Best Use of Time In Italy

My husband and myself are planning on going to Italy for our 1st time in 2014. I have been doing so much research so I thought I could get some input. I'm planning on being there for 10 nights and flying out of San Francisco. I'm thinking about Rome, Venice and Florence or Paris, Rome, Venice. I'm not sure how many days to stay in each area. Also any input on hotels and time of year to go. I keep hearing September is a good time. Any input would be appreciated.
Thanks Lisa

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1002 posts

First of all, with just 10 nights, I would stick to Italy. Do you know that you can fly into Rome and out of Venice, or vice versa? That will conserve some time. Delta does it, and maybe some other airlines; and it costs little or no more than rt flights. You can take trains from one city to another. Yes, September is a good time, or even October. If you give some clues as to your budget and interests, people can give better advice.

Posted by Angela
Vancouver, Wa, Usa
233 posts

How you prioritize your will depend on your interests. You want romance, then think Paris, Venice and Rome. It'd be lovely if you could add a few days... You'll need probably a minimum of 4-5 days each for Paris and Rome, and 3 days for Venice. If your priority is history, art, churches, etc., then stick to Italy as they have far more than you can see in a lifetime.

Posted by lisa
Pleasanton
19 posts

Thank you for the information so far, much appreciated. Were still working on the budget.I most likely will use alot of Rick's recomendations. We decided against a tour since we really wanted the flexibility to do a full day of activities or just stay around the hotel and enjoy the cities.

Posted by Julie
Frisco, Texas, US
54 posts

Off season (not summer) travel is less crowded and less expensive. The weather in summer is nice, but Rome can be so hot, and around August 15 there are many closures in Italy, as Assumption Day is a bigger holiday than Christmas. I have a different view than those who will tell you to stick to Italy or not to try to do too much. I say go where you want to go as long as it is possible, and its better to see somewhere for a short time than not see it at all, since you never know when you will be back. My husband and I (from Danville CA!!) agree that Paris is our favorite city in the world. If you are considering visiting Paris, then do it! Rome seems to be a given for you, and its amazing. Skip Florence unless you are really into museums and go to Venice. As for timing, I would fly to Venice and spend 2 nights there. Train to Rome. Spend 4 nights there. Fly to Paris. Spend 4 nights there. Fly home from Paris. If you want more time in Italy 2 or 3 nights in Paris would be fine, but 4 is better. In Rome, I recommend Hotel Lancelot (stayed there December 2012 and many Rick fans like it). In Venice I can't help, I stayed at a hostel! In Paris, its all about the neighborhood, and I prefer St. Germain. If you like Monet, a wonderful 1/2 day will allow you to train to Giverny and visit Monet's home and gardens. Venere.com is a good site for hotels in Europe. Hipmunk is a good site to compare air on different routes. Have fun planning.

Posted by George
Independence, KS, USA
532 posts

If you haven't already done so, be sure and get a guide book for those respective cities. Check out www.seat61.com for all your train and ferry questions. Tripadvisor.com is our favorite website that gets way more specific for each city than on this site. We are headed for Rome, Venice, and Florence this fall--first time for Italy since we annually visit London and Paris. Istanbul is right up there with Paris as our favorites. We thought the three Italian cities in 10 days was barely enough for us. Whatever you decide, your trip will be a positive life-changing experience. Happy travels

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2826 posts

September is a lovely time to visit the cities you mentioned. But be aware that it is also a very busy time, so get your hotels reserved early. I agree that 3 major cities in 10 days is doable, if a bit rushed. And do be sure to do open jaw flights (multi city), into your first city and out of your last. On a short visit like yours, you don't have time to backtrack. I'd play around with www.Kayak.com (to look at transatlantic flights) and www.skyscanner.com (to look at intra-European flights) to see what gives you the best deal. For instance, it may be cheaper to fly into Paris and out of Venice than vice versa, or it may be cheaper to fly from Rome to Paris (so you'd see Venice first) or from Venice to Paris (so you'd see Rome first). Within Italy, the trains are frequent, fast, and inexpensive between Rome, Florence, and Venice. But, while some do use overnight trains to get from Italy to Paris, many posts here indicate that others will never do it again. Personally, I'd fly. In addition to guidebooks, you may find it helpful to watch travel videos to see what places interest you. Rick's are available on YouTube and Hulu, and he's just done new ones last year on all the places you are thinking of.

