2 Weeks in Italy in early October

Mar 12th, 2014, 01:02 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 19
2 Weeks in Italy in early October

Hi All...

Flying into Milan on October 3 for a two week trip to Italy. The plan so far: upon arrival, take a train to Venice, where we will spend 2-3 days. Then train down to Florence. Hope to spend some time in Tuscany and see Florence at the same time (3-4 days, perhaps). Then down to Naples (again, by train). Use Naples as a base for day trips...Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, maybe Capri, then back up to Rome, where we are catching our flight back to the States. My questions:

Is this itinerary too aggressive?

Should we buy a Eurail pass for 3-4 days, or just buy train tickets as needed. Do we need to make reservations in advance for October?

Should I rent a car in Tuscany (if so, I know not to drive it into Florence) and Naples, or rely on buses and/or organized day tour packages (if such exist in October)?

Thanks, in advance, for the advice. I'm sure I'll post again after pouring through previous posts re: attractions and accommodations, but any suggestions would be appreciated.
amyash is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 03:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 6,692
It would be much cheaper to buy individual train tickets rather than get a pass. If you buy online well in advance, you can usually get good discounts on the tickets, but keep in mind that the discounted tickets can't be changed (unless you change them before the day of travel, with a large penalty) and can't be refunded. If you think you might change your mind about travel times, you'd usually be better off buying full price tickets.


Renting a car to visit rural Tuscany is a great idea. However, first you should decide how much time you'll spend in each place and choose which areas you want to visit. If you'll be spending only one day outside of Florence, and if the town you want to visit is Siena or Lucca, there wouldn't be any point in renting a car.

For a day trip to the Amalfi coast, Sorrento is a better base than Naples, and it's also a good base for Capri and Pompeii. To see all of those things, you should plan on spending four nights in the area. There would be no advantage to having a car for these visits.

If you want three full days between Tuscany and Florence, you'd need four nights there as well, and I wouldn't recommend fewer than two nights in Venice.

How many actual nights on the ground will you have in Italy? Because I think it looks as though you're going to be short of nights if you also want to see Rome. I usually consider four nights to be a minimum for Rome, but three nights would be an absolute minimum unless you're willing to skip some of the biggies that everyone seems to want to see.

It's always best to count nights in a given location rather than days, and to keep in mind that two nights is only one full day, unless you travel by magic carpet. Traveling between destinations eats up a lot of time over and above the time you spend on the train. If you're short of time, it's best to cut out one destination altogether rather than trying to see everything and cram too much sightseeing into too little time.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 04:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 11,212
Your itinerary looks pretty good.

Give Venice 3 days a the first day will be the arrival day and you won't get to Venice until late in the afternoon and will probably be tired for anything but a walk around and dinner.

If you have 3-4 days in Florence then you won't have time to rent a car and see much of the Tuscan countryside. Two days in Florence to see the main sights leaves only 1 to 2 days elsewhere. You can take buses or trains to many of the surrounding towns. This will be less expensive and less stressful. There are many streets in Florence that are not accessible to cars and you need to be careful to avoid these.

Anywhere near the water in October may be rainy, foggy, and colder than inland. There's no predicting the weather but these conditions are more realistic than sunny, warm days. That said, I would think about Capri and the Amalfi Coast as less desirable locations. If you do decide on visiting these locations then Sorrento is a lovely choice and closer to the Amalfi Coast. You can get a bus from in front of the Sorrento train station to take you to various towns along the coast. You can also get the boat to Capri from Sorrento.

When in Naples be sure to see the Archeological Museum that houses findings from Pompeii. It's fascinating. You can also visit Herculaneum from Naples (or Sorrento), a smaller site than Pompeii and less of a ruin. Both Pompeii and Herculaneum are interesting so consider seeing both - they're very different from each other.

Are you spending some time in Rome?

