Italy Strut (travel-r)

DJ_EnkiDJ_Enki 6,471 Posts
edited December 2011 in Strut Central
My girl and I have decided that 2012 is going to be the year that we finally achieve our longtime goal of traveling to Italy. We'll most likely fly into Rome and spend a couple days there, but then we want to head north--Florence, Tuscany, Bologna, Cinque Terra, though we may not get to all of them.

So...recommendations? Places to go? Places to avoid? Any lodging suggestions would be huge, as we're totally in the dark as far as all that goes. Is the best idea to just take the train from city to city and walk/cab while we're at each place? Let me know, world travelers of the Strut.


  • HarveyCanalHarveyCanal "a distraction from my main thesis." 13,234 Posts
    My best friend is engaged and his original plan was for me to perform his wedding in Sicily. I was going to get ordained and everything. But now plans have changed and the wedding is just going to be here in Austin...dangit. But thinking I was headed to Italy for the first time, I've already consulted the Italian wing of my family (visiting with my uncle Luigi who lives in NYC was especially helpful) on where to go (we're from a little town near Naples) and started teaching myself to speak Italian. So now, I gotta make a trip happen somehow on my own.

  • UnherdUnherd 1,880 Posts
    Me and my girl did this about 4 years ago, and it was incredible. We loved Rome, and could've done more than 3 days there. Probably could've spent a day or two in the trastevere alone, just eating and drinking wine in the little cobblestone squares. 2 days was a little tight for Florence, but we liked Rome better anyway. A day in Venice was cool too, although it was really just to see it, and then flee the tourist trappings. We finished our trip in Milan, and weren't feeling it, fwiw. Took trains nearly everywhere and it was great.

    We did rent a car and did 2-3 days driving around Tuscany. One place I can recommend without reservation is this little B&B type spot that was incredibly beautiful, not too pricey and had incredible breakfasts. It might get kind boring after 36 hours, but after all the sightseeing and walking you'll be doing in the cities, this was the perfect spot to break up the trip, put down our stuff, and just chill by the pool for a day. hurr.

    A friend of mine who had studied in Rome sent me a couple pages of recs, so we get a lot of local flavor there, and that may be why we were feeling it so much. It's a couple years old now, but I'll try to find it and PM you. Also, I am super jealous. That was the best vacation of my life, and after paying off the credit cards from that trip, our subsequent vacations have exclusively been to such exotic locals as upstate new york, and vermont. Enjoy man.

  • PATXPATX 2,820 Posts
    If it's warm weather time, I would take the train south from Rome to Naples, stopping off for some beach and camping and killer buffalo moz just south of Terracina (1 hr from Rome, about halfway). Been there a couple of times and would go back no problem. Naples is the jump off point for Pompeii, and their soccer team is doing really well at the moment and the city is apparently in an upturn. And it's really not a big detour from your plans.

    Tuscany is hella fun in a car. If I remember correctly, accommodation can tend towards extreme budget backpacker, or $$$$ romantic getaway for old people.

  • disco_chedisco_che 1,115 Posts
    I remember an extensive thread about where to go in italy from a few years back. Should be worth seeking for it.

  • i dont know southern italy, but hav only heard tales of its beauty. up north, i also would definitely skip Milan, unless youre really into fashion. Tuscany is gorgeous and obviously has its share of unique attractions (like most italy does) but the regions to the East, Emilia Romagna and Marche are much less touristic,less expensive and often equally enchanting (but i'm biased) . their cuisine is also top notch (if not better, according to some) and it has loads of scenery (as well as a heavily trafficked shore that i tend to avoid: riccione, rimini,etc). Venice is definitely worth seeing for a day or two...get lost in the little neighbohoods away from san marco. although bustling rialto and san marco at night are timeless. if you need restaurant recomendations there, give a shout.

    have fun!!! and theres no reason to spend tons of money on food! fancy=expensive. italians are still pretty rustic over all and eat out a hell of a lot at local spots

  • oh yeah, definitely dont waste time looking for records

  • oh yeah...train system is pretty great overall (when they dont have slowdown strikes) and is a close to essenital part of the italian experience.

    lodgings....there are definitely hostels. my friend owns one in Rimini/Riccione and may have other recommendations for other parts of italy. although in certain super romantic places, its worth getting a nice room with your girl. but you may also consider doing couchsurfing a night or two to keep overall costs down, but more importantly to meet cool italians. i had to catch a 9:30am plane in Bologna last summer, 4 hours from my families house. so i found a young lady to host me for the night before. she was super cool and we'll probably be keeping in touch. you never know. i paid her with an artisanal cheese from my town. couchsurfing does not necessarily equal can be an amazing cultural experience compared to a sterile hotel

  • Walking the Cinque Terre path is a great way to spend the day and end it in Vernaza eating fish and drinking wine.

  • go before june 15 or after labor day to avoid droves of americans and peak season mayhem unpleasantness.
    tuscany is beautiful but sicily and sardinia are epic.
    positano is amazing, naples is kinda messed up in a good way, i.e. it's the former playground of louis xiv and now it's kind of run down. my kind of place.
    if you want to ball out in a completely frivolous manner book a few nights at castiglion del bosco or il pelicano

    these hedges are made of rosemary no big deal

    the "beach" at il pelicano. good lord it's beautiful.

