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Old 01-13-2007, 04:53 AM   #1
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Hey guys,

I'm trying to plan the Italy portion of my trip, and could use some help from those of you who have spent some time there! I'm planning to use the rails for most of this trip, but I may need to rent a car/bike at some point too. Here are the areas I'd like to visit:

-- Venice
-- Bologna
-- Florence
-- Pisa (day trip)
-- Rome
-- Cirque Terre
-- Naples (or Sorrento)
-- Pompeii (day trip)

-- Offida: this is a small town where my family's ancestry can be traced to. Located in the Marche region, near the east coast, I'm thinking I may need to rent transportation to get around in this province.

Are all these places worth seeing in one trip (within 3 weeks or so), or should I narrow it down a bit? What order would be most efficient based on the rail system? Any thoughts you could share would be really helpful...

Thanks!
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Old 01-13-2007, 05:19 AM   #2
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I heard pisa was a dump, so i pretty much just spent an hour there on the way from rome to cinque terre. you can catch a bus right outside the train station, zip over to the leaning tower, flash some pics, and get back. pisa did seem sorta like a dump, but the little area with the leaning tower and....hmmm, the baptistry? or duomo? whatever is beside it, well, that seemed really nice. green and all, and the area is walled. but i was there at dusk and my pics didn't turn out that great, but it just didn't seem like a big deal to me, don't know exactly what else you wanna see there.

there's supposed to be an amazing hostel in naples, hostel of the sun. everybody raved about it. the cinque terre is amazing, def. don't miss it. florence is really quaint and everything is packed really tight in the centre so easy to walk everywhere, but the two main art galleries can take up to 3 hours waiting to get in. because i don't like to spend too much time in galleries anyway, i went towards the end of the day at the one and it took about an hour, and i waited in the rain at the other which saved heaps of time. took about 45 min.

venice i didn't enjoy much because i was staying in mestre on the mainland and it was an absolute trashcan. i was chased by lip-smacking (their actions) prostitutes. didn't make it to bologna.

umm, i believe the national rail site is www.trenitalia.it. looks like you might have to do a little backtracking, but nothing major. you'll probably have to go through florence twice. once on the way to cinque terre and once on the way to bologne and venice, i guess thats assuming you're flying into or coming from rome.

hmmmm, i really went on and on here. sorry, but its late. to sum it up, i guess, the train service in italy is pretty good, people knock it for being late, but i only had one train that was really late i think. sorta fucked up my day, but what can you do. oh, and its fairly cheap too, compared to other western european countries. anyway, your plan sound very do-able in 3 weeks. have fun.
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Old 01-13-2007, 07:00 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by lost in texas View Post
Hey guys,

I'm trying to plan the Italy portion of my trip, and could use some help [...] I'm planning to use the rails for most of this trip, but I may need to rent a car/bike
Make sure a car is an absolute last resort in the bigger cities. Rome's traffic is just ridiculous. How do more people not die there?

Not sure if this was the order you were planning on visiting the cities but assuming you are entering Italy by rail on the north end

(This group is reversible if you are coming from France)
-- Venice (2)
-- Bologna
-- Cinque Terre

-- Florence (Pisa day trip) (3)
-- Rome (5)
-- Naples (or Sorrento with Pompeii day trip) (4)

Btw, something that really surprised me was how humongous Pompeii was. You may want two day trips if that really interests you. If you are a Star Wars fan, the Caserta palace in Naples is a must. As Sas said, the Hostel of the Sun gets rave reviews (I almost wanted to make a trip to Naples just to see this place!).

Since everyone know what there is to see in Rome...lots of people I met in Rome liked The Beehive, Funny Palace, and Yellow. Piazza Navona is a nice place to eat lunch (though a little expensive) and there is pretty good pizza place across from Termini on the Via Giovanni Giolitti side (reasonably priced).

In Florence I stayed at Ostello Archi Rossi and really liked it (gelateria on the same street which is always a plus ) of course check out the usually stuff, the Duomo, the Ponte Vecchio, David etc. The trip to Pisa is quick and cheap (5 euros). I wouldn't say Pisa is a "dump" but it didn't strike me that more than a day was necessary.

