Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

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RJ1982
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Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by RJ1982 »

Hi fellow Bogleheads,

My wife (who's half-Italian) and I are planning a 21-day trip to Italy and Slovenia this fall. We're targeting a departure around October 19th and love exploring new cities on foot and immersing ourselves in local culture.

Here's our current draft itinerary:

Italy

Day 1-2: Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon. Possible food tour.
Day 3: Vatican City: St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel.
Day 4-5: Florence: Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, leather markets, Tuscan food & wine.
Day 6-8: Cinque Terre: Hiking between the villages.
Day 9-10: Venice: St. Mark's Square, Doge's Palace, gondola ride.

Slovenia

Day 11: Travel Day: Venice to Ljubljana.
Day 12-14: Ljubljana: Old town, Ljubljana Castle, Dragon Bridge. Day trip to Lake Bled.
Day 15-17: Slovenian Alps: Hiking in Triglav National Park. Stay in Bled or Bohinj.
Day 18-19: Piran: Relaxing on the Adriatic coast.
Day 20: Travel Day: Return to Ljubljana.
Day 21: Departure: Fly back to Kansas City from Ljubljana (LJU).

I'd love your all's input on the following:

Itinerary: Any suggestions or observations on our planned route? Should we consider adding or removing anything?
Accommodations: We're looking for recommendations for hotels or Airbnbs that offer an authentic local experience. We're open to staying outside of major cities and using public transportation (if easily accessible). Any hidden gems you've identified on your trips?
Flights: What airlines have you had good experiences with flying from Kansas City (MCI) to Italy? We're open to different options.

Thank you all so much for your help! This community is always a wealth of information.

-RJ
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Nicolas
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by Nicolas »

Will you be passing through Sevnica, Slovenia on your trip? There’s a noteworthy statue located there. :D
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by blaugranamd »

Just did your Italy cities in about 2.5 weeks. If you like sculpture don't skip the Bargello Museum in Florence. Very uncrowded and has Michaelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and a lot of other famous sculptors.

Stay IN the major cities. Near a metro in Rome for quick access around. Florence is small so stay in old town. Venice we stayed at the Hotel al Codega. It was small, very quiet, secluded, and had great breakfast.

I'm Venice, unless you have to, skip the Gondola and get on the water bus at the first stop by the train station so you can sit up front and listen to the Rock Steve's grand canal tour podcast on the ride. In fact, download the Rick Steve's app and do all his walking tours. Plus it'll save you money on buying the audio guide at major sites. Check out the Church of the Friari, very cool church with really unique tombs and architecture

Get your tickets to colosseum and Vatican early, they sell out quick. Look up how to get tickets from coop culture for colosseum instead of getting fleeced by your groups. Vatican is insanely crowded even early.
Last edited by blaugranamd on Tue Jun 04, 2024 4:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by InvisibleAerobar »

10 days spread out between four disparate locales in Italy just doesn’t seem to be enough time, unless you’ve traveled to Italy before.

I’d probably reserve 2 days just for wine and food alone. Depending on one’s preference, that could be Montalcino (short trip from Firenze, for Brunello), Piemonte (for Barolo and Barbaresco), or Veneto (short trip from Venezia, for Amarone). Some of these would likely require car rental. Go to different vineyards and enjoy what rustic food is on offer.

If you are into cycling, Tuscany has a lot to offer.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by blaugranamd »

InvisibleAerobar wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2024 4:15 pm 10 days spread out between four disparate locales in Italy just doesn’t seem to be enough time, unless you’ve traveled to Italy before.
I do agree. You'll spend half a day in transit between each locale. Venice can be 2 days easily as there's not a lot of "major" things. Rome you could spend a month and not get bored. We did 9 days in Rome and still it felt rushed at times. You certainly won't get the "immersed in local culture" feeling in any of those cities with that short of a stay as you'll spend all the time at major tourist sites (which you should though, cause they're all wonderful)
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by Chadnudj »

RJ1982 wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2024 3:44 pm Hi fellow Bogleheads,

My wife (who's half-Italian) and I are planning a 21-day trip to Italy and Slovenia this fall. We're targeting a departure around October 19th and love exploring new cities on foot and immersing ourselves in local culture.

