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Italy: Planning a honeymoon....HELP!!!!

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My fiance and I are planning a honeymoon to Italy this June (2014). We are planning to leave around June 25 and we're estimating about a two week trip, plus travel days.

So far, after some consideration and discussion, we have decided to do the following (either arriving in the South and leaving from the North, or vice versa depending on price - we prefer to start north and end south).

3-4 days, including arrival day in Florence - including day trip to Cinque Terre
3-5 days in Rome - including a day trip to Pompeii
3-4 or so days in the Amalfi Coast (probably staying in Positano),w/ day trip to Capri

We are looking for suggestions for both places to stay (apartment/hotel/b&b), eat, as well as things that we should not miss out on (anything from a coffee shop to a museum).

Also, if anybody has any suggestions as far as other day trips or alterations to what we have come up with, please give us your opinion. For instance if you think we're spending too much time in Florence, or that we need to go somewhere else in Tuscany...or if you believe that we're doing TOO much moving around.

We are looking to stay at reasonably priced places (ideally under $100 per night). Our budget is currently around $8,000 including airfare.

Thank you so much for your suggestions!

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    I think that your hotel budget is way too low for that time of the year in Italy.I work for the airlines and travel quite a bit to Italy for work and vacation and most 3 star hotels (which is what you would want as a minimum for a honeymoon)would run you in Florence,Rome and Positano at least 135-150 euros.
    I would look at Airbnb,VRBO,holiday lettings,etc. for possibly getting an apartment/villa to rent for your stay? It will be cheaper and you will also be able to cook in occasionally.
    I would get a few good guidebooks either out of the library or purchase to decide what you want to see and do. Rough guides,Lonely Planet,Rick Steves,Fodors are all good books to get started with.Good luck!

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    Married or not, you can find bookshelves loaded with advice, or check the Destinations function on this website. Major operating strategy is that there are no mandatory destinations, attractions or activities. Do as little or as much as you choose. Especially for a special occasion, the last thing you need is the stress of hustling around to satisfy a checklist.
    I like multi-city airline tickets, for instance flying into Rome and out of Florence or vice versa, even though the places in northern Italy are fairly easily connected by train.

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    Two comments:

    (1) Drop the day trip to Cinque Terre from Florence. Too much driving to see the coast, especially as you'll be on the Amalfi Coast.

    (2) Drop the day trip to Pompeii, and do it ON THE WAY to the Amalfi Coast.

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    Suggest you consult a map and check travel times by train and/or car.

    The ct as a day trip is too far from FLorence - travel alone would be 6 hours - so little time to do much hiking there (that's what it's for).

    Pompeii is right on the way to the AC - so you should see it on the way - either by train or car. As a day trip from Rome it would be horrendous.

    Sorry cannot help with lodging - that is not our price point - but I would start to look very early to get something pleasant at a bargain rate.

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    Thank all of you for your help. Advice is being taken. I am going to start looking for apartments instead of hotels as i've had success with this in the past. Anybody have any experience with good/cheap apartments in any of these places? We have been told by MANY to visit Cinque, what is the best way to incorporate this or do all of you agree that this should be dropped? Thank you so much!

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    Florence has so much to soak up in 3-4 days, I would drop the side trip too and just immerse yourself in that beautiful city. Make sure you pre-book your tickets to Uffizi and Accademia, and get the first session each morning (9.30am). We also pre-booked a scaffolding tour of the frescoes in Santa Croce Church, which was excellent. That way you virtually walk straight in, and don't waste time queuing in the middle of the day. We were there in Oct and stayed at Hotel Il Guelfo Bianco,and also stayed in Rome at Hotel Albergo Cesari, just near the Pantheon. Both were great choices, but could be outside your budget range?

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    I would start in Florence. The Amalfi coast stay will be the most relaxing and slowest pace of the three destinations. You'll have time to recharge before coming home and reflect on what you've seen.

    As for 9:30 museum reservations, I concur that preordering is the way to go but you are head of the line so to speak no matter the time you choose. As a honeymooner I would not be touring at 9:30am? P.S. The tickets good for the Forum and the Colosseum should be bought ahead of time as well. You do not want to stand in the heat waiting to buy those tickets. Be sure to pass up everyone waiting in line to buy tickets and go directly to the ticket collection point at those sights once you have your tickets in hand. P.P.S Buy tickets for Vatican museum or museum tour ahead of time as well.

    I would plan for a stop at a hill town on the way from Florence to Rome instead of CT. This would be yet another unique experience and I agree with other poster that the AC visit will be somewhat comparable with CT experience (not to say they are same as all of Italy is wonderfully unique). I've only ever been to the hill towns as day trips but the TV travel experts all rave about staying in such towns overnight for the dining and walking experience after the tourists are gone.

