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Italy : November 15-28,2014 : Looking for itinerary advice

Hello,
We are planning our honeymoon in Italy between Nov 15-28 this year. But were a little concerned about the mixed reviews we have been getting about the weather there in Nov. Can anyone help us with first-hand feedback on the following queries:

  1. Weather : Is it going to be so rainy/harshly cold that planning a honeymoon is a bad idea altogether?.

  2. Itinerary : Assuming we get an all-clear about our concerns over weather, what would be the most-efficient way to plan our itinerary, given the following preferences:
    a) We want to fly in to Northern Italy(Milan or Venice) and start moving to places down south.
    b) We would be having 12 nights to spend in Italy and we want to cover four categories of places : Cultural/historic sites, country side, beach side and a city where we can shop, dine, wine and go merry. Preliminary research tells us that places that might interest us are - Tuscany, Florence, Rome, Pompei, Positano, Amalfi coast, Sardinia and Sicily. I know that covers almost all of Italy and that is precisely why I need help to figure out which places are a must-go, given our preferences above.

I will reserve questions on minor details till I get a feedback on two points above.

Thanks in anticipation.

TJ

Posted by
4152 posts

I like going in November. You might get some rain but it's impossible to know until a few days prior what the weather will actually be.

With 12 days you can't possibly visit cultural/historical site, country side, beach side and a city........ You might want to pick three locations and stay there or all you'll be doing is changing locations and not really vacationing.

November really isn't beach weather in Italy. I would cut that part out. Based on the cities you have listed I would suggest Florence and Rome. You can spend the majority of the time in the Florence area (which is in Tuscany) and the remainder in Rome. This way you can see historical sites and also the country side and some nice, smaller towns. You'll need a car for the Tuscany part of the trip so plan ahead.

Donna

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for your quick reply Donna. Will take cues from your feedback.
So, do you suggest that no beach destination(among southern mainland italy or Siciily or Sardinia) is going to be worth going to? Want to know if you suggested dropping them because of time or because of adverse weather?

Posted by
11613 posts

By November no beach facilities will be open. The water will still be there, but that's it.

If you fly into Milan, I would say spend the night there, visit the Duomo (take the elevator or stairs to the roof if weather permits), see a museum or two (the Castello Sforzesco has a good one, and the Brera Gallery is excellent), and get tickets as far in advance as possible if you want to see Leonardo's Last Supper.

If you opt not to spend a night in Milan, go directly from the airport to the train station and go to Venice. Three or four nights there would be enough for Venice and its major sights (including Murano, Burano and Torcello), and/or a day trip to Padova or Verona (both if you like to move rapidly).

If you like art/culture/history, Florence will probably make your list. Perhaps three nights, a half day in Siena, or four nights with a full day in Siena. If you want to visit Tuscany as well, add a couple of nights.

If you can get to Assisi, it's a beautiful city with lots of history (mostly religious) and several important sights. One or two nights can get you a sidetrip to the little town of Spello, a few kilometers away from Assisi.

Rome, of course, as many nights as you can with one day for a trip to Orvieto. I would cut a night from Venice to spend in Rome.

Amalfi has beaches but there will be no facilities open in November that I can think of. If you want to be near a beach, go a little further south to Paestum for a night, no beach facilities will be open but the town has a great group of Greek temple ruins, a very good small museum, and a pine forest near the beach. Most hotels in Paestum will pick you up and drop you off at the station, and loan or rent bikes for you to visit the ruins.

I really don't think 12 days will get you to Sicily or Sardegna on this trip, unless you forgo most of the mainland. Ferry service in November can be unpredictable (fewer runs and weather delays are possible), although you could fly. But if your main interest in Sardegna is beaches, I would say leave that for another trip during the late spring to early fall. Sicily could easily fill 12 nights all by itself.

Posted by
20 posts

I'd do 4 days/3 nights in Venice. There's lots to see and do. From Venice, rent a car or train it to Florence for 3 days/2 nights. Side trips from Florence > Pisa and Lucca.
From Florence, rent a car and drive to the hill towns of Tuscany. It's 30 - 90 minutes south. Hill towns require a minimum of 4 days/3 nights.

Total of 8 nights. This leaves you a few days to 'play' with.

FYI, We have friends that spent an entire week in Sicily. Travel decisions are not easy. ;)

Posted by
339 posts

We will be spending 10 days in Sicily next month and realizing that it will just be a taste of this remarkable place.

Posted by
7 posts

Appreciate all the responses. Special mention Zoe.

I am gonna reserve beaches/sardinia for the next trip. Is florence-rome-sicily doable in 12 if we pace it up a bit? Is sicily okay weather/availability wise because we are open to considering a siciliy-centered trip too..

Ciao

Posted by
11613 posts

Florence-Rome-Sicily is doable if you fly into Florence and out of Palermo or Catania. That will mean two travel days, so you are down to ten nights for sightseeing. Three nights Florence, three nights Rome, fly to Palermo for four or five nights, one or two more nights to play with either on the mainland or in Sicily.