Here's our current draft itinerary:

Italy

Day 1-2: Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon. Possible food tour.
Day 3: Vatican City: St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel.
Day 4-5: Florence: Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, leather markets, Tuscan food & wine.
Day 6-8: Cinque Terre: Hiking between the villages.
Day 9-10: Venice: St. Mark's Square, Doge's Palace, gondola ride.


-RJ
Speaking only to Italy, that's cramming a lot into a relatively small time period. 3 days in Rome seems decent/doable (I don't think you'll fill a whole day with Vatican City, but maybe your mileage varies from mine). But I'd personally sacrifice Venice entirely, and probably a day in Cinque Terre (if not Cinque Terre entirely) to do Florence and Tuscany right. So maybe something more like

Day 1-3: Rome/Vatican City
Day 4-5: Cinque Terre (2 days is plenty, IMHO -- once you hike between the villages, you've seen it all)
Day 6-10: Florence and Tuscany (figure out a means to get to some of the villages of Tuscany from Florence).
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by Valuethinker »

Lake Bled is picturesque - a lot of people get married in the church in the middle

But. Really. It's a very small lake you can walk around in about an hour. Quite suburban around it.

Bohinj is similar but is a national park and so it is more rural.

They are both quite pleasant but not "special" in a North American context.

We liked Kranskja Gora (sp?) a lot -- I think people use that as a base for hiking in Slovenian Alps.

Overall it feels like you have too much in your planned holiday. It's going to be exhausting. Not sure how long it takes Florence to Venice by train (I don't quite remember) but that will take up a chunk of a day. Is it necessary to do Slovenia in the same trip?

The Gondola in Venice is a maybe do once... maybe. TBH riding the Vaporetto (city water bus) was just as much fun (but I have had a Gondola ride once).

Everybody does St Mark's and the Doge's Palace. It's not what I got to Venice for - rather I get a good map and wander the back streets away from St Mark's. To be fair, I have the luxury of only being a couple of hours away (England). It's only early in the morning and after about 7pm that I can stand St Mark's Square - otherwise the crowds are just ...

Be careful of pickpockets. And phone thieves on motorscooters (Italy). Especially in Italy. Europe really does have skilled petty thieves.

The recommendation to use Rick Steves guides is a good one.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by rebalance1d »

For train travel options from Venice to Ljubljana- look up train info on. https://www.seat61.com/international-tr ... ce-Croatia
(we used a combo of train and flix bus)
https://www.flixbus.com
or. https://www.goopti.com/en/ - transfer service- we did not use but frequently recommended

Ljubljana- 2 days may be enough, pretty small town. There are nice airbnb's available.
Rent a car in Slovenia, it gives you much more flexibility.
Lake Bled and Bohinje- can be combined to 1 day, stay in Bohinj-a lot of great hiking near by. There are a lot of rentals available- use booking.com
Stara Fuzina is a good base for hiking
Stay in Bovec- liked it more than Kransjska Gora, hike along Soca River valley
drive Vrsic pass- can be a hiking point- imperative- rent a small car
Piran- cannot drive to- stay in Portoroz and walk (30 min?) -
Piran to Ljubljana- Lipica is on the way ( see famous Lipizaner stud farm) and Skocjan caves
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by radiowave »

DW and I just got back from 18 days in Italy and Switzerland. We came in through Zurich and out by Milan. Spent an entire week in a farmhouse with some old friends in San Gimignano (Tuscany). What a treat. We rented a car and did day trips to various hill towns in Tuscany. There was some driving but not on the road every 2-3 days to a new place. One day we just hung out cooking and sipping some local wine watching the sun set over Tuscany. Priceless. Just a different way to experience Italy. Note, We did spend 2 nights in Lugano and that was our favorite part of the trip.

Other notes, used TrainLine.com for both Swiss and Italian train tickets and worked quite well for us. Also, be careful which credit cards you use. I had a CapitalOne card with no foreign transaction fees, my wife used her Bank of America Master Card which I thought we had fees waive being Platinum Honors but got hit with about $30 FTF . In looking at the fine print when I got home, apparently the FTF are not waived.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by gch »

My wife and I also just got back from a 2 week trip in Italy and it was great. A local friend/travel agent recommended and booked our trip and he chose Sorrento for 4 days (with day trips to the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and Capri), Rome 4 days (similar to your itinerary with more leisure time to explore), a Tuscany mountain town for 2 days, and Florence for 2 days. It was a good mix of tourist stuff at the beginning and then some more local and relaxing time in the mountains.

