Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

First draft of Italy itinerary: Am I on the right track?

First draft of Italy itinerary: Am I on the right track?

Aug 14th, 2006, 01:51 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
First draft of Italy itinerary: Am I on the right track?

Hi guys,

This is the first draft of my Italy itinerary. I am aiming at 3 months in total split between Italy and Croatia from mid March to mid June. I will go to Italy first (I am already a little over time in Italy so far...)

I will likely be solo, traveling strictly by public transport and will be hostelling/budget accommodation throughout. I am particularly interested in medieval architecture and castles.

Any places you would change out for others or destinations on this list you didn’t enjoy?

Any glaring errors or omissions?

1. Rome: 6 nights (day trips to Tivoli and Viterbo)

2. Positano: 4 nights (day trips to Pompeii/Herculanium/Mt Vesuvius and Ravello)

3. Matera: 1 night

4. Siena: 4 nights (day trips to: San Gimignano, Voterra, Montepulciano)

5. Perugia: 4 nights (day trips to Assisi/Spello, Orvieto, *Grotte Di Frasassi)

6. Florence: 3 nights (day trips to Lucca and Pisa)

7. Bologna: 4 nights (day trips to Ferrara, Parma and Ravenna)

8. Genoa: 3 nights (day trips to Cinque Terre)

9. Turin: 4 nights (day trips to Avigliana, Susa and Alba or Saluzzo)

10. Aosta: 2 nights (day trip to Verra and nearby castles and Mont Blanc)

11. Varenna: 6 nights (day trip to Lake Como, Maggiore and D’Orta)

12. Trent: 3 nights (day trip to Cles and Molveno)

13. Verona: 2 nights

14. Venice: 6 nights (day trip to Padua and Miramare Castello/Grotta Gigante near Trieste)

....off to Zagreb!!

1.I am particularly concerned about Trent and Aosta – any feedback for these two cities?

2.Should I pick either Bologna OR Florence instead of staying in both? Do you think Ravenna is a more attractive base than Bologna?

3.Do you think Verona warrants two nights?

Any and all feedback appreciated!


murphy89 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 01:54 PM
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 1,203
Wow, need a valet?

buongiorno is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 01:55 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,118
Hi M,

Nice slow traveling. You might also want to ask your questions at www.slowtravel.com.

I think that Sorrento would be a better base than Positano for Pompeii/Herculanium/Mt Vesuvius.

ira is online now  
Aug 14th, 2006, 01:56 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,802
I feel pathetic now planning my measly 7 day itinerary.
steviegene is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 01:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
I don't know about a valet - maybe a valium.

I am a classic over-planner (and I love it!)
murphy89 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 02:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
Thanks Ira - I will check out that website. I know your right about Sorrento...as far as the train is concerned it does look better. I just have no particular interest in Sorrento or Naples for some reason. I'll have to work on it.

stevegene - 7 days is wonderful! Long travel comes at a price. I just happen to have the opprotunity this year so I am going for it.


murphy89 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 02:11 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,802
I know - good for you!
Im just a little jealous.
And - the only input I can really give is on Positano. I would recommend a trip to Capri. And I dont think Positano is a bad base for your other sidetrips. The buses run frequently and are easy to use.
Have fun!
steviegene is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 02:13 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
Even with a car, Grotte Di Frasessi is not really worth a daytrip from Perugia. Using public transport, it's way too long.

I suggest you do Orvieto as a day trip out of Rome.

Cut Perugia to 3 nights after you eliminate Orvieto as a day trip from there and add a night to Firenze.

Bologna is a better base than Ravenna, but plan on a long day in Ravenna so as not to rush the mosaics.

I suggest dividing your lake time into 2 parts: Half on Orta/Maggiore, half on Varenna.

I suggest you stay in Camogli (30 minutes furhter south on the train line) rather than Genova itself.

If you get bored in Verona, you can easily take a day trip to Lago di Garda, Bergamo, Mantova, etc. But I think it's good not to book one-nighters in case you just want to rest rather than move on.

Be sure to include a day trip to Torcello while in the Venetian lagoon.

