I could really use some help with our 2 week itinerary between France/Italy. This is what we've worked out so far (all travel in Europe will be by train):
Fly from US to Paris (December 16)
Paris (December 17, 18, 19, 20)
Lyon (December 20, 21)
Turin (December 21, 22)
Milan (December 22, 23)
Venice (December 23, 24)
Florence (December 24, 25, 26, 27, 28)
Rome (December 28, 29, 30, 31, Jan. 1)
This is our first time in France/Italy. We'd love to hear from other travellers if this itinerary seems feesible. We'd also love recommendations for day trips in any of our stops.
The first thing I noticed from your itinerary is that you don't seem to have any travel time built in. Remember, it's not only the actual time it takes the train to get from point A to point B... you also have to factor in time to pack up and get to the station, wait for your train, get from the train station at your destination to wherever you are staying, etc. All that takes longer than you would expect. I always plan a full day for travel, but then again I might be a bit too conservative. Maybe others could weigh in on this.
With that in mind, I would skip Lyon and/or Turin and use those "saved" days for travel. Spend a minimum of at least one full day in Venice. Meaning arrive the night before and leave the day after. I would say 2-3 days would be better, giving you time to explore Murano (an absolutely charming island). We stayed at Locanda Conterie in Murano for about $70 USD a night for a double. Fantastic hotel at an amazing price!
Four full days in Florence and another four full days in Rome is the absolute minimum, in my opinion. I know some people zip through the Uffizzi in Florence in a couple hours, but I would give it a full day. A day trip to Lucca is well worth your time. I would pop over to Pisa, take a look at the leaning tower, then catch the train for Lucca. Rent bikes and peddle around the top of the old wall. It's breathtakingly beautiful (although it might be a bit cold in December...)
When you are in Rome, allow a full day for the Vatican Museum and at least 4 hours for the Vatican (climb to the top of the dome!). Stop at Pope John Paul II's tomb which is downstairs in the Vatican. We packed a lunch and spent an entire day walking the Appian Way. Loved it!
We stayed at the Hostel des Artistes (hostelrome.com) when we were in Rome. It's located near the Termini & close to all the bus lines. Great location, good price, friendly people. I would stay there again.
Before you go, you need to beg, borrow, steal, or actually purchase a Rick Steve's guide to France and a Rick Steve's guide to Italy. Lots of tidbits of info in his books that are invaluable. And be sure to buy a Roma Pass at the TI booth in the Termini when you arrive in Rome. A great value.
Have a wonderful time! How could you not?
we have a bed&breakfast and we may host you for your stay in Roma from 28 dec to jan 1; as you surely know Roma has plenty of things to visit and enjoy so you will not be deceived. Price for a double room for new year is 95 euro per night breakfast included; you can visit our site www.chezliviana.com, we are in a quiet but very central location, ideal to visit roma.
Let us know if you're interested, we will be glad to host you in roma.
Thanks, I will look it over with my husband and contact you. I looked on the website and it states that those days are not available for booking.
[ Edit: Edited on 19-Oct-2010, at 10:56 by dyannadiaz ]
Hi JoyC, I wasn't sure about the travel days. I looked up the train times between stops (for example: Lyon to Turin is about 2 hours plus) I figured since the ride is not very long, we could get away with sightseeing on our 'travel days'. We only have 2 short weeks and we'd like to see as much as we can (without overdoing it of course). It doesn't help that we get conflicting advice from travellers! Some people say 4 days in Florence is too much, others say it's not enough! Everyone moves to the beat of their own drum I guess.
PS. my Rick Steve's guide to France AND Italy should be arriving any day now! Hopefully, after reading I'll have a little more clarity.
Thanks for your advice
I think your travel plan is good. May be I would have spent 3 days in Turin and 3 days in Venice and cancel Milan which is worth a visit only if you stay much longer in Italy.
Turin is a city of heart which has been able to maintain a traditional, classic style. Good food, a lot of museums and art expositions, beautiful romantic city center, good value shopping. One suggestion: Baia delle Stelle B&B. Special place with a rich breakfast prepared by lovely Maria Grazia: www.baiadellestelle.it/iniziale.htm .-) You can tell her you heard it from Ornella e Fabrizio, Firenze.
By the way, Turin is also an industrial Italian city so be careful as you would be in any big modern city.
I'm from Florence and 5 days are enough. Florence is a village more than a city. The center is small, pedestrian (from October 2009) and very safe all night around. There is lot to see and do . What can I suggest to you is not missing Uffizi Gallery and Pitti Palace, Boboli and Bardini gardens, Michelangelo Terrace, Fiesole village on the top of the hill (20 min from piazza san marco by bus n. 7).
Architossi Hostel is the best quality/ price I know: www.hostelarchirossi.com
We also do tourist accommodation but we are full those dates.
Another good site I suggest is this: www.guideoflorence.it/eng/index_e.html
And for the best ice cream, no doubt: Perché no? (Why not?): www.percheno.firenze.it
I hope I help.
[ Edit: Edited on 20-Oct-2010, at 07:40 by rosademar ]
grazie per le informazioni! (I'm working on my Italian, hope that was correct!)
I will definitely look into your recommedations. Thank you so much!! I'm actually considering leaving Milan and Venice for another trip. They seem to be the most expensive.
Prego...il tuo italiano è perfetto!
And try it as much as possible during your Italian travel.
About Milan and Venice, you are right. They are the most expensive.
But Venice..well it is a pity not to visiting it because is really unique in the entire world. What I like about Venice is the possibility to step back in time. No cars, no modern noise and stress, and in December no many people. Water, birds and salty sea smell all around.
Quite small streets, bridges, squares one after the other, rich in little precious churchs (go during the service so you don't pay the ticket) that end suddnely in the central huge, beautiful Piazza San Marco. Many "enoteche" where you can drink good wine and eat for little price. The gondola experience is a little touristic for me..but if you want to try before ask for the price. Florence is a beautiful city but with a modern atmosphere that never leaves you even the pedestrian Duomo square. Venice does...everywhere.
A good solution for accommodation could be to find an hotel in Mestre, which is a town just across the ferry and car bridge to Venice, and take the bus/train to get to Venice.
It sounds like a wonderful trip that you have planned. It is true about the train travel, look up the timetables online I think you can do this now that is about 2 months before your travels. You want to plan your travel early as possible so you can spend the time in the cities you are visiting. Keep in mind that the French are striking these days and it may cause delays for you. The Italians do have strikes on the trains as well, but every time we have gone, we haven't had any issues. I would recommend going to Milan and make reservations on line for the Last Supper otherwise, you may not get to see it. We had to make them several months in advance. Get Rick Steves books they are very very helplful they give all of the websites to make reservations and get restaurants. We always have used his restaurant suggestions and enjoyed them!
The only issue with going on side trips from Florence in the winter is the weather. I would try to skip the extra day in Florence and go to Lucca. It is a fun walled city you only need a half a day there. Don't bother with Pisa it is not worth going to see the Tower. If you want to go to the galleries in Florence go on line and make reservations so you don't have to wait in line. To see David it is a must.
It is very cold in the northern cities of Italy bring warm clothes.
Enjoy your fabulous trip.
Thanks for replying Sheryl. I ordered Rick Steve's books for France and Italy, I thought they would get here today but they were delivered to the wrong address and now I have to wait for them to be re-shipped. I'm so anxious to get reading, I've heard wonderful things about his guides and hopefully they will help me get a little clarity. I didn't realize planning this trip would be so stressful!