Hi - I'm planning an Easter week trip to Venice and Florence with my sixteen year old (a birthday gift instead of a party). I feel a bit out of my depth with all the choices since I haven't been to Italy in over 25 years! Does this sound smart and feasible: fly from JFK to Venice and stay two nights somewhere (any tips?) near the train station and then take that fast train to Florence. Train back to Venice and fly home from there? Is this too much, do you think? I'm trying to avoid the stopovers if I fly direct to Florence from JFK - and the wasted time. Seems like it'd be more fun to be on the train. Found an apt. in Florence that is supposed to be near the train station. Any insights, advice, tips from more seasoned travelers would be welcomed and appreciated.
First, and this is critical, book an open jaw ticket into Venice and home from Florence or even Rome. Saves time and expensive of back tracking to Venice. Probably hard to find some place near the train station in Venice but use public transit or a taxi to get to the hotel. Same for Florence. Easter Week will be busy so book train tickets early as you can.
I like your idea. A couple of things: First, the area around the train station in Venice is wall-to-wall cheap souvenir stands. Venice is very compact and easy to get around in. Buy the Rick Steves Italy guidebook which includes TONS of helpful information on both Venice and Florence. He has great lodging options. The area around the train station in Florence isn't that bad. Try to stay close to the historic center. Second, to get an "open jaw" ticket, choose "Multi-City" or "Multiple Destinations" on the airline website. (It's not the same as two one-way tickets.) Definitely fly into one of those cities and fly out of the other.
If it avoids layovers back to JFK I would do that. But I would train to Florence first. See Florence and end in Venice. I'd rather be at the airport city at the end of the trip. Open jaw tickets are good but if you get non stop flights go for it. Don't stay near the train station in Venice.
I stayed at a relatively inexpensive hotel in RS book: Hotel Bel Sito, and it was close to St. Mark's square. I think it would be crazy to sleep near the airport. The thing I like about RS books, is that the hotels are situated near the sites people want to see! One time on a girls' trip, my friend insisted on booking a room that was really inexpensive (but nice)but all of the money we saved on a hotel we spent on cabs - and then some! Not to mention the time lost! I don't know the logistics of flying out of LA to Italy, but if you can get an open jaw ticket, flying into one city and out of another without stopping at JFK, I'd do that for sure. Time is money on vacation! If Venice is your only option, it's not that bad to go back and forth via train, but DO sleep inside Venice except the night before your departure. The train ride from Venice to Florence and vice versa is pretty easy and convenient. While in Florence, since you're staying near the train station, a nice little excursion would be to Mercado Centrale -- the world's largest
produce stand/grocery store/butcher/deli! Fun for cooking in! Your daughter will love a stroll down the Ponte Vecchio as well, with the world's most abundancy of back to back big-windowed jewelry/gold stores ever! I could go on and on about Florence, but make sure you go up to the Piazza Michelangelo for sunset, and stroll through Piazza della Signoria at night - and enjoy the opera singers singing acapella.....lovely! She's a lucky girl to have her Sweet Sixteen in Italy. You may want to post another question with "Hotels In Venice" as the subject line - there may be more ideas.
Kate: Flying from the U.S. into Italy remains very difficult without having to connect through another European city. It's bad enough that you're coming out of LAX, and that compounds the flight and connections into one hard day/night. Venice flights from the U.S. are seasonal, and it's doubtful whether Easter is seasonal. Florence only has Delta flights from JFK, and again it's seasonal. Rome has year round flights to/from Atlanta on Delta and Philadelphia on U.S. Air. This may be your best choice coming and going. I would suggest you take the week and two weekends, if possible. In that time, you could easily experience the highlights of Venice, Florence and even Rome. (We made the same itinerary last Easter.) Italian trains are very, very fast between major cities, they're very frequent and they're relatively inexpensive. I would say take the train up to Venice upon landing. Then work your way back to Rome. Beware that if you fly out of Florence or Venice home, you'll be getting a very early flight (maybe 6:00 a.m.) to another European gateway city. That would be very difficult, especially since you're flying on to the West Coast. Flights out of Europe from 10:00 a.m.-noon are much preferred. Good luck. I know a 16 year old that will be tickled to death.
Remember that holidays are great flight days, but the day after Easter is a national holiday in most European countries.
Kate, from Long Beach, I assume that you will fly out of LAX. We've done that to Italy twice and my wife and daughter are ready to do it once again. We use our United points and they route us via Chicago or Washington, DC where we pick up our flight on United to Germany. In Germany, we change planes for Italy. It's not the best way but that's how United wants to route us on our points. My wife and daughter will fly home from Rome. Better yet is the really nice flight on Lufthansa from LAX overnight to Frankfurt. You check in at Tom Bradley International and you take the afternoon flight. You arrive in Frankfurt at 11:00am the next day. You skip Chicago and the whole east coast. 2hrs later, you are on your flight to Venice. You arrive just before 2:00pm. We can sleep OK on planes so we're OK on arrival. Right now, I see a round trip fare 90 days out for $1,118. Not bad for just one plane change. Air France can do this as well. Picking a different airport to fly home (open Jaw or multi-city) may cost you a bit more but its really worth it. We do it all the time.