Venice is a must see. I think 2 days is more than enough unless you are in to shopping (I saw a lot of it in an 8 hour trip passing through on the way to Florence).

I saw Cinque Terre on your list and I kept seeing that on other people's so I checked it out on google. Wow, that looks so cool!

Be careful in Naples though, they have had a streak of violent crime in the past couple of years. Rome on the other hand, felt very safe (more of a petty thievery concern ... at least half the people I met that got pickpocketed said it was Rome that did them in... too many distractions ).

Have fun,

Joey

Last edited by joe7f; 03-18-2007 at 06:53 PM. Reason: stupid grammar
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:23 AM   #4
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Thanks for the detailed info, very helpful! I'll definitely keep the hostel recommendations in mind.

Joey- You're right about driving in the cities, I wouldn't even try it. I'm thinking about renting something once I'm in the Marche, so I can visit the small villages and countryside in that area. The town I want to see is off the major rail lines, but I suppose there must be buses that service the area... any idea of what to expect there?

I've read through most of the older threads on Italy too- I'm learning a lot from those of you who posted in those discussions too!
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Old 01-13-2007, 11:36 AM   #5
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I've read through most of the older threads on Italy too- I'm learning a lot from those of you who posted in those discussions too!
I said 'too' twice. Now I can't edit my post and it's killing me inside.

My mother is a grammar nazi and I have issues...
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Old 01-13-2007, 02:10 PM   #6
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Haha I know exactly what you mean... spelling and typos drive me crazy too!! (but since English is my second language I hide behind that...) :P
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Old 01-13-2007, 02:52 PM   #7
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yeah, i stayed at yellow in rome and loved it. ended up not wanting to leave. i also stayed at archi rossi. i thought it was just ok. nothing special. but there is an insane chicken place a couple blocks towards the duomo. i think it was like 3.5 euro and you got 2 pieces of chicken, 4 chicken wings, fries and a can of pop(soda). prob the best deal i found on my trip. hahaha. try not to miss piazzale michelangelo in florence. theres a replica of the david there, but the views of florence from there are amazing. yeah, and again, cinque terre is ridiculous. sooo beautiful. just that accomodation can be tricky i think. i ended up meeting a couple yanks when i got of the train (that was late) and we searched together and found a private flat to rent. pretty sweet i thought. they left the next day and the lady let me stay by myself for a pretty reasonable price. i was really wishing i hadn't partied in rome so much so i could stay longer. the trail between the towns is real nice too and you get some insane pictures. hmmm, lets see if this works.

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Old 01-13-2007, 02:53 PM   #8
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whoops, a little big, sorry bout that, but you get the idea.
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Old 01-14-2007, 09:15 AM   #9
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I am in Rome now and will be back n Madrid tomorrow.

In my opinion, you need at least a week here to do or see everything out here. Not talking about the fly by thing, but to really take it all in.

Definitely felt much safer here than Madrid or Paris. Soooo many tourists here right now and the steets are safe to walk at night because there are people all over the place.

Wish I had more time to see Pompeii and venture out to the other cities of Italy.

I wasn't able to see everything on the map that I wanted to. I guess I'll chalk this one up to a "preview" since I will be coming back at some point...
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Old 01-14-2007, 12:04 PM   #10
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A week should be enough, personally, I spent 4 days (1 day was a day trip to Pompeii) and I felt like I saw a lot but not even close to eveything. Tony, let me copy a quote my father left for me on my blog...

"I'm so glad you could see (and appreciate)Rome..it is not called "The Eternal City" for nothing..visiting Roma is truly a spectacular and unforgettable experience. You can now see why the proper wish at Trevi is that one may someday return[...]"

In my opinion it is the best city for touring in Europe.

I felt like Madrid was pretty safe (never saw Paris at night) even though we were staying in a slightly lonely area at night time(near the Bernabeu station/stadium). Of course I didn't venture out a whole lot and I really feel like I need to go back there.

