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Planning 10 days in Italy: Solo or Organized Tour?

Old 10-21-23, 12:22 PM
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Many places provide bicycles to rent or that are included with the room at the smaller hotels and inns. That way you are doing day rides in the local area and no need to pack special bike clothing for the trip. Otherwise it would be better to join a group that provides a guide/driver/mechanic/translator along with the sag wagon.
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Old 10-21-23, 02:48 PM
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Originally Posted by john m flores
Not everyone thinks like you
You're misunderstanding me. I only padded in the three words "I always thought" purely to be polite. My real message actually started directly at words "the entire point..."
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Old 10-21-23, 08:18 PM
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Originally Posted by Yan
You're misunderstanding me. I only padded in the three words "I always thought" purely to be polite. My real message actually started directly at words "the entire point..."
What gives you the right to define "the entire point" of someone else's bicycle trip?
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Old 10-22-23, 08:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Yan
One way is to recruit your family members to act as your luggage chauffeurs. There isn't much luggage on a credit card tour anyway, just a bit of clothes. One pannier would do it. But the OP doesn't seem to want to compromise with his wife on planning.
emphasis mine

You're judging the OP with no basis. My reading of what the OP wrote is that he very much is attempting to find a solution which works not just for him, but for his wife and friend as well.
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Old 10-22-23, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
Does anybody in your group speak Italian? That will help some.

It has been a few decades since I was in Italy. However, my experience was that English was fine in the big tourist cities (Rome, Pisa, Venice, Florence, Milan, Bologna, etc). However, if you get out into the smaller cities, you will have to improvise a bit.

Now, some of that could have changed recently.

<snip>
I just returned from touring in Sardinia, Lazio, & Umbria. I found that young Italians generally speak a fair bit of English these days, even in small untouristed towns. In hotels & restaurants, even in out of the way places, English is usually spoken. Having written that, although I don't speak Italian, I do speak French and Spanish, and both came in handy several times. Sometimes my lodging was a rented room or apartment as opposed to a hotel room. Communication was typically done remotely via WhatsApp. I had a few occasions where I needed to communicate with someone who did not speak English but did speak either French or Spanish. Once I even spoke German, and that was with a Sardinian who had lived in Germany for a few years.

Italians are usually extremely forgiving of visitors who cannot speak Italian. Twice I had good conversations with people who knew I didn't speak Italian, but they spoke to me slowly, and I understood virtually everything, probably thanks to my Spanish & French. I sometimes would reply in Spanish and was understood because the languages are similar. There was exactly one time where we relied on a translating app, and that was for just one key sentence. I know words for numbers in Italian, and also question words in Italian. I also generally know Italian pronunciation rules, which is helpful.

Another thing which has changed is that decades ago, you would see signs at tourist sites or restaurant menus in 4 or 5 languages. Not so much anymore. At tourist sites or historic markers in towns, signs were usually bilingual, Italian & English, but no other language. Menus were either bilingual or only in Italian. Occasionally there were exceptions. But it is now generally assumed in much of Europe that foreign tourists who cannot speak the local language are able to speak some English.
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Old 10-22-23, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Atlas Shrugged
Donít forget to leverage the heat map feature which indicates roads commonly used by cyclists and the use street view to determine suitability. Havenít bought a guide book for over a decade, use the internet for my research.
Atlas Shrugged is a great book.

But I would never use a heat map created by masses.
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Old 10-22-23, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by john m flores
Not everyone thinks like you

probably not.... its his thought, we do not have to agree.

its an interesting thought
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Old 10-26-23, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT
Ride to your destinations while the other folks take trains or a rental car. Italy has a vast rail system, not to mention Flix bus. You get your riding in and they have the dolce vita.
There may even be an outfitter who will organize your trip and transport the non riders. It won't be cheap.
Tuscany is saturated with bike tour organizers, so choose wisely. A very popular route is called the 'eroica'
As a solo traveller, you may need to do self guided or join a group
Excellent. As I'm reading this post I'm learning that I need to keep it simple. I'll check out eroica. I like the self-guided idea, with support.
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Old 10-26-23, 02:45 PM
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Even my relatively crude Spanish was very useful in Italy, at least when trying to understand writing.

One spoken Italian announcement that is ingrained in my head from my backpacking around Europe days is ďThe train will be leaving 20 minutes late late.Ē
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Old 10-26-23, 03:12 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
I found that young Italians generally speak a fair bit of English these days, even in small untouristed towns.
When I was there, many had studied some English in school, but were quite shy about using it. Yet, perhaps that has changed as years passed, and there are more tourists and foreigners.

Originally Posted by indyfabz
One spoken Italian announcement that is ingrained in my head...
One of the most useful Italian words is "Basta". Conjugated from Bastare. It means "Enough". Excellent to know if you're in a small shop ordering food, and you wish to tell the vendor to stop filling your bag.

Originally Posted by axolotl
I know words for numbers in Italian, and also question words in Italian. I also generally know Italian pronunciation rules, which is helpful.
Useful to know. And, they're rather close to Spanish.

I got a crash course in big numbers when i was there. Almost everything cost at least a thousand Lira. My bicycle was 300,000 Lira. And, while I don't think I ever saw a million Lira, the price of a car would easily run into the millions.

