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First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

Manila, Phils
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First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

My husband and I are from Manila and will visiting Italy in May. total of 15 days only. Our itinerary is:

Bellagio - 2 nights

Milan - 2 nights

Venice - 2 nights

Florence - 3 nights

Siena - 1 night

Assisi - 1 night

Rome - 4 nights

Now I'm a bit worried that changing hotels very frequently will be too tiring. What do you think? What if we make the following changes?

Bellagio - 4 nights, then make a day trip to Milan. or maybe 3 nights in Bellagio and 3 nights in Venice?

Siena - 2 nights and delete Assisi in the itinerary? we are staying is Castella di Petrata in Assisi and I am quite looking forward to that.....

Another concern is the travel from 1 city to the next. Our port of entry is Milan. From Malpensa to Bellagio to Milan, I booked a car rental with driver so no problem with that.

each of us has a 26" spinner luggage + a 25L backpack. do you think it will be difficult doing the following:

train from Milan to Venice (+vaporetto to hotel)

train from Venice to Florence

pickup car rental from Peretola airport

drive to Siena, then to Assisi

Return car rental in Perugia

train from Perugia to Rome

How's the weather in May in the areas that we will be visiting? What clothes do we need to bring? Are there self-service laundry in Italy?

Thank you

pittsburgh
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1. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

Two nights in a location means one day. You have too many hotel changes for my likes and you'll be spending the majority of your trip changing locations but this is your trip and if you're comfortable with it you should do it.

Unless you have specific sites you wish to see in Milan I would skip it. I would also visit Siena as a day trip from Florence. I would skip Assisi as you don't have enough time.

There is no one to help load luggage on and off the train so if you can't lift your luggage yourself you'll need to downsize. Most of us travel with a carry on size bag but that's a personal choice.

As for weather, check two or three days before you leave. No one can predict the weather so just check the weather sites before leaving home.

Donna

Philadelphia...
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2. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

There is self-service laundry, but that eats into your sightseeing time. Another reason to slow down the pace.

Saint Marys, Ohio
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3. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

WAY to busy itinerary. You're going to spend as much time travelling between places as you will actually seeing things. It's better to see fewer things better.

New York City, New...
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4. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

Ouch. Sounds punishing to me. I agree with all above so won't repeat it but consider that you have 15 nights and you have 7 different locations - that's not a great way to spend one's time.

Checking in and out of hotels, getting to and from train stations - it all adds (on average) about one hour to each side of the train trip, making an incredible amount of time just getting from place to another.

There are narrow steep steps (about 5 or so) up into the train cars - they are very awkward because of how they are designed and I've seen people cry (literally) trying to get too heavy or too large bags up those steps. I go usually for about 3 weeks and only take a carry on - makes life so much more pleasant not to feel that stress about just getting onto the train.

Prioritize your sites in each place very carefully as each are rich with choices and since you cannot come close to doing them all, be sure you don't miss the ones you want to do most.

I too would skip Milan but I assume there are things you wish to see there - I'd eliminate at least 2 places, probably 3 because 5 places in this amount of time in such places is still very brief - but, all of this is personal preference.

I think, like a lot of first timers to Italy, you are underestimating distances between cities as well as actual travel time -

Chicago, Illinois
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5. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

unless you are hauling this much luggage because you are bringing gifts to relatives or have work materials or are moving to Italy you will vastly improve your trip by cutting your luggage in half. A 26 inch bag is enormous, difficult to haul up steps of trains and to stow -- you will have to find space at the ends of cars which are often full as they have limited rack space. this advice goes double when you plan to move around a lot as you will be lifting and hauling that luggage up stairs at train stations and into the train etc etc and then having to haul it to your lodging. your trip as planned will be mostly spent riding on trains and on the logistics of checking in and out of places and going to and from train stations. and then for what? one night in a place is rarely worth doing -- it doesn't give you even one full day. the only time we every do one night is when it is in transit e.g. we are driving from one place to another and need to break the trip for a night -- but not for seeing that town. or if you are driving, you will be spending time finding a place to park that is legal.

