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Thread: Trip to Italy in early November

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    3

    Default Trip to Italy in early November

    I was thrilled to discover this website and find it a wealth of information. My daughter and I are visiting my son who is studying in Paderno del Grappa for the semester. We are arriving in Venice on November 9th and depart from Venice on November 16. Our original plan was to spend our first night in Paderno, take the train from Bassano del Grappa on the morning of November 10 to Verona, spend the day and night and head down to Barga (we had planned to use reward points for a three night stay ay the Renaissance Tuscany). We had planned to use this location as a base to travel to Florence and possibly to Siena and Cortona. After a bit of research, I discovered that perhaps Barga might prove to be a difficult location from which to travel - am I correct about this? Some travelers reviewing the resort commented on the difficulty and expense when traveling to other cities in Tuscany. We have a non-refundable hotel booked in Venice for November 14-16. Otherwise we can change the hotels we had already booked. Would it be more time efficient and cost effective to skip Verona and take the train to Florence or Bologna or Arezzo (these cities have Marriott properties for which we could use reward points) and use it as a base for traveling? Or should we travel to Barga and spend one day seeing Lucca and then change hotels for the other two nights?

    I apologize for the length of this post. Bottom line -- we have so little time and would like to make the most of our trip to Tuscany. We are open to any suggestions for travel tips for routing our hotel stays. Thanks much!!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Florence, Italy
    Posts
    2,835

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    Ciao and welcome to the forum!

    Yes, I have to agree that Barga is a bit out of the way for visiting central areas in Tuscany. While distance-wise it might not seem that way, Barga is located in the Garfagnana valley to the side of the Apuan Alps and is great for visiting that area. Lots of small country roads, narrow and winding. We've actually been to that hotel and liked it, but we were exploring the valley and doing day hikes into the mountain and it was fine for that. But if I remember correctly, it was over a 2 hour car ride from there back to Florence so it wouldn't be a good base for going back to every night, too much time in the car.... and longer by train since you'd first have to head down to Lucca and then on to wherever else you were planning on going.

    How were you planning to get to Barga and moving about, solely by train? If so, I'd say skip staying there and stay in Florence - you can definitely do a day trip to Lucca by train from Florence on train if you really want to see it. Use Florence as your base to go down to Siena as well as Cortona (although you could do a night in Arezzo as well because Arezzo is also a delightfully charming town to explore). I wouldn't skip Verona, since it also a beautiful town, I'd just head down from Verona to Florence - have you been to Florence before? If you have, you could do the day trip to Lucca on one day but if not, spend it in Florence! Then do Siena on another (take the SITA bus) and Cortona and Arezzo on the last (train). Then back to Venice!
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  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    3

    Default Trip to Italy in early November -part 2

    Lourdes,

    Thank you so much for your recommendations. Unfortunately, we were unable to change our hotel reservations. We are using Marriott Rewards for three nights in the middle of our trip (to save on our overall trip expenses) and I discovered that the Marriott property in Florence was not available. Thus, if we have to stay in Barga for those three nights, what recommendations do you have for travel? We had planned to take the train from Verona to Barga. Or do you recommend renting a car? Is it possible to use the train for sightseeing once we are in Barga? The Marriott property in Arezzo is available during those three days - would you recommend using Arezzo as a base from which to travel? Also I am wondering about taking the train back to Venice on November 14. Would that be possible from Arezzo? So many questions, I apologize!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    Florence, Italy
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    2,835

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    There's no problem at all in answering your questions, that's what I hang around here for ;-).

    If you can, I'd suggest staying in Arezzo over Barga if you want to move around by train.

    First, the train station doesn't really arrive into Barga, but about 3km down.
    Second, the hotel isn't in Barga either, but 5.5km from the train station. So if you want to go to that resort, you NEED to rent a car, both to get to it and then to move around from there. I am sure there are likely shuttles from the resort to the station but it would just make outings more complicated needing to coordinate various time schedules.