Some people like to count the number of nights but that always confuses me as I sleep at night and sightseeing during the day so I like to know what I'm doing each day and count the number of days. Two nights means one day but if I see the number two then I'm more likely to think I have tow days someplace when I only have one day. There's no rule about this - do what you're comfortable with.
adrienne is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 05:50 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 6,692
The problem with counting the days is that it's ambiguous. People tend to double count them and don't account for the travel days. If you count the nights, you can always determine the number of FULL days at destination by subtracting one.

For example, in amyash's original question, she mentioned flying into Venice and spending 2-3 days there. If 2 days means arriving on Wednesday and leaving on Thursday, she has almost no time in Venice. If it means arriving on Wednesday and leaving on Friday, she has one full day in Venice. It's not possible to know how amyash counts her days. If she had said, "two nights in Venice", there would be no possible confusion about how much time she was going to spend there.

Even when somebody says, "a two-week trip", that could mean three different things:

1. From the time I leave Boston until I return there (13 nights in Italy, or 12 full days).

2. From the day I land in Italy until the day I leave (14 nights in Italy, 13 full days).

3. Or it could really mean 14 full days in Italy (15 nights)

On a very busy trip like this one, those extra days mean a lot. There's never any ambiguity if you say how many nights you'll be at your destination.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 06:36 AM
Join Date: Dec 2005
Posts: 5,735
I agree with Adrienne, in October, you might consider skipping the Amalfi coast. You can do a day trip to Pompeii from Rome.

So, if you have 13 days on the ground, a possible itinerary might be:

Venice, 3 nights
Florence, 4 nights (with one day trip to Siena via express bus)
Rome, 6 nights (with one day trip to Pompeii)

There is one other thing to consider. Da Vinci's Last Supper is currently on display at a church in Milan. If your flight is arriving early, as most inbound flights do, you might want to get tickets to see it before you head to Venice.

Is this your first time to Italy?
sarge56 is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 07:06 AM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
It is simply not true that Naples and the Amalfi coast will be rainy and foggy in October. The weather in that area is usually sunny and dry most of the month. There are no guarantees but I wouldn't hesitate to go in that time frame. Since you are basing yourself in Naples you have no worries about running out of things to do if it rains.

If you would rather be in Naples and the Amalfi coast than Rome then your plan is good and don't let yourself be pressured into seeing Rome or switching your base from Naples to a tourist town if you would rather be in Naples. If you do want to spend time in Rome then unless you know you only want to see one or 2 easy things you don't appear to be leaving sufficient time to appreciate much of Rome.

Maybe I am misreading the above post but Da Vinci's Last Supper is always on display at a church in Milan. Da Vinci painted it onto the wall of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Perhaps sometimes the church is closed but the mural fresco never leaves Milan and since its restoration in the late 1990s it has generally been available to see. But you must reserve to enter.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 07:17 AM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
I also wanted to address the issue of renting a car vs. taking buses in Tuscany.

Most people do not find in stressful to drive in Tuscany. You already know not to drive it in Florence. Many people find using the buses extremely limiting. They do not run frequently nor do they go the most interesting scenic places.

You can easily find organized tours in October to the most popular places: wineries and the famous small towns like San Gimignano. You have a much harder time finding public transporation to these places so if you want to go to the popular places and don't mind spending the money and don't mind the company that might be the best way to go.

However you could also see what you want to see in Florence and then either rent a car there and drive out to the countryside for a night or 2 --- or you could take the bus to Siena and see a bit of Siena and then rent a car in Siena and drive out to the countryside. This might be a better plan if you wanted to explore unusual and less popular places (many of which are in beautifully scenic areas and very tranquil.) Ultimately you could drop off the car in Chiusi or Orvieto and take the train to Naples.

But even if you would just like to see some lovely scenery you can hire a driver for an afternoon out of Florence or Siena to take you around. Pricey but could be just the right way to spend money.

