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Yeah! We're going to Italy for the first time!

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Oct 3rd, 2004, 03:49 PM
  #1
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Yeah! We're going to Italy for the first time!

I forgot to post this on Italy the first time.
We have decided to go to Italy in late June/early July 2006 for around two weeks. I've bought several books, a couple of maps and am developing a large file of fodors trip reports/threads. I know very little about traveling in Italy and want to learn as much as I can before I make any decisions on itinerary. It is great fun. I have also discovered slowtrav.com and I have been browsing several travel/lodging sites. It is a bit overwhelming, but I love researching trips, so it is more fun than it is a chore. My thinking at this time is that I'd rather not do a "Grand Tour" type of thing and even though I might be missing some great places, focus on an area and spend some substantial time exploring that area. How does that sound? Renting a car would fine with us. I'd also like to do some exploring on foot and/or bike. I ordered a Sunflower book that is supposed to have info and walking trails, etc. The only Italian I can speak are dirty words (thanks to my Italian-American grandmother).We are avid cooks and food lovers. We'd like to see some major art muesums, churchs, and notable buildings. I like visiting beautiful gardens. Establishing a base and exploring from there sounds better than spending a night and moving on everyday. Any thoughts on that?
So far the areas that look interesting are Tuscany inlcuding Florence, and Umbria. Touring through parts of Tuscany and Umbria sounds very appealing. The other area that sounds great is the Amalfi Coast.
I'm interested in knowing whether there is a preferred approach for a first visit to Italy? Should Rome not be missed? It would be great to hear your thoughts. I'm new to the Europe board and am looking forward to planning this trip with your input and ideas. Thanks.
-Bill

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Oct 3rd, 2004, 03:53 PM
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Bill you are making me dizzy. There is no way to specify which country that is for research later, all the posts get on this one thread and you can click on your name and the post will come up.
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 03:57 PM
  #3
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Yeah, I make myself dizzy sometimes too. Sorry.
-Bill
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 04:01 PM
  #4
ira
 
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Dear Bill,

Please review your posts.

Without paragraphs, I get dizzy trying to read what you have written and cannot help you.
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 04:19 PM
  #5
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Dear Ira,
I was hoping to get your feedback, so here is the message again with paragraph breaks.

We have decided to go to Italy in late June/early July 2006 for around two weeks. I've bought several books, a couple of maps and am developing a large file of fodors trip reports/threads.

I know very little about traveling in Italy and want to learn as much as I can before I make any decisions on itinerary. It is great fun. I have also discovered slowtrav.com and I have been browsing several travel/lodging sites. It is a bit overwhelming, but I love researching trips, so it is more fun than it is a chore.

My thinking at this time is that I'd rather not do a "Grand Tour" type of thing and even though I might be missing some great places, focus on an area and spend some substantial time exploring that area. How does that sound?

Renting a car would fine with us. I'd also like to do some exploring on foot and/or bike. I ordered a Sunflower book that is supposed to have info and walking trails, etc.

The only Italian I can speak are dirty words (thanks to my Italian-American grandmother).We are avid cooks and food lovers. We'd like to see some major art muesums, churchs, and notable buildings. I like visiting beautiful gardens.

Establishing a base and exploring from there sounds better than spending a night and moving on everyday. Any thoughts on that?

So far the areas that look interesting are Tuscany inlcuding Florence, and Umbria. Touring through parts of Tuscany and Umbria sounds very appealing. The other area that sounds great is the Amalfi Coast.

I'm interested in knowing whether there is a preferred approach for a first visit to Italy? Should Rome not be missed? It would be great to hear your thoughts. I'm new to the Europe board and am looking forward to planning this trip with your input and ideas.
-Bill
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 04:19 PM
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There's no preferred approach to a first trip. I guess most do the "big three", Rome, Florence and Venice. We did that the first time and enjoyed it. Others hate that. It's what most interests YOU. For me, I had read The Agony & the Ecstacy when I was 15, and since then I HAD to visit Florence. I also like small towns and villages, but my husband gets bored easily and likes big cities, so we kind of combine what we both like. He was not displeased at all on our last trip this summer, which was Rome, Positano, Capri, Sorrento, and Venice.

