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May 2019 possible itinerary help

We are a couple planning our trip to Italy for our 5 year anniversary in May.
Our travel dates are May 16 through May 28 or 29.
Most likely since we are overseas we will arrive May 17. We are very into photography of scenery and landscapes, hiking, nature and culture which is why we’ve chosen the places we have.

Right now our thoughts are as follows

Fly into Rome and spend 2 or 3 days
Train to Lucca - please don’t try to talk us out of this - this is where family is from and a must
Stay in Lucca for 2 to 3 days
Take the train to la spezia and spend a few days there - one day we are planning to go to a football match in Genoa -
Take the train either back to Rome or to milan for flight home whichever makes the most sense
We don’t really care to visit Milan at this point just fly home there if it doesn’t make sense to backtrack

Is this doable? Are we doing them in the right order? We have had a look at a map and guidebooks

We really wanted to try to get to orto San guilio but from the looks of it.. it’s really out of the way
Should we skip somewhere and go there instead? Or even varenna or bellagio In como

This is our first time in Italy so we would really like to make the most out of the time we have!

I also want to mention we will NOT be renting a car

Thanks very much in advance for your guidance

Posted by
1025 posts

Lucca is a very lovely place - I certainly wouldn't try to talk you out of it, and can't imagine that anyone else would either. However, I do question your spending so little time in Rome, especially at the very beginning of your trip, when you're likely to be jet lagged - could you take some of the time from La Spezia and add it to Rome?

Posted by
5244 posts

I believe you did your research and know where you want to go, what you want see and do based on your interests. Just continue to read your guidebook as most of what you are going to hear is already in the there. Otherwise you should buy your plane ticket and clear up what city you are flying into and out before anything. This would get you a better return on advice.

Posted by
271 posts

I would agree. I think Lucca is wonderful and loved staying there. Rome is also one of the best cities in the world and 2 days does not do it justice.

Posted by
10 posts

We will be flying in and out of Rome due to flight availability and cost


16 depart US
17 arrive Rome in the morning
18 Rome
19 Rome
20 depart Rome by train to Lucca
21 Lucca

22 Lucca
23 Lucca
24 train to La Spezia
25 La Spezia
26 train to Genoa for Sampdoria Juventus game
27 Leave La Spezia to train back to rome
28 fly home from rome

We may actually have an extra day and be leaving May 29 but I’m erring on the side of caution

Is this better for time in each place? Or are we spending too much time in Lucca?

Also as far as la spezia goes we were just using it as a base to CT. I’ve read it’s very beautiful there but we had also thought about skipping it to just stay in Genoa as some places there look splendid as well. Thoughts??

Any advice on where to get rail passes and such? Thanks!

Posted by
3048 posts

You'll save money by not using a rail pass. Instead use this site to purchase tickets.

The regional tickets can be purchased the day of travel. The fast trains between Roma Termini/ La Spezia Centrale, and Genova/Roma Termini
Purchase as soon as possible.

Posted by
10 posts

Anyway after review we will most likely cut the football match in Genoa out and add an extra day in Rome

So 16/17 thru 21
21 train to Lucca - which stations am I departing from and to? are these ones I need to buy in advance?
21 thru 24 Lucca - depending on train times we only have two full days here
24 train to la Spezia or maybe bellagio instead? We thought la spezia seemed a good base as we want to visit bellagio and varenna to walk/hike.. where is the best place to stay for this? Also which trains am I looking for here and do I need to book now?
24 thru 27 La Spezia or CT
27 depart by train to go back to Rome and spend the night.. again do I need to book train ahead?
28 flight home

I did go to the site mentioned for trains and I found it quite confusing :/

Thank you all so much for your time and help
I’m sorry if I’ve repeated things this is our first time and I just want to make sure I understand before we go :)

Posted by
5244 posts

You would be better off using this site

Same prices more user friendly in that you don't have to use the Italian spelling for the train station.
Also it sells tickets to the trains operated by another company called Italo Train

This is on May 20 to Lucca. You would want to pick a train with just one connection and taking 3 1/2 hours more or less

Definitely book the La Spezia to Rome in advance. There are a couple of direct trains a day from La Spezia to Rome

Posted by
6439 posts

I'm not an expert but I'm confused about your idea - "We thought la spezia seemed a good base as we want to visit bellagio and varenna to walk/hike"

La Spezia is at the south end of the Cinque Terre on the coast. Bellagio and Varenna are pretty far north in the lake district area north of Milan.

La Spezia would be a jumping off point to visit Riomaggiore, Manarola, Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso al Mare. I've not been to La Spezia but I'd stay in one of the 5 villages of the CT.

Posted by
1065 posts

I agree with Pam. La Spezia is nowhere near Bellagio and Varenna. If you want to visit Cinque Terre, stay in one of the 5 towns.
Lucca is wonderful, I love it!

Posted by
4835 posts

Lake Como is too far away from the rest of your trip destinations. You should plan a visit there on another trip.

Is there a reason you plan to stay in La Spezia, rather than one of the "five towns"?

Posted by
10 posts

Yes you’re correct we were going to go to lake como but decided it was too out of the way I got my towns mixed up!

We were advised that la spezia would be a good base to visit CT

If we were to stay in a town which would you recommend?

Posted by
4835 posts

We stayed in Monterosso ( part of RS tour) and when our daughter took her Italy trip she stayed in Vernazza. She seemed just as happy with her choice as we were with being where we were. Just note Corniglia is the only one not on the water.

The towns are all close enough that getting from one to another is not a problem. Just a matter of what you want in a lodging and budget factors.

Posted by
725 posts

Okay, I'm giving away my secret, but the owner deserves the hype. Consider staying at Relais San Lorenzo in Lucca. Great price, and a wonderful centrally located B&B. Great breakfast, wonderful place.

It is wonderful, in a Palazzo upstairs from a museum. You will love it.

Posted by
143 posts

I love Lucca, it is a great choice! I saw it briefly, spend one night there. On my list of travel places, I would love to spend a week in Lucca.

La Spezia on the other hand....Oh lalala... what a disaster of a town... IMO it is not beautiful, a big port for cruise ships central, you and your thousands of friends will be taking the train to go Cinque Terre at the same time and returning to La Spezia around the same time. Why not spend it IN one of the five towns, enjoy them when it is the most beautiful and serene (in the morning) and lively but not crowded (in the evenings). My favorite are Manarola and Vernazza but if you want a sandy beach, then Monterosso.

Posted by
10 posts

Thank you everyone so nice! You’ve all been so helpful and kind!

Thank you for the recommendation on the place to stay! I’ve sent an inquiry regarding availability hopefully they have some! :)

Just to clarify.. to book a train I should use OR ??

I will book all of our tickets in advance so I don’t have to worry about being stranded once there
Rome to Lucca, Lucca to CT, and then CT back to Rome
Thanks again so much! We are really excited for our trip!

Posted by
10 posts

Final question..

Any recommendations on accommodations??

Have looked at and such but figured I’d ask if anyone had any recommendations.

Posted by
7557 posts

You'll get more helpful suggestions on Rome lodging if you share your budget (in euros, per night) and what kind of area you would like to be in. (We will be in Rome at the same time as you, and we are renting an apartment in Trastevere. This will be our sixth visit to Rome. For a first visit, I would recommend a hotel, as they can help you with logistics including reservations.)