Italy Itinery. What are your thoughts

We are planning a 15 night vacation to Italy in March 2015. Our 1 restriction is we are flying in and out of Milan because the price of the flight was just to cheap to pass up. Here is what I have come up with so far for where we will be. I do not want to be moving from place to place every day but I do want to see a lot. Please give me your thoughts.

Land in Milan and take train to Venice
2 nights in Venice
then to Florence by train
4 nights in Florence (take side trip to Pisa 1 day)
take train to Rome
4 nights in Rome (take side trip to Pompelli)
take train to Orvieto
3 nights Orvieto (side trip to Civita di Bagnoregio)

Here is where I could use some help
option 1
take train to Assisi
1 night Assisi
take train to Milan
1 night Milan
fly home in the morning

option 2
take train to Milan
2 nights in Milan
fly home

Posted by Rosalyn
Berkeley
1349 posts

I'm guessing this is your first trip to Italy, right? Here are the modifications I would suggest to maximize seeing a lot while not doing too much moving. (Your instinct regarding this is absolutely correct.) Cut Orvieto to two nights and omit Civita. It's one of Rick Steves' inexplicable enthusiasms that, imo, leads newbies far astray. Add that day to Assisi. By staying in or around Assisi and giving it another day, you could add some combination of Perugia, Spello, Bevagna, or Montefalco to your itinerary, any of which would be far more interesting than Civita. In fact, consider staying in Perugia. It's the largest city in the area ; and therefore, it would have the best transportation connections.

Posted by Angela
Vancouver, Wa, USA
564 posts

If it were me, I'd make both Venice and Florence 3 nights (unless the plan is to rent a car and tour Tuscany a bit). And I agree about less time in Orvieto and adding it to Assisi. For Milan, decide what you want to see and how much time you need to do it since 1 night means you wont have more than half a day to see anything. Despite RS saying you only need 3 hours in Milan, there really is much more to that city.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5061 posts

Good advice. Spello is lovely and very close to Assisi.

Posted by Sethro
6 posts

Is 3 nights in Florence really enough when we want to do a side trip to Venice? Yes this is our 1st trip. We are not renting a car at all. I hadn't even put Assisi on the list until I read the Assisi chapter in the RS book today. Now I really really want to see it

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
5008 posts

I would visit Assisi from Orvieto and stay the extra night in Orvieto. It takes longer to pack and move to another hotel, than to go to Assisi for the day. 2.5 hours and you are there.
You should spend in Milan only the last night before flying back. That is actually a requirement, since you need to be at the airport in the early morning and Malpensa is 40 min from Milan by train (1 hr by bus).
You don't need a full day in Pisa. You need 1 hr to get there from Florence by train (2 hr round trip), plus a couple of hours at most to see leaning tower+Cathedral+baptistry. From station to tower it's a 25 min walk (take the no. 1 bus or a taxi, it's faster).

Posted by Linda
Clifton Park, NY
52 posts

Ok, this is what I would do.
Arrive Milan and train directly to Venice

Venice 3 nights
Perugia (or Assisi) 3 nights.
Rome 4 nights
Florence 3 nights
Milan 2 nights.

*If you really want to see Orvieto which is lovely, I would stop for a few hours on the way to Florence.
*From Perugia or Assisi you can take little side trips to lovely little towns in the area.
*Rome is so chock full of wonderful stuff, I would not spend a whole day getting to Pompeii. If you must see ruins, go to Ostia Antica about 30 minutes from Rome center.
*Civita is charming in that it is on a mountain top and you need to cross a bridge like path to get there, but too many other more valuable things to see and do. I would skip it.
*Pisa- not worth the trip in my opinion. Too many other more valuable things to see. We did it because we were with kids and it was important to them.
*I have not been to Milan but I am sure there is enough interesting stuff for you to experience,if not just spend the last night there and give the other night to another stop.

It will be interesting to see what you decide.
Happy travels.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
20534 posts

Sethro,

Just to confuse you further, I may as well throw my 2ยข into the discussion......

Where are you flying from? I'm assuming you've allowed for the fact that you'll usually arrive in Europe the day after you depart and the last day will be spent on the flight home. Have you purchased your air tickets yet? Although round trip flights to Milan may be cheaper, you also have to factor in the cost of rail travel from Milan to Venice, which could range from about US$55 to $95 PP. Using open-jaw flights (ie: inbound Venice, outbound Rome) would be a more efficient method of travel, and would allow you to maximize your sightseeing time, and may ultimately be cheaper when all is considered.

This is one suggestion on how I might structure the trip you described......

  • Day 1 - Flight to Italy
  • Day 2 - Arrive Milan, take train to Milano Centrale and then Venice (that trip will take ~3-4 hours, possibly direct or with 2-3 changes, depending on what time your flight arrives and which trains you connect with)
  • Day 3 - Venice
  • Day 4 - Train to Florence (about 2 hours), touring Florence
  • Day 5 - Florence
  • Day 6 - Florence, day trip to Pisa
  • Day 7 - Train to Assisi (2-3 hours), touring Assisi
  • Day 8 - Assisi
  • Day 9 - Train to Orvieto (2-3 hours)
  • Day 10 - Orvieto (day trip to Civita if desired - I believe a visit to Civita is worthwhile as it's somewhat unique - however you'll need to plan carefully when travelling by public transportation)
  • Day 11 - Train to Rome (~1.5 hours), Rome touring
  • Day 12 - Rome
  • Day 13 - Rome, day trip to Pompeii (~3-4 hours each way)
  • Day 14 - Rome morning, afternoon train to Milan
  • Day 15 - Flight home

I suggested two nights in Assisi as you really seemed to be interested in that, and one night really doesn't allow much time. I try to avoid one night stops as typically that means arriving mid-afternoon and only having the afternoon and evening to see the place. Hotel check-out is usually about 10:00 to 11:00 so that won't allow much time for sightseeing the following morning. Staying two nights allows one full day for sightseeing.

You'll have to do some research on rail travel in Italy, as there are potentially expensive "caveats" to be aware of. Also, when buying tickets you'll need to know the Italian names of the stations you'll be using, since most cities in Italy have more than one.

Good luck with your planning!