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2 weeks - late March/early April - ideas welcome!

2 weeks - late March/early April - ideas welcome!

Old Jan 5th, 2014, 08:03 AM
  #1  
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Join Date: May 2003
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2 weeks - late March/early April - ideas welcome!

We have flights already booked into and out of CPH from the US so that part is not changeable. We are looking for ideas on itinerary as to how to best use our days and a path to take.

We were originally going to head north to Norway - Stavanger and Bergen. Wanted to take ferry from Hirtshals to Bergen; then head down to Stavanger before heading back to Copenhagen. The ferry one way seems rather expensive. It actually costs more to do it one way vs. a "mini Cruise" on fjordline.com which seems odd. I was thinking we could do the mini-cruise and just get off in Bergen, but not sure this is possible?? We then thought maybe it would be too cold to do this. We were in Scandinavia in mid April in 2011 and lucked out with mild weather. Not sure that will happen again, and I don't care for the cold all that much.

So, to consider other path - in lieu of heading to Norway - we are considering taking Easy Jet from CPH to FCO and spend 2 weeks in Italy. We would have 13 nights in Italy, as I want to head back to Copenhagen 2 days ahead of our flight home.

We are interested in seeing: Florence, Amalfi coast, Rome, Tuscany. Realizing that this may be too much, too spread out for our time frame, we would be flexible as to what to include and exclude.

We also realize that having to return to Rome to fly back to CPH isn't the most efficient use of time, but we'd have to do that to fly on Easy Jet. Their fares are just to good to fly other carriers.

We would prefer trains between major cities and but will rent a car if necessary to travel around Amalfi and/or Tuscany.

Looking for input as to how to best take advantage of the time we have to visit. I have never been to Italy and my husband has - decades ago on a student budget. We love history, architecture, food, art.

We haven't ruled out Norway, so input on that is welcomed as well as Italy.

Thanks~~
DebitNM is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2014, 08:35 AM
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We would prefer trains between major cities and but will rent a car if necessary to travel around Amalfi and/or Tuscany.>

cars on the Amalfi are frustrating due to very overcrowded sinuous cliff-hanging roads - better to take boats or buses between the towns (yes buses are slow but you can at least, if you're the driver, see the amazing scenery rather than clutching the steering wheel to avoid going off the cliff

and Tuscany and Umbria have a dense network of buses and some trains - you can easily day trip from Florence to Siena, San Gimignano, Perugia, Assisi - so no need to rent a car though if you want to spend several days exploring the countryside then yes but not just for a day or two IMO.

Italian trains are superb - getting better and better - booking way early can result in deep discounted fares (but also train-specific and non-changeble or refundble so be sure of your day and time - www.trenitalia.com is the official site of the Italian State Railways where you can book your own tickets. But if you want flexibility to chose which trains to take once there you can always get on trains as there are so so many. For lots of great info on Italian trains I always spotlight these IMO fine sites - www.seat61.com - great info on discounted tickets; www.ricksteves.com and www.budgeteuropetravel.com.

You may want to head to Florence directly from Rome's airport - via train would take about 3 hours all told - going into Rome and changing to high-speed train to Florence - then take direct train Florence to Naples and change to Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento (from which buses or boats go to the Amalfi) - the train back to Rome for your final days.

13 nights - florence 4 nights - including two day trips may - Pisa is so close though not a hill town but a flat town with a famous tower!

Rome 4 nights

Amalfi 5 nights - lots of day trips like to Capri, Pompeii, Ischia, Naples and Amalfi towns - many find Sorrento a convenient base for day trips as it is a transport hub with easy access to all the places I mention.
PalenQ is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2014, 09:11 AM
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Hi Debit,

I'm surprised you haven't visited Italy yet! You seem to travel quite a bit.

Anyway with the timing of your visit and what looks like about only 10 nights actually in Italy, I would recommend flying into FCO, doing 5 nights in Rome. Train to either Orvieto or Chiusi, pick up a rental car, and spend the next 4-5 nights in the Tuscan or Umbrian countryside. If you want, you could shorten Rome and the countryside by 1 nt and add a couple nights to Florence if you are big Renaissance art fans.

I have visited the Amalfi Coast, Rome and Tuscany during late March-early April and would definitely choose Tuscany at that time of year over Amalfi. Amalfi would be wonderfully uncrowded, but also mostly shut down and not the best weather.

