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13 Day Italy Itinerary - Feedback and Suggestions Please

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Jun 16th, 2014, 08:42 AM
  #1
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13 Day Italy Itinerary - Feedback and Suggestions Please

My girlfriend and I will be going to Italy at the beginning of September for 13 days before heading to Paris to fly home. Here is what we have at the moment:

September 5 - Arrive in Rome by plane at 8am. Day in Rome
September 6 - Day in Rome
September 7 - Day in Rome
September 8 - Early morning fast train to Naples, arriving in Naples around 845, switch trains right away towards Sorrento. Get off at ruins and spend afternoon. What is better Pompeii or Herculaneum? And is it at all possible to see both in 1 day and still make it to Sorrento? Also, big travel backpacks can be stored at the ruins while exploring right?
September 9 - Day trip to Capri
September 10 - Take SITA bus to Amalfi and Ravello (Grotto dello Smeraldo in Amalfi and Villa Rufolo in Ravello)
September 11 - Take ferry to Positano for 1/2 day and spend half day in Sorrento and visit Sant'agata Sui Due Golfi
September 12 - Early morning train from Sorrento to Naples and on to Florence. Afternoon in Lucca and Pisa
September 13 - Day trip (tour) to Cinque Terre
September 14 - Day trip (tour) to Siena/Chianti
September 15 - Day in Florence
September 16 - Train to Venice. Day in Venice
September 17 - Day in Venice (night train to Paris)

Any recommendations would be greatly appreciated for additions/subtractions, tour companies, little details, restaurants, places to see and avoid, off the beaten track stuff, and accommodations.

We are thinking of either Funny Palace, Hostel Alessandro Palace, or Hostel des Artistes for Rome and either Florida hostel or Seven hostel in Sorrento. Any good/bad things to say about any of these? Haven't got to Florence or Venice accommodations yet.

Thank you in advance
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Jun 16th, 2014, 09:08 AM
  #2
ekc
 
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You are going to need a vacation from your vacation.

You can store luggage at the entrance to both Pompeii and Herculaneum. With your crazy schedule, I would stick to the smaller and more manageable Herculaneum.

You cannot take the ferry to Positano for a "half day" AND spend a half day in Sorrento, all in the same day. The first ferry leaves Sorrento for Positano at 10:30.

To see Amalfi, I would go via ferry, as the SITA bus will still be hot and extremely crowded in early September.

Unless you take an unbearably early train from Naples to Florence, I don't see how you can get from Sorrento to Florence AND see Pisa and Lucca all in the same day.

WAY too many day trips/moving around for my taste, but it is your vacation, not mine!
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Jun 16th, 2014, 09:32 AM
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Unless you have extraordinary stamina, you may be gasping for breath by time you arrive in Venice. The CT is not a good day trip from Florence. After coming all the way from Sorrento, Lucca and Pisa are not a good afternoon trip from Florence.

Consider this
Day 1 - Arrive Rome, travel straight to Sorrento, relax
Day 2 - Day trip to Capri
Day 3 - Day trip to AC, Amalfi, etc
Day 4 - Day trip to Positano
Day 5 - Depart Sorrento very early. Tour Pompeii (and possibly Herculaneum) on the way to Rome. There is luggage storage at both Pompeii and Herculaneum. Arrive late in Rome.
Day 6 - Rome
Day 7 - Rome
Day 8 - Rome, take a very late train to Florence, sleep in Florence
Day 9 - Florence
Day 10 - Day trip to Siena
Day 11 - Day trip by train to Pisa and Lucca
Day 12 - Travel to CT, afternoon in CT, sleep in CT
Day 13 - CT whole day
Day 14 - Travel to Venice
Day 15 - Venice
Day 16 - Venice (day trip to Padua, Vicenza or Burano if you want)
Day 17 - Venice, night train to Paris

This short changes Rome a bit, so you could take one day from Venice and add it to Rome, depending on your interests.

You absolutely do not need "big" travel backpacks unless you are camping out in a park or something for part of the trip. As a matter of fact, you won't need to be carting these things around with you all day for sightseeing. You are going to be in cities in Italy and France. You will need just a little day bag for water, guides, map, etc. during the day, so a smallish bag with wheels would work just fine and might be easier than toting a backpack. You don't have to carry it all the time.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 10:16 AM
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Personally I think this is terribly rushed, and you will not get to see much more than a bunch of train stations.

You don’t mention where you’re coming from, but because you arrive at 8am, I would guess overseas, so you will be tired and jet-lagged.

Your Rome days are on Fri (see jet-lag issue above), Sat, Sun, the busiest in terms of crowds. What do you plan to do on these 2 days? What’s open?

We saw both Pompeii and Herculaneum in one day, but we had no bags and it was a long day from Naples. Hard to say “which one is better”, they are different, both amazing.

