My husband and I (early 50s), found inexpensive tickets to Rome last night, and impulsively booked them for 7 nights in April! We loved exploring Rome, Florence and Amalfi Coast previously, and hope to visit a new area this trip. I’m thinking Venice. We love food, wine, walking for miles exploring new sites and meeting locals. We greatly appreciate architecture, museums and the beauty of the basilicas, but don’t want that to be our trip’s main emphasis. We arrive and depart Rome early am, so I was thinking we would stay in Rome for first and last nights. We are so excited to get traveling again, and I’m hoping you have ideas to maximize our too few days! Is Venice a wise choice? And if so, your suggestions would be most appreciated!
Are you wanting to do a day trip to Venice or spend a couple of nights? Since it's a haul, about 3 1/2 hrs. I would think you would want to spend the night. Another option is to rent a car and drive to some of the charming Tuscan villages. If you are wanting to stick to trains, then you should keep that in mind when visiting Tuscany. Not every place is accessible by train.
Venice is lovely. There are many here who will tell you that you should spend at least three nights in Venice. We are not one of them. I have found that a full day and a half is plenty for us. We have been several times but only go back when we are traveling with someone who has never been. We believe everyone should experience Venice at least once. It's quite surreal. With two nights in Rome, that leaves you only five nights to explore other regions. I would stick to day trips from Rome, and perhaps a night or two in Venice.
Orvieto and Ostia Antica are great options for a day trip.
Are you considering a car?
Sally - welcome to the forum! You've got your tickets so I wouldn't recommend any changes there (unless they are free). How does this sound: OK, you're flying into Rome. Maybe take the Freccia train (renitalia.it) to Venice (always my first choice). It's an easy trip, the train is comfortable and the service is frequent. You'd be in Venice in time to check into your hotel, relax a bit and start your experience of time travel. Stay as many nights as you want, then head to Rome for the final nights. Being in Rome at the end of your trip allows you to enjoy that last night. What do you think?
Thank you for this suggestion! I was thinking of taking the train to stay several nights in Venice, but your suggestion opens up many more possibilities! The idea of Tuscany does sound incredible as well. Would we have to rent a car to get the best experience there? I’m somewhat hesitant to drive, but wouldn’t rule it out. I appreciate your perspective and ideas!
Robert, thank you for suggesting going straight to Venice on our arrival day. I had thought that might be too much after an overnight trip, but it would open up more time to explore! Do you recommend spending all our days in Venice? Or might you have other suggestions?
You would need a car to fully explore all Tuscany has to offer. But being you only have a short time, I like the suggestion of going straight to Venice, spending a couple of days and returning to Rome. From there you can do day trips, and see some the of sights you didn't get a chance to explore before. You could also spend one night in Verona after Venice before returning to Rome. There are so many options, and has you mentioned too few days! No matter, you will have an enjoyable time.
JR, thank you. Yes, too few days and too many incredible options! Your suggestions are very helpful though, as I am very flexible with our planning, and we will be packing very lightly. The last thing I want to do is spend too many days in one place if it isn’t highly recommended, or if time can easily be spread among a few areas.
I totally disagree with JR about how much time Venice is worth. Two days would be way too little for me, because I love wandering around. If you find you're ready for a change of scene before the day you're due to travel back to Rome, take the train to Padua or Vicenza for the day. Padua has more sights; Vicenza is smaller.
Thank you acraven. Again, I really appreciate everyone’s different perspective. That’s why I asked on this forum. I love hearing from those of you who have visited these areas, and getting your recommendations. I know we will be happy anywhere, but all the suggestions are so helpful.
There are some direct trains from FCO (Rome's airport) to Venice, more from Rome's Termini station to Venice. It's about 4.5 hours from the airport, 4 hours from Termini. If your flight lands early in the morning you might be able to train to Venice that same day right from the airport. Or you could spend a night in Rome and take a train the next day. There are also inexpensive flights between FCO and Venice, which would save you at least a couple of hours.