Hi to All and thank you so very much. I'm so glad I stumbled upon this community of travel veterans. Just to clarify: I am from Long Beach in New York - the little city by the sea that was so hard-hit by the hurricane last October - so we'd be starting out from New York. My daughter has serious wanderlust and routinely makes plans about all the places she wants to visit, live in, and learn about. She's an art, architecture, and history lover so I thought Florence would be perfect - as would so many other places in this wide world - but she's also always pined to go to Venice. She's really, if I do say so myself, a great un-bratty kid who genuinely appreciates life. Hence, the splurge. I just get jittery as a single mom and an unseasoned traveler - I've taken her for several years to London and feel comfortable there -but Italy seems a real world apart. So maybe I will take the suggestion and start a hotel forum? I've been checking apartments, though - which seem cheaper and nicer than hotels to me - We got lucky in London and found a studio that was just perfect in South Kensington right near the tube. I want that kind of proximity to sites and museums and all in both cities - walkable and clean and safe. Again - Thank you all so very much. I'm weighing all your suggestions - and will keep checking the posts - plus get a hold of Steve's "boot" book!
Kate, you could fly into Venice and out of Milan on an open-jaw ticket, if you think Rome is too much to add. I like the idea of taking the two weekends - and if you can fly out on a Thursday night and back on a Monday, you may find cheaper fares.
Hotel Duomo in Florence- reasonably priced - walk everywhere from there & best of all beside the Duomo with beautiful views
Sorry, Kate! I think we all thought you were in California at the "other" Long Beach! If you can add both weekends on, you will have time to do Venice, Florence and Rome. I'm a sixty-ish woman and my generic advice is to avoid sleeping near the train station in any city. There are people here who disagree with me, because $ can be saved on easy transportation connections, but I'll pay those few extra bucks to feel comfortable returning to my hotel after dark. If you haven't booked your tickets yet, fly into Venice and return from Rome. DAL I know serves Venice (Don't know if they do all 12 months or not). This will save money and train fares, not having to back-track. Art/History majors LOVE Florence and Florence hosts thousands of American students at a university there, Two of my friends college kids did a semester there. There are lots of inexpensive pizzerias and one I remember particularly popular with the kids is Yellow Bar. Can't give the address, but you can google it. While pick pockets are rampant all over Europe these days, there is very little violent crime. You and your daughter will be as safe in Italy as you are in London. Speaking of pick-pockets, my 28 year old son had his briefcase containing his iphone and laptop walk out of a very nice restaurant in one of Atlanta's best neighborhoods, so there you go. Honestly, I'd sleep two nights in Venice, three in Florence and the remainder in Rome. In Rome, I stay in the Vatican neighborhood usually at one of the Alimandi hotels, but there are others. It's quiet at night, and very safe. Another great neighborhood to take your lovely young daughter to at night is Trastevere -- lots of vibrant young people walking at night, so you might want to check for a hotel there too.
You are all so great - Again, I truly appreciate all your help - My mind's buzzing with new and improved ideas - Rome? Really? I just didn't think we'd have the time - but we can do the two weekends, providing our Spring Break dates coincide (I teach and have my dates - but my daughter's school is lagging) - This is all getting to seem real and exciting. I haven't mentioned that she is an Agatha Christie fan so any train travel after the Orient Express always makes her feel adventurous. So maybe Rome. too....When I was there all those years ago, I flew into and out of Munich, took an overnight to Italy, stayed in Riva and then five days in Florence. I always had a horror of trying to cram too much in. But you all think three cities is do-able?
Look at some of the European airlines that fly out of JFK - for example Lufthansa. They have 4 or 5 flights a day from both Frankfurt and Munich to Venice. And British Air through London...... You cannot fly from Florence to the US you have to go to Milan or Rome (I'd choose Rome and spend a couple of days there!) Delta has direct flights in and out of Venice so you could consider it for departure or arrival There are a number of nice reasonably priced hotels in the Cannaregio area between the station and Rialto. Easy walking to the main sites and also handy for the vaporetto which will take you to the station or to San Marco. It might be hard to rent an apartment for a couple of days. You don't want to be lugging suitcases through Venice streets - they are cobbles and have many bridges, often with stairs - hard work with suitcases of any sort, so take the vaporetto. Get a Vaporetto pass - there are a number of options - 1 day, 2 days etc. and they are a good deal and you can hop on hop off as needed. As your daughter is into art - I do recommend the Guggenheim Museum - a lovely small villa full of interesting modern art and sculpture. There is also a very nice cafe for lunch in a lovely tree shaded garden. Quite honestly the whole thing was a refreshing change after all those renaissance masterpieces!
Kate Have you looked at the RS tour for Venice-Florence-Rome in 8 Days? It was a relief to have all the details taken care of, and we learned much more about architecture history and art than we would have on our own. They havent posted the 2014 dates yet, but they should have one around Easter.
If your daughter wants to "wallow" in Renaissance art and architecture, you need at least 3 days in Florence. I am a firm believer in "less is more." Stretch your trip as long as you can, and stick to Venice and Florence. Rome needs more than a couple of days and it will be packed with tourists during Easter week. Save it for next time. Venice is an easier first stop, there is lots to enjoy while getting over the jetlag - riding the vaporetto on the canals, wandering on foot and stopping for gelato or coffee, soaking up the atmosphere. I'd start in Venice, then go on to Florence. You could also spend a day in lovely Verona if you take an early train, leave your bags at the station and then an evening train to Florence (or from Florence to Venice). Then go back to Venice for your last night. For me, it's worth changing hotels one more time to start the trip in Venice. I agree about spending your last night in the city you are flying home from. From Florence you can take easy day trips to Siena, San Gimignano, and other places. Just about everything in Florence is close. It's only about a 10-15 minute walk from the train station to the Duomo.
I'm a believer in less is more, also, but for a first timer, with ten days on the ground you can do Venice, Florence and Rome with an open jaw flight, either into Rome and out of Venice or into Venice and out of Rome. Florence is between them. Why not?!