Have a nice time!

nessundorma is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 02:15 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
PS: The problem with Positano as a base is timing and how early you will be there. If you base yourself closer to Napoli, you have more to do if the weather turns foggy or rainy. Sorrento might be the right compromise if you don't want Napoli itself.

Don't go to Ravello unless the weather is crystal clear. You will be too early for the gardens and that only leaves the views. If they aren't visible, it's not worth the trip.
nessundorma is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 02:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,049
Few of us have experience with a trip of this length, but getting a visa is something you should keep in mind.

Right now, the Schengen countries (Italy is one) grant you an automatic 90 day tourist visa without application. I think Croatia, not a Schengen country, also grants a 90 day tourist visa without application. No problem so far.

But Croatia is a candidate for admission to the EU, and I don't know it this will include signing on to the Schengen 90 day tourist visa; if they join before your trip (unlikely to happen that fast, I think), and sign on to the Schengen visa, and your venture exceeds 90 days, you could have to apply for an extended visa soon enough that you would have it in hand when you arrive in the first Schengen country.

As I said, I think this is unlikely to happen that quickly, but at the same time I think it is something you should keep an eye open for.

Enjoy your trip.
clevelandbrown is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 02:29 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 4,257
What a delicious adventure!

You will take notes and report back to us, won't you, Murph?

Tiff is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 03:11 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
Fantastic suggestions and tips thank you all!

Nessundorma, I am curious - what didn't you like about the caves? I ask because it was the Frasassi caves that pulled me over to Perugia in the first place (that and one of your old posts actually!). Perhaps if the caves are not worthwhile I will just day-trip to Perugia from Siena or Florence, and cut the rest of those days - moving the extra 2 day to the Trent area. My guide indicates that you can book a 3 hour challenging trip through the caves beyond the usual 70min tour - I've email the tourist office on this point, but they haven't responded back. Has anyone done this?

Thank you for the tip about the Lakes too - I wasn't sure what would be best and that sounds like a better idea.

clevelandbrown, I am so glad I posted this. I did know you had to get a visa to go to Italy or Croatia. I've only ever been to France and Greece where it was a non-issue. I don't know how I missed that in my guide...I will look into it for sure. I think your right though - my research indicates that Croatia will not likely become an EU member until 2010.

Tiff - I will absolutly be submitting another long winded trip report followed by endless photos. All of the stories and details that make my friends roll their eyes


murphy89 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 03:12 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
clevelandbrown - I meant I didn't know about the visa! You have thankfully let me know.

murphy89 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 05:32 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801
Hi murph,

At the caves, everyone has to take some kind of guided tour (which is understandable.) I did the 70 minute tour and felt it was dragged out. It takes 55 minutes to be walked through with a guide. You are then allowed to go back the same way to exit at your own pace -- which takes 15 minutes. Waiting in line to buy a ticket, waiting in line to get the bus to the site, waiting in line at the site to be allowed in -- then waiting in line again for the bus to go back. It's just not for me.

I was also expecting the caves to be very unusually lit or something. They are indeed natural wonders, but they are not overwhemingly beautiful.

But the real problem is the difficulty of traveling in Le Marche without a car. I know there is a train station nearby, but have you timed out the trip in Trenitalia?

Far more fascinating is Perugia. I think spending two nights there would be more rewarding than daytripping in. This hilltop city is not easy to enter and it is surprisingly large and complex. The night life of Perugia, especially the evening passeggiata, is quite lively and unique.

I can't help you on Trento and Aosta because I've never been. What do you expect in terms of weather in those areas at that time of year?

Also, have you listed your itinerary in the order you plan to take it?

In terms of cutting down on the length of any single train ride, it might make more sense to go from Matera to Bologna, and then from Bologna to Perugia, then Perugia to Siena, then Firenze, Genova, Torino, etc.

Check it out with Trenitalia.

