a week in Italy(first time)

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wije
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a week in Italy(first time)

Post by wije » Sat Feb 09, 2019 5:27 pm

I know I know, a week isn't enough but that's all we got for spring break in March. My original plan was to spend three days in Rome, two in Florence, and then one each in Venice and Milan. However, my wife wants to carve some time from Florence to see Bologna. We have to return home from Milan because we had gotten a good deal on the plane tickets from there.

We'd welcome any insights for itinerary, where to stay and eat, etc.

newDDS
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by newDDS » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:03 pm

I am sure you will be getting a lot of you are trying to do too much with the amount of areas and timeframe, but you can do it.

Assuming you are flying into Rome, from there you could save time by having a home base at one or two of those other cities and then take day trips to those cities. The Milan train station is large and efficient, last time I was there we stayed at a hotel near the station and then you can get to Venice in about 2 hours and the same for other cities.

Enjoy!

MJD
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MJD » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:55 pm

Personal opinion - skip Venice in favor of the other major cities you mention. Beautiful, but we found the food, crowds, and prices to be the least desirable of any of the major cities.

You'll have just enough time to hit all the really high points of the other cities and you'll be hustling...but just being in Italy, even with a packed schedule, probably beats the pants off being at home! Enjoy.

gtd98765
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by gtd98765 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:59 pm

newDDS wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:03 pm
I am sure you will be getting a lot of you are trying to do too much with the amount of areas and timeframe, but you can do it.

Assuming you are flying into Rome, from there you could save time by having a home base at one or two of those other cities and then take day trips to those cities. The Milan train station is large and efficient, last time I was there we stayed at a hotel near the station and then you can get to Venice in about 2 hours and the same for other cities.

Enjoy!
Agree in concept with home base, but think Bologna would be better place to stay than Milan since it is on the list anyway, and much closer to Venice. Maybe take the train from Florence to Bologna in the evening to avoid wasting daylight touring time? Good train info here: https://www.seat61.com/

I would travel to Milan the night before your departure. It is a nice enough city but from a tourism standpoint the others are much more interesting.

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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by BarbBrooklyn » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:00 pm

If you have to be in Milan, book a reservation to see The Last Supper. Do it right now. In your shoes, I would travel then to Florence and do the Uffizi and ACADEMIA (David) Then to Rome to see the Vatican and Roman sights. Can you not fly open jaws?
BarbBrooklyn | "The enemy of a good plan is the dream of a perfect plan."

Pacific
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Pacific » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:24 pm

MJD wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:55 pm
Personal opinion - skip Venice in favor of the other major cities you mention. Beautiful, but we found the food, crowds, and prices to be the least desirable of any of the major cities.

You'll have just enough time to hit all the really high points of the other cities and you'll be hustling...but just being in Italy, even with a packed schedule, probably beats the pants off being at home! Enjoy.
+1

Venice is an unusual experience, but if you only have a week, skip it and do it some other time.

Do NOT cut Florence short. You will be seeing two of my favorite CITIES (Rome, Florence) in Italy, but missing out on the most beautiful part -- Tuscany.

michaeljc70
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by michaeljc70 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:30 pm

I was in Milan once and don't have to go back. If I had a week, I'd spend it in Rome and Florence/Tuscany. How will you be traveling around?

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calmaniac
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by calmaniac » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:07 pm

Rome and Florence- 7 days. To do more than 2 cities in one week is a waste of your time.

Forget Venice, whatever you can see in one day is more than offset by the Disney-esque grotesquerie. Yes, there are charming parts that Venice lovers will tell you about. However, you will not find those on a first visit. You will also burn up a full day on the round trip flight.

Forget Milan. I like Milan, but it does not compare to Rome or Florence for first time tourists.

I don't see the point in "hitting all the spots". For one, the added travel ends up decreasing your time to actually enjoy being in Italy. Unless you really like Airports, hotels, and train stations, take it slow or at least poco adagio.

TheDoorMan19
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by TheDoorMan19 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:21 pm

Please provide some background info on things you are plan to do on the trip. For instance, do you want to spend all day in a museum?

I am not a museum guy, so I was happy just walking around these places. Which means a day (not even a night) in Milan was enough and a day (8 hours) in Venice was enough. Basically enough to get the feel. But rome is where all the action is at if you have never been there - so many neat buildings from thousands of years ago that even if you don’t like history or architecture it’s fascinating. And so I went from Rome (three days) to Florence (one or two days) with a side trip to Sienna (one day) and then to Venice (one day) and Milan (one day). Frankly I don’t remember anything about Milan other than that there were two McDonald’s literally across the street from each other near the train station. If I had to do it over again I’d actually stay in Milan one night but spend the entire day a tour in the mountains or crystal blue streams near lake cuomo (though I don’t remember how far it was). That is just one man’s opinion.
Last edited by TheDoorMan19 on Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Bogle7
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Bogle7 » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:24 pm

Roma
Firenze
Forget the others
See more on your next visit

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jabberwockOG
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by jabberwockOG » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:41 pm

Trying to see all those places not a good plan. Trying to cover that much ground especially in Italy will mostly be consumed with logistics, slow as molasses check in clerks, lines everywhere and airport and train stations waiting rooms.

