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Would appreciate comments on our itinerary for 2011

Would appreciate comments on our itinerary for 2011

Aug 31st, 2010, 06:43 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 182
Would appreciate comments on our itinerary for 2011

My husband and I, in our early 50’s, will be travelling to Italy next May/June and I would appreciate any comments regarding our proposed itinerary. While we enjoy visiting museums and galleries we also just love walking around the places we visit and seeing what we stumble upon.

We will be departing Australia on Tuesday 24th May for Rome and will be setting down in Sydney, our home on Wednesday 22nd June. The only firm part of our plan is the last weekend in Paris to visit French friends who we won’t have seen for three years.

The trip will be done solely using public transport.

Day 2 – Day 5 (Wednesday 25th – Saturday 28th)
Arrive Rome 4pm then 3 full days
Rome – 4 nights

Day 6 – Day 7 (Sunday 29th – Monday 30th)
Train from Rome to Orvieto, arriving early afternoon then a day in Orvieto
Orvieto – 2 nights

Day 8 (Tuesday 31st )
We thought it might be interesting to break the trip between Orvieto and Bologna with a stop in either Assisi or Arezzo. Assisi will take 2 ¾ hours by train with a change in Arezzo and then a bus into town or we can just go to Arezzo for the night which will be about 2 hours with no change of train. Our preference is probably Assisi as it is has a considerably smaller population and my husband is keen to visit the Basilica. If we can get away by 8am we’d arrive in Assisi around 11am giving us the afternoon there.

Do you have any thoughts on the merits of stopping in either of these? Another option would be to go straight to our next destination and then visit Arezzo as a day trip from Florence.
Arezzo or Assisi – 1 night

Day 9 – Day 11 (Wednesday 1st June – Friday 3rd )
Depart either Assisi or Arezzo for Bologna. We realise it would take nearly 3 ½ hours by train from Assisi with a change in Arezzo and would be hoping to take a mid morning train that would reach Bologna by 3pm.

I understand June 2nd is a public holiday in Italy and we would spend this day sightseeing in Bologna – have already checked out what will be open

From Bologna, probably on the 3rd we’d like to do a day trip to Ravenna
Bologna – 3 nights

Day 12 – Day 15 (Saturday 4th – Tuesday 7th )
Travel after lunch from Bologna to Florence and then 3 full days in Florence
Florence – 4 nights

Day 16 – Day 17 (Wednesday 8th – Thursday 9th )
We want to travel to Siena then make our way to the Cinque Terre and here is where we are having the most difficulty with planning – there are too many options!

Bus from Florence to Siena – hoping to catch the bus around 10:10am and arrive by 11am then the next day in Siena
Siena – 2 nights

The following is how we’ve planned it so far but we’ve recently read about a couple of companies that do day tours out of Siena – ‘Tours Around Tuscany’ and ‘Hills and Roads’ – and were wondering if we should add a day to Siena and do a full day trip or arrange a day of sightseeing with a drop off in Lucca for an overnight stay. Hiring a car for a day is not an option – we had enough difficulty when we kayaked together in Vietnam a couple of years ago! You’re thoughts would be appreciated.

Day 18 (Friday 10th )
Travel from Siena to Lucca either by bus (to Pisa Airport then bus to Lucca) or train which involves a couple of changes (Empoli and Pisa) and would take around 2 ½ hours. We’d then just have an afternoon in Lucca.
Lucca – 1 night

Day 19 – Day 21 (Saturday 11th – Monday 13th )
Train from Lucca to Cinque Terre (probably Vernazza). We’re planning to arrive in the afternoon and spend the next 2 days walking (1st day – train to Riomaggiore then walk to Corniglia – train back to Vernazza / 2nd day – walk to Monterosso then ferry to Riomaggiore followed by train to Corniglia then walk back to Vernazza)
Cinque Terre – 3 nights

Day 22 (Tuesday 14th )
Again not quite sure what to do but thought we could catch a train to Camogli for an overnight stop and a short walk along the coast.
Camogli – 1 night

Day 23 – Day 24 (Wednesday 15th – Thursday 16th)
Depart Camogli for Turin – there’s a direct train departing around 1:30pm that arrives in Turin at 4:40pm then just a day in Turin.
Turin – 2 nights

