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mantapup Jan 12th, 2014 01:28 PM

15 days in Italy, advice on my plan
Hello all,

Planning our first trip to Italy. it will be my wife and I travelling - we're in love with Italian food and wine so looking forward to gaining some weight! We're not looking for a relaxing holiday in Italy by the beach somewhere, but not very packed days either.. We like to experience the local culture esp festivals, history, food and drinks.. and generally just walk a lot everywhere exploring cities and sights, we also dont like to rush and charge about form one place to another.

We havent booked anything at all yet but we're looking at being there for 17-18 nights starting just after mid-April and returning May. We are in London right now.

After reading up on forums and checking guidebooks I have short-listed a few cities and indicative days I think I'd like to spend/will need in each. SO without much ado here goes...

Venice - 2 days
Cinque Terre - 2 days
Florence - 4 days
Rome - 4 days
Naples - 2 days
Amalfi Coast - 1-2 days

What do you guys think? In an ideal world I'd have more time and spend more days in Rome and Florence. I'd also like to have visited the following but have decided that these fall into a Trip#2 itinerary:


Thoughts please?

mantapup Jan 12th, 2014 01:37 PM

What do you guys think - Any destinations from my plan that you would recommend to stay longer or less? Any we should just avoid for the first trip and perhaps pick another? Thoughts please?

PalenQ Jan 12th, 2014 01:47 PM

Seems swell to me given your time limits - I may suggesting doing Naples as a day trip from Sorrento or an Amalfi base and dropping the Cinque Terre and adding those days to the Amalfi which has so so much to see and do - Capri, Ishcia, Paestum, Pompeii, ascending Mt Vesuvius to the crater and of course Naples - all easy day trips from Sorrento a utilitarian and nice base though not as dreamy as the Amalfi towns but if going to Capri, Pompeii, Naples, much closer.

the 5 Terre always runs the risk of poor weather and then if you can't hike the 7-mile trail between the 5 there is not much else to do.

Well that is my take after having been to all those places.

Andrew Jan 12th, 2014 01:50 PM

How can anyone "in love with Italian food" NOT stop in Bologna??? ;-)

At least stop for lunch in Bologna off the train (I assume you are taking the train?). If you take the train from Venice to Florence, The train will stop in Bologna anyway; you could hop off for a few hours, stow your bags at lockers (or a luggage desk) at the station, and go have a meal in Bologna. It's not exactly a stunningly picturesque city by Italian standards, but it's worth a quick walk around, especially if you eat!

I see you plan to travel from Venice to the Cinque Terre in one day - I guess that avoids backtracking if you want to avoid going up from Florence and then back to Rome, but that's how I did it (from Florence). (Actually, I went from the CT through Rome to Naples and to Sorrento - long day of train travel!) I don't recall the Venice - CT connection as being that direct no matter how you do it, but if you do wind up going through Bologna, be sure to stop for a few hours if you can!

dfourh Jan 12th, 2014 01:51 PM

When planning a trip like this it's good to draw out a big calendar by hand on paper. The first thing to consider is where you will spend the night. The next thing, is to look at train schedules and figure out how many hours will be eaten up by travel (Venice to Cinque Terre, for instance, is a real slog, and basically consumes most of the day; then going anywhere from Cinque Terre can eat up time too). After plotting out nights and travel hours, then you can realistically see how much actual free time you have, and maybe knock a day off Florence or Rome to compensate.

Andrew Jan 12th, 2014 01:54 PM

As for where to spend more/less time: since you didn't mention "art and museums" so explicitly, Florence may not really be worth four night unless you are planning day trips (which many people do - to Pisa, Siena, and elsewhere). Personally, I didn't care for Florence but I know some people do. I might take a night from Florence and add it to Venice.

I loved the Cinque Terre, but as PalenQ says, bad weather might ruin your hiking plans. The towns themselves are still adorable. I visited the CT twice in the fall and had perfect weather both times, but I've never visited in the spring. Even if you have perfect weather, some trails could be closed due to previous slides; you have to check or be prepared for alternate hikes.

greg Jan 12th, 2014 02:00 PM

Festivals: Easter is April 20. You might want to decide where you want to hit Easter related activities.
CT and Amalfi Coasts are relaxing holiday by beach with scenery (not quite what you are looking for?). Neither offer much of historical or particularly gastronomic sites. Good food, yes, but not a gastronomical capital like Bologna.
I'm not sure if you are sarcastic about gaining weight. One usually loses weight even eating all the goodies one cares for due to walking.

Jean Jan 12th, 2014 02:34 PM

More than just Easter in that timeframe... Good Friday (April 18), Easter Monday which also happens to be Rome's birthday (April 21, national holiday), Liberation Day which is also the Feast of St. Mark in Venice (April 25, national holiday), Labor Day (May 1, national holiday).

Lots of Italians will be traveling in this period, so IMO your itinerary choices and hotel reservations should be made ASAP. Buy as many train tickets as possible in advance.

Unless you do all of your traveling between cities in the evenings, you don't have as many days in each place as you're stating. Two days in Venice requires 3 nights, 2 days in the CT requires 3 nights, 4 days in Florence requires 5 nights, etc.

kja Jan 12th, 2014 03:47 PM

I think your plan is too rushed. It doesn't seem to factor any time in for travel, so you really have at least 1/2 day LESS in each location than you think. So you have at most 1.5 days in Venice, some of which might be lost to jet lag; 1.5 days in the Cinque Terre (which could be OK if you have good weather), 3.5 days in Florence, 3.5 days in Rome (the bare minimum, IMO), 1.5 days in Naples, and only 1/2 days or so for the Amalfi Coast (depending on where you will catch your flight home).