Up to you once you've thought about what interests you most about Tuscany and how you will feel if it rains those days. It is much more likely to rain in Venice Tuscany and Rome than Naples.
sandralist is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 09:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,117
We've had fabulous weather in the Amalfi Coast area in the last two weeks of October, but it can rain anywhere in Italy at that time of year.
Jean is online now  
Mar 12th, 2014, 09:57 AM
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 29
Do NOT buy a Eurail pass, the tickets from point to point in Italy are cheaper. I would recommend buying your tickets as you go as this is a shorter trip in October. It's not really a hassle and it allows you to adjust the days based on the weather. I would also recommend driving in Tuscany but it depends on where you want to go. If you can't find any buses to take you there, then it's worth driving as it's not as stressful as it's made to seem.
rodarte is offline  
Mar 12th, 2014, 10:03 AM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 6,692
Actually, da Vinci's Last Supper is on the wall of the refectory (dining hall) of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. While the monks had their supper they could gaze on and contemplate the Last Supper.

It's not easy to get tickets to see it. The number of visitors is strictly limited and when tickets go on sale, they tend to be snapped up within hours. There are city tours that include a viewing of the Last Supper, and a lot of people who have no desire to take a city tour sign up just to get a chance to see the fresco. To take one of these tours, you'd need at least half a day. Otherwise, you'll need to read up on strategies to get the tickets in another way.

I tried hard to get tickets for one of the four days we were going to be in Milan visiting friends a few years ago. I finally gave up, and didn't want to take a city tour, because our friends had made plans for every day we were there. Then, when we were already in Milan, our friends happened to mention that you could see the Last Supper without a reservation if you waited in line on the Feast of Sant'Ambrogio (7th December), which happened to be the next day. We were waiting in line early the next morning (I think around 7 AM) and got in with about the third group to enter. When we left, the line was very long, but I still think most of those there would have eventually been able to enter.
bvlenci is offline  
Mar 13th, 2014, 03:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 19
Thanks to all for your suggestions. I was in Rome, Florence and Venice about 20 years ago, but my travel companion has never been, so the plan is to see some of the typical touristy sights. Re: counting days/nights, I'm inclined to count nights to be more accurate with the days we actually have in each city/town. We're have a grand total of 14 nights to see what I'm beginning to think is to much.

Which brings me to this morning's question...if we want to be somewhat spontaneous and play it day by day and not book B&Bs, pensions, or hotels in advance, can we expect to make last minute reservations in the beginning of October at reasonably nice, moderately expensive lodgings? Ideally, we don't want to spend in more than $150-200 per night in any location.
amyash is offline  
Mar 13th, 2014, 04:30 AM
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 2,893
"if we want to be somewhat spontaneous and play it day by day and not book B&Bs, pensions, or hotels in advance, can we expect to make last minute reservations in the beginning of October at reasonably nice, moderately expensive lodgings?"

The early bird catches the worm. October is high season. Some might call it super-high season, because the quality of tourist tends to be elevated post summer. If you are unprepared with reservations, you risk wasting a lot of time running around trying to find somewhere to sleep. Are you and your partner willing to walk for miles with luggage knocking on doors? I would never agree to travel this way. I would never date a backpacker, no matter how handsome.

Spending 2-3 days in rich, fabulous locations is not my idea of a quality trip. Trips like these remind me of the quality of eat-n-run fast food, which is a slap to the essence of Italian la dolce vita. I understand that many tourists want to "see" as much as they can in their two short weeks. IMO, those memories fade quicker than the colors of a Gap t-shirt washed in Clorox.

Venice is intoxicating in early October. Tuscany, too. Rome is magnificent, and the Amalfi Coast can be spectacular at that time of year (although I prefer May or mid-September). 2-3 days in each of these places will not allow time to connect with life. You'll barely have time to capture a decent cell phone photo.

Travel in the fast lane, not for me. To each his own.
NYCFoodSnob is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 08:25 PM.