Pete and I plan to travel to Italy in September 2011, so I’ve started the initial planning process for a 10-12 day trip. I’m sure we will change our minds a million times, but for now this is a really basic itinerary:
Fly into Venice’s Marco Polo Airport and take the ATVO Venice Express bus for a half hour from the airport in Venice to the Piazzale Roma (around €3). Spend 1 day and 1 night in Venice. Some must-see spots: St. Mark’s Basilica, Doge’s Palace—walk over the famous Bridge of Sighs. Visit the Rialto Bridge at night and take a cruise along the Grand Canal on the vaporetto #1 water bus. Visit the Guggenheim Museum if there’s time. Take the train from Venice (switch in Milan) to Cinque Terre. Visit Trenitalia for help with train schedules.
Spend 3 days and 2 nights in Cinque Terre in Manarola. Hike the trail that links the five towns in the morning. Hike, enjoy the sights and take photographs like it’s nobody’s business. Head south to La Spezia (the largest city just south of Riomaggiore) and catch a train for Florence. The train (around €12-21 per ticket) is 2.5-3 hours (switch trains in Pisa).
Spend 4 days and 3 nights in Florence. Mission #1: stuff our faces with gelato. Visit the Uffizi and have a Caravaggiogasm. Visit Siena for a day trip by taking the SITA bus (€7-ish one way) for 1.5 hours (depart across from the main train station and go to Siena’s bus stop at Piazza Garibaldi). Take the bus for a day trip to San Gimignano for a dose of Tuscany lifestyle. Depart from Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station and head to Rome’s Termini Station (about a 2 hour trip and roughly €56 per person).
Once we finalize the basic itinerary of the cities we want to hit, we can start figuring out the B&B’s or hotels that best fit our budget, as well as restaurants and other spots we won’t want to miss. We aren’t as interested in visiting cathedrals as we are exploring the towns and soaking in the architecture and arts. Any advice from seasoned travelers? This will be my first out-of-country experience (sorry Canadians, I’m not counting Niagara Falls), so I have a lot of research to do. Oh, and I should probably get a passport.