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10 day itinerary opinions and logistics

Hello -

Two friends and I have just booked flights for ten days in Italy in late September/early October. We are flying into Rome and out of Florence. In those ten days we are planning to go to Rome, Cinque Terre, Florence, and some of the towns of Tuscany (which ones yet to be determined).

We are planning to spend two nights each in Rome and Cinque Terre, and the remaining six nights in Tuscany, possibly splitting them between Florence and an Agriturismo. Because we are flying out of Florence, I am thinking of going from Rome to Cinque Terre - is this a good decision, since we are now going from our most southern to our most northern spot? Are there good train options? I looked a bit on the Trenitalia site but was a bit confused (and that was the English site!) as to the differences in prices and times, but it looks like we can get to La Spezia fairly easily and then switch trains?

As for the time in Tuscany, I would like to spend some time in Florence, some time touring some hill towns, hiking, eating, drinking, and learning about the food and wine. There are so many towns to choose from! I am thinking maybe a day trip (tour) from Florence to the Chianti region, with stops in Siena and San Gimignano, while we are spending three nights in Florence, and the other three nights spend at an agriturismo in the Montalcino/Montepulciano/Pienza area? Does that seem like a good plan? I would like to hear your feedback.

As for getting around, I am interested in renting a car but my friends are hesitant - they think it will be too difficult and stressful. But from what I've read, as long as you stay outside of the city, it's not too bad, plus it's difficult to get everywhere without one unless you want to figure out the bus routes. How strongly would you recommend having a car? Also, I am a frequent traveler with Hertz, but all domestic. I believe I can use my points to cover the actual rental cost. Any experience in using Hertz in Italy?

Thanks for your help!

Posted by
3580 posts

I think you are overly ambitious for a ten day trip. Three nights ( at least) for Rome then three in CT would give you two full days in each. Then spend four nights in Florence with side trips to a couple of hill towns. This can all be done by train and/or bus. If you feel the need to rent a car, maybe do that for one or two days while you are in Florence.

From Rome to La Spezia by train is about four hours. A regional train runs between La Spezia and the CT towns. Take the train from La Spezia to Florence.

Posted by
6542 posts

You're thinking pretty straight on your itinerary.

If you've never been to Rome, I'd suggest you spend a minimum 4 days there. Great cities are worthy of enough time to see the sights properly. You could certainly take the train from Rome to La Spezia, and catch a short local train ride into the C/T.

The train ride over to Florence from La Spezia is not very far--with many trains going through Pisa. I would suggest you spending 3 nights in Florence city center as there is so much to see.

Rent a car as you leave Florence. I used Hertz (through and took a taxi a couple of miles from the train station to Hertz on Sansovino. Be sure to get driving instructions on how to get to the motorway avoiding the ZTL's. Hertz in Italy is company owned, and I've never had any complaints with them.
We went south to Poggibonsi and northwest to Certaldo. Our agriturismo was between there and San Gimignano. There are hundreds and hundreds of accommodations through there as virtually every little farm has rooms and apartments as a source of secondary income. Spend whatever time you have left driving from town to town. We especially liked S/G and Volterra.

The roads throughout Tuscany are well paved and they're well marked. They may be a little crooked, but traffic is relatively light and the roads are easily navigated. You can return the car to the Florence airport as you leave.

Posted by
364 posts

2 nights in a town is only 1 day really. And traveling takes up MUCH more time than you think. From Rome, you can take an easy day trip via train to Orvieto. From Florence, you can take an easy day trip via bus to Siena. You can enjoy the views this way too and not deal with luggage. Go to the WALK, READ, LISTEN section of this site & you can see Rick Steves videos of several of the hill towns I mentioned and some others.

Walk About Florence has great trips too - they have a BEST OF TUSCANY trip, a CINQUE TERRE trip, we are doing their CHIANTI WINE & FOOD SAFARI trip. Check their web page out and see their reviews on TripAdvisor.

