Where to start, where to end?

Question - Fly into Milan and out of Rome or vice versa or choose a different city to fly in and out of? Details - This will be my first trip to Europe and we are from Seattle. My husband and I are booked on a cruise out of Venice on October 5th. The cruise will be to Greece (Athens, Corfu, Santorini, Katakolon and also Dubrovnik, Croatia)and we return to Venice on Oct. 12. We have our lodging booked in Venice starting on October 3rd. We will be in Venice and on the cruise with my sister and brother and their spouses. Wanting to make the most out of our trip but not getting too crazy we would like to fly to wherever on Sunday Sept. 29 (leaving Seattle sometime on the 28th) and then return home by October 17. We would like to see Rome, Florence, Milan? and of course Venice. Any suggestions??? I am getting so confused :) Thanks!
Sheila

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3351 posts

You could also fly into Venice. Venice has the 3rd most important airport in Italy and is well connected to numerous EU hubs. From SEA you can fly non stop to Paris (CDG) with Delta (AirFrance codeshare) or Frankfurt (FRA) with Lufthansa. Both AirFrance and Lufthansa can take you to Venice (VCE) from those two hubs. British also has a non stop to London (LHR), however I think BA only has a daily flight from LHR to VCE, most are from LGW.
If you want to see Milan (that would not be my priority on my first trip to Europe), you could do that too. Since you are going in the Fall you should start from the North (Venice) and visit the North first before the cruise (for example some of the following: Venice, Verona, Padua, Dolomites, Lake Garda, Lake Como). Then after the cruise you should head south. You could take a train from Venice to Florence (2 hrs), visit Florence and a bit of Tuscany, then head further south to Rome (by train, just 90 min. south of Florence). Visit Rome. Rome should be your departure point to fly back to the US. It's the largest airport in Italy and one of the largest hubs in Europe, so there are plenty of choices of airlines. Rome airport is also very easy to reach to from the city center, unlike Venice or Milan. Just 30 min by taxi (or train). So even if you have an early flight out, you can stay comfortably downtown on your last night without worrying of having to get up too early or staying in a boring airport hotel in the middle of nowhere.

Posted by Sarah
Chicago, USA
75 posts

Ok so here is what you should do. Fly into venice and fly out of Rome.
So you have almost 4 days prior to your cruise you should spend at least 2 days in Venice and try and do a one night and 2 full days at Cinque terre. When you return make your way to Florence 2 days there and 2 days in Rome and then fly out. You could easily skip florence and do a full 4 days in Rome, depends on how much of an aggressive tourist you all are !

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

The idea of flying into Venice, then to CT, and then back to Venice is not very practically since you are going from one side of Italy to the other back. It would make more sense to catch CT on the way from Venice to Rome. You should be a little careful about trying for two much. Fly into Milan it is a good city to start and worth a day or so. Train to Venice for a couple days and then the cruise. You might leave a couple of days later and add that to Rome at the end. After the cruise you could train to Florence. I would save CT for the next trip. Depending on your days in Florence you might do a day trip to the surround area. Then on the Rome for the balance of what days are left. Again, depending on days in Rome, you could do a day trip or two. I would limited the number of location changes just to save the time lost dealing with travel and checking in and out of hotels.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2522 posts

Since you want to see Milan, fly into Milan and spend whatever time you like there (a couple of days should do it), spend a day or two in the Lakes area, then take the train to Venice to arrive on the 3rd. When you get back from your cruise, take the train to Florence and then the train to Rome, depart from Rome.