I think your basic plan is good, and I can see you're planning well in advance. Read up and see what interests you and whomever you are going with, and try to create something that meets both objectives. You have plenty of time to fine tune it.
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 04:30 PM
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As far as I know there is a Sunflower book for Tuscany but not for Umbria.

If your interests lie more towards churches, museums and notable buildings, Tuscany suggests itself more than the Amalfi Coast, which is noted chiefly for its natural beauty.

Florence will give you as much art, architecture and history as you could want. If you're into hiking (which I am not), I would think that Tuscany offers wonderful possibilities.

The "focus on one area" approach is as valid, I think, as the "Grand Tour" approach.

You should bear in mind, though, that in late June/early July it will probably be hot. So I would probably suggest a combination of rental car and bike.

I am normally a fervent proponent of the argument that you cannot know Italy without knowing Rome. I find it difficult to understand that there are many people who know several regions of Italy but have never been to Rome. But as I've said, the "one area" approach is very valid, and if you choose to make it Tuscany, I do not think you will be disappointed.
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 04:39 PM
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The first time I went to Italy, fifteen years ago, we were doing a countryside kind of vacation, mostly in Tuscany, and stayed away from cities entirely, except for a day trip to Florence. The second time I was in Italy, two years ago, I went only to Rome. Both were great trips. Should Rome not be missed? Well, Rome is full of wonderful attractions, but you have to decide if you want to spend time in a big city on your vacation.

For myself, I prefer visiting cities during cooler times of the year and the countryside during warmer times of the year. But you could certainly combine the two in two weeks for a taste of both.

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Oct 3rd, 2004, 07:03 PM
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Spend 2 hours at slowtrav.com and then come back with specific questions. In 2 weeks you should plan no more than 4 destinations. It takes at least 6 weeks to see Italy. You will need to prioritize well.
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 08:26 PM
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June and July are the most crowded for European travel. Perhaps that is your only choice,,,but if not then April, May or Oct , are great times...less people, better accommodations for less, prices better all around etc.
And the weather is more "crisp" and comfortable. The person who said they drove around the Tuscany Countryside (and day trip to Florence) first.....and then a trip later to Rome sounds wise. I guess Rome is nice, but the crime there is a lot higher if one is not vigilent and aware. Depends on what kind of things you like.......Tuscany and Umbria, OR Sorrento/Amalfi area, OR Lake District in the north, OR Cinque Terre etc.. SO many possibilities, but it's always fun to MIX small villages with one or two CITIES!
You will have fun doing research and planning and then deciding your best itinery....and you have plenty of time.(however, we all know how quickly time "rolls around"!!
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 08:55 PM
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If you are gong for only 2 weeks, don't spread youself thin. Enjoy the country. I like to consentrate on one area and know that I will come back again and do another area. This is a vacation - enjoy it,and enjoy this beautiful country. Don't try and do it all the first time. On our last trip we consentrated on hill towns in Umbria and Tuscany. We rented a wonderful reburbished farm house (www.calboccia.com) in the hills of umbria and made that our home base and did day trips everywhere, shopped at the local markets, hiked, drank and ate with the people and yet we saw plenty. I guess it is what you like to do onyour vacation. Since our plane landed in Rome, we spent a few days there so we could see a few things we didn't catch on our first trip and then it was up to the hills.
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Oct 3rd, 2004, 09:22 PM
  #12
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mari5,
I would love to go in May, but I teach and have the summers off so that is really the best time with my schedule.
Thanks for the information so far!