Renting a car is certainly an option, that others can help you with. We have chosen to use the train and do day trips (although, initially we were going to rent a car). Just be careful not to try and do too much in such a short period of time. You want to EXPERIENCE Italy.

Personally, with only 10days, I'd base out of Florence & Rome and use WalkAboutFlorence for my day trips to the surrounding areas. Although, I would do Orvieto(train from Rome) and Siena(bus from Florence) on my own.

Happy Planning!!

Posted by
1094 posts

I would add 3 nights to Rome. Remember you are flying into Rome, will most likely be jet-lagged, so day #1 will be iffy. If day #2 is for Rome, and you leave the next day to travel again, you won't see much of Rome. Spend day #3 in Rome.

Leave early on day #4 for Cinque Terre. Spend rest of day #4, day #5, and maybe day #6 in CT. This is where you can do your hiking!

Leave day #6 or #7 to Florence/Tuscany towns, spend rest of time there and fly out. You don't want a car in Florence. Siena is an easy day trip by bus. If staying in an agriturismo, you will want a car. From there, you can visit many hill towns.

Is your trip for this year? If so, book your accommodations ASAP, especially Cinque Terre.

Posted by
7124 posts

I like the previously mentioned idea of ... Rome (3 nts) => Cinque Terre (3 nts) => Florence (4 nts).
Or split your time in Florence with Siena, making it easier to get to San Gimignano for a day.
Perhaps ... Rome (3 nts) => Cinque Terre (2 nts) => Siena (2 nts) => Florence (3 nts)
If you are hesitating with a car I would suggest sticking to public transport.
Besides with only 10 days you really don't have time to go 'off piste'.

Posted by
96 posts

If you do rent a car don't get into the predicament that I did. In California just about all cars have the headlights go on automatically when it starts to get dark. Well, I was driving home from San Gim. way, and had to cross the Chianti area, All of a sudden, I realized it was getting dark. There was no shoulder, no driveway to get off the road. Wonder I wasn't hit before I finally found the light switch. Find that first :)) That was one of my wild adventures and best memories ...

Posted by
143 posts

I completely agree that you should spend more time in Rome. It is an amazing city and there will be no way to see very much with just one full, jet-lagged day. Honestly, I think I would choose either to go to CT OR to spend time touring Hill Towns. If you are staying in Tuscany outside Florence, you will definitely need a car. We rented at the Termini station in Rome, kept it for three days while we toured Hill Towns from our home base outside Montepulciano, and returned to the Florence airport and then took a taxi into town to our accommodations there. It was very easy to pick up and return and very easy to navigate. We used Google maps on our iphones, but next time I would go ahead and rent the navigation system there to save the hassle of keeping the phone charged, etc.

You will probably have more train options from Rome than from anywhere else. There is a Hertz rental office in Orvieto and you will find many posts on this board about using that rental location and about Orvieto, which all seem to love.

My humble opinion, but I just don't think 10 days is enough time to see Rome, CT, Florence and multiple hill towns in Tuscany.

Posted by
3315 posts

Agree completely with chinalake67's statement "...not to try and do too much in such a short period of time. You want to EXPERIENCE Italy completely". With your limited time, don't spend anymore of it going from point to point than necessary. Suggest you just split your time between Rome and Florence and do a day trip or two from each.

Posted by
17 posts

I agree with previous comments and would add that we loved Orvieto and Sienna. Both great day or overnight trips.

Posted by
17 posts

I agree with previous comments and would add that we loved Orvieto and Sienna. Both great day or overnight trips.

Posted by
34 posts

Thank you for the responses - regarding Rome. I have been there. I was there for a week and loved it (although there was one day I got really sick of the noise, that was the day I spent in the Borghese Museum and surrounding park and then I was fine). This trip was to be about Tuscany. The cheapest option was to fly into Rome. My friends have not been to Rome, and I am torn about what to do there, but I do not want to take too much time away from Tuscany and CT.