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Old 06-08-2019, 11:48 AM
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Suggestions for trip to Italy.


First time in Italy. Planning on 12 to 16 days. Late October to early November. Just the two of us with no restrictions except to minimize to the extent possible having to pack and unpack our bags constantly.

Very rough itinerary so far are:

- Rome (3-5 Days):
- private group tour of Sistine Chapel, Vatican Museum, Basilica (before/after hours)
- private group tour of Colosseum and Forum (skip the line)

- Florence (3-4 Days):
- Palazzo Vecchio, Museum and Tower (skip the line)

- Venice (2 Days):
- walking around and taking a boat tour

- Tuscany (3-4 Days):
- just relaxing in some resort, soaking up the views


Looking for ideas of what to miss and what not to miss. Best ways to get around and where to stay for easiest access. Is this too much to expect to see in one trip?
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Old 06-08-2019, 11:59 AM
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For Venice, get out to the islands of Murano and especially Burano. There are others we didn't get to. Just take the Vaporetto, no need for a water taxi. The heart of Venice is a tourist mess, but get out to the further areas and enjoy. A tour of the Doges Palace is worth it. If it interests you the tour of the Jewish Ghetto (where the term "ghetto" originated) is fascinating and moving. Late dinners are key, don't go out to eat until 8:00.

From Rome, will you have time for a day trip to Pompeii? It would take all day, but it is an incredibly interesting place. We stayed in an AirBnB in a small neighborhood and got to spend time in a restaurants that the locals use, rather than the tourist areas. Huge difference in the experience. We did the same in Venice, well worth it. Depending on the weather, eat Gelato every chance you can. We also got out to the Appian Way for a bike ride on 2000 year old roads and a tour of the catacombs. A little complex logistically but we eventually figured out the buses.

If it were me, I'd reduce the number of places from 4 to 3. Transportation, packing up and unpacking in your new place, and adjusting takes time. If I had to give up one of them I'd eliminate the Tuscany part, save that for another trip. Or give up Florence and have 2 cities and one rural.

Last edited by Telemark; 06-08-2019 at 12:02 PM.
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Old 06-08-2019, 12:33 PM
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Thank you, and yes, late dinners and getting as far away from the trapiest of touristy stuff is very much what we're after.

Adding Jewish Ghetto to the list in Venice.

Another wish list item is to see Caravaggios, when possible.
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Old 06-08-2019, 12:49 PM
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If you are spending 4 or 5 days in Rome then I highly recommend a trip to Ostia Antica. It's the old port of Ancient Rome, very well-preserved and really not all that touristy (at least when I was there). It's about an hour each way on the train.
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Old 06-08-2019, 01:27 PM
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If you are driving in Florence be sure to stick to where you are allowed to go as a tourist. They love tho nail you with traffic cites. The rental company will charge you to tell the police who you are as well.
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Old 06-08-2019, 01:49 PM
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As much as I love to drive, I'm not sure there will be much need or sense for that in Italy.
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Old 06-08-2019, 02:09 PM
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Make sure you visit some leather shops etc. in Florence. And don't forget the Gucci museo.
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Old 06-08-2019, 02:54 PM
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My wife has already noted that Fendi is cheaper in Italy if you get back the VAT.
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Old 06-08-2019, 03:03 PM
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Any thoughts/recommendations on a day trip to Tivoli?
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Old 06-08-2019, 03:47 PM
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As much as I love to drive, I'm not sure there will be much need or sense for that in Italy.
I strongly recommend going for a drive while in Tuscany countryside. You won’t regret it.

I strongly advise not to drive in the cities. It is the most stressful thing I ever did. Italian drivers are insane!! And all those damned scooters make it worse.
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Old 06-08-2019, 04:28 PM
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The Pantheon in Rome, also.
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Old 06-08-2019, 04:30 PM
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The Chabad in Venice is very active - if you are there on a Friday, they will welcome you for services and a great dinner, outside by the canal.

The single best thing we did in Italy was taking a cooking class in a private 900 year old farmhouse in the hills outside of Florence - Wine, fresh pasta and lots of fun!
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Old 06-08-2019, 05:15 PM
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If you are spending 4 or 5 days in Rome then I highly recommend a trip to Ostia Antica. It's the old port of Ancient Rome, very well-preserved and really not all that touristy (at least when I was there). It's about an hour each way on the train.
I'll second that. I've been to Pompeii and Herculaneum and Ostia Antica is the next best thing. It doesn't have quite the story behind it and perhaps not quite as awesome but it is still a wonderful insight into ancient Roman life.

