First draft of Italy itinerary - advice?

Old Jan 8th, 2008, 09:39 AM
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First draft of Italy itinerary - advice?

Hi all,

I am headed to Italy this June and would value your help in forming my itinerary. (I will be traveling with 5 others)

I will warn you that our goal is to see a little bit of a bunch of places in Italy. It is not to do everything we can in each city. (So please keep that in mind when you start typing "You need another 4 days in Rome, 3 in Venice, etc". )

With that intro, here is my first draft:

Day 1: Fly into Rome (arrive early AM). Take train to Sorrento. Check into hotel and spend the rest of the day relaxing.

Day 2: Visit Capri and spend the day wandering around, etc

Day 3: Visit Pompei, take tour, etc. Train to Rome in the afternoon. (Not sure how to handle the luggage issue here - do I leave it at the hotel? Should I take a car instead of a train?)

Day 4: Rome - visit religions sites (Vatican, St Peters, etc) in AM, wander around in PM

Day 5: Rome - visit ancient sites (Coloseum, Pantheon, etc) in AM, wander around in PM

Day 6: train or drive to Tuscany. check into "base hotel" (maybe in San Gimignano or Sienna?); day trip to Pisa in afternoon

Day 7: explore 2 Tuscan towns

Day 8: drive to Florence early AM; see David, wander around, etc (most in the group are not huge museum buffs); take train or drive to Venice in late afternoon (again, not sure about luggage situation - should I keep my car and drive to Venice?)

Day 9: explore Venice

Day 10: train to Milan in AM; drive to Lake Como area

Day 11: relax in Lake Como area

Day 12: head to Milan for morning flight out

All feedback is welcome and appreciated. (but please keep in mind our goals when commenting ... I know we will not see everything everywhere ... trust me)

Thanks in advance for all of your help.

Jay

jaylaveglia is offline  
Old Jan 8th, 2008, 09:50 AM
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Oh my, Jay, welsome to the 2if it's tuesday it must be Rome" tour.

By Florence,you won't know what day of the week it is or where you are.

STOP. Take a deep breath. repeat afte me:

LESS IS MORE.

i don't care how many places you want to see, by the time you get to the 4th of 5th it won't matter where you are. what you saw in Rome will get all mixed up with what you saw in Florence and Milan and...

in 14 days, IMO you can only really see 4 places, and they should be different in character.

i woudl suggest the following\;

DAy 1 - Rome, then Sorrento.

Stay 4 nights - you could see Capri, Naples, Pompeii, amalfi.

Day 5- train to Rome. stay 4 nights. there is loads to see.

Day 9 - train to Venice - stay 3 nights

DAy 12 - trian to Milam finish holiday.

this is NOT ideal. but gives you lots of places.

it does miss out Tuscany. you could substitute Florence and Tuscany for Venice and Milan.

of course, you can do exactly what you have posted as your itinerary.

i'd be surpised if you wanted to go back to Italy again.

regards, ann
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 09:55 AM
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Im confused, are you planning on doing daytrips to Capri and Pompeii from Rome?
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 10:14 AM
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I thik ou have vastly underestimated how long it takes to actually see many of these sights. And I'm not talking about the Roman scholar who will spend weeks examining every inch of Pompeii. But- you must realize that it's not a couple of buildings - it's a sizeable town. the most top line look at only a very few of the major sights will take 4./5 hours.

Similarly with Rome. Seeing St Peter's and the Vatican Museum in one morning (never mind all the other dozens of religious sights) will involve ignoring most of the museum, running (literally trotting) through most of it - then out and around Vatican City and into St Peter's for a brief walk around. (You won't have time for the Dome, the Treasury, etc.)

And on the ancient day - I love the fact that the Forum, Nero's House and I don;t know how many other things are called "etc". You could certainly walk down the ramp into the forum, look at the outside of one of the dozens of ruins, temples, buildings etc, go back up the ramp and leave. But - why bother? You haven;t really seen or learned anything.