Assuming you’re not changing the itinerary, here are some suggestions:

Book a one on one private tour in the Vatican. It allowed us to get in quicker and our guide was great at managing around the crowds. We also did a private tour of the coliseum/roman forum and it was equally great for information purposes, but did not allow you any “better” access.

La Gattabuia in Rome was great food and recommended by our local driver. We were the only ones there that were speaking English (other than the waiter)

We did this Twilight Food/Culture tour in the Trastavere area of Rome. I was not looking forward to this, but ended up thinking it was great:
https://www.eatingeurope.com/rome/twili ... W-EALw_wcB

Our favorite meal in Florence was at Ostaria de Cicalini.
Last edited by gch on Tue Jun 04, 2024 8:25 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by Feldman »

Slovenia is a cool country. I have been 2 or 3 times on business trips to Kranj.

You need a vignette (vinjeta) / decal to drive on their national highways.
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NateH
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by NateH »

You're planning on hitting all of the tourist traps in Italy in rapid succession, separated by rail travel -- go-go-go. That is not my favorite way to experience Italy, although some just want the museums & churches above all else. Those areas are full of tourists, not very romantic, and should not be considered the 'authentic local experience'.

The rural Italian life is where you find 'authentic' Italy, which is still a predominantly agricultural. You could stay a few extra days and venture out into Tuscany. Farms & vinyards give tours including lunch, sometimes in the owners own dining room. We found a dairy in Monopoli and rolled our own mozzarella (spent nearly a week in Puglia). I enjoyed those experiences more than the 4th-8th church and more paintings.

Its really a conversation you and your 1/2 italian travel partner should have. e.g. does she know what region her family comes from?
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Italia and Slovenija -- just go

Post by PottedPlant »

We did Treviso (3 days) instead of Venezia (we had visited Venezia before).
We traveled by train to Trieste and the via the ferry to Piran (4 days).
Local bus from Piran to Koper and then scenic train to Ljubljana (6 days). We loved Ljubljana!
Day trip (train, bus) to Blejsko jezero. There is a reason that the money shot of Slovenija is always this.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by curmudgeon »

A few thoughts:

1) November may be getting a bit late in the year for Slovenia, especially mountain hiking. Even Venice runs more risk of being rainy/cool (and Aqua Alta high water conditions). It's still doable, but something to keep in mind. Croatia might be a bit warmer.

2) The high-speed Italian trains work well for getting from city to city, as long as there is no strike. Strikes are usually scheduled well in advance, often last just a day or less, and can be looked up (and also are often cancelled). You can save money on train tickets with advance purchase non-refundable if you are confident in your schedule.

3) Moving around takes time and energy, even if you are traveling via central city train stations.

4) staying in the suburbs and commuting to the historic cores may be more authentically modern Italian, but I don't advise it as a tourist. Similarly, though, unless you really want the Hilton/Marriot type environment, staying in small family-run hotels and pensiones can be a good experience to feel a bit more connection to the location.

5) You might consider picking up a rental car from Venice area and using it for your Slovenia trip, then return and fly out of Venice. Other than needing the highway toll vignette for the Slovenian main highways, it's pretty straightforward driving in that area. Rome/Florence/Tuscany are much trickier with traffic and restricted driving zones, so I wouldn't advise it there.

6) Booking your trip "open-jaw" via a single airline may be cheaper than two one-way tickets (though not always). If you have some flexibility on start/end days sometimes you can save money on flights by moving a day or two in either direction. Google flights is a good tool for seeing what is available. Booking directly with the primary airline can reduce finger-pointing if/when something goes wrong.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by hunoraut »

RJ1982 wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2024 3:44 pm Hi fellow Bogleheads,

My wife (who's half-Italian) and I are planning a 21-day trip to Italy and Slovenia this fall. We're targeting a departure around October 19th and love exploring new cities on foot and immersing ourselves in local culture.

