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Is my itinerary realistic?

We're going to Italy in Sept. I think I've got a decent itinerary but are there any details that I've overlooked or any suggestions that you can give me that might make things easier. We travel at a fairly moderate/medium pace & photography is our thing. Please give me your feedback on my itinerary. Thanks.

Sept 4: Arrive in Rome 9:45 pm

Sept 5: Colosseum, Forum & Palatine Hill, night walk

Sept 6: Pantheon, Trastevere, Spanish Steps, Trevi Ftn

Sept 7: Vatican Tour, climb to top of St. Peter's Dome

Sept 8: Maybe Ostia Antica; not decided yet

Sept 9: Check out of apt, take early train to Orvieto, rent car (we'll probably have to leave luggage in car while we sightsee because the car rental agency closes for the day @ 1pm. Is this a terrible idea to leave luggage in car?), see Duomo & underground tour or well. If time permits, drive to Civita de Bagnoregio & then on to Tuscany where we are staying outside of Siena.

Sept 10: Montepulciano, Pienza & Montalcino (might only do 2 out of the three depending on time)

Sept 11: Tour of Volterra from 9:30 to 12:30, lunch, then San Gimignano in afternoon

Sept 12: Siena

Sept 13: Cortona or Colle Di Val D'Elsa or Lucca (haven't decided yet...any other suggestions are welcome)

Sept 14: Return car in La Spezia. Take train to Cinque Terre. Leave luggage @ hotel in Monterosso. Hike from Monterosso to Vernazza. Dinner in Vernazza & then take train back to Monterosso.

Sept 15: Hike between the remaining towns

Sept 16: Hike between the remaining towns (if not completed the prior day) & take boat to Portovenere to explore.

Sept 17: Take train to Varenna via Milan. Check into hotel early afternoon & then explore around Varenna

Sept 18: Bellagio, Villa Carlotta, Villa Melzi Gardens & Como. Is this all do-able in 1 day?

Sept 19: Early a.m. train to Milan Centrale, then shuttle to Malpensa for 10:30 am departure

Posted by
3560 posts

One is generally warned against leaving luggage in a car in heavily touristed areas in Italy. I think Orvieto qualifies, especially since you will probably need to leave the car in a parking area in the lower town. One tactic we've developed is to carry a couple of chains and locks. We run the chains through the luggage handles and then through some part of the trunk, preferably metal, like a hinge. I doubt that most of the thieves carry bolt cutters, but I would be sure to get trip insurance that covered my belongings.

Posted by
2297 posts

We actually did leave our luggage in the car on the main parking lot at the bottom of the hill while we explored Orvieto. Most cars you rent in Europe are hatchbacks but they come with a flap that will cover all your belongings. So nobody can see from the outside what's in there. Just don't leave a guide book for Italy in plain sight on the passenger seat! It is still risky ... but you probably have your main valuables (money, passport, cameras) with you anyways and not left in the car!

Regarding the formatting: you have to hit "enter" twice to get a line break. It does end up giving you a new paragraph but this is the easiest way to do it.

Posted by
2297 posts

Your itinerary looks actually quite interesting and well paced. I have only one alternative suggestion that you may or may not like depending on your personal preferences.

The day you drive from Tuscany to Cinque Terry you may want to stop for half a day in Pisa. It's on the way! Pisa really surprised me, I didn't expect to love it as much as I did. You'll arrive in Monterosso probably around early evening. You loose a half day of hikes but still have two days of hiking left which is plenty for CT.

The good thing about this option is that you don't have to make a decision right now. Play it by ear and see if by that point of the trip you've had enough of Renaissance architecture or if you want to experience the Field of Miracles :-)

Posted by
1446 posts

Beatrix, Thanks for the formatting info. Your suggestion about visiting Pisa is an interesting one. I actually asked my husband today if he'd like to visit Pisa; I was thinking that maybe we could do that on our last day in Tuscany. I will have to give that some thought. I originally didn't think I wanted to see Pisa but now I'm thinking maybe we should. Thanks again for the suggestion.

Posted by
135 posts


Your Rome itinerary looks great to me; however-

That's A LOT of driving. And it sounds like you're thinking about that place outside siena for a command post. "the charm" about many hilltowns is the passegiata (one of the best in the world is in Orvieto) and dinner, then sleeping in a quiet corner of the world. Even crazy San Gimignano is idyllic after the buses leave.

Your itinerary (from my old guy perspective) is ambitious- considering 1/2 to 2 hour commute from your "command post", then parking, then walking into a town, perhaps having a meal, walking back to the car park, driving 1/2-1 hour to another town, find the car park, walk into town...

Now on one of Rick's buses, they do the driving, drop you close to the city center, hustle you to and through the sites...

I loved having a car in Tuscany. But we also decided to stay the night in many of the towns we visited, so there was no commute "back home" every day. IF there's a chance you could do that, then your plans seem much more "doable" to me.

Posted by
522 posts

We left our luggage in the trunk of a rental car at Versailles in France. We were very careful to keep anything out of sight and kept anything of major value on us (cash and passports).

I think your itinerary looks great.

Posted by
62 posts

on 19th are you leaving from Como or Varenna to Milan? If Varenna you will have to take 5:36 am train to get to airport at 8:10am.

If you stay in Como you can take private train company close ferry dock at 6:47 and get to airport at 8:07am with transfer at Saronno 9.25 euro 1st class 8.20 euro 2ns class per person no need to go into milan.

Posted by
77 posts

Hi! I did almost the same trip last year, and it was fine. In Rome you will feel like you have to get it all in, and you will, but after that it will be easy and at a moderate pace. We left our lugage in the car in Orvieto and it was fine. Park in the outside part of the lot if you can, do not go inside the city wall, the parking is at the base of the town. The Duomo is amazing and was my favorite part of out trip, I am an art lover!

Posted by
152 posts

One thought, Volterra is well on the way to Pisa. If you visited there after you leave Siena (with the other side trips you planned), you could stop at St. Gimignano and the Volterra. We spent the night there, then an easy drive to Pisa (very easy car rental drop off at the Pisa airport instead of dealing with finding the drop off in La Spezia) and from Pisa took the train to CT. It worked great.

Posted by
32104 posts


Your Itinerary looks good! However, one item on Sept. 18 stands out. I'd suggest dropping at least Como from the list that day. While it may be possible to fit all those stops in, you might find that you get "sidetracked" when you arrive in Bellagio and decide to stay longer.

Happy travels!