If you fly into Catania, go directly to Taormina for a couple of nights. Not dure if you will have clear enough days to see Mount Etna, but Taormina has lots to do for a day or so, including the Greek Theatre. Then go to Palermo for the rest of your time, stopping in Cefalu for a night or part of your travel day. From Palermo, you can visit Erice, Monreale, and Segesta as separate daytrips. Cefalu could also be a long daytrip from Palermo. All these places are reachable by public transportation. All overnight stops are located along or near the northern coast. If you have an extra night, Agrigento's Valley of the Temples and museum are beautiful.

Posted by
14039 posts

Planning a trip to Italy is like being a kid in a giant toy store. . . almost everything is enticing, and almost any toy (place) can hold your interest for a long time. Whatever you choose, you will have to leave out some great places, but you will also enjoy great places. I have a theory that no one goes to Italy just once.

I'd start with Venice, because it's the best place to soak up the special atmosphere in a relaxed way while adjusting to the time difference and recuperating from the long-haul flight. It's also very romantic - especially early mornings. Force yourselves out before dawn to St. Mark's Square (the Piazza - the only one in Venice) and watch sunrise over the lagoon. Then go back to your room for hot showers and breakfast. Also evenings, after the day-trippers have gone, it all quiets down. Wander the back canals at your leisure. It's like a maze, you are never really far from a way out. My preferred area to stay in is the Dorsoduro, which is more residential, quieter, yet easy walking distance to many sights, including the Piazza. If you fly into Milan, you can take the train straight to Venice. There's not enough to see in Milan on your short trip to make it worthwhile.

I think the Amalfi coast is also romantic and shouldn't be crowded with tourists in November. Sorrento is a great base to see Positano and/or Ravello, and the archaeological sites: Pompeii, Herculaneum, even the not-to-be-missed National Archaeological Museum in Naples. Forget the beaches, the ones on the mainland aren't that great and the Med will be too cold, even in Sicily that late in the year.

In between, there are so many great places. Florence - if you love Renaissance art and architecture, you'll want at least 3 full days there. If not, stay in Siena (more atmosphere) and day-trip to Florence to see the highlights.

Rome is my least favorite place in Italy. It's a big city, no atmosphere. But it has incredible sights: Roman ruins, churches, museums, galleries.

Yes, you could fit in a short visit to Sicily, but it deserves more. Save it for another time. If you must go, fly in and out of Palermo. Etna is unpredictable and when it starts spewing, it usually ends up shutting down the Catania airport, sometimes for days. The best Greek temples are on the western end of the island as well as some charming towns.

Posted by
11983 posts

I cannot guarantee you if you'll have rain or shine in the second half of November, but maximum temperatures will likely be below 10 degree centigrade (50 F) in Northern Italy and around 15 centigrade (59 F) in Rome. At night Take out 7 or 8 degree Centigrade (15 F). Of course I also remember sleet while jogging near my house in Florence around Thanksgiving (it was 1998 or 1999) and also freezing temperatures (below 0 Celsius or in the 20s F) in Venice around Thanksgiving of 1993).
So unless you live in Siberia and are used to much lower temperatures, even in the best of circumstances, you will not have beach weather.
In your case, for a late November trip, I would stick to visiting cities and towns and forget about beaches and countryside (which by then will be covered in mist or light fog with trees already emptied of their foliage). You could do:
Venice: 3 nights (with trip to Murano and Burano, or to Padua)
Florence: 4 or 5 nights (with day trips to the many Tuscan towns, like Siena, Lucca, Pisa, Arezzo, Volterra and San Gimignano)
Rome: 4 or 5 nights (with day trip to Orvieto)

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you all people, for your detailed responses. We are sold at the idea of giving Italy a shot. Currently getting into the details of planning our exact itineraries. Will bounce it off with this forum once it is ready ...thanks a bunch again, RSE works like a charm :)

Posted by
7 posts

Hey folks, after inputs from RSE forum, we have finally come to a final plan for our trip to Italy this November. Here is what we have in mind:

  1. Arrival Venice - 16th Nov, 2014, stay one night there and proceed to Florence on 17th eve
  2. Arrival Florence - 17th eve, spend 3 nights there and explore Florence/Tuscany, proceed to Rome on 19th eve
  3. Arrival Rome - 19th eve, spend 3 nights there and proceed to Sicily on 21st eve
  4. Arrival Palermo - in Sicily till 27th eve and fly out to Rome from Palermo
  5. Departure from Rome - 28th Nov

Please do let us know if there are any major flaws in this route. Also, if our understanding is correct, we can take high speed trains from Venice to Florence to Rome and we would need to rent a car in Florence and Sicily to get around. Please correct us if we are mistaken. What would be the best websites to book domestic Italy trains/flights/cars for self-drive?

Posted by
14039 posts

Arrival Venice - 16th Nov, 2014, stay one night there and proceed to Florence on 17th eve
Arrival Florence - 17th eve, spend 3 nights there and explore Florence/Tuscany, proceed to Rome on 19th eve
Arrival Rome - 19th eve, spend 3 nights there and proceed to Sicily on 21st eve
Arrival Palermo - in Sicily till 27th eve and fly out to Rome from Palermo
Departure from Rome - 28th Nov

I would add another night to Venice, both because it deserves at least one full day and because it's your first stop after a long flight and jetlag. I would take it from either Florence or Sicily. Why not fly from Florence to Palermo, then from Palermo to Rome. That will save you one hotel change. Or maybe you can get an open-jaw into Venice and out of Palermo (via Rome).

