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Old 06-06-2008, 12:02 PM   #16
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I second achtung girl and anitram. Try to find a place to stay for 2-3 nights in Cinqueterre. Riomaggiore, the fifth of the five towns (on the way to La Spezia) is the best option imo.

Very romantic, tourists on the beach playing guitar and having a drink in the night, you will love it.
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Old 06-06-2008, 03:17 PM   #17
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I also liked it a lot travelling with train from genova to nice in france! That's so awesome cause the tracks are so close to the sea, and sometimes it is a bit scary cause there are lots of curves and you feel like you'll drive directly in the sea hahaa...but the beautiful view outweighs!!
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Old 06-06-2008, 07:13 PM   #18
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I second achtung girl and anitram. Try to find a place to stay for 2-3 nights in Cinqueterre. Riomaggiore, the fifth of the five towns (on the way to La Spezia) is the best option imo.

Very romantic, tourists on the beach playing guitar and having a drink in the night, you will love it.
I stayed in Riomaggiore and it was just fantastic. Wonderful smell in the air in the summer, some nice places to eat, good local cooking. And the hike between towns is a must, at least once in your life.
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Old 06-06-2008, 09:02 PM   #19
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This was my whole group.



This must be the most impressive thing I've seen

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Old 06-07-2008, 10:57 AM   #20
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Make sure to check about construction/ restoration going on.
I'll second that--at any given time numerous museums, churches etc. are closed for restoration or surrounded by scaffolding, so make sure your guidebooks are current, or check the websites.


As far as sites, and other than what's already been mentioned...

Rome -- Unless you opt to do some side trips like others have described, definitely plan on spending the most time here; there's a seemingly endless potential list of things to see. The Capitoline Museums and Vatican Museums are both well worth a visit. The church of San Clemente is a really wonderful example of the 'multilayered' quality of Rome; it's a 12th-century church over a 4th-century church over a 2nd-century Mithraic temple over an underground river you can still hear flowing. The Capuchin Monastery is an amazing crypt completely lined and decorated with human skulls and bones. I would not recommend the Domus Aurea; it had too little left to see to be worth the money, IMO.

Florence -- The Pitti Palace is another great art museum, with gorgeous gardens too. The church of Santa Croce contains the tombs of a whole slew of famous Italians...Michelangelo, Galileo, Machiavelli, Rossini etc. With some of the museums that tend to get horribly overcrowded (as I recall, both the Uffizi and Accademia are in this category) it can be well worth it to buy tickets in advance online, if you know which days you'll be there.

Venice -- The Doge's Palace Museum, and if you enjoy modern art, the (Peggy) Guggenheim Museum too. If you've always dreamed of a Venetian gondola ride then it's probably well-worth the hefty pricetag, but if all you really want is the views of the city from the Grand Canal, just take the regular ferry; you'll get the same vistas and photo ops.

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Wait, you're an art freak and you didn't want to be in Florence? Are the galleries less impressive there than I imagine them to be?

Surely it's just cool being in Florence, what with the history and all.
As far as the art goes (and the architecture, and the views from the river) I completely agree. It is true, though, that especially if you're there at the height of tourist season, the streets can feel unpleasantly thronged and the air choked with exhaust fumes...Florence just doesn't have Rome's capacity to absorb immense crowds, and unlike Venice cars are allowed pretty much everywhere. It's a small price to pay for what there is to see there, though.
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Old 06-07-2008, 04:43 PM   #21
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thanks a lot guys & gals!

We're thinking of hitting a beach or two when we're there as well. Anyone got any decent stories to tell in regards to the beach scene?

We'll probably spend a good deal of time in Rome, but Venice is #2 on the list, then we may just wing it. Florence, or just country side.

Can't wait. 25 more days! Then I can add Italy to my check list (Ireland, Holland, Belguim)
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:09 PM   #22
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If you want a nice beach, go down to the Amalfi coast. It's a few hours south of Rome and Positano is beautiful. Capri is also nice to see However, it's really REALLY packed down there when you are going. It's kind of the worst of European beaches for me - like 3 inches between towels or beach chairs as everyone crowds in. This is why most Italians get into their cars in August and flood Croatia in massive numbers.

Italy is not really known for fantastic beaches, mostly because the coastline isn't really great for that, much to the surprise of North Americans. But the Amalfi coast is probably the best for that sort of thing.
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:22 PM   #23
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Florence wasn't as exciting as Rome when I went - maybe I overlooked the good sights. Milan was so-so.

I've always wanted to visit scenic Lake Como in the north - scenes from Star Wars 2 and Casino Royale were filmed there, and some American movie stars own property there.
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Old 06-07-2008, 05:53 PM   #24
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Lake Como is great, and you can easily do daytrips to Venice, Milan or Verona from there.
I would say that especially during the summer season almost more Germans are in that area than Italians.

In Venice we visited a wonderful cafe with great coffees, and since it wasn't directly by the tourist main routes it was a lot cheaper. But sadly I can't remember the name.
Just make sure to grab something to eat and drink off of those main routes, and check the menu for the exact price. Often you will pay extra for the dishes and some percentage for the waiter. This you won't have to pay outside the tourist areas, or at least not that much.
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Old 06-08-2008, 11:35 PM   #25
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Wait, you're an art freak and you didn't want to be in Florence? Are the galleries less impressive there than I imagine them to be?

Surely it's just cool being in Florence, what with the history and all.
Most Florentine arts are in churches, and I get sick of tombs and murals quickly. There are crazy strict viewing times (I missed Mosaccio's murals on the south bank because I had to trek up northside to try to wait in line for the Accademia) The galleries are filled with people with 3 hour waiting lines. No thank you. I love Boticelli, but if I can only see it through bullet proof glass behind 2 rows of people taking pictures and talking loudly in my face, then I don't want to see it. I'm post-modern enough to be content with a picture of it.

The two Titians in the Frari chapel in Venice is the best art experience I had in all of Europe. Very few people know they are there, so it's quiet and peaceful and you can see them very appreciatively with little intrusion.
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