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Family of 5, Late Sept Southern Italy Trip Planning Help

Family of 5, Late Sept Southern Italy Trip Planning Help

Old May 24th, 2024, 05:08 AM
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Family of 5, Late Sept Southern Italy Trip Planning Help

Hello everyone, we are planning a ~12 days trip in late September to Italy and would really like some advice and suggestions!

Some quick facts:
  • Never been to Europe
  • 10-14 days, starting from mid/late September
  • Flying from US east coast (NC)
  • 3 adults + 2 kids (ages 4 and 7)
  • Not a huge history/art buff
  • Don't speak Italian (I will try to learn as much as possible though before traveling!)
  • We don't want to "see it all" but also don't want to be "too relaxing"
Our initial thought is dividing the time between Rome and a more relaxing beach/costal destination. 3 cities at max since we don't want to be moving around too much with kids and luggages.
  • Fly into Rome, 5 days (extra time to adjust to jet lag etc.)
  • Naples, 1 or 2 days (kids love pizzas )
  • Sicily OR Amalfi, 5 days (wife loves beautiful beach/coastal places)
  • oops, think we also need 1 more day to get back to Rome for the flight back
Would this work? Which one of Sicily or Amalfi would be better suited for kids? Do we need more time in either Rome or Sicily/Amalfi, if so, perhaps skip Naples?
Is the weather warm enough for beaches in late September in Sicily/Amalfi?

I also read people recommending Bari/Lecce area, would that be a better choice given our situation/priority? Living in a Trullo would be amazing for the kids, i imagine.

Thank you!!
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Old May 24th, 2024, 06:36 AM
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No Italian would plan beach holidays (in Italy) in late September and no Italian would stay more than a few hrs at an Amalfi coast beach anyway. But the seawater remains still relatively warm. As to the weather, everything between heavy rainfall and bright sun could be possible.
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Old May 24th, 2024, 07:29 AM
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Originally Posted by neckervd
No Italian would plan beach holidays (in Italy) in late September and no Italian would stay more than a few hrs at an Amalfi coast beach anyway. But the seawater remains still relatively warm. As to the weather, everything between heavy rainfall and bright sun could be possible.
Is that because of weather primarily?

So would you say end of Sept is not a good time to visit the coast?
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Old May 24th, 2024, 07:40 AM
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End September in Italy:
beaches popular with people from Northern Europe and all kinds of holiday clubs will remain open.
Beachers freqented by Italians only will be closed.
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Old May 24th, 2024, 08:44 AM
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Is it closer to 10 days or 14 days? Big difference. FYI, 10 days means 11 nights, and 14 days means 15 nights.

Since you haven't been to Europe with the young kids before, you shouldn't underestimate how much jet lag could impact sightseeing for the first day or two. You've given Rome 5 days (that means 6 nights). If you have to return to Rome to fly home, that adds one more night in Rome at the end. So, that's half if not more of your entire trip. You could eliminate the additional hotel change if you continued to the next destination immediately after landing in Rome, but you'd have to weigh that against what you think your group will be able/willing to do after the flight.

Although I wouldn't generally be thinking of "beach" at that time of year, it's entirely possible you'd have beautiful weather. Just no guarantee of that. I wouldn't entirely dismiss the idea of Naples (although it's another big, busy city) or the Amalfi Coast (although out of summer I think it's more of a romantic, adult destination). But I would probably pick something different. Perhaps Orvieto with a day trip to Cortona and/or a day trip to Lake Trasimeno for a boat ride to Isola Maggiore, both trips by train.

I'd drop Sicily and Apulia and think of places that aren't so far from Rome. Yes, you could fly Palermo or Bari back to Rome, but there's still getting to/from airports, check-in requirements, luggage limits, etc.

You also shouldn't underestimate how much time it takes a group of 5 to do everything. Sightsee, eat, pit stop, etc. Whenever you take a taxi, you might need two.

Luckily for your kids, you'll find pizza EVERYWHERE.
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Old May 24th, 2024, 08:45 AM
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Why not look at flights into Rome and out of Naples?
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Old May 24th, 2024, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by nylilly
Why not look at flights into Rome and out of Naples?
That's also a possibility. Nothing has been booked yet so we are all ears to suggestions! Without backtracking would be preferred actually.
I was also thinking maybe start with the place that's more relaxed, so we don't get off the plane and feel pressured to jump right into action. And end with Rome which, i imagine, would be more intense. But hopefully by then we'd be well rested

Originally Posted by Jean
Is it closer to 10 days or 14 days? Big difference. FYI, 10 days means 11 nights, and 14 days means 15 nights.

Since you haven't been to Europe with the young kids before, you shouldn't underestimate how much jet lag could impact sightseeing for the first day or two. You've given Rome 5 days (that means 6 nights). If you have to return to Rome to fly home, that adds one more night in Rome at the end. So, that's half if not more of your entire trip. You could eliminate the additional hotel change if you continued to the next destination immediately after landing in Rome, but you'd have to weigh that against what you think your group will be able/willing to do after the flight.

