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Gawainator Aug 22nd, 2014 10:00 PM

23 days in Italy - itenerary HELP
Hi All!
My hubby and I are planning our first trip to Italy for Spring 2015. We have 23 days but are having a really hard time figuring out where to go. We know we want to spend the first few days in Lake Como just to relax. We also definetly want to go to the Dolomites and do some hiking. And at the end of our trip we want to do Rome and the Amlafi Coast area (pompeii and what not). We originally planned to change hotels every 1-2 days and we decided we would rather stay put and take day trips from a central location. We are most interested in outdoors and history. We are NOT interested in nightlife or fine dining. I welcome all of your advice and suggestions. Itinerary and a list of my key questions follow.
1. We have 5 days planned for Florence - what day trips are reasonable from this location
2. Is Assisi worth one night? - If not please make a suggestion
3. Suggestions for a nice/romantic place to stay in Lake Como
4. For hiking the Dolomites is Bolzano or Castelrotta the better choice for sleeping or do you have a better suggestion?

Day 1 - Arrive in Milan - transfer to Lake Como
Day 2 - Lake Como, sleep in Varenna (?)
Day 3- Lake Como, sleep in Varenna (?)
Day 4 - To Dolomites via Verona, sleep in Bolzano or Castelrotto (?)
Day 5- Dolomites, sleep in Bolzano or Castelrotto (?)
Day 6- To Venice
Day 7 - Venice
Day 8- To Cinque Terre
Day 9- Cinque Terre
Day 10- April 17: Pisa, then to Florence
Day 11- April 18: Florence, sleep Florence
Day 12 - April 19: Florence
Day 13- April 20: Florence - day trip to Siena
Day 14- April 21: Florence (?)
Day 15- April 22: To Assisi (by bus)
Day 16- April 23: To Sorrento
Day 17- April 24: Sorrento, Naples
Day 18- April 25: Sorrento, Pompeii
Day 19 - April 26: Sorrento, Capri
Day 20- April 27: Morning to Rome, sleep in Rome
Day 21 - April 28: Rome, sleep in Rome
Day 22 - April 29: Rome, sleep in Rome
Day 23- April 30: Fly home

Thanks for your help and suggestions!

kja Aug 22nd, 2014 11:13 PM

This trip sounds very rushed to me. I recommend that you get some good guidebooks (or spend some time with a few in your local library), identify the things you most want to see in each location, note their opening/closing times, and mark them on a calendar. Then pencil in your transportation, add some time on either side (for getting to/from the train/bus station or whatever, checking in/out, packing/unpacking, getting oriented, etc.). Then see how things fit together. You might end up deciding to cut a destination or two and having a better trip as a result.


vincenzo32951 Aug 23rd, 2014 05:26 AM

I think parts of the trip are a little rushed. For instance, using a day each to travel to Venice and CT just to spend a day in each place seems like an inefficient use of your time. I think I'd probably cut CT from the trip, especially since you've decided to spend time in Sorrento, a coastal city. Of course, when someone says a trip is rushed, what we're really saying is "It's rushed **for me**." Only you can decide what's right for you.

I've never been to Assisi, so I honestly can't answer whether it's worth it. But I know it is a bit of a detour in your itinerary. If you decide it's not worth it, how about: Stay in Florence for three days and then spend a night and two days in Siena, since you planned a day trip to Siena anyway. You can take an express bus to Siena from Florence and then the train south to continue your trip.

indyhiker Aug 23rd, 2014 05:30 AM

I'd do some additional research on weather, trail conditions and closures in the Dolomites for early to mid April. I've not been there myself, but I've researched enough hiking trips to know that that time of year is iffy at best in alpine areas. It's the end of ski season and well before summer season. That means few, if any lifts are running, shops and restaurants are often closed and trails are muddy or snow covered. Given how rushed certain parts of your trip otherwise is, I'd skip it and devote that time elsewhere.

Jean Aug 23rd, 2014 08:15 AM

Could you fly into Venice instead of Milan? And substitute Lake Garda for Lake Como? If so, you'd save a lot of travel time between points.

I agree with Vincenzo that to travel most of a day to spend only one day is rushed or inefficient or whatever. Are you aware of all of the travel times? For example, it's 5 hours from Varenna to Bolzano and 3.5 hours from Bolzano to Venice (plus time to reach hotel). It's 6 hours from Venice to, say, Manarola, and then 3+ hours from Manarola to Florence. (If you're just stopping at Pisa to see/climb the Tower and nearby sights, you don't need to stay overnight.)

I don't see the advantage of taking a bus from Florence to Assisi, but maybe I don't know something. If it's the Sulga bus, I don't think it operates on Wednesday (April 22). There is a Sulga bus from Assisi to Naples that might make sense. It isn't faster, but there are no connections so you only load your luggage once.

Why aren't you seeing the Amalfi Coast while you're in Sorrento?

kybourbon Aug 23rd, 2014 08:46 AM

I agree that parts are rushed because of the travel time between places and don't think you've allowed enough time for Rome.

I would also start in the south and work my way north for weather purposes. Perhaps fly into Naples (there is a shuttle bus from the airport to Sorrento 10€), visit Amalfi area and then work your way north.

sandralist Aug 24th, 2014 07:36 AM

I don't know what time in Spring you are traveling but the season for the Dolomiti is a late starter -- usually you need to go in June to find trails dry enough for pleasant hikes and better chances for sunny weather. The season for le Cinque Terre is earlier but any time before June can mean a lot of rain. Lago di Como is very nice in Spring because of all the flowers even if you get spring showers. Usually the Amalfi coast has quite nice weather most days.

So you might want to focus on Lago di Como and the Amalfi coast for enjoying spectacular scenery.

For a traveler interested in history it is always hard to calculate how to divide time between the great historic cities of Italy. I recommend talking over between the two of you whether you are most interested in ancient history or Renaissance history or the complicated historical mix of Venice. Nothing wrong with skimming them all on a short trip but if you actually are grabbed by one aspect of history more than others you should go for it and not feel obliged to see a little of "everything" or what guidebooks indicate are the "necessary" sights. You'll end up seeing a lot of stuff you didn't plan to see anyway because Italy is so crammed with "everything" in such density. But if you are planning then I recommend you plan to see what is most engaging to you and leave the rest to mood and serendipity.

anneeby Aug 24th, 2014 09:12 AM

Here are some suggestions for places to stay on your trip. They are inexpensive, wonderful little "finds".

Haus Silbernagl,

Lake Como. Bellagio area
Pescallo is a tiny fishing fishing village just a 10 minute walk to the crowded Bellagio. We had a beautiful room with a balcony overlooking the lake and a great breakfast.
Hotel Miralago Bellagio,

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