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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » italy travel plans

   
Author Topic: italy travel plans
RivalOfTheRose
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how many days does it take to see the main things in: (for each place please)

Paris
Venice
Florence
Rome


Thanks!

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dem
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First...if you're paying the airfare to go, dig deep to stay extra days in Europe.

Venice-1
Florence-1 (spend the 'second' Florence day at Cinque Terre and Pisa)
Rome-2...(suggest a day trip to Amalfi coast for a third day in the south)

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katdog42
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I spent 6 days (five nights) in Rome and found that it wasn't even CLOSE to enough time. Of course, I went partially for religious reasons and absolutely loved traipsing through twenty different churches. But with all the history, I could have easily spent several more days.

I didn't find Venice very exciting except for shopping, though it's definitely worth seeing (careful with the gondola rides... some of the guys like to cheat tourists)

I would suggest at least a couple of days in Florence, especially if you love art and art history.

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Glenn Arnold
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This is kind of like asking how long it takes to learn biology.

I've never been to Italy, but on my trip to the Bahamas I thought we'd seen everything there was to see. It was just a tiny island after all. On the third day we discovered how to explore, and realized we could spend weeks there. Too bad we only had a three day stay.

Same thing happened in England, I suspect it really does everywhere. Just when you figure it out, you go home.

So rather than asking how long it takes, ask for pointers on how to maximize the use of your time. People who've been there might be able to tell you how to avoid long lines, tell you who to ask for at a cute little bistro they discovered on their trip, explain how to use (or avoid) the bus system, etc. etc.

What kind of experience are you looking for? do you want to meet locals? See historical architecture? Stay at fancy hotels? Museums? Any specific things you've heard about that you just HAVE to see? And how long will you be there? And do you have a travel package that limits your options?

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RivalOfTheRose
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Let me add:


My wife and I want to go for a total of 11 nights.

We definitely want to go to Paris and Rome. We are debating whether or not to go to Florence and Venice, or one or the other.

There are so many options or variables, it jsut seems like finding the right option is just picking randomly on a whim.

Thanks for the help so far!

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Orincoro
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Eh. I've lived in Europe for the majority of my adult life at this point. I have no suggestions on how to spend 11 days here that don't involve the advice: spend 10 times as many days. I'll say this, in all earnestness, 5 days anywhere is better than 2 days in one place, and 3 days in another. Especially if you've never been to Europe before. But honestly, I'm more and more impossible on this topic. 11 days would never be enough to satisfy me anywhere, so I can't say I have any good recommendations. I wish things were different [Frown]
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Mucus
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We did five days in Rome, went for totally non-religious reasons, and it was still not nearly enough time. I wouldn't go quite as far as Orincoro, but I'm still a big fan of travelling in the 'don't see lots of places, see fewer places more thoroughly' manner.
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Scott R
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My Italian friends all recommend Florence over Rome, but they also counsel to skip Pisa entirely.
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anti_maven
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Think of another way, how manys days to visit Boston, New York and Washington DC?

If I were you I'd spend as much time as possible in Rome and Paris, get a good guide book and study it well before you go.

Plan well and remember the old adage that no plan survives contact with the enemy [Wink]

As for books, try the Dorling Kindersley "Eyewitness Travel Guides". They do versions both at a national level and also for the major European cities.

You could always spend 11 days in London, which woudl be my choice, but I'm biased [Wink]

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RivalOfTheRose
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If you guys had to pick between Florence and Venice, what would you choose and why?
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ambyr
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I spent four months in Venice and still missed lots of things; I'd love to go back. I'd say the obvious tourist attractions are Piazza San Marco and the Doge's Palace and the island of Murano. I'd make time for the Guggenheim and the Naval History Museum. Il Redentore was probably my favorite church. And of course you'll want time just for strolling along the canals. I would say a minimum of 4-5 days? The thing to remember about Venice is that you'll have to take the vaporetto schedule into account when moving from island to island. You can't always just walk where you want to go, and you definitely don't want to swim.

There's also seasonal events, of course, but I don't know when you're planning to take the trip. The Regata Storica is pretty awesome if you happen to be there in September. If you're planning on visiting between October and December, be prepared for acqua alta and bring rain boots. Flooding can continue into spring, but it's less prevalent then.

I don't particularly favor Tuscan cooking (I know, heresy!), so Florence was not my favorite place in Italy. Pretty art and architecture, though.

