We are planning a trip to Italy for the first time in August 2012.
Any advice/help would be very much appreciated!
We have from the 6th August (starting in Venice) to the 28th August (when we will be flying out of Rome)
We would like to visit these places:
SICILY (ONLY IF WE HAVE TIME)
If anyone could suggest how long would be best to stay in some of these destinations and if some should be left out, please let us know!
Thank you very much.
nice place to visit and spend your travel
There are Bad News : 3 weeks in Italy is really briefly + August is busy, expensive and probably very (but very) hot there.
There r Good News: Italy is amazing all over the year and variety of "what to do/see/eat/drink/listen to/etc." is endless. Actually, it's not a big deal to point places to see there, what is really big deal - to decide what you accept to miss.
You dont say if you r going to travel by car or public transport and what are your interests and what kind of trip you plan (backpacking? luxus? other?) - and it matters.
Basically, there r 3 MUSTS, that u already mentioned: Venice, Florence and Rome - each of them needs few days, Venice is smaller if it's only about sightseeing, not incl. museums, then you can run trough in 1 day. Florence needs min. 3 days and Rome min. 3 days too. Plus transportation between places and relocation always takes about a day - each of them.
I was in Italy several times and never got enough - it's my absolutely favorite place on the globe. If I would b you - i'll not spend much time on transportation, taking shorter distances but see it better.
1. Venice is in Province of Veneto and there so many interesting places all around that I wanna cry that couldn't visit them all.
If you can allow yourself to spend 3-4 days North - there are Dolomiti mountains: Alps, lakes, natural reservs, wine and apples.
Then (lower, see the map) you have Emilia Romagna - less attractive nature, but all about motorcycles and cars - amazing. And arts and architecture and food, sure - but it is everywhere in Italy.
Cinque Terre - seashore North from Piza - fairytale chain of villages. Pisa is nice, like in the postcard - I would not bother going there, there r so much more around not to miss...
2. Florence - all about arts, architecture, history. Important city.
Actually, Toscana and Umbria is the heart of Italy, spend there as long time as u could do. Every village is a gem there, every street and every ice-cream. There r outstanding beauty: nature, towns, arts, foods, wines, everything.
3. Roma - as i said needs 3+ full days. Valiable, lotsa history, interesting, with sharp character. Can b terribly hot and polluted in summer. Drink lotsa water. If you have a day and wanna take smth. else - you can get Napoli. It's already South Soul.
Well, what ever you do there and whereever you go dont miss the-best-in-the-world Italian Gelato (ice-cream) and coffee. Eat where locals eat, ask for "local food" and drink "home" wine with food. Dont miss variety of pastas and desserts. I'm ready to die for Tiramisu (the original one is in Treviso, Province of Veneto). If you r in the North - there are meat, sausages, cheese and mushrooms + alpin yohgurts and staff. Toscana/Umbria is a culinar paradise and there is Chianti (famous wine) Road/ Area. Rome has everything, just make good choice. And ice-cream... just wanna b sure you remember
Good luck and enjoy your Italy!
Thank you so so very much for all your wonderful advice! This will be so helpful.
We are planning to travel by train (thinking that this will be cheapest) and will try to travel cheaply. (hostels/camping/couch surfing etc)
Would you recommend booking ahead?
Also do you suggest we don't go to Sicily? Spending more time in the north?
Once again thank you for your advice and I cannot wait to try the wonderful food...especially Ice Cream!!
Radha & Brook
my pleasure ;-)
Italy it's really my adorable one, so any kind of dealing with it is a bit like travel myself.
Where are you coming from?
The choice between North and South:
Sicily is great, but it's kinda far - you need flight or ferry, it cant b cheap. Also it's large island - need a week alone, and it very different from other places in Italy - so it's better do by car. That's y I'd b not do it in your 1st visit.
North is much bigger then I mentioned, there are outstanding beauty of lakes - they are many, but most famous in direction of France & Switzerland. It's not in your way now. Leave it for the 2nd time - I believe you will return to Italy
North of Venice you have Dolomites - it's mountain massive. Alps that looks like on postcard, hard to believe it's real. Its a very interesting region with twists of history and there are different cultural levels. Once it was Austria and differences are visible. Don't miss apple strudel there and meat. Towns and villages there r delicious, with no car you can't run through too many, so choose one with good location and connected everywhere and stay there for abt 3 days, then u could walk around and made couple of short trips to neighbor towns or mountains. There are huge variety of hiking paths or mountain biking - if ur into it. Air smells with apples there in September. When you eat outdoors - complete it with home-made wine. You'd love it. If you arrive North enough - you may stay in Bolzano.
In between and a bit aside Venice you have city of Verona. If you have a chance - spend there a day or two. It's world- famous because the balcony (Romeo & Julia) - a balcony is big time bullshit. BUT Verona is beautiful and well-preserved Medieval City. Very impressive architecture, even for Italy which is all museum. There r few unusual churches (u can buy combined ticket) that you don't wanna miss. Also museums, food, shopping n other staff.
I would plan it like this:
Venice - abt 2 days (begin with it, you r already there anyway)
North and Veneto (Province) - about 5 days. Veneto is less known for foreign travelers, but there r many delicious places. May be not must for 1st visit, except Verona which is brilliant.
Florence - 3-4 days with museums. In chance you are completely not into arts (are you?) then you can sight-see it in couple of days.
Then - Toscana and Umbria, mixed. Do your homework, read online, there are thousands of places - one better then another and it's hard to choose. Sienna is one of my favorites (small, one day is enough).
You will continue to explore Toscana and Umbria, moving in direction of Rome.
Leave for Rome last 3 days (one of them for Vatican).
If you plan Napoli (South) or Pompei - you need additional day for each of them. All the rest spend before Rome - in Toscana and Umbria.
It's a big work, but you have plenty of time to prepare your trip. Good luck with it.
In any case, if you wish - just let me know and I could prepare for you detailed path (where, how, when, why, what) incl. local maps and useful info (work hours n staff). I do it modular with "skirts" for changes and spontaneous decisions.
You must book ahead your 1st stop (Venice), u don't wanna look for place to stay at arriving, sure not in August. Do it for advance.
Also Rome - the last place u there, do for advance. At the moment you know about your flight do your bookings. August is VERY busy there VERY MUCH. Italians themselves are in massive vacation at that time. I would book Florence too - it's busy with tourists always. It makes you calculating your time btw Venice & Florence very accurate, but it worth n effort. All the rest of places - I believe you could catch on the way. Once again, it's tricky in August, but it gives you flexibility. It's hard to keep tight schedule of the trip.
Italy is such an interesting place to visit with. I hope you will enjoy your stay there. My advice would be always plan ahead of time so that you will have a successful trip. God Bless on your travel.
[ Edit: Edited on 23-Feb-2012, at 02:52 by TuscanTravel ]
Hello. Vannessa's proposition is really good! I agree when it comes to Sicily - it's better to stay north.
Florence and Rome - you'll need at least 3 days for each of them.
There's a lot of things to see, to mention only few - Vatican Museums, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Villa Borghese. For example The Vatican Museums are some of the most renowned museums in the world. Your tour of the museum could at the recently restored Sistine Chapel. From Rome you take a full-day excursion to Tivoli.
In Florence try to include Uffizi Gallery.
Maybe you would consider Turin? From there you can take the fast Freccia rossa train do Venice...
It's just a few tips, maybe you'll find something helpful