    A fun way to get a start on your honeymoon would be to watch the movie Only You starring Marisa Tomei and Robert Downey Jr. She starts her adventure in Venice but there is plenty of Rome and Almafi Coast along with lots of talk about believing in meant to be together love.

    Pace yourself during the day. European dinner runs later into the night and adopt their custom of a stroll after eating. It will hopefully be cooler then and you'll feel more Italian. Of course you need to be street smart and safe when out at night.

    On the practical front:

    Find a library with a good section of books on travel and start checking them out to read/skim. One of the two of you should figure in advance what you want to see/do and have practiced reading the maps of the locations. Make a photocopy of the maps or buy a set of center city maps and keep reviewing them for 5-10 minutes at a time. It's great to stumble around and explore Italy. But you'll be more comfortable if you round a corner and there's Piazza Navona and someone can say, "Okay I know where we are!"

    If I had to take one book with me for each destination, I would pick DK's Eyewitness Travel paperback series called Top 10. Pocket size, extremely well organized and great maps. They have Top 10 Florence and Tuscany, Top 10 Rome, and Top 10 Naples and Amalfi Coast in their series.

    Take euros with you. The most competitive rates and easiest route I've ever found is ordering online from Wells Fargo (search for foreign currency).

    Take very seriously any online comments about a hotel's or apartment's lack of air conditioning if that is important to you as well as presence of elevators/lifts. Europe is hot in the summer and has a different opinion about what it takes to be comfortable. Don't get me started on lack of ice in drinks!!! Many places count the second floor as floor 1 as the ground floor is not the 1st. If you have luggage for 2 weeks, you'll want be assured of getting it to your room.

    Take a no foreign exchange credit card with you and use it for reservations/purchases before the trip. Most of the $8k will be spent in euros and you don't want to give away a chunk of the budget paying fees. One of you would carry that card and the other carries a different credit card as back-up in case of emergencies.

    Take up close photos of credit cards, IDs, passports such that you can see the details including phone #s. Send the photos to your email account as attachments. If something happens, online access to your email and a printer will get you what you need without needlessly having less secure printed copies in your luggage.

    We have had wonderful experiences with Context Travel. They offer Rome and Florence small group walking tours but they may be out of your budget. They offer concierge services as well and did our airport pick-up in Rome. They can arrange tickets for sights and trains as well. We even politely asked them by email for their opinion of hotels once we narrowed it down to 2-3.

    In Rome we stayed at Hotel Residenza in Farnese, which might be out of your price range. Decorated in distinctly Italian styles but more importantly perfectly located for sightseeing on foot. Neighborhood was quiet and two major piazzas were steps away. If you could find an appropriately priced quality hotel in the area I think you would like the location. Our favorite night was a walk back from the Spanish Steps where we stopped at picked up a single scoop of gelato to share at each gelateria we passed.

    Much of Rome will be spent walking less busy streets and "alleys". However you will occasionally have to cross a major street. Best tip I have is look for clergy especially nuns and cross with them. Otherwise heading across with someone's grandmother would work. Nobody on either side of the street over 40, then good luck and keep looking both ways as you cross.

    I think the first view someone has of the Roman Forum should be from the overlook behind Piazza del Campidoglio. Go up the wide steps into the square. Walk to the building straight ahead and pass it on the right. You'll go around the building and step out with a view of ancient Rome laid out before you as the emperor's must have experienced it from Capitoline Hill less the street Mussolini carved thru the forum to the Colosseum.

    Likewise make time in Florence to cross the river and see the city from the overlook Piazzale Michelangelo.

    Pompeii will be incredibly hot in June if a sunny day; be prepared. Strongly consider using a private tour guide as it is the little details that tell the story of life there as much as the building ruins and their relation to each other.

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    Pensione Maria Luisa in Positano gets good recs here and on other boards. We stayed at B&B Al Centro di Roma and enjoyed it - great location for seeing the sights and not that far over your budget. Finding an apartment to rent for less than a week at a time in June will be tough. I have rented apartments in Pos on various occasions, but they always required a week stay.

    I would switch the order and do Florence/Positano/Rome, as there are many more flight options out of Rome than Naples. Train from Florence to Salerno, then ferry from Salerno to Pos.

    I highly recommend a tour with Christine of www.discoverpositano.com. You will learn lots of great history of the town and AC and sample some great local products.

    Amalfi and Ravello can be combined as a nice day trip via ferry from Pos. But IMHO you don't have much time in any of your destinations for many day trips.

    Stop in Pompeii on your way back to Rome from Pos.

    HIGHLY recommend a day spent at Laurito Beach when you are in Pos - always a highlight for me.

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