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Italy Slow, Short Travel: help me narrow down please!

Greetings! My husband and I are planning a two-week trip to Italy. I have the Rick Steves Italy book--and I've watched ALL of the Italy videos multiple times--and all that's done is give me scope creep! So I need help narrowing down our itinerary. Here are the details:

-Number of days on the ground NOT including post-red-eye arrival day and NOT including departure day: 12.
-Flying in and out of Rome (non-neogtiable; flying on miles and that's the only way that works.)
-Prefer to get to know a place/live somewhere for several days rather than run around the entire country.
-Love European train travel.
-This will be our third trip to Europe; husband has been to Italy and LOVES it. I've never been.
-I deeply dislike Paris; I love everywhere I've been in Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Cordoba) except Toledo. I deeply disliked Toledo.
-Goal is to enjoy food, spend time together, and take in some sights. In no way am I expecting to 'do it all'.
-100% chance we will return to Italy if I love it.

Our initial plan was to just split the time between Rome and Florence, with six nights in each location. This was our introduction to Spain--we did three days in Madrid and four in Barcelona with absolutely no side trips. And then we returned the following year to explore more of the south; we will for sure return and in fact would love to retire to Seville some day. But I digress.

So our plan was just Rome and Florence. And then I got crazy and was like--well Venice is only a 3 hour train ride from Florence.

And Siena looks lovely; let's do an overnight there.

And I'd love to see more of Tuscany (that got me on a wine tour search; I now realize that the best way to do this is with a car. I would prefer to not rent a car.)

And oh hey, Cinque Terre would be AMAZING and I'd want to do an overnight there.

I obviously cannot do all of these things. I need to do one of these things. So:

If you were splitting 12 days between Rome and Florence, what one extra overnight would you add? Or is it worth it to split the trip up into Rome/Florence/Venice?

Thanks in advance!

Posted by
4901 posts

Maybe a critical question, you mention you did not enjoy Toledo. I find this interesting, and maybe relevant to this trip. What did you not like? Did you daytrip from Madrid, or stay overnight?

Posted by
2609 posts

Sounds like you might be happiest with dividing it Rome - Florence - Cinque Terre.

If you wanted to get out into the Tuscan countryside, you could use one of your Florence days to take a van tour, or follow the RS advice to use public transport for a self-guided tour to a couple of towns.

Siena is lovely, but it can be extremely crowded (and not just during the Palio). If you chose Siena, you'd want to book well ahead of time.

I would not try to include Venice since you are flying in & out of Rome. Save Venice for a future trip.

Posted by
3348 posts

I don't see any travel dates. Time of year may matter.
As already asked, was Toledo a day trip at high season? If so,then forget Cinque Terre, Siena and Venice. I doubt that one overnight in a high tourist city is going to be enough to balance out the daytime mayhem and congestion during high season.
Stick with your original plan. Both Rome and Florence will offer multiple day trip opportunities, but exercise control and don't book them until you arrive. Short train trips aren't going to break the bank if you book full price vs booked months ahead. The one caveat to that might be a standout Tuscany countryside tour from Florence. Put that on your agenda to look forward to and to push away thoughts of 'scope creep'.

Posted by
231 posts

You could keep your initial plan for six nights each in Rome and Florence. This way you only "lose" part of one day moving to a new location. Go to Florence on arrival day; that puts your days in Rome at the end of the trip when you need to be near your departure airport. Depending on your interests, you could fill all your days in those two cities. If you find you would like to explore more, both cities are central for day trips that are within an hour or so via public transportation or have tours available (such as a day in the Tuscan countryside). We, too, are "slow travelers"--we've spent a month in Italy over the past two years (two trips) and have yet to visit Rome (I know, a travesty...next time!). If you love Italy, you WILL be back to take time to truly enjoy Venice!

Posted by
463 posts

Wow--thanks all, for the super speedy responses! I failed to mention that we actually do need to make these decisions quickly; we have award flights on hold and the hold ends on Saturday.

So what I'm getting here is: yes to Rome and Florence. No to Venice. And I can just kind of decide to do a day trip on the fly. Good to know! I wasn't sure if that was the kind of thing which needed to be booked in advance, especially because....

And to answer the question many of you are asking (whoops, should have included this in the above summary) we are going in the highest of high season--mid July. I realize this is stupid. I 100% get that. And our Spain trips that I loved were in the springtime and were LOVELY. And yes, it's going to be hot and crowded. But I'm now married to a teacher, so there's nothing to be done about it. It's summer travel or no travel for us for the next 17 years.

