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Old 04-10-2007, 03:30 PM   #1 (permalink)
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SAM821's Avatar
Location: Miami, Florida
1 week in Italy...

I'm leaving on my honeymoon for two weeks and I will be in Italy for the first week (Cruise after that). This is a trip me and my future wife are extremely excited for. I have meticulously planned everything almost to the hour (hope it goes that way). Basically, my itinerary for Italy is as follows:

Day 1 - Land in Milan and spend day there
Day 2 - Day in Florence
Day 3 - Rome (Old rome)
Day 4 - Rome (Vatican City)
Day 5 - 1/2 day in Rome (other areas...cruise leaves in late afternoon)

Following week is cruise

Day 6 - Plan on going to Pisa then rest of time in Milan, where flight leaves...

Aside from all the typical main attractions I am hoping people can share some of their experiences and/or tips or cool spots on the way... I know this will be a pretty rigorous trip but my fiance and I felt it would be better to do one of those "once in a life time trips" rather than lay in the sun and do nothing.

Looking forward to hearing what you have to say!
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Old 04-10-2007, 09:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
High Honorary Junkie
Location: Tri-state.
i think this sounds like a great trip, although as you mentioned quite packed.

i do suggest, however, that you don't worry about "hour-by-hour" planning once you arrive, since traveling, much less globally, rarely can be planned like that. plus, italy is an amazing country with lots to offer, so you won't be bored and should let the spontaneity happen.

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Old 04-10-2007, 09:34 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Location: Everywhere :)
Do post pictures, form what I've seen, Italy, especially Rome is full of monuments, statues, and renaissance sculptures.
How you bore me, Florrie,
With those eyes of vacant blue;
You'll be very sorry, Florrie
If I marry you.
Though I'm easy-goin', Florrie,
This I swear is true,
I'll throw you down a quarry, Florrie,
If I marry you.
- Saki.
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Old 04-11-2007, 01:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
Location: Sarasota

Have you ever heard the the description that Florence is like Boston and Rome is like NYC. Well, from an American point of view it is true.

You cannot see and appreciate Boston in one day. You cannot see and appreciate NYC in 1 day.

My God man, Rome is the original city. It had 1 million inhabitants 2000 years ago. Vatican City is just that, a city. You can see it in one day like you were flying over it in a plane. The Vatican itself is the most impressive piece of architecture in the world.

You could spend a month in Florence and you would then start to know all the places you haven't seen.

That being said, you have already planned it and only have a limited time so here goes: Milan is very unimpressive. It is an industrial town. It is in Italy and the culture is Italian but if you can just skip it and move on to Florence. Rome is the best. The original NYC. Ride the taxis. They will save you time and they are a blast. Take in the history and awe of the Pantheon. It is the oldest continuously occupied building in the world. Have lunch in the surrounding square. Do the Caesar shuffle. Pantheon to Trevi fountain to Spanish steps. it is touristy but hey, you're a tourist. Stop for gelato everywhere. Have dinner at a sidewalk cafe. Do not buy much stuff, it is a pain to carry. Tour the Coliseum. Hook up with a guided tour. 10 bucks or so. Usually college kids, but they are soooo proud of their heritage. As they like to say, there are Italians and then there are Romans. Walk the Forum. You can absolutely feel the history. Ignore the North African counterfeit hawkers. Have some more gelato. Stay up all night. (Espressos help here).

Pisa sounds like a relaxing day. There is not much to the town other than the main square but get there early, get a reservation to walk up the Tower, (you might have to wait 5 or 6 hours) and then walk around town. Walk slow. Live Le Dolce Vita. Stay away from the crap stands and walk the back streets.

Enjoy yourself and always be planning your return trip for your second honeymoon.
I am just a simple man trying to make my way in the universe...

"Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined." - Thoreau

"Nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm" - Emerson
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Old 04-12-2007, 01:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Location: Miami, Florida
Thanks all,

Yea it was hard to plan things for such little time. My honeymoon is in less than 3 months. I have heard that Florence is one of the best cities and elaborate enough to keep you there a long time. But you know how it goes, "so much to see, such little time".

What I am intending is to try and graze the surface and see some of the hot spots (touristy areas) in Florence and Milan. Besides, thats how my cruise is going to be (10 day cruise throughout greek isles) So what I am hoping for is to get a glimpse at some places, then plan isolated trips in the future. I'll have more time in Rome (3-4 days) so hopefully I will be able to see most of the top attractions.

I did that the first time I went to Europe. I saw London, Edinburg and Paris in 8 days. Very brief trip, but it enticed me to want to spend more time in each area. So one day I will plan a more thorough trip(s) to each area.

Anyway, keep the advice coming!
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Old 04-13-2007, 08:08 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Location: Vancouver, Canada
DDDDave summed it up perfectly. Skip Milan. Skip Piza - unless you just absolutely have to the see tower. As for Florence, lots of people love it. For me, it certainly isn't as pretty as, well, most of the rest of Italy. There is a famous museum there, name escapes me, with a line-up equal to its fame. But for me, the best part of Florence was the road out of town to the Southwest, there is a viewpoint where you can look back over the city and see the basilica and the bridges. Very pretty,

As Dave said, Rome is big. Really really big. The Vatican is a whole day. Check out Piazza Navarone in the evening. It's where all the artist hang out - like Montmarre in Paris. Don't dine on the main streets or close to any major attractions! Wander the side streets and look for crowds to find the best value restaurants. And remember that they eat dinner much later in the Med than we do in North America. So get going early to the tourist traps. Grab a nap in the late afternoon then get back out for a long evening of eating, drinking and strolling.

Any chance the cruise stops in Capri?
Take from the philosopher the pleasure of being heard and his desire for knowledge ceases.
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Old 04-13-2007, 07:23 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I have heard from a number of people who really disliked Milan. The only people I know who enjoyed it went for work (they work in fashion). I got one day in Rome on a cruise several years ago and found it very frustrating. See what you can there without stressing out too much. Many I have spoke to prefer the countryside of Tuscany to Florence. There is so much to see just accept the fact you can't begin to see even a fraction and know that no matter what you choose it will be great.
I was there to see beautiful naked women. So was everybody else. It's a common failing.
Robert A Heinlein in "They Do It With Mirrors"
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Old 04-14-2007, 07:10 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Location: Miami, Florida
Originally Posted by JJRousseau
Any chance the cruise stops in Capri?
Yep... The last stop on the trip... Im not sure if they let us off on the isle of capri or on naples, regardless I am fixated on going straight to pompeii for at least half of the day
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Old 04-14-2007, 08:16 AM   #9 (permalink)
Location: Arizona
I'm so jealous. I did the Florence, Rome, Venice trip when I was in high school. I totally concur with what DDDave said. Rome is magnificent. Especially the forum area and Coliseum. Hell, all of Rome is great. You can really feel the history there. Not sure if this would be your thing, but they also have an ancient system of catacombs there. Also, watch your wallet in the touristy areas. During a tour of the forum, one of my fellow tourists was pickpocketed. Fortunately he caught the girl who had pickpocketed him before she got away.

Of the cities I visited, Rome and Venice were my favorite. But, you cannot ever spend enough time innt. Also, don't forget the gelato and coffee. They're magnifico! Rome. It's huge. Piazza Navaronne is a definite must for free entertainment.


relenawolf is right. It is Piazza Navona. Oops!

Last edited by Impetuous1; 04-14-2007 at 11:05 PM..
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Old 04-14-2007, 01:55 PM   #10 (permalink)
Are you using trains or driving? This will make a difference. (Personally, I'd go for trains, but that's just because Italian drivers make me batty. Driving opens up the countryside to you.

