Help me plan a trip to Italy!
March 28, 2006 10:38 AM   Subscribe

I need an affordable, independent travel agency for a trip to Italy OR a plan for 1.5-2 weeks in Italy.

I don't have the energy to plan a trip to Italy with my boyfriend. We want to go in the beginning of June for a week and a half or so. We like history, outdoorsy stuff, food, and going at our own pace (usually that pace is fast). I'd also like to not break the bank.

We'd like to see as much variety as possible. Cities and countryside in a mix.

I know that I could spend hours online figuring out the perfect trip, but for my own sanity I want to explore a pre-arranged trip.

We don't want guides or tour buses, rather having an agency or individual book our hotels for us and possibly make dining recommendations. Any recommendations of a company that cam do this?

Or, heck, any MeFites willing to plan this trip for me? I'll do the same for you in either London or Vermont!
posted by k8t to Travel & Transportation around Italy (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Trailfinders probably can work out an intinerary for you.

I only ever used them once, but the guy was helpful with suggestions etc.
posted by selton at 10:49 AM on March 28, 2006

I'll second Trailfinders.
posted by Dr.Pill at 11:10 AM on March 28, 2006

Try Tuscany! From London, fly nice and cheaply with Ryanair to Pisa. Stay in the Hotel Verdi, see the Tower, obviously, eat good food, drink in the many great bars soak up some history. Move on to the cultural feast of Florence but stay in Fiesole. From here, travel down through the Chianti Region, stopping off in small villages and sampling wines and food. There are lots of great walking to be had here too. Heading south you'll arrive in the beautiful city of Siena. From here, finally head for the medieval hilltown of San Gimignano before heading by train back to Pisa and home...

The links should lead to accomodation suggestions etc, and you can spend a couple of days in each place quite easily. The train and coach services are great and it's pretty hard to go wrong with the eating and drinking. Just pick some hotels you like the look of and ask the locals where to go.
posted by brautigan at 12:39 PM on March 28, 2006

The walking link should be this, oops!
posted by brautigan at 12:43 PM on March 28, 2006

Gah. I just lost a huge post. Suffice it to say that my boyfriend and I did exactly the same thing in 2003: two week trip through Italy. We didn't bother planning anything ahead of time though. This worked out fine for travel. The trains in Italy are great and we didn't even get a Travel Pass; we decided we preferred the freedom of buying individual tickets. It wasn't so great for hotels. We stumbled across a few gems, but we also had a few nights in places I wouldn't have selected if we'd had another option.

(Get ready for the fact that a trip like this tends to bring out relationship issues you didn't know you had. For me, I discovered that while I thought of myself as a "fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants" kinda girl, I'm really *not*. I found the process of finding places to stay really, really stressful. This in turn made me resent my boyfriend, because he didn't really have any problem with it. Then there's the issue of asking for directions... and picking restaurants for dinner... and generally all the problems of two socially-retarded people trying to converse in a language they don't speak. If I had to do it again, I'd trade some of the convenience and independence for the security of booking rooms ahead of time.)

If you want to see our trip, it's all documented here. We went to Venice, Milan, the Cinque Terra (highly recommended), Florence, Pisa, Lucca, Assisi, Rome, Naples, Herculaneum, Sorrento, and Capri. We saw a lot, but I have to say that my favorite day of all was the last one, where we just chilled on a beach in Sorrento the whole time. Don't forget to book in "down time"!
posted by web-goddess at 12:49 PM on March 28, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks brautigan and web-goddess for the info. And thanks for the Trailfinders info as well!
posted by k8t at 1:18 PM on March 28, 2006

You haven't mentioned your price range for the planning services - You might try contacting James Zurer at If you poke around that site, you may even find pictures of his two Mefite sons...
posted by mzurer at 1:28 PM on March 28, 2006

Mentioned many times in other threads, Rick Steves books are good for this sort of thing. Hotels, itineraries if you plan on booking yourself. He's got some good breakdowns based on available time and hotels where the clerks are likely to speak the english. Even if you don't use him for booking, some of the information contained therein is super helpful (I credit him with both being able to call my Florence connection and being able to get from MXP to Florence via a tangle of rail).
posted by Ogre Lawless at 4:58 PM on March 28, 2006

The wife and I re-visited Italy last year after a gap of over 10 years. This time, there was so much information available on line that we spent hours and hours and hours researching, reading, taking notes, printing maps, designing itineraries, plotting routes, taking advice from Rick Steves and Lonely Planet...

In the end, although laden with a very full notebook, we just followed our noses: "Four o’clock? Hey, this looks like a cool place!" Tourist information centers always came up trumps with accommodation, we never had a bad meal, everybody was friendly.

Looking back, the best experiences we had were unplanned, unforeseen and unlikely to be mentioned in any guidebook.

In short, you cannot have a bad time in Italy, no matter what you do or don't do!

Sure, it's grand to see the Colloseum, or the David, or Vesuvius, or the Last Supper, but there is so much in everyday Italy that is enthralling, interesting, inspiring and just plain fun.
posted by TiredStarling at 12:45 AM on March 29, 2006

Of course, I didn't address your question, other than to say, obliquely, don't worry about pre-arranging or planning anything. Just go.
posted by TiredStarling at 12:53 AM on March 29, 2006

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