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UPDATE: October 2020 Honeymoon and first time for me in Italy! - Itinerary

Hello again,

We are getting married Oct. 3rd and flying out of LAX on the 5th @ 7pm PST (using SWISS - layover in Zurich and then a short flight directly in MXP)

Would love your feed back about length of stay in each city, alternative options, and anything else I'm missing. We live in on the Coast of California, 30 year old, and want a blend of touristy and authentic local experiences.

Here are places that we are staying tentatively. Please let us know if these are good overall locations (price, ambiance, walking distance to sights, price, etc.)

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187849-d194975-Reviews-Hotel_Principe_Di_Savoia-Milan_Lombardy.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g1393493-d18193654-Reviews-Corte_Foscara-Malcontenta_Mestre_Veneto.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187895-d235981-Reviews-Torre_Guelfa_Hotel-Florence_Tuscany.html

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g187791-d8779552-Reviews-Royal_Suite_Trinita_dei_Monti-Rome_Lazio.html

Our new itinerary looks like this:

  • 2 nights in Milan (We arrive 6pm local time, 10/6 into MXP). 1st night is shot due to how late we arrive into the city. The next day will be jet-lagged but should be fun seeing the mall, duomo (both inside and out), and just expolring. Fast train to Venice
  • 2 nights in Venice. See the usual sights. Fast train to Bologna
  • 2 nights in Bologna. Explore. Fast train to Florence.
  • 4 nights in Florence (One 1 night/ full day, dedicated to a private driver tour in Tuscany countryside). Fast train to Rome
  • 4 nights in Rome. Explore. Fly out 10/20 @ 9am.
Posted by
1085 posts

I agree on Hotel Terre Guelfa. When I was there a few years ago you could go up to the top of the tower and there were a couple small tables where they would bring you a cocktail. It was fabulous. What a view. And, the location IS great.

Posted by
2437 posts

Is there a reason why you have chosen to stay in Mestre instead of in Venice itself? IMO, this is a huge mistake, since late night and early mornings are the very best times to wander the streets in Venice. I would seriously reconsider your choice of location. 2 nights is really not enough time. If possible, add one more night.

Posted by
9 posts

in Florence we stayed next door to this awesome restaurant "the Yellow Bar" we ate there a couple of times.

Posted by
1528 posts

CJean is right
good catch

Stay in Venice

Take a look at Hotel Ala
Perfectly located steps from a vaporetto with no bridges/canals to cross
Very short walk to San Marco but in a quiet campo
A pretty nice rooftop terrace and a really good bkft

Posted by
16734 posts

Venice really needs at least 3 nights, else you'll end up spending most of your time surrounded by mobs of other visitors at the same few sights it seems everyone wants to see. The charm of Venice is in the little canals, the lost corners. Give yourself time to explore them.

I like Bologna, but you need to drop it from this trip and add at least one night to Venice. Although Bologna's large medieval center is great for exploration and the city is known for good food, one of the pluses of Bologna is that it is brilliantly positioned for day-trips to a lot of surrounding places. You don't have time to take any of those trips.

Posted by
1528 posts

I agree with acraven that Venice needs 3 nights. One of our favorites places in Italy, so much more than "just the usual sights"

I get why you want to see Bologna as well. I'm adding it to our Sept trip and taking nights from Milan- just can't get excited about Milan- 1 night there will do I think

You could give Milan just 1 night- get up early and see what you want to see- Duomo, Galleria won't take all day. Take a late afternoon train to Venice so you have 3 nights there and can hit the ground running next am- gives you 2 full days there which is way better than 1.5

Posted by
18 posts

Wow, great feedback so far. So you're saying stay one night in Milan, get up explore and leave for Venice later afternoon? If that's the case check out will normally be around 11am?, and we probably will be down exploring around 5-6pm? So leave for Venice then, and spend a night there?

I also am concerned about our luggage. Can our lodging hold our luggage and then we come back for it and grab our train. Is this frowned upon in Italy? Ideally, I'd love to check out (have them hold our bags securely) and go explore come back and grab gear and head to train for Venice.

The thing with Bologna is we need to fill 2 nights up, and it seems to fit our flow and train travel direction. One thing I remember people saying is regardless, try not to do 1 night stays. It's not worth the travel time, check in/out, and unpacking you'd have to do.

Posted by
1528 posts

Yes- your hotel will hold your luggage- never been to one that didn't.

You don't need to wait til check out time to get out sightseeing- get to the Duomo, etc early before the crowds.
I'd guess you could really be done with Milan earlier than 5-6.

True about 1 night stays- but in your case it's your arrival city and probably of the least interest- so to me that's OK.

