Sunday, August 21, 2011

Trip Planning & Itinerary - Italy & France 2011

The seeds of this trip were planted last year when Shari decided she wanted to go Ravenna and take a Mosaic class.
(Ravenna has great Byzantine mosaics, I'm really looking forward to seeing them.) Mom wanted to go along and see a bit of Italy. So I was going to join them for a week. Then we started talking about it and more & more people wanted to go. We haven't been to Italy since our trip in 2006, so I guess we were due :-).

Anyway, the trip grew from 1 week in Ravenna to a 3 week tour of Italy in Southern France.
Here is our planned itinerary:

Tue: Mom, me, Penny & Virg are flying out of Anchorage together on Tuesday afternoon. We are flying Condor from Anchorage into Frankfurt, then Lufthansa from Frankfurt into Florence. 13.5 hours total trip time, as long as the flights are on time :-). It will actually be Wed evening local time when we get to Florence. The over the North Pole trip is great because it's a lot shorter then going to Seattle or the East Coast first.
Mary & Sachiko are also flying out on the 30th, they'll both get into Florence on the 31st, a few hours before we do.

Wed: The 6 of us have 4 nights in Florence. We rented a 3 bedroom apartment through VRBO. It's located close to the Arno River, only a few blocks from the Pitti Palace & Boboli Gardens.

Thurs - Penny & Sachiko are going hiking on the Cinque Terre. The rest of us are going to do some sightseeing in Florence.

Fri - Luca with Hills & Roads is going to pick us up at 9:30 am and take us out into the country for a day of sightseeing in Tuscany. We'll get a winery tour, see a couple of old villages and have lunch at a working farm and tour their olive mill. We used Luca's travel company the last time we were in Italy. Penny, Virg & I had a driver for 2 days and toured Tuscany between Florence & Siena. We really had a great time.

Sat - More sightseeing and a chance to do some shopping. I'm planning to spend most of the afternoon at the Pitti Place & Boboli Gardens.

Sun - we're taking the regional train from Florence to Faenza. This is a little train that goes up through a national park, stopping a little towns along the way. It's about 2.5 hour trip, and should be very scenic. Then we'll spend a couple of hours in Faenza and continue on to Ravenna. There we'll meet up with Shari & Val, who are going to be in class M-F. And Linda & Lowry are flying from London into Bologna and will take the train to Ravenna on Sunday. We should all be able to meet for cocktails & dinner.

Mon - sightseeing in Ravenna

Tue - we'll take the train to Venice, probably late morning. Shari & Val will stay in Ravenna, they'll be in class.

Wed - we have a guided tour set up to see the highlights of Venice. Caterina will meet us at our hotel at 9:30 am. We'll have a 3 hour walking tour, starting at the Rialto market, taking in some of the back streets, and ending up at St. Marks. We can then tour St Marks at our leisure and find a nice place for lunch.

Thur - Day trip to Murano to see the glass shops.

Fri - We have nothing in particular planned. I'm sure there will a lot of shopping & sitting in cafes. Sachiko has to leave for home on Friday, so our party will drop by 1.

Sat - A very early morning. Our Easy Jet flight from the Marco Polo Airport to Lyon France departs at 7:55 am. We'll take a water taxi to the airport which should be fun. Once we get to Lyon we'll take the high speed train to Avignon. That's about 1.5 hour trip. In Avignon we pick up 2 rental cars. We've rented 2 houses that share a courtyard & garden in the town of Venasque. I'm guessing it will be 4 or 5 pm by the time we get checked in. Then it will be time to find a nice dinner and relax after a full day of traveling.;

Sun - I really want to go to the Sunday Market at L'Isle sur la Sorge. This means getting up pretty early and trying to be on the road about 8am. I'm not sure if everyone will go, but it should be a fun morning. We can pick up some fresh food to bring home, and have lunch in a café by the river.

Mon - no plans yet, I'm sure sightseeing will be involved,

Tue - Shari & Val arrive in Avignon Tue night. Once they're done with class in Ravenna they're going to Venice for a few days. They are going to take the train from Venice to Avignon, which is about an 18 hour trip. Lots of great scenery to see along the way though.

Wed - Sat - Lots of sightseeing and few evenings sitting in the garden telling stories & drinking wine. We have 2 cars so we can all go places together or split up. Places & things on my list to see (in no particular order) are:
Arles - I'd like to see the old town and do the Van Gogh self guided walking tour
Avignon - walk through the old city. Find a nice café for lunch. Check out the Pont du Gard
Cotes du Rhone - drive around this area and see the scenery & stop at a few wineries. In fact we might stop at Chateauneuf Du Pape, just because it's probably the most well know winery in the area. A walk through the old town part of Orange could be fun too.
Morning Market in Aix-en-Provence (Tue/Thur/Sat).
Ochre Cliffs of Roussillon
Nice   -
Perfume Factory in Grasse.
And at least part, if not all of our party is going to Monte Carlo for a night.

Sun - Linda & Lowry are leaving for Amsterdam on Sunday morning.

Mon - We need to be check out of the house by 10 am on Monday. We're flying out of Marseille on Tuesday at 6 am. So we'll drive down toward Marseille (the airport is out side of town) and find a hotel. Then do some sightseeing in that area and turn in the rental cars. That way we won't have to mess with the cars early in the morning.

Tue - 6 am flight out of Marseille to Frankfurt, then Condor from Frankfurt back into Anchorage.

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