Day 25 – Day 28 (Friday 17th – Monday 20th)
There seems to be a direct train from Turin to Paris that leaves at 8am and arrives in Paris 2pm
Paris – 3 nights (depart 20th at 8:15pm for the journey home)

Apologies for being so long winded. Any advice would be appreciated.
four_maccas is offline  
Aug 31st, 2010, 08:18 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,184
I'm exhausted. I'd probably reduce the number of hotels from 11 to 6-7. Have you been to any of these places before?
Jean is online now  
Aug 31st, 2010, 08:30 PM
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 704
I agree with Jean, you have too many 1 night and two night hotels that could be done as day trips instead. For example you could do Camogli/Portofino from CT as a day trip. You could even do Lucca from CT. You can also easily do Lucca and/or Siena from Florence. I would just consolidate a bit so you dont have to change hotels so often.
krgystn is offline  
Aug 31st, 2010, 08:34 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 249
Yes I agree with the above poster....waaaaaaaaaaaay too much traveling from place to place to place. When traveling remember less IS more. Orvieto can be done as a day trip from Rome...ie. no need to spend essential two days according to your schedule there unless you just want to...and some of your "day-trips" listed are really too long to be really day-trips.
russwuf is offline  
Aug 31st, 2010, 08:39 PM
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 249
yes...if you plan on using Lucca Garrapa from Hills and Roads tours, book him early before he is spoken for on your travel days. As the above poster has mentioned, Mr.Garrapa can take you all over the Tuscany area in just one day depending upon what you wanted to see. He is great at making an itinerary based on where you want to go/do/see but with efficiency and ease of movement.
russwuf is offline  
Aug 31st, 2010, 10:19 PM
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Thanks for your comments - much appreciated.
four_maccas is offline  
Aug 31st, 2010, 10:47 PM
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Jean – this will be our first trip to Italy. We did travel to Spain/Portugal/London last Christmas and used public transport the entire way. The breakup of nights for that trip was 4-3-1-4-4-2-2-2-5 so we’re used to moving around.

krgystn – thanks for your comments re the Cinque Terre part of the itinerary. We were looking at just an afternoon/overnight/morning in Camogli in order to break up the trip to Turin from Cinque Terre. It’s 1 ¼ hours by train Vernazza to Camogli but between 4 ½ and 5 hours from Vernazza to Turin. Will relook at our options.

russwuf – yes, we do want to spend a full day in Orvieto and not do it as a day trip from Rome, hence the 2 nights there. While others will disagree we don’t want to spend more than 3 days in Rome. With regards to day trips the only one planned is Bologna to Ravenna which is roughly an hour and a half by train each way. I suppose it’s what you’re used to – it can take us nearly an hour by train from our home to Sydney CBD and we wouldn’t think twice about doing it and spending the day in the city. Thanks for the information regarding Hills and Roads.
four_maccas is offline  
Sep 1st, 2010, 05:45 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 785
Hi, Amanda!

I like krgystn's idea of staying in Florence and seeing Siena and Lucca from there. You can also start your Tuscan countryside daytrip from there, too. You can also base in Siena and take public buses in to the countryside to places like Pienza and San Gimignano if you don't want to do the tour -- if you're set on staying in Siena overnight.

I agree with the others about moving around -- I know you guys are used to it, but you'll be traveling for a month and it may be a bit exhausting to move so much.

Like you said, I can't imagine only 3 days in Rome, especially when jetlagged. It's one of my favorite places in the world. But I have a feeling you'll be back

I'd also be tempted to skip Turin and give yourself more time at the other places to decompress. You're either on the move or on daytrips nearly everyday, which would tire me out. I'd schedule a few "veg out" days, for just hanging in towns, doing laundry, strolling the street, etc. It's a vacation, after all! Maybe you can fly from Pisa to Paris instead?

Happy planning! I'm jealous that you're able to go to Italy for a month. Sniff sniff.
NanBug is offline  
Sep 1st, 2010, 06:15 AM
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 3,899
Whether or not you are used to it and have done it before, I agree with those that say you are devoting a lot of time, money and effort in simply moving around when paring down with this itinerary is quite easy. Having cities to use a base also allow you you to make adjustments based on weather ad other factors, such as local festivals that you may not be aware of in advance and would not want to miss.

I would not personally choose to waste so much time in transit.