I"m beginning to think of doing 3 days in Florence, then a week to ten days in southern Tuscany (Pienza or Montepulciano). Could I do day trips to Assisi, Spello and Montefalco from here? Or would it be better to split it into 5 days in southern Tuscany and 5 days in Umbria around Spello or Assisi?

Thanks.
-Bill


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Oct 4th, 2004, 04:30 AM
  #13
ira
 
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Hi Bill,

Thanks for the paragraphs.

> ...3 days in Florence, then a week to ten days in southern Tuscany (Pienza or Montepulciano). ...Or would it be better to split it into 5 days in southern Tuscany and 5 days in Umbria around Spello or Assisi?<

A lot depends on what you are looking for. Do you want a relaxing vacation in the countryside or do you want to see the famous (and deservedly so) art and architecture of Italy.

If the former, I suggest the 5 and 5 in Tuscany and Umbria or 5 in Tuscany and 5 on the Amalfi Coast.

If the latter, many people do the Big 3: fly into Venice (3), train to Florence (4 w/a visit to Siena), Rome (3), fly home from Rome.

My own preference would be 5 Venice (with one daytrip) and 5 Florence (with 1 or 2 daytrips).

Enjoy your visit.
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Oct 4th, 2004, 07:22 AM
  #14
 
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Just thought I'd add that the so call "crime" of Rome is greatly exaggerated.
I'd recommend going through different travel reports of thase that had about the same travel time.
Choose the one's that "jump out " at you as something you would like and then start planning a similar trip.


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Oct 4th, 2004, 07:35 AM
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Do the Big 3: fly into Venice (4 nts), train to Florence (5 w/a daytrips to Siena & San G), train to Rome (5), fly home from Rome.
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Oct 4th, 2004, 10:41 AM
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Happy planning Bill! Don't you want to go to Venice?
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Oct 4th, 2004, 12:36 PM
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Here's what we did for our first trip:

October 21 - 22
Verona
Stay (1) night

October 23-24
Train to Venice
Stay (2) nights

October 25-26
Train to Florence
Stay (2) nights
Car Rental: Avis (via Auto Europe) 128R

October 27
Drive through Tuscany
Stay (1) night in San Gimignano

October 28-29
Drive through Tuscany
Stay (2) nights in Assisi

October 30-31
Drive to Sorrento
Visit Pompeii
Stay (2) nights in Sorrento Ph# 39 081 Drop off car

November 1-3
Train to Rome
Stay (3) nights in Rome

November 4
Fly home
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Oct 4th, 2004, 05:22 PM
  #18
 
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My wife and I spent three weeks in Umbria this past June/July in a house outside of Perugia. SlowTravel was tremendously helpful for information on all sorts of topics.

I would suggest that you limit your travles to one central location and use it for day trips. We went to Firenze by train from Magione in a little over two hours and drove to Siena in about the same amount of time. Places like Montefalco, Assisi, Spello, Trevi and Deruta were less than an hour away by car. Gubbio and Spoleto were longer drives but well worth it. In my opinion,both Umbria and Tuscany are best seen by auto.

I would try to spend several nights in Rome at the end of your two weeks before coming home.

Neil
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Oct 4th, 2004, 07:25 PM
  #19
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suze,
Thanks! Venice is a possibility for sure, but I have heard stories about how Venice can be very uncomfortably hot and the canals quite smelly in the summer. Is this true? Even if there is some truth to these things, are they reasons not to go to Venice?

sandi travelnut,
Thanks for your intineray. How did this work out for you? Are there things you would have done differently?
Thanks.
-Bill
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Oct 4th, 2004, 08:09 PM
  #20
 
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Florence is hotter than Venice in the summer, and Florence also gets quite humid compared to the rest of Tuscany.

We've never experienced bad smells from the canals in Venice--only sea smells. I guess if you are from Kansas and never traveled before it might be something you aren't used to.

Even if the canals did smell, that would be no reason to miss the most unique city in Europe.
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