This is like one of those If it's Tuesday it must be Belgium tours - when the "visit" to Blenheim palace turns out to be a 5 minute photo op from the outer gates - versus a 4 hour exploration of the incredible house and gardens.

If you don;t understand the Forum of ancient Rome you don;t have a clue what Rome was actually about, how it worked, what they have passed down to us - and how they ruled the world for the best part of a thousand years.

I understand people who say they have limited interest in history/art/architecture/culture etc - and decide to spend 4/5 days in one city and the rest of their vacation at the beach. That makes sense. This running around and thinking you're seeing things only assures you will have no idea of what you saw, what it was about - and will be a complete waste of your time.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 10:35 AM
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I can understand that you're trying to see a little bit of a bunch of places, rather than more of fewer places, on this trip. And personally, I don't always need as much time as some other people to appreciate something.

But where you lose out on a trip with a lot of different destinations is on the amount of time you'll spend travelling from place to place, rather than enjoying, experiencing or exploring. A great rule of thumb is to assume that each time you change locations, you'll lose 1/2 day in packing, unpacking, checking out, checking in, and actually moving. Add up all your changes, and make sure that you're willing to "lose" that much of your vacation in moving from place to place.

For specifics:

I'm not so familiar with the area south of Rome. Do you plan to spend 2 nights in Sorrento, visiting Capri from there? If so, at least you're spending 2 nights in the same hotel. Don't have any suggestions re where to put luggage. When we visited Pompeii, we drove to Sorrento from Tuscany, then drove our car to Pompeii, leaving luggage in the car (gulp), then drove on to Rome, where we dropped off the rental car.

On Day 6, when you go to Tuscany, if you have a base hotel in San Gimignano or Siena, Pisa will be way too far to visit in the afternoon. You won't get to San G./Siena until at least mid-day. (I assume you'll have a rental car for this part of the trip.)

I didn't really love our visit to Lake Como, neither did my husband. But most people do. In your situation, maybe it would be better to keep your rental car. So, for example, drive from Tuscany to Florence, leaving luggage in the trunk, park somewhere (very much a hassle, but it can be done, and we've done it), quick visit to Florence (you won't arrive to Florence from your rural Tuscan base city until almost mid-day, I'm guessing). Then drive car from Florence to Venice, park in lot there (for security, take ALL luggage with you to Venice hotel). After visiting Venice, you can drive from Venice to Lake Como. Then from there, on to Milan for your last night before you fly home.

Personally, I'd drop either Lake Como, Florence or Venice, or probably two of the three, but you know that you want to hit all these places.

Use the Italian train site, trenatalia, http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html and mappy.com to come up with some of your travel times. For example, let's say you take the train from Venice to Milan (you can only book trains 90 days out, so just enter some sample days and times), the 9 am train takes almost 4 hours and will get you in Milan at 12:55 (or take the 10:30 train, which is faster and will get you to Milan at 1:05). Then rent a car from there and go to Como; the travel time, per mappy.com, will take you 49 min (will probably take a little longer than that). And you need to take into account getting off the train, picking up your rental car, etc. And eating, though a picnic lunch on the train is a good way to go. So you just spent most of the day just getting from Venice to Lake Como.

The bottom line is, part of vacation planning is always a cost-benefit analysis; here your chief currency is how you want to spend your time.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 10:35 AM
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Oh, and if there are 6 people in your group, you'll need to get 2 rental cars.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 10:48 AM
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I'm a little confused, Jay. You want help in formulating your itinerary but don't want to hear that you "need another 4 days in Rome, etc.".

If your goal is to run yourself ragged to as many locations as possible but to not have a quality experience in any of them, you are right on track with your first draft.

Do you know how long it takes to move from place to place especially with 6 people involved?

I would take the advice of those who have posted above and choose 3 places for 12 days. I'm not going to suggest the three as you and your traveling companions should decide that. Good luck, whatever you decide.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 10:58 AM
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A trip to Sorrento without visiting the Amalfi Coast?

