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Florence, Pistoia, Orvieto, Rome 2017 - our first trip of many!

My Groom of 21 years and I traveled off the North American continent for the first time and LIVED in Italy for 13 amazing days.

Our Mission Statement - It's the Moments, not the Monuments (unknown). We succeeded!

Planning - 2+ years of serious research and planning via books, interviews, videos/TV, Internet and a fabulous consultation with Lisa at Rick Steve's Travel Center in Edmonds, WA.

September 19 - Fly Lufthansa from SeaTac to Frankfurt to Florence

September 20-26 Florence

September 27-28 Pistoia

September 29 Orvieto

September 30-October 3 Rome

October 3 - Fly Lufthansa from Rome to Frankfurt to SeaTac

We took a cab from the airport to our AirBnB Apartment on Borgo Santa Croce.

We LOVE Florence! It is so beautiful. We loved staying near "our" Santa Croce. We visited the Academia, Hospital of the Innocents, Uffitzi, Santa Croce, Galileo Museum, Duomo, Baptistry, Duomo Museum, Campanile, Mercato Centrale and San Miniato. We walked, explored, ate gelato, walked, got lost, were found, walked, ate gelato and fell in love with Florence.

We took the train to Pistoia, the birthplace of my Great Grandmother. We stayed in amazing and beautiful BnB, Locanda San Marco. We shopped the Wednesday Market, visited the Cathedral San Zeno (very beautiful!), the Baptistry and the Fortress of Santa Barbara. Pistoia is lovely, special to me and worthy of the trip, especially on a market day.

We took the train from Pistoia, with a change in Florence. Valentina BnB was our wonderful home for the night. We visited the Duomo, explored the town, ate gelato and watched the sun set.

The train brought us to Termini where we walked to our AirBnB apartment on via Merulana near Santa Maria Maggiore. We visited the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museum with the Sistine Chapel and the Pantheon and spent a few minutes at the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps (mostly for the photos). We finished our trip with a visit to the Sea at Ostia Lido. The subway system is very handy and easy to use.

What worked for us:

  • we used a travel agent to book our flights and chose a large airline, just in case we ran into issues. We didn't, thank goodness, but the piece of mind was worth it.
  • travel insurance was also worth the money, even though we didn't need it.
  • carry on luggage only - another fabulous decision!
  • apartment living in Florence and Rome. We had a washer for laundry and a bedroom separate from the living room. As much as my Groom and I adore each other, living in the same room together with only a bathroom for privacy/space alone would have been too much "togetherness" over 13 days
  • we each picked a great travel partner ☺. We work very well together and knew each others expectations well before departure - a must discussion!
  • we left well rested, slept a little on the plane (we tried!) and stayed up until 9pm our first night. I woke up the next morning at 7:30am felling rested!
  • returned home 5 days before returning to work. The jetlag upon coming home was brutal
  • Friday Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel tour was worth the cost. It was still pretty crowded
  • we bought Firenze Cards and the 2 day Roma Cards. The cost was totally worth the priority entrance perks and the flexibility.

What surprised us:

  • how easily we felt at ease and able to really enjoy Italy. We slept in (we were on vacation!), discussed and planned our day over cappuccinos and pastries, explored, ate gelato, ate lunch whenever, explored some more, ate dinner at 9:00pm and relaxed before bed. Perfect.
  • how crazy the cars vs vespas vs people really is - you have to see it to believe it.
  • the cigarette smoke - I just didn't know it would be so thick
  • that I would weep for 10 minutes while gazing at Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's.

Thanks for reading. Happy, frequent and safe travels!

Posted by
3169 posts

Thank you for your trip report and tips. For us, the most important tip we received from this forum is to pack light and use carry on luggage only. For me, that takes planning but is so important, especially when going from place to place.

Posted by
24080 posts

You obviously did a brilliant job of researching options and deciding what sort of pace would work for you. This sets you up very well for planning future trips elsewhere!

Posted by
681 posts

Your surprise list is so right on...felt the same way about the Pieta. Glad you enjoyed.

Posted by
2755 posts

Nice, thank you so much for sharing! If you think vespas/mopeds are bad in Italy, try Bali or anywhere in crowded asian cities!

Posted by
42 posts

So glad you had a wonderful time! How was the weather in Rome? From your location, was it easy to walk to other sites? Also did you use the Termini subway stop or other? I am wondering how crowded it is. Thank you.

Posted by
5710 posts

Thanks, surfer, for your report. We feel the same way about Florence, and Rome. Can't wait to go back.

BTW, my favorite Pieta in the world is in Lucca - it's the only one I've ever seen where Mary was crying.

Posted by
19 posts


The weather in Rome was beautiful - about 75 degrees and sunny daily (very comfortable to us from Washington State). It rained (more of a sprinkle from our perspective) for about an hour one day which made things noticeably humid for a few hours.

We mainly used the Termini Metro stop from our apartment. We found the Metro to be very easy to use. There were occasional crowds, but we always were able to enter and exit the cars without difficulty. On a particularly crowded train, passengers still provided ample room for a stretched out, sleeping dog :-)

Our apartment was in the Monti neighborhood and a quick, easy walk to three Metro stations. We didn't use taxis (except for a car service to the airport at 3am). We averaged 9-10 miles per day of walking. Honestly, it never occurred to us to hail a taxi. Walking was part of the adventure for us, and made the Gelato extra yummy!