I suggest you plan to spend all available nights in Venice, in the city itself rather than the mainland. There's a lot to see and do there, and you could take day trips to Padua or other nearby cities. Get multi-day vaporetto passes, explore different parts of the city, be strategic about avoiding areas like San Marco and Rialto when they're most crowded in the middle of the day. Visit some of the islands. Check out "Explore Europe" on this website for our host's recommendations about sights in Venice, as well as guidebooks of course.
With a morning homeward flight from FCO, you might want to use the convenient Hilton at the airport. Or take the train back to Termini and spend your last night in the Eternal City.
Sally - people on this forum have lots of experiences, preferences and suggestions. That's what makes it such a great place to hang out! I do think getting to Venice on your first day is worthwhile. Venice is not really a late-night city. Maybe after dinner take a vaporetto trip up/down the Grand Canal. That will relax you and nourish your dreams for a good night's sleep. Have a hotel yet? I really love Hotel Ala (hotelala.it), it's half way between the Accademia bridge and San Marco at the Giglio vaporetto stop. I've stayed there almost a dozen times and call it 'home.' Truth be told, I've been to Venice many times and I've done the RS list of sites. What I now do is head out in a different direction every day and just explore. You could see the sites and museums and churches in each neighborhood while you meander. Don't ignore the other islands. You could do Murano, Burano and Torcello in a day, if that's all the time you have for them. A day trip to Padova might be a nice diversion.
You'll find me on the steps of Salute in the afternoon. That's my hangout and I'll be there the last week of April.
Thank you Dick and Robert! I love these ideas and they will be so helpful with planning. The hotel recommendation is greatly appreciated. If only we were there a bit later in April! We would’ve sat on the steps with you and happily shared some laughs.
Did you consider when Easter is- does it fall during your stay? If so, just be aware that the Easter Sunday and Monday will find many businesses closed.
I can't get enough of Venice, been there several times, have done the major sites, so I can just relax and wander the city.
We are coming before Easter, so hopefully we won’t run into too many closures!
make sure you have Rick's book and watch his (many) Italy videos
Sounds like a great trip and I like your idea of first and last nights in Rome. I love Venice and I think the five nights you have there will give you plenty of time to explore the city. I do really recommend going to the Guggenheim Museum. A gem of a palazzo filled with modern art and a sculpture garden with touches of Peggy Guggenheim’s live in Venice - she was an interesting character! Find your way to the gondola workshop, the wooden buildings look like an alpine village and there are always gondola being repaired. Visit the outlying islands including the Lido, a different feel from Venice as it has sandy beaches and a more resort feel to it. One of my enduring memories is treating myself to lunch at Florian’s on the Piazza San Marco and sitting for hours watching the world go by, expensive - yes but a refreshing break on a hot and muggy day. The Jewish Ghetto is an interesting visit with its taller buildings, synagogue, museum and holocaust memorial. Padua is only about 1.5 hours by train and would be an interesting day trip….the Giotto frescos at the Scorvegni Chapel, the anatomy theatre at the University.
Great suggestions! I think we will plan on having Venice as our home base and making day trips throughout the region as suggested! Please continue to add restaurant recommendations, sights and must-sees! We really appreciate your help!
Most trains from Venice to Padua take 26 to 28 minutes each way. A few take around 47 minutes. There are plenty of regionals that take less than half an hour and cost less than 5 euros each way.
We’ve started or ended our trips to Italy in Venice. We love it. Actually just decided to start our fall trip there as well. This time we’ll focus on Cannaregio/Ghetto for 1.5 days til we move on.
If you can handle the travel on arrival day, go straight to Venice. If not a night in Rome at either end is fine. Pick 2 diff areas that you’d like to explore or revisit.
(and it’s something we know we can’t do- just too much sitting when you add up trip to airport, wait for flight, then flight…)
Another vote for Hotel Ala, perfectly located.
