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Italy 21 day itinerary help!

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My boyfriend and I are traveling to Italy for 21 days in April. We are starting and ending in Rome and trying to decide the best route throughout Italy. These are the places we want to go: Sorrento and the Almafi Coast, Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terre, Venice, and Lake Como. Any suggestions for the best route?

Thank you!!

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    21 days is great, and how smart to spend it all exploring one country, not rushing around trying to see all of Europe.

    One thing is don't waste time doing a return to Rome. You will use up a day of travel and you should be able to get multi-city or multi-destination tickets (not two one- way) for only a bit more than RT Rome. It may be the same cost when you add in the cost of returning to Rome. Fly into Rome (or Naples if you can) and Home from Milan or Venice.

    At the beginning, on landing, if you are arriving in the a.m., go straight on to Sorrento. You will likely be tired and might as well use that time to continue travel. You can nap on the train. There are other options, depending on budget and timing.

    Follow Sorrento with time in Rome. Take train
    Then, Florence by train.
    Possibly rent a car for Tuscany, depending on what you wish to do.
    For CT, check weather before going. Heavy rain, you will want an alternate plan.

    After that, not sure if you go to CT, if it would be best to go to Como, and end in Venice, or to Venice and end in Como. If you end up skipping CT, then go to Venice from Florence and end in Como.

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    Your list of destinations looks like picked from an American travel catalogue.

    Anyway, the good thing is that you have 21 days, the bad thing is that with your itinerary you will cover a lot of ground from south to north and back to south.

    As said, the best would be an open-jaw flight.

    If this is not possible, the second best option would be:

    Flying into Rome, visiting Rome.
    Train to Napoli, then rental car at Amalfi coast. Returning car in Napoli.
    Flight or train from Napoli to Venezia.
    Visiting Venice.
    Renting a car when leaving Venice.
    Driving to Lake Como, Cinque Terre and Tuscany. Returning the car in Florence, visiting Florence and train to Rome.

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    I would suggest the following route:

    Arrival in Rome, take the train directly to Venice. There are a few direct trains from the airport, but even if you have to change in central Rome, it's not a very stressful trip, and you'll probably be too exhausted and jet-lagged to enjoy anything that day anyway.

    After Venice, travel by train to Lake Como, changing trains in Milan. Varenna is a good destination for the mid-lake towns, and there are direct trains there from Milan. Como is also directly connected to Milan. It's a bigger town, and has more night life and choice of restaurants, but you'd have to travel a bit to see the most scenic part of the lake.

    Travel by train to the Cinque Terre. There are direct trains from Milan to Monterosso; if you prefer one of the other towns, you'd have to change trains.

    Travel by train from the Cinque Terre to Florence. Depending on which town you're staying in, you'd have to change trains at least once, sometimes twice.

    Travel by train from Florence to Naples and change to the Circumvesuviana train (a little, crowded commuter train, more like the New York subway than a train) for Sorrento. If you prefer to stay on one of the Amalfi Coast towns, like Amalfi or Positano, it would be better to take the train from Florence to Salerno, and travel by boat from there to your destination.

    Travel by train from Naples or Salerno to Rome.

    You will have six fairly long train journeys, much of it on slow regional trains, because no fast trains go to places like Lake Como, the Cinque Terre, and Sorrento. These regional trains have no reservations and never offer discounts, so there's no advantage to buying the tickets online. You can buy all of them at once at a station in Italy, or you can buy them one at a time as you travel. It doesn't matter, as they're not for a specific date. Just before boarding the train, you have to stamp the tickets in a machine by the track to fix the date and time of travel and prevent re-use of the tickets.

    There are a few trips on high-speed trains, and these do offer advance-purchase discounts starting four months in advance. The discounted fares sell out pretty quickly on popular routes. Rome to Venice is a high-speed train, but since you can't be sure what time you'll be out of the airport, I would advise just skipping the discount for this trip, and buying the tickets at the airport train station. Venice to Milan is by high-speed train, and the direct trains from Milan to Monterosso are by Intercity trains, which also have discounts, but rather piddling discounts. Without knowing where you're staying in the Cinque Terre, I can only say that it will probably be partly by Intercity train and partly by regional train. Florence to Naples (or Salerno) is by high-speed train, and the trip from either of those stations back to Rome is by high-speed train.

    You can see train schedules and fares on

    http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en

    You have to use the Italian names of the cities: Roma, Venezia, Milano, Firenze, and Napoli. (The others are the same in both languages.) You might also try www.italiarail.com , which is the overseas agent of Trenitalia. Sometimes, when two or more people are traveling together, they can get cheaper fares there, because they'll sell you one discounted ticket and one full-priced ticket. Trenitalia will only sell you full-priced tickets if there's only one discounted ticket left. However, remember that the prices on Italiarail are in dollars, while those on Trenitalia are in euros. Italiarail has a reservation fee, or a delivery fee, but they'll waive it if you send them an email, whose details I forget.

    I would at least buy online the tickets for Venice to Milan, for Florence to Naples (or Salerno), and for either of those cities back to Rome. These are the trips where the advantage and potential savings are greatest.

    Someone is bound to mention Trenitalia's competitor, Italo, which has service on some of the routes you'll be using. Since you wouldn't be able to use them for all of the trips, I think it complicates things too much to use them. For instance, if you miss a connection to a reserved train because one of your trains was running late, Trenitalia will change your reserved ticket free of charge. Italo won't, because the late train wasn't theirs.

    I don't see any advantage in flying on any parts of this trip. If you could get a multi-city ticket, flying into Venice and leaving from Rome, that would be better than flying into and out of Rome, but if not, the train between Rome and Venice doesn't take much more time than a flight. I definitely wouldn't get a separate flight, on a different itinerary, from Rome to Venice, because that would take longer than the train.

    I also don't see any advantage to renting a car for the destinations you mention. A car isn't very useful on Lake Come, the Cinque Terre, or the Amalfi Coast, and it's absolutely a huge liability in Venice, Florence, and Rome, because of vehicle restrictions in the center of towns, as well as traffic and parking problems.

    Finally, all of the places you want to visit are likely to already be very crowded with other tourists even in April. The weather can sometimes be unsettled, rainy, or chilly in April, and if so, Lake Como and the Cinque Terre may not be much fun. The Amalfi Coast, being a good deal further south, is more likely to have fine weather, but there are no guarantees even there.

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    wonderful advice here, especially from bvl.

    you could of course see many other places in your 21 days; as there are only 2 of you, you could easily just book places as you go, or the day before if you know where you are likely to be.

    More out of the way, and dare I say less fashionable places can be just as rewarding as the more famous ones, and will certainly be less busy.

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    There is no easy way to do what you want to do, although I think it is a fun itinerary full of beautiful and exciting sights. To see rural Tuscany you will need a car, but otherwise you might prefer public transportation. You should avoid driving in Florence.

    If you have a long plane flight coming to Rome, you might want to just stay there first. That's what I do after a long plane flight, but you might feel up for hours more of travel. It's not the worst thing in the world to come back to Rome for a final day or night before flying back (I would enjoy it), and preferable to pushing yourselves so hard that you end up feeling lousy for the first several days of your travel (or worse, get sick).

    But others prefer soldier on, then that's up to you.

    You will definitely need reservations in Venice, and for your landing and departure, but otherwise if you prefer to go without fixed reservations, you would be okay if you are travelling with access to the internet.

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    Whether you stay in Rome at the beginning or end, I think Bvlenci's itinerary is much better than mine, and IMHO, the best offered so far - that is if you must return to Rome.

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