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Early planning for Fall 2019- Italy north & south

Early planning for Fall 2019- Italy north & south

Old Dec 10th, 2018, 04:13 AM
  #1  
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Early planning for Fall 2019- Italy north & south

Hi, all,
I'm planning a trip for September/October 2019 for a roughly monthlong trip to both north and south Italy. We will be 66 & 72 at the time and our energy levels are not what they used to be, so I'm looking to stay in places for 3-4 days so we're not moving around too much. Our focus is on art/architecture (DH was an architectural photographer), Roman (and Greek) ruins, beautiful landscapes, and of course, food. We're not "foodies", and don't usually eat at high end places, but do enjoy good cooking.

The trip, then, is a mix of north and south. Amalfi Coast is a place I've wanted to see for years, so that's a must. And of course, since reading maitatom's report, I now want to include a little of the north and visit Bologna! And of course, we want to see at least some of Palladio's work and Vicenza seems to be the right place as a center. Most of our stops are in cities, and we would take day trips; the current itinerary would mean we wouldn't rent a car at all, which is fine. I was thinking of including Le March or Umbria, but I love the fact that I can take a high speed train from Bologna to Naples. If we stayed somewhere in Le Marche or Umbria after Bologna, it would be a lot longer trip getting to Naples. So, if we were to stay a few days in the countryside before Naples or before arriving in Rome, any suggestions? I don't feel compelled to visit Capri or Ischia, but I thought it would be a nice "away" place - but so would a stay in the countryside or another place, perhaps slightly off-the-well-beaten path. I would like to avoid long travel days, and this itinerary works pretty well to keep the traveling manageable. We have been to Rome but I love the city and want to visit again. We've also been to Milan & Venice, & am not including them in this itinerary.

So here is the very tentative itinerary I've come up with. The places in parentheses are the day trips I'd like to make:

Vicenza 4/5 (Palladian villas, Padua, Verona)
Bologna 4 (Ravenna)
Naples 4 (Pompeii)
Ischia or Capri/Anacapri 2/3 -
Sorrento 3/4 (Herculaneum, Amalfi Coast)
Atrani 3 (Ravello)
Salerno 2 (Paestum)
Rome - 4

Feedback and suggestions welcome!

Thanks, as always,
Paule
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Old Dec 10th, 2018, 07:14 AM
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My thoughts
1) in the north you might want to cruise the Breda canal (on foot, bike or barge) as the thing is lined with Palladian, many leaning over a bit.
2) the south, you arn't getting very south with this trip, Naples certainly is a unique place but if you want Greece and Rome then the best place in Italy is Sicily.
Other than these two issues I think you will do fine, Sept is a good time to visit.
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Old Dec 10th, 2018, 07:18 AM
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Thanks bilboburgler,
We've been to Sicily already - I simply meant that I"m looking for those well-known sites which I mention as day trips, Pompeii, Herculaneum and Paestum. Paestum is a Greek site unlike the others. I'll look into cruising the Breda canal; sounds like an interesting idea.
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Old Dec 10th, 2018, 07:50 AM
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Well, first, lucky you, with this itinerary of both superlative natural and man-made beauty.
A few specific thoughts:
Take another look at Amalfi rather than Atrani as your base for the spectacular AC, more there there, easier access to transport for day trips.
Sorrento is very pretty but I thought its main benefit was as a hub. You will be staying on the Amalfi Coast so no need to daytrip from Sorrento. Sorrento’s train station is a lot easier to deal with than Naples’ so, if you keep it, you might also daytrip to Pompeii from there.
Like the thought of staying on Capri.
Not sure you will need two nights in Paestum.
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Old Dec 10th, 2018, 07:58 AM
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Thanks bon_voyage,
Food for thought - thank you!

Atrani is a definite -- several friends have highly recommended it and it has appealed because it's not the "big name" places. I will look at Amalfi, though, and will compare it to Sorrento. I'll look into visiting Pompeii from there as well.
Salerno seems to be a place that mostly doesn't get much tourism but the little I've read describes it as a pleasant town to visit. We could see Paestum and stay there one night, but if it's worth a stop, I don't mind the 2 nights to avoid too much rushing.

