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2022 Trip to Italy - twice postponed due to Covid

Very excited to start planning again, and of course we've changed our plans. My husband now wishes to visit Ortona (which will be a hassle, but necessary), so we have extended our plans to a month. Leave Toronto Canada, Saturday, April 9th, arrive Rome Sunday, April 10th - stay two nights, take bus to Ortona on Tuesday, stay two nights in order to have one full day to see Canadian War sites.

Take train to Venice (from Pescara) on Thursday, April 14th. Stay in Venice for four nights (over Easter).

Monday, April 18th - Take train to Florence to pick up car and stay in Tuscany for 10 nights - 5 nights near Montaione - visit San Gimagano/Volterra one day, Pisa one day, cooking class in Certaldo another - not sure what to do the 4th full day.

Drive to Siena (visit Monteriggioni on the way), stay two nights.

Then stay in either Montalciono or Montepulciano for 3 nights and visit those two villages, Pienza and Val d Orcia/Abbey. We will then drive back to Florence, drop off car and stay in Florence for four nights (1 day trip to Cinque Terre). Next train to Rome, where we will stay 5 nights (1 day trip to Pompei) before going back to Toronto.

There is no shortage of things to see and do in Florence and Rome, but we are somewhat torn on our trip to Tuscany as we want to make the best of it, while at the same time relaxing. Does all this make sense? We are in our 60's, but active and in good health.

Posted by
1345 posts

Might it be easier to fly ‘open jaw’ or ‘multi-city’ into Venice and out of Rome, so you can consolidate all your Rome time and not have to backtrack?

Posted by
7 posts

Rome was the only option for a straight flight with no stopovers. However, right now, even Rome has layovers. Venice would be a better option if we can get a straight flight. Thanks.

Posted by
706 posts

I would sleep in Montepulciano instead of Montalcino. There's not much to see or do in the latter.

Posted by
24883 posts

I agree on arriving in Venice (great place to recover jetlag) and depart Rome, working north to south and avoiding backtrack...

Posted by
9523 posts

I like your plan given what you want to do and see. And I love that you have a whole month!

If you fly into Venice, you still have some weird routing because of Ortona. After two nights in Rome, you should be rested enough to enjoy the bus trip and the scenery is lovely. As to what to do with your 4th day in Tuscany, it is always nice to have time for those things you come across that may call to you, a cute village, a festival, a hike in the countryside, etc. So don’t over plan, stay flexible, and open yourselves to opportunity. Sometimes we micro-plan and are reluctant to veer off when an unexpected options presents itself. Also, don’t underestimate the power of a day of rest. Taking a day off from intense touring is delightful. Browse the shops, eat a two-hour lunch, do your laundry.

(An aside: as an over planner myself I have learned to make a list of more things than we can possibly see then as we get to a location and assess our energy, interests, and the weather, discuss with my husband his preferences. We also visit the TI to see what is going on that might not have already hit our radar.)

I would take the same philosophy with respect to long day trips to the Cinque Terre and Pompeii. Both are worthy sites but assess how you feel before undertaking them as a “must do.” As Rick says, assume you will be back!

Posted by
1811 posts

(An aside: as an over planner myself I have learned to make a list of
more things than we can possibly see then as we get to a location and
assess our energy, interests, and the weather, discuss with my husband
his preferences. We also visit the TI to see what is going on that
might not have already hit our radar.)

I would take the same philosophy with respect to long day trips to the
Cinque Terre and Pompeii. Both are worthy sites but assess how you
feel before undertaking them as a “must do.” As Rick says, assume you
will be back!

Hi Laurel, LTNS!!

I think I learned the 'overplan, leave room for spontaneity' strategy from you! It's really the way to go, especially in a city like Rome. For our in-planning April 2022 trip, we're finishing off a whirlwind Switzerland/northern Italy 10-11 days with a chill week at an apartment in Rome. And we'll be traveling with dear friends for the first time after only us as a couple our other 3 trips.

So...aside from all the stuff in Rome to do, there are two 'flexible' daytrips that we've done that need no reservations but pretty much need good weather to enjoy--Orvieto, and then Pompei. For the former, not so bad. 90 minute train ride from Termini station in late morning, arrive, take the funicular up to the plateau hilltown, then explore after a nice lunch. Fabulous. Back to Rome, home for a nap and a late dinner.

Pompei is another story. If our friends want to do it, it's an early morning (8AM) bus to Termini, 70 minute train to Napoli Centrale, switch to the Circumvesuviana commuter train, and another 20 minutes to the Pompei Scavi stop. Maybe 3 hours at the ruins, backtrack to Naples, maybe a quick taxi to Da Michele (or similar) Napolitan pizza joint, taxi back to the station, then train back to Rome. Probably a 12 hour day when you add it all up. Doable, but a workout for sure.

