will any tours take me to these places?

Old May 22nd, 2010, 06:05 PM
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will any tours take me to these places?

We are in our mid ffities and are planning our first trip to europe---i think i want to go to these cities: rome (3 days at least), florence, cinque de terre, assisi, lake como, maybe venice, then visit lucerne and interlaken area in switzerland. I choose these based on comments friends have made and things i've read. I've spent some time online and can't seem to find any tours that to go switzerland and italy. Does anyone know if one exists? I've planned every trip i've ever been onmyself through this site---but since this is our first time to europe, i think i'd rather take a tour. Any suggestiont?
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 06:18 PM
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I don't know of any tours that would cover just those places...there are probably a lot of tours (Rick Steves has one, I know) that would get you to all of the Italian places; have you thought about doing an in-depth Italy tour and then going on to Switzerland on your own?
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 06:30 PM
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How long do you have for your trip? You have a number of places you want to see. I think it would take at least 3 weeks if you don't want to be rushing from place to place.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 07:02 PM
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You don't have to use the same tour company for both countries. You can choose one tour (tour company) for Italy and one for Switzerland. You can fly between 2 cities to connect your first and second tour.

I just looked at the Rick Steves tour and it's very fast-paced and very expensive (for my budget). He covers all the places you want to go in 2 weeks for approx. $5,000 plus airfare. $10,000 + airfare is quite a bit of money for a two week tour.

You can always put together your own trip and use local guides or walking tours when you arrive.

Are you hikers? Interlaken doesn't offer much for people who don't hike or ski. Yes it has beautiful scenery but so does many places in Switzerland. It's one of the two places I've been where I was totally bored after the first day (or first morning).
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 07:03 PM
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I meant $10,000 per couple on the Rick Steves tour.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 07:11 PM
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I know you said that you want to do a tour, but you could easily do all of those places on your own and join day tours or 2-4 day tours as you go.

You can combine tours within a tour group to get to all of the places you want to. I'm taking a tour with my Mom with Trafalgar that goes to Rome, Assisi (day trip only), Florence, Pisa (day trip), Bologna (day trip) and Venice. I know they had tours that went to Lake Como as well. You could pick an Italian tour and then a tour for Lucerne/Interlaken. You can also combine tours with multiple tour groups, but you generally get a discount if you stay with one group.

You could also combine a tour and independent travel. Start with a tour in Italy, fly to Switzerland for Lucerne and Interlaken on your own.

Another option is to join a tour for Italy this trip and save Switzerland for another trip.


Decide on a budget and a time frame (10 days is a lot different from 25 days). Decide what is a must see and what you could pass on for this trip. Those decisions will help you find a tour(s) that fit your requirements.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 07:22 PM
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As an idea for combining tours...

Italian Discovery - http://www.trafalgar.com/USA/DisplayTour?TourID=8454 - will take you through all of your Italy wish list except Lake Como. It goes through the lakes area, but not Lake Como.

Contrasts of Switzerland - http://www.trafalgar.com/USA/DisplayTour?TourID=8484 - takes you through Lucerne and Interlaken. It also only takes you through Interlaken as a stop on the way to Geneva and it takes you through more of Switzerland. It's all on trains so it shows exactly how you could do this one on your own and spend whatever time you wanted in Interlaken.


Thats's just a rough idea through Trafalgar. I know Cosmos, Globus and many other tour groups do the same/similar tours as well.
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 07:25 PM
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Why can't you just do this on your own?
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 07:53 PM
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Cathee, when are you planning to do this trip? If you have enough leeway to work out the details, I don't see any reason why you cannot do it yourself. Why be bound to a tour schedule and lose your freedom of choice and control of your itinerary? Plus, I'm sure DYI is much more economical. If you've used this site in the past, I'm sure you realize that the information here supplemented by guidebooks is all you will need if time is on your side. Europe isn't Mars.

