Planning a trip to meet daughter studying in Florence, Italy for fall 2016 semester. How many days in Rome? Then Venice? Can we get a train from Rome to Venice? Finish a couple of days in Florence. We are not big museum people but will do churches, major art ( statue of David). Do want to experience food, wine, local shops. Suggestions? Wide open for ideas? I will have one additional daughter traveling with us so total of 4 traveling. Not big on fancy hotels. Airbnb thoughts? Thanks for your inputs
If you're strong walkers and not planning to spend much time in museums, three days in Rome and two in Venice are probably sufficient. Airbnb is a better option than hotels for space and cost, but be careful of minor scams (when you get accepted, cross check the address of the reservation on Google Maps against the location you saw on Airbnb). There's a little bit of bait and switch that goes on, sometimes even after you arrive. If this happens, Airbnb will be very responsive.
The best location to stay in Rome is around Campo de Fiori and Piazza Navona, which is very central and within walking distance of the Coliseum, Forum, Vatican, Trastavere, Pantheon, Trevi, and Spanish Steps. I don't know of any sightseeing secrets in Rome, but these places plus maybe Villa Borghese should give you a pretty good experience. Just walking from one place to another will result in amazing sights and experiences. There is a great daily market in Campo de Fiori, although tourist-priced. Try to be in Rome on the weekend when markets like Campagna Amica near Circus Maximus are open and in full swing.
Venice is probably best experienced Tuesday through Friday, when there are slightly fewer tourists clogging the narrow streets and the famous fish market near the Rialto Bridge is open. Venice is not large and it is much more fun to walk than to get cooped up in museums and churches. Walk around the more famous buildings and squares but also try to get away from the center where you may find quieter streets that are easier to appreciate without the mobs. Do take a gondola ride - even though it seems touristy, Venice looks and feels completely different from the water and prices are regulated so you do not need to haggle. You will also get great photographs from the gondola.
If you have extra days probably your best bet in that area is the province of Umbria, north of Rome, which is filled with small hill towns that are fun to explore. My personal favorite is Civita di Bagnoregio, an ancient and nearly abandoned stone village connected to the modern world by a single steep pedestrian bridge.
Zzlangerhans makes excellent suggestions. I'd spend four days in Rome; and three days each in Venice and Florence. You could fly to Venice, travel by rail to Florence (two hours), take the train to Rome (90 minutes); and fly home from there.
Check this Web site for timetables: https://www.bahn.com/i/view/USA/en/index.shtml
If you plan to visit the Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel, it's best to go after noon, when the lines have thinned out.
Hope this helps.
P.S. I'm spending a week in Rome in November, on my way from West Africa (Ghana and Sao Tome & Principe) to Central Africa (Cameroon and Gabon). I plan to walk through the Holy Door at St. Peter's Basilica before it closes Nov. 20.