Please feel free to tell me I'm insane for going to Rome and Florence in July. It's not too late for me to cancel if it's THAT bad of an idea! Thanks!

Edited to add:

To answer the why I did not like Toledo question: it had no soul. It felt to me to be just a tourist town. We stayed overnight (for two nights) and upon arrival I tried to find a cheap room back in Madrid for the second night (there was something football happening so no dice on that). The town rolls up the sidewalks at 6pm. Coming from a vibrant city like Seville, where we had just spent a week, it was kind of meh. I can see how it would be a nice day trip from Madrid, however. And on our second evening we did find a nice little local bar with a patio on the other side of the fort where we passed an evening watching the sun set and drinking gin and tonics.

Posted by
7 posts

I recommend overnights in Rome and Florence only. Plan a separate trip for Venice since flights are in/out of Rome. We did a couple of van trips to get into the countryside last year from Florence and it worked very well. The trips were a day of hiking around Fiesole that included a family style lunch--with wine of course--and an evening at a winery, Diadema in Imprutena, for a tour, a chance to do some custom wine blending, and a lovely dinner. The RS book recommends some tour companies or check TripAdvisor reviews (book on the company's site) to find something that appeals to you.

Posted by
3374 posts

...feel free to tell me I'm insane for going to Rome and Florence in July. It's not too late for me to cancel...

Passing up "free" air fare and a chance to spend that amount of time in Italy (even in July) would be insane. The idea of heading straight to Florence upon arrival is a good one. Then wind up in Rome before flying back. I'd say go for it and enjoy!!

Posted by
238 posts

You could go straight to Florence via the train on arrival. Spend three nights in Florence, then rent a car and spend 4 nights in the Tuscan countryside. Maybe an agriturismo with a pool? See Sienna, Lucca Chianti etc? Then travel back to Rome for the last 5 nights.
That would give you a feel for city and countryside. Just a thought

Posted by
187 posts

Stick to Rome and Florence for 12 days, and since you need to fly home from Rome, I'd go to Florence upon arrival to Rome and do that first so you're near your departure airport at the end of your trip. My husband and I are planning to go to Rome and Florence and we will have about 2 weeks too. It was tempting to add Venice (he's never been, I have and loved it), but decided to do Venice on another trip and combine Venice with another destination (like Slovenia!). You don't necessarily have to stay overnight at Siena, you could just go for a few hours on the way to Rome from Florence. I went to Siena for the day and felt no need to spend the night.

Posted by
3348 posts

There is 'day trip' and 'day trip'. If the day trip is you getting on a train to Lucca to walk the city walls, no pre-planning required. If a 'day trip' is a wine tour in Tuscany, plan ahead....but it shouldn't need to be next week.
What will need planning asap is entries to the high profile monuments and museums. Vatican museum, Colisseum and Uffizi Gallery to start.
Make sure your lodging has AC....if it isn't listed, it isn't there. Personally, if it were me for 6 days each city, I would look at short let apartments rather than hotels. If you go that route, write and ask where the AC units are and that it is more than just an occelating fan or two.

Posted by
715 posts

I have been traveling to Europe in July for the past twenty years (yes I teach) and it's FINE. Of course it's hot, but it's also light out late, there are flowers around, evenings are just lovely. So don't let all the naysayers scare you from summer travel to Italy - or anywhere else. That said you do obviously need AC in the hotels (most do have it these days) if you can get up and going early, mornings are great, then maybe do a siesta after lunch during the hottest part of the day. I don't always do that, but sometimes it's nice. I have also traveled a lot in March and while it's less crowded you have to content with shorter daylight hours, rainy days, etc. Unless you are a very heat averse person July in Italy is great.

From Florence Siena and Pisa/Lucca are great day trips but I think there is something to be said for doing a couple of nights in Siena. Same with Rome - Orvieto is a good day trip but it's a town that spending two nights in would give a different perspective than just a day trip. Really up to you but I agree not to add in a further destination like Venice or Cinque Terre.