--Joey

Just as an aside: Madrid's subway is fantastic. Second only to London for me.
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Old 01-15-2007, 10:58 AM   #11
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A week should be enough, personally, I spent 4 days (1 day was a day trip to Pompeii) and I felt like I saw a lot but not even close to eveything. Tony, let me copy a quote my father left for me on my blog...

"I'm so glad you could see (and appreciate)Rome..it is not called "The Eternal City" for nothing..visiting Roma is truly a spectacular and unforgettable experience. You can now see why the proper wish at Trevi is that one may someday return[...]"

In my opinion it is the best city for touring in Europe.

I felt like Madrid was pretty safe (never saw Paris at night) even though we were staying in a slightly lonely area at night time(near the Bernabeu station/stadium). Of course I didn't venture out a whole lot and I really feel like I need to go back there.

--Joey

Just as an aside: Madrid's subway is fantastic. Second only to London for me.


Definitely in agreement with you and your pops about Rome! It is simply spectacular. Almost every corner was like "BAMM!" another famous monument or building.

People frick'n EVERYWHERE. I filmed a bunch of shots of the packed streets on my minidv. I'll put it up someday for y'all to see.

Here, here on Madrids metro. Super easy to get anywhere in this city and very easy to navigate your way the minute you arrive.
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Old 01-15-2007, 11:36 AM   #12
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I think you had mentioned you were going in April? I cannot wait to hear about your trip since you will be going to similar places I am (in June). If you enjoyed Florence, please let me know. I have yet to include it because I am afraid I will be burned out on art. The only time I think you really need a car/bike is through the Tuscany region for visiting the smaller, more quaint towns. Even then, from Florence you can visit Sienna/Lucca (I believe some of the more popular towns for Tuscany region) by train. I also looked into it, but everywhere I want to go is available by bus, train, or ferry. Even this obscure little mideval town I came across and want to stop in can be reached by local bus.
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Old 01-15-2007, 04:49 PM   #13
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you may be burned out on art by the time you get to florence (I know i was def. sick of renaissance christian art), but there aren't many things that you're gonna see that compare to michelangelo's david. I def. found sculptures to be the most awe inspiring and the only other one that came close imo was his pieta in st. peter's. there really isn't much else in the academia beside's the david worth looking at, but i def. wouldn't wanna miss it. plus florence seems a bit different from everywhere else. everything is very centralized, everything you wanna see is really close together. and the duomo and baptistry there are very different from most buildings you will see. i didn't really rate the inside of the duomo that high, very bland, but i didn't climb to the top cuz i didn't think it was worth it, and also, had already done that at st. peter's. plus the ponte vecchio is a site to behold. very unique. anyway, just saying i wouldn't miss florence if i was you. i mean, the very heart of the renaissance. oh and the other gallery, the uffizi i think, has some great masterpieces. def. some of the best renaissnace pieces i seen.
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Old 01-15-2007, 05:07 PM   #14
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I agree with Sasquatch, David and the Piedra were my two highlights for sculpture. Don't miss either (even if Florence is a day trip on-the-way-to/back from Rome).

Florence is really pretty but I would love to visit its Tuscan neighbors.

--Joey
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Old 01-16-2007, 08:03 AM   #15
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I travel to Bologna occassionally for work and it is a great little city. The city center is very old and well maintained with lots of porticos, old buildings, cafes, restaurant's, pizzerias etc. The Piazza Maggiore is a fantastic place to while away a Sunday afternoon with a few beers at an outdoor cafe and watch the people go by. Bologna is not overwhelmed by tourists, which is a major plus in my book. While there may not be a lot of 'name' sites to see, if you want a really nice, old Italian city in which to soak up the atmosphere, this is the place. They do have these very old twin towers (leaning, just like Pizza) in the city center, plus these ancient gates that are at various points around the city. Back in medeival times, it was a walled city and some of the old gates still survive. You can always check out the Ducati factory and museum if you happen to like motorcycles. I beleive it is only about an hour and half by train from both Florence and Venice (Bologna is in the middle). I would recommend it, if only for a day or two. Good luck!!
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Old 03-12-2007, 08:59 PM   #16
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My younger brother is going to hang out in italy with me for several days so I need some help cutting down the itinerary to make the most of the 11 days he'll be there. I can backtrack and spend more time later if I want, but I want my bro to see as much as he can. With that in mind, where would our time be best spent?