Start researching the forums specific to each locale you mention. Once you've gathered info and composed a few tentative itineraries, post what you have and I'm sure you'll get enough help from the resident experts to work out the kinks so that your basic plan is perfectly tailored to your specific needs & interests (something a generic group tour could never do).
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Old May 22nd, 2010, 08:01 PM
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[Good lord, I said "I'm sure" three times in two paragraphs. Some English major I am. Apparently, I feel rather strongly about independent travel -- or I shouldn't have had that extra glass of wine tonight. ]
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 05:03 AM
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These are great ideas. I am thinking of a 10 - 12 day tour--i guess i am being too ambitious. Perhaps we should just do Italy this time--and do germany, austria and switzerland another time. I am planning ahead for September 2011. I will retire from teaching in June 2011 and want something grand in September to take the place of a job I've really enjoyed. We've traveled to the US and Canadian Rockies, and the Grand Tetons. I wonder if Switzerland can beat those anyway? I never thought of combining tours, but as many of you said, it really gets $$ if we do that. I was thinking more of 5 - 7K for the whole trip. The reason I'm somewhat afraid to plan this on my own is the transportation. We dont want to drive around ourselves-----and it would SO nice to have someone take care of our luggage. I may still change my mind on that---but Im somewhat tired of planning every last detail, as I always have done.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 05:10 AM
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Also---i am just listing these places from things i've read here, or comments from friends who have traveled. If any of you have been to these places and think they were not worthwhile--or another place was better, please let me know---for instance, Lake Como?? Assisi? thanks for the comment on Interlaken--i read a thread of someone saying it was the most beautiful place ever--but then again, maybe she hasn't been to banff or the Grand Tetons? I appreciate any feedback. My husband isn't really to keen on traveling to Europe---so I either want to see a lot this time----or have such a great trip, I'll get him to return. He's the one who has shown an interest in switzerland--and rome.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 05:17 AM
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"Are you hikers? Interlaken doesn't offer much for people who don't hike or ski."

I would disagree with that. I spent two weeeks just outside Interlaken and spent most of my time visiting castles and historic towns in the area.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 05:29 AM
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Every one of the Italian places on your list is wonderful; there's no place you've mentioned that would disappoint you. But you can't see 8 different towns in 12 days including spending 3 days in Rome. That means you want to go to 7 places in 9 days. This is not reasonable.

If you want to spend $5 to $7K for 2 people you'll have to do it on your own. It's really not difficult and you have tons of time to read and plan.

Since you'll be retired why limit yourself to less than 2 weeks. You'll have a hard time visiting all the place in Italy you want to go to in that time. Actually you could visit them but not see much of them.

Handling your own luggage is not a big deal and you won't be away very long so you don't need a large suitcase(s) nor do you need to bring a lot of clothes. You can easily do one 24" and one 21" suitcase plus a carry on which is very manageable on trains. Actually two 21" bags would be even better. You can wear your clothes more than one day each. My rule is I have to wear something 3 times or it doesn't go in the suitcase.

For 10 to 12 days (hopefully that's time there and not including travel time) you should stick to Rome, Florence, and Venice and travel by train to make things easy for you. You can buy your train tickets when you get to Italy. Rome to Florence is 1.5 hour; Florence to Venice is about 3 hours. Very easy.

If your husband isn't keen to go to Europe and you run him around to lots of places he'll never want to go back. The key is keeping things simple and having "down time" to relax and not rush around. Sit in a cafe, enjoy a gelato, take a walk in a park. Plan 2 or 3 things to see each day and don't rush through them. Vary your activities (do not do 3 museums or 6 churches in one day). Involve him in the planning so can get enthused and feel like he has choices.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 07:02 AM
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Hi C,

>I've planned every trip i've ever been onmyself through this site---but since this is our first time to europe, i think i'd rather take a tour.<

For a first-timer with 10 - 12 days the Big 3, Venice, Florence, Rome is a very good itinerary. Fly into Venice (3 nights), train to Florence (4 nights with a visit to Siena), train to Rome (4 nights with a visit to Orvieto), fly home.

As one of our number once mentioned, it requires about 6 months to see all of Italy. You will go back.

Visiting Europe is no more difficult than visiting the US. My Lady Wife and I have never needed more than one large suitcase and 2 carryons - all with wheels - for visits up to 4 weeks.

