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Planning 5 weeks in Italy, need advice
Old 07-02-2016, 10:14 AM   #1
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Planning 5 weeks in Italy, need advice

My wife and I are planning to spend 5 weeks in Italy from the early part of September until mid October. This will be my wife's first trip and my second, the first was decades ago and just a quick tour. We are looking to rent an apartment in Rome for around five weeks and then take side trips by car or train to Florence, Pisa, Venice, Pompeii, etc.

Any advice about how to find an apartment in Rome or on planning the side trips would be greatly appreciated. We are getting excited about it.
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Old 07-02-2016, 10:22 AM   #2
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You want to stay in one place instead of having a base in Northern Italy to explore Florence, Pisa, Venice, etc.?

You could fly into Rome and return from Milan or vice versa. Open jaw (multi city) ticket usually costs the same as round trip.
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Old 07-02-2016, 10:37 AM   #3
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Do not miss Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast
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Old 07-02-2016, 02:06 PM   #4
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You want to stay in one place instead of having a base in Northern Italy to explore Florence, Pisa, Venice, etc.?

You could fly into Rome and return from Milan or vice versa. Open jaw (multi city) ticket usually costs the same as round trip.
We are thinking about renting an apartment in Rome for the entire time, and then making side excursions for a few days at a time to the north or south. One thing we were thinking is that we could pack more and keep it in the apartment in Rome, and then for the shorter trips just take small backpacks for the few days we are staying there. Had not thought about an open jaw ticket. Thanks for the idea.
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Old 07-02-2016, 02:13 PM   #5
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Do not miss Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast
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?
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Old 07-02-2016, 02:25 PM   #6
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Anyone have suggestions for renting apartments in Europe? I am looking at AIRBNB, VRBO, and WIMDU..
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Old 07-02-2016, 02:39 PM   #7
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Get tickets to tourist destinations online when possible, to avoid very long lines.

Find the local AMEX office where you are staying and use to get Euros and cash travelers checks, etc (if you have AMEX). They also do really good tours with English speakers in most cities. I know Florence & Rome have AMEX offices.

Train travel is easy from a home base apt. Make sure you learn all the ins/outs of train travel, tickets, stamping at the site, upgrades or not, safety of being able to see your bags at ALL time, pick pockets frequent train stations (wear money belts instead of normal wallet or purse, etc). :-)

Eat where locals eat.

Enjoy the art and culture!!! Italy is a wonderful place to visit.


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Old 07-02-2016, 02:44 PM   #8
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Travelers checks? Who uses travelers checks in Europe anymore?

Most folks use ATMs to get Euros.
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Planning 5 weeks in Italy, need advice
Old 07-02-2016, 03:00 PM   #9
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Planning 5 weeks in Italy, need advice

I agree with Audreyh1 just use ATM'S they are easiest. Just avoid Travelex atm's in the airport they charge $$$ or they get u on their exchange rate.

When we went to the Colosseum we bought our tickets online the night before and walked right up to the booth. We walked right past a long line of people waiting to buy tickets.

Here is the place we stayed at for a couple of days. It was perfect for us.

http://www.booking.com/hotel/it/casa-pavone.html


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Old 07-02-2016, 03:05 PM   #10
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No one uses travelers checks. ATMs are everywhere in Rome. Just make sure to call your bank before you leave to tell them you will be travelling. Get a credit card with no transaction fee, and between ATM cash withdrawals and the credit card you'll have all you need money-wise.

