Post # 1
My SO and i are going to Italy in march 2014–I have been once in high school but SO has never gone…we are staying in apartments in Florence (5nights), Rome (6nights) and Venice(3nights). I’m wondering…we want to see the sights but also want time to explore on our own! Does anyone have any advice?? Specifically, what kind of sights we should see with a tour guide and maybe ones easily checked out on our own. ANY travel advice is welcome, I would love to hear all about your experiences!!
Thank you so much!!
Post # 3
@littlekay111: Venice is small so you’ll be perfectly fine to do the sightseeing on your own, there’s no way you can get lost. A Lonely Planet guide book would be great though if you want some more information on the pretty buildings you’ll be seeing.
Rome is BIG! Prepare to wait in a looooong line for Musei Vaticani (where the Sistine Chapel is, among other things). Check if there’s any way you can buy tickets in advance, it will save you some time. Btw, water from the street fountains in Rome is perfectly drinkable! It comes from the mountains and it tastes great, I drank it. But whatever you do, don’t drink the water in Venice, go for bottled! Maybe having a tour guide in Rome is not a bad idea to start with, it’s quite overwhelming at first because there’s so much to see. And the traffic in Rome is very confusing so try to avoid driving if you can.
Sadly, I’ve never been to Florence but I really, really want to go. Rent a car and go for a drive in the countryside around Florence, I hear it’s gorgeous.
Oh, and there are lots of gorgeous churches in Italy that are an absolute must see, the architecture is pure genius. They’re really, really particular about bare shoulders on women though, and shorts on men! So if you decide to go look at churches make sure you have a top that covers your shoulders and that he’s wearing long trousers.
I hope it helps a little.
Post # 4
Oh, and I forgot to mention Murano Island! Go there when you’re in Venice, it’s where the traditional glassblowers come from, the stuff they make is so pretty it will blow your mind. The Murano glass is sold all over Venice too but you won’t regret going to the island, I promise, it’s beautiful there and far less crowded!
Post # 5
We’re doing Florence for part of our honeymoon!
I’m so happy you’re staying in Rome for 6 nights. When I hear of people going for 2-3 days I cringe. There are some really cool catacomb tours in Rome. Other than that I don’t think you need any formal tours – you can do everything yourself and I usually prefer it that way. With 6 days you can be leisurely and get lost, rather than sticking to a crazy itinerary and being exhausted.
One of my favorite restaurants in the entire world is Al Duello in Rome. Its run entirely by a woman, her husband and her sister. It is absolutely fantastic and I can’t recommend it enough. Its a little more contemporary than a lot of Roman restaurants – good for a honeymoon ‘date night’. The food is phenominal. During our honeymoon we’re considering taking a train to Rome for just one night so that we can eat dinner there. You usually need a reservation, but you can get your hotel to make it for you or just stop by the restaurant during the day and reserve your table for that night. Its not far from the Pantheon.
We spent a week in Tuscany (didn’t go to Florence though) and Siena was beautiful. I know there are buses that go back and forth between there and Florence and it only takes 40-60ish minutes. We did a hot air balloon ride there and it as AMAZING. It would be something super romantic to do on a honeymoon. I would take one of your Florence days and spend it in Siena, even if you don’t do the balloon. It’ll give you the chance to see the countryside, which is gorgeous.
Have a fabulous time!!
Post # 6
The museums in Florence (Uffizi and Accademia) are fine to do on your own. Buy the tickets online in advance and you will save time and money. Consider doing some tours with Walkabout (http://www.walkaboutflorence.com/italy-tuscany-florence-tours). We did both their Tuscany in One Day tour and the Cinque Terre Trek. Both were absolutely amazing, highly recommend.
Post # 7
Also, go to Il Porcospino in Florence. It’s near the Duomo, the food is fantastic, and we had an old man with an accordian serenade us one of the nights we ate there. It was lovely! And, I second another person’s suggestion about checking out some of the catacomb tours in Rome… spooky!
Post # 8
@jaina8851: Glad to hear about the Walkabout tours. We’re leaving for Italy in a little more than a week (!!!) and we booked their Tuscany tour. Super excited for that one. Otherwise, we are doing everything on our own.
Post # 9
Bump.. I’m going here also in march for our honeymoon
Post # 10
@jaina8851: +1 on the walk about tours. I did both and loved them.
6 days is plenty to do Rome on your own. Get a Roma pass. You can skip the line at the Colosseum and get e4 day use of the subway. Three days can cover most of Rome. 1, Vatican. 2. The ancient Rome.. Forum, Colosseum 3. Trevi, Spanish steps area.
I did a short blurb recap of my trip here-http://boards.weddingbee.com/topic/my-italy-switzerland-trip-recap#axzz2e9nNzT7Q
Post # 11
Thank you so much for your replies! I guess first I should clarify that while in Rome we are hoping to do a day trip to Assisi, and a day trip to naples/pompeii so we have a bit of a shorter time there although I think 4 full days there will still be okay 🙂 Also while in Florence we will be going to Cinque Terra for the day as well!