I'll see about Capri though I want to keep the cost reasonably down and not spend many hundreds of dollars on accommodation. I don't know what the lower end is yet, but would like to spend around $150, which is probably unrealistic for Capri.
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Old Dec 10th, 2018, 08:25 AM
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Ischia will be basically cheaper and just as easy to get a ferry to. Capri is tourism 101 so I might avoid.
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Old Dec 10th, 2018, 08:28 AM
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Right, Salerno. That should work well for two nights with an easy train connection to Rome.
I’m with you re fewer stops, longer stays.
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Old Dec 10th, 2018, 08:43 AM
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Sorrento seems unnecessary if you are staying in Naples and Salerno (can see Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Paestum from those places) as well as one of the islands and Atrani. I would add those days elsewhere.
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Old Dec 10th, 2018, 08:46 AM
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Thanks, bilboburgler,
I'll look into Ischia, Capri is definitely not required. The ferry sounds perfect - I'll just make sure it's still on when I plan to go in early October.
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Old Dec 10th, 2018, 04:10 PM
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Looks simply wondeerful - been to all those places and you have it all right alright IMO. Book your long-distance trains as far ahead as possible o get the cheapest rates - www.italotreno.com or Acquista il biglietto con le nostre offerte - Trenitalia - two separate train companies using same tracks and stations nad similar trains, locals trains for our day trips are best bought at the station - flat fare - no reservations - no reason to pre-book but be sure to cancel your own regional train tickets before boarding - by stcking them in a ticket date-stamping machine to validate them. For lots about trains check www.rickstves.com; BETS-European Rail Experts and www.seat61.com - latter awesome advice on booking your own long-distance train tickets.
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Old Dec 11th, 2018, 03:12 AM
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Thanks PalenQ! I'm so excited - just bought our airline tickets last night, now for the actual organizing of the itinerary! I'll definitely get tickets as soon as I have the exact dates figured out.
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Old Dec 11th, 2018, 10:09 AM
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Just to note that discounted tickets are train specific - can't change nor refund usually from one set train - leave time if landing and taking train same day.
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Old Dec 11th, 2018, 11:16 AM
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Thanks, PalenQ, I'll keep that in mind. I usually give us way too much time and have to sit around for too long - I'm definitely the "better to be safe than sorry" school.
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Old Dec 11th, 2018, 01:27 PM
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Have you considered the Dolomites or the Lakes for scenery?
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Old Dec 11th, 2018, 02:19 PM
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Originally Posted by thursdaysd View Post
Have you considered the Dolomites or the Lakes for scenery?
Yes, but I like my itinerary and don't want to spread ourselves too thin. I'm toying with stopping in Sirmione after we arrive, but have read that it can be overly touristy. We have visited both Lakes Maggiore and Bellagio, so have seen a few of the well known Itallian lakes. I'm trying to avoid cars, which, so far, I'm succeeding with this itinerary. Of course, I'm not ruling anything out and will figure it out a little bit more carefully soon, but at this point, those places just aren't in the plans. But I'll think about it.
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Old Dec 11th, 2018, 06:35 PM
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kja
 
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I’m sure you will have a wonderful time in these delightful parts of Italy! I haven’t been to the parts of the north you plan to visit on this trip, and so can only comment on Naples and the Amalfi Coast. Some comments:

4 nights (or is that days? either way!) in Naples strikes me as disportionately little time in comparison to other places you mention. Maybe that’s intentional, but if not, do make sure you will have sufficient time there to see / experience what you want. By way of contrast, your total time in the Amalfi Coast area (counting Sorrento, Capri/Ishia, Atrani, and Salerno) sounds exceptionally laid back. EXCEPTIONALLY. But maybe that's your intention?

