My wife and I are spending 14 wonderful days next month in Italy and we are in search of some itinerary suggestions. We arrive in Rome on the 6th of May hope to spend 2 days there before heading north. We have nothing planned until the 12th when we check in for 5 nights at La Foresteria Sergio Alighiere (just outside Verona). Travel will be by rental car and we would like to know if there are any great places we should visit on our way to Northern Italy or as day-trips from Verona? We hope to spend 2 days in Rome upon our arrival, 1-2 nights in Venice and a futher 2 nights in Rome at the end of our trip. Thanks in advance for any insights or recommendations you may pass along.
Many veteran travelers to Italy, on this website, recommend the following: In Italy if trains go there, take the train. All the places you mention have regular train service, except it's not clear from your post whether your Verona accommodations are farther away from the train station than a comfortable taxi ride. Another exception to the take the train rule that many follow here is for exploring the Tuscany hill towns, but you don't list that as something you want to do.Even if you decide to drive most of your trip, you will want to avoid having a car in Rome and Florence, and of course you won't use the car in Venice. Day trips from Verona include Lake Garda, Vicenza, Padua, Bologna.If you can clarify your plans and answer some of our questions, we can reconvene on this.
Robert, I see that you and your wife would rather break up your time in Rome rather than a solid 4 days. My husband and I did that in Paris on a trip to France a few years back. After all was said and done, we felt it wasn't a very efficient use of our time in Paris because of having to take the time to re-check into our hotel, getting acclimated again, and especially jetlag during the first leg and not being able to fully appreciate a big city at night. Since then, we always leave immediately from the city we fly into, and head for a lowkey town. In your case, from Rome, you could take the train to Orvieto (Orvieto Classico wine) for a few nights and pick up your car there. Or perhaps Montalcino (Brunello) or Montepulciano (Nobile) which are harder to get to by train and bus. (Since you like wine.) Just a suggestion...
Bergamo is an easy day trip from Verona as well. We visited the city last month and it was wonderful. You take a funicular into the old town on top of a hill that is surrounded by a city wall. There is a lovely piazza and a few beautiful churches. There are gelaterias and shops shops selling fococcia pizza by the etto for a great picnic.
You can take another funicular up to an old hill top town that has beautiful Italian villas, old farmers, and castle. The views are beautiful and you can walk all over the hill top town.
Also, the Academia (art museum) in town is pretty good - a few Boticelli's and a other Italian masters.
Here are our pictures from Bergamo:http://www.flickr.com/photos/laurakaysmith/sets/72157614312803711/
Thank you for the replies and I hope to answer most of your questions.
We thought about just taking the trains and taxis to get around but presumed a car for our stay at La Foresteria Sergio Alighiere (10 miles outside of Verona) would offer better opportunities for day-trips...not only on our way to the facility but also when at the hotel and for travelling back to Rome. Tuscany would be a wonderful stop at either end of the trip as would visits to Bergamo, Lake Garda, Vicenza, Padua, Bologna. Are we firm about taking a car? No. Did it appear to offer the most flexibility? Yes but if the car option was ultimately selected, we were hoping to park it somewhere outside of both Florence and Venice and return it immediately upon arriving back in Rome.
Our initial thoughts were to spend a few days when first arriving in Rome and a few extra days there before leaving, this instead of a solid 4-5 days at either either end. We both love wine and great food and much prefer a lovely countryside to the hustle and bustle of a large city.
I hope this helps.
The car would be good for Tuscany as mentioned. If you want a beautiful drive in northern Italy take the Great Dolomite Road as described in RS Italy book. If you try to do it in one day start early but if you could do it over a 2 day period by spending the night somewhere along the route it would be even better.
A car offers the most flexibility but, in Italy, also comes with challenges that could be under-estimated by first-time drivers in Italy.If it were me, I wouldn't let the selection of one particular lodging (the Verona one) dictate rental car over train (I'd change the lodging to closer in to Verona, if the one lodging was driving the decision over transportation).A car is best for exploring Tuscany hill towns and other rural areas where trains don't go.Maybe you'll just have to rent the car this time and see how it goes for you. What we find is that on some peoples' second trip to Italy, if they've driven everywhere the first time, on subsequent trips they decide it's worth it to rely on trains, except where trains don't go. That's the way it was for me: first trip car, subsequent trips train.
Char (above) makes a subtle but important point. If your itinerary is first 2 days in Rome and last 2 days in Rome, at first it sounds like 4 days in Rome but actually will end up being significantly less than 4 days, for the reasons Char explains. Travelers' rough rule of thumb: Every time you change accommodations, it costs you basically half a day, not including the travel time that day between point A and B. It's the packing up, checking out, getting to the car park, driving out of town, finding your next hotel, finding parking (usually not on site in Italy), getting to the hotel, checking in, unpacking.