Here's my photos of Italy if you are interested - https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/f739967755

Posted by
3561 posts

Hi Tracy, I will give a differing opinion from most you have received since I saw that you liked Seville and Cordoba. These are my opinions after coming to Italy five times for 3-week trips & always yearning to return! : ). Florence is so crowded now, that although it has many highlights, I wouldn’t want to stay more than three nights. And, I also think this would be a good chance for you to see both some cities and a smaller town to get a feel of how you might want to allocate your next trip to Italy. Stopping into a smaller town for a day trip is not the same as being there at night where as you mention, the soul of the town can be most prominent. Also, attending a local festival is always a highlight and makes for exciting evenings, too! (I attended the Stresa Music Festival, Verona Opera Festival & Arezzo’s Medieval Jousting Festival last year.) Check out Googling “Tuscany Festivals July 2019” and see if any listed are appealing to you.

So, this is a sample itinerary I would recommend.

Fly into Rome. Train to Florence. Florence - 4 days. (Jet lag day, plus 3 days)
Train to location of a festival that you would enjoy. If no festivals are appealing, stay in Siena - 2 days
Train to Rome - 6 days.
Fly home

Posted by
110 posts

Thank you Isabel for the vote of confidence on July travel. We are also a family that had no other choice than to travel in July. We've been to Europe several times in spring and fall but I was a bit worried about the weather. We're from Phoenix, so 90 degree temps are no big deal for us and even though its a "dry heat" 100+ temps are still hot.

Posted by
129 posts

I think you have plenty of time to include Venice! We spent 9 nights in Italy (less time than you have) - three in Venice, three in Florence and three in Rome and had a nice amount of time in each place. Venice was by far my favorite and the trains were wonderful in Italy so we didn't mind the time spent traveling between the cities - it gave us a rest from all the walking! I would recommend the Best of Tuscany Tours from Walk-about Tours if you just want a day away from Florence. It took us to Siena, a winery, San Gimignano and Pisa. I hope you have a wonderful time in Italy!

Posted by
29 posts

Odds are, if you don't spend at least 4 nights in Rome, you will add it to the list of unliked cities. I love Rome, but know many who stayed for only a few days who don't. Florence and Venice can also be less days. I'd train out from Rome when you arrive and finish your trip in Rome.
We've been to Italy many times and will return again this Sept. We always make time for Tuscany, add a city (usually Rome 7/or Florence, and choose something else that either we haven't been to or we really wanted to return (Dolomites, Como, etc.). However, most our trips are a bit longer.
Note-Siena is not reached by train. Why not rent a car at the airport? It's an easy drive to Orvieto, spend a night there. Spend 2 nights in Tuscany and return car in Florence. Stay 4 nights there and finish in Rome.

Posted by
463 posts

Before I even read the rest of these responses: @Maria--YES! I am so doing all of those things! We will be renting apartments in both cities. And I'm being insane about ensuring AC. I found a great place on VRBO and AC was listed. But I do not SEE any vents, and I DO see fans. So that's either a no or an 'I need to write to the property owner'. We almost died in the heat of Seville in May; I do not wish to imagine Rome in July. And yes, I know lots of Europeans live without AC. We aren't European--and my husband is SUPER sweaty. Sleeping next to him in a double bed will be bad enough WITH AC!

Posted by
463 posts

New questions: everyone seems to suggest starting in Florence. Is there any reasoning for this other than the lure of ending the trip in our departure city? I was thinking of starting in Rome and ending in Florence, as I fear disliking the hustle of Rome after the less-hustle of Florence.

We planned to return at least one night before our flight out; I have no desire or plans to take a train on the morning of a trans-Atlantic flight.

As for the car rental: it's a solid no from me right now. For a future trip, yes. But I travel for a living, often driving long distances daily (like think eight hour round trip commute) and I wish for a trip with me not behind the wheel. Also I can't drive stick. ;-)

Posted by
2609 posts

I don't think you have to start in Florence, but I'm totally with you on spending at least your pre-flight night in Rome so you're near the airport. If you wanted to divide Rome into two stays, there's no compelling reason not to, it just means one more check-out and pack-up. You might choose two different pats of the city, for example Trastevere for the first couple of nights, then go to Florence, then return and book a place near Piazza Navona for your second stay.

Posted by
463 posts

@epltd--I hadn't considered the benefits of changing locations! Especially in a city as huge as Rome. Makes sense!

Likely we will do several nights in an apartment at the beginning and then a night or two in a hotel at the end. And will be sure to change locations. Brilliant. Thanks!