If you plan to visit Naples and Atrani and Salerno, I’m not sure Sorrento is worth extra time – but then, I skipped Sorrento, and so could easily be mistaken. I visited Herculaneum from Naples and the Amalfi Coast from Ravello.

If you plan to visit multiple places from the Amalfi Coast and are willing to move around with some frequency, consider spending a night or two in Ravello. I spent two nights there, arriving before dinner one day and leaving after breakfast after my second night, and could easily have used another day if traveling at a relaxed pace (which I was not). For me, Ravello may be the most beautiful place I have ever visited – and honestly, progol, that says a LOT! And if you do pursue this option, you might consider the Hotel Parsifal. It’s been remodeled since I was there (so the one tiny single that I was able to afford no longer exists), and it isn’t the most glamorous of the hotels in Ravello, but it’s ancient cloister / courtyard is still there, and it is still run by the same very welcomining and gracious family.

I thought Salerno seriously underrated and think there are many merits to spending a night or two there – Salerno offers much more than just access to the main rail line! (BTW, don’t miss the small museum in Paestum – easily worth an hour or so!) And having been to Sicily and it’s Greek ruins, I would easily concur with the professional consensus that Greek temples of Paestum are among the best preserved ANYwhere.

Like just about everywhere on the Amalfi Coast, Capri gets a lot of tourists – for good reason! If you plan your time there well, it can be a delight. I, for one, would have hated to miss it.

Hope that helps!

Last edited by kja; Dec 11th, 2018 at 06:40 PM.
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Old Dec 12th, 2018, 06:06 AM
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Thanks for your thoughts, kja! The itinerary is definitely a work in progress. And yes, I'm trying to take it slowly and explore, and not burn ourselves out rushing from place to place. We are feeling the impact of getting a bit older and slower is definitely better these days (though I'm still inclined to plan way too much!).

I appreciate your feedback on your choices -- and I do see that you like to linger in places, and I enjoy seeing your take on places. I'm really trying to avoid the brief stays. As it turns out, we have a total of 33 nights (wow!) and I'm trying to understand how to allocate them so that we have both a relaxing time and yet explore many of the important places that are of interest.

I do plan on visiting Ravello, but as a day trip. I'm planning to stay in Atrani since several friends whose opinion I value have recommended it highly, so that's a definite stop. And I'm intrigued by Salerno, and am glad to know that you think it underrated. Paestum, of course, is one of the places that I want to visit (we met a couple in Selinunte, Sicily, who raved about it, and that was stored away for future reference!). My trip was initially focused on Naples/AC/Rome, until I read Maitatom's report, and knew I had to include Bologna and environs! And once I added Bologna, Vicenza became the obvious place to visit, given our interest in architectural history.

The big question is whether we rent a car (still inclined not to) and stay in a countryside location for 4-5 days. But that means passing up on the high speed train between Bologna to Naples. Much to think about!
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Old Dec 12th, 2018, 07:20 AM
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Bologna and the surrounding cities are well worth the visit and the food is especially good.

I'd only rent locally, the train is great way to get between locales. Take a picnic and relax.
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Old Dec 12th, 2018, 06:08 PM
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kja
 
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Originally Posted by progol View Post
The big question is whether we rent a car (still inclined not to) and stay in a countryside location for 4-5 days. But that means passing up on the high speed train between Bologna to Naples. Much to think about!
I, for one, would not want a car for the Amalfi Coast portion of your trip -- it will make getting around difficult, you'll have to manage parking, and the driver won't have the opportunity to fully enjoy the scenery. If you think a car would be helpful for your time in Vicenza or Bologna, consider waiting until you are in that area to pick one up.
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Old Dec 13th, 2018, 03:24 AM
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kja, No worries! Never in a million years would I rent a car in the Amalfi Coast! I only meant that I’d consider renting a car if we stayed a few days in the countryside, like Umbria or Le Marche. We would drop it off before taking a train to Naples. I really like the idea of an itinerary without the car, though, and I really like the idea of taking the fast train from Bologna to Naples. .
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