Per SITA schedule, the Sorrento – Amalfi ride is 1 ½ hrs, then add another ½ hr to Ravello. I don’t know how long the connection time between the 2 buses is, so you see where I’m going, another long day.
http://www.theamalficoast.net/orari_...imetables.html
Not sure what you expect to do/see in Positano (and Sorrento) for ½ day each. My internet searches mention 1 hour ferry ride between the 2, but I could not find the schedule. I think both towns deserve more than just a few hours.

“Afternoon in Lucca and Pisa” – the same as above. While you can see the Pisa highlights in 20 minutes, you need to consider the train (or bus) schedule between Florence, Pisa and Lucca and back to Florence. And I will stop here…

Keep in mind that every time you change location you lose time, at least an hour if you have tickets bought in advance to check-out and get to the train station by taxi, then another hour at your destination to get to your hotel by taxi and check-in. Using buses will take you even longer.

Sassafrass’s itinerary looks much better, but it’s for 17 days, while you only have 13. Depending on your interests, I would consider eliminating some of the day trips or destinations.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 10:26 AM
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I must be feeling full of energy today, because that pace wouldn't exhaust me, although I do question the Sorrento > Florence + Pisa and Lucca day, even if you are just dumping your luggage in the Florence train station and coming back later to retrieve it. Think about seeing Pisa enroute to le Cinque Terre and skipping Lucca entirely.

Otherwise, you will be very busy, and it is possible that you will give up on some of your sightseeing because you'd rather kick back at some point and not get on another train or bus for a day trip, and instead just enjoy where you are. Or some goof up may make you miss some of it, because this is a very tight schedule.

You should definitely check the weather before you head out to le Cinque Terre. If it is rainy there, don't bother. (It can be sunny in Florence and raining on the coast.) If you must book in advance, book something you can cancel.

It is possible to see Herculaeum and Pompei in the same day and still make it to Sorrento by dinner (at a certain point, they close the excavations). But you need to bring lots of water. Pompei is huge. If you try to do both sites in one day, either hook up with a guide for Pompei who can show you the highlights in 2-3 hours, or get an audio tour. Herculaneum is 90 mins to 2 hours. I find these places fascinating, and have actually revisited them. If you are bored, don't be afraid to leave.

If you want to take other people's advice and start cutting some things out, I haven't got a problem with that either.

(Sassafras, they are not planning the CT as a day trip.)
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Jun 16th, 2014, 10:35 AM
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PS: One of the reasons I don't find your trip exhausting looking or undoable is that I did a very similar trip myself, although at the end of my stay on the Amalfi, I went to Sicily for 7 days. But I spent 3 days in Rome, headed to Herculaneum, saw it in the morning, had some lunch, saw Pompei in the afternoon -- and then I had a taxi drive me to Ravello, but I could have made it to Sorrento without collapsing. While I was on the Amalfi coast, I did a day trip every day (it is hardly draining to be on the Amalfi), and then I had a taxi take me back to Naples so I could see the museum in the morning and catch a plane in the afternoon for Sicily. I was in my 40s when I did it and felt fine. My husband is a bit older and he felt fine. We road tripped through Sicily for 7 days staying in Taormina, an agriturismo on Etna, Ortygia, Modica, Agrigento and Mondello before flying out of Palermo, back to Rome, and home.

We never felt rushed (we were actually bored to tears on the Amalfi), we never missed a meal, and we had cocktails and surprises and even managed to see more of some places (like Naples) than we had expected to.

Do I always travel like that? Nope. But when I want to get up every day and do something in Italy, I don't find it that tiring.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 01:58 PM
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Not my kind of travel pace, but it's your trip.

If you stick to your proposed itinerary, you may want to switch around your plans a little while you're in Florence. The proposed plan has your one full day in Florence falling on a Monday. Not all of the main sights are open every Sunday and Monday. Make a list of what you want to see/do, check open/closed days and times and then make/buy entry reservations where possible:

http://www.polomuseale.firenze.it/en/orari/
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Jun 16th, 2014, 03:03 PM
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This trip doesn't exhaust me either, but that's because I prefer fast travel for the most part. But you might want to leave out those 1/2 day trips and not spend only a Monday in Florence as most places are closed that day.
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Jun 16th, 2014, 10:33 PM
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The OP listed September 13 - CT as a Day trip (tour)
I personally did not recommend that they cut anything, simply rearrange things, but I did make the mistake of just seeing September 17 and figuring their trip as 17 days rather than 13, so my itinerary becomes impossible. So, sorry, mine would really have to be cut.
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Jun 17th, 2014, 03:07 AM
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So it's:
5-7 Sep Rome
8-11 Sep Sorrento
12-15 Sep Florence
16-17 Sep Venice

That's not particularly rushed. There are a lot of day tours in the itinerary but you could just drop some if you feel like it at the time. Sorrento to Lucca and Pisa sounds particularly tiring. Although it's generally nicer to spend longer in one place, if you want to visit Cinque Terre and Pisa, I'd be tempted to stay two nights each in Lucca and Florence, rather than four in Florence. I'd go from Sorrento to Lucca, then on to Florence a couple of days later. I quite like the suggestion of travelling directly to Sorrento on arrival.
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Jun 17th, 2014, 06:59 AM
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The OP actually has 11 full days and lists 15 different towns/cities so yes, too much in such a short time (although a couple of days are tours, not DIY). Nine of the total days (counting arrival/departures days) involve travel.
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Jun 17th, 2014, 07:56 AM
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Quick train schedules here:

http://reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en?