I'd stick with with two spots maximum. And if it has to be big cities, maybe Rome and Florence, or Florence and Venice, then just last night in Milan just to get to the airport to fly out.

We personally do not like big cities so for us the week would be spent touring the smaller towns with a focus on Tuscany region with maybe one day with the tourist hordes in Florence because the museums collections are quite good.

The major tourist sites in the big cities are overrun daily by 60+ tour bus loads of loons hellbent on taking a selfie-stick cell phone pic of every single object, statue, painting, and "view" of Florence (ditto for Rome and Venice). Many folks seem to be able to ignore the hordes and tourist lunacy and enjoy these places (sadly I am not one of them).

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Raybo
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Raybo » Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:46 pm

First, give up any idea of actually seeing everything in any of the cities you visit. Pick a list of things you want to see in each place, determine if you can buy tickets on-line, and then create a schedule around those sites. Like others have said, choose 2 cities (my choices would be Florence and Rome) and do as much there as time and your energy allow.

Keep in mind that Florence is a city of day-trippers who come in for the day and cause over-crowding in the main sights (Duomo, Uffize, Accademia). This is why reservations are needed in these places. In the morning and evening, it will be "quieter". Note that day trips to Siena and hiking in the hills around Florence are worthwhile, as well.

As for Rome, there is simply too much to see. Do you want to see Roman sites? The Vatican and other religious sights? Don't miss the Doria Pamphili for some exceptional art, again reservations required. Again, make a list and set a schedule.

Good luck and have a great time. Italy is full of wondrous places and people.
No matter how long the hill, if you keep pedaling you'll eventually get up to the top.

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Watty
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Watty » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:12 pm

Pacific wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:24 pm
Venice is an unusual experience, but if you only have a week, skip it and do it some other time.
I agree, the way to enjoy Venice is to get away from the prime tourist areas(which are a zoo) and then mostly just wander and get semi-lost. You can't really do that in a rush.

If you are at all interested in science then see the Museo Galileo in Florence. It is basically located on the backside of the Uffizi.

https://www.museogalileo.it/en/
newDDS wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:03 pm
I am sure you will be getting a lot of you are trying to do too much with the amount of areas and timeframe, but you can do it.

Assuming you are flying into Rome, from there you could save time by having a home base at one or two of those other cities and then take day trips to those cities.
A couple of problems to consider.

1) Many flights there are overnight and you may arrive very early in the morning. In addition to being tired there can be flight delays so you would not want to have reservations for things like the Vatican the first day.

2) The second day you are there you may still be somewhat jetlagged. If you get up early and get to some place like the Vatican at 9:00 AM that might mean that you would need to get up at 7:00 AM, which is the same as 1:00 AM on the east coast and you will not be fully used to Rome time. Don't plan on getting out super early the second day.

3) Many of the museums in Rome are closed on Monday which will impact you if you arrive there on a weekend. They will also be busier on Sunday and Tuesday because people will shift when they go there. The other tourist sights will be busier on Monday.

Three days in Rome will feel pretty rushed since the window to do the highlights may not be all that big.

Read the Rick Steves book for suggestions on how to best avoid the lines and which tickets you should buy in advance.

3) When you change cities you need to figure out what to do with your luggage. Even if you are just traveling with a backpack many sites will not allow them. That will involve either leaving it at your hotel before or after the checkin/checkout time or checking it at the train station, if they have a luggage check. Even if that works out it will take valuable time to drop off or pick up your luggage. Having a hotel very near the train station will help. (Also remember that there are multiple train stations in many cities. )

As suggested using a town as a base of operations to do day trips out of will let you leave your luggage in your hotel room

Ztx
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Ztx » Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:48 pm

Depends on what you like doing. We don't do museums , for example, so we just mostly wander and enjoy the atmosphere. With that in mind we had 3 days in Rome and 2 in Florence and it was plenty (do spend few days driving around Tuscany if you have time)

We really enjoyed Venice (and all other cities too) so I personally wouldn't skip it. Agree on the advice to skip Milan though.

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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Pacific » Sun Feb 10, 2019 2:49 am

Watty wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 11:12 pm
Pacific wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:24 pm
Venice is an unusual experience, but if you only have a week, skip it and do it some other time.
I agree, the way to enjoy Venice is to get away from the prime tourist areas(which are a zoo) and then mostly just wander and get semi-lost. You can't really do that in a rush.
We were never semi-lost in Venice. We were often totally lost. :D

That Galileo Museum is outstanding.

fasteddie911
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by fasteddie911 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 7:26 am

We spent a week in Italy seeing those exact same cities except Milan and found it to be enough. Of course it depends on what you like to do and how your travel. We're not museum people, we just like to see the popular sites but spend most of the time wandering the streets, eating, etc. Many discourage fast travel but that's how we like to travel and never felt deprived for it, including Italy. I understand the limited time, possibly limited funds, and you don't know when you'll be back again. If your wife really wants to see bologna, I'd carve out time for it. It really depends on how your schedule is setup and what you want to see and do in each city. I could see 2 full days in Rome being enough, or one full day in Florence. I think if I had to choose I'd cut out a day in rome vs florence. Venice I think is some place you should see at least once, we spent only a day there, which was enough and we're glad we saw it but probably won't ever go back.

