italy trip - help appreciated


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night86mare

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#1
ok here's the plan, will be spending my dec holidays travelling with some people

day 1 --> london to rome
day 2 --> spent in rome

here we have a problem, we can travel direct to pisa or to florence. it is best if we can see pisa.. though we hear there is nothing much there other than a leaning tower. still. right now based on the train website the only ride available from rome to pisa is a midnight ride.. not sure if it's going to be an issue. on the other hand train to florence is morning train, which is good, but we would have to spend time travelling to pisa and back, since we plan to be based in florence; advice appreciated here from travellers to europe

day 3 --> florence/pisa
day 4 --> florence/pisa
day 5 --> florence to verona, spend day in verona
day 6 --> verona, afternoon travel to venice
day 7 --> venice
day 8 --> venice, afternoon travel to milan
day 9, day 10 --> milan return to london on day 10

all advice would be appreciated.. constructive comments only please

if you have any particular hostel to recommend, etc.. or any extra advice about the parts i'm going to, please help.. as this will be the first time doing such things for me. cheers
 

night86mare

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#2
also, is it advisable to take budget airlines,

from what i see choices like ryanair are only an issue because of safety (pretty null, imho) and accessibility, they use weird airports
so our masterplan is still to use british airways.. because heathrow can be tubed to. ryanair uses stanstead..

and then ryanair also lands in supposedly weird airports as well.

thanks
 

code

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Did not have any issue flying ryanair to Pisa the last time. some of these "weird" airports are in great little towns that most tourists gave a miss. Plus you will avoid all the crowd and hassle of a major international airport.

Try to space out your visit so that you can spend at least 2 to 3 days in each town/city. There are very charming towns in Umbra and Tuscany which you should check out too.
 

night86mare

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Did not have any issue flying ryanair to Pisa the last time. some of these "weird" airports are in great little towns that most tourists gave a miss. Plus you will avoid all the crowd and hassle of a major international airport.

Try to space out your visit so that you can spend at least 2 to 3 days in each town/city. There are very charming towns in Umbra and Tuscany which you should check out too.
trouble is while i do not mind giving the great little towns a visit

the people i'm travelling with would like to see the sights.. must respect their wishes

is there any issue with landing at funny airports?
 

scud

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#5
i would suggest u to be based in florence on day 3 & 4.
travelling to pisa is only less than 1 hr/way (if my fading memory recalls) from the train station in florence. as such, u can spend a day in pisa and surrounding area. imo, a day in pisa is more than enuf.

florence has more things & places to explore, such as palazzo vecchio, ponte vecchio, santa crose, piazza signoria & the duomo.
 

night86mare

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i would suggest u to be based in florence on day 3 & 4.
travelling to pisa is only less than 1 hr/way (if my fading memory recalls) from the train station in florence. as such, u can spend a day in pisa and surrounding area. imo, a day in pisa is more than enuf.

florence has more things & places to explore, such as palazzo vecchio, ponte vecchio, santa crose, piazza signoria & the duomo.
thanks

so you suggest that i train from rome to florence in the morning, and then just make a short trip to pisa to see the tower?

i think based on website information, coach is 70? minutes. train is even shorter.. =)

most of the seniors have advised that there is nothing much in pisa..

but how about the rest of it, do you think it is too rushed? 2 days on average per city/stop
 

May 1, 2007
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I will be going to Italy next weekend. This will not be the first time I visit Italy.

My suggestion is to skip Pisa and Verona.

This is what I plan to do.

Fly into Rome and take a train to Rome Central Station (Termini). Easy. Take a train to Florence, arriving lunch time. Spend two nights in Florence. If I were new to Florence, I will spend 3-4 days. This will be my fourth time in Florence. Take a train to Tuscany (Not yet decided which base) Probably will spend a day and night in Siena. Then probably take a train to Chiusi where I will pick up a car. Eurocar is just opposite the train station. Will find a place to base myself. Either in Pienza or Cortona. Visit a couple of hill towns. Return car to Rental. Take a train to Rome. Already booked a room next to the Termini. Stay two nights in Rome where I hope to vist the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere. Then home.