You need to allow 3 nights in most locations so you are not wasting precious time getting to and from cities/hotels and checking in and out.

Pompeii has free left luggage storage by the ticket entrance.
www.pompeiisites.org

There is luggage storage in the Florence train station. Don't be surprised if you get a ticket for driving into central Florence (it will appear on your credit card after you return home and can cost several hundred euro).

You are trying to see about 15 cities in 12 days(and travel between them). How can that make sense at all?

DAY 1
Arrive Rome 7 am?
Retrieve luggage, locate ATM for money, find train to Rome/buy tickets - 9 am?
Train to Rome - 30-60 minutes 10 am?
Locate/walk to catch train at Termini to Naples - train to Naples 12:30 or 1?
Buy train tickets to Sorrento/train to Sorrento - 2:30?
Buy bus tickets to hotel/locate bus or taxi - arrive hotel 3:30?

Do you see how travel will eat into your time? I didn't even allow meals and I'm sure you will be hungry and need to stop at some point to eat and just take a minute to relax.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 11:01 AM
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Jay,

I took my first trip to Europe last year and I too posted a similarly packed itinerary and recieved similar responses - everyone tried to talk me out of it. At first, I did not want to listen, as I was convinced my husband and I could accomplish all we had planned. Thankfully, we changed our minds and went from 3 cities with one side trip in 8 days to 2 cities and took almost every bit of advice we got on this forum. I cannot thank everyone enough for steering me in the right direction. These people know what they are talking about. My husband and I are not huge art buffs, etc. either, but loved every minute of the four days we spent in Rome. We do not regret leaving out two cities and in fact are going back in March to see them. We could not be more pleased with how everything worked out. We have such detailed memories of everything we saw in Rome and had a chance to relax, enjoy the views, drink the wine, and soak up the culture. You don't want to look back on your trip and only be able to remember airports and train stations...less really is more. Just a bit of advice from the newbie, but don't plan the trip like you won't be back.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 11:24 AM
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I think you are doing OK (Still rushed, but OK) until Day 6. Then Rome to Siena is 2.5 to 3 hours drive. San Gimignano is a further 30-45 minutes. Siena to Pisa is around 2 hours. So day six is at least 7 hours driving before you have seen anything.

A morning in Florence, a day in Venice. All you will remember is the heat, the crowds, the difficulty in parking - everything that is bad in those cities without experiencing anything that is good about them.

I really like Pisa, and am often defending it against fodorites who write it off as nothing there, but in the context of your trip, skip it.

I would recommend driving Rome to SG, seeing SG, then onto Florence and use that as a base for a couple of days. If you need to see more than one place, then go by bus to Siena, or train to Lucca and Pisa.

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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 12:05 PM
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Hi J,

>I will warn you that our goal is to see a little bit of a bunch of places in Italy.

You have succeeded.

Enjoy your visit.

Let us know how it worked out.

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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 12:49 PM
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Hi Jay,

I won't comment on the itinerary.


IF you do rent a car you will need a van for 6 pp + luggage, or 2 mid-size cars. There will probably not be a difference in price for car(s) between a 2 day or a 3 day rental, so IF you go on to Venice, you might as well drive.

Buona Fortuna

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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 12:56 PM
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Sorry, but even bearing in mind your "goal," this is nuts.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 01:20 PM
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Jay,

I'm going to try and work with you, try and keep in as many places as possible, but also present some comments that should be helpful.

Day 1: Fly into Rome (arrive early AM).
Take train to Sorrento. (3 trains, 3-4 hours with luck)
Sleep in Sorrento

Day 2: Daytrip to Capri.
Sleep in Sorrento

Day 3: Circumvesuviana train to Pompeii. (30 mins)
Leave luggage at baggage check, take tour, etc.
Circumvesuviana train to Naples; ES train to Rome. (2-3 hours with luck)
Sleep in Rome

Day 4: Rome - Vatican, St Peters in AM, wander around in PM
Sleep in Rome

Day 5: Rome - Ancient sites (Coloseum, Forum, etc) in AM; wander around (Pantheon) in PM
Sleep in Rome

This Tuscan section is the most rearranged section. I suggest staying in Florence for its good transit connections to fit in your interests.