At the very least, you might want to drop Naples and the Amalfi Coast from your itinerary and add that time to Rome or one of your other destinations.

Hope that helps!

lucy_d Jan 12th, 2014 04:44 PM

I agree with the recommendation to add additional time to the Amalfi Coast to visit Capri and Pompeii. Hope you have a wonderful trip!

giadaaustraliana Jan 16th, 2014 03:34 AM

Checking in and hotels and travelling from place to place wastes lots of time and makes for a stressful holiday. I'd suggest staying in Venice, Florence, Rome and Amalfi Coast only, then doing day trips from each location.

If you extend your stay in Florence, you can access the Tuscan countryside(great for food and wine!) as well as do a day tour to the Cinque Terre. You don't need more than a day in the Cinque Terre unless you want to laze on a beach somewhere. You could also catch the train or hire a driver to go to Bologna if you must.

If you stay in Sorrento for instance, you can travel along the Amalfi Coast, to Capri, Naples, Pompeii, etc., on day trips.

I'd suggest using public transport to get from city to city, then book yourself on tours or hire a driver to see the locations. For tours, I've used for Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Cinque Terre and Venice and can highly recommend.

bilboburgler Jan 16th, 2014 03:43 AM

looks good to me, I might drop one site such as the Amalfi Coast to make other visits more balanced

PalenQ Jan 16th, 2014 07:23 AM

Or drop Naples and spend 4 days on the Amalfi - Pompeii, Capri, the Amalfi, etc. Naples is a neat old-world city but a big city and most would enjoy more the Amalfi and islands like Capri or Ischia.

sarge56 Jan 16th, 2014 08:41 AM

I agree that EITHER CT or Amalfi might be a better choice than both.

I like:

Venice 3 nights
Florence 4 nights
Rome 5 nights
Amalfi 5 nights

This allows you enough time to travel between cities. Florence allows for a day trip to Sienna and/or hiring a guide to take you into Tuscany. I have used Luca Garappa and he is awesome. Best bet is to BUS to Siena (one hour from Florence) and let him pick you up there. We had a wonderful day with him and incredible food!

This plan then also gives you some time to see Naples/Pompeii on day trip from Amalfi.

Buon viaggio!

ekc Jan 16th, 2014 08:52 AM

I like sarge's plan. I also strongly disagree with the statement that the Amalfi Coast does not "offer much of historical or particularly gastronomic sites." Some of the best meals I have had in Italy have been while staying on the Amalfi Coast - and Paestum still amazes me each time I visit.

rbciao Jan 16th, 2014 09:49 AM

Your itinerary contains too much moving around. You will lose a lot of time moving from location to location when you consider checking out of a place, transit, and then finding your hotel in possibly strange city.

Le Cinque Terre and the Amalfi Coast offer the same type of environment. Personally, I would drop Le Cinque Terre and add a day to or two to Venice. Cinque Terre is time consuming to travel to and is crowded.

Buon viaggio,

PalenQ Jan 16th, 2014 10:15 AM

We havent booked anything at all yet but we're looking at being there for 17-18 nights starting just after mid-April and returning May>

Not sure if you are going by train or not but assume so - cars are useless and a liability in all those cities and can't even drive in the 5 Terre and on Amalfi roads are so sinuous I leve the driving to the famous Amalfi buses or take fast boats along the coast.

But if taking the train then you may want to book ASAP as there are a limited number of discounted tickets sold for each train - some as low as 9 euros regardless of distance - so go to and look at the various fares - note though those tickets I believe are hard to change or refund so be sure of your dates.
If you want flexibility to chose which trains you take once there then look at the Italy Railpass - even though you must pay for seat reservations on anything but a regional train but you can IME always get seat reservations even the day of the train at many times. Full fare and thus fully flexible tickets can cost a fortune so if flexibility is key the pass could be a great deal, especially in first class. Anyways great sources for lots about Italian trains - - great info on discounted fares; and

kawh Jan 16th, 2014 10:48 AM

sounds good, though i'm not particularly a 5-terre fan. i think i would add time to amalfi... stop in naples on your way from rome and go have lunch and see a bit of it. that way, if you are itching to go see more, you can do a long day trip from amalfi coast. by adding those days to amalfi, you could even boat over to capri for the day... you can stroll capri, and take a little swim in the waters and be back in sorrento in a day. you will need a full day in amalfi just to see pompeii.

annhig Jan 16th, 2014 12:30 PM

I too would drop the CT - just far too much time to get there for possibly little reward.

others may have said this upthread, if I apologise, but you lose at least 1/2 a day every time you move from one place to another and with the CT it's more like a whole day. with 17-18 nights you only really have time for 4 places.

And if you are based in London, you should be able to return to see places you didn't catch he first time round.

Ackislander Jan 16th, 2014 02:25 PM

The suggestion from dfourh is a really good one for those who are visual learners. Nothing helps like a chart. I do it for travel and even for my clothes: shirt B with trousers A and so forth.

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