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Old 07-02-2016, 07:37 PM   #21
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Venice

Spot on with a Vaporetto day pass. We started out going to Burano for the lace, then to Murano for the glass blowing. We then took a long roundabout, ending up at the train station. from there we took another vaporetto down the Grand Canal, ending up at a cafe on the Ruo Schovini past the Doge's Palace at sunset
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Old 07-03-2016, 01:37 AM   #22
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We just returned from a trip visiting Naples, Rome and Venice. I think it was my 9th trip to Italy and Venice specifically.

To spend 5 weeks in Rome isn't a good idea. If you're looking for information about everything in Rome, look at the best travel site there is: RonInRome.com. There's no subject he hasn't covered.

You might consider starting your trip with 3-4 days on the Amalfi Coast.
Then I'd move up to Rome for 4 to 7 days.
From there, I'd visit Florence for a long weekend before moving to an agriturismo 20-30 miles south in the Tuscan countryside for 4-5 days. (Every farm in the region has rooms and apartments for rent.)
While there, rent a car and don't forget to see Volterra. Turn the rental car back in at Florence and take the train to Venice.
Venice is a 3 day destination.
From there, you could go west to Verona and the Lake Garda area. Or, you could go north of Venice into the Dolomites.
If time allows, go on over to Milan and the Lake Como region 45 minutes north.

While it sounds like a lot of territory, your 5 weeks could be much more productive moving from town to town. Italy's a place with an overabundance of history, architecture, food, culture and art.
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Old 07-03-2016, 03:39 AM   #23
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Was thinking maybe renting a car and driving from Rome to Tuscany, maybe stay a night at one of the vineyard towns there on the way to Florence for a few days.
The Amalfi Coast is on our list too. Maybe after seeing Naples and Pompeii. Would you drive there or take the train?
High speed train from Rome to Naples, then slow speed to Herculaneum, Pompeii. Train ends in Sorrento then bus to Positano, Amalfi. Overnight somewhere because more than 2 days. Capri a nice side trip too.

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We just returned from a trip visiting Naples, Rome and Venice. I think it was my 9th trip to Italy and Venice specifically.

To spend 5 weeks in Rome isn't a good idea. If you're looking for information about everything in Rome, look at the best travel site there is: RonInRome.com. There's no subject he hasn't covered.

You might consider starting your trip with 3-4 days on the Amalfi Coast.
Then I'd move up to Rome for 4 to 7 days....

Venice is a 3 day destination.
From there, you could go west to Verona and the Lake Garda area. Or, you could go north of Venice into the Dolomites.
If time allows, go on over to Milan and the Lake Como region 45 minutes north.

While it sounds like a lot of territory, your 5 weeks could be much more productive moving from town to town. Italy's a place with an overabundance of history, architecture, food, culture and art.
I agree. After Rome and south, change location to north. After Florence, then Lucca, Cinque Terra, Genoa, Milan, Lake Como, Venice. Two backpacks and one carry on should do you. Take layers. Might reverse direction to follow the sun.

(When we were staying in Capri, the fastest way to get to Taormina was back to Rome and flying. All roads and planes lead to Rome. One or two days relocating north will be easier than hauling ass back to the apartment. One week on VRBO is quite easy in your travel timeframe.)
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Old 07-03-2016, 12:13 PM   #24
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When in Rome, we took a horse drawn carriage ride from the Colosseum to Trevi Fountain. We went by one of Bernini's Fountains and stopped at the Pantheon. It was well worth the price, to go at a slow pace and in some places where autos could not go.
Thanks for the idea, sounds like a very romantic thing to do with my wife, will put it on our list!
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Old 07-03-2016, 12:17 PM   #25
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In addition to the usual suspects, check out cross-pollinate.com.

I'd also suggest looking into staying at an agritourismo farm house in the Tuscany region. One of our best experiences was home-basing at an agritourismo near Siena and just driving through Tuscany and visiting hill towns like San Gimignano. Having a car in town is a bit of a pain in the rear but you generally find parking lots at the edges of towns, driving between towns is pretty reasonable, and the flexibility that a car allows for spur of the moment decisions ("That looks interesting, let's go there.") is worth it in Tuscany.

Florence is really walkable. I'd recommend venturing south of the Arno to check out the neighbourhoods and Piazzale Michelangelo for a great view of the Duomo and surroundings during sunset.