  • DJ_EnkiDJ_Enki 6,471 Posts
    The_Hook_Up said:
    Walking the Cinque Terre path is a great way to spend the day and end it in Vernaza eating fish and drinking wine.

    This is exactly the kind of stuff we want to be doing.


    Thanks for the B&B rec--looks fantastic. If you come across that Rome info, feel free to shoot it my way.

    Much appreciated, everybody!

  • If you aren't going in the high season, I highly recommend spending a day walking around Capri.

  • JimBeamJimBeam Seattle. 2,012 Posts
    i dunno, i thought milan was a pretty cool city.
    check out an AC Milan or Inter Milan game, San Siro is ugly/incredible.
    the Duomo is great, the galleria is impressive, there are several gardens and castles to walk through. it's not touching rome, but it is a really beautiful place.
    the last supper is a must see.
    Public transit is great in Milan, and after one or two days, you can get a train to Venice for a day or two.

    Don't buy the "it's all tourist crap" about Venice. True, if you're hanging out in front of St. Mark's all day, it sucks-- but the Guggenheim is a must see and you can get lost all over the island and just find bars and food stalls to stumble around to.
    contrary to popular belief, really good food can be found in venice.

    also, stay here

    the staff is awesome and really helpful if your italian sucks, it's tucked away enough from everything (we literally walked by the alleyway entrance 3 times before finding it) so you don't hear screaming children all day, it's right next to ca pesaro since you'll be sick of classic art by that point and the canal view rooms are unnecessary-- the courtyard rooms are better priced.

  • DJ_Enki said:
    The_Hook_Up said:
    Walking the Cinque Terre path is a great way to spend the day and end it in Vernaza eating fish and drinking wine.

    This is exactly the kind of stuff we want to be doing.

    As you start to research the Cinque Terre, you're going to read about the apocalyptic flooding and landslides that happened in October. Vernazza got hit with 9 feet of mud, rocks and debris, while Monterosso got hit with a wall of water. The photos and video are pretty heavy. I know your gut reaction is going to be to skip the place, but it needn't be. There will be a huge drop in the number of tourists next year, which means that you can visit the towns without the peak season critical mass of people.

    The residents of those towns are some of the hardest working folks I know, and they have accomplished a lot thus far. The coastal trail between Manarola-Corniglia is closed indefinitely. The coastal trails between Corniglia, Vernazza and Monterosso are closed right now, though they may open before next spring. If you want excellent hiking with amazing vistas, there are still a ton of trails in the park. Higher trails connect all five villages (and beyond - you could hike from La Spezia to Levanto all the way to Genova if you wanted.) Corniglia, Manarola and Riomaggiore were unaffected by the floods, and they are still conducting business as usual.

    Regarding the rest of Italy - Good info thus far in the thread. Peak season can be hellish on both the pocketbook and the brain. Florence is a nightmare in July. You don't need to overspend to eat well. Venice, Rome, Florence, Napoli, and Toscana are all great places to see, but maybe not all in one trip. Pick some neighboring regions and explore the hell out of those. Outside of the cities, look for agriturismos to spend a night in. If you're visiting a coast, be sure to get in a boat for a different view of things. Throw a coin in the Fontana di Trevi and save some places to visit for your next trip.

    If you need more specific info on Liguria, I'd be happy to help - just hit me with a PM.

  • Man, I had no idea about the flooding, that sucks. I love that place. My girl and I went a few years ago in March and it was wonderful. Hardly anybody else on the Via Del Amore and were able to walk it with no one else around. Made our way back to Vernazza and hung out there for the rest of the day and ate a bunch of seafood and drank a lot of wine. One of the greatest days ever. I hope they get it all back the way it was pre-flood. A wonderful place.

  • I was just watching a Rick Steve's show on Cinque Terre and it looked really nice. And the hill towns of central Italy, Sienna, Assisi, San Gimignano

  • shitzrshitzr 648 Posts
    my wife and i went to italy this past july. it was the busy tourist season, but it wasn't so overwhelming that it made our stay any less awesome.

    5 days in rome:
    we did the usual touristy stuff like the forum, colosseum, pantheon, vatican museum, etc. which were all fun and all, but just walking around the city was exciting too. also, if you're interested in art do not pass up on the galleria borghesi. the spanish steps was a really nice place to chill, but be warned that dudes slanging roses are super aggressive. i almost got into a fight with one of them because motherfucker straight put a rose waaaay too close in my wifes face and i whacked his hand away. we had no recommendations on places to eat, so we just picked random spots that seemed promising at the time, nothing really mindblowing unfortunately. tazza d'oro near the pantheon lives up to the hype for coffee though.

    5 days in florence:
    it was a nice change of pace from rome, and loved it just as much. we took daytrips to siena, san gimignano which were great places to chill. we also took a day trip to cinque terra, and i gotta say that the moment we got there i immediately regretted not booking a room to stay there for a couple of days. it was by far my favorite part of my italian vacation.

    we also stayed in milan for a couple of days, but i wasn't feeling it at all. didn't make it to venice because shit was crazy expensive.

    next time we go to italy, i would definitely like to visit the amalfi coast and capri. both look beautiful.
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