My FI and I planned our entire trip to Italy using Rick Steves' guidebook when we went to Europe three years ago. It was a God send! Every hotel we stayed at was one that he recommended and we were never disappointed. The Cinque Terra is a must see. Make sure to hike between the "5 lands" or at least between a couple of them for wonderful views of the Mediterranean Sea. You can even take a dip! We bought A eur-rail pass that was good for 30 days (I think) once it was validated (it gets validated the 1st time you use it) and we traveled throughout Italy with stops in Rome, Venice, Florence & the Cinque Terra. The pass allows you unlimited travel between locations in the area you choose. It should all be explained in the book. The best part was that we didn't have to spend any money on rental cars or tour guides because everything was laid out for us in the book! Train travel and other public transportation was so convenient everywhere we went.[/QUOTE]
I'm so glad to hear that his book was a great guide. I read part of it last night....but, I've noticed that he doesn't hit on all the cities...he seems to only discuss the ones that he feels are worth visiting, which I guess is a good thing. I'm going to look the part about the train...I think we might do point to point tickets since we won't be there for 30 days, but i'll have to look into it. Thank you!!
| Originally Posted by lavalos |
Ooooh, how exciting! Love, Love LOVE Italy!
I visited Italy for the 1st time, last June (Armando proposed in Rome so I'm partial to the city!). We were going to do 3 - 4 cities but because it was my 1st time, we decided hit as many cities as possible--we did it in 2 weeks. I'm glad we did it this way, since it was my 1st time but next time, we'll only hit 3cities. We were exhausted--waking up at 5am/6am to catch early am trains so that we could make the most of our time in each city. We did Venice, Rimini, Florence, Rome, Sorrento (my favorite), Sicily (Taormina and Palermo--Armando's family lives there). I'd probably change the amount of time we stayed in some of the cities.
Great site for hotels in Italy is
I'm heading back to Italy next month. I went there with my girl friends a few years ago. That time we went to Rome for three nights, Venice for two nights, Florence for three nights, Rapollo for two nights (next to Portifino but nicer b/c it's a bit bigger so there are more choices for restaurants and entertainment), and then Paris for two nights.
This time, we're doing Rome for 3 nights, Venice for 2 nights, Florence for 4 nights, and Umbria (most likely Oliveieta) for 3 nights.
I think that the best advice I have (as I'm planning this myself) is:
-Rome - wander the streets - get a book on walking tours in Rome and then, when you find someplace that you like (like the Coliseum), pay for a guided tour or get the pre-recorded tours, it's worth it. Rome is an amazing place. Consider seeing an opera while you're there. I would stay near the Spanish Steps - it's centrally located and it's quieter than some areas.
-Florence - you MUST go to Boboli gardens. It's across the river. Easy walking distance. Go to a deli, get some meat and cheese and head over there for a picnic (they frown on it but everyone does it) and then take a ton of pictures. I could spend all day there. Also, use Florence as a base station for day trips to Lucca and Pisa (can be done the same day via the train), Chianti (get a private guide to take you on a wine tour - they pick you up in Florence - PM me if you want a reference), and Siena. If you can get to San Gimignano, it's beautiful and they have fabulous wine and food.
Venice - go, but only for one or two nights. It's beautiful and you really need to see it, but it's not a place you need to linger. Spend the money to have a very romantic dinner in the square. There are three restaurants that have small string quartets or bands that play on a stage while you eat. It's very pretty. Be prepared for very expensive hotels that aren't very nice. Stay in a less expensive hotel that gets good Trip Advisor recommendations or stay in Lido (an island across the way). Go to the Danieli for lunch so you can see the beautiful entry, no need to waste money as the rooms are less than stellar.
The Cinque Terre - eh - I could do without it. I love coastlines and it's pretty, but it has a much different culture and feel than the rest of Italy. Plus, I'm not sure when you're planning on going, but if it's during travel months, be prepared for a lot of kids hiking with backpacks who aren't the most pleasant to be around (aside from Portifino which weeds them out because of the expense). I would go to the Amalfi coast instead.
Umbria - this is absolutely beautiful and it's less expensive than Tuscany. Rent a car (it's very easy to drive in this area - not in Rome). Consider staying in a farm house in Olivieta so you can take day trips to Saturnia (there's a natural hot springs there that is open to the public and there are caves to explore), Perugia (yummy food), and Cortona (I've heard great things about Cortona but I haven't yet investigated).
I'll let you know how our trip goes!
Thanks Natasha for sharing all of your info. I'm definitely going to add the Boboli gardens to our must see list, and I'm going to read up on Umbria. When do you leave on your trip?
| Originally Posted by tob1kanobe |
You are going to have the most amazing time. My suggestion is to decide how you want to spend your time to help make decisions on how long for each place --- if you want the whirlwind tour then just take brief stays at each place. I studied in Italy for six weeks and loved every minute of it.
I am all about seeing a town and doing the museum thing, but I also love to soak in the typical days - walk around and try food and just hang out. Get a feel for the city not just the tourist traps. We had two free weekends to spend on our own and both times we went to Monterosso in Cinque Terra. It is my most favorite place. Rome is huge and overwhelming. I would love to go and spend more time there. Florence is exquisite and totally manageable. I didn't feel overwhelmed and I always felt safe. Venice was fun to see but I dont have the urge to go back. A couple days and I felt like I saw it and was done with it. Milan was a concrete jungle I didnt really enjoy.
THings to think about - pack light beacuse the shopping there is amazing and we just bought new and discarded our cheap clothes from here. Venice is all bridges - some cities dont work well with rolling luggage. Have money to use taxis because lugging luggage onto the subways and trains sucks. Trains are super easy to use. Also, if you want to see other cities in europe check out Ryan Air --- super cheap. We traveled extensively.
Let me know if you have questions. First decide if you want to see every sight or if you want to lounge. If you have time for the most amazing spa experience of your life - you must must go to Vals in Switzerland. You are a lucky girl - most amazing time of my life was in Europe.
Thanks for all the insight. We are planning to take travel backpacks instead of suitcases...we figure they will be much easier to travel with. I think you are absolutely right, we need to decide if we will do a whirlwind trip or if we want to lounge. On one hand I want to have everything planned out, but on the other hand it would be nice to just play everything by ear when we get there. But the reality is I'm too much of a planner.
I definitely want to hit Cinque Terre, and I think I'll try to plan all the sites in Rome over 2 days so we can see everything and then get out of that big, crowded city. I'd rather be in smaller cities and villages.
Thank you for your help.