Trip to Italy

NWICY

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I've done Venice - it's lovely as an experience that is rapidly fading away, but I've done Rome twice and enjoyed it far more. If you need any info on Rome, @dahliaclone , let me know and I can get you a gigantic list of "cool and weird **** to see and do in Rome."

Those are my only two cities I've done in Italy, so I'm no help on Turin.

Welp you took care of my suggestion I was going to tell them to @ you.
 
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CycloneBax

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Loved Cinque Terre.

Flew into Geneva (from MSP), but we were visiting Nice, France and the Cinque Terre.

Stopped through Turin to see the shroud museum as we were passing through on the way back to Geneva. Not sure that Turin had much to offer.

I use google flights to find the cheapest. I really like the explore tab after I put in to/from and dates. Can zoom anywhere in the world to see the prices.
 

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dahliaclone

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I think we are calling an audible based on some comments in this thread which is much appreciated!

We originally wanted to fly into Switzerland and go to Interkaken but just don't think we have the time. So we're now thinking Lake Como might be a good alternative and flying into Milan seems to be cheaper than Turin.

Then we'll hit Cinque Terre on the way down to Rome where we'll spend a few days ahead of our cruise.
 

mramseyISU

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I spent a few days in Northern Italy about 3 years ago on a work trip. Flew into Milan drove to Asti and spent 3 days there, then drove to Turin but didn’t spend any time in the city center. Finished up back in Milan. I enjoyed the trip a bunch and want to go back with my family one of these days.
 
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Frak

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I've been there twice including a study abroad there for a month. My advice is if you are limited on time to a few days, just do Rome. There's SO much to see there. If you are more interested in scenery than history/buildings, then I would say the Verona/Vicenza/Treviso area. Those are all kind of at the foot of the Alps and the rolling views are amazing. And not super touristy. If you are more into kind of a seaside type view, then you can't beat the Cinque Terra/Sorrento. Haven't been to Florence. I'd skip Venice unless you have a lot of time and even then only plan a half day there. Also skip Milan, as it is just a big city...Rome without all the cool things to see.

As much as I loved seeing all the cool sights, my favorite thing to do was to get away from the crowds and experience the culture. My study abroad was located in Asolo, which is close to Treviso and Venice. But the cool thing was they gave us 3 day weekends and you could easily go up into Austria or Switzerland or south further into Italy.
 

ForbinsAscynt

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Reggio Emilia is a top 3 food region in the world.

If you want a more quaint city (120k) check out Bergamo.
 

CYTUTT

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Don’t try to do too much. Italy isn’t a country that you want to hurry through. The beauty about the country is the slowing down and enjoying your time there. It’s beautiful and full of so much history and art. Meet people, enjoy the food, and engage all your senses. We’ve been all over and the greatest times we’ve had were when we took time to talk to the locals. Have a safe, enjoyable trip!
 

ForbinsAscynt

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There is no trick to getting upgraded. On international flights you just need to be a skymiles member and likely platinum to get a comfort+.
If you are looking for a cheaper option, try Zurich. Just remember Switzerland is not in the EU so you’ll need to clear customs. It’s a beautiful drive that you won’t soon forget.
 
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cyfanbr

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This awesome. Wife and I are also doing a Mediterranean cruise this summer, but ours starts in Greece and ends in Spain. Stops in Sicily and Naples in Italy. We are still talking about it, but we might go a few days early and explore Greece a bit. Greece and Italy/Rome have been a dream of mine ever since studying Greek mythology and the Roman Empire in middle school/highschool.
 

cyTOPEia

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I love Italy and have been there several times.

Rome is interesting. It seems like any other big city and then bam! something ancient. There is a ton to see there like the Vatican, Trevi Fountain, Roman Forum and Coliseum, Capitoline Hill, Pantheon, Spanish Steps, Galleria Borghese, Catacombs and obviously tons of amazing churches (St. Paul Outside the Walls, Santa Maria Maggiore, Santa Maria in Cosmedin, Santa Maria della Vittoria are just a few I liked). I agree that if you only have a few days, just stay in Rome. Rome, however, isn’t my favorite city even though it’s worth spending a lot of time in. Tivoli is a nice daytrip from Rome.

Florence is beautiful and the old city is very walkable and has plenty to see. The Duomo is the iconic church of the city. The Uffizi is an amazing art Musesm but to see David you have visit the Accademia (you must book an entrance time in advance). From Florence, it’s an easy daytrip to Pisa, Siena, and San Gimigano or the Cinque Terre (5 fishing villages that are relatively car free and connected by hiking trails) or you could do a Tuscan Wine Tour.

