10 days in rome & tuscany--need suggestions please

my wife and i are planning a trip to rome, florence and the tuscany region for about 10 days in the first part of october.
we'll be flying from dfw..can you please give us suggestions on: 1) which airport(s) to fly into/out of, 2) how to divide the days by cities for max efficiency, 3)your favorite b&b's or budget hotels?... any other tips thoroughly welcomed. much thanks!

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17726 posts

LF,

I'd probably structure the trip somewhat along these lines:

  • Day 1: Fly DFW to MXP

  • Day 2: Arrive MXP; take Shuttle to Milano Centrale and then train to Florence (Firenze S.M.N. station)

  • Day 3: Tour Florence (if you're planning to visit the Uffizi or Accademia, reservations would be a good idea although in Oct. this may not be as important)

  • Day 4: Tour Florence

  • Day 5: Train to other parts of Tuscany (you might check the Italy 2009 Guidebook to decide which towns to visit. You may have time for only one or two other towns. You might consider Siena, but I'd suggest travel from Florence to Siena by Bus).

  • Day 6: Other location in Tuscany

  • Day 7: early train to Rome

  • Day 8: Touring Rome

  • Day 9: Touring Rome

  • Day 10: Use Leonardo Express from Roma Termini to Rome / FCO airport; flight home.

I suggested travel from north to south, as the you'll be moving towards the warmer climate as you progress into the month of October.

The Guidebook will also provide you with lots of suggestions for budget Hotels or B&B's in whatever locations you choose, and of course sightseeing suggestions.

In Rome you might consider a private Guide for a few hours (perhaps for the Colosseum, Capitoline Museums or similar sites). I would highly recommend Francesca Caruso. She's listed in the Guidebook.

Especially in Rome and Florence, be sure to wear a Money Belt!

Happy travels!

Posted by LF
Texarkana, Texas, USA
14 posts

Ken,

thank you so much for your reply. this makes perfect sense and will really help us.

have a good one!

Posted by Roy
Fredericksburg, VA, USA
405 posts

I'm going to suggest a south to north alternative for your consideration: Day 1, Fly from DFW to Rome; Days 2-4 in Rome; Day 5, take the train to Orvieto, spend several hours there, then pick up a rental car. Drive from Orvieto to a central spot in Tuscany....suggest Montepulciano or outskirts of Siena (beware taking your rental car anywhere near the dreaded ZTLs!). Days 6-7, day trips in Tuscany (Siena, Volterra, San G, Montalcino, Pienza, Cortona / Assisi - technically not Tuscany...depending upon where you stay). Day 8, drop your car somewhere shy of Florence and take the train into the center of the city. Spend the remainder of Day 8 and all of Day 9 seeing Florence. Day 10, head out to the Florence airport and fly home. I suggest this plan because (1) you really need a car to optimize your time in Tuscany, and you don't want to drive in Rome or Florence; (2) Orvieto is a wonderful / beautiful diversion on your trip into Tuscany as well as a great place to pick up a car; (3) Between Florence and Rome, I think you'll want to spend more time in the latter (Vatican, Colosseum/ Forum, Borghese Gallery, etc. etc.).

Don't be timid about driving in Tuscany...it's easy and you will have so much more flexibility.

Favorite B&B in Rome: Nicolas Inn.

Either way, you're going to have a great time - enjoy!

Posted by LF
Texarkana, Texas, USA
14 posts

Thanks Roy,

i've heard/read that getting a rental car is highly recommended also.. how hard/easy is it to rent a car in italy?

thanks again.

LF

Posted by Janet
Coronado, CA, USA
10 posts

Highly recommend in Rome: Hotel Grifo. Not too pricy and the size of the breakfast alone will keep you moving until dinner! Also, great location, blocks from the Colosseum and Forum on quiet (?) for Rome street. Staff speaks excellent English and very helpful. Ask for a room to the back. Check the website...it is on Via del Boschetto.
Janet

Posted by Roy
Fredericksburg, VA, USA
405 posts

LF - IMO, a rental car in Tuscany is the only way to go...again, look out for the dreaded ZTLs. Renting a car is easy...you'll need an International Driver's License (I picked up one yesterday at AAA for our September trip to France). CDW insurance is covered by some credit cards - check with yours.

As an example, I plugged in a three day October rental through Autoeurope - pick up in Orvieto, drop off in Siena. Prices started at $169 for an economy car, $240 for a compact. Keep in mind that smaller is better - my wife continues to needle me about getting our rental van "stuck" in a small town near Pienza. (In my defense, we had her elderly parents with us, so I needed something bigger and more comfortable.). :)

One other thing - manuals are pretty standard - you'll pay quite a bit more for an automatic.