Luca is an excellent driver and guide and we have spent a half dozen days with him over the past 4-5 years. I agree to book ahead and also suggest you provide as much detail as possible so he can structure something that works for you.
kfusto is offline  
Sep 1st, 2010, 07:23 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 9,412

I am one who has no problem with moving around a lot as I travel light, but even I think you could cut down on your number of moves for this trip.

I also love that you will stay 2 nts in Orvieto as it is special in the evenings and most people don't give it enough time. Lovely town!

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Sep 1st, 2010, 10:36 AM
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I also would want more time in Rome, especially after the journey from Sydney which I would guess takes more than 24 hours door-to-door.

You could save one half day by flying from Torino to Paris, or give even more time to Paris by skipping Torino and flying to Paris from Genova after Camogli.
Jean is online now  
Sep 1st, 2010, 11:21 AM
Join Date: Dec 2006
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Yes, Genova. Good suggestion, Jean.
NanBug is offline  
Sep 1st, 2010, 01:20 PM
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"Our preference is probably Assisi as it is has a considerably smaller population"

But if you mean by that you expect it to be quiter in Assisi, you'll actually see more people in the streets there because of all the visitors. Having said that, although I liked Arezzo, there's more to see in Assisi.
Nonconformist is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2010, 12:03 AM
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Once again, thankyou to everyone who has commented on our plans. You’ve certainly given us food for thought and I appreciate and respect your opinions.
four_maccas is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2010, 10:32 AM
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I'm surprised. Usually, I'm always the one on this forum who advises people not to move around so very much and to reduce the number of places - but with this itinerary, I'm mostly fine, so I'm really surprised to see so many others recommend to slow down. Actually, I think your original plan, four_maccas, is more reasonable than the advice to do daytrips to Siena or Lucca... it's more interesting to see a town also after dark, so it does make sense to stay overnight at places you're interested in. And Siena as a daytrip from Florence is a major nonsense, no matter how many tourists are doing it every year - Siena needs more than one full day, not less (and daytripping from Florence, you have inevitably less than one day in Siena). And as for Lucca, while this is certainly doable as a daytrip from Florence, it's quite a hassle, and prevents you from having dinner in Lucca, which is definitely recommended (Lucca has its own cuisine, different from other parts of Tuscany, and very good). The only thing I, too, wouldn't recommend is relocating from the Cinque Terre to Camogli - the difference in atmosphere is not big enough to warrant the hotel change IMO (there are far fewer tourists in Camogli, and a far less breathtaking landscape, but otherwise, it's pretty similar). So what I would do is go to Genova instead for that night, for a completely different experience (a very interesting, historically important city with great sights - and a "real" place, in marked difference to the tourists-only feel of the Cinque Terre).
Of course, although you won't want to hear it, three nights is like nothing for Rome - if you're spending two nights in Orvieto (and I appreciate that greatly!), you'd have to spend 45 nights in Rome to do it equal justice. Same goes for Torino: 2 nights/1 day is simply not enough for one of Italy's greatest cities, that's bordering on the absurd.
Finally, Arezzo vs. Assisi... as has been said, Assisi is definitely more touristy, but also definitely more worth seeing. Which doesn't mean that Arezzo is not worth seeing - on the contrary!
franco is offline  
Sep 2nd, 2010, 10:52 PM
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Thankyou franco! While we’re reviewing the itinerary in the coming days we’re generally happy with our choices up to Siena (still debating Assisi). We agree with your comments regarding day tripping to Lucca or Siena and feel it would be more practical and relaxing to spend more than a day visiting. At the moment we will probably cut out Lucca and add a day to Siena so that we can spend some time visiting a few of the nearby towns. I have bus timetables and it looks doable. From here we’d go straight onto the Cinque Terre. Realise this will involve about 4 hours train travel with 3 changes but we’re not averse to doing this – we have found in past travels that often the journey can be just as interesting and eventful as the final destination.

I like your idea of going to Genova instead of Camogli or I suppose we could continue onto Torino and spend 3 nights there. The reason we chose Torino, apart from the fact that it sounded extremely interesting, was because we could get a train to Paris that, on current timetabling, departs at 8am and only takes 6 hours. It is also a direct train. Trains from Genova take between 9-10 hours and involve at least 1, possibly 2 changes. Trains from Pisa take longer. Suggestions to fly from Pisa to Paris don’t work for us – either in terms of cost or time.

Once again thankyou for your comments – I have found them very helpful.
four_maccas is offline  

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