2 nights in Bologna is fine as well- It's a short train trip from Venice (1.5hr) and you are not jet lagged anymore
Then another short train ride to Florence (40 min) so in each location you do have that first almost full day.

Posted by
3976 posts

i think you may find that you don't need Bologna to "fill 2 nights up." I'd recommend staying in Venice. There's plenty to do and see.

We've also stayed at the Torre Guelfa. This was 11 years ago, back when Rick did a "Best of Florence" tour. The hotel was charming, with the terrace at the top of the tower, and a bar on the way up there. Our room wasn't too good, but we didn't know enough at the time to complain. But do know that one bad room doesn't mean much; in these older buildings no two rooms are alike. No cookie cutter rooms here!

Posted by
13930 posts

I just looked at the site for your B&B for Venice - Foscara. It's an agristurismo - that means you're staying on a farm. It's an 8 km drive to the Mestre train station. No this is NOT a good place to stay if you want to see the island of Venice. And I note that one of the reviewers said AC would be a nice addition. Expect early October to be hot and humid.

A budget place I've stayed at in Venice is Santa Margherita Guest House. The location is very good, in the Dorsoduro, the rooms are clean and comfortable, with a small fridge and electric kettle, modern bathrooms.

Posted by
16734 posts

Wow, Chani, that's a great price for Venice. I'm bookmarking this thread just for that tip.

I especially like that the booking calendar shows you up front the days the place is totally full.

Posted by
18 posts

@Chani

Thank you for the tip!
Is there a water taxi that can take us to the island? Or is it just a pain in the neck? I like the idea of being in the thick of it and then maybe taking a break from the other tourists. If that's possible with Venice - if not no big deal. Is there a place within the city that is hidden or tucked away where I stay that's relatively not a tourist hotel/lodging?

As far as A/C goes:

I just check weather info: 70 degrees Fahrenheit average with 70% humidly. That shouldn't be too bad, right? I live in Ventura, CA and it is pretty much reflects the same statistics. Should I be worries about the heat, need for A/C options now?

Posted by
555 posts

Unless there is something in particular that you really, really want to see in Milan, I would recommend doing what we did on our most recent trip to Venice: take the train straight to Venice from Milan.

Venice is a far better place to recover from jet-lag in and a far better and smaller place to explore. Venice is much more walkable, too --- Milan does have areas that are good to walk in but it's a big busy city. Plus going straight to Venice eliminates one of your two-night (i.e. only one whole day) stays --- it is just not fun or relaxing to keep unpacking and packing and checking in and out of hotels and going to and from train stations.

Posted by
1528 posts

Mestre is not on the water and is a good 10 km from Venice

Stay in Venice proper or you’ll waste too much time getting to and from also putting you there right smack dab with all the day trippers

It’s very easy to get away from crowds that congregate at San Marco and Rialto
Just head away from those areas once you’ve visited and you’ll find the quiet magic of Venice

Look at Hotel Ala I posted above
There is another hotel on that quiet campo Hotel Flora I think?

Posted by
18 posts

@ nancys8

We are arriving tues 10/6 at 6:30pm at MXP, by the time we arrive in the city it will be after 7pm local time. The game plan is to eat dinner and pass out out. The next morning (hopefully) we will be semi-rested. We want to see the duomo (interior/ext) and go visit the beautiful mall. Hopefully we can jump on a train to Venice around 5-6pm. I agree Venice is better then Milan, but does this plan make sense?

@ ChristineH

I will check out Hotel Ali and Hotel Flora! Hotel Flora looks nice.

Posted by
1528 posts

With a 6:30 pm arrival don’t expect to be in the city by 7!
It will take time to deplane get your luggage if checked go thru passport control then shuttle to Milan then perhaps a cab to your hotel
Shuttle takes about an hour I think

Posted by
18 posts

The goal is to not bring check-ons!

Hopefully, so if that is the case we grab our carry-ons and head to the city. I hope we get enough sleep and time to check out the couple things in Milan before grabbing the late train to Venice. Does this sound feasible?

Posted by
555 posts

Wow, that must be a long layover in Zurich! I was assuming an arrival in Milan in the morning or at least early afternoon. Yes, you will get into your hotel in Milan very late, 9:00pm or later. Your plan to be in Milan the day after you arrive makes total sense!

Posted by
1528 posts

Oh carry on is good and you will have entered Schengen In Zurich so won’t do that in Milan
I’d still not expect to be at your hotel til 9-9:30 at best

Posted by
18 posts

@ChristineH

"Oh carry on is good and you will have entered Schengen In Zurich so won’t do that in Milan I’d still not expect to be at your hotel til 9-9:30 at best"

What does this mean? What is Schengen in Zurich reference? What does the next line mean about Milan? Can you clarify/explain what you meant in this post. Thank you!