In general, if you are going to be squeezing or eliminating, I would cut back on areas that really require lovely weather to be rewarding, since the weather may be quite unpredictable and changeable that early in the season. That means giving yourself lots of options for indoor sightseeing, and not getting stuck for days in areas where the main attraction is pretty views in case you get rainy weather.

nessundorma is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 06:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 417
Your trip sounds marvelous, although your are doing some backtracking. Siena and Florence are only about 30 miles apart. I don't see why you would go from Siena to Perugia and then back to Florence.
The other thing that struck me is that you are planning four nights in Torino and none in Milan? I have not been to Torino, but I have been to Milan. From what little I know of Torino, I think Milan has a lot more to offer.
Also, six nights in Varenna without a car may be a little much.
rbrazill is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 06:44 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
Wow nessundorma, thank you for your detailed response. Great food for thought.

I think I will take your advice and drop the caves in Le Marche- I've decided to dip into Slovenia to see the World Heritage Skocjan Caves anyway so that should be a good enough cave fix.

I like the idea of adding a day to Rome and day-tripping to Orvieto too. Your descriptions of Perugia spark my imagination!

I am expecting the weather to be rainy/cool - which is fine with me...I'd like to do some hiking and I am fine with damp weather - I am a bit worried about snow/mud toward the Alps and the Dolomites though. I am also concerned about the Lake region being essentially shut down due to the "between season" time. I figured its popular enough though to remain up and running for the most part.

Yes, the overview is layed out in the as I planned to travel.

The two main driving forces for this trip were a) seeing the Alps and doing a ton of walking and hiking.
b) scuba diving in Croatia.

As such I've left the mountain and and the waters in Croatia for as late as possible in the hopes I will hit some decent weather.

Good suggestion about Matera to Bologna - I'll check out the Trentila website to see if its easier to go via Rome or Bari.

Thank you so much for your feeback!


murphy89 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 06:50 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
sorry about that rbrazill, we cross posted. Thank you for your comments.

To be honest Milan has never caught my interest - my preference leans toward smaller more "walkable" cities and in general I am looking forward to the Alpine setting of Turin. What kinds of things did you love about Milan?

Good point about Siena, Florence, Perugia - I'll have to look at the Trentila website to see logistically in what order they should be visited.

I think I will take nessundormas advice and split up my time at the lakes - perhaps 3 in Varenna and 3 around Lake D'Orta. I chose Varenna because in part because it has a train station - I thought that might help me out a bit without a car. How would you choose to split up this time - between which towns?

Thanks again for your help,


murphy89 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 06:50 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,527
Murphy, it sounds fabulous.

I was just wondering about the 1 night visit to Matera. It is kind of far to go and your previous and next stops aren't all that close. Could you squeeze something else in, in the area? There have been threads on Basilicata that have made it sound very tempting.

A part of my family is from Matera; I hope I get to go there someday, too.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 06:58 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 644
lol- tuscanlife! Your so right - actually I had 5 days originally planned in the area including Lecce, Martina France and Alberobello. I was way over my alotted time in Italy though and had to cut something...I couldn't let go of Matera though. I have such a pretty screensaver of it - hmmm.

I really cant afford to stay in Italy any longer than I've outlined - actually as it is I will have to be really careful. The CAD dollar is just not friendly in EU countries, so realistically I will get a much bigger bang for my buck by moving into Eastern Europe.

murphy89 is offline  
Aug 14th, 2006, 07:21 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 3,801

Lago di Como is such a tourist destination everything will be open and you'll be glad not to have the heavy crowds. Ferries will be running to take you to other towns on the lake from Varenna.

If you stay in Stresa in Lago Maggiore, you should be able to day trip to Lago d'Orta and should you get rain, you can visit Milano. The core of Milano is eminently walkable. Of interest is the Duomo and Leonardo's Last Supper. Also the charming Pinoteca Ambrosiana.

You could easily cut back your lakes stay to 4 days: 2 in l.di Como, and 2 in the laghi Maggiore/Orta. If you cut back on those, I also suggest you add those days to the Matera leg, to avoid a one-nighter there.

I think that Torino offers a great deal, certainly in terms of museums, especially if you like unusual museums. The movie museum is extraordinary. It is also has its own unique Italian culture, and I understand the surrounding countryside is beautiful.

If you don't start getting more answers about weaher in April in the Italian alps and the Dolomites, you should consider putting up a separate therad. (If you haven't done a Fodor's search for "Dolomites April" you should try that.)
nessundorma is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:10 PM.