Here's our current draft itinerary:

Italy

Day 1-2: Rome: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon. Possible food tour.
Day 3: Vatican City: St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel.
Day 4-5: Florence: Duomo, Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio, leather markets, Tuscan food & wine.
Day 6-8: Cinque Terre: Hiking between the villages.
Day 9-10: Venice: St. Mark's Square, Doge's Palace, gondola ride.

Slovenia

Day 11: Travel Day: Venice to Ljubljana.
Day 12-14: Ljubljana: Old town, Ljubljana Castle, Dragon Bridge. Day trip to Lake Bled.
Day 15-17: Slovenian Alps: Hiking in Triglav National Park. Stay in Bled or Bohinj.
Day 18-19: Piran: Relaxing on the Adriatic coast.
Day 20: Travel Day: Return to Ljubljana.
Day 21: Departure: Fly back to Kansas City from Ljubljana (LJU).

I'd love your all's input on the following:

Itinerary: Any suggestions or observations on our planned route? Should we consider adding or removing anything?
Accommodations: We're looking for recommendations for hotels or Airbnbs that offer an authentic local experience. We're open to staying outside of major cities and using public transportation (if easily accessible). Any hidden gems you've identified on your trips?
Flights: What airlines have you had good experiences with flying from Kansas City (MCI) to Italy? We're open to different options.

Thank you all so much for your help! This community is always a wealth of information.

-RJ
Overall looks good. I will champion Siena until the end of time, but you don't have extra time allocated for it and the other itinerary are considered classic Italy. A popular hotel alternative is Agriturismo - staying in farms or converted farms - and is especially common in Tuscany. However its not very compatible with public transport and best with cars.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by Valuethinker »

curmudgeon wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2024 11:30 pm A few thoughts:

1) November may be getting a bit late in the year for Slovenia, especially mountain hiking. Even Venice runs more risk of being rainy/cool (and Aqua Alta high water conditions). It's still doable, but something to keep in mind. Croatia might be a bit warmer.
Good point. I wouldn't go mountaineering in Slovenia in November. You don't have proper winter, but you have all the hassles, potentially.

I missed that this was a November plan. I would delete the mountain climbing in Slovenia - or at least be very aware of the potential conditions.

(This is partly a British thing. Ben Nevis in Scotland kills walkers every year (just killed a father and his boy) - the weather can turn on you very suddenly. So that's my view of "season edge" activities in the mountains).
2) The high-speed Italian trains work well for getting from city to city, as long as there is no strike. Strikes are usually scheduled well in advance, often last just a day or less, and can be looked up (and also are often cancelled). You can save money on train tickets with advance purchase non-refundable if you are confident in your schedule.

3) Moving around takes time and energy, even if you are traveling via central city train stations.

4) staying in the suburbs and commuting to the historic cores may be more authentically modern Italian, but I don't advise it as a tourist. Similarly, though, unless you really want the Hilton/Marriot type environment, staying in small family-run hotels and pensiones can be a good experience to feel a bit more connection to the location.

5) You might consider picking up a rental car from Venice area and using it for your Slovenia trip, then return and fly out of Venice. Other than needing the highway toll vignette for the Slovenian main highways, it's pretty straightforward driving in that area. Rome/Florence/Tuscany are much trickier with traffic and restricted driving zones, so I wouldn't advise it there.

6) Booking your trip "open-jaw" via a single airline may be cheaper than two one-way tickets (though not always). If you have some flexibility on start/end days sometimes you can save money on flights by moving a day or two in either direction. Google flights is a good tool for seeing what is available. Booking directly with the primary airline can reduce finger-pointing if/when something goes wrong.
All excellent advice.

There are 2 "Venice airports". Leonardo da Vinci is the real one. But Verona is also called "Venice" by airlines (Ryanair budget airline in particular).
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RJ1982
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by RJ1982 »

Hey everyone,

Thanks again for all the excellent comments and suggestions! I'm always amazed by the depth of knowledge and experience on this forum.

