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help with 14 day itinerary!

My girlfriend and I are planning a 14 day trip (16 including travel) in the middle of Sept. This is our first time in Italy (first in Europe for me) so we would like to do the big three and also get a "small town" experience. We do a lot of hiking here in the states so figured the CT is perfect. Our tentative itinerary is

arrive 15 venice,
16 venice,
17 am venice/ train to florence,
18 florence,
19 florence,
20 am florence/ train to CT,
21 CT,
22 CT,
23 CT,
24 train to rome (stop in pisa for lunch) and stay in rome till departure on 29.
I am open to taking a day from somewhere to see Lucca, Sienna or another town but I plan on exploring Tuscany on a later trip. Any suggestions would be welcome, also our 2 full days in Florence are on a weekend. Should we spend more time there?

Posted by
1003 posts

It seems like a bit of a long time in CT. Besides hiking the towns, there's not much to do. You can see each town in a couple of hours each, for the most part. I would personally rather spend one of those days in Florence. Over 2 trips I've spent a total of 8 days or so in Florence and I still can't wait til I can go back (And I don't like art!). But that's just me. Certainly nothing wrong with saving Tuscany for a later trip, that's what I did, and I combined it with Cinque Terre. In 14 days on my first trip, I did 4 in venice, 5 each in Florence (took a daytrip to Siena via bus), and 5 in Rome. I thought that was a perfect length of time in each place, though I still felt like I would have loved more! While I totally understand the desire for a "small town" experience, I don't think you'll get it in Cinque Terre, which is completely overrun with tourists IMO (and I was there in October, I guess September would be even worse), and where English is basically the first language. If you want to go there to hike, to eat seafood, or to see the natural beauty of these little villages, then yes go ahead for a couple nights because it truly is a beautiful and unique place, but what you're looking for is just a small town experience, then in my personal opinion, you are better off in a town outside one of the big three for a night or two. As for Florence on a weekend, you'll be fine. I've been there twice on Sunday (one of those being a major holiday, no less), and I have never had trouble finding good (even not-so-touristy) restaurants and plenty of things to do. Otherwise, September is a great time I think! The weather was pretty much perfect when I was there!

Posted by
306 posts

If I recall from previous posts Debra is not a fan of CT, so from a person who loves CT, I think 4 days sounds perfect. Debra is right that it will be overrun with tourists but you're going to Italy in September every where you go will be overrun with tourists. Don't let that dissuade you from going and spending time in amazing places like CT.

4 days in CT is perfect if you want to slow down. Having spent your previous 6 days in Venice and Florence, the slow pace of CT will be a great break for you and your girlfriend. 4 days also gives you plenty of time to hike the CT trail if you don't want to do it all at once. Take a boat ride, do some hiking, and eat the anchovies! I stayed at Manuel's Guesthouse in Monterosso al Mare (its in Ricks Book) and loved it there. You get a simple, but clean room for 60 euros. You have to walk up a lot of stairs to get there but the view from his terrace is worth it. I spent every night there drinking beer (he has a help yourself bar on his terrace) and watching lightning storms off the coast. Absolutely loved it.

Posted by
56 posts

I did Rome (1day) to Milan (2 nights), Venice 1 night, Florence 2 nights, Pisa for lunch and then Rome, where I stayed for two weeks. I would have added another day in Venice. We did the weekend in Florence too, there is a great outdoor leather market there. I think 2 full days is about right, maybe an extra 1/2 day would be okay.

Posted by
56 posts

And, for a small town feeling right in Rome, stay in Trastevere. Small town feeling, great restaurants and night life, very safe.

Posted by
531 posts

I spent two nights in CT and would have liked one more...but I do think that 4 nights might not be necessary. If it were me, I would take one day and give it to Venice. If possible, I try to spend three nights in the city of arrival because I am barely of any use on day 1 and everything seems to be in a fog. Others may disagree...in which case giving one day to Sienna would be good too.

Posted by
7737 posts

I second the recommendation to stay in the Trastevere neighborhood in Rome if you want to have more of a small town feel while being right across the Tiber River from the historic center. We stayed there a week in May and loved it. It's the oldest part of Rome that's still inhabited, containing a number of medieval churches.

I also think four nights in the CT is one or two too many. And although we found Lucca to be okay, we enjoyed Siena much more, FWIW.

Florence is worth at least 3 days, if you can swing it, IMHO.

Posted by
345 posts

I'm being a bit repetitive of others. I echo changing one CT day to Florence-- not that you wouldn't enjoy CT for 4 days-- but there is so much to do and see in Florence.

By the way, Florence is pleasant on Sundays on Mondays-- a bit slower less hectic but there is still plenty to do.

Posted by
934 posts

Id suggest stopping in Pisa when going Florence to LaSpezia.Then you can go direct from LaSpezia to Rome.Using the R trains a stop in Pisa is easy.Get 2 tickets one for each leg.Non reserved seats so you can take any R train.Pisa in 4 hours is just right.Walk to tower,climb,lunch and walk back.That way when you use part of the 4 days in the CT and get to Rome much earlier.There is a baggage check in the Pisa station.If you add a day in Florence you can use it to bus to Siena.Easy bus trip.

Posted by
306 posts

If you add a third day to Florence make sure it is on Friday and not Monday. Major sights are closed on Monday, and Sunday things will also be closed or have limited hours. Sunday and Monday are the two worst days out of the week to be in Florence as far as getting to all the Museums is concerned. Give yourself Friday so you can have two full days of sight seeing in Florence.

Posted by
24 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions, we are taking them all into consideration but I am running into problems at the begining of our journey, if we add a day in venice we are in florence only a sunday, monday and tuesday morning, if we add a day to florence it will be a monday and give us very little time in venice. The only compromise I can come up with is leave VERY early on friday from venice and try to see the Duomo on friday and do the museums on sat this way sunday we can just wander around florence since most things are closed. We could use a day in CT to day trip. Any suggestions on a good day trip from CT, maybe in Emilia-Romagna? Thank you for the tip about stopping in pisa after florence. Little tips like that can make a trip much easier!

Posted by
306 posts

This may not be possible but have you looked into the possibility of leaving the States a day earlier so you are in Florence on Saturday and Sunday instead of Sunday and Monday. If you have bought your tickets already check with your airline to see how much it would be to leave a day or two earlier. Another suggestion is go from Venice to CT spend 3 or 4 days there and then go to Florence so you are in Florence in the middle of the week.