Posted by Sheila
Shoreline, Washington, United States
5 posts

Thanks so much for all the replies....it really helps to get input from more experienced travelers. I think starting in the north and finishing in the south (Rome) looks like the best option. I don't want to overdue it so I am not going to venture over to Cinque Terre on this trip...even though I have heard wonderful things about it. I will spend my weekend looking for airfare, so hopefully I can get that done by next week and move on to booking the hotels :)

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

The flights you want are called "open jaw," into one city and out of another. To find these, don't look for two one-ways (very expensive). Instead, look for "multi city" on the airline websites, Kayak, Expedia, etc.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3511 posts

Of all the towns and cities I've been to in Italy, Milan was my least favorite. Unless you have some special interest in being there, skip it. You have about 5 days pre- and 5 days post-cruise. I'd start in Florence, with possible day trips to Siena, San Gimignano, Lucca, Pisa (whatever sounds interesting if you get tired of Florence), then head to Venice for 1-2 days before the cruise. Then go straight to Rome from Venice. Or spend the day in Venice (check your luggage at the train station when you disembark first thing in the morning), then take an evening train to Rome. You won't have enough time after the cruise to see Florence and Rome.

Posted by Doug
Portlandia
3290 posts

Discard the suggestion for trying to go to the Cinque Terre. You'll spend most of two days on trains to get there and back. You're seeing cute seaside villages on your cruise. I suggest flying into Milan and then going to Verona. Then to Venice. After you return to Venice, train to Florence and then to Rome. Fly out of Rome.

Posted by Sheila
Shoreline, Washington, United States
5 posts

So thankful for all the input - After a day of searching flights here is what I am thinking about booking. Round trip from Seattle to Paris on Iceland air. Paris to Pisa (via easyJet) arriving the evening of September 29. Explore the area until we leave for Venice October 3. Then after the cruise train to Rome (10/12), explore Rome until 10/16 easyjet it back to Paris overnight in paris fly back to seattle 10/17. This would save about $500 over booking multi city with delta, air canada or british airways (from say seattle to florence or venice then rome to seattle). Does anyone see any potential problems with this plan?

Posted by Sheila
Shoreline, Washington, United States
5 posts

The savings of around $500 was figuring the total for 2 people.

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

I would question your numbers. Did a quick check via Delta (one stop) into Milan on the 1st and home from Rome on 17th for a fare of $1276. You are saying that you an fly RT Paris and the other flights total for $776. You RT fare into Paris has to be in the range of $6-700. Correct??? Where can I find that? I am off tomorrow.

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1012 posts

Frank, if you got a $1200 r/t on Delta you got a hellova deal. Sit tight on it!

Posted by Frank
Tresana, Highlands Ranch, CO, USA
10884 posts

Donna I wasn't looking for an air fare but that is what I found quickly today in response to Sheila's suggested flights above. I have rarely if ever found that type of travel schedule that she is suggesting will save money. In order to save $250/person she has to be flying to Paris or about $800 RT. That is what I am finding hard to believe. By my numbers it is at best break even and most likely more expensive and lot more hassle with an overnight in Paris on the leg out. Spending a lot of time in airports with little financial, if any, gain.

Posted by donna
roswell, ga, usa
1012 posts

Shiela, Italy is the size of Arizona, and I believe France is around the size of Texas. You are over complicating this trip. You're going to see a great deal of interesting places on your cruise. Why not keep it simple, fly into Venice a few days early, enjoy Venice, and when you disembark your cruise, go to the train station and go to Florence for a few days and then down to Rome for 4 days. Fly home from Rome. Most people who love Italy find Milan to be their least favorite city. If you MUST, fly into Milan, spend a few days then down to Venice and continue with my original plan. Take a good look at a map with miles on it. No sense backtracking. I've been to Italy a number of times, and it's best to to North to South or vice versa rather than all the back tracking which gets quite expensive buying train tickets that are not cheap. My personal favorites are Florence and Rome, I also love Venice, but I've been there enough that I don't feel the need to do it again, but you can't go to Italy once and miss it.

Posted by Sheila
Shoreline, Washington, United States
5 posts

Booked airfare last night! After many hours and the help of my brother, we will be flying into Milan, but only staying there the night and then flying out of Rome. We decided to book all airfare with British Air, not the cheapest route but took advice to go for less travel time, fewer stops and comfort (paid extra to reserve seats that are just two to a row with a little extra leg room.
Thanks to everyone for the advice...now moving on to plan the rest of the trip :)