My point is that we'll have the logistics mapped out for both of these side trips in advance, but will only do them if we feel up to it stamina-wise and the weather is compliant on that day.

Posted by
59 posts

Hi,
Sounds like an incredible trip and you've got plenty of time to make appropriate adjustments, if necessary.

As others have pointed out, if you can't obtain a direct flight, then absolutely go "open jaw." It'll save time and hassle.

In 2015 I stayed in Montalcino for four nights and loved it. However, I had a car and traveled freely during the days. The poster above is correct in that after the Fortress, there is not a great deal to do and see there. It's tiny, but the restaurants and views of the Val d'Orcia are wonderful and the Brunello flowing through the area is excellent. Two nights are more than enough time there. It is centrally located so you can use it as a home base to visit Pienza, Montepulciano, San Antimo, San Angelo Scalo, Val d'Orcia, etc. The problem you may encounter is parking, especially in Pienza/Montepulciano.

I don't think you'll be disappointed, regardless of what itinerary you choose. However, have you considered flying from Venice to Pisa, staying a day or there, and then going north to Cinque Terre? I think you'll find the CT beautiful in April and worth two-three nights. Then you can back track south to Pisa, Lucca, Florence, Tuscany, Siena, etc. This may be more direct than Rome to Venice to Florence to CT to Florence, to Siena to Rome.

Good luck

Posted by
18154 posts

I don't believe there are non-stop flights from Venice to Pisa. Even if there are, I'd prefer the train; dealing with airports is a drag. There are several rail routings that take only about 3-1/2 hours, though many others are a lot longer.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for all the replies, there is so much to think about, but am very glad to have lots of time to role things around. I am not adverse to having a layover at least one way, so that's a good place to start.

I was inclined to think that Venice might be a wonderful place to end our trip as opposed to Rome, so then considered flying into Rome and back to Toronto from Venice. However, instead of backtracking, just stay in Rome a couple of extra days which could include a bus to Ortona, stay one night, and bus it back to Rome the next day. We could keep our apartment for the entire time in Rome, instead of travelling with more luggage than necessary.

We could then take a train from Rome to La Spezie for a two night stay and visit Cinque Terra.

From La Spezie, take the train to Florence to pick up the car and spend our time in Tuscany. Along with out original plans, we could visit Pisa by car or by train from Castelfiorentino (near where we will be staying for a few nights), Siena a couple of nights and Montepulciano etc. prior to returning the car to Florence

We would then stay in Florence for a few days, with a possible day trip to Lucca if time and energy allows for it, and then take the train from Florence to Venice for our last leg of our trip, being a four night stay.

I thought the above sounded reasonable, but then forgot we had Easter in there. We do not wish to be in Rome over Easter, so perhaps it would be best to start in Venice and end in Rome after all - back to the drawing board! Good time I have lots of time...

Posted by
24883 posts

An advantage to Venice first is that flights arrive in Venice at reasonable hours of the day, by and large, and get you to your hotel at a reasonable time for dropping luggage or checking in. Transatlantic flights don't originate at Venice so you have to get to your connecting airport early - that means flights from Venice at 5 or 6 or 7 in the morning. That means getting a boat - either a water taxi (very expensive), or a Alilaguna (less expensive but many people here, including me, don't like them) or night vaporetto to Piazzale Roma for a bus to the airport (cheap, very easy, very efficient, but you don't get to wipe sleep out of your eyes looking back at Venice getting smaller from a boat, but you can't see from an Alilaguna anyway) and that means getting up - literally - in the middle of the night.

Rome doesn't have that issue.

That's why, among other things, many here prefer to start in Venice. As I said upthread, it is also an excellent place for getting over jetlag.

I can think of a lot worse things than Easter in Rome. What don't you like about the idea?

Posted by
700 posts

OP- Please, please, read Nigel’s post above and then continue to reread it until it sinks in. Venice is a wonderful arrival city (just stunning to see the islands from the air) and a HORRIBLE city to depart from for an international traveler heading back to the US or Canada. Middle of the night water taxi’s can cost hundreds of dollars- you ready for that....or the panic that will set in if it doesn’t arrive on time. Will your hotel have a water gate or will you need to drag your suitcases around in the wee hours of the morning to find your pick up point on a canal? Yes- there is public transportation in the middle of the night, but good luck with that on your first trip there. It is not a relaxing way to end a trip. Easter in Rome will have an impact in terms of tourist numbers at the Vatican, but not elsewhere where it will be business as usual.