The Roman piazza everyone is trying to send you to is Piazza Navona. I cannot rave enough about the gelataria on the side of the Fontana dei Fiume (the middle one) away from the Pantheon. It will have a ton of people around it, so it won't be hard to find. There's also a whimsical toy shop on the curved northern end of the piazza if it's raining and you need a place to escape to.

We really enjoy the mass transit in Rome. We try to pay, because we like supporting transit systems, but most Romans don't, so don't worry too much about having a ticket. If you find yourself with standing room only, do be careful of your possessions, but this would go for any major city.

The Vatican museums are stunning and enormous. Budget some time to see the Sistine Chapel if you'd like a real chance to look around. It gets very crowded inside. Don't just rush past the galleries leading up to it, either. They're quite amazing in their own right. Saint Peter's Basilica is free and open to the public.

Florence is one of my favorite cities in Italy. The old city is mostly pedestrian, with only select cars allowed access, so plan to walk a lot. Santa Croce is my favorite church for the interior with crypts for Italy's most famous residents. Santa Maria della Fiore, Il Duomo (Duomo just means Cathedral), is amazing for its history and it's Baptistry, in a separate building in the piazza, which is an amazing work of art. If you like breathtaking views, and don't mind climbing lots of stairs, I strongly suggest climbing either the belltower or the dome of the church. I believe that the dome is more expensive, and it's definitely more crowded, but the 360 view is amazing. San Lorenzo, which has the Medici chapel, is pretty awesome, though it doesn't look like much from the outside. If you do head to San Lorenzo, keep going past the Church, up the main street behind it, until you come to a large, warehouse-like building. This is one of the indoor marketplaces in Florence and you'll get great deals on local produce, fruit, and delicacies. There's a small deli inside, but I can't vouch for it's quality because I was going mostly for the fruit market upstairs.

If you need to just relax, the Boboli Gardens at Palazzo Pitti are very nice. Even at the height of the season you can find places in there to just sit and talk without being bothered, which can be difficult in the city center (Centro), but is easier in the areas around the Pitti, which is in Oltrarno (literally, the other side of the Arno).

My fiance and I actually had some excellent, reasonably priced meals on Piazza Vecchio when we were there, but it was the off-season, so I expect their prices are higher otherwise.

If you enjoy Renaissance art, then the Uffizi, just off Piazza Vecchio, is a must-see, but the lines are very, very long. I would suggest calling ahead (24 hours, normally) and reserving an entrance time for a few Euro more. The lines at Palazzo Pitti and Palazzo Vecchio are normally much more reasonable if you'd like to see the seats of Medici power. The lines to see the David at the Galleria dell'Academia can get long, and the museum is rather small and off the beaten path, so you'll have to weigh your options there.

If you enjoy fine leather, gold or quality hand-made paper, do a bit of shopping around to find yourself nice things. Don't stop in the tourist shops or the places right along main-drags (including the Ponte Vecchio). There's a very nice book-binding street on the way to Ognisanti that is mostly untraveled, which is the kind of street that you want.

Milan is a very industrial city, as others have said, and there isn't a lot outside of the main sights (Il Duomo, the Mall) that are worth sticking around to see. I would personally combine Milan and Pisa and then head to Florence. It should take just about 4 hours to get to Pisa by train and then another hour onto Florence.

Don't miss Capri. It's amazing. Naples, on the other hand, can be sped past without consequence.

In general, I would suggest not stressing out and trying to keep your days reasonable with plenty of gelati breaks. If you carry a backpack or large bag, expect to be asked to check it at all museums. Wear reasonable walking shoes because the vast majority of places will be cobblestone. If you plan to go into churches, especially less touristy churches, dress accordingly. Don't buy too much junk that you'll just have to cart around. Remember to order your water naturale, or flat, if you don't like carbonated water, because fizzy is the default. Get a lonely planet pocket phrasebook. Have fun!
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Old 04-15-2007, 06:24 AM   #11 (permalink)
Surviving Hurricanes
SAM821's Avatar
Location: Miami, Florida
Awsome info you all!!