Although I wouldn't generally be thinking of "beach" at that time of year, it's entirely possible you'd have beautiful weather. Just no guarantee of that. I wouldn't entirely dismiss the idea of Naples (although it's another big, busy city) or the Amalfi Coast (although out of summer I think it's more of a romantic, adult destination). But I would probably pick something different. Perhaps Orvieto with a day trip to Cortona and/or a day trip to Lake Trasimeno for a boat ride to Isola Maggiore, both trips by train.

I'd drop Sicily and Apulia and think of places that aren't so far from Rome. Yes, you could fly Palermo or Bari back to Rome, but there's still getting to/from airports, check-in requirements, luggage limits, etc.

You also shouldn't underestimate how much time it takes a group of 5 to do everything. Sightsee, eat, pit stop, etc. Whenever you take a taxi, you might need two.

Luckily for your kids, you'll find pizza EVERYWHERE.
Thanks, i will look into those places you mentioned!
Within Italy i think we'd prefer to travel by train.
And I also want to clarify by going to a coastal city or beach, it doesn't necessarily mean we have to get into the water. But the vibe and relaxing nature of a coastal town are what attract us.
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Old May 24th, 2024, 11:12 AM
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Just got another idea, how about split 50/50 between Rome and Sorrento?
I think those 2 places are a nice contrast to each other.
Then we can do some day trips from Sorrento to places like Pompeii, Capri, Mount Vesuvius (I know my son will be excited for that!)?

To avoid backtracking to Rome, how about the following, that's 11 nights or 12 days:

1. Fly into Naples, stay 2 nights
2. Sorrento, 5 nights
3. Rome, 4 nights
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Old May 24th, 2024, 11:35 AM
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Haha, I was just going to suggest Sorrento!
I might give Rome 5 nights, leaving from Sorrento after lunch.
But otherwise, I think this sounds like the perfect blend of water views, history, great food, excitement and relaxation.
It is also very kid friendly! I lot of times I like to start a trip with the excitement first (Rome) but to get the kids body clocks adjusted, the relaxing part first, sounds like a great idea! Enjoy!
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Old May 24th, 2024, 03:23 PM
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I don't think I'd bother with splitting nights Naples/Sorrento. I'd just stay in Sorrento. One less hotel change. I'd have a car/driver meet the arriving flight in Naples and take you to your Sorrento hotel. You may also want to hire a driver to take you to the Naples train station when you leave for Rome... although it's easy to travel between Sorrento and Naples by commuter train. This train stops at Pompeii and at Herculaneum. There is frequent ferry service between Sorrento and Naples, but the Naples ferry dock is not near the train station. The ferries from Sorrento also sail to Capri and the coastal towns. If anyone in your group has a tendency to get car sick, you may want to avoid the bus that takes the Amalfi Coast Road.
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Old May 24th, 2024, 04:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Jean
I don't think I'd bother with splitting nights Naples/Sorrento. I'd just stay in Sorrento. One less hotel change. I'd have a car/driver meet the arriving flight in Naples and take you to your Sorrento hotel. You may also want to hire a driver to take you to the Naples train station when you leave for Rome... although it's easy to travel between Sorrento and Naples by commuter train. This train stops at Pompeii and at Herculaneum. There is frequent ferry service between Sorrento and Naples, but the Naples ferry dock is not near the train station. The ferries from Sorrento also sail to Capri and the coastal towns. If anyone in your group has a tendency to get car sick, you may want to avoid the bus that takes the Amalfi Coast Road.
Thanks! This helps. I am actually the only one with car sick problem 🤣 will take a note of that.

So far this sounds like the best plan for us!

I showed my wife pictures of Amalfi Coast and that was probably a mistake lol, just for planning purposes are there any closer destinations to Sorrento that has views that rival the Amalfi Coast?
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Old May 24th, 2024, 07:42 PM
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The views from Sorrento are different, but they're still very good... Mt. Vesuvius, the Bay of Naples, the lights of Naples at night... especially from the cliff-side hotels.

You might notice that many (most?) of the views of the Amalfi Coast are of the towns, taken from the sea looking landward. The Sorrento views are mostly looking out to the sea.