Buon viaggio! You will love Italy and return soon like most of us, so don't try to do too much. La dolce far niente.
Dayle is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2014, 09:16 AM
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Well, obviously Italy has better weather than Scandinavia in that time period. And southern Italy has better weather than points north. Look at www.weatherbase.com for climate statistics.

That early in the season, driving on the Amalfi coast is possible (though still narrow and twisty, requiring the driver to ignore the stunning views and keep his eyes on the road). And parking spaces can be found in the villages. There should also be space on the buses. Not so sure about the boats running along the coast -- whether they run or not seems iffy every year, let alone that early in the season. But you can always get boats to Capri from Sorrento and Naples.

If you want to stay in rural Tuscany, you will definitely need a car. Weather could be cold and rainy or warmish and pleasant. The fields will be green (but no leaves on the grape vines) and fruit trees and mimosa trees in bloom.

Staying in a city like Florence and doing day trips into the countryside might be a better option. Plenty to do if the weather is bad, daytrip if the weather is good. From Florence, you can take the train to Pisa or Lucca (or both in one day), the bus to Fiesole or Siena or San Gimignano.

It seems we lean to leaving Scandinavia for another trip when the weather's better. Depends on you and your preferences.
Mimar is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2014, 09:30 AM
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We were in Tuscany for 2 weeks this past March/April and also in 2004 (March/April). The Val d'Orcia is stunning then. Ellen took over 2,000 photos. We've also been there several times in Sept and also late June - but March/April is our favorite time. This last trip we stayed in a fantastic apt in San Quirico.
http://www.house-in-tuscany.com/

I'll e-mail you the Shutterfly book Ellen put together for our trip, and also my Italy Itinerary.

Stu Dudley
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 09:35 AM
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We also feel that as lucky as we were last trip to Denmark, Sweden and Norway in April [2011, which I believe was an unusually warm spring] that heading south to Italy is seeming more and more appealing.

Dayle, I know, hard to believe, huh? We did have lunch in Bordighera in 2012 while spending time in Nice, that doesn't really count for me! We actually have 13 nights available IN Italy, as I already factored in days before and after in Copenhagen.

I so appreciation all of your insights, please keep them coming as we go over each and every one of them.
Mille grazie~
DebitNM is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2014, 11:38 AM
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Alrighty then - Italy it is.

Booked EasyJet from CPH - FCO - CPH. 14 nights in Italy. Now to settle in for the plan...
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Old Jan 5th, 2014, 11:47 AM
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<Amalfi would be wonderfully uncrowded, but also mostly shut down and not the best weather>

This is not correct. The Amalfi Coast doesn't 'shut down'. People do live there. I was in Positano this time last year and although many hotels were closed, there were still places to stay and shops and restaurants were open.

Late March early April will be even better as things are beginning to wind up for the season. It will be a perfect time to go.

However, do not drive. Unless you have a hotel with parking, it is is prohibitively expensive (like upwards of 25 euro per day. Using a car to tour the other villages means you will have to find said parking and cough up the cash. The buses are diabolical but if you leave early enough you should get a seat (note *should*). Remember these are not tourist buses. They transport school kids and take the locals to/from work. Don't expect a comfortable ride.
Houseofthevetti is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2014, 01:47 PM
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The Amalfi Coast buses are world-famous for their thrill rides:

https://www.google.com/search?q=amal...=1600&bih=1074
PalenQ is offline  
Old Jan 5th, 2014, 02:10 PM
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@ PalenQ - 'thrill rides'? It's not an F1 track - the buses are slow, stop often and during May-September are so overcrowded you can't breathe. The drivers are highly skilled and have to put up with idiotic tourists who can't handle the conditions - I think they do an amazing job. Don't get why you would call a basic bus trip a thrill ride unless you're referring to the fact that the road clings to the cliff - well it's Italy - not Columbia. The roads are safe.
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Old Jan 6th, 2014, 08:34 AM
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Well, the curves where the bus has to back up to make it around, and the back of the bus hangs out over the void IS kinda thrilling, especially for the people in the back of the bus.
Mimar is offline  
Old Jan 6th, 2014, 10:52 AM
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Don't get why you would call a basic bus trip a thrill ride unless you're referring to the fact that the road clings to the cliff - well it's Italy ->

Yes referring to the fact that the bus hugs a cliff - did not mean life-threatening!
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