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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Sun Feb 10, 2019 8:16 am

BarbBrooklyn wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 9:00 pm
If you have to be in Milan, book a reservation to see The Last Supper. Do it right now. In your shoes, I would travel then to Florence and do the Uffizi and ACADEMIA (David) Then to Rome to see the Vatican and Roman sights. Can you not fly open jaws?
Spend 2 days in Rome, spend 3 days in Florence. Book your tickets for Gli Accademia (Statue of David) and Uffizi Museum in advance (look it up online). Recommend in Rome to visit the Borghese gallery of into art (tickets for this must be purchased in advance online, no tix sold on site), located next to National Park in Rome. You could spend a whole day in Vatican City - Sistine chapel (remember, “no fotographia”). Take the express Train from Rome to Florence (about 2.25 hours). It’s a little seedy around Rome train station.
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Hockey10
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Hockey10 » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:13 am

That is too many locations for 1 week. Stick to 2 hotel locations, with maybe a day trip to one of the areas you are interested in.

I like to plan trips in terms of nights instead of days. You say "3 days in Rome". Does that mean on day 1 you arrive (no doubt jet lagged), day 2 is a full day and day 3 you leave? If so, that means you have only 1 full quality day in Rome.

I would suggest 3-4 nights in Rome and 3-4 nights in Florence. That gives you 2-3 full days at each location. While in Florence, take a day trip to Tuscany. You can also take the short train trip to Bologna from Florence. Venice is a unique city that is worth a visit, but I would save that for a future trip when you have more time.

In Rome, I have stayed near the Spanish Steps, which is a good central location for walking to most of the sites.

camden
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by camden » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:36 am

Rome, Florence, and Venice are all fascinating, but with such a narrow time frame I would strongly recommend doing two of them rather than trying to squeeze in all three.

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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Shallowpockets » Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:57 am

Too many places not enough time.
Travel plans are a process. You have your target and then you get all the peripheral things you want to see and go and then you whittle it down to reality. If you want to see all those things you mention then you should lay out, on paper, a proposed itinerary, with times of transport, arrivals, departures. Times of sights to see, opening hours, tickets, transport to there fom hotel. With this you can see graphically how it will go (or not). Then you make your adjustments.
Whether or not people on this forum concur with so many cities or not in their answers, it is still true that you should plan as above to see if it is possible.
We do this all the time for every trip. And usually we do not make it inclusive of all we thought at the beginning.
You have one week. What do you think you can really and enjoyably do?
So take your original posted desires for this trip and run them through the mill and see if you think it will wotk.
I would not do it. Two cities are enough and perhaps a day trip out of one of them.
Do not adopt a cruise ship expectation of one day in every place.

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wije
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by wije » Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:46 pm

Hockey10 wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:13 am
You say "3 days in Rome". Does that mean on day 1 you arrive (no doubt jet lagged), day 2 is a full day and day 3 you leave? If so, that means you have only 1 full quality day in Rome.
3 nights in Rome. We arrive in the evening. The next day is day 1. We leave Rome for Florence on the evening of day 3.

I like your Tuscany day trip idea. Would you recommend renting a car or going on a tour?

Hockey10
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Hockey10 » Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:50 pm

wije wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 1:46 pm
Hockey10 wrote:
Sun Feb 10, 2019 9:13 am
You say "3 days in Rome". Does that mean on day 1 you arrive (no doubt jet lagged), day 2 is a full day and day 3 you leave? If so, that means you have only 1 full quality day in Rome.
3 nights in Rome. We arrive in the evening. The next day is day 1. We leave Rome for Florence on the evening of day 3.

I like your Tuscany day trip idea. Would you recommend renting a car or going on a tour?
We did not rent a car when in Florence. Instead, we took a winery tour of Tuscany. This was a great tour with a pickup and drop off in Florence:

http://tuscantrails.com/chianti.html

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wije
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by wije » Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:02 pm

Does anyone have recommendations for places or neighborhoods to stay in Rome and Florence?

Also, what are must-see attractions in those two areas that require advance booking? (I was too late to get a ticket for the Last Supper in Milan)

Caduceus
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Caduceus » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:16 am

Your itinerary sounds like a bad idea, to be honest. You are trying to do too much in a short time, so what is going to happen is you will spend a good portion of your vacation transiting between places, packing and re-repacking, checking in and checking out, waiting for trains and buses and cabs, etc.