Posted by
3374 posts

...everyone seems to suggest starting in Florence. Is there any reasoning for this other than...

Yes. The arrival day is usually pretty much shot because of tiredness, sleepiness, jet lag, and such. Since that is the case many opt to go as far as possible on the arrival day to aid in the acclimation process. It will also eliminate one change of hotels and the time lost doing so. But to each his own.

Posted by
162 posts

I have similar feelings about Seville. In fact I love it so much that I often cannot make myself move on to the my next destination. And although I didn't hate Toledo it left me sad. although I really cannot say logically why.
So here's what I would do with your 12 days.(and good job recognizing the non counting of arrival and departure days).
Florence in July..no way. Crowds, heat and humidity.
I would spend 4-5 days in Rome but put 2 -3 days at the beginning and 2 days before departure. Even though you're not counting the arrival and departure days you would still have part of those days .
From Rome I would go to Orvieto one of my favorite places Italy. From Rome trains as short as an hour. Spend 2 nights there.
Then from Orvieto to Spoleto as 1.5 hours by train. Spoleto is for some reason overlooked and I hope it stays that way. Incredible town with many charms. There is a music festival from June 28-July 14 but even then not as crowded as Florence on any day. If your time is after July 14th then definitely Spoleto. I'd spend the 5-6 days there and take side trips to Spello 30 minutes away and another day trip to Asissi but since Assisi is less than an hour away you would the luxury to arrive after the hordes have left. After 5pm or so is magic.
From Spoleto very close is Terni with Cascata delle Marmore.
Or if you have not bought air tickets since it's July head to the Dolomites. Fly into Milan and out of Rome or vice versa. Although not in the Dolomites but still north is Verona and with a view of the Dolomites is Bolzano both cities are some of my favorites. From Bolzano close access to the gorgeous mountains and the towns in the region.

Posted by
2595 posts

I agree with your initial gut: Just Rome and Florence. This will help you tolerate the heat as well and you can take that recommended siesta in the middle of the day if you need to do so, and have time to sit and watch people. Florence is one of my favorite cities, but I haven't been there in a decade or in summer so I can't say if the crowds will be crushing, but you don't have to just stay near the main sites. I enjoy walking the streets of Florence, but I never went in summer.

Unlike most people here, I like the round trip flight. I'd suggest thinking about visiting Florence in the middle of your stay. If I were on an overnight flight from Phoenix (or even Boston), the last thing I'd want to do is get on a train to somewhere else. Instead, just check into your hotel and enjoy the excitement of Rome, take a quick nap if you need to do so, and take a leisurely walk, etc. I like to bookend my trip with the same city because I feel like I'm returning to a city I know already towards the end of the trip. Also, I'm not mixing another foreign airport into the mix. Plus, the train can be a relaxing break from a busy trip; sit back and enjoy the scenery.

Posted by
1578 posts

hey tracy
you will have a fabulous time no matter when you go. when life "work" gives you lemons make lemoncello! there is so much to do in both rome and florence to keep you busy and also have time to relax and enjoy the atmosphere. posters have given you great ideas of what's good and not so good, up to the individual.
if you haven't found a place to stay, we really like apartments if longer than 3 days per place. check cross-pollinate.com, rome and florence are listed there. read about them, the fine print, look at pictures, areas they are located, what floor and if elevator. (first floor - italy is second floor - american) carrying luggage up stairs and steps, if mobility issues, pack light. some have washers with drying racks.
casarabatti.it is in florence with A/C and some have washers, near train station firenze SMN and mercato centrale: shopping, food, restaurants emporium, loved it.
come&seeitaly.com tours from florence
marketsofrome.com
eatwith.com
eatingeurope.com
cookly.me many different cooking classes
withlocals.com (beautiful countryside day trip to castelli romani the popes summer palace) among other things to check out.
oldfrascatiwinetour.com 30 minute train ride to the town of frascati, region known for white wine, read about us and their blog. fun day away the the crowds of rome. saw a food special about the "best" porchetta at ceralli.it family owned bakery/pizza shop. walk the small town, sit for a glass of vino, appetizers and people watch.
italymagazine.com search lake nemi and it's wild berry (famous for it's wild strawberries grown in the woods and diana, goddess of hunting and the myth of her)
take a bus from florence to panzano in chianti to see the famous butcher, dariocecchini.com. loves his rock and roll music and a great showman with cutting meat in his little shop. check times and maybe have lunch at his restaurant, bus back to florence.
don't forget to book the other sites early and the others here will give the info, i've been there done that, just giving you other things available away from museum, art, statue overload. any other questions just ask, there are great people here with how to's, go to's and opinions. enjoy
aloha

Posted by
463 posts

Thanks, all! This has given me a lot to think about! Thanks for all of your thoughtful responses. We are hoping to take the plunge and actually book the flights (which are on hold through the end of the day today) very soon.

