June 12, 2014, 03:03 AM
First trip to Italy
I will be traveling to Italy with 4 other friends the first two weeks of September. This will be our first time to visit Italy and would love and appreciate any comments/words of wisdom! We will fly into Rome and take a train to Montepulciano where we will pick up a rental car. We are staying there for 5 nights then turning in our rental car and traveling to Almalfi Coast for 4 nights..then back to Rome for a couple of days before we fly home! Some questions in particular... What will weather be like; how to time shopping,etc with the siesta times; best modes of transportation; how to avoid lines at Vatican, etc.; is it expensive to ship purchased items back to States; best places to visit in these areas, best places to visit wineries and lowest costs for winery tours and tastings, and what to wear! I know I'm asking a lot, but any info will be greatly appreciated! Thanks in advance!
June 13, 2014, 05:45 PM
Originally Posted by Krisp
normally the time in the first two weeks of September is warm, but not sultry as that of July or August, I advise you to dress light for the day and bring something warmer to wear in the evening. The climate also depends on the place where you are: Rome is a great city and will probably be warmer and Amalfi is located on the sea, so it will be warmer than in Montepulciano but more ventilated place. Montepulciano is a lovely country, but if you want to go shopping I'm afraid you have to move. However, about 20 minutes drive from Montepulciano, Valdichiana Outlet Village is located, a large shopping mall located in Foiano della Chiana. In Montepulciano I recommend some wine tasting! However, as I have already said, the country is small and I recommend you visit other places during the 5 days of your stay. With the bus you can reach Siena and Arezzo, two beautiful Tuscan cities.
To move along Italy, I recommend you use the train. From Rome to Montepulciano you can take a train that will take you to Chiusi Chianciano Terme and from there take another train to Montepulciano (estimated time for the trip: about 2 hours). To return to Rome, you can use the same trains, of course! From Rome to Amalfi you have to take a train to the city of Salerno, and from there take another train that will take you to the station of Vietri sul Mare-Amalfi (the nearest station to Amalfi).
Unfortunately I can only give indications about Tuscany, and I do not know how to help you for information about Rome! But I hope to have helped!
If you have further questions, let us know!
Have a good trip!
June 18, 2014, 10:39 PM
First time in Italy
Hi, We just got back from our first trip to Italy where we spent about 2 weeks. First of all, whatever you decide to do and whatever places you choose to visit, you will love it. You just can't go wrong. We spent 3.5 days in Rome and purchased a 3-day Roma Pass which allowed us free use of all public transportation and also provided free access to several museums including the famous archeological sites which is a must! If you are an art lover, The Borghese Gallery is very lovely and is also free with this pass. Most importantly, with Roma Pass, you don't have to stay in long lines and can go through very quickly. We bought tickets to the Vatican Museums in advance as well and that saved us a tremendous amount of time. The St. Peter's Cathedral itself is free and the lines if there are any move pretty fast.
Montepulciano and the nearby Pienza are very pretty and well worth a visit. In general many churches, cathedrals, stores and restaurants are closed between 12 and 2, but there are always exceptions especially in the more touristy areas. We learned that if you like something wether it is food you want to try, souvenirs or anything else, buy them right away. Chances are the place will be closed or you won't come back. We did a lot of wine/food tasting in Montepulciano. It is not the same as visiting a winery, but was still a lot of fun. The owners of small shops introduce their products, tell you about them and you can have a taste of almost anything for free. You don't have to feel obligated to buy anything, but you just won't be able to resist.
If you have enough time in the area, I would definitely recommend spending a day in Sienna, we fell in love with it. We also spent a day driving through Chianti visiting Greve in Chianti, Montefioralle, ancient medieval castle (gorgeous), Panzano and Castellina. We did it at a very relaxed pace, again doing a lot of food/wine tasting along the way.
Wear layers and comfortable shoes! I'm sure at least a light sweater will come in handy at some point. Sorry, don't have any insight on where to shop - I hear Milan is the best for that and shipping everything back home is probably more expensive than just packing everything in your luggage. You will probably have more questions as you are doing your research, don't be shy to ask. This forum helped me a lot in my planning and I'd be more than happy to give back.
June 23, 2014, 03:57 PM
As the others have already recommended and as you've already planned, take train between Rome and Montepulciano, then have the car for the 5 days in Tuscany, then take train back down.
Shopping near Montepulciano - yep, head to the Valdichiana outlets but also enjoy exploring and buying from the small shops in the villages you visit.
From Montepulciano, you can see a lot of southern Tuscany and get a feel for all the beauty that is here: visit Montepulciano, Pienza, San Quirico d'Orcia and Montalcino in that immediate area, then head to Cortona and Arezzo for another day, to Siena for another full day and another day to San Gimignano, stopping along the way in Monteriggioni and Colle Val d'Elsa. Not sure if you'll have the time but a day in Florence would also be suggested, if you can make it (the A1 from Montepulciano is the fastest way to go).
Many shops close during lunch time from 1pm to 3pm on average, meal times are from 12-2pm and from 7-11pm. You'll be able to eat out of those time at the small panini shops and "bars" (coffee shops) that have snacks as well.
Do wine tastings where you see the opportunity in the towns - they are all wine regions so have wine shops that offer tastings... and as you drive you'll also see signs for wineries. Stop if you can ;-). If you prefer to try a "tour" for the wineries so you don't have to drive, take a look at the many offerings listed here: http://www.partner.viator.com/en/8357/
Wine tastings here can be pretty low cost, from 5-10 euros depending on how many wines. Then if you add tastings of other products or lunch then price goes up but in general, cost is low.
Since you'll be in the area, take a look at the tastings offered near Arezzo here as part of the "Giorni del Vino" here:
June 23, 2014, 04:00 PM
Ciao Mb, great to see you back on here and hear about your awesome trip - sounds like everything went pretty well!
Agree with the tip on comfortable shoes and a light sweater - in September, the days should be nice but evening start cooling down.
I'll add: consider traveling light when coming here - you'll do lots of shopping and it is easier to just pack it all in your suitcase rathen than mailing it back. Aside from wine... that might be better to have shipped to you, if you buy more than a bottle