Venice is a gong show during peak tourist season, particularly with the cruisers in town. One of the ways to save money is to stay off the main island but I think it's quite nice to stay on the main island and roam the alleyways at night with the hoards of tourists gone. On our most recent trip, we stayed near the train station and hoofed it back from St Mark's Square within a reasonable time. Google maps is surprising fairly accurate with the alleyways. If you have time, check out the neighbouring islands like Murano and Lido which are easy to get to with a Vaporetto day pass. Not necessarily a must see but it's a different part of Venice if you like checking out different neighbourhoods.

I'd recommend allocating enough time in Pompeii if that type of archaeology interests you. There seemed to be so many nooks and crannies you could poke around in. You also may want to consider visiting Herculaneum.

As others have mentioned, we too really liked visiting and walking the towns of Cinque Terra. It's one of our favourite locations in Italy even though it's a bit heavily touristed nowadays.
Thanks for the information about the day pass and all. I am very interested in archeology and looking forward to Pompeii, and hopefully Herculaneum too.
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Old 07-03-2016, 12:23 PM   #26
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We just returned from a trip visiting Naples, Rome and Venice. I think it was my 9th trip to Italy and Venice specifically.

To spend 5 weeks in Rome isn't a good idea. If you're looking for information about everything in Rome, look at the best travel site there is: RonInRome.com. There's no subject he hasn't covered.

You might consider starting your trip with 3-4 days on the Amalfi Coast.
Then I'd move up to Rome for 4 to 7 days.
From there, I'd visit Florence for a long weekend before moving to an agriturismo 20-30 miles south in the Tuscan countryside for 4-5 days. (Every farm in the region has rooms and apartments for rent.)
While there, rent a car and don't forget to see Volterra. Turn the rental car back in at Florence and take the train to Venice.
Venice is a 3 day destination.
From there, you could go west to Verona and the Lake Garda area. Or, you could go north of Venice into the Dolomites.
If time allows, go on over to Milan and the Lake Como region 45 minutes north.

While it sounds like a lot of territory, your 5 weeks could be much more productive moving from town to town. Italy's a place with an overabundance of history, architecture, food, culture and art.
The roninrome website seems to be down right now. Thanks for the great ideas on how to visit Florence and Venice and surrounds, the agriturismo idea really appeals to me too. Thanks.
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Old 07-03-2016, 11:48 PM   #27
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Judging from the comments so far, people will probably disagree with me. However, I lived in Italy for a few years and would say:

1) Avoid Naples. It is a pit. Everything thing around Naples is amazing, but Naples is not nice. The awesome things around Naples include the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Pozzuoli Amphitheater, Ercolano (Herculaneum), Mt. Vesuvius, and much more.

2) I am not a fan of Florence from a tourism perspective. I mean, it is fine from a city perspective. However, most of it is a large modern(ish) city with a big Church (Duomo) and a fair amount of museums. So - if you want to see *another* church or are a huge fan of museums then head there. But, don't expect to walk around the city thinking "wow, wow, wow" like you will in Rome.

3) Day trip from Rome: Hadrian's Villa is quite nice. I know you can ride a bus or book a tour to get there. I had my own car and it was a short trip.

4) Day trip from Rome: Ostia Antica is not too far from the Rome airport and you can get there on the metro for cheap. Kinda like Pompeii but close to rome. Really liked it.

5) In Rome: MUST visit the "Scavi" / Necropolis. These are the excavations under St. Peter's and just completely amazing. Check it out here. You *have* to make a reservation in advance. Make them as soon as you finalize your travel plans.

6) Colosseum: As someone else said, the lines can be very long. Buy you tickets in advance and you will skip right past the line!

7) Vatican Museum. Okay...now, I am not the biggest fan of museums. For example, I was sorely disappointed by the Louvre. However, I love the Vatican Museum. Again, lines can and often are extremely long so buy tickets in advance and skip the queue. Pro tip: the Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museum. Go there last and there is a door on one end that is an exit and marked "tour groups only" or something like that. Just go through the door and it dumps you into St. Peters. If you wanted to go the "approved" method you would have to walk all the way out of the museum, back around, stand in another long line etc. It is at least a mile to do that. Just go through the door! (When in Rome!)

Hope that helps
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Old 07-04-2016, 09:50 AM   #28
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You may want to stay outside the big cities.

I spent 2 weeks in Alba, Italy in May. One of our group got an apartment through Airbnb (the rest stayed in the hotel arranged by the music festival). Alba is a charming town in the Piedmont area, a fabulous wine region. It is also the white truffle capital. There are many apartments there through Airbnb. She had a one bedroom fully stocked with food and it had laundry facilities, and it was only $54/night. They have a truffle festival in the fall. Add a rental car and you can really explore. It's about 2 hours from Milan.