Of course now the Euro is much closer to the Dollar.
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Old 10-26-23, 04:34 PM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT
I would skip Perugia, it is very congested with narrow streets. Gubbio and Assisi are beautiful cities. Skip Norcia, they are still rebuilding from the earthquake. Siena is also quite nice, I would avoid festival time (horse races) it can be more crowded than a NYC subway.
Tuscany and Umbria are both beautiful regions it's hard to go wrong
Nice. Thnx for this.
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Old 10-26-23, 04:41 PM
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Originally Posted by axolotl
Originally Posted by Yan
One way is to recruit your family members to act as your luggage chauffeurs. There isn't much luggage on a credit card tour anyway, just a bit of clothes. One pannier would do it. But the OP doesn't seem to want to compromise with his wife on planning.
emphasis mine

You're judging the OP with no basis. My reading of what the OP wrote is that he very much is attempting to find a solution which works not just for him, but for his wife and friend as well.
Thnx for this. Much appreciated, and yes, you are correct. Not that I don't want to compromise on planning, but it's just difficult to coordinate, esp if my wife and friend want to prolly go with an organized tour. I'm very flexible, just DK how to do it and wanting ideas; and this thread has been amazing.
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Old 10-26-23, 04:43 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
Does anybody in your group speak Italian? That will help some.

It has been a few decades since I was in Italy. However, my experience was that English was fine in the big tourist cities (Rome, Pisa, Venice, Florence, Milan, Bologna, etc). However, if you get out into the smaller cities, you will have to improvise a bit.

Now, some of that could have changed recently.

Now, there are very good trains and buses in Italy. So, you could plan a trip so that your companions would take a public train or bus to the destination, say within 50 miles, and you would ride your bike there.

I'm not quite sure why you picked Umbria. There is Perugia, and the University for Strangers... (Oh, Stranieri, or Foreigners).

A little side trip to Assisi would be fun. Learn about San Francesco.

I accidentally bumped into some odd Roman ruins on a hillside just north of Terni (by bicycle). There was an old Roman road with the deepest ruts I've ever seen worn into solid granite.

Lago Trasimeno was interesting. I'm sure I swam in it but I'm trying to remember whether the water looked clean.


In Tuscany, one can certainly spend a couple of days in Florence.

I don't really remember spending much in the areas surrounding Florence.

I spent a lot of time in and around Parma. The PO valley is very flat, so you can really make tracks by bicycle. However, at the time there weren't many people that I encountered that spoke English there. I think I went to every castle within about 50 miles of Parma, of which there were quite a few, each one unique.

Perhaps the most famous was Canossa, but also one of the least preserved ones.

None of my traveling was with a tour group. Some places would have organized tours. Others would essentially give a private tour.

If you are interesting in Italian or Renaissance art, then it would be worthwhile to do a little research before you go.
This is fantastic. Not familiar with Canossa, but the castle thing is a great idea. Thanks, Clifford
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Old 10-26-23, 05:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Tesgin
This is fantastic. Not familiar with Canossa, but the castle thing is a great idea. Thanks, Clifford
There are a number of castles, walled cities, etc, around Parma, and much of Italy.

I visited Italy in the early 80's with my parents where I bought my Colnago road bike. And, did quite a few day trips around the city. Cannosa was one of the further and hillier trips.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canossa_Castle
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_to_Canossa
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_..._Roman_Emperor

It wasn't until about 5 years later the topic came up in a history course about Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII when I realized that I had been there.

Yet, that might also be a minor side trip in a country that was in the middle of European history of the time.
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Old 10-27-23, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by MarcusT
I would skip Perugia, it is very congested with narrow streets. Gubbio and Assisi are beautiful cities. Skip Norcia, they are still rebuilding from the earthquake. Siena is also quite nice, I would avoid festival time (horse races) it can be more crowded than a NYC subway.
Tuscany and Umbria are both beautiful regions it's hard to go wrong
Yes, they are all beautiful cities. I guess it depends on what the OP is looking for. I thought Assisi to be more touristy than Perugia. Perugia has tourists but it's less well known and also has a university there so there is still some local flavor. Speaking of flavor, the bread is bland because they don't add salt - a centuries-old grudge with the papacy. They also have a fascinating underground tour.

That said, the Basilica of Saint Francis of Assisi is fantastic.

I have not been to San Gimignano in 30 years but back then it was still untouched by tourism.
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Old 10-29-23, 03:59 AM
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Sorry, any nice city in Italy is full of tourists. If you want that, Italy is great and beautiful.

Last edited by str; 10-29-23 at 05:14 AM.
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Old 10-29-23, 08:50 PM
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Originally Posted by CliffordK
There are a number of castles, walled cities, etc, around Parma, and much of Italy.

I visited Italy in the early 80's with my parents where I bought my Colnago road bike. And, did quite a few day trips around the city. Cannosa was one of the further and hillier trips.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canossa_Castle
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Walk_to_Canossa
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_..._Roman_Emperor

It wasn't until about 5 years later the topic came up in a history course about Henry IV and Pope Gregory VII when I realized that I had been there.

Yet, that might also be a minor side trip in a country that was in the middle of European history of the time.
Wow, that's awesome. That woulda been cool.

Thnx for this!
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