Agent Name: Lisbet MacKay
Date: September 2004
Trip Location: Italy
Places Visited: Pisa, Cinque Terre, Rome, Umbria and Tuscany, Venice.
Overall Impression: Our trip was a nice mix of city and rural, driving on your own and going by train. Our flight from London landed in Pisa where, after a quick look at the leaning tower, we headed north by train to Cinque Terre, the 5 small villages that cling to the mountains at the edge of the ocean. This is a wonderful place to relax for a few days after the long trip from Canada. From Monterosso we went by train to Rome to explore the Eternal City for the next few days and soak in the history of the city before setting off on our driving trip through Umbria and Tuscany. We drove through the beautiful countryside, stayed in interesting small hotels in the hilltop villages for which the region is so well known, sampled the local cuisine and wine and after a week ended up in the beautiful city of Florence. From Florence we took the train to Venice where we stayed right on the Grand Canal while we explored this remarkable city.
Best Tour: Hiking in Cinque Terre. This 18 kilometer trail follows the sheer rocky coastline with terraced hills sloping steeply down to the sea. You hike from one village to the other, 5 in all, some of the hikes are short and easy, others more strenuous. The villages are absolutely picturesque, and we took the opportunity of stopping for refreshments in each of them with a grand late lunch at the end before taking one of the little ferry boats back to Monterosso.
Most Memorable: Stepping out of the train station in Venice and there, right outside, are the canals and the gondolas. It was like stepping into a picture postcard.
Travel Tips: If you go by train you are better off bringing 2 smaller suitcases rather than one large and undoubtedly heavy one. My husband suggested another solution, bringing less clothes! Suitcases with wheels also come in handy, as some of the platforms are very long. We were sorry not to have taken the Italian lessons that we had talked about. Though we didn’t have any problems being understood, I always feel you have a nicer experience when you can speak a bit of the local language.
Best Time to Travel: Anytime from May to October but September is probably the best time.
Things to Buy: Textiles and pottery in Tuscany, glassware in Venice are nice souvenirs to bring home. My husband loved the shirts he bought, they were no cheaper than a good shirt in Canada but he found the quality and the fit much better