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14 day countdown to Italy: Sorrento, Tuscany & Rome: PLEASE CRITIQUE!!

14 day countdown to Italy: Sorrento, Tuscany & Rome: PLEASE CRITIQUE!!

Sep 30th, 2009, 06:35 PM
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Join Date: May 2009
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14 day countdown to Italy: Sorrento, Tuscany & Rome: PLEASE CRITIQUE!!

Hello fellow Fodorites,
After much research and help from you, we are finished w/ the Itinerary and ready to pack our bags. Below is our trip - please feel free to critique / recommend further etc. Obviously, the hotel portions are all set and unchangeable, the rest can use tweaks!

Oct. 15-24: From Miami. Only 8 nights!, but it's all the time my DH could take off. His first trip to Italy, and he has Italian roots. We both are foodies!

Day 1: Arrive Rome 8am, ES Train to Naples. Car Transfer to Sorrento.
Hotel: Maison La Minervetta - 3 nights. Explore Sorrento, recover from trip
Day 2: Capri, assuming good weather. Otherwise, Positano. (via SITA bus and return via ferry)? is this a good idea? Otherwise: Pompeii
Day 3: Either of the above: Capri, Positano or Pompeii
Day 4: Transfer /car back to Naples, Train to Chiusi. Pick up Rental Car. Drive to Pienza. Hotel: Il Chiostro di Pienza. Explore Pienza upon arrival.
Day 5: Our own driving tour of Montalcino, San Quirico, Montepulciano, Abbey St Antimo, gathered from our Fodorite friends!!
Day 6: Day trip to either Siena or Assisi or Orvieto. Cortona?
Day 7: Leave Pienza, return car at Chiusi, train to Rome. Hotel: Roma Cavalieri
Explore Rome on our own that afternoon.
Day 8: Private Tour w/ Daniella Hunt. Sistine Chapel, Colisseum. Last dinner on our own.
Day 9: depart for USA.

I have a partial resturant list. Welcome any suggestions on the above.
Given the very limited time in Rome, planning to eat in the Plaza Navonna area or Trastevere. Any great places (not expensive, just great?)
......And any other tips, places, switches, etc. for full trip are welcome!
pattytravel is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 05:16 AM
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pattytravel is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 05:47 AM
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Is there a reason you are taking a car transfer from Naples to Sorrento instead of the train? You will already be in the train station when you arrive and the train to Sorrento is just downstairs.

It may be quite late in the afternoon when you get to Pienza. Make sure of the rental car hours in Chiusi as they will close for several hours in the afternoon.
kybourbon is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 06:01 AM
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Have stayed at the Chiostro and enjoyed it. Its in the center of town and almost across the street from Il Rossellino, a mom and pop place seating less than 20. Don't miss it.

Also as you exit the south end of Piazza Novona almost in front of you will be a neat enoteca: Cul de Sac. About fifteen feet wide and a hundred feet deep. Walls floor to ceiling with wine. Limited menu, but great for lunch.

If you get to Orvieto don't miss an outdoor lunch at I Sette Consoli. Ask anyone for directions.
DRJ is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 06:39 AM
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In a similar trip we unwittingly fell into the tourist trap of Capri's Blue Grotto...a very high price for an uncomfortable trip in a very small boat for a 60second or so view of an admittedly unique sight. Go if you must but be prepared. The island itself is not to be missed including Anna Capri at the top and an exciting trip down on the smallish bus. Enjoy.
JMurph is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 06:50 AM
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In addition to JMurphs comment, the same goes for the Emerald Grotto (Grotta di Smeraldo). I believe it is between Sorrento and Positano. Total tourist trap/rip off!!

We took a day tour from a cruise ship 2 years ago and since the weather was too rough, we had to forgo a day in Capri, so we opted for a coast drive, including a stop at the Emerald Grotto. Save your Euros for lunch.
catsailor is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 10:39 AM
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Hi Patty,

I would just mention, again, that you are overestimating how many hilltowns you can visit in one day. Remember, most of the shops do close down for 2 - 4 hours in the afternoon.

2 hilltowns plus Sant'Antimo will be a very full day. Plus, if you are staying in Pienza, Montepulciano and Montalcino are in opposite directions from Pienza. Not too far and all beautiful drives, but still in opposite directions.

I would vote for Orvieto for your other day trip. Add Civita di Bagnoreggion if possible.
Dayle is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 11:54 AM
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Gotta agree with Dayle on your Day 5 agenda - too many places. Remember that in addition to the time to be spent driving from one place to the other, during the siesta hours most shops, churches, and many restaurants are closed until 4:00. That's what happened to us in Montepulciano a couple years ago when we arrived about 1 PM. Also, the days are getting shorter and it will be dark by 5:30.
hazel1 is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 01:06 PM
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I agree with kbourbon. Why waste the money on a car when you can go downstairs at the train station in Naples and get on the circumvesuviana train to Sorrento. It lets you right off in town. That's the train you can take to Pompeii or Ercolano, also.
Ann1 is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 02:12 PM
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It's possible that pattytravel will not get to all her destinations on Day 5 in Tuscany, but as someone who isn't much interested in shopping, and basically regards that part of Tuscany as interesting for its landscape more than its structures, I'm not sure Day 5 is undoable, given an early start.