A couple of questions that I think I know the answer to but want to verify are the following:

If you carry a backpack or large bag, expect to be asked to check it at all museums.
Can you bring cameras into all of the attractions? I have seen where people have taken photos and shared them online. Is this an issue??

What exactly is dressing appropriately? Sunday mass at easter? or typical casual clothing such as khaki shorts or jeans? Being that the honeymoon is in july, I would definitely try to avoid wearing any form of pants, probably the same for my soon to be wife. So what exactly is considered dressing proper for these churches?
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Old 04-15-2007, 07:15 AM   #12 (permalink)
There are places that will ask you to check your camera, but they're few and far between (the galleries at Palazzo Pitti asked me to check my SLR, but I was allowed to take it to the gardens and use it in the courtyards, for instance). Most places will simply ask that it not be turned on (if cameras are strictly not allowed) or not used with a flash (this includes red auto-focus lights if you can turn them off, because they will attract negative attention). If you have an SLR/DSLR in a camera-specific bag with multiple lenses, this will be more likely to attract notice than a pocket-size film or digicam. The guards are generally fairly vigilant, and there's a good reason for the 'no-flash' rules, so follow them.

Every tourist-attraction church you go to will have a sign outside with pictures of things that aren't allowed. Casual dress is OK, but shoulders and knees should be covered (in less strict churches, long shorts will be OK. Capris will always be fine). The less frequented a church is, the more conservative you should be in what you wear.

I've found, from a women's perspective, that sarongs and pashminas are extremely helpful in these situations. Tying a sarong over shorts creates an instant skirt. Pulling a pashmina over a sleeveless blouse/tank top creates a presentable look. You could mimic this with some convertible pants (the kind that zip-off into shorts) and a short-sleeved button down shirt that are in your bag.

For the day that you go to the Vatican, wear longer pants and tops with sleeves so that you don't get stopped by security and put in paper clothing (not my idea of a fun way to walk through St. Peter's!).
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Old 04-16-2007, 08:12 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Location: Vancouver, Canada
Originally Posted by relenawolf
The Roman piazza everyone is trying to send you to is Piazza Navona.
If you speak Italian and have a map of Roma Italia, then yes you would look for Navarona. However, if you are English speaking and the tourist map you have says Rome Italy, then you will have more luck looking for Navarone.
Take from the philosopher the pleasure of being heard and his desire for knowledge ceases.
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Old 04-16-2007, 07:17 PM   #14 (permalink)
Originally Posted by JJRousseau
If you speak Italian and have a map of Roma Italia, then yes you would look for Navarona. However, if you are English speaking and the tourist map you have says Rome Italy, then you will have more luck looking for Navarone.
JJRousseau, could you clarify, because those spellings look the same to me. I've never encountered a map where Navona wasn't the common spelling, but maybe reading/putzing through Italian has influenced that.
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Old 04-17-2007, 06:21 AM   #15 (permalink)
Location: Edinburgh
Milan is incredible! I'm a season ticket holder with Inter Milan and go over there at least once a month. It is an amazing city. Whoever up above said that there is only the Duomo to see is talking rubbish. How about La Scala for a start? Then lets not forget some of the best museums and galleries in the country and then there is the fact that this is the fashion capital of Italy and there are some great shops in 'the Golden Triangle'. Great place for you or your wife to grab a beautiful bag or something from Gucci or Vuitton. you could even hunt out some bargains in the shops that sell last season's stuff.
The San Siro is incredible and worth a visit if you are a sports fan.
You can also pop out of the city to the lakes if you fancy...great thing about Milan is that there are not too many tourists, it's a great city to visit but one that is not built around (or spoilt by) tourism.

One place I can highly recommend is my favourite local restaurant which is simply fantastic. It's called Gianat, and is on Via Muratori ang L. Papi, (20135 is the area code) It's great easy to get to as well from the tube, I've got a number too PM me if you want it.