But of course a wrench was thrown into the plans: I discovered we can fly into Rome and out of Venice for the same amount of miles, also direct and well-timed. Gah! NOW we are considering adding a couple of days to the trip and spending them in Venice.

And then I stupidly watched the Rick Steves Cinque Terre video. And now we are dreaming of a visit there as well.

Decisions decisions!

Posted by
463 posts

Me again. Just here to say I've booked all of this and I don't THINK I'm changing anything. We decided to extend the trip by two nights and keep it a slow travel trip with just Rome and Florence. So it now looks like this:

Day 0: Arrival day, post-red eye.
Days 1 - 5: Rome (five days)
Day 6: Train to Florence
Days 7 - 12: Florence (six days)
Day 14: Train back to Rome
Day 15: Rome (one additional day)
Day 16: Flight home

I figure we have six whole days in both Rome and Florence, which allows for maybe a day trip from each--though likely we will just do a day trip from Florence as there's SO MUCH I want to see in Rome. I'm tempted to steal a night from each city to spend in Cinque Terre, but that adds expense and travel time. Thoughts?

Posted by
11845 posts

Yo, Tracy -
I personally love your plan just the way it is. What is so cool about it is the amount of flexibility you're going to have with 2 nice long stays! You don't HAVE to take that day trip in the rain just because it was the only day you had to do it. Sunny day? Take that day trip, walk the Appia Antica or explore the remaining pile of a nearly 2000 year-old bath. Raining? Churches and museums, or at least those you didn't have to make prior reservations for (have you done that yet?) A little pooped from too much sightseeing the day before? Take some down time. Making a "slow travel" plan was especially wise for dealing with the summer heat and crowds IMHO. All-in-all, it's going to be so much easier on both of you than the poor tourists who try to cram the Greatest Hits into too little time and end up hot, exhausted and trampled for most of it.

Your call on the CT - which I would not do unless you could stay a night or two - but now that you've finally got your plan in place and the clock is ticking, I'd save that for another time. Some folks do that one as a day trip from Florence but I don't recommend it: the BEST hours there are the ones when the horde of day-trippers aren't around. That horde promises to be dense (!) in July so there are other day trips from Florence I'd consider before that one (Siena, Lucca, Fiesole, etc.).

Posted by
188 posts

Hi Tracy,
In Rome, an easy daytrip would be to Ninfa Gardens, near Latina. One must sign up for a visit ahead of time.
Tante belle cose!
I am done. The end.

Posted by
2562 posts

I love Florence so much I would go any time regardless of the crowds. I like your plan to stay in only two places and do some day trips-you waste so much time changing lodgings. We have day-tripped to Pompeii from Rome twice and it's a long day but doable. On my first trip, I took a bus tour and got to see the Amalfi Coast Highway too. We also did a bus tour from Florence to Siena and San Gigmignano(I know I mispelled it). I have read that it's easy to just take a bus from Florence to Siena for the day, but haven't tried it.

Posted by
613 posts

Sienna is about an hour by train from Florence. Compare hotel prices in Sienna. Florence has horrendous tourist tax on hotel rooms-- $20 per person when I was there.

check local tour companies like Viator-Florence for day trips. Advantage-- faster travel time & you get a guide. Disadvantage: more expensive than public transport

Posted by
11845 posts

Pretty much all tourist areas in Italy have the per-night tourist/city tax. It's based on the type (B&B, agriturismo, hotel, hostel, campsite, etc.) and/or star rating of the accommodation, and varies per area. As a brief example (as near to current as I believe I've found, anyway), some tax rates for Rome, Florence and Siena 3, 4 and 5-star hotels; all are per person, per night:

Rome:
3 star - 4 euros
4 star - 6 euros
5 star - 7 euros
Maximum of 10 nights, children free up to age 10

Florence:
3 star - 4 euros
4 star - 4.80 euros
5 star - 5.5 euros
Maximum of 7 nights, children free up to age 12

Siena (March-October; other rates apply during low season):
3 star - 2.5 euro
4 star - 2.5 euro
5 star - 5 euro
Maximum of 6 nights, children free up to age 12)

Other rates apply to 1 and 2-star accommodations. We've been asked to pay this tax separately from the bill for our room, and in cash although I won't swear that's always the case. Obviously, the cost of this tax in U.S. $ depends on the exchange rate at the time.

