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First Timer's 11 Day Itinerary

My wife and I are going for an 11 day trip to Italy arriving in Venice on Sept. 1 and departing in Rome on Sept. 12. Please give any comments or advice on this proposed itinerary as this is our first trip in Italy (and Europe for that matter):

Days 1-2, Venice
Days 3-4, Florence
Days 5-7, Cinque Terre
Days 8-11, Rome

We are concerned that we are trying to do too much because we really enjoy relaxing and staying away from the typical "must see" things. On the other hand, we also really want to see Siena and perhaps the Tuscany countryside but we obviously can't see it all. We decided to strike the countryside because we would prefer to do all buses and trains in order to save money and hassle. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks.

Posted by
2030 posts

I personally would do 3 days in Venice, 3-4 in Tuscany using one hill town as a base, and perhaps seeing one other one, and then final days in Rome.
I would save Florence an CT for another time -- but this is just my preference....

Posted by
70 posts

We just did the following itinerary, traveling entirely by train/bus.

Day 1,2 Venice

Day 3,4 Florence

Day 5 Pisa to CT, Day 6 CT trail

Day 7,8 Siena (bus to San Gimignano day 8)

Day 9,10 Rome

Day 11 depart

We felt like we got a nice taste of each place that we went to. We did not have enough time in Rome, but we decided that when we return to Italy we would do Rome again. I would have liked an additional day in CT.

I should add that we are young active folks, and we put in pretty full days. Not everyone would enjoy our pace.

Feel free to send me a message with specific questions.

Posted by
4132 posts

Travel in Italy can be slower than in (say) Northern Europe. Things are closed, on strike, late. Also, there is a learning curve--and you are first-timers.

On that basis I think your itinerary is rushed. Not impossible, mind you. But maybe, depending on your goals, not optimal.

You might be better off saving one of these great destinations for another trip.

Posted by
32265 posts

Bill, as Kent mentioned, you'll lose the first day in flight and time zone changes, so you'll only have only one day in Venice (and you'll be recovering from jet lag also, so won't be up to "touring speed"). Plan your touring carefully!

Keep in mind also that you'll need to allow for travel time between cities. Most of your trips should be reasonably short, however this will depend on which trains you choose. If you haven't checked, you might want to read the "Rail Skills" section in Rick's Europe Through The Back Door. There may be some train changes required, so you want to be up to speed on that.

Good luck with your planning!

Posted by
4 posts

Thank you all for your thoughtful advice. I believe we are now going to trim down our locations to three: Venice, Rome and one other area. I also wanted to ask whether there was any major differences in food and beverage prices (dinner, lunch, snacks, drinks, etc.) between the villages of Cinque Terre, Florence or Siena? Although this may not affect our final decision, I have read different things and I am interested if there really are any major differences. I have consitently read, however, that Venice is the most expensive with Rome being a close second. Thanks again.

Posted by
5 posts

If you're trimming your itinerary down to Rome, Venice, and one other city, I would pick Florence. It's so beautiful and makes a good base for a day trip to Lucca. Even if it is a typical must see, it would be a shame to miss out on Florence on your first trip to Italy. And like Rick says, you should always assume you'll go back.

Posted by
1317 posts

I love Florence, although it is one of the more expensive areas. Generally, first-timers to Italy are recommended to hit the Big 3: Venice, Florence, Rome. You can possibly side-trip to Siena or another hill town from Florence if you have enough time. The cities tend to be more expensive than the villages.

In terms of sights, food, lodging quality--it all depends. Florence is THE art capital of Italy. If you like art, don't miss it. If Mother Nature is your preferred artist, however, you will probably enjoy the Cinque Terre more. It all depends on your personal preferences, but the good news is that it's impossible to make a wrong choice!