Food and wine are very inexpensive right now.


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Old 07-04-2016, 10:17 AM   #29
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Have to say - I really like Naples. The subway system is finally workable and very nice. The plaza's and museums are great. I went on a wonderful food tour that we arranged at the last minute and it was the highlight of our trip (even better than Amalfi Coast!) We stayed at an airnb apt in ?Volterra (neighborhood just up hill)
So I'd actually really recommend a couple days in Naples. I only had 2 nights because we'd heard all the "avoid Naples" info...

Also if you like this sort of thing - consider one of the walking tours along the amalfi coast. They arrange hotels and transport bags from town to town and you walk between them. It was a really wonderful way to wind through the back alley's of some of the little towns, walk through olive groves and see the spectacular coastal views of the area...
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Old 07-04-2016, 10:20 AM   #30
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We were in Italy all of last September. Rome can be crowded and very touristy. Watch out for pick pockets and con artists. We were on a special tour of the Vatican but found it to be mobbed even though we skipped the long lines. Still it is probably worth it once.

I would check out Rick Steve's Italy book (in most libraries). And the RS Italy forum is very good for detailed questions.

Sienna is quite striking. We stayed in Florence and made Sienna a side trip. But remember that some of these side trips can eat up part of a day just traveling back and forth. So maybe renting a car makes sense.

We enjoyed staying in Assisi. A very walkable hilltop town. The RS book covers it in detail. If you go, take a walk up to the fortress on top. We sat there and sketched for some hours. Then took a stroll down and found a little garden setting for lunch. These little things are more memorable to me then the grand postcard sites.
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:09 AM   #31
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Judging from the comments so far, people will probably disagree with me. However, I lived in Italy for a few years and would say:

1) Avoid Naples. It is a pit. Everything thing around Naples is amazing, but Naples is not nice. The awesome things around Naples include the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, Sorrento, Capri, Pozzuoli Amphitheater, Ercolano (Herculaneum), Mt. Vesuvius, and much more.

2) I am not a fan of Florence from a tourism perspective. I mean, it is fine from a city perspective. However, most of it is a large modern(ish) city with a big Church (Duomo) and a fair amount of museums. So - if you want to see *another* church or are a huge fan of museums then head there. But, don't expect to walk around the city thinking "wow, wow, wow" like you will in Rome.

3) Day trip from Rome: Hadrian's Villa is quite nice. I know you can ride a bus or book a tour to get there. I had my own car and it was a short trip.

4) Day trip from Rome: Ostia Antica is not too far from the Rome airport and you can get there on the metro for cheap. Kinda like Pompeii but close to rome. Really liked it.

5) In Rome: MUST visit the "Scavi" / Necropolis. These are the excavations under St. Peter's and just completely amazing. Check it out here. You *have* to make a reservation in advance. Make them as soon as you finalize your travel plans.

6) Colosseum: As someone else said, the lines can be very long. Buy you tickets in advance and you will skip right past the line!

7) Vatican Museum. Okay...now, I am not the biggest fan of museums. For example, I was sorely disappointed by the Louvre. However, I love the Vatican Museum. Again, lines can and often are extremely long so buy tickets in advance and skip the queue. Pro tip: the Sistine Chapel is part of the Vatican Museum. Go there last and there is a door on one end that is an exit and marked "tour groups only" or something like that. Just go through the door and it dumps you into St. Peters. If you wanted to go the "approved" method you would have to walk all the way out of the museum, back around, stand in another long line etc. It is at least a mile to do that. Just go through the door! (When in Rome!)

Hope that helps
Thanks for your insider information, all very useful info 1-7, and especially like the magic door! I am thinking 5 weeks will not be enough!
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Old 07-04-2016, 11:33 AM   #32
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If you are interested in Pompei and Herculeum, try to put the National Archaeological Museum of Naples on your list. Big musuem on attractive grounds. We were told most of the artifacts from the Vesuvius eruptions were actually here and not on the various sites. We actually found Herculeum a bit more enjoyable because the crowds were much less. The cruise ships crowds hit Pompeii late morning and you definitely want to be nearly done when they start to arrive. It seemed like almost instantly the place tripled in visitors. Pompeii was a working seaport city while Herculeum is were a lot of the merchant class lived so many of the ruins are more "upscale" than what you will see in Pompeii. Both are great.
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Old 07-04-2016, 12:16 PM   #33
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We vacationed in Italy last summer and will be leaving again in a few weeks for another round. My #1 recommendation is to pack light and then remove half of what you think you need. Go almost minimalist hippy. It's so much easier to travel when you don't have this big pack/unpack ordeal.

