1 week itinerary_custom arranged

I would like to get some of yours opinion about my itinerary that I am working on. I have a week in Italy and want to focus on Rome and Tuscany. Here is my plan and would love to hear if some things are worth changing up or re-arranging. There are lots of good suggestion on this forum, but everyone wants to customize their plans so its hard to find concrete suggestions, that is why I decided to post. Day 1 - flying to Rome late in the day, staying in Rome Day 2 - explore Rome, staying in Rome Day 3 - explore Rome, staying in Rome Day 4 - drive north, stopping in Montepulciano, arrive in Sienna, explore Sienna, staying in Sienna Day 5 - explore Sienna, explore Chianti Hills, more hill towns and wine country, arrive in Florence, staying in Florence Day 6 - explore Florence, staying in Florence Day 7 - drive back to Rome, (side trip to Lucca and Pisa while leaving Florence (?) ), staying in Rome
Day 8 - flying out in the morning. Here is a sketch. I am wondering if the distribution of nights spent between the three places (Rome, Florence and Siena) makes sense. I would appreciate any input. Thank you very much.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

Just one comment. Once you have arrived in Florence, a car will not only not be necessary, it will be a major problem. Look up ZTL (zono traffico limitato) and you'll see what I mean. Siena and other cities have them too, but Florence ZTL's cover most of the city center. So, I'd ditch the car outside of Florence, then see Lucca and Pisa by train or bus from Florence, then take the train back to Rome. If you do want to keep the car, be SURE you understand how to avoid ZTL's for all the cities you will be visiting. Otherwise, looks pretty good to me. For once, someone who understands that you can't see all of Italy in limited time, and has a plan both limited in area and reasonable in expectation. Congrats on your research!

Posted by Tom
Farmingville, New York, USA
303 posts

The alternative to ditching the car in Florence is just parking it for a few days and picking it up when you leave. That is what I did. I like driving so it worked for me. The amount of time you spend in each area depends on what you want to see. Two days in Rome is okay as long as you prioritize what you want to see because you won't see it all in two days. One day in Florence is a bit short too. Two days allow you to see most everything. To drive back to Rome and make a side trip to Pisa is a waste of time. I would think if you want to go to Pisa make the trip from Florence and than head back to Rome.

Posted by Danuta
Eugene, Oregon, US
20 posts

Thank you for suggestions, we may be opting for train ride back to Rome and thinking about ditching the Lucca and Pisa side trip in exchange for more time in Florence, which would make 0.5 day extra in Florence and second part of the day for the train ride back to Rome, I think keeping the car parked for couple of days will add extra cost that may be avoided by returning the car and using the train to go back. I think in my case two days in Rome will be plenty, taking into consideration overwhelming amount of things to do and the pace of the city it will be nice to get away to the smaller towns for couple of days. We definitely go with the notion that we are not able to see everything so lets not overwhelm ourselves with packing too many things into short period of time. Thank you again for your input.

Posted by Danuta
Eugene, Oregon, US
20 posts

Tom, I meant make a side trip to Lucca and Pisa while still in Florence at the end of the stay there and then go back to Rome... not the other way around (then indeed it would be waste of time, to go back to Rome and then return to Lucca and Pisa which is what you may have understood)

Posted by Ron
Carbondale, IL, USA
1201 posts

Try your trip this way. On arrival in Rome immediately train to Florence no matter when you get in. Fast train from termini about 1.5 hours. Florence for 2 nights, using one day for daytrip to Lucca and Pisa on train possibly. Rent car depart Florence probably airport to avoid ZTL in city. Explore countryside. Stay in Siena 2 nights. drop the car in Orvieto and train to Rome. Rome for 3 nights then fly home. More efficient use of time and avoids the burn night before departure.

Posted by Danuta
Eugene, Oregon, US
20 posts

I appreciate your input Ron, definitely an alternative.
Why do you think the reverse order is more efficient use of time?

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

One thing I like to keep in mind is that 2 nights in a location is only one full day, 3 nights is only 2 days, etc. If you spend 2 nights in Florence you will have one day there. Do you want to spend your one day in Florence by doing a daytrip away from there? You have a very short trip planned. I would eliminate one of your destinations. Every time you change lodging it takes time. After landing in Rome I would pick up your car and head for Tuscany. Spend 3-4 nights there in one place. You can do daytrips, including to Florence, from there. Turn in the car and train back to Rome. Spend 3-4 nights, then fly home. Why break Rome up into 2 segments?