If you want to visit Scrovegni Chapel in Padova be sure to book in advance as soon as you can.
A road trip thru Tuscany is also a great idea but check the car rental rates first, they are really expensive this year.
And if you do drive be sure to do your homework on driving in Italy.
You will need to COVID test before arrival in Italy and before departure to USA
Also need your CDC vaccination card with last dose no more than 6 months from your travel dates
Lots of info on those requirements here, stay on top of it as it will likely change.
I don’t see direct trains from Rome’s Fiumicino Airport (FCO) departing in the morning to Venice so you would have to transfer at Rome’s Termini station to get to Venice for a 5h train ride, long day after being awake all night. Or you could take a nonstop flight from Rome’s FCO airport to Venice for < $75 on ITA. There is a flight departing FCO at 9:20a and arriving in Venice at 10:30a.
I would sleep in Venice and take day trips to Padua and Vicenza if interested. Buy Rick Steves IT guidebook 26th edition to learn more. From Rome you can take day trips to Orvieto and Naples since you’ve been to Rome. Also while in Rome, if you haven't stayed in the Trastevere neighborhood it's very bohemian like.
Excellent recommendations! We will, however, have to see if we can find a fast train to Venice on our arrival day, or possibly reconsider going there immediately upon arrival in Rome. Can any of you recommend food/wine tours in Venice or surrounding areas? We do like to center our trips around food...
Sally, I wouldn't worry about not finding a morning Frecce train to Venice from FCO/Rome. Yes, it will likely require a change at Termini but that posted journey time is included in the nearly 5 hours it'll take from airport to Venezia S. Lucia. Most of the April Frecce dates are not scheduled yet - it's a COVID-related thing - but choosing a random March date of the 18th on the Trenitalia site ("fast" train schedules don't usually change much) I'm seeing one at 7:38, 8:38, 9:38 etc. which (with that change at Termini) that would have you there in 5 hours.
Do a search here for Alessandro cicchetti tour
I believe he is still offering tours
Tons of fun
I often bookend my trips as you are doing. I enjoy balancing the beginning and ending nights equally, as you have suggested. You are familiar with Rome already so you will have a nice sense of familiarity and relaxation. I vote contrary to those suggesting you immediately take a train to Venice after your overnight flight. Land and enjoy, relax. You are back in Italy! And you already have the lay of the land. Again, relax and enjoy your first day/evening, and take in the view from the train the next day when you are not fighting the motion of the train to stay awake because of your overnight flight. In other words, don’t run, walk through your vacation…you are likely to get more out of it. IMO
While I have driven through Italy many times, I now prefer to stay in one place or two places and use the wonderful train system to do day trips. From Rome, exploring Naples, Assisi, Orvieto and other are wonderful day trips and you don’t have to worry about parking the car. Even Florence is only 90 minutes by train, easy for a day trip. If you decide to use a town in Tuscany as a base, the bus system in Tuscany is easy and much nicer than in the US and can get you to most beautiful towns like Sienna, Fiesole, Cortona etc. Buon viaggio!
“Is Venice a wise choice?” IMO very much so! Wonderful ideas that would tick your boxes- food, wine, walking, exploring new sites & meeting locals… We spent a week in Venice and still didn’t see everything. We were advised to walk “off the beaten path.” It was the best advise we received. I recommend Frommer’s 24 Great walks in Venice. The walks allows you to explore the alleys, quays, filled-in canals and squares, from wide open spaces of Public Gardens to the narrowest passageways well off the beaten tourist track.
We found that the Museum Pass we purchased upon our arrival was well worth it. We stayed near San Marco, but far enough away from the tourist crowds. We stayed at the centrally located Hotel Flora, a seventeenth century Palazzo that boasts an inviting internal courtyard. Less than 5 mins. from Santa Maria del Giglio stop https://www.hotelflora.it