Seven days is a good amount of time for a tourist to experience one or two cities. My suggestion is for you and your partner to choose two cities based on your interests, and then really explore it in a relaxed manner.

If you will be able to catch Carnival in Venice (you said you were going in March?), you should totally go. It's become fashionable to hate on Venice because of its "touristy" nature, but there are very, very few cities like it, where you can experience an entire city whose fundamentals - its architecture, waterways, sculptures, soundscapes - bear a striking resemblance to the past. Rome is not like that. Nor Florence. If you go deep into Southern Italy, deep into Sicily, you might experience something like a step into the past. But still nothing like Venice. Venice and Toledo in Spain are among my favorite cities on earth, so I am admittedly biased.

My guess is that for most first-time travelers to Italy, Florence and Venice will approximate most of what "Italy" captures in the popular imagination. Maybe three days in Florence, and three days in Venice. Take your time, explore the side streets, get hopelessly lost. Have leisurely lunches in cafes. Don't rush through five places in seven days.

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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by HereToLearn » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:39 am

wije wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 7:02 pm
Does anyone have recommendations for places or neighborhoods to stay in Rome and Florence?

Also, what are must-see attractions in those two areas that require advance booking? (I was too late to get a ticket for the Last Supper in Milan)
We managed to visit Venice, Florence & Rome in eight nights & days, but it was a lot of moving, even with the excellent high speed trains. If you plan to travel by train, book early because the prices run up as you approach your travel date. I really enjoyed Venice to just walk around, but I might sacrifice it unless you are someone who really likes to hustle.

Must-see advance booking would be Borghese Gallery and climbing the Dome (Cupola) in Florence.

We purchased the FirenzeCard and took full advantage of it. We did not wait in line at the Uffizi or the Accademia because there is a separate line for FirenzeCard holders. We visited so many more museums than we would have without the card because the entry fee is waived with the card purchase, and we did not need to book in advance and worry about adhering to a schedule. There are so many gorgeous churches, museums, and gardens in Florence.

http://www.firenzecard.it/index.php?opt ... 05&lang=en

I would consider booking a tour of the Vatican/Sistine Chapel. We did not book any tours, but that is one place where we would have saved time. A friend went on an early morning visit and enjoyed it.

As mentioned above, the Rick Steves book includes helpful suggestions on where to purchase tickets to avoid lines. Huge time saver when purchasing tickets for the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and the Forum. The ticket purchase line at the Colosseum itself was outgrageous.

Head over to Trastevere for dinner some evening, and then walk past the Colosseum at night.

MathWizard
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MathWizard » Tue Feb 12, 2019 1:15 am

Bogle7 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 10:24 pm
Roma
Firenze
Forget the others
See more on your next visit
+1

Also, take the bullet train from Rome to Florence (Firenze).

200 kph and smooth as glass. 1 stop.

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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by letsgobobby » Tue Feb 12, 2019 2:25 am

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Last edited by letsgobobby on Thu Apr 18, 2019 1:52 am, edited 1 time in total.

Misciagno
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Misciagno » Tue Feb 12, 2019 3:02 am

I lived in Florence for three years and can say truthfully, do not cut it short. Like others have said, skip Venice for now, add that day to Florence, and do a trip from Florence to Bologna. It’s only half an hour on the fast train - easy day trip. Go see Mohamed on the rocks at the Bologna Cathedral for the extra 2 euro entrance fee, and get the risotto scraped out of a Parmesan cheese wheel for lunch, or the Bolognese veal cutlet.

In Florence, do at least half a day in Chianti - I recommend the Verrazano winery - it’s an easy and beautiful drive, and you can do the tour and have a great lunch. The American military cemetery is on the way and worth a visit to the 4400 American soldiers buried there. The Santa Margarita wine shop is right up the road from the winery and sells good wines from all over Italy. Back in Florence, check out the Galileo Museum after the Uffizi and Academia. It’s small and awesome. For a Dan Brown “Inferno” experience, do the Vasari Corridor tour from the Uffizi for a few extra bucks, and go see the Boboli Gardens behind the Pitti Palace if the weather is nice. The corridor connects the Uffizi to the Pitti Palace bia a “secret” passage over the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge).

Rome is what you expect, so see the highlights and enjoy - pay extra for a guided tour to avoid some of the ridiculous lines, and check out the Palatine Museum and forum. There’s also an “underground Rome” tour of some excavated city areas that’s interesting. Eat the artichokes in Rome - it’s the specialty.

Florence has nice hotels - St. Regis, Westin - also some boutique hotels like the Portrait, where Tom Hanks stayed when filming Inferno. Lots of 3-4 star accommodations in any case. Above all, drink lots of wine!
"History doesn’t repeat itself, but it often rhymes." -- Mark Twain

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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by tennisplyr » Tue Feb 12, 2019 11:48 am

If you want a small taste of Italy, what you're doing is fine. It's pretty easy to get good meals...from basic to expensive goes something like this...trattoria, osteria, ristorante, I believe. Enjoy, the weather should be nice.
Those who move forward with a happy spirit will find that things always work out.

renue74
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by renue74 » Tue Feb 12, 2019 12:47 pm

We went to Italy a few years ago. Did Venice, Florence, Rome, Pompeii, Milan.