Posted by
463 posts

Kathy--thank you for your thoughts. I was legit sitting here second guessing our plans. I chatted with a friend last night who did ALLLL of Italy in like 10 days one summer. And I was like: maybe we are under doing it? But you make a VERY good point. This pace of travel allows for flexibility. I think I will let it stand. Thank you!!

Gregg--PERFECT recommendation! The one thing I was concerned about for this trip was the lack of nature/green space. A day trip to Ninfa Gardens would be AMAZING! It is on the list! Thank you!

Edit: blargh! I researched. The gardens are only open like three days in July and none of those days will we be in Rome! Any other recommendations of green spaces we might check out?

KB--we are staying in Airbnbs and have factored the cost of tax into our lodging. That's another reason I wish to keep the number of locations down--every time you change Airbnbs you up the per night cost, as cleaning fees stay the same no matter if it's a week long stay or one night. So staying in fewer places longer is ideal. And I think we got two very well located apartments; near Plaza Navona in Rome and near the Uffizi in Florence. We are staying in a hotel for the last two nights in Rome before departure--at a small, reasonably priced hotel recommended in the RS Italy book.

Posted by
11845 posts

I chatted with a friend last night who did ALLLL of Italy in like 10
days one summer.

Pish. With just 10 days, that friend did not see ALL of Italy. Not. Even. Close. He/she may have blown by some stuff long enough to snap some pix but didn't experience much of it at all. There is a difference. Your plan may be short on a pile of locations but will provide a deeper, richer dive into a couple of very old, ridiculously fascinating cities that your friend didn't get to have. We love both of them and can't wait for the next go-around!

Posted by
3561 posts

“I chatted with a friend last night who did ALLLL of Italy in like 10
days one summer.“

Ha! That’s like saying I saw NYC in one day!

Posted by
3561 posts

By the way, Viator mentioned in a previous reply is just a 2nd party “middleman” reservation company. Always try to find the actual company supplying the tour, cooking class, etc. for the best service and lowest price.

Another comment from a previous reply - if you’re going to Siena from Florence, it’s handier to take the bus because it will bring you right into the city vs. the train station out of town. The bus station in Florence is right around the corner from the main Santa Maria Novella station.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
463 posts

Thanks, all! And the 'all of Italy in a week' was kind of hyperbole--she did Rome, Sorrento, Florence, and Venice. In 10 days. That's nowhere near ALL of Italy, but to me that seemed like a lot!

And yeah--I don't book through Viator. I always book directly with tour companies and I do my research. Currently looking at only a few tours, just for the things we NEED a tour for--namely the Vatican and likely the Colosseum. If I don't need a tour for the Colosseum, please correct me! This is a budget trip. But we are splurging on an early-entry tour to the Vatican because the way I see it, my options are:

A. Pay a lot of money for early access/skip the line/as few crowds as possible or
B. Don't go to the Vatican AT ALL.

Because those crowds look INTENSE. And we are going in July.

We are looking at The Roman Guy tours; they get great reviews and I LOVE The Roman Guy's Vlog series.

Posted by
6059 posts

Rome day trip- beautiful Tivoli Gardens and it’s amazing fountains.
One day/ night besides Rome and Florence- Siena. Do not try to see do much.” Less is more”

Posted by
463 posts

Suki--YES! That's exactly what I was looking for! A way to get out of town quickly and easily to somewhere less urban. It's on the list! Thanks!!!

Posted by
2382 posts

I love your plan! I personally would go to Florence first (avoid a hotel change, settle in a bit more) but it looks like you have thought it out and prefer it the other way so go for it

I am another one who disliked Toledo and loved Seville and Granada. Paris I like fine but don’t love. So if my taste is anything to go by - you will especially enjoy Rome. The thing is in Rome you need time to enjoy- people who go for 2 days and rush around end up finding it very trying and overwhelming. People who slow down find a wonderful atmosphere. Your plan is perfect for it.