First draft Italy itinerary?

Old Mar 14th, 2023, 04:58 PM
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First draft Italy itinerary?

I've decided to visit Italy (finally) in May 2024 - plenty of time to go but I need to get at least a rough itinerary sorted as I will be using points to book my flights so will be booking those flights this May.

I have about 3 weeks at my disposal (give or take a few days) and want to take in the beautiful history, architecture, people, and of course, the incredible FOOD!

From my initial research, my first draft itinerary looks something like this and is based on flying into Rome from Sydney and then returning home via Milan:
  • Rome (4)
  • Sorrento (3-4)
    • day trip to Pompeii
    • day trip to Amalfi Coast
  • Florence (5)
    • day trip to Siena
    • day trip to Pisa
    • day trip to vineyards
  • Cinque Terre (2)
  • Bologna (2)
    • day trip to Parma
  • Venice (3)
    • day trip to Verona
  • Milan (2)
Some of the advice received to date was that Naples can be a bit grotty (hence the stay in Sorrento) and that places like Venice and Milan can in themselves be seen relatively quickly.

Any suggestions/thoughts on the above? I am sure this itinerary will change 10x over before I actually book flights but would love to hear (read) any recommended tweaks or recommendations generally. If time and money were on my side, this would be a 3 month trip, not a 3 week trip!
victoriainwanderland is offline  
Old Mar 14th, 2023, 05:41 PM
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I'll only quibble about Venice and the Cinque Terre...but everyone is right about those places!

We returned to Venice and stayed for a longer a visit there for Murano, Burano, and more. Yes to Padua from there instead of Verona (or both?)..make reservations for the Scrovegni Chapel.

We trained to Cinque Terre from Florence and were ok not spending the night. Not hikers so that makes a difference?

I'll look forward to your trip report!

Last edited by TDudette; Mar 14th, 2023 at 05:43 PM.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 05:58 PM
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I would rethink a day trip Verona as is is not near Venice. There are many other wonderful places for day trips that are closer. But you donít really have enough time inVenice for any day trips. Venice is not easy to go to and from and it is so wonderful to just stay there.
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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 06:08 PM
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Such a long trip, but will be wonderful and worth it. Don’t count arrival day as a day of sightseeing. So, that leaves 3 days in Rome. Rushed, but O.K.

*Rome to Sorrento will take at least 1/2 day of travel. Be sure to allow for that.

Naples. I love Naples even if it is a bit gritty and it is convenient for seeing Pompeii. However, Sorrento is just as good for Pompeii and much better for the Amalfi Coast. You will enjoy it. Try to see Herculaneum. It is very close to Pompeii, smaller, very different with more fully retained buildings, paintings, etc. It is pretty.
There is luggage storage in both Herculaneum and Pompeii, so if need be you can visit either one on the way to or from Sorrento. Both are on the Circumvesuviana train line between Sorrento and Naples.

Sorrento to Florence will take the better part of a day (3/4 day minimum) for travel. Can’t stress enough how much time travel will eat up.

Depending on if you go by train, bus, rent a car or take a tour for day trips from Florence, you could add Lucca or One of several other small towns, cities. One could be part of your vineyard tour.

Allow 1/2 day of travel from Florence to the CT.

I have been to Bologna only on day trips or a stop between Venice and Florence, so no advice except to eat! Best food I had in all of Italy.

Just my opinion, but I think a quick visit to Venice is a sad, unfortunate experience, especially the first visit. I have lost track of the number of times I have been there for a day or two, and I cried every single time I had to leave until I got a chance to spend a week. Venice is indescribably beautiful, sad, mysterious, so much to see and absorb. Sometimes people see it as a Disney, so sad. It is like a mirage when you are there, because you cannot conceive it being real, alive and dying at the same time. I know you can’t give it a week, but try for 3 full days and visit the islands in the lagoon. Walk the streets in moonlight.

Verona is too far to be a good day trip from Venice. If you are flying out of Milan anyway, make Verona a long day stop on the way from Venice to Milan. It is right on the train, bus and autoroute. No point in backtracking to Venice and you sure do not want to take a day from Venice to do it.
Verona is pretty, but you will already have seen Rome and there is no comparison, unless you could go to an opera in Verona. I would not make it more than a good afternoon stop and use the time elsewhere.

Are you getting tickets for the last Supper, seeing the Cathedral and shopping in Milan? If none of those things, add that time someplace else.
Another day in Venice? A day trip to Padua? etc. An extra day in Rome for a day trip to Orvieto?

Great that you have plenty of time to thoughtfully choose. Happy planning.

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Old Mar 14th, 2023, 06:13 PM
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If you can fly out of Venice, consider cutting Verona and Milan and add more things on the Amalfi Coast or near Rome or perhaps Assisi.

A day in Naples for the museums would be wonderful. People are really lovely even if much of the city is poor. Since many buildings do not have elevators, little fruit and vegetable trucks carry produce, etc. around through the narrow streets and food is hoisted up in baskets by rope to apartments. During the pandemic there was a huge movement in Naples of people sharing, gifting food: bread, fruit, etc. hoisted up to those in need, free of charge. There is much beauty in Naples if you can see past the grittiness. If you do go to Naples, do not miss seeing the sculpture of The Veiled Christ. It is in a small chapel, Sansevero (As I recall)..

