Italy: Putting Together an Itinerary

The flights were booked and housing was determined. At this point we had the bare bones of an itinerary: 5 nights in Rome, 2 nights in Chianti region, 3 nights in Florence, and 4 nights in Venice. 

Now... what to do to fill the days? To figure this out it has taken days, hours, dozens of websites and blogs, and a Rick Steves guidebook

I had no idea how intricate planning each day would be. It's not like this was our first trip. But actually, it's the first one requiring multiple location changes in a different country. The trip to the Bahamas we stayed on a cruise ship, and in Cancun we stayed in a timeshare. So cheers to us, on our first completely independent vacation.

What makes it so complicated? It's a like a huge puzzle, where the pieces include: 
  • Bucket list: The advice of so many travelers is to ditch the list and use your instincts to take you from one place to another. However, with such a financial investment I find I must ensure I create some sort of idea of what to do so as to not waste time. Again, this is probably going against Italian culture to plan to the point of placing "Get lost in Venice" in an itinerary but e' la vita
    • Rome: 
      • Ancient: Colosseum, Roman Forum, Pantheon
      • South: Trastevere, Appian Way, Catacombs
      • North: Borghese , Spanish steps, Trevi fountain
      • Vatican City: Museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peter's Basilica
    • Chianti region:
      • Wine tour, ride a Vespa along the hills
    • Florence:
      • Accademia (+David), Duomo, Bargello, Ufffizi
    • Venice:
      • Cruise along Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, St. Mark's Square + Basilica, Doge's Palace, Bridge of Sighs, Murano island (glass making!)
  • Transportation: According to Google maps, this trip is going to be nothing short of exhausting. We'll be getting from city to city by train. It was originally an automatic assumption we would use the Italy Eurail pass, which is $195 for 3 rides within 2 months. Using www.raileurope.com we discovered that a train from Rome --> Florence, Florence --> Venice was only ~$120. Money saving at its finest! Rome is quite large, and there are also metro and buses that can take you to different sites. I'm assuming there will be plenty of walking, however. Florence seems very walkable though. And Venice, you have water travel
  • Entrance passes: The main culprit of the puzzle. Rome, Florence, and Venice have unique 72-hour passes that took a lot of research to be sure it was worth the cost AND arrange things covered by the passes within an itinerary that has more than 72 hours in each place. 
    • Rome: Roma Pass (€30) - FREE entry to the first 2 sites, and DISCOUNTED thereafter. 
      • Major advantage: SKIP THE LINE to all places and free public transportation.
    • Florence: Firenze Card (€50) - FREE entry to ALL sites covered. 
      • Major advantage: SKIP THE LINE to all places and free public transportation.
    • Venice: Vaporetto Pass (€18 if you are <30 years old when you also by a Rolling Venice card for €4) - Unlimited vaporetto rides! Normally €7 per ride, and if >30 years old is €18/2 hours, €20/24 hours, €25/36 hours, €30/48 hours, €35/72 hours. Even if you are >30 years old, the vaporetto pass can pay for itself quickly with a day + night joyrides, to and from hotel, trip to lagoon, to train station, and when you don't want to walk anymore! 
      • Major DISadvantage: Unfortunately nothing in Venice provides discounts to sites
  • Downtime: Still trying to figure this one out... like will it exist?!

Once we've actually done the trip, I'll do a before/after comparison of what I've planned versus what actually happened! There's much more on the itinerary than from my Bucket List that have been added based on research. 

A little preview of our plan for a day in Ancient Rome:

Next up: Travel Essentials (Part 1)

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