Day 6: Train to Florence. (1.5 hours) See David, wander around.
Sleep in Florence

Day 7: Explore Tuscan towns. (Contact Luca Garrapa at hillsandroads.com. He can take your whole group on a full-day tour in his large comfortable van and visit a good number of places since he knows the way. It may even turn out cheaper than a car rental.)
Sleep in Florence

Day 8: Morning day trip to Pisa by train (1 hour) (Leaves bags at hotel or baggage check in Florence train station)
In afternoon, take train back to Florence and then on to Venice (3 hours ), arrive before dark (+ another hour to find hotel if you've never been there before).
Sleep in Venice

Day 9: Explore Venice
Sleep in Venice

The Como section is the hardest part. As others have said, with six adults you may need two cars, or a van which can be problematic. To get to Como by train, you'd travel to Milan and then switch to a Varenna-bound train. The real problem is getting from this area to Malpensa for the typical noontime departure, which means being there at 10AM.

Day 10: Rent car and drive to Menaggio on Lake Como (This is a pretty mid-lake location with good access to Malpensa.)
Sleep in Menaggio

Day 11: Relax in Lake Como area
Sleep in Menaggio

Day 12: Drive to Malpensa (near Gallarate, 82 km, 1 hr 15 mins) for morning flight home
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 01:23 PM
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Enjoy your tour of train stations and highways, with brief stops for photos. Because that's what your trip is going to feel like imho.

I've visited Venice, Rome, and Positano in 10 days and that didn't feel too rushed, but your plan is not very realistic imho. At the very least skip Lake Como. If you are already booked to fly out of Milan and that's your reason for going to Como, then skip your "day of Tuscany" and go straight from Rome to Florence.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 01:42 PM
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For those of you that offered lots of feedback keeping my goals in mind - I really appreciate it. Thank you.

For those of you that professionally tried to tell me its a little too much even with my goals in mind, thank you for that as well.

Jay
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 01:51 PM
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We just came back from 13 nights in Italy. Flew into Venice, 3 nights there, 3 nights Florence, 3 nights Rome, 3 nights Sorrento, then back in Rome for 1 night before flying home. It was perfect. Enough time to do everything we wanted to do. In Sorrento, the Grand Hotel Ambasciatori is wonderful! You can walk from the train station, and then walk into town. Pay for a room with a view - it's just incredible, seeing the beautiful Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius from the room.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 01:56 PM
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Hi, Jay.

Have your other 5 companions seen your proposed schedule?

Are they truly in favor of this itinerary?

You may want to share this thread with them.

If they're not fully aware, you may become the object of their frustration/exhaustion/grumpiness once they realize what you've gotten them into.

And remember,

6 people =

6 bathroom breaks
6 stops for a photograph
6 opinions on where to eat lunch
6 opinions on where to eat dinner
etc etc etc.........

You get the picture.









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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 02:01 PM
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Well, you seem to have known that after you posted your proposed itinerary, you would get lots of suggestions to visit fewer places. You then you said you did not want that kind of feedback. So I guess you want everyone to say it's a great itinerary, even if we don't think that it is!

As most have said, you won't remember much about this trip except the travel time between stops. I would hope you would at least cut out Lake Como and add another day to Venice. It's still too much moving around, but that would at least help.
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Old Jan 8th, 2008, 02:46 PM
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Susan,

That isnt fair at all. People like Ellen and others gave great feedback keeping in mind the constant travel and moving around is ok with us. If I wanted everyone to say it was great I wouldnt have wasted my time posting.

Jay
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