Venice is actually my favorite city because i’s not like any other city in the world. It does have an air of decay and like anywhere it has it’s tourist traps but it is amazing to just take off and wander. You can’t get too lost (it’s a small island) as there are always signs to point you back to St. Mark’s and the Rialto Bridge. Both are worth a visit, as is the Doge’s Palace.

The Amalfi Coast are several smaller towns near Naples. Naples itself seemed a bit sketchy but the waters of the Amalfi Coast are beautiful. We stayed in Sorrento. You can take the local Circumvesuviana train to Pompei.

Milan wasn’t my favorite but it’s the location of DaVinci’s The Last Supper (you also need to book this way ahead of time). I also wasn’t big on Sicily or Sardinia.

Have fun in Italy and on your cruise. Feel free to send me any questions. I’m just praying we finally get to go on our own Baltic Cruise this summer.

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Michaelgraham

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We wanted to fly to Italy for our honeymoon, but covid changed our plans. Had to postpone the trip to the box
 

cyIclSoneU

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The Uffizi is an amazing art Musesm but to see David you have visit the Accademia (you must book an entrance time in advance).

Not true anymore. My old roommate was in Florence in January and there were no lines for anything; he said he could walk into the Accademia and see David with 5 other people in the room.

I am sure this is true of a lot of things now with the pandemic (and how it is treated/perceived differently in western Europe) - lines and crowds are much smaller.
 
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Angie

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I will go to bat for Venice. It's a beautiful, confusing dump. The "streets" are just a labyrinth of tiny alleyways winding through pizza shops and art galleries. Street directions are absurd. When I first arrived the directions to my hostel were like "find the third courtyard past the arch and knock on the door opposite the old well." There is a **** load of tourists everywhere but if you stay out of the major areas and try to get lost you end up discovering some really cool ****.

I think this is very accurate. It's lovely, vaguely filthy, and SO confusing. But it's truly unique - and the cruise ships are killing it, so it really is an experience that we likely won't have for long at this rate.

What I will say is that our best experiences were in Murano and Burano. They're like basically little suburb islands off of Venice that are so colorful and unique. Murano is known for its glass, Burano for its lace - but in order to tour either of their factories, you are going to walk into a giant tourist trap. Just walking around each over the course of an afternoon/early evening is lovely.

I also timed our trip to Venice when Da Vinci's The Vetruvian Man was on display (it's usually kept vaulted due to aging), so there was a whole thing of Da Vinci's sketches, writings, and art. It was flooring how brilliant he was.
 

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RLD4ISU

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Also any suggestions how to get upgraded to Delta Comfort for free or minimal fees appreciated haha

If you have an American Express card, you can transfer those points to Delta and (I think) you can use those Delta points to upgrade.

Never been to Italy, but if I do Manduria (east of Taranto) would be on my list. My Grandpa was stationed there during WWII.
 
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Tri4Cy

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All of Italy is on my TO-DO list but two different co-workers who have been said Venice is the most overhyped and underwhelming. If I skip any place it will be Venice.

My wife and I are going for 12 days in a couple of months. We heard the same and relegated Venice down to a "maybe" day trip depending how we feel. We are splitting the time in Rome, Florence, Parma, and Lake Garda. Parma is the shortest stop and really just for food. Wanted to end in Lake Garda for a more adventurous stop with a spa type resort. We want to go play in the mountains then come "home" and get pampered and recover.

I've done Venice - it's lovely as an experience that is rapidly fading away, but I've done Rome twice and enjoyed it far more. If you need any info on Rome, @dahliaclone , let me know and I can get you a gigantic list of "cool and weird **** to see and do in Rome."

Those are my only two cities I've done in Italy, so I'm no help on Turin.

I'd love to hear about Rome! We have three days and have one day set aside for a Vatican and Colosseum tour. What else do you suggest!?
 
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Tri4Cy

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Haven’t checked but it’s usually cheaper to fly into London or Frankfurt. From there you can fly anywhere in Europe for cheap ($200<). Florence is to be recommended, Cinque Terre is not far from Turin by train. If you’re traveling in May or later, the Alps on the French/Italian border are grand and less visited than some other areas.
Tuscany is wonderful, prettier in person than the pics you see. Have fun and send me a pm if you need more info. We had a daughter live overseas so we were able to travel to Europe many times.

I was always drawn to the BA flights until you get to the end and they add their damn fuel surcharges in.
 

Angie

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My wife and I are going for 12 days in a couple of months. We heard the same and relegated Venice down to a "maybe" day trip depending how we feel. We are splitting the time in Rome, Florence, Parma, and Lake Garda. Parma is the shortest stop and really just for food. Wanted to end in Lake Garda for a more adventurous stop with a spa type resort. We want to go play in the mountains then come "home" and get pampered and recover.

