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Idan
Tel Aviv

Idan from Tel Aviv asked

Italy - 7 day Itinerary in November

Hi,

We have 6 full days (7 nights) in Italy in mid November and we're trying to plan our itinerary. (me and my gf, beginning of our 30).

We're landing and flying out of Rome.

Seeing photos and reading reviews we definitely want to spend a day or 2 in Cinque Terre.

We also would like to spend a few nights in the Tuscany area (Florence or just some small towns), and 2 nights in Rome.

Few questions: 

1. Would it be wiser to rent a car or do it by buses/train (we're pretty tight on schedule so prefer not to waste time on travel, unless night buses/trains are possible, which is great).

Even though if parking is hard to find or expensive that influences as well.

2. Weather - would November be a good time for Cinque Terre and the Tuscany area ?

3. Can you recommend an Itinerary ? We prefer going to places where we can do hikes, eat good food, experience nature/scenery and so. We're less interested in hardcode history. Driving/walking around Tuscany villages/Cinque Terre sounds like a lot of fun compared to visiting a Church/Museum, just to give a an idea of what we're looking for.

Thanks!

Italy   Rome (Italy)   Florence (Italy)

5 Answers
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answered first by
Mary from Leicester

1. Would it be wiser to rent a car or do it by buses/train 

Definitely take the train, imo. In most cases train will actually be faster than driving (Italy has excellent high-speed trains, with very reasonable fares) and, more importantly, trains go to the centre of settlements. In a huge number of cases, that's not possible with a car.

The vast majority of Italian cities, towns and many villages have restricted traffic zones (ZTLs) in their historical centres. Only those with a permit can drive inside a ZTL (and permits are not available for visitors). Many ZTLs are monitored by CCTV and fines are automatic for all of them, taken from your card via the car rental company (with added  admin charges).

Even if you manage to avoid the ZTLs, parking is difficult and expensive in Rome,Florence and many Italian towns. It is pretty much impossible in the Cinque Terre villages, where all parking is for residents only.

There are regular trains between all the CT villages, by the way.

Train times, details and fares in English on the official Italian railway website:

http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en

Use 'Roma' for Rome and 'Firenze' for Florence.

Trenitalia run high-speed trains and another company, Italo, also run high-speed trains on the same routes. Times and fares are much the same.

http://www.italotreno.it/en

Booking high-speed trains tickets in advance online through either website can offer excellent discount fares, though it does tie you to a specific date and departure time. You don't need to book other trains in advance online. Ticket machines are easy to use and have English language options.

If you want to explore smaller places in Tuscany which don't have good bus or train links (most do) you could perhaps hire a car in Florence for a couple of days. 

2. would November be a good time for Cinque Terre and the Tuscany area?

It's certainly not a bad time. The main advantage is far fewer visitors (all the places you mention are visitor-popular year-round). The main disadvantages are possible wet & chilly weather (easily overcome if you pack appropriate clothing) and reduced daylight hours.

You may find a few restaurants & sites/sights are closed in the CT and smaller Tuscan towns but that certainly won't be an issue in Florence or Rome.

Note that if you want to walk the CT National Park you need to buy a permit. Paths may be closed if the weather is poor, or for winter maintenance. Check on the official park site:

http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/Esentieri-outdoor.php

3. Can you recommend an Itinerary ?

You are trying to pack a lot into a very small space of time. How you choose to spend that time is really up to you, though I suspect that, if you haven't visited before, you will be amazed by both Rome and Florence (neither are just churches and museums! :-/) ...so don't be tempted to cut out at least one full day exploring both places.

To be honest, if it were me visiting in November I'd cut out the CT altogether, focusing on Rome, Florence and Tuscany. You'll spend time getting to the CT and, frankly, the chances of you doing much hiking are pretty slim. Better, imo, to save it for another visit in another month with better weather & more daylight (October, April, May) and spend a decent amount of time there. 


Comments (6)

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Idan
Amazing answer! thank you very much!
 

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Mary
You're welcome. :-)
 

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Idan
Since you obviously know a lot, I thought maybe you can comment if going to Rome for 2 nights, then Florence 2 nights, a day trip to Lucca/Pisa, and taking a car back from Florence to Rome through val-dorcia makes sense ? thanks again!
 