Posted by
1677 posts

Besides lack of flights currently, has sonething changed regarding transatlantic flights to/from Venice? 3 years ago we flew direct from Toronto to Venice arriving about 10am, and direct back to Toronto about 2pm on Air Canada.

Posted by
59 posts

Hi MandSully2,

Just a couple things to add: 1) if you're staying a full month, it would be worth your while to read carefully Rick Steves' packing tips for men and women. Whether he travels for two weeks or two months, he takes only one carry on piece of luggage and lives out of that. I suspect it is going to be burdensome for you to travel for a month and lug around several pieces of luggage. I'm a male in my 50's and in 2015 I spent nearly four months traveling through Europe and did it all while carrying just a standard gym bag, so it is doable. (As I side note, other than shipping a couple cases of wine home, I did not purchase any souvenirs on my trip: the more you purchase, the more you have to carry around with you from city to city); 2) I had a very different experience leaving Venice in November, 2018. I had an early morning flight (9:00-ish) and was able to hop on a public vaporetto at the Rialto stop for about 11.00 euros. I think I took a 6:30 or 7:00 boat (the sun was just coming up) and other than another couple from North Carolina (whom I did not know), I was alone on the boat.

Best of luck

Posted by
4 posts

Hi -
Just wanted to chime in about Tuscany. We have rented a house in a small town in Tuscany for a month in the fall every year since 2014 - obviously not 2020. Hoping to go this fall - getting our 2nd vaccine this Wednesday. The house has 5 bedrooms so we usually have friends come stay with us. We are in our 60's and always rent a car.

We have found that the charm of Tuscany is exploring the smaller towns - little restaurants, local wineries and just having an espresso in a cafe.
I would suggest just staying in 2 places - Montaione and Montepulciano. I would probably skip Pisa, but that is up to you. You can do a day trip to Siena from Montaione - be sure to book a tour there - I use
Artviva and their guides are always locals - we love hearing about the Palio and the contradas from them!
We usually go to San Gimingnano in the late afternoon after a lot of tour buses have left - although who knows what the situation will be in 2022.
We love to go to the local wineries - tours, tastings, sometimes lunch - we have met so many nice owners, etc. You need to make appointments. We usually buy some wine to take back to the house. And olive oil which I always bring back to the US. We do use a driver on wine days so everyone can enjoy!!
Don't over schedule - take time to find the small gems that are in Tuscany.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you so much, you have all given me lots to consider. We will definitely fly into Venice (and not out of). After reading the posts and some more research, I believe we may change our plans (again) to flying into Venice and staying for 4 nights. Take the train to Florence and pick up the car and spend the next 10 nights in Tuscany. Return the car in Florence and stay in Florence for 4 nights. Take the train from Florence to La Spezia and stay 2 nights to tour CT. Take the train from La Spezia to Rome for the remainder of the trip (7 nights), where we will incorporate Ortona by bus somewhere in there, and a day trip to Pompei, both very important to my husband.

I really like the idea of spending half the time in Tuscany near Montaione area (it seems very central to many of the villages, i.e. San Gimignano and Volterra amongst others) and the other half in Montepulciano (central to other areas, Pienza, Montalcino etc. We had originally planned to stay 2 nights between the two places in Siena, but one advised to just do Siena as a day trip, I would be interested in hearing more views on Siena. From what I read, Siena sounded like a good place to stay over and the evenings are supposed to be awesome. On the other side, two home bases over 10 nights is also appealing.

We will definitely be travelling light, as we've learned to do, but although we don't want to miss the essentials, we want it to be memorable, and not be so rushed that you hardly remember anything! We can incorporate Pisa/Lucca if time and energy allows, and can either take a train from Florence, or from the train station at Castelfiorentino or drive.

Thanks for your input!, Marie

Posted by
1345 posts

Sounds great! I loved Siena passionately, so I think you would be glad to spend a couple of nights there.

Posted by
864 posts

If you fly into Venice, get seats on the right /starboard side of the aircraft. You then get a view of the lagoon and the city.

Posted by
99 posts

I would only do Pompeii if you can take 2 days from Rome and stay further south. It is not a reasonable day trip. As the previous poster mentioned, you would spend 12 hours for a 3 hour tour. We spent 5 hours at Pompeii and only scratched the surface. Honestly, part of the appeal is walking slowly through these areas and letting the enormity of what you are seeing really set in.

Posted by
431 posts

There is a non-stop flight from Toronto to Venice... at least when we're going in September! Leaves at 7pm arrives in Venice at 9am.

Jean