HELP! Italy in 8 days

My husband and I are traveling to Italy at the end of april and will have 8 days to see "everything." I have several questions as this is our first time abroad. 1. I though it would be nice to do a day in paris if at all possible, and do a cheap flight either to or from Italy...any thoughts? However, it seems it is cheaper to fly from venice to Paris and doing this at the end of our trip, based on the day we would be flying. 2. My initial itinerary is as follows: day 1-2 fly into rome in the AM stay 2 nights day 3-4 train to florence in AM, stay 2 nights; would like to maybe see tuscany on one of those days day 5-6 train to venice, stay 2 nights
day 7-8 fly to paris, stay until sunday and fly out 3. I am slightly concerned that this may be a lot but we would like to see as much as possible. The other option is to fly into venice, do florence/tuscany/rome and leave out paris. 4. would you rec 2 or 3 nights in Rome? I could just do 1 day in Paris if we opt to do that and have extra day in Rome. Just not sure how long all this stuff takes? 5. any other rec would be gladly welcomed as I am a bit overwhelmed!!!

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1972 posts

Your trying to take on too much for the time allowed. Italy has so much culture, art, architecture and history that it's best taken slowly. You don't want your trip to be a big blur. Don't forget that your first day is recovering from your international flight. And you also have to get off the plane @ FCO, ride a train an hour and get into your hotel room, which all takes past lunch to do. Day 1,2,3 Rome Day 4 Travel to Florence and get into hotel room Day 5, 6 Florence tourism Day 7 Travel to Venice and get into hotel room Day 8 Tour Venice Day 9 Fly out of Venice Have you considered taking another few days? You're really cutting it for time in Italy.
Rome is a 1 week destination. Florence and the Tuscan/Chianti hill towns are another 1 week touring. Venice is a 3-4 day destination. Paris is worth spending a week in.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Tiffany, To begin with, definitely skip Paris as you simply DON'T have enough time. The flight from Venice to Paris will take the better part of a day (when all is considered), leaving only a few hours to see Paris. Plan to visit Paris on a future trip when you can see things properly. Is there ANY possibility you could get a few more days? That would make things so much easier for working out a good schedule for Italy. The Itinerary suggested by David is along the lines of what I would recommend. Keep in mind that you'll lose the first and last days in flight times which will only leave six days for touring. You'll generally arrive in Europe the day after you leave home, and will be jet lagged for a day or two afterwards, so won't be up to full touring speed. With such a short trip, it would be a good idea to plan your touring in each city very carefully, so that you don't waste ANY time! The Italy 2013 Guidebook (or the city or Snapshot Guides) would be a good resource to help you with that. Click the "Books" tab at the top of this page for more information. Regarding "maybe see Tuscany", remember that Florence IS IN Tuscany, so you will see Tuscany. If you're able to spend a few days in Florence, it's very easy to visit Siena on a day trip by Bus, which will allow you to see more of Tuscany. It's also an easy trip to Fiesole, which is just above Florence. There are a few potentially expensive "caveats" regarding the trains in Italy. On those trains with compulsory reservations, you MUST have reservations specific to that train, or may be fined on the spot! The fines are €50 PP and that also applies to unvalidated tickets on Regionale trains. Good luck with your planning!

Posted by Sheron
Alta Loma, CA, USA
1199 posts

Skip Paris & save it for another trip. 1 day in Paris won't do it justice and neither will 2 days in Rome. Even with 3 days in Rome, you'll barely be skimming the surface but it's a start. Also, keep in mind, that your first day in Rome will be somewhat of a wash by the time you get from the airport to your hotel, check in, etc. And, you might be tired on top of that & need a little nap. I would suggest flying open-jaw, into Rome and out of Venice. If you spend 3 days in Rome, 2 in Florence & 2 in Venice, your itinerary is more doable albeit still too rushed in my opinion. You will spend a lot of time in transit on and off trains, checking into/out of hotels, etc. For instance, by the time you check out of your hotel in Rome, get to the train station, take the train to Florence and then get to & check into your hotel in Florence, you will really only have 1.5 days in Florence & if you plan to spend 1 day in Tuscany (I would suggest Siena), then you'll only have half a day in Florence itself. This is not enough time. Can squeeze 2-3 more days into your itinerary so you won't be as rushed and will be able to see a little more? Have a great trip!

Posted by Tiffany
9 posts

So taking everyone's advice above, I have decided to not do paris. However, we cannot add any days do to our jobs. so below is my new itinerary, still tight, but we want to see as much as possible. any further rec. would be welcomed fri:fly to Venice, arrive sat AM sat/sun:venice mon-wed: train to florence mon AM, then maybe day trip one day to hilltown thur-saturday:train to rome in AM, then remainder of time in rome
sunday:fly out of rome 1. is it best to just buy train tickets ahead of time since I know the days we are traveling, i.e. to venice to florence and florence to rome Thanks so much for your great advice!