First! Figure out what type of tourist you are. I know it sounds weird, but are you a city person? Are you a religious person? Do you like art? Music? History? Are you more of a foodie? Do you enjoy hiking, learning about wine, growing food, etc.?

After you figure out what type of tourist you are....then plan your trip. In our travels, we visited one agriturismo near Florence and had lunch there. The owner and his wife made lunch for a group of 20. He described his day to day life. Answered questions about olive oil, wine, etc. We had wonderful food and wine and the farm views were beautiful. That's my most memorable part of our trip.

So think about long and hard what you want to see. Don't just see something because it's on the list for everybody else to see.

Each city has Citi Pass type cards. For example, "Firenze Card," will get you discounts on museums, etc. Depending on what you choose, purchasing these cards will be helpful.

MMLC3
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MMLC3 » Mon May 13, 2019 8:48 pm

Thank you for the seat61 link. Had not heard about this website, and found it super useful. Especially on train journeys and options for getting from Zurich to Italy. We are landing in Zurich and plan to take the trains to Milan, Florence and Rome for a week.

gtd98765 wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:59 pm
newDDS wrote:
Sat Feb 09, 2019 6:03 pm
I am sure you will be getting a lot of you are trying to do too much with the amount of areas and timeframe, but you can do it.

Assuming you are flying into Rome, from there you could save time by having a home base at one or two of those other cities and then take day trips to those cities. The Milan train station is large and efficient, last time I was there we stayed at a hotel near the station and then you can get to Venice in about 2 hours and the same for other cities.

Enjoy!
Agree in concept with home base, but think Bologna would be better place to stay than Milan since it is on the list anyway, and much closer to Venice. Maybe take the train from Florence to Bologna in the evening to avoid wasting daylight touring time? Good train info here: https://www.seat61.com/

I would travel to Milan the night before your departure. It is a nice enough city but from a tourism standpoint the others are much more interesting.

MMLC3
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MMLC3 » Mon May 13, 2019 9:05 pm

Since this is a recent thread, I will piggyback my questions here, instead of starting a new one.
Thank you for all the inputs - we are also planning to be in Italy for 6 days/nights.

Question - I have an 11 year old who is a history buff and he wants to see the Leaning tower of Pisa. So we are thinking of doing that for half a day from Florence. Any recommendations on how to get there? Or book a half day tour from Florence in the morning? Any way to couple it with anything else in Tuscany area, so we adults can also enjoy the day? :D

Tribonian
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Tribonian » Mon May 13, 2019 9:31 pm

Firenze (Sta. Maria Novella) to Pisa Centrale is a regional train with multiple departures every hour. When you arrive in Pisa, look at the timetable at the end of the platform so you know when to come back. Some of the regional trains are faster than others but looks like it’s roughly 2 hours and a little less than half an hour walk. The cathedral and campo santo are worth seeing as long as you’re there and you might also enjoy a stroll along the Arno.

Train schedules at: https://www.lefrecce.it

martint
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by martint » Mon May 13, 2019 9:44 pm

Tribonian wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:31 pm
Firenze (Sta. Maria Novella) to Pisa Centrale is a regional train with multiple departures every hour. When you arrive in Pisa, look at the timetable at the end of the platform so you know when to come back. Some of the regional trains are faster than others but looks like it’s roughly 2 hours and a little less than half an hour walk. The cathedral and campo santo are worth seeing as long as you’re there and you might also enjoy a stroll along the Arno.

Train schedules at: https://www.lefrecce.it
There are two train stations in Pisa. Pisa Centrale is near the center of town, about 1 mile walk to the tower. It’s an ok walk if you like urban hiking. There is a slightly closer statio , Pisa San Rossore I think? Use the Trenitalia website or app to plan the trip.

Buy your return ticket from Pisa while you are in Florence. The Trenitalia kiosks usually don’t accept American credit cards or cash. EU cards work ok most of the time.

If you want to go up in the tower, book your tickets in advance. Be sure to arrive on time.

It’s hard to get around Tuscany without a car. But it’s not suggested to drive in Florence. If you want to drive around Tuscany, you might consider taking a train or bus outside the city center and renting.

If you want to skip Venice, you could spend half a day in Pisa, continue on by high speed or regional train to La Spezia, then spend some time in the Cinque Terre region. When you’re done with Cinque Terre, you can either rent a car in La Spezia and drive to Milan (spending some
time in the Langhe / Piedmont wine region, or in Tuscany) before heading to Milan, or just train to Milan.