I have only been in Rome and Florence airports. No problem.
 

night86mare

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#8
I will be going to Italy next weekend. This will not be the first time I visit Italy.

My suggestion is to skip Pisa and Verona.

This is what I plan to do.

Fly into Rome and take a train to Rome Central Station (Termini). Easy. Take a train to Florence, arriving lunch time. Spend two nights in Florence. If I were new to Florence, I will spend 3-4 days. This will be my fourth time in Florence. Take a train to Tuscany (Not yet decided which base) Probably will spend a day and night in Siena. Then probably take a train to Chiusi where I will pick up a car. Eurocar is just opposite the train station. Will find a place to base myself. Either in Pienza or Cortona. Visit a couple of hill towns. Return car to Rental. Take a train to Rome. Already booked a room next to the Termini. Stay two nights in Rome where I hope to vist the Jewish Ghetto and Trastevere. Then home.

I have only been in Rome and Florence airports. No problem.
thanks for reply

any particular reason to skip pisa and verona?
 

May 1, 2007
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#9
thanks for reply

any particular reason to skip pisa and verona?
I suppose that for a first timer, every place is worth a visit! I think every visitor to UK should visit Cambridge, and Oxford, and.....

But there are time constraints. And also a lot depends on what really interest you and your friends.

I find Pisa and Verona to be too touristy. Yes, there will be things to interest you. Venice and Florence are also very touristy. But the cultural heritage and beauty is truly spetacular! Rome is of course very different. Rome is a living city. People live there. I am not too interested in Milan. The Duomo is beautiful. But there are duomos and duomos.

I prefer small hill towns. (preferisco paese piccolo) Leisurely walks. (fare passegiate). Simple foods at trattoria. (Cucina casalinga). I like these kinds of charm. Travelling to me is not visiting as many places as possible, but to calm and feed my soul. I like small towns like Chiusi, Pienza, Cortona, Lucca, San Gimignano, Volterra, Montepulciano. Maybe even spend a morning in a hotspring such as Bagno Vignoli or Bagno san Filippo.

But you have limited time. And you will visit Italy again, even if you will not throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain.

Perhaps be more reasonable. Stay a few days more in Florence. Take walks south of the River Arno, and Fiesole. One entire afternoon in the Uffizi. Spend at least two nights in Venice. Watch the sunrise and sunset over the lagoon. Take some nice pictures. Try to get lost in the small roads, and let surprises greet you. Watch people. You will wonder why the Brits are so stiff!

Perhaps keep the small towns for later visits.

For accomodation in Rome, Florence and Venice, I usually stay in B&B.

Try www.cross-pollinate.com
 

asterixsg

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May 22, 2006
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#10
oh man. looks like you are all set for your december holidays. i am still wondering what to do with mine :bsmilie:

Of the places you've listed, I've only been to Milan, Pisa and Venice. So, I can only advise you on these three places.

1. Pisa.
Yes, there isn't much to do other than the Leaning Tower, the Cathedral and the Baptistery. Half a day is enough. If I were you, I would still go to Pisa as there wouldn't be another chance to go all the way there. Plan for the afternoon as the lighting in the afternoon is more appropriate to shoot. Don't bother climbing the Tower as its a tourist trap. When I went, they were charging 15 Euros to climb and also there was a few hours wait. :thumbsd:

2. Venice.
Well, it sure is romantic. Especially the evenings and at night. Plan to be at St. Mark's Square in the evening during sunset. You will catch the Golden glow as the sunlight is reflected off St. Mark's Cathedral. And during the day, get lost in any of the lanes (which invariably you will :bsmilie:)

3. Milan.
Well, there's Duomo, which makes up for everything else. Climb to the top and you will have plenty to play with your wide-angle lens. Next to the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Stand in the centre of it and look at the paintings high up on the walls. Quite nice. And while you are at it, look for the patterns of tiles on the floor and try to locate a Bull. You are supposed to stand with your heel on the bull's testicles and spin. Supposed to bring you good luck :bsmilie:
If you all are keen on seeing Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper (its actually painted on a refectory wall next to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie), there is only one guaranteed way to see it. Do note that you only get 15 minutes to see and the slots are usually booked 3-4 weeks in advance. The entry ticket itself costs Euro 7.50. No photography allowed inside (not even with a camera phone).

