Hi everyone. I had to cancel my trip in 2020 like many others and I'm finally planning it again, but I'm once again feeling overwhelmed by all the planning. I want to go in March since I'm hoping it will not be too cold, but still before the crowds return. I want to stay 12-14 days and I'm focusing on Florence and Rome, with side trips to Siena, Lucca, Pisa and maybe a few other towns outside Florence. I want to get tickets to Accademia and Uffizi in Florence and I'm going to try to reschedule a few tours I'd set up in Rome (Sistine Chapel and a food tour in Trastevere). I'm fairly certain of the things and places I want to see, although if there's anything I shouldn't miss, I'd love to hear about it.
What I don't feel confident about is the logistics of it all. I booked airfare for my last trip through a secondary site and ended up losing a lot of money when the trip had to be cancelled, so I know I should book flights direct this time, but how do I figure out the best price and comfort etc.? I'm flexible about the dates and which airport to use. I live in MD, so there are several airports within a reasonable distance. I would love to do a direct flight because I'm less likely to get confused if I'm super tired when I get there. On the other hand, if I can get a flight with a day or two layover that's much less expensive, I'd consider that. I was planning to fly into Rome, take the train to Florence, then return to Rome and fly out, but now I'm thinking if I fly into Rome, stay a few days, then go to Florence and take some day trips from there before returning to Rome for another few days then fly out, it might be easier. Again, I'm open to suggestions.
A few questions for now are 1) how do I get the best prices for flights, making sure I'll get a refund if they get cancelled. 2) how soon should I book flights since I don't want to look for lodging or tour tickets until I have specific dates. 3) does anyone have lodging recommendations. I don't want to be too far from tourist areas, so I can walk alone at night with relative confidence. Plus, I'd love a view from my room. 4) Are the trains and buses harder to maneuver now because of Covid and what should I know about that. 5) when is the ideal time to get travel insurance and who do you recommend. The plan I had last time obviously didn't cover cancelling due to a pandemic, but is that even an option these days?
I'll probably have lots more questions, but I guess this is a good place to start. You were all so helpful when I was planning this trip for 2020, so I appreciate any advice you can give me once again. Thank you!!!