After talking things over with my wife, we're starting to think we might either shorten the Slovenia part of our trip or skip it entirely to spend more time in Italy. We'd love your thoughts on the following:

Slovenia:

Worth it for a short stay? If we only spent 3-4 days in Slovenia, would it be worth the transit time?
Note: We were initially drawn to Slovenia because it looked beautiful and offered a chance to experience a different culture, but we didn't have any specific must-see spots.

Agriturismo in Italy:

What's the best way to find great agriturismo experiences? Just searching on Google and looking at reviews, or is there a better approach?

Thanks again for all your help!

-RJ
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by 02nz »

RJ1982 wrote: Wed Jun 05, 2024 7:55 am Slovenia:

Worth it for a short stay? If we only spent 3-4 days in Slovenia, would it be worth the transit time?
Note: We were initially drawn to Slovenia because it looked beautiful and offered a chance to experience a different culture, but we didn't have any specific must-see spots.
Slovenia is one of my favorite places in Europe. However, your itinerary is a bit rushed as it is, and I think you'll get more out of spending that time in Italy. Save Slovenia for another trip, ideally in warmer weather when you'll be able to better enjoy the outdoors.
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Post by PottedPlant »

Valuethinker wrote: Wed Jun 05, 2024 5:51 am There are 2 "Venice airports". Leonardo da Vinci is the real one. But Verona is also called "Venice" by airlines (Ryanair budget airline in particular).
Treviso Airport (TSF) is a smaller airport 30km north of Venezia. You can fly to 53 destinations with 3 airlines in scheduled passenger traffic
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by talzara »

Chadnudj wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2024 4:47 pm But I'd personally sacrifice Venice entirely, and probably a day in Cinque Terre (if not Cinque Terre entirely) to do Florence and Tuscany right.
Skip Venice on a honeymoon?
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by talzara »

RJ1982 wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2024 3:44 pm Flights: What airlines have you had good experiences with flying from Kansas City (MCI) to Italy? We're open to different options.
You wanted to fly on a United Boeing 767 when you were planning this trip in October: viewtopic.php?p=7498570

Most United transatlantic flights to Rome have been upgauged to the Boeing 777 or 787. These are uncomfortable in Economy because United has squeezed in an additional seat in each row. Only the second Washington Dulles flight is still on the Boeing 767, and we don't know how much longer it will be on that route.

Delta flies the Boeing 767, Airbus A330, and Airbus A350 on transatlantic flights. These planes are more comfortable in Economy than the Boeing 777 and 787, which Delta does not operate.

There are no transatlantic flights from Ljubljana, so you will have a two-stop flight on the way back. Since you are cutting back the Slovenian part of your trip, try to fly out of Milan, which has transatlantic flights. You can also do the trip in reverse, flying to Milan and returning from Rome.
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Re: TSF

Post by talzara »

Valuethinker wrote: Wed Jun 05, 2024 5:51 am There are 2 "Venice airports". Leonardo da Vinci is the real one. But Verona is also called "Venice" by airlines (Ryanair budget airline in particular).
PottedPlant wrote: Wed Jun 05, 2024 8:55 am Treviso Airport (TSF) is a smaller airport 30km north of Venezia. You can fly to 53 destinations with 3 airlines in scheduled passenger traffic
Low-cost carriers won't have a guaranteed connection to a transatlantic flight.

A guaranteed connection is much more convenient. The bags will be checked through to the destination. If you miss the connection due to a delayed flight, they will put you on the next flight with seats. If you have to stay overnight, they will pay for your hotel room. If you are delayed more than 4 hours, the European Union requires the airline to pay you €600 in compensation.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by GT99 »

Didn't read all the responses but a few quick things:
1. We had a group of 11 that did Italy for 17 days over the holidays - we did 2 days in Florence and 2 days in Venice. The unanimous opinion was that we should have stayed in Florence for 4 days and done a day trip to Venice. Venice is totally worth seeing, but 1 day is enough. It' s a 2 hour train ride on the high speed trains, which are very comfortable. We thought 2 days wasn't enough in Florence.

2. The trains are great, but don't bring a very large suitcase. We made this mistake, and it was a royal pain trying to find storage on the trains (there are spots for big bags inside the doors, but if you're not at the first stop or two of the train there's a good chance they will be full. The overhead space will fit bags a bit bigger than airplane carry-ons.