Have a great time a'Italia! of course the other cities you are visiting are amazing too especially love Roma! although Pisa I can take or leave to be honest - nice though it is there isn't much to do...and the leaning tower is somewhat underwhelming! although no trip to Italy is complete without 'that' picture leaning against the tower!
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Old 04-17-2007, 05:29 PM   #16 (permalink)
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Location: Vancouver, Canada
relenawolf, the Italian spelling ends with an "A". The English spelling ends with an "E" - same with Rome or Roma. But how Firenze become Florence, I'm at a loss.

Sorry for the thread hijack, Sam821. I hope you get to Capri and Pompeii. Both are awesome places to spend a day or two.
Take from the philosopher the pleasure of being heard and his desire for knowledge ceases.
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Old 04-17-2007, 07:44 PM   #17 (permalink)
[restart hijack, briefly] The English spelling/naming of Florence is actually closer to the Latin, Florentia, which was based off of the Roman goddess Flora.[/end hijack]

Back on track, take the chair lift up to the top of Capri. The view from the top is amazing!
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Old 05-10-2007, 12:17 AM   #18 (permalink)
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Location: Northern California
I just spent 10 days in Italy with my gf and it was fabulous.
Some places will be crowded with tourists - you'll probably have more fun in places that are less congested. I'd avoid Pisa, for example. It was overpriced and full of tourists.

Off the top of my head we went:
Florence - we stayed at a B&B called Hotel Bavaria - which had frescoes on the wall and was romantic as heck. But what's romantic depends on y'all. Some people prefer the Marriott but we like the simple B&Bs. If you stay here be sure to ask for the rooms with the frescoes.

Siena - we found another B&B - (we found it at the Tourist center - The fella tried to sell us on a crappy modern "3-star" place outside of town - Then he showed us a "one star" B&B which had a window full of flowers on the sill.

In Siena we rented a car and drove through Tuscany (forgive my spelling and/or memory) - Montepulciano, Castleveccio, hitting a few castles along the way. The drive alone shows some wonderfully photogenic countryside.

Then we stopped in Perugia - this isn't a very romantic city. It's full of students and more mixed with modern stuff. It was a nightmare to drive through it or find anything.

Then Assisi - OMG - what a beautiful town with a breathtaking view! Must be seen. We should have stayed here instead of Perugia.

Then La Spezia and to the Cinque Terre - a series of five gorgeous coastal towns reached by train. Travel between the towns was by some long hiking over steep grades but with some magnificent views. We stayed in the first town of Riomaggiore that had a magical view of the town and water. Cinque Terre is fantastic if you don't mind the hiking.

Then Carrera and it's huge mountain of marble. The town is trying to be a tourist draw but isn't very successful. But for us it meant that it wasn't crowded. We stayed at an odd place called Hotel Michelangelo which seemed like the only place in town - at least until the next day when we drove up to the mountain and saw some delightful B&Bs along the way with views of the mountain! You can buy wonderful marble items - cheap! The first place we saw seemed to have the best selection and prices - but we ended up lugging around marble bookends, cups etc. for the rest of the trip ... arrgh.

Finally we got to San Gimignano - what a wonderful place! Look for a B&B called La Mandragola ... this was the absolute best, most romantic, place we've ever stayed with a garden and rooftop terrace with a 360 degree view.
"I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence. Thus when my eldest son asked me what he should have done, had he been present when I was almost fatally assaulted in 1908, whether he should have run away and seen me killed or whether he should have used his physical force which he could and wanted to use, and defended me, I told him that it was his duty to defend me even by using violence." - Mahatma Ghandi

Last edited by longbough; 05-10-2007 at 12:19 AM..
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Old 05-20-2007, 05:59 PM   #19 (permalink)
Location: Saratoga Springs, NY
If it hasn't been mentioned already, hike the Cinque Terra. In my opinion, that is the most beautiful hike in the world.
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