There is also Paestum and Revello on the AC.

Last edited by Sassafrass; Mar 14th, 2023 at 06:28 PM.
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Old Mar 15th, 2023, 01:35 PM
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From Florence you can take a day trip bus tour to Sienna that includes a stop at a vineyard. This would be a good option to save you a day, unless you want to drive around the countryside. You could consider doing this and adding a day in Rome, which is a good idea.

Not on your itinerary but worth considering, are Lake Como and Bolzano. Lake Como can be a day trip from Milan just for a peek. I love the mountains and hiking and that's why I mention Bolzano. You can get a first look at the Dolomites there. But it's out of the way for you and probably should be a low priority.
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 11:33 AM
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  • Florence (5)
    • day trip to Siena
    • day trip to Pisa
    • day trip to vineyards
  • Cinque Terre (2)
  • Bologna (2)
    • day trip to Parma
Make this more efficient so you aren't backtracking. To go from Florence to CT you will likely have to change trains in Pisa Centrale. It makes more sense to stop in Pisa either on your way to CT or coming from CT to Bologna. You really don't have enough time in Bologna to do a day trip after you factor in the time it takes to get from CT to Bologna.

When you put this on a calendar, I think you will see you are counting sightseeing time you don't actually have. Let's say you leave CT on a Tuesday to go to Bologna for 2 nights. It will take almost 4 hours train time (3 train changes) to reach Bologna not counting getting to and from hotels at both locations to the trains. If you arrive later in the afternoon you might not have time to do any sightseeing that day (night 1) and will need to do it the next day (Wed.night 2) and you would be leaving Thursday for Venice. Where is that day trip time for Parma? It doesn't exist. Generally, three hotel nights give you two days sightseeing. Two hotel nights only gives you one day sightseeing.
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 12:10 PM
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Just my opinion, but I much prefer the Amalfi Coast to Cinque Terre. So if I were you, I'd cut CT and add a night to Rome and a night to Venice because your itinerary is pretty tight.
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 05:20 PM
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Every day you leave one place & arrive at the next is a lost day, as you have to be out by usually 10am and your next accommodation you can’t get in till 2/4pm so if your training you can waste a lot of time. I’ll just let you know last October we had booked train tickets from Sorrento to Naples (local train time due was 9am never arrived) and also booked Naples to La Specia ( takes about 6 hours) so we missed it and the train company only gives 60% back into a European bank account & of course we were from Australia so lost a lot of money. If your late wth the same train company it will not charge you for re booking 🌻
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Old Mar 17th, 2023, 11:05 PM
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Victoria, are you planning in whole days in each place (e.g. 3 nights gives you 2 full days) or are they number of nights you're thinking of? In an itinerary like this, it can make a difference. I hear what you say about planning ahead if flying with points. We also booked about 11 months ahead for our upcoming trip because we wanted to use points.

Good idea to buy a multi city ticket. For a first visit to Italy and a busy itinerary, I would drop Milan and fly home from either Venice or Bologna. Add any extra nights to the destinations you've already chosen. I'd maybe swap Cinque Terre out for some time on one of the northern lakes. Both would be busy but Cinque Terre likely busier (from what I hear) and it's in the other direction.
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Old Mar 18th, 2023, 12:55 AM
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Good time of year. Stick Padua/ Padova in the mix, it looks rushed, but also a lot of travel. I suggest just table out the travel time using Google or Rome 2 Rio using trains. The big ones, that are really there and back ( a bilbo saying if ever there was one) cut them.

Eg Naples looks time expensive and compared to what you are missing in the north is not worth it.
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Old Mar 18th, 2023, 02:54 PM
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I always plan out every day to make sure that I'm not double counting days, so at the moment your trip with some tweeks looks like this:

Day 1. Arrive Rome. Check into Hotel, explore neighbourhood, recover jetlag.
Day 2 Rome
Day 3 Rome
Day 4 Rome
Day 5 travel Sorrento. Arrive early afternoon. At leisure Sorrento.
Day 6 Amalfi
Day 7 Sorrento
Day 8 - to Florence via Pompeii, sleep Florence
​​​​​​Day 9 - Explore Florence
Day 10 - day trip to Siena
Day 11 - Florence
Day 12 - day trip to ?
Day 13 - Florence
Day 14 - Travel to Bologna, explore Bologna
Day 15 - Bologna
Day 16 - day trip to Parma
Day 17 - Bologna
Day 18 - train to Venice
Day 19 Venice
Day 20 Venice ? day trip
Day 21 - Venice
Day 22 - Fly home.

As you can see I've removed the CT and Milan and have you flying home from Venice. You get reasonable amounts of time in each place plus time for excursions. Not rushed but plenty to see and you certainly won't run out of things to do.
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Old Mar 18th, 2023, 05:37 PM
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Annhig’s itinerary is pretty nearly perfect! Seeing many things without wasting too much time traveling.
For me, personally, I would take a day from Bologna and add it to the Amalfi Coast (for a day in Naples and Herculaneum) or Rome (for a day trip to Orvieto).
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