3. Seek out restaurants a bit away from tourist centers. While there are plenty of good places in tourist centers, they tend to have the Italian food tourists expect and you won't get a well-rounded perspective of Italian food. We had tons of standard pasta dishes (cacio e pepe, carbonara, lasagna, etc) and they were generally fantastic, but there's a lot more to Italian food. Oh, and pizza away from the Naples area is pretty average.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by Chadnudj »

talzara wrote: Wed Jun 05, 2024 12:06 pm
Chadnudj wrote: Tue Jun 04, 2024 4:47 pm But I'd personally sacrifice Venice entirely, and probably a day in Cinque Terre (if not Cinque Terre entirely) to do Florence and Tuscany right.
Skip Venice on a honeymoon?
No slight intended on Venice -- just meant you have limited time, don't want to lose a ton of time to travel, and everywhere else you want to see is on the western side of Italy (Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence). And it's not like those locales aren't incredibly Roman-tic, too. (rimshot)
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by talzara »

Chadnudj wrote: Tue Jun 11, 2024 8:05 am No slight intended on Venice -- just meant you have limited time, don't want to lose a ton of time to travel, and everywhere else you want to see is on the western side of Italy (Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence). And it's not like those locales aren't incredibly Roman-tic, too. (rimshot)
It doesn't matter which coast they're on. That part of Italy is a narrow peninsula, only about 100 miles across.

High-speed rail also makes it faster to travel to big cities than small cities. The high-speed train from Florence to Venice only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. The regional train from Florence to Riomaggiore takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. It takes less time to travel farther because the train is much faster.
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by VanityPlate »

I just came back from a week in Italy (2 nights in Rome, then 2 nights in Tuscany for a wedding and one night back in Rome) and have a few thoughts:

1. We flew Norse Atlantic JFK - Rome in the premium cabin. It's not as fancy as Delta One, but the recline and wide seats allowed us to sleep as much as we wanted the whole time. I'd recommend that if you can easily fly to JFK.

2. As far as "local" restaurants in Rome, I highly recommend Capo Boi in the Salario neighborhood. The best seafood I've ever had. Great service. Dinner started with a complimentary prosecco and ended with complimentary digestifs. We were the only tourists there. All other tables were packed with romans eating way more than us, taking much longer than us, and tipping less than us. 200 euro for four of us. This dinner would have been $600-$1000 in NYC.

3. It was my first time in Tuscany and it was amazing beyond belief. We stayed at a villa outside Chinciano Terme and Montepulciano. The views in the valleys are so breathtaking. The small towns - we spent a day in Montepulciano - are wonderful. I'd allot more time to this part of the country.

4. Are you opposed to renting a car? Will allow you to be more flexible and experience "hidden gems." That's what we did. Stopped in the historic center of Viterbo for a few hours on the drive from Rome to Tuscany. Very cool and wouldn't have been able to do it by train.
Valuethinker
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by Valuethinker »

GT99 wrote: Wed Jun 05, 2024 1:04 pm Didn't read all the responses but a few quick things:
1. We had a group of 11 that did Italy for 17 days over the holidays - we did 2 days in Florence and 2 days in Venice. The unanimous opinion was that we should have stayed in Florence for 4 days and done a day trip to Venice. Venice is totally worth seeing, but 1 day is enough. It' s a 2 hour train ride on the high speed trains, which are very comfortable. We thought 2 days wasn't enough in Florence.

2. The trains are great, but don't bring a very large suitcase. We made this mistake, and it was a royal pain trying to find storage on the trains (there are spots for big bags inside the doors, but if you're not at the first stop or two of the train there's a good chance they will be full. The overhead space will fit bags a bit bigger than airplane carry-ons.

3. Seek out restaurants a bit away from tourist centers. While there are plenty of good places in tourist centers, they tend to have the Italian food tourists expect and you won't get a well-rounded perspective of Italian food. We had tons of standard pasta dishes (cacio e pepe, carbonara, lasagna, etc) and they were generally fantastic, but there's a lot more to Italian food. Oh, and pizza away from the Naples area is pretty average.
So this is the problem with Venice.