We'll be spending at least a day or two in a village in Ascoli Piceno (near the east coast in central italy), so I've got 9 or 10 days to spend elsewhere. I'm thinking we should pick maybe 3 other cities, and day-trip from there where possible.. I think Rome is obviously a must, as is Venice (or is that a day trip?). I'd appreciate any more info or suggestions you guys could give.
BTW, we'll be in Italy from March 29-April 8.
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Old 03-13-2007, 06:53 AM   #17
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From what I understand, Bologna is right in the middle of Florence and Venice. Venice to Bologna is a 2 hr train ride and Bologna to Florence is a 2 hr train ride (roughly). You could probably hit all three cities in a few days if you wanted. You will have a great time regardless of the decision. Enjoy and have a limoncello or a mandarino for me!!
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Old 03-13-2007, 12:22 PM   #18
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You will have a great time regardless of the decision. Enjoy and have a limoncello or a mandarino for me!!
Thanks bro, will do!
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Old 03-13-2007, 01:32 PM   #19
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i'd suggest trying to do a day trip to siena while you're in florence. it's a gorgeous small town plus there aren't any cheap places to stay within the city. if you're there in the summer try and check out the palio. it's a wild horserace they do twice every summer. crazy time with tons of parties and i'm pissed i missed it. venice should be at least a couple of days because even though it's really touristy, it SO MUCH fun to just get lost in the tiny streets for a few hours. i spent three days in florence and by the third day had run out of sights to see so i just got lost in the city for about six hours or so, but could've spent that time heading to other places. naples is apparently not the greatest place, but i've been to sorrento which is fantastic. the island of capri is a great day trip if you have time. also, try a squeeze in climbing mt. vesuvius if they still let people do that. it was one of the coolest things i've ever done. in terms of accomodations, most of the hostels i stayed in in italy weren't all that great, though i did get a great deal on a small apartment in venice, but i was with three other people and i don't know if the place does single rooms. hope you have a great trip and hope you can manage to squeeze in as much great stuff as possible.
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Old 03-14-2007, 03:09 PM   #20
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We climbed Vesuvius last year, so unless things have changed since then, you should be good to do that. It's not a difficult hike, unless, like my husband, you happen to be alternately carrying/dragging a heavy toddler and a reluctant five year old all the way. Tip the guy handing out sticks on the way down, if you tip on the way up, they'll forget and hassle you again when you come down. Or don't take a stick - that's a viable option, too. (Though they are useful for dragging reluctant five year olds...)

We spent the morning on Vesuvius and the afternoon at Pompeii, but we had locals to drive us around, which made the whole process a lot more efficient. If you have to rely on public transit, I'd spend two days. Since you'll be traveling with your brother, it might be kind of fun to do something a bit more active, while still taking in the historical stuff, so Vesuvius/Pompeii is a good option. And as mentioned before, Pompeii is sprawling - it would definitely take a whole day at least to do justice to the place. Read "Pompeii" by (I can't remember who, check amazon or the library), before you go - it really helps to bring the place alive.

I think Venice would be a pretty ambitious daytrip from Rome, it's pretty far away, though you could travel down to Naples (2 hours) if you wanted.

Driving in Italy is probably not the best idea. We drove from Germany to Naples and back, and noticed how the driving got progressively scarier the farther south we went. I wouldn't bank on things being easier in smaller towns, as the roads are still impossibly narrow, "one way" streets are by and large suggestions only, and everyone likes speed. We were quite relieved when our friends offered to chauffeur us around Naples after we arrived. If you do rent, consider a smart car or something equally small. They have sharp little Smart convertibles here in Germany, don't know if those have entered the North American market yet.

Have a great trip! Italy's gorgeous in April.

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