You do not need a car in Florence. You can easily visit Siena and/or San Gimignano by bus, Pisa by train. Those are the most popular day trips. You won't want a car in Palermo either. Pick up a rental when you leave Palermo, use it for sightseeing and stay in small towns or agritourisms and return it at the airport.

Posted by
27 posts

We are doing 9 days

flying into Rome
one day in Rome
Train to Florence
rent car for Chianti area
Train to Venice
Venice back to Rome

Posted by
211 posts

TJ
Not sure why Sicily on your first trip unless there is a family connection. Out of the way, extra flights. Lots of time spent.

Venice, Florence and Rome are perfect for a first trip for many folks.
Venice most romantic. Good starting place!
Florence so much to see but in a very concentrated area. Easy to hit the big sites in a few days.
A day or two in the romantic quiet Tuscan country side is, in our opinion prettier and more interesting than Sicily.
Rome finish in the big city with however many days you have left.
Spend the money you save in flights to Sicily on nicer hotels or restaurants.
AutoEurope for rental cars. Trentitalia for trains.
Congrats. Our only daughter is getting married Nov 15!

Posted by
464 posts

Generally speaking, in Italy the beach season goes from June to September.

Posted by
43 posts

Hi TJ,
If you choose to finally go to Sicily I am also planning my first trip to Sicily from Nov. 21 to 27.
See my private message to you.
Blessings,
Peter

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the inputs people. We are now planning Venice-Florence-Chianti-Sicily-Rome. I am confused where to base out of in Tuscany. Should I base at Chianti and take a day trip to Florence or should I base at Florence and take a day trip to Chianti. Any suggestions would be helpful.

Posted by
3696 posts

Since you have all cities I would take a break and base out of a village with a day trip to Florence... A little change of pace and a nice way to spend some quiet, romantic time and maybe visit a vineyard or have a picnic or two:)

Posted by
79 posts

I cannot imagine how you will be able to visit all those fabulous places in about 10 days, but I would be very interested in a trip report to hear how it worked out for you!
Have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
1501 posts

Please, shorten your itinerary! Ten days on the ground is not enough to give any of these cities justice! No more than three cities, and save Sicily for another trip! Sicily deserves ten whole days,it's not a little speck of an island, it's big@! Lots of cities, lots of sites. I don't know where you live, but most of the time, with most of the airlines, flights into Venice can be seasonal, meaning that they don't operate in the winter.

It's your Honeymoon!!! Relax, drink wine, sit in a piazza. Fly into Milan, head to Florence, Florence to Rome (all by train) and depart Rome. 3 nights in each place, and I'm willing to bet when you get home that you'll be much happier.

Alternative, fly into Rome, and immediately head to Sicily. Spend a week there, and end your trip with 3 days in Rome. That sounds really nice to me!

Posted by
14 posts

Does anyone know the travel time from Lucca to Florence and the best/fastest way to get there for day trips?

Posted by
339 posts

We just took a bus from Pisa airport to Florence. Very easy, non stop. $6. This was after 10 days in Sicily which was barely enough time to do it justice.

Posted by
3 posts

To get an idea of what Italy will look like in November, I suggest you go to Flickr.com and do a search for Italy in November. If you're not familiar with Flickr, it's a data base for ameteur photographers, owned by Yahoo. Literally at least a billion images of nearly everything.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for all the tips people. I think we will cut id down to 3 places - Tuscany, Sicily and Rome. Can anyone suggest the best areas to stay in Tuscan countryside? We are looking for a place which will have a wholesome feel of picturesque countryside of Tuscany and will also allow us to take day trips to Florence and Sienna. Prelim research tells us that Chianti and San Donato in Poggia will be good picks. Any feedback will be helpful...

Thanks in advance...

Posted by
98 posts

I have to agree with the poster that said going to Italy was like a kid in a candy store..where to start!? We traveled to Italy over Thanksgiving in 2012 and had lovely weather with the exception of some rainy days in Florence. We are returning to Italy next month but this time for the first two weeks but I love traveling in November so I doubt I could find anything to complain about. :)

I have a friend who is currently in Italy (just left Cinque Terra to take the Bernina Express) and they actually did spend some time on the beach. She said it's been a bit warmer than she expected but still lovely. Another friend is currently in Sicily (they're spending a week there) and she said they've been on the beach every day this last week and has the start of a very nice tan.

There many other posters here who are far more experienced and therefore have much more authority in offering their suggestions for your itinerary than I do. I tend to travel whenever I can and make the best of any situation.

I do agree that if you choose to start your trip in Venice you will certainly need two nights there but you can plan an early get away to Florence on a fast train and still have most of the day and evening to explore so you won't really be behind but you will be far better rested.

Whatever you decide you will love it! Congratulations on your wedding and I wish you the best on your honeymoon.