Posted by
2437 posts

She just meant that you will have already gone through Passport Control when you get to Zurich, so you won't have to do it on arrival in Milan. You can Google Schengen zone.

Posted by
18 posts

does that mean we won't get held back/delayed when we fly into Milan? What's the best way into the city from the airport? Is it really an hour long trip to the city?

Posted by
1528 posts

You will go thru passport control in Zurich << this is where you will enter Schengen-- you are now in the Schengen Zone- look it up- so when you land in Milan you simply have to deplane, walk thru customs "nothing to declare" and be on your way.
The fastest/least expensive way to get to Milan is via the Malpensa Express or Malpensa Shuttle which will take you to Milan Centrale (or Cadorna Station but looks like your hotel is closer to Centrale)
From Centrale you can either walk or take a tram or grab a taxi to your hotel (I'd take a taxi after such a long travel day)
Go outside the station and find the taxi rank out front- do not go with anyone who offers a taxi unless it is in the official taxi line up.

A cab from Malpensa airport to the center is probably about 100+ Euros- totally unnecessary

There is a Malpensa Express- (train) or Malpensa Shuttle (bus)-
Express is a 51-54 min ride but allow time to get TO it and get ON it. Both will drop you at Milan Centrale.
https://www.malpensaexpress.it/en/
https://www.malpensashuttle.it

If you haven't already-- do pick up RS Italy guide book- full of valuable, practical info
( except he doesn’t include Bologna)

Here is a website I like to use for figuring out transpo options:
www.rome2rio.com

You can purchase your fast train tix to Venice, Bologna, Florence and Rome in advance for nicely discounted rates - as long as you are committed to a certain time.
www.treniltaila.com

This site will tell you all you need to know about Italian trains
https://www.seat61.com/Italy-trains.htm

Posted by
1528 posts

PS
I don't know if this is a splurge trip or a budget trip- but the hotel you have picked in Milan is quite pricey. If you want to save a bit and since you are only in Milan one night- take a look at these- both often recommended here on the forum- close to Centrale- which will be handy for your arrival and departure.

Hotel Berna
Hotel Garda

Another is Hotel Marconi

All can be found on booking.com
They are not really low budget more medium I guess and perfectly fine

Posted by
18 posts

Awesome stuff everyone.

@ChristineH

- There is a Malpensa Express- (train). Express is a 51-54 min ride but allow time to get TO it and get ON it. "
What do you mean allow enough time? Can you expand or elaborate?

  • Plan to buy Rick Steves Best of Italy 2020 (the newest version comes out this April, excited to get it!) Is this a good choice?
  • As far as lodging in Milan, this is good to know. Since we will be getting in super late, we should just be looking for a place to sleep. So we will check out your lodging recommendations. Also, since the next day will be a blur, and we have limited time before catching a train, shouldn't our lodging be a good balance of distance between the duomo/mall and fast-train station?
Posted by
1528 posts

cory-
What I mean is you are not stepping off the plane right onto the train. You will need to find your way to the underground station follow signs- then buy your ticket in a vending machine or ticket window, find your train and get on. That takes time when you are not familiar with the airport and you are in a foreign country. There will be some signage in English- but mostly Italian ;)
Be sure to validate your ticket before you board.

I always buy the full RS guide so I don't know about "Best of" but probably fine for where you are going (again no Bologna- for some reason Rick never includes- which is probably a good thing!)
You can buy it on Amazon for a few bucks less and free shipping if you are Prime- or at least faster shipping.

shouldn't our lodging be a good balance of distance between the
duomo/mall and fast-train station?

Yes. I've just spent the past few days looking at hotels in that area myself and there is not much other than the ones I mentioned which are closer to station than Duomo. Anything I see closer to Duomo is more expensive. We always like to be within walking distance of BOTH center and station when possible. The hotels I listed above are all about 10 min walk to station, but more like 30 min. to Duomo- at least it is flat and there is tram.
Another option that is a bit closer to Duomo is the NH Milano Touring- that's a European chain that is very nice and they have excellent bfkts. If you go to their website- sign up for the reward program and you get a discounted rate.

I like booking.com- you can set your filters- search for location, price range, see the map view, AC? elevator? bkft? cancellable? (I always book a cancellable rate). Read the reviews there as they can only be posted by folks who have actually stayed there unlike TripAdvisor. You can even filter the reviews by "wifi" "location" "quietness" etc

If you need a place in Bologna- I just booked this hotel
https://www.hotelinternazionalebologna.com/en/
Hotel Internazionale 322€ for 2 nights w/bkft- it is equi-distance from station and center- about 8 min walk either way.
We are more than twice your age so location/walking distance is really important to us!