We used VRBO and have had great apartments. Last years apartment in Florence had a wonderful terrace overlooking the city and it was like you could almost reach out and touch the Duomo. A terrace was a must when looking for apartments this year.

https://www.vrbo.com/3846494ha?unitId=4220014

I have to agree with others that you would benefit from not having a 5 week home base in Rome. Maybe 2 weeks, then hit the road to Florence, Venice, the Lake Region or anywhere else you may be interested in. Pack light, use the trains and you'll find this adventure to be well worth the money spent.

Finally, youtube and tripadvisor.com are your best friends in this planning phase. Anything from the best gelato to how much a taxi is from point A to point B. Immerse yourself in it. The research was almost as fun as the trip itself. OK, not really. But still a great educational journey. Check out the Two Greedy Italians for some food inspiration.



Oh, last recommendation. When you arrive in Rome, hire a limo service to take you from the airport to your apartment. After a long overnight flight from the US it is definitely worth the money to not have to deal with the trains, buses, and taxi's. Well worth the $75 to just hop in a Benz and ride in style vs trying to navigate the other various transportation options.

Good Luck and have fun. Ciao!
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Old 07-04-2016, 01:14 PM   #34
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I found Florence great as a tourist. There was a huge amount to do and see within walking distances. Museums, palaces, lovely Renaissance architecture, famous squares and bridges. In addition, it was a great base for visiting nearby areas using public transportation. We really enjoyed our time there.
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Old 07-13-2016, 04:52 PM   #35
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My wife and I are yearly (independent) visitors to Italy. Our next trip in September is to Sorrento/Positano and then the Tuscany area. I haven't read all the responses but for me, I'd rather have a long tern rental in Florence then in Rome. Of course to each his own.

Between Tuscany being easy to drive around (except ZTL area's in Florence) and the ease of train travel, taking day trips from here is simple. Either way, your bound to have a great trip. Who knows, I may run into you in September!
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Old 07-13-2016, 05:33 PM   #36
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I found Florence great as a tourist. There was a huge amount to do and see within walking distances. Museums, palaces, lovely Renaissance architecture, famous squares and bridges. In addition, it was a great base for visiting nearby areas using public transportation. We really enjoyed our time there.
+1.
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Old 07-13-2016, 06:42 PM   #37
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+1.
I also remember some great pizza in Florence. Pizza Quattro Stagione - the four seasons pizza. 1/4 mushrooms, 1/4 olives, 1/4 artichoke hearts, 1/4 prosciutto. One flavor for each season!

We recreated that pizza at home many times stateside.
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Old 07-13-2016, 06:44 PM   #38
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If you haven't discovered it yet - there are a lot of Italy experts over on Slowtalk.com.... It's the message board for the slow travel website. They also have apartment reviews and restaurant reviews from members. (I've submitted both over there.)
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Old 07-13-2016, 06:45 PM   #39
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If you haven't discovered it yet - there are a lot of Italy experts over on Slowtalk.com.... It's the message board for the slow travel website. They also have apartment reviews and restaurant reviews from members. (I've submitted both over there.)
Great tip!
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Old 07-13-2016, 07:09 PM   #40
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My wife and I are yearly (independent) visitors to Italy. Our next trip in September is to Sorrento/Positano and then the Tuscany area. I haven't read all the responses but for me, I'd rather have a long tern rental in Florence then in Rome. Of course to each his own.

Between Tuscany being easy to drive around (except ZTL area's in Florence) and the ease of train travel, taking day trips from here is simple. Either way, your bound to have a great trip. Who knows, I may run into you in September!
We did finally choose a long term rental in Rome through VRBO, not too far from the city center, a reasonable prince, with a landlady who seems nice, good English and very accessible by phone and email.

This way we can pack a little heavier taking what we want, and with room for the goodies we will want to bring back home, and have a home base for lighter pack trips to the north and south. I agree it might be better and certainly cheaper to rent two or three places in different areas, but since this is our first trip, we wanted to make it easy on ourselves and are willing to spend the extra.

We certainly want to see Tuscany and are planning to rent a car to drive there, hopefully staying at a farmhouse type place, maybe ending up in Florence. Or course when we get there all our plans are up for review, we just want to have a great time rather than rush around to check off every sight on a list. But we will try to make it to the obvious, and hopefully some of the not so obvious ones.

I see there are a number of posters who make Italy a regular trip, who knows, maybe we will end up being one of them
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