I'd love to hear about Rome! We have three days and have one day set aside for a Vatican and Colosseum tour. What else do you suggest!?

I think that's smart to keep Venice as a "maybe." It truly is just sort of one of those "but it's Venice" things - unique in every way. But, I didn't feel like there were as many things to DO outside of St. Mark's and looking at the various bridges, riding a gondola.

I'm going to PM you, but I just LOVE Rome. Some of my recommendations depend on if you're into the history of Christianity (whether you're a Catholic or not), architecture, art. Here are the big things I'd say:

- Vatican - I love the Vatican. Love it. Here are my biggest recommendations for it:
  1. I have been lucky enough to do the Necropolis tour on both my trips. You'll need to check NOW to see if there are any openings: LINK It is a tour of St. Peter's tomb, as well as the city of the dead and several of the old Popes' sarcophogi, underneath St. Peter's. Only 126 people per day get to do this (out of the tens of thousands who go to the Vatican each day), so it's truly special.
  2. We did a tour of the Sistine before the rest of St. Peter's opened. It's way less crowded in there then. You also get let out right into St. Peter's Basilica before the doors open, so you can look around and see the Michelangelo, confessionals, etc. before it's swamped. Viator and TripAdvisor have a ton of these, and they're worth it.
  3. If you go on a Sunday or Wednesday, try and see the Pope. I'm not Catholic, but it was amazing. I have a selfie with the Pope literally ten feet behind me. You just have to walk up to one of the Swiss Guards in the collonade and ask for tickets - I'd faxed in a request in advance, but it's unnecessary if you just go up to the Swiss Guards.
  4. Make friends with people! I went with my mom on my first Necropolis tour, and she doesn't talk to people, but I made friends with some people on our little tour. We ran into them in Trestavere three days later and chatted again. Rome is NOT that big.
- Colosseum - you have to do it, but it honestly was not my favorite. SO many people everywhere.

- Domus Aurea (TICKETS, among others) - I preferred this to the Colosseum. It's got a fascinating STORY - Nero made this ridiculously opulent palace after he burned down Rome. His successors were mortified at how embarrassing it was, and just buried it to be rid of it. Some dude was walking up the hill 15 centuries later and fell into this opulent bath. Tons of Renaissance visionaries rappelled down into it, and now it's an excavation site you can tour.

- The Holy Stairs - Scala Santa and Sancta Sanctorum - the stairs where Jesus had to carry up his cross while bleeding to meet Pilate, and the holy chapel of old popes. We were lucky enough to go when it was being restored and I could go up the actual stairs, not the protective layer. Went up on knees - in Catholic church, each of the 28 stairs gives you seven years of absolution. It's humbling if you're a Christian, but likely not worth it if you are not. It is also right next to Basilica of Saint John Lateran, which is beautiful - part of the ceiling is attributed to Michelangelo, and the Alter's cedar table is said to be the table from The Last Supper.

- Campo de Fiori - This is a truly Roman experience. Huge outdoor market by a gorgeous fountain. Stop by Forno to get a ciambella, my favorite Italian donut.

- Polvere di Tempo (in Trastevere): LINK, I really adored this little handmade shop in Trastavere, went each time I went to Rome. The owner is a former hippie who now makes all kinds of nautical and timekeeping things by hand. We got the most beautiful kaleidoscopes and compass there.

- San Carlo alle Quattro Fontane: LINK - This church has an amazing ceiling that was created by a bipolar architect (Borromini) in the 1600s. Its architecture is Baroque, but the ceiling was my absolute favorite. Other than St Peter’s, it was easily my favorite of the 20 or so churches we went into. There is a little crypt underneath that is worth a visit, as it’s just a small donation. Lovely church. Worth the uphill hike from the city center, especially if you're an architecture fan.

- Protestant Cemetery: LINK (near pyramid of Cestius). This was super-cool. John Keats, van Goethe, and Percy Bryce Shelley are all buried here - I was an English major, so this was super-cool for me. It’s also just really cool, as it’s incredibly crowded and unlike anything we have in the US. It was very unique, and old.

There are so many classic pieces of art that are just available for free or for a small admission price in the cathedrals and basilicas, as well as incredible architecture. I went into the Capuchin Crypts (not for everyone, but I LOVED it), and they just happened to have a Caravaggio there as part of the exhibit, totally unbilled. Wandering and eating gelato and pizza, finding fascinating places, is totally underrated!
 
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