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Mary
Sorry for the delay in replying....I've only just seen your comment. I have visited Italy many times and do indeed know a fair bit. Your plan is ok though you are trying to fit in far too much in far too little time. You really don't need a car for any of it except the Val d'Orcia section. A car will be much, much more of a hassle than a help in Rome, Florence, Lucca and Pisa (all easily accessible by train, all safely walkable and with good public transport) and you're very likely to spend more time and money driving (congestion, avoiding ZTLs) and finding and paying for parking than if you take the train. If you're really, really desperate to see Val d'Orcia why not just hire a car for one day when you're in Florence?
 

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Idan
Thanks Mary! Sorry if I wasn't clear, my idea was exactly that. Taking trains between places, besides getting a car on my way back from Florence to Rome and driving through Val d'Orcia (maybe even spending a night along the way). Do you have any suggestions for a route around Val d'Orcia that would be nice ? I really do want to drive through Tuscany at least for a day (if weather permits). If you have a better suggestion than Val d'Orcia I would love to hear. Thanks again!
 

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Mary
I can't help with the actual route, sorry. I don't drive in Italy because the train and bus network is so very good and the parking/ZTLs cause difficulty. If you hire a car from Florence I suggest you return it to Florence as well because a) not all companies allow one-way hire and b) if they do you'll pay a (possibly very substantial) premium. Val d'Orcia is to the south of Florence so a circular trip + a fast evening train is very possible. Pienza is definitely worth a visit...for lunch, perhaps? :-)
 
 
 

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answered by
Rachel from New York City

We've taken their trains--Europe's trains run circles around America's. They are cheaper and more efficient than Amtrak could ever be. Yes with a car you do all your own schedule but they have traffic and if you only drive automatic, you may get stuck with an inferior car--they are partial to stick shift in Europe. Rome is a good middle ground. do at least 3 days there, as there is much to see. And book things in advance--tickets, museums, transportation, as much as you can. You will save loads of time and get less headaches. 


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Roger
I liked train service on South Island New Zealand. also Washington DC train system is very good. · (1 like)
 
 
 

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answered by
Sedef

Hi Idan,

I would simply follow Mary Smith's suggestions. She is definitely very knowledgeable about the area. I would agree that you should skip CT for this trip but in order to get a feel of the amazing small towns of Italy I can suggest Lucca. You can easily make it in a half day trip from Province of Florence Same goes for SienaSan Gimignano.

My suggestion would be to stay in Rome min 2 nights (I would suggest Trastevere area for lodging)  then take the train to Florence stay 2 nights there and then take a car and drive around these smaller towns on your way down to Roma. 

Having a car is great for going around smaller towns of Tuscany but its a nightmare for Roma and Florence. 

This way you will be visiting  Roma and Florence without having to worry driving and parking. 


Hope you have a great trip,

Sedef 


Comments (2)

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Idan
Thanks. Taking a car from Florence back to Rome is a great suggestion! Which places would you say are a must ? Should we do Lucca/Siena/San Gimignano as a day trip from Florence with a bus, or combine them all on our way from Florence to Rome.
 

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Sedef
Hi Idan, You could easily do Lucca and or Pisa as a day trip preferably by train from Florence but I would suggest you take a car and plan to spend 2 days going down from Firenze to Roma. Then you can play it by the ear depending on the weather and howyou feel about the places you visit. There are so many other nice spots on the way. Montepulciano, Montalcino are great wine spots for example. Enjoy
 
 
 

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answered by
Michael from San Francisco
November will be colder/rainier, but with a lot less tourists - but hiking may be hard/non existent in the Villa Cinque Terre because of that (a different time of year would be better - spring or fall - you can easily take a train from Florence to La Spezia, then a train to any of the Cinque Terre - there is great hiking between towns also, during appropriate weather months). Because of your time constraints, I agree that spending most of your time in Florence/Tuscany would be wise (SienaLuccaChiantiMontepulciano, Montalcino etc.), then either fly or take the train to Rome(where weather should be warmer) - in fact, flying takes less time and can be cheaper than the train (several low-cost airlines, plus Alitalia).

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answered by
Pat from Cambria

Yes, forget the car and take the train. If you book ahead you can get some great prices. I love Florence but because of your limited time, I suggest Rome to Siena or Lucca then on to walk the Cinque Terre. Not sure November will be the time to hike there, it may be a little wet and cold by then. But it might be worth it because of the fewer tourists, which is a big distraction in the warmer months. 


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