I'm putting together a 2-3 week itinerary for an Italy trip. Having never done a vacation where I've had to move from place to place, I was wondering if anyone had any comments about the trip I've put together.
Leave Canada on June 1st, get into Rome early June 2nd.
June 2 - Rome
3 - Rome
4 - Rome
5 - Rome
6 - Leave early morning for Siena, spend full day in Siena
7 - Leave early for Florence, full day in Florence
8 - Florence
9 - Florence
10 - Leave early for Lucca, full day in Lucca
11 - Leave early for Genoa, full day in Genoa
12 - Leave early for Cinque Terre, full day there
13 - Cinque Terre
14 - Leave early for Verona, day in Verona
15 - Verona
16 - Leave early for Venice, full day in Venice
17 - Venice
18 - Go home
Am I doing too much? Is there anything I can leave out or substitute for something a little off the beaten path? I've never been to Italy (or even Europe), so I figure that Rome, Florence and Venice are stops that must be made, which is why I'm leaving out Southern Italy.
Also, I don't want to do only cities (i.e. don't suggest 7 days in Rome, 5 in Florence and 3 in Venice), because I really want to see some of the rustic countryside and smaller towns.
Great you are taking this trip. You don't indicate what part of Canada you're coming from. Unless you're in Eastern Canada, seems you might not have taken into account the radical time zone change you will experience. Your first two days upon arrival will be difficult physiological energy adjustments. Those first two days I would plan accordingly; many people find it much easier if they have some kind of sleeping pill to help the first two nights. Suggest you might consider this. I find if helps me tremendously; that ability to sleep some gives me more alert energy during the first two days.
Another thing to keep in mind is travel time between destinations. This can be a poisonous snake that bites you in the rear. I had to change an entire vacation in Italy because of a train that was 2 hrs late. No matter what people say about how great the trains are: sometimes it happens. We ended up totally eliminating a plan to go to Florence and to Sienna when we missed our connection, and the next train would have put us in 6 hours later, late at night.
Everything worked out for the best, however, because we punted and just caught the next train toward Cinque Terre, where we spent three fabulous days instead. Really a wonderful three days.
Our whole problem was that we were trying to cram in as much as possible into our vacation.
I suggest you are doing a little of the same. Yes, Italy is a great place to be, and like a menu at a wonderful restaurant, you want it all. But it seems you'll have a lot more of the easy-going fun you indicate you are after, if you eliminate a couple of your destinations.
First I suggest you decide what it is you want to see at all these terrific places. If you write out each one, I think you'll quickly discover which are more important and more meaningful for you.
Off-hand, if it were me I would eliminate Genoa and Verona. But that's me; you obviously have your own priorities. You might consider trimming a half day off Rome and possibly a half day off Florence.
Sienna is a small city; and lots of countryside around with tons of B&Bs and agro-tourism.
Cinque Terre is made of small villages (suggest Vernazza and Corniglia as the best to stay in). You are aware there are really no hotels and you need to make arrangements with local families who ALL have a room to let. (Suggest using Rick Steves.com as source for who to call)
Re: your desire for smaller places and rustic countryside. Even in cities, Italians live in neighborhood groups. So although you are in Florence, (once a few blocks from the heart of tourist central), you are really immersed in a series of small neighborhoods, like villages. And the longer you are in each one, the more you begin to see the same locals and engage with them personally. One in Florence I suggest is around the small Piazza Santa Spiritu, just across the Trinitrita bridge; and there are many others.
In the three big places (Rome, Florence, Venice) definitely consider hiring a guide, even for three hours. What a difference it will make, both to orient you, to open a whole world of other information and suggestions. In Florence I highly recommend my friend's company "The Original Walking Tour of Florence" there are several copy cats. Watch for the word Original. She offers at least a dozen different kinds of tours, all given by native English speakers.
Renting a car either in Florence, or certainly in Lucca, enables you to go up into the surrounding hills and visit the tiny villages and small towns that have been there since Roman times. This is where you will really experience the wonder and beauty of the countryside.
And hope you know to have your train ticket to Venice at least 2 days ahead of time. They sell out quickly!
Everyone in Italy deals in tourists. They love tourists. Ask anyone for help on any kind of suggestion. They will gladly help.
Venice is -- unfortunately -- a bit like going to Disney World on the most crowded day of the year. And you absolutely MUST take deet mosquito repellant, even to go outside at night (everyone eats at tables outside because it is so hot). I love Venice so much I have considered living there for year. However, be advised it is packed with tourists from every country in the world from May 25 thru Sep 15. And I mean packed.
My last suggestion is you look carefully at your travel time between destinations. It is easy to say "leave early and go to xyz". But how much time does it realistically take to (1) check out, (2) walk to taxi or bus (3) travel to train station, (4) wait for train (5) travel time on train, (6) get taxi at new train station (7) travel to new hotel (8) check in and carry bags to room. How many hours does that really take? Are you leaving enough time to see the city and the sights before you have to pack again and go through the travel again? Examine that carefully.
Best of luck with your trip. I have been to Italy five wonderful times and I would love to go back again soon.
PS: take a cell phone and get a local simm card when you arrive. You will use the phone a lot locally for all kinds of reasons. And it is phenomenally cheaper in Europe. Also get a pre-paid long-distance international card whose number you enter when you want to call back home.
first of all you are planning to travel by train or by car?
If you travel by train visit rustic and countryside could be a little bit difficult as there's no train....
By the way i could also suggest to eliminate Genova, that isn't a bad city but also not so cool and Cinque Terre is within Lucca and Genova.
Instead of Verona you can visit Ferrara or Mantova if you travel by car and Parma or Bologna if you travel by train.
Hi there Brisbane,
I'm a bit late, because I stayed at Lake Como for some days....
I don't know if you'll visit every inch of Florence - including expositions - but my idea should be 1 or 2 days Florence will do.
I'd rather take 2 days for Conque Terra, beautiful hikes to make. Hike one way and go back by train.
One full day Venice will do to.
Consider Napoli and Pompeii (2 and 3 hrs by train from Roma) in stead of the days to skip.
It will be lot's of travelling (but train is easy going...) but you won't be disappointed.
Did you see my pics yet?
Good luck! Gurt.
In case you're interesting in hiking your way though Cinque Terre...it's five villages, and it takes hours to get from the bottommost one to the farthest one. We took the train back, cause we were both horribly tired by the end. I also had only two days there, but was so exhausted from the hike, that the next day I took another day at the hostel and spent it trying to find the feeling in my legs. My friend the same. We stayed in a hostel (really a set of flats, but close enough) in Riomaggiore. I forget the name now, but I think you can find it easily on hostelbookers or hostelworld or something similar. Have fun!