3.5 weeks in Italy, plus Croatia?

Old May 15th, 2022, 10:53 PM
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3.5 weeks in Italy, plus Croatia?

Hi!
My partner and I are planning a 3.5 week trip to Italy beginning 29th August. We're in our early 30's and looking forward to beautiful scenery across a variety of landscapes - plenty of coastal towns and beaches, and a mix of cities, rolling hills, lakes, mountains. Italy is the focus and we will spend most if not all of our time there. We're considering including a short ~5 day segment in another country - particularly Croatia - for the sake of experiencing another culture, cuisine, language, etc. We're only interested in doing this if the transit to/from is efficient enough to justify the relatively short segment.

Here's the Italy+Croatia itinerary we're considering:
  • Arrive Milan morning. Pick up car, swing by Milan/Bergamo enroute to Garda
  • Lake Garda 3 nights
  • Dolomites 3 nights
  • Venice 2-3 nights (Return car on arrival). Fly Venice to Split. The direct flight is only once every 3 days, I hope it's reliable?
  • Croatia 4-5 Nights. See 2-3 of: Split, Vis, Brac, Hvar (open to other suggestions too!). Fly Split to Rome
  • Rome 3 nights
  • Sardinia 4 nights (perhaps cut 1 night from here and Amalfi and tack on 3 nights Puglia at the of the trip)
  • Amalfi 3 nights (maybe day trip to Capri)
  • Fly out of Rome
Questions: thoughts on including the Croatia segment? Any suggestions for it?

Here's the Italy-only itinerary. There are 4-5 days we haven't decided what we'd do with - I've marked some ideas as options 1-3. A little part of me is also considering removing the Dolomites to go with 2 of the "options".
  • Arrive Milan. Pick up car, check out Milan/Bergamo. Go to Garda
  • Lake Garda 3 nights
  • Dolomites 3 nights
  • Venice 2-3 nights
    • [Option 1. Train to Cinque Terre 3 nights, 2 nights Florence train to Rome]
    • [Option 2. 5 day roadtrip w/ stops/stays in Bologna, San Marino, Urbino, pretty Umbria towns- maybe Spoleto, Norcia)]
  • Rome 3 nights. Fly to Sardinia
  • Sardinia 4 nights. Fly to Naples
  • Amalfi 3 nights
    • [Option 3. 5 days in the south. Yes I know this is vague, haven't had a chance to research much ]
  • Fly out of Rome
Questions: Given a priority is to swim in Sardinia / Amalfi and have a 'summer feel' without the crowds, is the order OK? Any risk it would be chilly by the time we reach the islands / beaches? Would the reverse be better?

Happy travels and thanks in advance for your help!
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Old May 16th, 2022, 01:10 AM
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You've picked some beautiful spots but a few comments...

Flying somewhere so frequently is the opposite of a relaxing and fun time so I would minimise/eliminate flights within Europe if at all possible.

I'd probably focus just on Italy but one easy and beautiful alternative would be to take the ferry from Venice to Rovinj and enjoy five nights in Istria. Otherwise, I'd focus on Italy only.

I'd also choose between Sardinia and Amalfi coast. I think you're short changing both so I'd focus on one and have a better time.

You don't have a lot of time in any one place, particularly Rome and Venice but that's okay for a taste. Personally I'd choose Option 2 that you've described but I think it would be rushed to fit in all the places you've listed in five days. There's an awful lot to see in that area.

Have a lovely time.
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Old May 16th, 2022, 01:20 AM
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good advice from dreamon
I'm not sure why you need a car to get from Milan to Bergamo or what you will do with it, I suspect it will spend most of you holiday parked somewhere, difficult to get to, being a target for thieves etc. Compared to using the train and a ferry to go up the lake, what a terrible way to get around.
I'd stick to one country as well but Slovenia is a good visit, either on the coast or up in the mountains. I prefer up in the mountains but the Istrian coast is lovely too.
I'd stick to the mainland for such a short holiday, I note that you have not included say Marche, Puglia or Basilicata in this trip, I'd read up on this, by September the beaches will be very much emptied out but if early in the month still warm, just not baking.
Flying is enough of a crime, without using it for these little hops while using the train will take you city centre to city centre which makes travel so much more civilised.
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Old May 16th, 2022, 08:11 AM
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You've allotted days/nights almost equally everywhere which seems to indicate, at least to me, that you haven't fully developed a sightseeing plan for each place. You've just sort of listed a bunch of places you'd like to go to. Some have much more to see/do than others, and in some places getting around just takes longer. For example, seeing Lake Garda by ferry is great but slow, and there are many things to see beyond the shoreline. Three nights in the Dolomites is close to being a drive-by.

Although you have less interest in big cities, if particular museums/galleries in Venice and Rome (and Florence if that is included) are a priority, you need to check that those sights will be open on either of the days you'd be there.

You should research transit logistics and times in total between points. Easy, short flights are still time-consuming, involving getting to and from airports by some means (taxi, train, bus), check-in, luggage rules, security scans, and always, always carry the risk of delays or cancellations. In a tight itinerary, one flight fail at the beginning of a trip can ripple for days. Lost luggage might never catch up to you.

And there are mundane things to think about... Because you're moving every few days, you should travel as light as possible which means wearing the same clothes several times. That translates to needing to do laundry several times. Many hotels offer laundry services or can recommend a local laundry, or you can DIY, but you should have a loose plan for where/when.