It is very easy to take the train from Rome to Naples, then the Circumvesuviana narrow gauge train to Pompeii. It is a good day trip. The Amalfi coast is spectacular and not to be missed; I took the train/bus there from Rome (as I don't drive in Italy; I'm not suicidal) but it is a long trip that way and needs at least a long weekend. Stay in Positano and visit Almalfi; see Sorrento on the way. Perhaps Capri as well.
Florence is another excellent day trip by train from Rome; at least 6 trains or more leave per day from Termini and it takes no more than about 1.5 hours. Assisi can also be a day trip; and Orvieto is one of my favorite towns along the way. Pisa, frankly, isn't much worth it--sure, there's a tilted tower but little else. Venice and Milan are quite far from Rome, of course, so plan accordingly. If I were you I'd spend a couple weeks in Rome with side trips; then move up north to Venice or Milan with side trips. That way you'll cover much of Italy!
There are a number of "residential" hotels in Rome; I think you'll do well with such a thing. There's one in Prati where I've stayed along with my students; I'll get back with the name once I remember it.
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Old 07-02-2016, 03:08 PM   #11
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The name of the residential hotel is just Residence Prati. Prati is just north of downtown Rome (my university has a campus there and I've lived there off and on). What's nice is it is a safe, residential area within walking distance of both downtown Rome and the Vatican. It is a great place to stay for a couple weeks. There are lots of other "Residence" hotels in Rome; this is just the one I know.
https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Re...ome_Lazio.html
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Old 07-02-2016, 03:16 PM   #12
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I use Schwab bank ATM since it reimburses fees, haven't used travelers checks for a long time, but I like the idea of checking into the local AMEX office, didn't know about the tours. I will soon have my new blue card after loosing the Costco one I will look into the local AMEX offices. Thanks.
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Old 07-02-2016, 03:28 PM   #13
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No one uses travelers checks. ATMs are everywhere in Rome. Just make sure to call your bank before you leave to tell them you will be travelling. Get a credit card with no transaction fee, and between ATM cash withdrawals and the credit card you'll have all you need money-wise.

It is very easy to take the train from Rome to Naples, then the Circumvesuviana narrow gauge train to Pompeii. It is a good day trip. The Amalfi coast is spectacular and not to be missed; I took the train/bus there from Rome (as I don't drive in Italy; I'm not suicidal) but it is a long trip that way and needs at least a long weekend. Stay in Positano and visit Almalfi; see Sorrento on the way. Perhaps Capri as well.
Florence is another excellent day trip by train from Rome; at least 6 trains or more leave per day from Termini and it takes no more than about 1.5 hours. Assisi can also be a day trip; and Orvieto is one of my favorite towns along the way. Pisa, frankly, isn't much worth it--sure, there's a tilted tower but little else. Venice and Milan are quite far from Rome, of course, so plan accordingly. If I were you I'd spend a couple weeks in Rome with side trips; then move up north to Venice or Milan with side trips. That way you'll cover much of Italy!
There are a number of "residential" hotels in Rome; I think you'll do well with such a thing. There's one in Prati where I've stayed along with my students; I'll get back with the name once I remember it.
Thanks for the great side trip ideas, will check into them.
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Old 07-02-2016, 03:32 PM   #14
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I agree with Audreyh1 just use ATM'S they are easiest. Just avoid Travelex atm's in the airport they charge $$$ or they get u on their exchange rate.

When we went to the Colosseum we bought our tickets online the night before and walked right up to the booth. We walked right past a long line of people waiting to buy tickets.

Here is the place we stayed at for a couple of days. It was perfect for us.

Apartment Rome as you feel - Casa Pavone, Italy - Booking.com


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Thanks for the idea about the tickets. I was in Rome a little over 15 years ago on a tour, not much of a tour, they just dumped us in Rome and let us wander around. The lines were so long never even made into the Colosseum, and I am sure they are worse now. We will be sure to take your advice and book online. Thanks.
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Old 07-02-2016, 03:54 PM   #15
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I would say 5 weeks from the same base is too long. I think having perhaps 3 bases would be better - Rome, Naples, and perhaps Venice. I loved visiting Cinque Terre, and the Dolomite mountains in addition to Rome, Florence, etc.
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Old 07-02-2016, 03:58 PM   #16
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We're big fans of Genoa.
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Old 07-02-2016, 04:05 PM   #17
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I would agree with DrRoy in having a few more bases. We based out of Florence for five days and it is a great place to base, except the cost of decent apartments (VRBO). It is so close to many great other towns and locals, and transpo by rail or bus is quite easy really. If I were to do it again, I would pick a lesser town that might also be a good hub, like Lucca, or Siena. I haven't been to Rome, but for me it is busy, Florence was a bit busy too, overrun by tourists even in October, but it is Florence. Still I would be very attracted to small towns on the main train routes as an option next time.
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Old 07-02-2016, 05:34 PM   #18
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Anyone have suggestions for renting apartments in Europe? I am looking at AIRBNB, VRBO, and WIMDU..
I recently had someone recommend Homeaway.com. I've looked at it for London, and i like the filters that it lets you apply. Looks like they've got tons of properties in Rome.
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Suggestion for Rome
Old 07-02-2016, 06:17 PM   #19
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Suggestion for Rome

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.
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Old 07-02-2016, 06:21 PM   #20
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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.
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