With so little time, I would not get a rental car (Italian cities don't allow cars centrally and it is VERY easy to get costly tickets that come back to you months later as they are camera enforced. every ticket you get will cost you 30-50 fee from your rental company just to provide your address to police and then the ticket itself which will run 100 Euro at least. get lost and circle the block in a town and you could rack up two or three tickets in a few minutes)

With this time, I would have a handful of bases and take the train between them. e.g. you arrive in Milan, so take the bus into town or a cab and spend a night or two there if you wish and see the Cathedral and perhaps the Last Super or shop. Then take the train to Venice. Or you could take the train directly to VEnice after arrival in Milan. If you go directly to VEnice, spend 4 nights there which will give you time to recover from jet lag and really see this town. That is only 3 days but that will give you time to wander far from the center and it is really a pleasure to do this.

Then take the train to Florence and spend 5 nights there. From Florence visit Siena one day by bus -- it is inexpensive and about an hour away and you will be able to spend a full day there. From Florence you can also visit Pisa if you wish or take a tour of the Chianti wine road if that appeals. Florence is dense with interesting things to see and do.

Then take the train to Rome (this is only 1.5 hours) and finish there before flying home. There are also interesting day trips possible notably Ostia Antica and ancient seaport that like Pompeii shows you how Romans lived 2000 years ago.

This plan means you only have to move hotels 3 times and if you are heavily packed that will be a godsend.

I would still take a lot less stuff. May is changeable weather. It might be hot, but we have been there when it was chilly and rainy. So pay attention to weather reports before you travel but also plan a basic layered wardrobe in case it is cold. And have a rain coat or jacket that will let you layer underneath. (and if you guess wrong you can always buy something to fill in the wardrobe)

For this trip you should be able to get by with two pair of pants, perhaps one that is heavy like jeans and one light weight like linen and one skirt (best in hot weather) and lightweight tops, a light jacket or sweater, and perhaps one heavy polartek or sweater in case it is cold. If it is a bit chilly you can wear a top, a sweater and the rain jacket and be warm enough. Have at least two pair of very comfortable shoe for walking; if you choose sandals make sure they have the athletic cushioned soles for lots of walking on uneven hard pavement.

we do trips like this with a 22 inch carry on and a messenger bag. you may want to go bigger than this but 26 inches is really hard to manage (I learned this the hard way) But if you do overpack, at least by limiting yourself to 3 hotels, you can spend less time wrestling with the luggage and more time visiting interesting sites.

note that a backpack is a pickpockets dream, so don't put valuables like wallets there.

janettravels44

www.janettravels.wordpress.com

Edited: 08 March 2014, 16:34
New York City, New...
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6. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

It is nice to keep in mind that not all people who use backpacks (as I have here in NYC and everywhere I have traveled) for more than 25 years is dim.

We actually do - most of us - know how to secure our money, etc. Many of us can be quite cagey and clever about how not get our stuff stolen from our bags….For those who don't, I don't expect they are particularly more cautious with a regular bag as I have seen many people walking around with regular purses wide open hanging on shoulders or in the crook of the arm -

Forestville, CA
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7. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

hi: everyone has given good advice....your proposed itinerary needs to be waaaay more manageable.....you have listed 15 nights for 7 destinations which on the face of it, will have you in and out of hotels all the time.....but most important, you didn't count realistic travel time to get to any of them....so your 1 day is now maybe 1/2 day visit.....it's important to realize that one needs 1/2 day of transport from point A to point B AND that 2 nights somewhere usually is only 1 day.......please cut way back so you can have a good time!

Manila, Phils
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8. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

thanks everybody for the suggestions! please keep them coming...