You should book a half day tour at the Tourist Office (next to the Duomo) which is pretty easy to locate. The 1/2 day tour itself costs 46 Euros (which includes entry into ALL the sights), and its well worth it. You get a guaranteed visit to the Last Supper, plus you also get to see all the other important sights like the Brera art gallery etc. The guides too are quite professional and give very good explanation of the sights.
When I did the tour, my guide explained the Last Supper in quite a dramatic fashion and I don't think I will ever forget that.

Having said all this, I don't know how much time you would need in Florence to do justice to all the famous sights. So, its your call (and your friends') really. If I had a chance, I would spend at least 3-4 days in Rome and if I were you, I would spend only 1 day in Milan. In the morning, after booking tickets for the afternoon tour, I would explore Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele next to it, on my own. And in the afternoon, I would do the half day tour that covers most of the sights and most importantly allows me to see The Last Supper.

Hope you have a great time and come back with lots of photos.
 

night86mare

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#11
I suppose that for a first timer, every place is worth a visit! I think every visitor to UK should visit Cambridge, and Oxford, and.....

But there are time constraints. And also a lot depends on what really interest you and your friends.

I find Pisa and Verona to be too touristy. Yes, there will be things to interest you. Venice and Florence are also very touristy. But the cultural heritage and beauty is truly spetacular! Rome is of course very different. Rome is a living city. People live there. I am not too interested in Milan. The Duomo is beautiful. But there are duomos and duomos.

I prefer small hill towns. (preferisco paese piccolo) Leisurely walks. (fare passegiate). Simple foods at trattoria. (Cucina casalinga). I like these kinds of charm. Travelling to me is not visiting as many places as possible, but to calm and feed my soul. I like small towns like Chiusi, Pienza, Cortona, Lucca, San Gimignano, Volterra, Montepulciano. Maybe even spend a morning in a hotspring such as Bagno Vignoli or Bagno san Filippo.

But you have limited time. And you will visit Italy again, even if you will not throw a coin into the Trevi Fountain.

Perhaps be more reasonable. Stay a few days more in Florence. Take walks south of the River Arno, and Fiesole. One entire afternoon in the Uffizi. Spend at least two nights in Venice. Watch the sunrise and sunset over the lagoon. Take some nice pictures. Try to get lost in the small roads, and let surprises greet you. Watch people. You will wonder why the Brits are so stiff!

Perhaps keep the small towns for later visits.

For accomodation in Rome, Florence and Venice, I usually stay in B&B.

Try www.cross-pollinate.com
thanks for the reply.. but sadly while i would really really just like to take it easy, say spend 9 days in rome - dont' think it'd be boring actually.. i am after all, travelling as a group

and not everyone is a photographic hobbyist..

i will reflect what you have brought up to the group however, see what they think. thanks a lot for your insights, my friend :)
 

night86mare

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#12
1. Pisa.
Yes, there isn't much to do other than the Leaning Tower, the Cathedral and the Baptistery. Half a day is enough. If I were you, I would still go to Pisa as there wouldn't be another chance to go all the way there. Plan for the afternoon as the lighting in the afternoon is more appropriate to shoot. Don't bother climbing the Tower as its a tourist trap. When I went, they were charging 15 Euros to climb and also there was a few hours wait. :thumbsd:

2. Venice.
Well, it sure is romantic. Especially the evenings and at night. Plan to be at St. Mark's Square in the evening during sunset. You will catch the Golden glow as the sunlight is reflected off St. Mark's Cathedral. And during the day, get lost in any of the lanes (which invariably you will :bsmilie:)

