Here is my itinerary. I will be traveling to Italy & France for about 3 months.
Scigliano – August (first or second week). I will be staying with family.
Sorrento, Island of Capri, Positano, Amalfi Coast, Ravello (5 days)
- I read that the Island of Ischia is a cheaper alternative to Sorrento that I you can visit the above places from this Island. Apparently, it’s not as touristy as Island of Capri and Sorrento. I don’t know because I have never been. What do you think?
Formia - 45 minutes from Rome (about 6-7 days visiting family)
(Umbria) (7 days – this includes Cortona to Orvieto)
Civita di Bagnoregio - this was recently recommended to me.
(Tuscany) (7-8 days: this includes from San Gimignano to Montepulciano)
- There is a cooking class offered from a couple’s home and it had a lot of great reviews. I can’t remember what site I read it on but hopefully I saved the link. This is one thing that I want to do in Tuscany.
Maremma - this was also recently recommended to me. Any thoughts?
Florence – day trip
Bologna – 3 to 4 days?
Venice – 3 to 4 days
Lucca - a couple of days. I still need to look into this. Some travellers were happy with 1 day whereas other travellers stayed for 1 week!
Fly to France
Paris (4 to 6 days)
- Cooking class – Laura (read in reviews) & Cook'n With Class
- Fashion show? I have ALWAYS wanted to go to a fashion show however, I know that the odds of me being there will be 1 in a million.
- Seine River Cruise
- Self-guided walking tour
- Fat Tire Bike Tour – this sounds like a lot of fun.
Provence: Avignon & Arles
Italian Riveria – day trip to Genoa?
Cinque Terre – 3 to 4 days? What do you think? Some other places in the area were recommended to me: Santa Margherita Ligure/Portofino, Camogli, Portovenere, Levanto and Elba.
Vernazza - was recommended to me.
Scigliano – end trip at my grandmother’s. Fly or take Eurostar train to Lamezia. I’m not sure from where yet.
I was going to travel in this manner (top to bottom of my itinerary) but someone else (I can't even remember what site it was from) suggested going from my grandmother's, head north and then travel south because of the weather still being warm in north Italy during end of August/September and some of October and then head south, where the weather is typically still warm. I would appreciate your polite suggestions and/or recommendations.
Thank you. : )
I certainly recommend you to travel from North to South. The weather will be better/warmer.
Just start in Paris and take at least 4 days for it.
http://bonjourlafrance.net/france-map/france-train-maps.htm it’s an idea of travelling by train in France?
When leaving Paris, consider a trip to Lille too. Very nice old centre! You don’t like mountains? If you do, consider Grenoble and Geneva (Swiss) too!
From the French/Italian border you can travel by train too. Cinque Terra is a must and do it by train too. The railway comes in the little old towns far easier than cars or other transport.
A nice CT trip is: starting from (the station of) Camogli. Make a boattour to the monestery of S. Frutuoso (20 min). Then make a hike (2 hrs) to Portofino. There take the bus to the trainstation and go on travelling. For Cinque Terra take at least 4 days.
Commends on your suggestions:
Venice: 1 or 2 days will do.
Tuscany: 8 days!
I miss: Napoli, Pompeii (take the CircumVesuvia train from Napoli and within 30 minutes you’ll stop right on the sight) and if the weather is fine make a boat tour to the island of Stromboli. It’s rather far away but it’s very nice to see a vulcano working!
If you have more questions, certainly about France and Belgium too – don’t hesitate to email me.
Gurt (by the way: where are you from?)
PS look at my photo galler: a lot of them made in France and Italy!
I'd second Gurt's comment about travelling north to south, starting in Paris in August, for which 4 days is about right. Any extra time? Maybe a day trip to Rouen in Normandy which has some nice old architecture, including the Tour Jeanne d'Arc, where she was locked up before being burnt by those horrible rosbifs.
Heading south I'd recommend stopping off in Lyon to visit the old town and ruins of the Amphitheatre. I can't give any recommendations one way or the other about Arles or Avignon, but once you get to the Côte d'Azur, Cannes is a nice place to stay and not as expensive as you may think, once the school holidays are over in early September. It has a better beaches than Nice, though the town centre does 'die' a bit in the evening. Antibes I'd also recommend looking at.
Anytime between the beginning of July and the end of September you'll be able to buy a 'Carte Isabelle' for about €12?, which gives a day's unlimited travel on the local rail services along the Côte d'Azur between Frejus/Saint-Raphaël and Ventimiglia (Vintimille in French), just across the Italian border, which you could combine with on a day trip to Monaco.
Genoa is worth a day-trip, but you as you may well find yourself changing trains there, then there should be no need to make a specific journey.
Heading south down the west coast of Italy takes you through La Spezia (large naval port) to Pisa, which IMO is worth a stopover, though many people just do it as a day trip from Florence. Lucca I would say one day is enough, though Florence justifies more than one day if you are going to spend hours queuing to get in to the museums. Heading south towards Rome, the small town of Castiglioncello is possibly worth a break in journey.