It has sights like this all over the place. So have a little google-maps play and see if it floats your boat.
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Old 06-08-2019, 06:26 PM
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For Venice, get out to the islands of Murano and especially Burano. There are others we didn't get to. Just take the Vaporetto, no need for a water taxi. The heart of Venice is a tourist mess, but get out to the further areas and enjoy.
I was last in Venice in March, and will also say that Murano & Burano are worth visiting, but they are almost every bit as touristy as Venice itself is, although that doesn't always have to be a bad thing (I can assure you there probably aren't too many born & raised Romans visiting the Colosseum every day, but that doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile)

Venice CAN feel tacky, overrun with tourists and brutally expensive, but it doesn't have to be. Get off of the beaten track and you can find some hidden gems, small cafes seemingly from 100 years ago, hauntingly beautiful, elegantly dilapidated brokedown palaces, and lovely little family-run restaurants that are less expensive than lunch at a Spokane area Olive Garden.

Do be careful, scams aimed at tourists are common, for example, my hotel tried to "Upsell" me into paying an extra hundred Euro for a "deluxe" room with a private balcony, when I told him I would be perfectly happy with the standard room I had pre-paid for, he was clearly unhappy, but gave us the room key which of course turned out to be for a room with a balcony, which is doubtless all they had left and he was obviously hoping to pocket some easy money.

This one didn't happen to me, but I met a guy from England here in my local pub in Krakow who was travelling with a buddy, and they had spent a few days in Venice before flying to Poland. I asked him how he enjoyed Venice, and besides the usual, he told me that after a long day of sightseeing they were dead on their feet and decided to stop for a drink at a place right off of the Rialto Bridge (so, tourist central) to relax, cool down and people watch for a while. When they were able to get a server to take their order, they made a huge mistake, and told him, "We don't need to see a menu, we are just going to have a drink, one beer and one Jack Daniels & Coke, please." He said that is all that they had, one drink each, and the bill came to 70 Euro. (a beer in even an upscale, high end restaurant in Venice is typically 6 or 7 Euro, max) I it was me, I would have left 20 Eurp and told them where to cram it, but they were tired and din't want drama, and so they just paid it and left. (after he told me this story, he asked me, "Hey, while we are on the subject, what can I expect to pay for a beer here in Krakow?" When I told him that a beer in even the most expensive, touristy, upscale place in the city would be less than 15 Zloty---about 3 Euro---he seemed pretty happy.

I know you have already got you itinerary worked out, but I should add that we spent a couple of days in Bologna, and can't recommend it highly enough. A truly wonderful little city, charming and approachable, and at fraction of the price of Rome, Florence or Venice. The single best pizza I have ever eaten in my life was in a nondiscript little dive a few hundred meters from the main square, for the princely sum of 4 Euro. (I am serious, it was even better than the dozen different pizza places I tried in Naples, although they were all amazing in their own right)

Enjoy your trip!
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Old 06-08-2019, 07:09 PM
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I highly recommend a day trip to Pompeii... and you'll still wish you had spent more time in Rome. I was in Rome 8 days, including one in Pompeii, and it still wasn't enough.

And in Venice, don't be afraid to just wander around, lost, with no destination in mind. In fact, in Venice, it's almost impossible NOT to get lost. Don't walk around with your nose in a street map.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Royal Nonesutch View Post
Do be careful, scams aimed at tourists are common, for example, my hotel tried to "Upsell" me into paying an extra hundred Euro for a "deluxe" room with a private balcony, when I told him I would be perfectly happy with the standard room I had pre-paid for, he was clearly unhappy, but gave us the room key which of course turned out to be for a room with a balcony, which is doubtless all they had left and he was obviously hoping to pocket some easy money.
The "standard" room I had in Venice had TWO private balconies, one on each side. So yeah, don't let them talk you into "deluxe".
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Old 06-08-2019, 08:35 PM
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I was last in Venice in March, and will also say that Murano & Burano are worth visiting, but they are almost every bit as touristy as Venice itself is, although that doesn't always have to be a bad thing (I can assure you there probably aren't too many born & raised Romans visiting the Colosseum every day, but that doesn't mean it isn't worthwhile)
We stayed out near Orto, and it was quiet but just a short walk to several off the map restaurants with locals. Our canal had workers and residents. There are definitely parts of the main islands that are charming and quaint and uniquely Venetian. Explore and enjoy. But the area around the train station and St Marks and much of the Grand Canal can be overrun and full of schlock. Of course, we were there in mid-summer which is a zoo.

Murano was pretty touristy, but we found Burano to be more charming and slow paced. It's far enough away from the city that fewer people seem to make it out there. We weren't alone, for sure, but you didn't have glass shop after glass shop and vendors hawking their wares.

Our best dinners in the city involved wandering around after 8:00 PM and looking for a small restaurants with what looked like locals eating outside. Venice is known for seafood, so be willing to try some, drink some local wine, and be prepared to take 2 hours for the meal.
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Old 06-09-2019, 03:20 AM
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If it were me, I'd reduce the number of places from 4 to 3. Transportation, packing up and unpacking in your new place, and adjusting takes time. If I had to give up one of them I'd eliminate the Tuscany part, save that for another trip. Or give up Florence and have 2 cities and one rural.
I second this. Most of the places on your list merit a week by themselves and leisurely lunches are thing here in Italy.