3. Milan.
Well, there's Duomo, which makes up for everything else. Climb to the top and you will have plenty to play with your wide-angle lens. Next to the Duomo is the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. Stand in the centre of it and look at the paintings high up on the walls. Quite nice. And while you are at it, look for the patterns of tiles on the floor and try to locate a Bull. You are supposed to stand with your heel on the bull's testicles and spin. Supposed to bring you good luck :bsmilie:
If you all are keen on seeing Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper (its actually painted on a refectory wall next to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie), there is only one guaranteed way to see it. Do note that you only get 15 minutes to see and the slots are usually booked 3-4 weeks in advance. The entry ticket itself costs Euro 7.50. No photography allowed inside (not even with a camera phone).

You should book a half day tour at the Tourist Office (next to the Duomo) which is pretty easy to locate. The 1/2 day tour itself costs 46 Euros (which includes entry into ALL the sights), and its well worth it. You get a guaranteed visit to the Last Supper, plus you also get to see all the other important sights like the Brera art gallery etc. The guides too are quite professional and give very good explanation of the sights.
When I did the tour, my guide explained the Last Supper in quite a dramatic fashion and I don't think I will ever forget that.

Having said all this, I don't know how much time you would need in Florence to do justice to all the famous sights. So, its your call (and your friends') really. If I had a chance, I would spend at least 3-4 days in Rome and if I were you, I would spend only 1 day in Milan. In the morning, after booking tickets for the afternoon tour, I would explore Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele next to it, on my own. And in the afternoon, I would do the half day tour that covers most of the sights and most importantly allows me to see The Last Supper.

Hope you have a great time and come back with lots of photos.
yes, i would definitely definitely be looking forward to venice.. it's just some idealistic thing from my side.. i hope it does not let me down :bsmilie:

yes, and really want to see the tower.. wiki reveals that there are some really interesting looking churches there as well.

is there much to do in milan? what one of my friends highlighted was that with regards to stuff other than pure sightseeing, most of the activities are limited to upmarket shopping, wonder if that's true
 

mumbun

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Jun 28, 2007
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#13
Pisa is worth at least a go (note the singular form), but not going there at all will be quite a pity unless you have future plans of visiting Italy.

Based on your situation (travelling with friends who want to see the sights only, mostly), I will suggest travelling straight from Rome to Pisa (morning train not midnight train), then onwards to Florence at the later part of the same day. Spending most parts of the daylight hours (late morning to mid afternoon) in Pisa should be more than sufficient, at least in your case.

Unless you are arriving from London in Rome early part of the day, spending 1 full day (day 2) in Rome may be a bit rush if you plan to visit the various attractions like the Roman ruins, the Colosseum, and also Vatican City.

Florence is worth a slightly longer stay (at least 2 full days - one for environs, one for the Uffizi Gallery if you are into such things).

I have another suggestion that is quite a notable departure from your plans. That is to go Venice first then Verona, rather than vice versa. It makes better travelling time sense.

You will be going through 6 cities (excluding London) in 10 days (inclusive of travelling) so naturally will be quite tight. The duration for Venice and Verona, Milan is quite OK, but ultimately depends on how much you and your friends want to see and if going through 6 cities in 10 days will be too much.

Anyway based on your itinerary, here is my suggested route with the train travelling times (based on the Trenitalia website, please confirm again with your actual dates)

day 1: london to rome
Arrive from London and spend remaining part of the day in Rome.

day 2: rome
Spend full day in Rome.

day 3: rome to pisa (early morning train: 4hrs); pisa to florence (mid/late afternoon train: 1 hr)
Spend late morning to early afternoon part in Pisa.

day 4: florence
Spend full day in Florence.

day 5: florence
Spend full day in Florence.

day 6: florence to venice (morning train: 3hrs)
Spend almost full day (late morning onwards) in Venice.

day 7: venice to verona (late afternoon train: 2hrs)
Spend half day in Venice, enjoy evening/night in Verona.

day 8: verona to milan (sleeper train: 5-6 hrs)
Spend full day in Verona, take sleeper train to Milan.

day 9: milan
Spend full day in Milan.

day 10: milan to london
Spend day in Milan till departure to London.