Glockenspiel
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Glockenspiel » Mon May 13, 2019 10:15 pm

You are trying to do way too much in too little time. You’ll end up stressed out and not enjoy anything. With a week, I would split 3 days in Roma, 3 days in Florence/Tuscany/Siena, and then only travel to Milan to get on your flight, with your remaining time. I’d skip Venice, Pisa, or anything else out of the way for now.

I absolutely fell in love with Tuscany. We rented an agriturismo on a winery, and enjoyed the hell out of it, with car trips into various small towns/cities within Tuscany, and visits to other wineries. Also took a cooking course from a local woman, in her home. She was an amazing host, amazing cook, and we love visiting with her and drinking several bottles of wine over the meal we created together. Highly recommend all of this.

sc9182
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by sc9182 » Mon May 13, 2019 10:54 pm

In Mid-March, We did multi-legged flight to: a 23 hours leg in London (and 3 of its tourist spots), 23 hours in Paris (Louvre, Norte Dame plus Eiffel Tower by evening and also by night!), our onward journey last leg ending in Pisa, spent half day in Pisa. In Italy, took fast trains between cities, due to not so busy season, bought train tickets as the day/trip progressed. Spent one full day in Florence, 2+ days/nights in Rome, an evening and night in Venice, finally reaching Milan half day. Lake Como one evening and night before returning to Milan for US flight home., al these just in 8 days of spring break for kids. Sure it was busy schedule, but not very hectic. Mostly pre-booked guided tours in Italy (skip-the-line ones wherever applicable). Only For Pisa tower, booked non-guided tix in advance rest of the cities attractions bought Guided tour tickets in advance. Ensured Italy working credit cards (in one case Debit card) , EU working SIM card on unlocked Android phone (lot easier than iPhone varieties). Had multiple plug converters from Amazon.

Tightly packed, only one per person carry-on suitcases and Backpacks for easier getting from place to place in trains or taxis, Uber’s or Uber Blacks (avail in select towns only, not avail everywhere in Italy). Missed Tuscany/wine-country, but don’t drink :-( , also missed Last Supper tour in Milan as the reservations were month or two away (Vs we booked our spring break tour just 10 days in advance) Although booked Eiffel Tower plus, Louvre and Pisa tix 2 weeks in advance- took a calculated risk of booking these prior to booking Flights/hotels.

Mostly stayed in Hiltons, or Waldorf Astoria suite in Rome (gives access to imperial lounge, supper/snacks at this hilltop top floor Imperial lounge is awesome worth the extra bucks spent on suite there, in all 5 biggest cities in this/our trip except for Florence - mostly using points or points plus some extra monies. Hilton Gold status carried LOT of weight in EU, and Amex Ascend card which bestowed Hilton Gold status (with only low $95 fee). With Gold status you get access to executive lounge with lots of free food/drinks, and/or free breakfast at Hilton. (Iirc, even free breakfast at Waldorf Astoria too, may be its benefit of staying in. Suite !? Don’t remember exactly, but we sure got free breakfast at Waldorf too, along with Imperial access snacks, mini-breakfast/suppers)

In Venice we pre-booked (an hour in advance) Private water Taxi (fast boat, $75-80) instead of relying heavily on very slow (although relaxing) public water taxies (about $35-40 for four). Private water taxi/fast-boat took 12 mins or so between Hilton to Train station Vs two-hop public water taxi/bus taking about 1 hour 30 mins. For us Time meant opportunity cost, or one more potential attraction not-missed while the cost difference wasn’t very much. Same goes for extra monies spent on Uber/Uber-Blacks (and in Pisa/Florence taxis) , for us to be able to catch an extra attraction or more/quality time there at the destination.

Yes, this trip for us wasn’t necessarily for Relaxation, but to learn about great Civilizations and Cultures, beautiful cities and historical monuments for us (esp, kiddos ready to devour knowledge, great food, and savor experiences).

Rome required 2 full days/nights, every other city only 1 day/night each. High speed trains within Italy (Trenitia and also don’t overlook Italo; plus some high speed regionals). Ciao

Lucky to have visited Norte Dame, before the uneventful fire accident.

Bob Sacamano
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Bob Sacamano » Tue May 14, 2019 8:52 am

i spent three weeks last summer (i know, not the best time to go) for our honeymoon. we visited Rome, Florence, Positano and Central Tuscany (stayed in Montepulciano).

one thing i advise, especially if going in a crowded season - get up early. we would get up at the break of dawn and hit a bunch of uncrowded sites. once the sun was up and noon was approaching it'd be nap and relaxation time until apertivo.

Positano was a let down.

renue74
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by renue74 » Tue May 14, 2019 9:33 am

MMLC3 wrote:
Mon May 13, 2019 9:05 pm
Since this is a recent thread, I will piggyback my questions here, instead of starting a new one.
Thank you for all the inputs - we are also planning to be in Italy for 6 days/nights.