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

Your new itinerary, while still very rushed, is much better. Two advantages of starting with Venice: it's smaller than Rome and more geared to tourists, so it's easier to adjust to; and flights out of Venice to the US often start very early (almost all connect elsewhere in Europe), while leaving Rome you can usually get a flight at a not-too-early hour. Yes, since you know when you will be taking trains, you will save a lot of money buying advance tickets as soon as they go on sale. Do remember that these tickets are non-changeable and non-refundable, so make sure you want them before buying. On the other hand, they can be so cheap that you can afford to "lose" them if your plans change.

Posted by pat
victoria, Canada
7828 posts

Tiffany what a rush, remember this, when you plan to stay two nights in one city that equals only one full day of sightseeing.
For your time I would stick to Rome, Venice and Florence. I would forget all fantasies about Tuscany or Paris. In fact for 8 days I would only do Rome and Venice or Rome and Florence but hey, I like museums and they take time to enjoy, if just a skim of tourist central they I suppose three places may work. You boss is a big meanie and I mean it, why don't Americans demand the minimum of two week vacation time we all deserve! ? To put it in perspective. Eight days in America, I want to see San Francisco, New York, Miami and maybe Boston,, will that work?

Posted by Stephen
Fort Mill, SC, USA
159 posts

One additional thought; you may consider taking a late train between cities to maximize your time in each place for sightseeing. For example, there is a train that leaves Venice at 1925 and arrives in Florence at 2130 with a fare of 18 euros for 2 people on Monday, April 22 or April 29. If you know what you want, book it. When the super economy fares are sold out, the price will double...and it's the same train, same seats.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

Pat, she's already changed her mind. And she doesn't need the guilt trip, really, I wouldn't have thought. She's got what she's got. Tiffany, I think your most recent posting is looking much better. In addition to saving you lots of money getting your train tickets ASAP, by knowing exactly when you have to get to each station you won't waste time thinking it through when you get there and you will already have your tickets in hand so you can just march straight onto the trains. The last thing you will want to do in your rushed state is wander around Venice, Florence or Rome with luggage. I suggest you try to pack as light as possible, have your train tickets in hand (you're going to have to nail those transatlantic flights down soon), consider staying near Termini in Rome so as soon as you get off the Leonardo Express you can drop your bags, buy a 3 day Rome bus ticket, read as much of the Ron In Rome website as you can, stay within easy walking distance of Santa Maria Novella station in Florence (but not at the station), in Venice stay near a Vaporetto stop. Have you got your passports yet? Happy planning - time is close. Keep chucking in the questions.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2516 posts

Pat, it's apples and oranges between the US and Italy - the distances are so great in the US that you have to factor in airport/security time and flights that take longer than most fast train trips in Italy. Tiffany, your revised itinerary looks fine - take Nigel's advice (although I would stay at a hotel in the Pantheon/Piazza Navona area instead of Termini, since it's more central to the sights you'll probably want to see; and with such a short time, you'll want to soak up every minute of atmosphere). In Florence, find a place south of the train station (the station is almost in the city center) to be nearer to the major sights. In Rome, the #116 electric mini-bus goes to/near all the major sights of the historic center and will give you a good orientation ride (it's small enough to get to the side streets). Remember that using public transportation without a valid ticket carries a fine, so get your ticket and validate it in the little machine on the bus (or get the RomaPass for 3 days of public transportation plus free and reduced admission to major sights). Read through the site, it's got step-by-step advice on everything from hotels to coffee.

Posted by karen
Long Beach, CA, USA
110 posts

I don't have much to offer other than I spent 7 days in Rome and still missed a few things. I guess if you have a very buttoned up itinerary and don't plan to spend any time just "hanging out" at a cafe, then you'll be fine. You should prioritize what you want to see. Then confirm that the things that are most important to you to see will be open the days that you will be there. Also, keep in mind that packing, hoofing it to the train station, and then taking the train itself will eat into your days. When I was on a train from Vienna to Venice, it broke down and it ended up taking us hours longer to get into Venice. Needless to say, I missed my connection to Rome and had to take another train which got me there a good 4-6 hours later than what I had expected. If something like that happens, you may need to cut out a chunk of site seeing. As such, I'd put together an itinerary for each site of the things that you want to do, how long you plan to spend there, how long it takes to get from one place to the next and confirm open/close dates and times for each. If it looks doable AND enjoyable, go for it. If not, then I'd cut down my visit to two locations. However, I am biased. I won't spend less than 3 nights in a location because I hate packing/unpacking and getting acclimated again. good luck!