Ok, now I see that we definitely need to revisit our itinerary. What about this one:

Milan or Bellagio - 3 nights

Venice - 3 nights

Florence - 3 nights

Siena - 2 nights

Rome - 4 nights

I know that's I am only able to cut 2 out of 7 =(

Some more questions:

Which is a better base, Milan or Bellagio, for a 3 night stay? In order of priority, we want to see/do the following:

- Lake Como

- half day private city tour in Milan (by Tours of Milan)

- Bergamo

Instead of getting car rental from Peretola airport, and driving from Florence to Siena, what about if we take the bus from Florence to Siena? spend the day exploring Siena. then another day, rent a car to explore other Chianti towns, have a chance to drive through via Chiantigiana?

then from Siena, take the train (or is bus a better option?) to Rome?

for the luggage, you've convinced me to take a 21" spinner instead of 26" spinner plus my Pacsafe backpack. I'm actually concerned about pickpockets and this is the 1st time that I will be using backpack since I worried how I will handle my wheeled luggage and carry-on in train stations . But I think, it should be safe enough with Pacsafe?

New York City, New...
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9. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

It's still too many places for me, but if this is what you want to do - it is your trip. I spent 6 nights in Bellagio once and really grew antsy after three days; I am more a seaside person vs a lake person so I really did not like being there - as beautiful as it is.

Just imagine yourself there and picture how you want to spend your time - do you really want to be running around from place to place? Some people don't mind; to me, it's a holiday killer. Everyone is different.

Choose your destinations based on your own personal interests but sit down and take the time to figure out real, on the ground travel time, and decide if you want to spend that much time traveling vs being somewhere. That's my personal recommendation as to how to decide how to spend your time.

Most importantly, figure out the sites you want to see in each place - that will help you decide how long to spend somewhere.

I use a small Pacsafe backpack - I never carry have a wallet - I leave my cash (which is minimal) and the one or two cards and passport loose in the bag and have never had even a tug on it in more than 20 trips to Italy; I have had the Pacsafe for about the past 4 years or so, before that it was a regular backpack.

But, I never keep it on my back in a crowd or while on transportation; I always drop it down and keep it close to my side - first, so it is not in anyone's way and second, just to keep it safer. I never lay it down on an empty seat at a table at a restaurant or cafe (or in the train), I keep the strap either around my wrist (train) or around my ankle (restaurant) - I never keep it on my back in a crowded subway, train or bus - again, out of courtesy so I'm not bumping into people with it. In other words, I use it just as I do here at home in NYC. (Or, as I would a regular purse if I used one)

I like the smallish PacSafe I have - there is no logo on it - it is pure black with nothing indicating it is anything other than a regular black small backpack; unfortunately, they don't make these simple items anymore so I'm very careful with it so it can last. The more recent ones are a bit larger.

If you use backpacks elsewhere, you know how to keep your stuff safe - well, I imagine you do anyway.

Forestville, CA
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10. Re: First time in Italy/Europe and worried about itinerary

hi: i'm glad that you are re-thinking your itinerary. I will let others chime in about it as I wanted to address your fears about pickpockets and security.

When my husband and I went to Italy in 2011 (Florence, Lucca, Siena, Pisa, Cinque Terre), I was overly concerned about pickpockets and Florence's train station, etc. I found out that my fears were much more than the reality. This is what we did to make our trip as secure as possible .... firstly, we used Common Sense all the time. We did not put our wallets in our pockets nor did we have mounds of euros all wadded up when paying for something. I advise to never put important items in your backpack as that is usually behind you most of the time when walking around..get small-ish day-bags that both of you can wear in front of your torso.....Second, we traveled with carry-on as well as day-bags and our important stuff like passports, tickets, major money were in one Money-Belt and one neck pouch WHEN IN TRANSPORT. We did leave our passports when in hotels, tucked away and we budgeted a few days in advance from ATM's, so there was never a ton of money hanging around. I knew how much each hotel needed and paid in cash always.

Our 'day-money' was just enough to get us around. If we were at an ATM, we stood together and gave each other 1/2 of what we withdrew and quickly put it away. I had a purse which i slung over my shoulder and kept the bag in front of me in busy places. I never let it hang over a chair in a restaurant nor did i put it under the chair. While that was inconvenient, I did it nevertheless and kept it on my lap with the straps over me (unless i knew everything was ok, then i put it next to me).

My fears were greatly exaggerated and after the first few days, as long as both of us used common sense, i felt fine. I was never in fear; I was just on higher alert. I hope this helps to alleve some of your trepidations. ps--you will love Siena!