And a GPS is a great thing to have - I've learned my lesson and am taking one in September.

Posted by LF
Texarkana, Texas, USA
14 posts

thanks again roy.

do you think we can squeeze in a day or two in venice,
or would that be stretching it?

thanks.

LF

Posted by Roy
Fredericksburg, VA, USA
405 posts

It would be really tight, using either Ken's or my advice. If there's any way you could add a day or two, you could take the train from Florence to Venice and do a quickie trip (but you should plan on staying at least one night so you can experience Venice after dark).

We have done Venice twice...the first time, we took a first-class train from Rome. It took about 4 1/2 hours. Upon leaving, we rented a car in Venice and drove to Pienza (Tuscany)...it again took around 4 1/2 hrs. (Autostrada almost the whole way).

The 2nd time we drove the rental car from Pienza and dropped it off in Venice (again, around 4.5 hrs.). We then flew out of Venice.

Posted by LF
Texarkana, Texas, USA
14 posts

thanks again roy!

well, now we think we can add two more days to our trip.
we are planning on leaving friday-oct. 9, then flying back tuesday -oct. 20.

with those two extra days, what city would you guys suggest we need to add-- milan, venice, cinque terre?
we have to think also of the 2 sundays and 2 mondays
when some (most?) museums are closed...

if we stay a night in milan, my wife wants to go to the opera. i've heard it's almost impossible to get tickets though..

thanks again for all your comments.

Posted by Roy
Fredericksburg, VA, USA
405 posts

LF: If this is yout first trip, then the decision is easy - Venice! Two days is about right for Venice...you'll be able to see everything you want, enjoy it after dark, which is really special, and just soak it all in. We've stayed at the Al Teatro B&B twice now and recommend it - great location, large rooms with very nice bathrooms, satellite TV....etc. Try to get the Amber Room, which has a balcony over a side canal, so you have gondolas going right under your room. We loved listening to the music and waving to the passengers.

Posted by Roy
Fredericksburg, VA, USA
405 posts

And Al Teatro is immediately adjacent to the La Fenice opera house, so your wife could likely take that in while there!

Posted by Diana
Spokane, Washington, USA
4 posts

When in Rome- we just got back- and my favorite restaurant was Via Taverna dei fori imperiali on Via Madonna dei Monti. Within 2 blocks from the Forum- off Via Cavour.

Don't let the red checkered tablecloths lead you astray- incredible fresh food, run by a family.

If you don't use a guide in the Forum or Colosseum, there is a great book you can grab at the gift shop called, Rome- as it was in the past and as we see it today. Great little fold over flaps that shows you what you are looking at as it used to look. Very helpful and makes the sites more meaningful. Would suggest going to the Colosseum closer to closing time or right away in the a.m. Lots less people. You can buy a ticket as you enter the forum that will also admit you to the Colosseum and there is an exit on the side of the Colosseum.

We hired a private guide for the Vatican Museum and St. Peter's. That was great- learned a lot more that way. Also- clim the dome at the vatican- amazing views. Have a great time- be prepared for the heat!

Posted by Nancy
Westford, MA, USA
14 posts

Hello, LF:

You've made a great choice in Florence, Tuscany, and Rome. While having a car in Italian cities is a more of a hindrance than a help, you'll appreciate having your own wheels in rural Tuscany. Do consider the following touring plan:

-three overnights in Florence (Residenza Il Vilino is a marvelous accommodation, a five minute stroll to the Accademia and the Museum of San Marco);

-two overnights in Siena (Hotel Santa Caterina is most satisfactory, located just outside the city gates - pick up your car before departing here);

-two overnights in Montepulciano (a charming town, with the Mueble il Riccio a hard-to-beat medieval place to stay);

-one overnight in Orvieto (just an hour north of Rome - drop off the car here);

-three overnights in Rome (if this is your first trip here, you'll want at least three nights' stay, with the Pantheon area a fine place from which to base your explorations).

The above plan provides you with a nice balance of urban and rural. Naturally, there is so much more time that should be dedicated to rural Italy (Assisi, Spello, Pienza, Montalcino, to name but places, but what you don't experience on this trip will be all the more reason to return in the near future).

Best of luck.

Posted by LF
Texarkana, Texas, USA
14 posts

thanks nancy for the detailed itinerary!

Posted by camille
point pleasant beach, nj, usa
470 posts

Stayed at a lovely B&B outside San Gimingnano. Very reasonalbe and wonderful hosts. It is called Il Vicario. You can check it our on Trip Advisor.