That said, I would still prefer something more relaxing on Day 6 than those long drives. But I think the drive up to Siena, through Le Crete Sinese, would be pretty, making a stop for lunch in a town of your own discovery, and then a modest trip into Siena -- or maybe just exploring. I would be tired going all the way to Orvieto or Assisi. It would make more sense to return your car in Orvieto and see the cathedral on your way to Rome.

I also don't see the harm of splurging on a taxi transfer to one's hotel door after a transatlantic flight, and when you are dragging luggage.

pattytravel, if the weather is not good for Capri, it's not going to be good for Positano, or taking a ferry back from there. Pompeii might be the best choice, even if it means taking an umbrella. (I'd rather have rain than hot sun when touring Pompeii.) If it is positively pouring (unlikely), consider the archeological museum in Napoli, and other sights. Be sure to pack a guidebook that includes tips on the highlights of Napoli.
zeppole is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 06:50 PM
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ok, I'm still reading thru the comments, recommendations from you guys and will first confess, I don't really care too much for going on the touristy trip to Capri... I think this is one that my husband would want (and I'm still trying to teach him that it's not pronounced caPREEE as his NY ITalian mom would say but CApri, as us other Europeans KNOW you say!! (my ancestry is Spaniard, so we know where the accent on the syllables are for Latin based words!!)

ANYWAY, what are you proposing we must do to avoid the horrible tourist traps in Capri??
- How long should we realistically plan on being there?
- How worthwhile ist it?
- What is the best to do there?
pattytravel is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 06:52 PM
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Dear kybourbon & trusted Fodorite!!....
We are taking a car service from Naples to Sorrento instead of train b/c I think the 75 E would be worth it vs. the toil & effort & extra time.... Not so?
pattytravel is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 06:56 PM
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DRJ... thanks for the input on places to eat...some are new names to me., so I'll add them to the list!! what about Latte di Luna in Pienza? is it as great as all the sites/ guides/ some folks say it is??? I like great food and good atmosphere and "where the locals go" vs. overpriced lux touristy places... I always try to befriend the locals and ask them where THEY eat... any suggestions???
pattytravel is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 07:00 PM
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Dayle, thanks for the good advice on taking it easy on the day trips.. yes, I know Montalcino and Montelpulciano are at opposite directions.... we'll reconsider some of the aggressive agenda...
any thoughts on wineries to visit??
pattytravel is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 07:18 PM
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one more comment, yes, zeppole, points well taken and good advise. Siena would be a good slow ride up. or a combo of the earlier day that we didn't get too... we'll have to learn to "take it easy!!, Slow ride!
anything else?!
pattytravel is offline  
Oct 1st, 2009, 07:39 PM
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ditto on the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento - a car is wasted money and could well take longer - traffic in the Naples area is nighmarish.

I think Siena would be the outstanding daytrip for you. Assisi is much too far from Pienza. The idea of dropping off your car in Orvieto is a good one. If Chiusi, are you leaving time to look at it?

If you go to Montepulciano, the church outside the dates (is it San Biagio??) is a must see, better than anything inside the town, which is a charming sample of a prosperous hill town but doesnt have outstanding sights. You might want to be a little more relaxed on this day, plan a nice long lunch (maybe a lunch featuring the wines in Montalcino)

I think there is a lot more to see and enjoy in Capri than the Blue Grotto, Im sure if the weather holds up you will not regret visiting there.

Pompeii is fine in the rain - make sure you take your brolly. the audioguide and map they provide is very good. If after you leave the Villa of Mysteries (a must see) you bear to the left going back toward the scavi, you can go up the hill on the path outside the walls and above the ruins that runs along vineyards and fields, with a great view of Vesuvius. You can reenter the excavation a little way on or continue all the way around to the amphitheater, but it gives a totally different slant to the ruins.
jjkbrook is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 04:01 AM
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thanks jjkbrook for the encouragement! what is a brolly by the way??!!!
pattytravel is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 11:44 AM
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My guess that brolly is an umbrella.
catsailor is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 04:42 PM
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On my last trip to Tuscany, I spent 3 nts in Montalcino. Part of the first day (early start) was training from Rome to Chiusi where I picked up my car and then driving to Pienza where I stopped for lunch at Latte di Luna. Didn't see the town that day as I was eager to get to my hotel.

Did a couple loops around Montalcino looking for the hotel. Finally parked and strolled around to look. Found it and drove there. Got settled and walked around town, and up to the Fortezza and did some wine tasting.

The enoteca at the Fortezza has hundreds of wineries represented and very knowledgable staff! I was happy just tasting here and didn't visit any wineries in the area. The views from the walls of the fortezza are incredible!

Next day I got up early to be at the 9am service at Sant'Antimo. Heavenly. Drove over to Montepulciano to meet friends for lunch (their trip coincided with mine!). Wandered around Montepulciano, then returned to Montalcino for more exploring and wine tasting.

Next day toured Pienza and enjoyed the views from the walls. Then did an impromptu 3 hour exploring drive all around as I worked my way to Monte Olivetto to see the frescos. Wonderful, but I enjoyed Sant' Antimo more if you have to choose.

Dinner every night at Grapplo Blu in Montalcino. Fabulous food that goes just perfectly with brunello. Imagine!

I only give the details here to give you an idea of how time goes in Tuscany....

Do have lots of brunnelo for me!
Dayle is offline  
Oct 2nd, 2009, 05:19 PM
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Dayle, Great info. I'm going to Pienza in May. We will have to try some of the restaurant's you mentioned. We are really looking to wine tasting!
Thanks, Judy
bxl4373 is offline  

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