Posted by Stephen
Fort Mill, SC, USA
159 posts

I just spent some time in Italy in November and hit Venice, Florence and Rome. We stayed 3 nights in each city (5 in Rome)and felt like we had plenty of time. With only 8 days, I suggest either sticking to 2 cities or spend more time in Rome. You can also try to take a late flight out of Rome and it may buy you another 1/2 day there. The biggest issue is: what do you really want to do? There are so many museums that can take a 1/2 day or more to see. If you really want to relax a bit and just wander, you can do that in any of the 3 cities. Half of the fun for us was wandering Venice and hoping we ended up somewhere special (and we did!). We walked into any church in Rome that we saw just for grins and saw some absolutely amazing art! We took trains between cities and started in Venice. As other have said, pack light! It's a bit tricky boarding the trains with a lot of luggage. There are two web sites to consider for purchasing your train tickets early:
Italo treno: Trenitalia: We used Trenitalia (I wasn't even aware of Italo Treno until I already had the tix) and purchased super economy tickets well in advance. Each leg only cost 9 euros per person. There are a lot of options for times during the day. We left Venice around 1 PM and arrived in Florence around 3 PM. Also left Florence around 3 and arrived around 4:30 PM. Be sure to book the fast train and not the regional. Regional trains have many more stops and take a lot longer. Good luck!

Posted by Cliff
120 posts

Since you are taking the train to Florence on monday, remember the 2 big museums will be closed so plan to do those on tuesday and wednesday. (My opinion, really understand what kind of art The Uffizi is, renaissance and miles of it) My suggestion is since you are on the train monday go all the way to Pisa, climb the tower and enjoy lunch in the field of miracles and then double back to florence in the afternoon. U will still have time to walk Florence. Last year in March, we arrived in Florence Sunday afternoon and saw the Uffizi. Monday day-tri to Pisa and then saw Duomo and climbed the tower. Tuesday morning saw Accademia and then afternoon train to Rome.

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1012 posts

This is all very good advice. Especially Nigel and Zoe. Agree with Nigel completely, except for Zoe's suggestion about staying near Campo Di Fiori or Piazza Navona rather than the train station. She's spot on! I hate staying near the train station, did it once because it was our last night, and did not enjoy the neighborhood at all, would have preferred not wasting that night, and should have stayed in the area we like and taken a cab to the train or even the airport in the AM. Time is money on vacation, so use it wisely. The museums in Florence ARE closed on Monday, but don't know how practical it will be with luggage to go to Pisa, store luggage, run around, get back on train to go to Florence. Many things can be done in lovely Florence without museums. Leather Market, enjoying Piazza della Signoria, Piazza de la Republica, Ponte Vecchio, sitting and enjoying a glass of wine and just drinking in the essence of Florence. A very nice day to me rather than trying to cram in Pisa. (no offense intended)

Posted by Penny
West Chester, PA
12 posts

You have received good advice and your revised version is much better. I agree with Karen--plan carefully but be flexible. We spent nearly a month in Italy in Oct-Nov and I too felt overwhelmed prior to the trip. Just enjoy the anticipation of this wonderful experience and know that
you can fill in any of the blanks on your next trip!! PS--Packing LIGHT is imperative. I took only a carry-on and managed very well.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
611 posts

In order to maximize your time in one location, plan your train schedules to allow for enough time in either your departure or arrival city to sightsee. Last trip we only spent 1 night in Venice, but we arrived at noon, and had 10 waking hours to enjoy, eat, wander etc. The following morning we checked out of hotel at 8am, had hotel store luggage, and had another 6 hours before we left the city. Yes it would have been great to have another night, but the 14 hours we had were enjoyable. On our upcoming trip, we are only spending 2 nights in Rome, but will arrive by 9:30 am, so will have most of day 1, all of day 2, then day three is open to either leave early for Sorrento, or spend another day in Rome, if we wish.
Planning your trip is all about # of waking hours for sightseeing, eating, people watching, relaxing (about 14 per day), and 10 hours where you are actually in a hotel room. Be efficient with your travel between hotels/cities and you'll be fine.

Posted by Doris
Manheim, PA, USA
59 posts

You have replies from great experts on this site. I just wanted to mention that although you can't count on it, travel days are not necessarily recovery days. Our first trip to Europe pumped us with enough adrenalin/excitement to keep going that first day (I was age 60 in 90+ degree Rome) until 11 pm...having left Philadelphia 6 pm previous day (and not getting alot of sleep on the flight). We always "walk the city" first day upon arrival: Rome, Paris, Amsterdam...I guess you just end up with legs that are as exhausted as the rest of you at the end of an exciting day! Enjoy!