    If you end up in Barga with no car, then I'd suggest staying in the area for day trips, maybe going to Lucca and Pisa the furthest, but just staying locally in Garfagnana and see the medieval towns that are placed in the area. There are beautiful towns so I wouldn't recommend going far away and not seeing these.

    Arezzo, on the other hand, is well connected by train to all of the major towns in Tuscany. Even if it is a little further south than Florence, from there you can go visit Cortona, Siena, Florence. You shouldn't have problems getting to Venice either, you'll just need to change trains in Florence once you're heading back north.

    When we stayed in Arezzo a couple years ago, we stayed at this hotel just a few blocks from the station and really liked it. While I'm not sure which is the Marriott property, if you map it and it is anywhere close you'll be fine to reach the train station by foot and from there head out on your adventures.
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  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    3

    Default Trip to Italy in early November

    Quote Originally Posted by Lourdes View Post
    There's no problem at all in answering your questions, that's what I hang around here for ;-).

    If you can, I'd suggest staying in Arezzo over Barga if you want to move around by train.

    First, the train station doesn't really arrive into Barga, but about 3km down.
    Second, the hotel isn't in Barga either, but 5.5km from the train station. So if you want to go to that resort, you NEED to rent a car, both to get to it and then to move around from there. I am sure there are likely shuttles from the resort to the station but it would just make outings more complicated needing to coordinate various time schedules.

    If you end up in Barga with no car, then I'd suggest staying in the area for day trips, maybe going to Lucca and Pisa the furthest, but just staying locally in Garfagnana and see the medieval towns that are placed in the area. There are beautiful towns so I wouldn't recommend going far away and not seeing these.

    Arezzo, on the other hand, is well connected by train to all of the major towns in Tuscany. Even if it is a little further south than Florence, from there you can go visit Cortona, Siena, Florence. You shouldn't have problems getting to Venice either, you'll just need to change trains in Florence once you're heading back north.

    When we stayed in Arezzo a couple years ago, we stayed at this hotel just a few blocks from the station and really liked it. While I'm not sure which is the Marriott property, if you map it and it is anywhere close you'll be fine to reach the train station by foot and from there head out on your adventures.
    Lourdes,

    Thank you for taking the time to once again help me with my trip. We are abiding your advice and taking the train from Verona down to Arezzo and using it as a base for our sightseeing (rather than Barga) for three days before moving on to Venice. I have one last question (I hope -- since we taking the train throughout our stay, should we consider a three day rail pass? I met with a travel agent yesterday who quoted me $882 for a three day eurail pass for myself and my two children. He described the following:

    Nov 9: Venice to Baddano del Grappa - use an open ticket for a regional train
    Nov 10: Bassano to Verona (change trains in Padova) - begin using 3 day eurorail pass for open seating
    Nov 11: Verona to Florence - use rail pass for 1st class reservations
    Nov 11: Florence to Arezzo - use rail pass for open seating (assume 2nd class only available on regional train?)
    Nov 14: Arezzo to Florence - use rail pass for open seating
    Nov 14: Florence to Venice - use rail pass for 1st class reservations

    I also checked Rick Steve's website & it was suggested that we could take advantage of a youth discount for my son (he is 24) and a senior discount (I am 61) and the quote was $631. My son thinks it would be cheaper to book directly with trenitalia.com and to not get a eurail pass at all. Any suggestions? Should we book our reservations a week ahead to save on the fares?

    Any guidance relative to whether we should purchase a eurail pass here in the states from a travel agency or have my son book our fares directly on the trenitalia site would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks much for your wonderful expertise!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Florence, Italy
    Posts
    2,835

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    how old is your other son? when you travel together as a family of 3, you qualify for the family discounts so it is possible that by buying tickets for each leg of the trip separately directly from trenitalia you might end up spending less.

    there is also the new italo trains for fast service between florence and venice... and those can be cheaper than trenitalia on certain dates.

    so the only way to know for sure is to plug in dates into both sites and see what comes up as cost.... then the only ones i'd suggest buying ahead of time as the non-regional, faster trains.

    http://www.trenitalia.com/
    http://www.italotreno.it/en/
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