Is this 12 day schedule overly aggressive?

We didn't want to move hotels every 2 days but based on this schedule we change 6 times in 12 days. we also don't want to miss the Cinque Terre or really anything we've listed. Would you keep this or remove one leg for more hang time? Is this just too aggressive? I notice Rick does several trips that move through cities like Siena and the CT quickly. Thoughts? 27. Travel 28. Rome 29. Rome 30. Cinque Terre 1. CT 2. Siena 3. Siena day/ Montepulciano 4. Montepulciano 5. Montepulciano 6. Florence 7. Florence 8. Venice 9. Venice
10. Travel Thanks David

Posted by David
Bellingham, WA, USA
6 posts

Thanks again everyone! Terry, candidly I'm more in your camp so far. But for sure the advice will not be unheeded. Regarding reversing the trip, the plane tickets have already been purchased we are just filling in the details. Thanks again! David

Posted by Andrea
Sacramento, CA
4859 posts

Will you have a car in Tuscany? With a car I would spend 3 nights in Rome, 2 nights in C.T., get the car for 5 nights in Tuscany (day trip to Florence & Siena), 2 nights in Venice and fly home. It seems you just want a taste of cities, but more time in the smaller towns. Without a car I would revise the Tuscany portion. Stay in Florence and maybe one hill town that has decent public transportation to get to other towns. Tuscany is much better with a car. If you would like a good recommendation for a great Agriturismo located just outside of Siena, send me a private message. It was centrally located to get to other towns easily.

Posted by donna
cranberry twp, PA, United States
2392 posts

It's too aggressive for me. When you change hotels you lose the entire morning (and sometimes more) because you need to check out, get to the train station, ride the train, get to the hotel and check in. This takes up a lot of time that could be spent site seeing. I would leave the CT for another trip when you have the time to enjoy it. The same goes for Siena. Basically, with only 12 days I would divide them evenly between Rome, Florence and Venice. This will give you a really good introduction to Italy. On your next trip you can visit the CT and other cities in Tuscany. As it is you really don't have time for them and you'll spend more time on the train than you will exploring and enjoying the country. donna

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7949 posts

Condensing what Donna sez, that's a day and a half in each place. How does that grab you? Personally, I don't care for any of them except Rome..........but it took me more than a couple days in each to reach that conclusion.

Posted by Kelly
St Petersburg Florida
948 posts

I am not a fan of 1 night stays. As I get older, I don't even appreciate 2 night stays. Especially when 1 & 2 night stays are in the middle of a trip. One can get away with it when they are at the beginning and the end of a trip. Having said that....In my opinion: ROme needs 4 nights to at least tap into its crust. Venice needs 3 nights: yes it is small, but there is a lot packed into this small city. Florence could get away with 2 nights but 3 lets you soak into the soil a bit.
Siena and Montepulciano could be done in 2 nights each. Like others have said, leave off CT and spread the love to the cities that deserve more time.

Posted by Stephen
Fort Mill, SC, USA
159 posts

Personally, I think you are moving too much. You barely have time to enjoy each location. The travel time between cities will eat at least a half day when you consider checking in and out of hotels plus train travel. As others have stated, I also would suggest skipping the CT this trip and focusing on the major cities. I did a recent trip similar to yours time-wise as follows: Day 1 depart US Day 2 Arrive in Venice; check into hotel and wander around the city. Day 3-4 Venice Day 5 Morning in Venice, noon train to Florence, afternoon/evening Florence Day 6-7 Florence - Can take Siena / Montepulciano day trips from here Day 8 Morning in Florence, afternoon train to Rome, evening in Rome Day 9-12 Rome
Day 13 very early flight back to US You could spend one less day in Rome and add it to Florence to ensure more time for hill towns like Siena and Montpulciano. I purchased the train tickets in advance and saved a lot of money. We traveled for 9 euros per person per leg. We considered a side trip to Orvieto but decided to stay in Florence instead. This allowed for a more leisurely pace. Our hotels in Florence and Rome were in the middle of everything. We walked everywhere. Good luck!

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

Listen to Stephen. On a Rick Steves tour the logistics are taken care of for you so trips thru Europe can be compressed. In other words, you walk out of your hotel and get on the bus. Then later you get off the bus and go to your room. Often there is a guided tour in the new town, dinner with the tour group, followed by a day to enjoy the place. Then, it's off to the next town or site. Independent travel eats up a lot more time and effort on handling hotels, meals and transportation. If you really must see the CT, go: (1) Venice, (2) CT (a trip taking most of a day), (3) Florence, (4) Rome. A more efficient trip might be: Venice to Florence (arrive around noon if you leave early), Florence to CT (a few hours), CT to Rome (about 4 hours). You could spend 3 nights in each town but one. I think a 2 night stay in CT.

Posted by David
Bellingham, WA, USA
6 posts

Hello all Thanks for the advice, the only question: we would like to see smaller towns and Rome, Florence, Venice all seem like touring large cities; is this a fact? Taking Rick's advice in seeing Rome quickly. We are doing Rome first hoping it gets a little warmer as we go North. Again, your insight and help so far have been most helpful. I will personally by disappointed to not see CT....but more disappointed to come home exhausted.
Are there coastal towns like the CT that we could see from Florence on a day trip? Thanks David

Posted by Ed
Pensacola
7949 posts

'Rome, Florence, Venice all seem like touring large cities; is this a fact?' Yep. But when you consider that Rome is also national capital, it has just a bit more going on. 'hoping it gets a little warmer as we go North.' In twelve days, that's weather, not climate. Toss a coin. 'Taking Rick's advice in seeing Rome quickly.'
Have you studied anything else to see if there are conflicting opinions?

