January 13, 2012, 03:37 AM
Toscana + Cinque Terre: 5 or 6 days?
Lourdes, thank you for helping me to get on "new thread".
I've been reading some of the threads, I know there are a lot of people in a similar situation, but yet I would appreciate some hints for these specific details. That will be part of my Honeymoon in this year’s April, after Portugal and before Svizzera.
So, let’s go to details:
1. No intention of renting cars.
2. We arrive in Leonardo da Vinci airport in Roma at 13h25 of April 13th, only to get the train to Firenze. We chose to get there this early because we really want to arrive in Firenze in the same day. We’ve already been in Rome. And we’ll not be arriving from a long trip, so it’ll not be necessary to take a rest. In short, we have no intention of spending any night in Roma. I see there are different options for taking the train. Which one would you suggest?
3. In Toscana, we want to visit Firenze, Siena (maybe San Gimignano, I don’t know how much time it takes), Lucca and Pisa. In this website, I usually see people suggesting to stay some nights in Firenze and some nights in Siena. I feel more comfortable with the idea of staying all nights in Firenze, which seems to have more things to do at night. Does it sound as any bad idea, for any reason?
4. Now the hardest part: after the trip, we are taking the train to Zurich, so we can visit Svizzera, and we fly back to Brasil from Zurich in April 24th. So we still haven’t decided the best day to travel to Zurich, if that would be 18, 19 or 20. All we know is we should take the train in the morning, so we can have daylight all the time in this wonderful path trough the Alpes. And, again, what kind of train would you recommend?
5. Enough of these questions? Not yet… We are also thinking if we can include one day in Cinque Terre in the end of this trip. Will it be recovered from the flooding in April? Is one day really enough? Would it be a good idea to sleep in Liguria an take the train to Zurich from any of its cities (in spite of going back to Firenze)?
So, making a schedule with all this ideas, we would have something like:
13 – Roma to Firenze
14 – Firenze
15 – Firenze
16 – Firenze: day trip to Siena and San Gimignano (is it possible?)
17 – Firenze: day trip to Lucca and Pisa
18 – Firenze to Liguria (which town?): visit Cinque Terre
19 – Liguria to Zurich in the morning
Or, maybe, on 17th, should we leave Pisa and go direct to Luguria?
Or should we forget San Gimignano and spend more time in Siena?
Or even forget about Cinque Terre?
Thank you, very much
January 13, 2012, 02:30 PM
Congrats on your upcoming wedding and honeymoon! Lots of questions, so let me try to reply to each point at a time.
1. Car rental definitely depends on where you're going and what you'd like to do. Most of Italy can be visited without the need for one as the rail network is really extensive and connects most cities and towns.
2. From Rome airport, you can take the shuttle into Roma Termini which is the central train station in Rome. From there, I suggest one of the fast trains (Frecciarossa for example) to Florence. You generally don't need to buy tickets ahead of time, you can get the tickets at the ticket counter at the airport that way you don't need to get in line again at Termini.
3. Not at all, Florence is a very good city from which to base yourself and do day trips. Siena, Lucca and Pisa are all easy to reach by train or bus from Florence. Siena really merits a whole day but San Gimignano is also special. I'd recommend doing San Gimignano separately one morning, with the rest of your day spent back in Florence.
From Florence take bus to San Gimignano, return at leisure after lunch? spend the rest of the day in Florence
Next day take fast SITA bus from Florence to Siena, spend day there, return at leisure.
You can check the bus schedules here. Doing both San Gimignano and Siena on one day would not do justice to either, in addition to having to coordinate bus schedules which you can see from the pdf is not impossible but eats up a lot of time from which you can enjoy each place.
4 and 5. You could definitely include a day in Cinque Terre. I was just reading some updates on the Cinque Terre since we know it would be useful to share with all of our readers news on recovery efforts for the towns (just two) that were hardest hit. Monterosso's new town is back running, the old part of the town and Vernazza should be back up and running by Easter. The five towns will be easily accessible by train (the landslides that have blocked the hiking path that connects all of the towns will likely not be cleared yet by then). So I'd recommend you do this as you leave Florence so that you don't have to come back south. It also breaks your trip up to Switzerland.
You can stay in the Cinque Terre or in Levanto which is close by, as this will get you a little further north. All trains to Zurich will leave from Milan, so you'll have to get there and change trains to head to Zurich. Trains from Milan to Zurich take 3 hours and 41 minutes and run at 9:10am, 11:10am and 3:10pm. Any later and you arrive really late into Zurich so we don't recommend those. You can check "international" train schedules on Rail Europe's website.
In particular, I found these train schedules and two options you can consider:
Levanto to Genova - 8.02am, arrives at 9.08 in Genova
Genova to Milan - 9.19am, arrives 10.50 into Milan
Milan to Zurich - 11:10am, arrives 2.51pm into Zurich
Since there is about 20 minutes or less to change trains each time, there is always a chance you might miss a connection. Just know there is another train at 3:10pm, which arrives at 6:51pm into Zurich.
The other option for a far much more tranquil trip to Zurich is this... you stay in Monterosso, the next morning take the 10:55am IC train to Milan which arrives at 1:50pm, have a late lunch nearby and then take the 3:10pm to Zurich, which arrives at 6:51pm . To check train schedules in Italy, we suggest Trenitalia's website.
So your itinerary overall looks really good already, with the slight changes I've suggested it looks like this:
13 – Roma to Firenze
14 – Firenze
15 – Firenze: morning trip to San Gimignano, then spend rest of day in Florence
16 – Firenze: day trip to Siena
17 – Firenze: day trip to Lucca and Pisa - sleep in Lucca
18 – Lucca to Cinque Terre: stay in Monterosso or Levanto, which is just 5 minutes further north of Monterosso
19 – Liguria to Zurich in the morning - arrival by late afternoon/early evening
How does it all sound? Hope I've been helpful - it's fun to play around and imagine a vacation in your shoes Do let me know if you have any other questions, I'd be happy to help!
January 28, 2012, 03:13 AM
Re: Toscana + Cinque Terre: 5 or 6 days?
Wow, that's a lot of good hints!
There is no doubt about why every research on google send me directly to Discover Tuscany...
I've already started reserving hotels based on your proposed schedule.
Now, there's one more thing about the last part of the trip. I have a friend from Italy that told me about Lerici as another good place for staying after the day we visit Cinque Terre. Would you recommend it? More than Levanto?
Anyway, it seems your suggestion about Monterosso continues to be the best one, because of the direct train to Milano. Which takes us to the other question: if we want to get to Zurich earlier, is there any other option, such as a 6 AM train from Monterosso?
Thank you, again
January 28, 2012, 12:36 PM
Lerici and getting to Milan earlier....
You're very welcome! Like I was saying, I enjoy replying and planning hypothethical trips that I'm not taking... and I hope you come back to our Forum after your trip and tell us how everything goes!! Sharing trip reports are very useful to everyone else planning something similar... or completely different!
Lerici is also really pretty, I'd also recommend it generally but not this time as it is south of La Spezia so it would mean to head back south for the night and then back north for the trip up to Milano. But it definitely is a possibility since you can then use La Spezia as your departure station for the trip up to Milan.
I checked the Trenitalia site I mentioned above and see there are other earlier trains from Monterosso to Milano in the morning.
5.19 (arrives 8.20, no train change)
6.55 (arrives 9.55, no train change)
7.36 (arrives 10.50, two train changes)
The first two are obviously the better ones, they'll get you to Milan to take the 11.10 train without wasting too much time along the way changing trains.
Hope you're enjoying the planning too - it is an important part of your trip as well!