Posted by Ron
Carbondale, IL, USA
1201 posts

Assuming you are locked into Rome for arrival and departure.... Putting Rome at the end of your trip means that you don't have to return to Rome to basically just spend the night before departure.

Posted by Danuta
Eugene, Oregon, US
20 posts

I see your point guys.
We've already made reservations for the first three nights in Rome (which may not be set in stone and may be possible to rearrange, I think they require 2 weeks for full cancellation). We need to be at the airport in Rome at 9:00am - that is why we wanted to get back there the night before, I dont think that coming back the morning of from Florence is a good idea, too many things can go wrong this morning and the result could be missing the plane. Based on your suggestions (and if I want to keep the order of south to north) it might be worth getting just one place to stay (e.g. mentioned Agroturisimo Marciano) and do daytrips from there (its about 1h from Sienna to Florence so it would make for an entire day in Florence), my original plan was to stay in Florence and have entire day there, no daytrips from there. My logic here was very much geographical, trying to avoid backtracking and go from place to place (the only backtrack is the main come back to Rome)

Posted by Danuta
Eugene, Oregon, US
20 posts

Also, we are going to be arriving in Rome at 9:00 pm.... I think it may be too late to be taking train to Florence, dont you think?

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

Backtracking is the reason I suggested leaving Rome immediately, saving your time there for the end of the trip. That way you will only be there once. I agree that it would be a bad idea to try to get to Rome from Tuscany on the day you fly out. Minimize how much you will be moving around. It takes your time away from sightseeing.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

Arriving at 9:00 pm is a bit late to start traveling. In that case I would stay at a hotel by the airport, get a good nights sleep, and head for Tuscany in the morning. I think Tuscany is a better place to adjust for jet lag. We started our trip in Rome and I found it to be a bit chaotic and stressful. I may have felt differently if we were there a little later in the trip.

Posted by Danuta
Eugene, Oregon, US
20 posts

I should add that Rome is not going to be our first destination (we will be already adjusted to the jet-lag by week spend in Poland beforehand)

Posted by Danuta
Eugene, Oregon, US
20 posts

I really appreciate all the brainstorming you guys are putting me through. Theoretically that 1.5h of travel between Rome and Florence shouldn't matter where is added (at the beginning or at the end), if we catch the latest train to Rome from Florence and stay in the hotel near airport, this shouldnt add that much of a travel time, right? Here is so far re-wrote plan: Day 1 - flying to Rome, arrival 9:00pm, staying in Rome (Hotel Smeraldo) Day 2 - exploring Rome, staying in Rome (Hotel Smeraldo) Day 3 - exploring Rome, staying in Rome (Hotel Smeraldo) Day 4 - early departure north, stopping at Monteplulciano, Pienza, Montalciano, staying in Agriturisimo Marciano near Sienna Day 5 - exploring Sienna, drive north later in a day, arrive and stay in Florence Day 6 - explore Florence, stay in Florence Day 7 - explore Florence, leave to Rome late in the day , staying in Rome near the airport Day 8 - need to be at the airport at 9:00 am. I know I didnt rearrange it completely according to your suggestions.. one thing, we made this reservation in Rome because we were afraid availability may be an issue, so we wanted to have place to stay in order, I am not sure I want to go through the hassle of cancelling or rescheduling it.
Also, the reason, I wanted to stay in couple of different places while north of Rome, is to experience different things given the short amount of time, winery will be wonderful for the dinner and night, and then in Florence being close to the city and the fact that we wont have the car there. I will figure out the car thing, most likely as you suggest, rented the day we leave Rome, keep it throught Sienna and return it the day we arrive in Florence.

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4871 posts

We returned our car at the airport in Florence and took the express bus into town. It was very easy and we didn't have to worry about driving in any ZTL's. Are you aware that to drive in Italy you will need an International Drivers Permit (IDP)? They are available at AAA for $15. You need to provide a passport sized photo or they will take one there.

Posted by Danuta
Eugene, Oregon, US
20 posts

I have European International Drivers License (which I hope it still valid, made it few years ago before moving to US) but will need to get one for my fiance.
Thank you for reminding me of that.