Italy Vacation Planning Begins…

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).

Stay in Rome for 2 days and 1 night. Visit the Colosseum at night, the Sistine chapel and the Trevi Fountain. Eat. A lot. Leave from the Rome Leonardo da Vinci airport.

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.


9 thoughts on “Italy Vacation Planning Begins…”

  1. Ahhh. So very jealous. Looks like a lovely trip. I took my honeymoon to Italy (more Southern Italy Amalfi Coast area) and Sicily. I desperately want to head back to go North. Mrs. Cowboys boots over on Weddingbee recommended a great cheap place that we stayed at during our time in Rome. It is kind of a hostel but we had a private room, they let us in early and allowed us to store our bags there. It is called the Beehive funny enough. I’d recommend it.


  2. Stick with the one day in Venice – it really is more than enough. Also, good that you’re visiting in September – winters in Venice come with MAJOR flooding, as my girlfriend discovered! I didn’t see any of the other cities you are planning to visit (I hit up Rome and some southern small cities on the way to Greece), but it looks like a good plan! Where are your photos from? They’re lovely – especially that first one -but I don’t see any credits.


    1. Yeah, I was going to suggest skipping Venice all together but I think seeing it at night will be nice if it’s not too chaotic. Thanks for your help! The photos are from Flickr under the creative commons license…I just linked the photos to the users. I wasn’t sure how to credit them on here other than doing a “image source” link under them.


  3. looove that you said Caravaggiogasm!! i may or may not be the only art history nerd that thought that was hilarious. but it is.

    and you must go to the guggenheim, if not for you, for me. 😉


  4. I cannot stress this enough: if you go to the Vatican Museum (includes the Sistine chapel) in Rome, do yourself an incredible favor and TAKE AN ENGLISH SPEAKING TOUR GUIDE.

    I have a BFA so I was full of geeky art history knowledge, but I learned some new things, and my Mom and Uncle who attended with me were completely fascinated. Also, pay an extra 5 euros and go see the Basilica– beautiful. Our tour guide was 25 euros each in a group of a dozen, but well worth it and made the experience unforgettable.

    Also, the guides scatter themselves all through that piazza in front of the Vatican, so someone with headphones may approach you (probably in several different languages, too). Eventually a Canadian man with dual citizenship tapped on my shoulder and we joined his group. It was awesome!

    Also, in Rome, the Trevi Fountain is beautiful at day or night, so don’t let planning for seeing this area chew up your daylight.

    And people never seem to mention this, but a lot of the residential/business district areas of Rome are HILLY. Like, San Fran hilly, so wear good shoes.

    And brush up on your Italian, obviously… compared to other major European cities (like Paris), Italians aren’t as sympathetic with English– esp if they know you’re American. May want to say you’re Canadian if you need directions 😉


  5. That airport also has heavily-armed militia walking around. They don’t do metal detectors or body scans the way we do …. because people are afraid to screw with their security– ha!


  6. You are going to have an awesome time.

    Cinque Terre is AMAZING. Be fore warned that the hike between the towns is somewhat rigorous. We only did 4 legs and took the train to the beach at the last town. Definitely wear hiking shoes or sneakers and pack some water.

    As for the Vatican and other major Italy sites, Rick Steve has free tours that you can download to your ipod…perfect for setting a go as you want pace. He is a bit dorky but packed with info. I think he has tours for most of the major Italian sights in Venice, Florence, and Rome.

    In Florence we stayed at an amazing B&B (2 rooms) Giglio Bianco near the Pitti Palace and had a fantastic meal prepared by the owner’s wife who is a chef.

    Happy Planning.


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