For Rome, another nice and less hectic thing to see is the Via Appia Antica, which alternates greenery with ancient Roman ruins. Can you even bike it, if that's your kind of thing.

For Venice, if you want to save some money you might consider staying in Mestre. It's an ugly desolate place, but the prices are much lower and there's a frequent rail connection that gets you to Venice in less than 15 minutes.

In Venice itself some of the less rippy offy restaurants are to be found in the Cannareggio area and near Campo San Margherita where the students drink and eat. Do try the famous aperitif Spritz (prosecco, soda and a type of bitter), do not pay more than €3.50 for it.
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Old 06-09-2019, 07:52 AM
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Hit the appertivos at places. The start around 7 or 8 pm. Buy a drink and get food. Around the Piazza Santo Sprito in Firenze, there is a place called Volume. Tasty treats.

We lived in Florence for 18 months and go back every year( going to miss this year due to a move) but PM me if you want to know some insider tips. We trained it around. do Not drive in the historic centers... ticket and parking is insane.

Oh yeah go to Saint Peter of the Chains in Rome. Michelangelo’ s Moses for the tomb of Pope Julius is there.

Last edited by eenerms; 06-09-2019 at 07:54 AM.
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Old 06-09-2019, 08:50 AM
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Thank you all for the great suggestions and tips. Digesting it all and updating my itinerary. It's looking like down time in Tuscany is likely going to have to wait for another trip.
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Old 06-09-2019, 12:56 PM
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Any thoughts/recommendations on a day trip to Tivoli?
For the town itself and the Villa d'Este, or for the Villa Adriana. The former is easy enough to get to by train and, although most of the journey is very boring, the final approach to the town is rather spectacular. The latter involves a bus journey and, despite an early start, I found that I had nowhere near enough time to do both on the same day.
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Old 06-09-2019, 02:15 PM
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I was hoping to see Villa D'Este and Hadrian's Villa. Only 4.5km apart.
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Last edited by QuickSilver; 06-09-2019 at 02:17 PM.
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Old 06-09-2019, 03:27 PM
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I know you're stretched for time, but it would be a shame to do Florence/Tuscany without seeing Pisa. It's a pretty, small, friendly city, but very studenty, with a little bit of bustle about it and nice bars and restaurants. Lively and fun. Actually, there's a leaning tower as well, but it's a real nice town besides that.

In Rome, Trastevere is a nice change of pace. It has the reputation of being the more "Roman" part of Rome, not so touristy, and with interesting restaurants and bars.

j
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Old 06-10-2019, 07:02 PM
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I second both the visit to Naples/Pompeii (we did this as a long day trip in a February with a 7 & 9 year old) and shortening to 3 locations... or 2. I would stay an extra night or two or three in Rome (adding in Pompeii somewhere in the middle)

Pompeii day was something like 6.30 train to Naples- transfer in Naples to Pompeii and arrive at 9:30. Walk around the museum and ancient streets for 3 hours. Back to Naples to the museum for 2 hours. Walk around for 2-3 hours, snacking on bakeries and street food and checking out a couple of the churches and other sights. Get the world's greatest pizza for dinner and back on the train to Rome at 6 or 7. We probably walked well over 10 miles but Naples is very lively and Pompeii is a lively dead place.

Similarly, I've been to Firenze (FLorence) twice- once for 1 day and the second for 2 days. I would recommend similarly taking the train up to Florence first thing in the morning. Doign the Uffizi, the Acadamia, the duomo (make sure to climb the dome! as it is a better dome climb than St. Peter's) and all the other major things as it is very compact. And then hop back on a train that evening and travel to Venezia. and spend the rest of your time in Venice. There are state of the art luggage storage facilities throughout european train stations- so just leave your bags at the trainstation for your trip 12 hours later.

For a first trip to Italy seeing Naples, Rome, FLorence, and Venice would be amazing, and only staying in two locations would be awesome. Rome and Venice are excellent places where it is easy to spend two weeks and not see everything. Florence, Naples, Milan!, Verona!!, and Pisa!!!! are not of the same caliber of needing to live there.
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Old 06-10-2019, 08:18 PM
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Yes, the museum in Naples is amazing. All through Pompeii you read on plaques that you're looking at a copy, the originals are in Naples.

And the pizza in Naples, to die for. And if you need figurines for a nativity scene, Via Dan Gregorio Armeno is your place to go.
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Old 06-11-2019, 06:46 PM
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And just a quick follow up with regard to Tuscany and resorts. It is CHILLY in Itally in November. In Venice, I wore a winterish coat and frequently pulled on a hat. Similarly, in February the train between Roma and Napoli went through snow-covered hills. Venice is further north than either Portland, OR or Portland, ME- daylight is not long! So make sure that you know that your views outside are only a handful of hours and they are not necessarily warm and sunny.
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