Posted by Cliff
Texas
120 posts

my 2cents. Fly into Venice and out of Rome. I feel it is esaier to get acclimated and seeing sights in Venice than big Rome. I did 10 nights last March with a breakdown of: 3 Venice 2 Florence
5 Rome I would probably have added another day to Venice and Florence or 2 to Florence to meet your timeframe. I agree with other posters that changing hotels often really makes the trip choppy and more hectic.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2855 posts

My first time in Rome was about a day and a half. I spent the full day walking all over Rome (I was younger then). It would be easy to spend a month there. Just figure you will return someday. I've returned to Venice half a dozen times, twice to Florence, and 2-3 times to Rome. The CT has seen me many times. Keep going to Italy until you've had enough. Consider this trip a sampler and leave it at that.

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2600 posts

You have indicated you would like to visit smaller villages and yet all the advice you are being given is to go from city to city. I have been to Italy about 8 times and if that was all I did ( 3 cities)I would come home disappointed and exhausted and still not have seen the parts of Italy I love. Not everyone wants to tromp around big cities and museums all the time. If it were a trip for me, I would do Venice, CT, Tuscany (a beautiful village with a day trip to Florence) and keep Rome at 2 days. Lots of people do that and are perfectly happy just seeing a few highlights. Just as you can return to see CT or Tuscany, you can also return to spend more time in cities... but when I long to return to Italy it is not the big cities that are calling me...it is the little villages and vineyards and the Sea.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2811 posts

Assuming you will have a car for your Tuscany portion (and if your goal is to see smaller places there, you should), you can stay in one place the whole time, and see Siena and Florence as daytrips from there. If you won't be renting a car, you can stay in Siena the whole time, and see Florence as a daytrip by bus. I don't know the latest on getting to Montepulciano by bus (Rick's book will have details). Either of these plans is much more appealing to me than the schedule you outlined above. There's nothing wrong with skipping big cities entirely, if they don't call to you. I personally love Rome, but only saw it on my second Italy trip, and I'm glad I didn't go on my first trip, when I just wasn't interested. However, I do feel that Rome is actually easier and more appealing on a longer visit than on a shorter one. With less pressure to see everything in a short time, you can slow down, which makes it much more relaxing and less of an endurance test.

Posted by Charles
Austin, Texas, USA
306 posts

Go for it. All of these sights are great and I would not chop any of them. Moving around is not that big of a deal. Two days for Rome is plenty and you are right, seeing some smaller towns will be a nice balance to the bigger cities.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
597 posts

We are more of small town travelers than big city people. Our last two week trip we spent the first week moving every day or two (only 1 night in a big city), then spent the last 7 nights one location in Tuscany and just did day trips. We loved coming back to our farm house, taking a dip in the pool, and enjoying a bottle of wine with the sunset. Two weeks of two nights stands starts getting exhausting towards the end of a trip. Our next trip in April, we are spending 1-2 night stays for the first 8 days, then planted in Sorrento for 5 nights. (and only two nights in a big city-Rome). That being said, think about the last 5-6 nights in one place in Tuscany, situated so you can day trip to Florence, Sience or other hill towns. (We stay outside of Cortona, which was fairly central- train to Florence, 45 minutes to Siena, and 30 minutes to Montelpucinao.

Posted by Rachel
Fargo, ND, USA
12 posts

Ha! I am laughing at everyone's responses to your question... because my girlfriends & I have an even more rigorous 18 day trip this spring than your tight schedule... we are totally going for it! I think if you are smart in pre-booking & pre-planning where stations are in relation to what you want to see & where you are staying... You could totally do this itinerary! If you are planning on being a savvy traveler - you should go for it.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17716 posts

David, Your proposed Itinerary is a bit "busy", but a few changes might work. I wasn't able to tell which months the trip is taking place? Since you've already bought the plane tickets, that limits the choices. With the time frame you're working with, I'd probably structure the trip something like this..... 27 - Depart U.S. 28 - Arrive Rome, Leonardo Express from airport - DON'T forget to validate! (limited touring as you'll be jet lagged) 29 - Rome (plan touring carefully) 30 - Rome (3 nights) 1 - Train to Montepulciano (~2H:00M, 1 change in Chiusi, Regionale - DON'T forget to validate!) 2 - Montepulciano (2 nights) 3 - Train to Siena (~1H:05M, Regionale) 4 - Siena (2 nights) 5 - Train to Cinque Terre (~3H:00M for 09:18 departure to La Spezia, with one change at Empoli - at La Spezia, transfer to local train to whichever town you'll be staying in - which town are you considering?) 6 - Cinque Terre (2 nights) 7 - Train to Florence (~1H:53M, 1 change at Pisa Centrale, arrive at Firenze S.M.N.) 8 - Florence (2 nights) 9 - Train to Venice in morning (2H:05M to Venezia Santa Lucia, reservations compulsory) (1 night) 10 - Flight home IMO, adding a day to Rome would be a good idea. There's a LOT to see, and you'll also be jet lagged, so won't be up to full "touring speed". As you want to see "smaller" places, I felt this would be a good balance between larger and smaller towns. The train times I've shown are approximate. Actual travel times will depend on which train you choose in each case. There are many ways this could be arranged, but this is probably the way I'd do it. Good luck and happy travels!