Better figure one hour before the train ride , and 1.5 hours after [depending up on the size of the town] to be walking out the door of the hotel you have moved to.

Plot all of this out for each day to see how much time is left over.
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Jun 17th, 2014, 08:10 AM
  #13
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Wow, thanks everyone for your feedback. I know it may sound very rushed to some, but for us who are quite used to a more fast-paced and jam-packed vacation style like this, we're up for it! We probably won't come back to this country, at least not for a long long time, so why not see as much as we can while we're there?

From what I've read, I am starting to think Sorrento to Pisa/Lucca may be too much of a day. Some of you also suggested dropping Lucca, which I would be okay with, so long as we wouldn't be missing anything extraordinary.

As far as seeing Positano and Amalfi in the same day, I've heard it makes for a good day trip, but will look into the timetables more to ensure it's doable.

We don't expect to be going into museums/art galleries--mostly just seeing the beauty of each city from the street. Any particular sights in these towns we should see? (Other than in Rome-those are more obvious).

Thanks again to everyone for your comments!
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Jun 17th, 2014, 10:52 AM
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tc - there is another good reason for heading to Sorrento on your first day which is that you cna spend the day on the train recovering from jetlag; also it is unlikely that your hotel room in Rome will be ready if you arrive at 9-10am.

plus of course it rearranges the days [sounds like a good thing from the above] and cuts down that long travel day from Sorrento to Florence.

did you know that direct trains go from Roma Termini to Pisa Centrale? they are not much quicker than going via Florence but you don't need to change trains. You could leave Rome early in the morning, spend lunch-time/ early afternoon in Pisa, and then catch the train to Florence.

if you want to climb the leaning tower, you need to make a reservation and leave any big bags in the lockers provided. The official website is here:

www.opapisa.com
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Jun 18th, 2014, 12:39 AM
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If you really want to visit Cinque Terre as a day trip, it would be better done from Lucca than Florence, I think. Pisa is also a short train ride from Lucca. Consider though whether you want to visit Cinque Terre if you've just come from the Amalfi coast.
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Jun 19th, 2014, 08:37 AM
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Thanks everyone for the replies. We've now revised the Florence/Tuscany part of the itinerary to the following:

September 12 - Early morning train from Sorrento to Naples and on to Florence. Store bags in locker at Florence train station to take a break and walk around Florence for a few hours. Then train to Montessoro.
September 13 - Get up early to beat the heat and hike through the villages. Head back to Florence for dinner time. Sleep in Florence.
September 14 - Day trip (tour) to Siena/Chianti
September 15 - Explore the rest of Florence

*Note: we're arriving to Italy from Rome. So we wont be jetlagged when we arrive.
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Jun 19th, 2014, 08:56 AM
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When you say "hike through the villages," do you mean the Sentiero Azzuro? (That is the trail that connects the villages and what many people refer to.)

When I was in Cinque Terre in May, the only part of the Sentiero Azzuro open was between Monterosso and Vernazza and it was very crowded. There are other very nice trails you can do as alternatives (Manarol-Volostra-Corniglia and Levanto-Monterosso are two that we did). But you may not be able to do the traditional thru-hike between the villages. The trails have suffered from mudslides and other issues (probably overuse!) in recent years.

You can find information on trail status at the link below and the tourist offices in the villages will also have current information on trail status and alternatives.

http://www.parconazionale5terre.it/?id_lingue=2
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Jun 19th, 2014, 09:24 AM
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Sorry, correction on the spelling--it is Sentiero Azzurro, if you should do a search.
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Jun 19th, 2014, 09:29 PM
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>>>>*Note: we're arriving to Italy from Rome.<<<

?
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Jun 19th, 2014, 10:10 PM
  #20
kja
 
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"for us who are quite used to a more fast-paced and jam-packed vacation style like this, we're up for it! ... why not see as much as we can while we're there?"

I take fast-paced and jam-packed trips. Even so, I try to spend more time actually seeing things than I spend getting between them. Why are you visiting these places? What is it that you think you will see with so little time at each location? To each his/her own, but FWIW, your plan is WAY too rushed for this very fast-paced traveler. Good luck!
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