Your suggestions taken: is this better (11-day honeymoon, 1st trip)?

Thanks to all of you wonderful people who provided so much insight and experience, we've tweaked our 11-day honeymoon itinerary. 1st time ever to Europe or anywhere. Please have a look! All comments appreciated. We're particularly unsure about Siena...

Roma (arrive at FCO airport at 7:50 a.m.)
We'll begin our honeymoon with the most crowded place of all, and I hope the only one where we're among such dense hoardes of tourists! We'll do the "Cliff's notes" and will only spend 3 days in Roma ("Assume you'll return", right?) and leave its other "cultural obligations" for future visits. We will try to visit the Colosseum, the Borghese gardens, Trastevere and other "must-see" sights from the outside. (No desire to be indoors much or brave museum lines on our first trip). Will read all the reccomendations already posted about hotels within walking distance of main monuments, etc.

Bagnoregio
From Roma, we will travel north to Civita di Bagnoregio. We want to visit old "cities in the country" with fewer tourists (I know, you're all laughing already! No such thing in July, right?).

Orvieto(Continuing our way north). This replaces our original plan of going to the more crowded San Gimignano.

Siena (?)
Our expectation here is simply more of the hill town experience. We're open to suggestions that are (better than Siena?), as long as it's in our route.

Finally--we save the best for last...Venezia! We anticipate 3 days (maybe 4, if we alter our plans along the way) in Venezia.

Milano (not really!) Our plane leaves from Milan at 7:30 a.m. Since we want to enjoy Venice to the last drop, we plan to arrive in Milano in the late evening and just catch the plane in the morning. We're not at all interested (not on this trip) to visit Milano.

Posted by Miss B
Oregon, USA
524 posts

Try to stay in Orvieto a couple nights. Go out for the passigiato or whatever it is called. It seems that all the locals go out and stroll the narrow walkways. It is so fun to watch everyone one with their children and the teenagers all "sort of" dressed up. High boots were the style in October of 2007. We were there on Halloween and they were celebrating going into all the stores along the walkways. Buy a pass and wander around. DO NOT go to the Nonna Amelia restaurant on via duomo. We waited for 15 minutes BEFORE we were even acknowledged then after we finally get a glass of wine, we were ignored. We never got our main meal. Fifteen other diners came in,orders taken right away, were served their food and still nothing brought to us. We finally got up and said "we're out of here"!! Venice is a wonderful place to visit. Get lost on all the narrow walks.(Have your camera at the ready upon arrival when you take the vaporetto. Perhaps you should see about staying in Civita at the hotel where Rick recommends. I'm sure you will have a WONDERFUL honeymoon.

Posted by Lisa
Beautiful Austin TX
582 posts

Maria, did you receive my email? I never heard back, so I'm wondering if it ever got through. I replied to the email address you gave me. I told you some things about Rome and where I stayed.
By the way, I have business in Milan, and will have time to see the Dumo and the opera house. Also the Last Supper. Maybe that's about it in Milan to see. I'm also going to Venice and Switzerland, so I am throwing in some fun on this business trip!

Posted by Claire
bergamo
401 posts

Auguri! I see your have everything all planned, just wanted to give you a heads up on a few things. I see that you want to avoid crowds, and yes, things like the Coloseum or the Vatican museum have crowds. But there are so many places in Rome to see, that all you need to do is look carefully at a good guide book and finds lots of things outside of your "cultural obbligations". Walking up the janicolo hill to see the view from above, piramide and the english cemetary, the Aventine hill with its villas and the orange garden, the beautiful neighborhood of Parioli, walking throught the center at night. Yes, Rome has many people living in it, but I find as a city it is better at absorbing tourists that many times you don't even notice them, you feel it is just you among the Romans. Instead places like Siena or Venice, well, it can and mostly likely in July will be, hand to hand combat. The idea of four days in Venice exhausts me much more than the thought of four days sight seeing in Rome. Siena too for that matter. We were there in July two years ago and waited over an hour just to get into the Cathedral. Crowds galore. Just don't assume that because a place is smaller you will it any less crowded, in fact many times the opposite is true. In any case I hope you have a lovely honeymoon.

Posted by mike
boulder, colorado
192 posts

It sounds like you will be driving while in Tuscany. If this is the case you can find many hilltowns that will not have tourists. We drove around Tuscany for two weeks and stopped at many towns that I had never heard of -Rapolano Terme, San Quirico d'Orcia - that were just as cool as the famous hilltowns. Actually better - no tourists.

Posted by Mike
Los Angeles, CA, USA
1447 posts

In Rome I strongly suggest doing one (or more!) of the walking tours. Rick recommends several companies in his guidebook. If you were to do only one, I'd suggest the twilight walking tour. Sure, you can sightsee on your own, guidebook in hand. But the book will have at most 3-4 pages of description; think about how much a live person can tell you in 2-3 hours of walking, and there's just no comparison. Whenever possible I try to use the guidebook to prep on what I want to see, then use a guided walking tour to explore and understand in more depth.

To me, Sienna is one of the last places I'd look for hill-town experience. Its a unique place, has a fascinating history, etc. But there are so many other places in the general area to see that are smaller and feel more like hill-towns and not a small suburb: Cortona, Assisi, Spello, Spoleto, Todi, etc.

Lastly, since you have some time before you go: a little italian goes a long way! Your local library probably has the Pimsleur series, which are a set of 30-minute all-audio lessons. Look up the reviews on amazon, you'll see people agree it really works. Do each lesson twice, then go onto the next. They come in sets of 30; if you do the 1st 30 you'll have a good survival-level knowledge and will have only invested 30 hours of your time. If you're really ambitious you could do all 90 lessons by July. People really appreciate it if you can speak a little of their language, plus not everyone (esp. in smaller towns) will speak english.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7213 posts

Siena is a great small city but not really a hill town. I would suggest still planning a brief visit to San Gimignano but mid to late afternoon (or early to mid morning) to avoid the heavy crowds. It's such a neat medieval place and really captures the imagination.

Orvieto was a pleasant surprise for us, I hope you will like it. Again it's a little bigger than many hill towns but offered a lot that other towns don't (Cathedral, underground, cliffs).

When you go to Venice be sure to wander at night. Venice at it's best is quiet with small waves lapping against the buildings. The Duomo lit up inside is one of my top awe-inspiring sites. Be sure to visit when it is lit (at least during masses every day).

As a general rule you can beat crowds either first thing or very late. In Italy, crowds are often present first thing but often absent late even in July, know the hours and show up an hour or so before closing.

Plan on heat, stay hydrated and don't forget to sleep so you can stay healthy and enjoy your trip.