You can stay somewhere on the AC if you like, but if your plans include Pompeii, Vesuvius and Naples, you'll make better use of your days, spend less time getting from place to place, if you stay in Sorrento. Some AC towns are built on steep hillsides, so walking around involves lots and lots of stairs. Is the 3rd adult in your group a grandparent? Would either that adult or the 4 y.o. be overwhelmed by a lot of stair climbing? If so, you'd want to choose the town and your hotel carefully...
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Old May 24th, 2024, 08:22 PM
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Welcome to Fodors -- you've already received a lot of good suggestions from some real Italy experts (I've only been 3X and never south of the AC/Naples)

But just one little thing . . . "that's 11 nights or 12 days:" Unfortunately it doesn't work that way. Eleven nights nets you 10 full days for seeing doing -- to get twelve total days would require thirteen nights in country.
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Old May 24th, 2024, 09:07 PM
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Jean makes good points. I agree that Sorrento is good for connections to other places. I stayed there five njghts, mainly because I had points for a free hotel stay at the time, and it was a nice ferry ride to Positano or Amalfi (or I arrived via ferry from Capri), as well as the other things she mentioned.

You can also take the bus from Sorrento, which I did on another day to Positano, the good things being the great views (try to sit on the right side of the bus) and the fact that it drops you off at the top of Positano and you can walk down and take the ferry back instead of walking all the day back up the very steep hill that is Positano.

Last edited by SusanP; May 24th, 2024 at 09:15 PM.
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Old May 25th, 2024, 02:19 AM
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Jean and Susan make good suggestions, Sorrento would be an ideal base as it’s a transport hub. Positano is mostly vertical, so lots of stairs and climbing up and down. The SITA bus between towns is convenient, but the winding road between Amalfi and Positano made me sick, Sorrento is even further down south. But the bus drops you off at the upper town and you can make your way down, stopping for a gelato, coffee or apertivo and browsing through the many shops. Then take the ferry back to Sorrento.

Plan on being at Pompeii when they open as there’s no shade at all and it can get terribly hot. Take hats, sunscreen and water. Climbing up Vesuvius is also fun, but again be prepared for the sun.

A good idea to keep Rome for the end before flying back home. And do get a car service to pick you up at Naples and take you to the station after your stay at Sorrento. Much less hassle for a group of five, shouldn’t be that much more expensive when you factor in the convenience.

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Old May 25th, 2024, 05:20 AM
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I think direct Delta flights from NYC to Naples and back from Rome might be the best solution.
There are buses from Sorrento to Positano and the Amalfi Coast.
For a small sandy beach, you may go by train from Sorrento to Villa Equense, for a pebble beach by bus to Positano,
The large sandy beaches begin South of Salerno or West of Pozzuoli
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Old May 25th, 2024, 07:52 AM
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Before taking the 4 y.o. on a climb of Mt. Vesuvius, read some blogs/guides/descriptions so that you know what you're getting into. I'm not sure a 4 y.o. would enjoy it. If it's a hot as Hades day, I'd skip it. The paths are comprised of volcanic gravel that retains/radiates a lot of heat.
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Old May 25th, 2024, 07:54 AM
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Thanks so much everyone, these are immensely helpful! I finally feel like our itinerary is starting to take shape...

Jean you are spot on, the 5th adult is my MIL, and yeah i suspect multiple days of steep stair climbing would be challenging for her and our 4yo daughter...

Now, finding a hotel that can accommodate 5 in 1 room is difficult, but how strict are they with the occupancy limit? I found some rooms with 2 queen beds which we could fit (and have done before), yet the room is listed as 4 max. I know some countries are very strict on this (Japan for example), how is Italy on this matter?

Is it enough to stay a little bit away from the coast line when finding a hotel, to avoid too many stairs? or do I have to go way inland? I was trying to figure this out on Google maps but wasn't too successful lol... I see there's a major road SS145 in Sorrento, is staying next to that (e.g. just a little bit north or south of it) our best bet vs closer to the ocean?

Thanks again!

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Old May 25th, 2024, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Jean
Before taking the 4 y.o. on a climb of Mt. Vesuvius, read some blogs/guides/descriptions so that you know what you're getting into. I'm not sure a 4 y.o. would enjoy it. If it's a hot as Hades day, I'd skip it. The paths are comprised of volcanic gravel that retains/radiates a lot of heat.
Ah, good point. We might split it, so I take 7 y.o to the volcano and wife, MIL can take 4 y.o. to do something else that day. I read it takes about 3 hours for the visit to Mt. Vesuvius? So maybe we can then regroup in the afternoon
I will research a bit more into it!
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Old May 25th, 2024, 09:49 AM
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"Now, finding a hotel that can accommodate 5 in 1 room is difficult, but how strict are they with the occupancy limit? "

Most places will be VERY strict about occupancy - because of fire regulations if nothing else. A room for five would be unusual. You will most likely need two rooms, a suite with a sofa sleeper, or a vacation rental sleeping five. Some hotels might allow a rollaway but you'd have to arrange that with the hotel. (Don't ask about a 'cot' -- that would be a baby bed/crib-type - you'd want a sofa sleeper or rollaway)

Five people trying to get away in the morning all having to use one bathroom will be a hassle.

Last edited by janisj; May 25th, 2024 at 09:50 AM. Reason: typos
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