Question - I have an 11 year old who is a history buff and he wants to see the Leaning tower of Pisa. So we are thinking of doing that for half a day from Florence. Any recommendations on how to get there? Or book a half day tour from Florence in the morning? Any way to couple it with anything else in Tuscany area, so we adults can also enjoy the day? :D
I would skip Pisa. 6 days is pretty tight to see Italy. Florence and Rome alone would eat that up....and there are plenty of things to do in both.

Get the Rick Steves Italy tour books. They are really helpful. Be prepared for crowds, especially in Rome. Like the other poster said, get up early and hit your top sites early.

Don't try to see it all....there's always an excuse to go back to Italy. :)

MMLC3
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MMLC3 » Tue May 14, 2019 11:34 am

Here is our rough planned itinerary:

Day 0 - Fly from SFO to Zurich.
Day 1 - Land in zurich and take train to Milan. Enjoy Milan in the evening only. It is really a stopover.
Day 2 - early morning train to Florence. Catch top 1 or 2 tourist destinations in Florence
Day 3 - half day trip to Pisa to see the Leaning Tower (son's wishlist). Need to decide whether to take tour from Florence to Pisa which includes Leaning tower tour or just buy their tickets and take the local train ride. Take train to Rome that evening.
Day 4 - Morning to noon (paid skip the lines tour of Colosseum, Palantine & Roman Forum - expensive, but given the short amount of time we have on hand, I think this will get things covered in an organized way). Unwind rest of the day, hopefully with some good food, gelato and wine. Looking for ideas here - something more relaxing, as I am sure the morning tour is a lot of walking.
Day 5 - Morning to noon (paid skip the lines tour of Vatican, St Peters, Sistine Chapel - expensive, but given the short amount of time we have on hand, I think this will get the top attractions covered in an organized way). Unwind rest of the day, hopefully with some good food, gelato and wine. Looking for ideas here - something more relaxing, as I am sure the morning tour is a lot of walking.
Day 6 - other Rome attractions like Spanish steps, Pantheon etc... Late evening 8pm flight back to Zurich. Any suggestions here welcome too.
Next day - fly out from Zur to onwards journey to Asia.

Some more information:
- Travelers - husband wife in late 30s, one kid 11 year old who loves history.
- The 6 day trip in Italy is a stopover trip as part of a larger trip to Asia to see family. Wish we had more time carved out, but we do not on this one.
- This is our first trip to Italy. We did a similar 4 day stopover in Paris couple years ago and it worked out great. Was a lot of walking and a whirlwind, but enjoyable for the 3 of us.
- Before someone pounces on me for stopover in Zurich, my original plan was to see Switzerland on this trip. Then I got vetoed by wife and kid, who want to see Italy before Switzerland, but it was too expensive to change all tickets. Besides no good connecting flights to Asia via Rome. Anyways, so I am trying to make the most of it, via better pre planning. Still 2 months to go before travel....
- Totally understand that it is impossible to hit everything in a country like Italy in a 6 day trip. Not doing Venice, I am sure that will be reason enough to do Italy in future.
- Also want to put it out there, that it is not like we travel to Europe every year. So on our first trips to these countries, we are definitely more interested in seeing the touristy attractions. Subsequent trips in life will be hopefully more relaxing and less hopping.

MMLC3
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MMLC3 » Tue May 14, 2019 7:07 pm

any inputs on itinerary/plan appreciated! :happy

gtd98765
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by gtd98765 » Tue May 14, 2019 10:06 pm

This may sound like heresy, but I would limit myself to one restaurant meal per day, probably at dinner, to make more time for tourism. Your hotel will provide breakfast; for lunch, eat standing up or seated on an outdoor bench or flight of stairs; it is pretty easy to get portable food in Italy, such as slices of various pizzas ("Pizza al taglio") or sandwiches in coffee bars; this is the way most Italians eat lunch. Then find a good restaurant for nice two-course dinner; caution, my last trip to Rome I was disappointed in several Tripadvisor-recommended restaurants, so I would focus on guidebook (e.g., Rick Steves) selections.

MMLC3
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MMLC3 » Wed May 15, 2019 10:41 am

Great inputs about meals, makes total sense!
gtd98765 wrote:
Tue May 14, 2019 10:06 pm
This may sound like heresy, but I would limit myself to one restaurant meal per day, probably at dinner, to make more time for tourism. Your hotel will provide breakfast; for lunch, eat standing up or seated on an outdoor bench or flight of stairs; it is pretty easy to get portable food in Italy, such as slices of various pizzas ("Pizza al taglio") or sandwiches in coffee bars; this is the way most Italians eat lunch. Then find a good restaurant for nice two-course dinner; caution, my last trip to Rome I was disappointed in several Tripadvisor-recommended restaurants, so I would focus on guidebook (e.g., Rick Steves) selections.

MMLC3
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MMLC3 » Wed May 15, 2019 11:22 am

For italy, is it recommended to carry cash (Euros) or will credit card work in most places?
Hotels/Flights/Trains have already been booked online.