Your Rome hotel is fine- it is right at Spanish Steps which can be a bit noisy/hectic/touristy. We like staying near Pantheon/Piazza Navonna/Campo De'Fiori- from there you can walk everywhere.

I don't think anyone above congratulated you on your upcoming wedding- so Congratulations! And you could not have picked a better place to honeymoon!

Posted by
18 posts

Perfect! Thank you for all the wonderful tips. I totally get what you are saying. I'll check out your hotel recommendations. We are excited to get married and head off to ITALY right after.

One last thing,

how strict is the size for your one personal item? I'm a man so I don't really have something small enough within the dimensions SWISS provides.

40x30x10cm (15.7Hx11.8Wx3.9D")

Do you think I will get stopped or charged for a backpack that's 17x12x8 inches?

Posted by
1528 posts

Cory
You’ll need to follow your airlines guidelines
Most are very strict

Get a slightly smaller backpack?

Check the packing forum here for ideas

Posted by
6109 posts

We have a 7pm flight out of LAX 10/5 with a 2 hr layover. That's why a late flight in to MXP.

Is this a single booking?

If your 'personal item' backpack is filled, you run a very good chance of it causing a problem.

Posted by
18 posts

@joe32F

Is this a single booking?

can you clarify your response?

We are flying SWISS

LAX-ZRH

-2hr layover in ZRH-

ZRH-MXP

Posted by
6109 posts

Is this the itinerary you purchased?

LAX
19:20
ZRH
15:15 +1
Connection time: 2h 05m
LX 41 Operated by SWISS
ZRH
17:20
MXP
18:15
Malpensa
Travel time: 13h 55m
LX 1622 Operated by HELVETIC AIRWAYS

Wanted to confirm you made only one purchase, not two ticket purchases.

Posted by
18 posts

yes, these are our flights.

But what does that have to do with your comment. Or in relationship to the personal item. I'm confused. Can you explain? Thank you!

Posted by
3456 posts

Baggage allowance may be different than Swiss air.

Helvetic Airways Baggage

Baggage per passenger (Economy)
Carry-on Baggage
Helvetic Airways passengers have a carry-on bag allowance of 1bag, weighting up to 5 kg.
Checked Baggage
Helvetic Airways passengers have a checked inbag allowance of a maximum weight of 23kg.

Posted by
18 posts

@gerri

We plan on only using one carry one and one person item per person.

I don't have a scale, but each carry on should be under 20lbs. I don't think that we will pack out each carry on more than that. However, again, I don't have a scale.

SWISS 's policy is 7kg (15lbs) per carry on. So maybe I'll use my bathroom scale and weigh the bags. I'm not really worried about the carry on weight cut-off.

it's the person bag weight/dimensions I'm more concern about.

"All passengers on Swiss Air can bring 1 personal item into the cabin measuring up to 15.7 x 11.8 x 3.9 inches (40 x 30 x 10 cm). Jan 20, 2020"

As a man this is hard, lol. My fiance's purse should be okay but I don't own anything that small. However the fjallraven kanken 2 pretty much fits those specs and It can be used by men.

Posted by
1508 posts

It's probably a good idea to invest in a luggage scale--they are not expensive. Some airlines/gate agents are more particular than others. The worst that can happen is having your luggage gate checked, but if you are determined to do carry-on only, it is best to be absolutely sure you are meeting the requirements.

Posted by
3456 posts

Carry on for this airline is 5k= 11.03 lbs.

Your regular carry on, 15 can be checked for this flight

Posted by
5284 posts

Also, the question as to whether the two flights are on one ticket is because if there are delays in the first flight the one-ticket booking puts the responsibility to get you on the next available flight with the airline. If you purchased two tickets separately, the second airline can just mark you as a no-show and require you to buy a new ticket if the first flight is delayed and you cannot make the second flight in time.
And checking a bag or bags is not a major crime -- we check 22" carry-on-size bags on every trip, carry our essentials in a personal item that doesn't leave our side. Very seldom have to wait even 5 minutes for the checked bags.

Posted by
18 posts

As far as the flights go, We are going through a travel agency. So I literally copied and pasted what he emailed me.

For the men: what did you use for your personal item? Any recommendations that fit the measurement requirements?

Thank you again for all the amazing insight and tips!

Also,

side note, where can I get the famous Florentine steak when we visit Florence, but not experience it in a touristy establishment? I want to to eat the famous steak where a local would celebrate an important date or milestone.