I have never been the Island of Ischia, but I would recommend Sorrento for access to the Circumvesuviana rail ine, which runs via Pompeii, Ercolano (for Herculaneum) and Torre Annunziata (for the Villa Poppaea) to Naples (where you can find the Archeological Museum - a 'must visit' with artefacts from these sites). From Sorrento, you can visit Capri for the day as there are regular passenger ferry services.
Hope this lot is of some help.
Thank you everyone your responses. I appreciate your feedback. I like your suggestions however, I'm still not 100% sure which city to go to next after being in one. I listed all of the places that I will be visiting in the order of north to south. Let me know what you think and/or whether this arrangement is feasible.
Calabria (then fly into France with an internal flight). A friend of the family works for a travel agency in Cosenza so I will find out if she can get me a discount.
France: Paris, Lille, (Geneva, Lyon, Grenoble), Arles, Cannes, Nice and Monaco.
Then travel to:
Does this look about right?
P.S. I'm not sure if you meant flying into France without going to my grandmother's first or whether to visit my grandmother first and then fly into France. I already told my family that I would be there in August, and my uncle changed his vacation plans for August because he is waiting for me to come. He will be booking a vacation house on the beach for a week and I was planning on going with the family. I feel bad changing everything. I will think about it. However, it's been 16-17 years since I have seen my family in Italy so it's not a problem or inconvenience if I fly there first and then fly to France.
I should mention that I have been to Europe twice in the past. I went at age 12/13 to visit my grandmother for 2.5 months with my mom and siblings and then again at age 24/25 on a Contiki tour. I visited 15 countries in 46 days. It was a busy 2 months with 53 other travelers from around the world. It was fun but draining at times. We didn't always stay in hotels so that made things tough at times. These are some of the places that I went to: England, France including Paris, Lyon, Nice, and Cannes, Monaco, Italy, Spain, Greece, Romania, Germany, Bulgaria, Hungary, Turkey, Switzerland, Austria, and Holland. I have been to Pisa and Pompeii so I have no interest in going there again. This is more of a relaxing/fun/adventure/figuring things out trip for me. I went through a painful breakup 2 years ago (second time with the same undeserving and selfish person in my life. I wish that I had the strength to walk away when he contacted me the second time - after his marriage (again) didn't work out. Plus, he had a child with this person. He has another child with another woman. I didn't even know that he was engaged and found out when I came home from university - from a mutual friend!). Also, I lost 3 friends in the past 2 years - 2 from cancer and 1 took his own life. I have been very unfulfilled in my profession for the past 4 years and other things going on at home with my dad soooooooooooo I need and want to do things that don't require me to study my history text book. I am looking at spas and cooking classes in Tuscany, cooking classes in France, riding tours, walking tours, just chilling and walking around, meeting people and enjoying their company. I don't want to feel like I have to go to all these 'must see' museums or churches. I have seen a lot during my Contiki tour but sadly, I don't remember a lot of things. However, I do remember some special moments.
By the way, I'm from Ontario, Canada and I will be departing from Toronto Pearson International Airport.
- I hope you don't mind the personal stuff. I just wanted to let you know where I was coming from and what I was looking for in this wonderful and exciting journey.
Have you thought of hiring a car during your travels? Even though both countries have efficient rail systems there are places off the beaten track that you cannot get to without your own transport, in terms of getting away from it all to do a bit of hillwalking.
Buzzcock is right. Make sure that all of your destinations have stops along a rail line. Apart from Montalcino, there should be stations near the rest of your destinations. Most likely, you'll be traveling another hour by bus from the train station for the smaller towns in your intinerary. I'm sure you know this but traveling by yourself is nowhere near the same as doing a contiki tour. Nothing will be predetermined or planned and you will experience delays and whatnot. You'll probably spend 1 to 2 days a week alone on trains, etc. so you won't have as much time as you think. You will love Tuscany and Umbria! On my last trip to Italy I spent 3 weeks here and it's perfect for relaxing and enjoying Italian country life. I'm so envious of you right now Sorrento provides direct access (circumvesuviana) to nearby attractions and is the main port along the AC providing ferries to Capri, Ischia, etc. Capri is extremely packed with tourists, but if you venture off away from the center square you'll be amongst the locals. You'll absolutely love it. My favorite place in Italy is the Amalfi coast and in particular, Positano which is about an hour away from Sorrento along the winding mountainside roads! Spend as much time as possible in this area, preferably 3-4 days minimum. You should leave your intinerary open, if you plan it out too much it becomes more of a burden than a chance to relax.
I don't see the Eternal City on your list of places to visit. Have you been to Rome on previous trips?
The New York Times says that this summer many ancient sites in Rome, closed to tourists for decades, will be opened up (for example, the residence of Livia, Emperor Augustus' wife). It might be worth a few days to explore.
Isabella: You are right on track, the Island of Ischia is as beuatiful as it is affordable. It is a great way to see the Amalfi Coast which should not be missed under any circimastances...Good Luck