@MsMeow: Thank you so much for the reply! I was thinking along the same lines as you..maybe one day of a tour in Venice, but mostly explore it on our own and then possibly more tours in Rome as it is so big and there is so much to see! I’m hoping to avoid long lines at certain places if we do tours! I love your suggestion about checking out Murano Island…is it far? Like is it a whole day thing? Thank you!
@adoc86: How exciting! What a romantic honeymoon for you two! Sadly as I posted above we will probably be in Rome for 4 days rather than 6, but i still think we will be able to see things. I agree with your suggestion about the Catacombs, SO is really interested in going to those!! Thank you soo much for the advice and the dinner suggestion–I googled the place and it sounds amazing we will for sure look into going there! I have to say apart from the sights (I am a history major so historical places are my faaav) I am totally looking forward to the food! I hope we can get out to the country side in Florence, I have heard such amazing things!
@jaina8851: Thank you so much for the suggestions–do you buy the tickets online directly from the museums? Also thank you so much for the dinner suggestion, I am soo excited for the food there and the restaurant sounds great!!
@snowbeastly: Have an amazing trip!! Where are you visiting?
@GlamMeup: That is so exciting!! SO and i are going mid-end of march for a romantic getaway. Where are you staying??
@pinkshoes: So glad to hear positive comments about the walkabout tours! i will totally check out your thread, thanks for the link! Where do you buy a roma pass?
Thank you all so much for your thoughts/advice!
Post # 12
@littlekay111: Yay! I am sooo excited for you! I studied abroad in Italy, Florence to be exact! Both Italy and Venice are small enough where you can roam around and look at places without a tour guide. I would look at TripAdvisor.com to get tips for must-see stuff and places to eat! You are going to have so much fun! I loved Florence and Venice!
Some traveling/non-sightseeing advice: Especially in Venice/Florence be sure to have cash. Most of the little shops/stores/restaurants won’t take CC. I would also bring a small cross body bag as your purse. There are lots of gypsy’s who have perfected the art of stealing your wallet! Lastly, pack lightly! There are LOTS of stairs and cobbled roads that make lugging around a suitcase not fun.
oo! and buy a wine bag (it’s a bubble wrap bag for wine) so you can bring wine home with you! We did this when we went to France and it was worth it!
Post # 13
@littlekay111: We went to Florence and Cinque Terre and we didn’t do an pro tours. So I recommend skipping them and using the money you saved to eat as much amazing food as you can! We used Rick Steves’ guidebook in Florence – just like having a tour guide because his books have walking tours written in with great directions and some off-the-beaten path sights. Cinque Terre is also very easy to see on your own, just follow the paths between the towns. Some trails are much more challenging than others, but the rewards for doing a tough hike include being alone on the trail and incredible views of the towns and the sea! From Florence, we did daytrips around Tuscany on our own via bus.
We loved staying in apartments, it allowed us to pack light and do laundry! So great!
Post # 14
@littlekay111: If I were you, I’d explore Venice on my own and maybe do one organised tour in Rome just to get some orientation. Organised tours can be quite expensive and like someone else suggested, save your money to spend it on food. It’s Italy, you simply must have some of that amazing pasta, coffee and gelato! Also, if you go to Murano Island and you’re not made of steel, you’ll probably do quite a bit of shopping! 🙂 It’s not far from Venice at all, you take a taxi boat and if I remember correctly, it takes a little more than half an hour to get there. The island itself is small so it’s not a whole day tour at all. One afternoon is all you need.
Post # 15
I would definitely take a tour in Pompeii and at some of the big Rome sites. I backpacked in Italy in college, and we felt like we missed out on SO much that we could have appreciated a lot better in Pompeii because we tried to do it ourselves. We took two or three tours in Rome of the big sites, and felt like it was totally worth the money for how much we got out of it.
FI and I are huge fans of Frommer’s guidebooks, which tend to have kickass recommendations for food.
Florence is all about art and architecture (and gelato and clothes stores, lol) so it’s a fantastic place to go if you like art and want to see beautiful things. I don’t know that you “need” 5 whole days, but it might be a good time to relax before/after Rome. And I think PPs suggestion of renting a car and driving into the countryside is a great one! I’ve never done that in Italy, but it’s been one of my favorite activities in other beautiful European countries, like Austria.
Capri was one of my favorite stops in Italy, if you’re looking for another day-trip!
Have SO much fun! Wow, I can’t wait to take my FI to Italy someday!!
Post # 16
Pompeii is gorgeous – definitely worth a day trip. The museum in Naples is amazing (you may find the erotic art section from Pompeii amusing) but Naples itself is a ROUGH place. Be very careful and make sure you watch your belongings/don’t openly display valuables in Naples. It is full of pickpockets and bag-snatchers. The only time I felt seriously scared for my safety in Italy was walking around in Naples.
I’m not sure you need 5 days in Florence since the city is quite small, but Tuscany is a nice area to hang out in so I’m sure you will find other things to do in the area.