A 1 day in Venice is likely to go "that's nice" and hit St Mark's Square etc. Crowded, horrendous numbers of tourists. Exhausting and maybe a bit dispiriting.

It's only if you stay over in Venice, have an opportunity to experience it either early in the morning or after about 7pm, that you begin to get a real experience of the place. Visit some of the churches, perhaps the lesser known museums (or just spend time in the Accademia). Get familiar with the Vaporetto water bus system, and thus circumnavigating the whole main island. Perhaps take one to Torcello (atmospheric, and the original Venetian colony in the Dark Ages) via Burano (fishing and lace island).

I remember in Burano a wedding party came down the main street, headed for the church. And all the people in the outdoor restaurants just turned around and spontaneously applauded.

In Torcello there was a woman who obviously had learning disabilities - a member of the small community that still resides on the island. She came and spoke to the restaurant staff, who clearly knew her. Then came and chattered to us in Italian - a language neither of us spoke.

I proposed to my spouse in Venice, and every few years we rent an apartment there for a week. Each time, we seem to see fewer and fewer "sights" and spend more and more time just soaking up the atmosphere of the place.

If it was a tradeoff, with limited time, more time spent in rural Tuscany might be better.
talzara
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by talzara »

VanityPlate wrote: Wed Jun 12, 2024 11:33 am 1. We flew Norse Atlantic JFK - Rome in the premium cabin. It's not as fancy as Delta One, but the recline and wide seats allowed us to sleep as much as we wanted the whole time. I'd recommend that if you can easily fly to JFK.
Flying Norse Atlantic from New York JFK has the same problem as flying Ryanair from Treviso or Verona. The transatlantic connection will not be guaranteed, and you will have to collect your bags at JFK and re-check them.

Norse Atlantic partners with Spirit Airlines to offer self-transfers. However, this is just a marketing arrangement. You still have to re-check your bags, and the transfer is not guaranteed unless you pay for Dohop self-transfer insurance. Norse Atlantic will not sell you a ticket from MCI to FCO because its only flight to Rome departs from JFK. Spirit flies to Newark and LaGuardia, not JFK.

Norse Atlantic Premium is a premium economy product. Business class in the transatlantic market has lie-flat beds. Norse Atlantic Premium has the same 19" seat width and 7" recline as Delta Premium Select, but it has 46" seat pitch instead of 38".
Chadnudj
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by Chadnudj »

talzara wrote: Tue Jun 11, 2024 4:12 pm
Chadnudj wrote: Tue Jun 11, 2024 8:05 am No slight intended on Venice -- just meant you have limited time, don't want to lose a ton of time to travel, and everywhere else you want to see is on the western side of Italy (Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence). And it's not like those locales aren't incredibly Roman-tic, too. (rimshot)
It doesn't matter which coast they're on. That part of Italy is a narrow peninsula, only about 100 miles across.

High-speed rail also makes it faster to travel to big cities than small cities. The high-speed train from Florence to Venice only takes 2 hours and 15 minutes. The regional train from Florence to Riomaggiore takes 2 hours and 30 minutes. It takes less time to travel farther because the train is much faster.
Assuming the trains are running -- there are regular strikes (so regular they're scheduled!), so keep that in mind while planning.
talzara
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by talzara »

Chadnudj wrote: Fri Jun 14, 2024 10:01 am Assuming the trains are running -- there are regular strikes (so regular they're scheduled!), so keep that in mind while planning.
It's much easier to avoid strikes going to Venice than the Cinque Terre. Just buy tickets on a guaranteed high-speed train.

Trenitalia publishes a list of long-distance trains that are guaranteed to keep running through a strike: https://www.trenitalia.com/it/informazi ... opero.html

Guaranteed long-distance trains run throughout the day. The train will be full, but high-speed trains have reserved seats.

Guaranteed regional trains are packed into rush hour, so there are almost no trains for the rest of the day. The train will be full, which means it will be standing room only. You cannot reserve a seat.
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RJ1982
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Re: Honeymoon to Italy and Slovenia -- Advice Please!

Post by RJ1982 »

Thank you all so much! My wife and I really appreciate the helpful suggestions. We have incorporated several of your suggestions in our plans (including the Norse Atlantic suggestion).
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