AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE! Well, as much as you can. I recommend a minimum of 10 FULL days of travel in Italy. Remember, those in North America lose a day flying to Europe so I always count 2 days there and 1 day back as travel days. I never count these as vacation days. I will explain why at least 10 days are needed.
1. Travel effort and expense. As I mentioned above, an Italian vacation involves a THREE day travel commitment. Spending 50% of your time getting from here to there is not conductive to a memorable or relaxing vacation. Taking a full two weeks drops that percentage to 21%. Let’s face it, airfare to Europe is not cheap no matter what day of the week or what time of year. Why would you spend a major portion of your vacation expense flying to Italy without spending a good amount of time in Italy. See my tips on airfare HERE.
2. Transportation time within Italy. On a map, Italy looks very manageable with simple connections and distances between the major cities. What a map doesn’t tell you is when and where the trains or taxis will strike, how many roundabouts you will take before heading in the right direction, which little old lady will hold the attention of the only open ticket booth and thus the entire line. Or which petrol stations will be on an extended lunch break, where a local market will have an entire street blocked off, or which 1/3 of the Florence roads will be under construction. Travel from Point A to Point B from almost anywhere in Italy is an all day deal. Then there is the check in process, assuming you found your little gem on the first try. There are passports to check, forms to sign, cheeks to kiss, and bags to lug. This is one of the major reasons I recommend a minimum of 2 nights at any one location. Ideally a minimum of 2 full days and 3 nights.
3. La Dolce Vita. The sweet life. Italy is meant to be savored. Cherished. Seduced. You can’t do that on a one week itinerary. The more time spent, the more you can slow down to see and feel Italy. The essence of Italy, not the checklists will be the key to falling in love here. Why would you want to rush that?
I tell everyone, you can’t see and do it all on the first trip. Tell yourself you will be back.
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Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel
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