Here is a breakdown of the train travelling times from the Trenitalia website that may help in your planning.

Regular trains from
- Rome to Pisa take about 4 hours / Rome to Florence take about 4 hours too.
- Pisa to Florence take about 1 hour or so.
- Florence to Venice take about 3 hours VS Florence to Verona take about 5 to 6 hours depending on which station you alighting at.
- Venice to Verona take about 2 hours odd (at most).
- Verona to Milan take about 2 to 3 hours depending on which station you getting up at VS Venice to Milan which will take about 4 hours.

From what I had seen when I was in Italy, getting tickets for trains at the train station is not really a problem. Their intercity train schedules seem pretty regular and not full house, unless there is some strike going on. The season does matter I believe, especially inclement weather.

Perhaps someone who is more frequent traveller in Europe/Italy can confirm this.

Hope this helped a little.

Additional: Just read your most recent reply, my advice is not to be over idealistic about Venice, or even for any other city. Manage your own expectations and you will enjoy the trip more. :)

Milan is as what you have been advised here and by your friends, a couple of attractions and (mostly upmarket) shopping.
 

asterixsg

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May 22, 2006
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#14
yes, i would definitely definitely be looking forward to venice.. it's just some idealistic thing from my side.. i hope it does not let me down :bsmilie:

yes, and really want to see the tower.. wiki reveals that there are some really interesting looking churches there as well.

is there much to do in milan? what one of my friends highlighted was that with regards to stuff other than pure sightseeing, most of the activities are limited to upmarket shopping, wonder if that's true
don't expect too much out of Venice. just go with the flow and i am sure you will love it.

i've been to Milan 3 times - all on business. the first time i went, i thought i wouldn't be going there again, so i did the 1/2 day tour because that's all the time i had and i just wanted to see The Last Supper.
the other two times, i did side trips to Venice, Pisa, Lake Como and Monza. I had to go to Monza because every true blue Ferrari fan should go and pay his respects there :bsmilie:

Milan has great upmarket shopping. There are two streets - damn can't remember the names, will have to check my notes and/or my guidebook - where you'll find all the top brands. do walk in those streets and you will be able to shoot a couple of ferraris parked on the street and the window displays are hmmmmmm, very nice. For anyone who loves this materialistic world, its paradise.
Like I said, if you do the 1/2 day afternoon tour, you will be able to see all the important sights.
 

mattlock

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#15
Rome bored the hell out of me.
it's great if you want to see old heritage sites, but I felt it was lacking soul.
I wasn't impressed by the food either...
I've heard great things about bologna
I loved Venice, I ate at Pane Vino San Danielle (it's a chain but the food was absolutely excellent)
skip Milan unless you have business to do there...
Trieste in northern italy was really gorgeous
everyone suntanning by the sea, and beautiful architecture and air.
not sure how it'll be in december tho
 

night86mare

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#16
hi guys

thanks a lot for your replies, it is very much appreciated

am showing them to my friends.. and they all thank you sincerely for it :)
 

boroangel

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#17
Go to Cinque Terre or Amalfi Coast!!!

Venture out of the usual route of venice, rome and milan areas...theres so much more to Italy than these few cities!
 

Feb 10, 2006
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#18
eh, since u gonna be in tuscany, why not check out SIENA? lovely small town with its famed town square. i think some medieval festival/event is staged there yearly.
its got many narrow, quaint alleyways - perfect for moody shots...hehehe
afterall, siena is a UNESCO World Heritage site
 

night86mare

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#19
haiyo, i know la

but got limited time sia.. :(

if got enough time i walk around the whole place slowly. like a year or so :)
 

n0eln0el

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Nov 4, 2007
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#20
nice thread

will be planning for a trip next for 2 weeks
Starting from Rome to Florence/Pisa to Venice to Vienna and back to Rome
any advice on the time planning?
thanks mates
 

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