In Florence, I can highly recommend www.bedinflorence.it

For Venice, consider http://www.alcampaniel.com/ ,http://www.hotelbernardi.com/en/

Enjoy your visit.

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Old May 23rd, 2010, 08:31 AM
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It would also be very helpful if you tell people about your interests, whether they lean toward art, castles, villages, beautiful scenery, great food or historical sites.

I think Adrienne is right that keeping things relaxed & simple rather than whirlwind may be the key to your husband's enjoyment, which will hopefully then translate into his willingness to do it again. It would hopefully also keep your budget lower, perhaps allowing you to return a little sooner.

Ira's suggested plan sounds very good. I hear Venice is a remarkable city, very different than anything you've seen before. Plus, it might just have enough "wow" factor to entice your DH into wanting more.

There are several good posts on here about the luggage issue, some quite recent, that will help you manage that aspect.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 09:03 AM
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"We've traveled to the US and Canadian Rockies, and the Grand Tetons. I wonder if Switzerland can beat those anyway?"

Please tell me you were being sarcastic? Lucerne and Interlaken are 2 of the most stunning places I've ever seen.

As everyone has said, you really wont be able to fit all that into 1 trip - stick to 1 country on a trip - either Italy or Switzerland. Both are very accessible by train, and you wont need a car in Italy at all. If you had the time, you could take a night train from Italy to Switz, but I'd say you'd need a month, not 10-12 days. If all you can do is 10-12 days, then stick to Italy, and Fly into Rome, Florence or Venice and travel by train. For a first timer, I'd say if you can split 4 days between the 3 cities, you are doing well. Traveling by train will cut down the expense of a car, and the headaches of driving in Italy. You can definitely see things on your own and don't need to join up with a group tour. Planning is key, just research the places that you want to see, and go from there. You should easily be able to fit that into your budget, but if you go with a tour service, I don't think you'll be able to make that happen.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 09:05 AM
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I meant to say - split 12 days between the 3 cities - 4 days in each - Rome, Venice and Florence (Tuscany).
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 09:16 AM
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>

Don't run him into the ground or you'll never get him to go again! What are his concerns about going to Europe? If you can address those and turn it from something he isn't that keen on into something he enjoys, you'd both have a better trip and be more likely to go again. What are his interests? Can you find things to do that hit on his interests?

For a fairly short time frame, you do want to limit the number of places you go to. Rome, Florence and Venice, with day trips through Assisi and one or two other places is plenty to do in your time frame.

Have you joined tours previously? They're great for some people and would drive others crazy. I enjoy them because I usually travel alone and it's a great way to meet people from all over the world. Some couples want to go on vacation and have it just be them to relax and enjoy each other. Other couples want to go on vacation and meet people. There's nothing right or wrong about either way, it just depends on what might fit you best.

I've been assured that trains are very easy to navigate in Italy (I'll find out myself in August) so you shouldn't be afraid of doing things on your own. Sure it's nice to have someone else deal with your luggage, but if you each only have one roller bag and a daypack you'll be fine and can deal with the bags yourself quite easily. If you can each just use a 20-22" roller bag it would be even easier, but 24-26" roller bags would work fine.

You said that you're a bit tired of planning every last detail. So don't. Use tour group itineraries to create your own, use this forum and guidebooks for ideas. Don't plan every minute and just plan the big stuff.

With your budget you can do a tour if you wish to, but it will push the top of your budget once you add in airfare. You can generally do things cheaper on your own than you can in a tour. You can always join day tours and tours at individual places to get information.
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Old May 23rd, 2010, 12:09 PM
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I agree that low-pressure travel is more likely to keep your husband happy. Perhaps if he is indifferent to art, you should stay in a place like Lucca instead of Florence, and do some driving around the countryside. A trip up the river valley north of Lucca is a beautiful day's excursion.

At any rate, spending some time outside the big 3 (Rome, Florence, Venice) will offer some respite from the crowds.

Think about renting apartments in the places you stay (usually available for as little as 3 - 4 days.) That, too is more relaxing and usually less expensive.

Also visit Slowtrav.com for more travel advice and lots of informational pages on Italy.
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