome - 3-4 nights - you won't see it all but you'll see lots of things to excite you. You don't even have to plan, just get up in the morning and start walking, an amazing city.

Tuscany - 1 week stay in an agriturismo with a car. Our first trip we were a 1/2 hour train ride from Florence. We were able to take 2 short day trips to the city. I'm not a big Florence fan except for seeing the David which was an absolute "NOT to miss". But if you say you like art & architecture then you'd have to see Florence. There is so much incredible scenery in Tuscany - there is nothing like the colors of light there. And the small towns are fabulous. With a car you'll get to see a small bit and then you'll want to return.

Venice - 2 nights. Venice is special.

Add 1-2 more days/nights for either the travel time (night on the plane, all day getting home) or pick one more small easily reached destination.
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 01:19 PM
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We just returned from our third trip to italy since 2002 in September. Our first time was one week in Rome(following a week in Munich); the second was 2 weeks - florence, tuscany and venice. Our most recent trip was venice/cortina/bolzano/laga de garda/milan and verona - then back to venice and home. Each trip was special and memorable. I can say that one each there were moments that took my breath away, people that I'll never forget, etc. I don't think you can really see all of italy in 2 weeks. Pick an area and really plan it out. Our next visit, within a year or so, will be to Rome and south.
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 02:28 PM
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if you are going to venice and then to florence try in stop in bologna on the way its well worth it. you need to do wome reading and get some ideas before anyone can help you to plan more
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 03:30 PM
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Spend as much time as you can in Rome. Our first trip to Italy was a week in Rome this past April. I fell in love with it and am getting itchy to go back again.
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 05:58 PM
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It's hard to say what's "not to be missed," because it depends on whether you already have an idea of whether you want to go to northern, central or southern (including Sicily) Italy. I think you're right not to want to run around all over in just two weeks. If you want suggestions where you should go if you have two weeks, I'd say either central Italy or Sicily. My general suggestions, based on your expressed preferences:

1. If your trip is going to focus on central Italy, you should definitely spend time in part of the Tuscany region, including a few days in Florence. If you want to spend all of your time in central Italy, then also include the Umbria region.

2. Sicily ("To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything." J. W. Goethe.) Two weeks just in Sicily would be perfect.

3. Venice, because it's unique. If your trip will be mostly, but not entirely, in central Italy, you might be able to leave the area and spend a few days in Venice and maybe even fly out of there at the end. But if that would be too much for this trip, there can always be a next time.

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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 07:39 PM
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I didn't read all your replies, so if I'm redundant, and I probably will be, sorry. For a first trip to Italy for 2 weeks I would start with Rome. Do not miss the Colisseum or Vatican City and the Museum. Spend time at Piazza Navonna and the Spanish Steps. Everything else to me depends on your interests. Art, Ruins, Shopping, it's all there. That's 4 days. Take a train to Pompeii and Sorrento for 2 days. Train to Florence for another 4 days, seeing all the art and architecture you can fill up on. Also a great city for buying stuff to take home for friends and family. Use of those days to visit a Tuscan town. I wish I had! Your last 2 days spend in Venice just walking around getting lost. If you have a need for education and culture, the bulidings in St. Marks square should do the trick. Also the Jewish Ghetto with 5 synagogue museums are interesting. That is enough to make anyone happy for a first trip. Have a great time.
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Old Dec 15th, 2007, 07:45 PM
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Wandering around Rome. The best food in Europe. Pizza. Tuscany. Beautiful scenery.
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