Posted by Richard
Los Angeles
632 posts

Fly to Paris for four nights. Fly to Florence walk around and see the David and then take a bus to a small hill town in the countryside for 2 nights. Train to Rome for the remainder. Or keep it really simple and do Paris and Rome only. Use the RS guides for restaurants and walking tours especially along with a lot of other good advice. His hotels are booked well in advance.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1139 posts

My last few trips have been in Sept/Oct, and it's a great time to visit. You're likely to find weather very much like the east and south Bay Area (but prepare for possibility of being chillier at night than at home, since heat will not be turned on, even if it is getting cold at night). Everybody will give you different opinions about where you should go; I suggest you get guidebooks and highlight your must-sees; some of the picture-driven guidebooks, like DK Eyewitness guides or National Geographic guides, can be nice tools for that exercise. That will make your itinerary clear to you. I do have one comment: in my last two trips to Europe, I combined France and Italy, but I had 3 and 3.5 weeks on the ground for those trips. You'll lose 1/2 to 3/4 of a day getting from Paris to Italy, even if you fly. So I'd suggest sticking to one country, given that you only have 10 nights/9 days. You'll see more sites; less airports/trains.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1960 posts

The later part of September into October is a great time to go. The last of March and the first of April is another great time to go. If at all possible, try to grab another 3-4 days. Remember you lose a day when you arrive due to jet lag, and the last day on your trip is in route to the airport. With a few more days, your itinerary will work. If you just take 10 days, stick to Italy, Venice, Florence and Rome.
I cannot plan very far ahead on trips, as I'm an incessant planner. I prefer to make a quick travel decisions, usually when I spot a terrific bargain.

Posted by Julie
Frisco, Texas, US
54 posts

When I went to Rome/Verona/Paris last December, I had one week. Flew to Rome, train to Verona, then budget inter-Europe airline to Paris ($50 for the flight), then home from Paris.

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
711 posts

I 2nd (or 3rd or 4th) travelling Sept/Oct - all 3 trips we've gone mid-Sept to 1st week of Oct and almost always have perfect weather...very little rain, nice temps (tho the 1st week of Oct it was getting cool in UK)...we were in Florence the 3rd week of Sept and I swear the day we were there it had to have been in the 80-85 degree range...even in Nice last week of Sept I had a light cardi and a light tank on underneath and I had to lose the cardi...bra straps be damned! I like the thought of 4 days in Paris/Rome 3 in Venice...or if you stick to Italy which may be better with only 10 days, do 4 Rome, 3 in Florence and 3 Venice (my fav!)

Posted by Nicole P
Truro, NS, Canada
711 posts

Oh..if you have a kindle/ereader or ipad...I just downloaded a Frommers day by day guide to California for 5.99 (on my ipad mini) vs prob paying over $15 for the paper version...and the wonderful thing is any links you can click and go right to instead of having to make notes and hunt them out on you computer. I was checking DK guides for my mini and I'm sure I saw Rome there, maybe even Venice/Florence and I'm sure Paris was there, for much less then you would pay for the paper versions...(here in Canada, I just paid $25 for DK Vegas and Southwest US, only to have hubby decide on Cali)...and then you also don't have to lug the paper one around with you...and other then internet links, you can access offline as well...so if you have an e- or i- gadget, check it out! And try checking for Frommers/Fodor...and Rick's may even be avail (tho I didn't notice them in my ipad store)

Posted by lisa
Pleasanton
19 posts

Thank you to everyone for all their input. It looks like I'm going to add 3 more days to our trip. I will be going to Paris/Rome/Venice. So if I fly out of San Francisco where would it be best to start. I know airfare cost will probably end up being one of the factors but I thought I would ask. Now that I'm adding days I need to rethink my budget. Do you think $150 US dollars per night would be a good budget amount using Rick's recommendations for a hotel? Sine my trip is so far out I can't get much rate info. One last question, how far in advance do you think I should start looking for airfare? Is it better to wait or book early?