Make sure your credit card has a limit that would enable you to extend your trip if you test positive for Covid. Keep an eye on Covid rules for entry to both Croatia and Italy as they can change at any time. Take KN95 masks for Italy. They're required on all public transportation.
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Old May 16th, 2022, 08:14 AM
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Where are you flying to Italy from? If you've had a long overnight flight, I would recommend not trying to drive when you first arrive as it is difficult to drive in an unfamiliar environment when you are exhausted.
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Old May 16th, 2022, 08:15 AM
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https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/new...ecommendation/

until June 15, but stuff changes as the facts change
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Old May 16th, 2022, 03:59 PM
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Hvar is really more of a party town - if that's what you want, go for it. Yes, it has views from the top...but personally, I would spend the time in Split and go to Krka National Park. Then you can make your way to Zadar, then back to Split.

Alternatively - or in addition to, you can go to Korenica and book a place (I stayed at the Falling Lakes Hostel, really liked it) there so you're much closer to Plitvilce National Park.

If you want beautiful scenery, those parks can't be beat.

Example itinerary: 2 nights Split, 1 night Zadar, 1 night Korenica, 1 night Split before you leave - you can tweak it to whatever makes more sense for you.

Last edited by my2credits; May 16th, 2022 at 04:06 PM.
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Old May 16th, 2022, 04:36 PM
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I agree that, for the short time you are visiting, you don't need a car for Bergamo, lake Garda, Dolomites or to get to Venice. It is likely quicker to drive from lake Garda to the Dolomites than take public transport, however, if time is short. Not sure that would be enough to sway me towards a car.

All the places my2credits mentions are great but that pace is too frenetic, especially if flying in and out. In my view, it simply isn't worth flying to Split for 4-5 nights, not when you have so many amazing places so much closer.
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Old May 16th, 2022, 05:14 PM
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Yes, you are correct. You could easily spend all 4-5 nights in Split. Or do a combination of Split & Zadar.

However, if OP hasn't booked flights (it sounds like they have not), I would look into seeing if there is an option to fly into Zadar or Zagreb instead of Split, purely for the reason that you will be closer to Plitvilce this way and I would prioritize that given the amount of time you have and what they want to see.
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Old May 17th, 2022, 08:36 PM
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Hi All,
Thanks so much for your responses, extremely helpful! We're researching some of those ideas and considering some changes based on feedback. I'll share some updates here when we have a bit more clarity!
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Old May 21st, 2022, 06:11 PM
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Ok - here's where we landed. It's still quite rough, and as we get into the detail will probably end up remove a day here, adding one there. We haven't looked at transport to / from Elba yet, that was a late add. Worth mentioning, my partner has never been to Italy but I've been to Venice, Garda, Florence (Mantua, Padua, Vicenza too). I loved all of those places, but with this trip want to focus on areas neither of us have been, so that's why we're not spending more time in those places. I like our itinerary now reflects our priorities well: primarily relaxing by the beach (ideally not touristy areas, hence why we've left out Cinque Terre and Amalfi Coast), with a bit of beautiful scenery + hikes/biking in the north, and a couple days sightseeing in iconic cities along the way.

NORTH ITALY 11 nights
  • Arrive Venice. Stay 2 nights. Pickup car
  • Dolomites spend 3 nights (likely base in Oritsei)
  • Lake Garda 2 nights (where to stay?! I previously stayed Lazise). Return car Verona. Train w/ stop Bologna, 1 night in Florence?
  • Elba island 3 nights
ROME & SURROUNDS 6 nights
  • Rome 2 nights
  • Ponza 4 nights
  • Amalfi 3 nights
SARDINIA 6 nights
  • Stay santa teresa (NW)? Is this a good base? We'd love to be near nice beaches and town centres with a local vibe, restaurants, etc

It seems like the 3 islands: Elba, Ponza, Sardinia are quite different.. but if not the case maybe we would drop Elba and add a night to Florence / elsewhere.
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Old May 21st, 2022, 09:30 PM
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cowinks, before settling on your final plan, I would work out the travel logistics from place to place. Website rome2rio is a good starting point for this (click through to timetables for more accuracy). I would be concerned about how long you're spending just getting from A to B rather than enjoying your destination. I didn't understand the bit about Bologna and Florence. Also, if you are flying home from, say, Rome, then I'd stay there last.

Italy is chock full of beautiful and interesting places to visit.
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 08:39 AM
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I agree with dreamon. Check travel times and logistics.

Islands seem to be your priority (at least on this trip). Rather than Ponza, I'd look at the transit options Elba to Corsica and Corsica to Sardinia. Plan another trip that includes Ponza, Ischia, Capri and the Amalfi Coast.

I'd stay at the northern end of Lake Garda... Limone, Riva or Malcesine... but it depends on what you want to do during your time there. Two nights is only one full day... not much time,

I also don't understand the L.Garda-Verona-Bologna-Florence leg. It feels like moving in fits and starts. If you want to spend a couple of hours in Bologna, why not return the car there?

And I still think you're short-changing the Dolomites. I'd drop the Dolomites and add those nights elsewhere... perhaps to Lake Garda and/or the time between L.Garda and Florence.
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Old May 22nd, 2022, 05:21 PM
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There appears to be ferries from Isola d'Elba to Olbia via Piombino but it would be best to check timetables online. If I remember correctly, my sister visited Bonifacio from Santa Teresa for the day.
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