Ready3Retire
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Ready3Retire » Wed May 15, 2019 11:33 am

For italy, is it recommended to carry cash (Euros) or will credit card work in most places?
We found most places accepted credit cards. Use one that does not charge a foreign transaction fee. Some stores/restaraunts will ask if you want the bill in USD or Euros. Always pay in Euros. Also, it is good to have some cash so use a debit card that reimburses ATM fees and does not charge a foreign transaction/exchange fee - e.g. Charles Schwab debit card.

Hockey10
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by Hockey10 » Wed May 15, 2019 3:01 pm

MMLC3 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 11:22 am
For italy, is it recommended to carry cash (Euros) or will credit card work in most places?
Hotels/Flights/Trains have already been booked online.
I have found that most places accept credit cards. But, I always get about 100 Euros from an ATM when I arrive (or take some leftover Euros with me from a prior trip).

FrugiWan
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by FrugiWan » Thu May 16, 2019 7:28 am

Day 5 - Morning to noon (paid skip the lines tour of Vatican, St Peters, Sistine Chapel - expensive, but given the short amount of time we have on hand, I think this will get the top attractions covered in an organized way). Unwind rest of the day, hopefully with some good food, gelato and wine. Looking for ideas here - something more relaxing, as I am sure the morning tour is a lot of walking.
I believe this will take more time than you’ve allotted. St Peters alone can take up the morning, especially if you climb the stairs to the top (worth it). The Vatican is usually considered a full day or near full day experience by itself.

I personally feel that you may be trying to cram too much stuff into a tight window for the Rome portion of your trip.

(EDIT): It appears you may have booked one of the 3-5 hour tours; we did not use a tour guide when visiting, and this is likely the difference in timing that I alluded to.

If you enjoy Guinness (or other drinks) I would recommend Scholars Lounge Irish pub.

MMLC3
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MMLC3 » Sat May 18, 2019 2:07 pm

Yes - given the limited days we have, we decided to book one of the organized tours, so hoping to start at 8-9am and get done in 4 hours..

If you enjoy Guinness (or other drinks) I would recommend Scholars Lounge Irish pub. >> Thank you!

FrugiWan wrote:
Thu May 16, 2019 7:28 am
Day 5 - Morning to noon (paid skip the lines tour of Vatican, St Peters, Sistine Chapel - expensive, but given the short amount of time we have on hand, I think this will get the top attractions covered in an organized way). Unwind rest of the day, hopefully with some good food, gelato and wine. Looking for ideas here - something more relaxing, as I am sure the morning tour is a lot of walking.
I believe this will take more time than you’ve allotted. St Peters alone can take up the morning, especially if you climb the stairs to the top (worth it). The Vatican is usually considered a full day or near full day experience by itself.

I personally feel that you may be trying to cram too much stuff into a tight window for the Rome portion of your trip.

(EDIT): It appears you may have booked one of the 3-5 hour tours; we did not use a tour guide when visiting, and this is likely the difference in timing that I alluded to.

If you enjoy Guinness (or other drinks) I would recommend Scholars Lounge Irish pub.

MMLC3
Posts: 42
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 6:49 pm

Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by MMLC3 » Sat May 18, 2019 2:08 pm

Is it recommended to get Euros from our bank here before traveling to get better rate than Zurich/Rome airports?

Hockey10 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 3:01 pm
MMLC3 wrote:
Wed May 15, 2019 11:22 am
For italy, is it recommended to carry cash (Euros) or will credit card work in most places?
Hotels/Flights/Trains have already been booked online.
I have found that most places accept credit cards. But, I always get about 100 Euros from an ATM when I arrive (or take some leftover Euros with me from a prior trip).

gtd98765
Posts: 259
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by gtd98765 » Sat May 18, 2019 4:59 pm

I do not buy Euros in the US before departure since they are so expensive here. I typically get enough Euros at the destination airport at an ATM to get into town, with a little bit extra for contingencies, say 60. The ATMs at the airport are a bad deal, with an unfavorable exchange rate, so I generally use an ATM at a bank in town to get the 250 or so I would carry around. Of course, that does take more time than just biting the bullet and spending more at the airport ATM. If your ATM card works at other machines than your own banks' at home, and is part of a network, it will probably work in Italy too.

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augryphon
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Re: a week in Italy(first time)

Post by augryphon » Sun May 19, 2019 3:10 pm

DO NOT cut anything from Florence. You’ve got too much to do in too little time, but Florence isn’t a place to save time. We buy the hop-on hop-off bus tickets in Rome to move around town quickly. It stops at the big attractions. We don’t spend much time planning our meals, eat lunch at cafes, and get dinner recs from hotel staff or other travelers, we usually just want to relax and have a bottle of wine anyway, and good food is easy to find. Smart to book tours at the Vatican, and bypass the lines at the free sites. The Vatican is thick with people and takes a while, but there is so much to see you don’t want to rush it. Of all the things in Italy, the Sistine Chapel and the Statue of David in Florence are the two I would not miss.

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