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kmbboots
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I would pick Florence.
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Scott R
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Florence.
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Bella Bee
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quote:
they also counsel to skip Pisa entirely.
I agree with them. I went to Piza for a day and ran out of things to do by mid-afternoon. Apart from the tower and cathedral, it's not that exciting.

If you only want a taster, you can see a tiny bit of Rome and a tiny bit of Florence in about 2 days. But I went to Rome for a week and still had loads of things left to do. Just spend as much time as you have and realise that no matter what, you'll almost certainly be completely desperate to go back for longer in a couple of years.

Oh, and be aware that nearly everything in Italy shuts in the middle of the day for about three hours. So you have to get up in the morning and eat late in the evening.

ETA - If you go to Rome, there's a gelato place in Via della Panetteria called Il Gelato di San Crispino that is just heavenly.

[ January 10, 2011, 12:53 PM: Message edited by: Bella Bee ]

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SenojRetep
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My experience, traveling with my wife and two friends in 2002:

We spent two days in Paris, saw mostly museums (Louvre, Musee d'Orsay, etc.) and tourist spots (Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower, Arc d'Triomph, Seine boat tour, etc). We missed a few of the big tourist attractions (like Napoleon's Tomb in Les Invalides). My favorite thing was to watch the sunset from the steps of Basilique du Sacre-Coeur atop montmartre. I also really liked our B&B, which was very reasonably priced and opened onto a narrow cobblestone street; exactly what I wanted.

We spent three days in Florence, saw museums (d'Ufizi, Academy, etc.) and tourist spots (leather market, duomo, etc.) This felt like the right amount of time for a tourist trip to Florence (although I'm sure spending more time allows you to get more in tune with the rhythm of the city, which is potentially more enjoyable). I particularly liked the David (didn't expect to, having seen so many replicas, but the actual statue was very impressive to me).

We spent two days in Rome. The first day we saw cultural sites (Colosseum, Palatine Hill, etc.) the second we spent in the Vatican Museum (incl. Sistine Chapel), St. Peter's and other churches. My impression was similar to Paris; I missed several tourist spots and would have liked a couple more days.

We spent one day in Venice. This was enough to hit only the most touristy of tourist things (Piazza de San Marco, take a gondola ride, etc.) While I'm sure there were many wonderful things to see that I missed, I felt like riding the public transit boat up and down the Grand Canal satisfied much of my purpose in coming to the city, which was just to see the canals and the architecture generally.

Overall, the trip was good for what it was: a whirlwind tour of the most "important" sites in France and Italy. It wasn't a vacation; it wasn't relaxing and enjoyable. The only place I felt like I really got a feeling for was Florence, going out for gelato and wandering through piazzas in the evening. Three non-city based things that I wished I'd left time to explore were the coast around cinque-terre (drove through, it looked amazing, but we didn't stop except for lunch), the Italian Alps northwest from Venice (cool mountain castles and whatnot) and time in Umbria (just drove through, didn't even stop in Siena).

As a note, we primarily relied on Fromer's guide book and found it useful for planning short, tourist-site-heavy stays in major cities.

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katdog42
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I would definitely pick Florence over Venice.
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Sterling
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I'm hardly an expert, but I quite regret that the last time I was in Europe (over ten years ago now... sigh...) I only got to spend the afternoon in Venice. The shops were fascinating, the architecture is beautiful, and the sheer novelty of walking around a city where motor traffic was never a consideration in street design was oddly wonderful.
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Raia
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Just, um, a quick note, but you are aware that Paris is NOT in Italy, yes? [Smile]

And I second Florence over Venice!

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RivalOfTheRose
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yes, I am aware

the wife has never been to paris, and we don't see any foreseeable way to go back to europe for a very long time, so it is quite worth it for us make that part of our trip.

your questions is justified however, good looking!

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Orincoro
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I think sterling is right though. If you're going to both Paris, and Rome, then you're going to be seeing what hypertrophic cities with hills look like. There are some things about Florence that are great- but most of those things you can find in Rome and Paris. The architecture in Venice alone, and Sterling is right, the ambience, is very different. I think ultimately that Florence would pale in comparison to the other two, while Venice is memorably different and special for that reason. I'd skip Florence over Venice just to change things up. If this is your only chance- you'll thank yourself for going to Venice, but you might find Florence forgettable.
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