First time in Italy

Jan 19th, 2018, 04:01 PM
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First time in Italy

Last summer, we spent nearly three weeks travelling by car through France, starting in Paris and ending up in Marseille and we had a fabulous time. My mom lives in Lyon so she helped us with our itinerary.

This May, our family plans on spending about the same time in Italy (it will be our first time visiting) and we do not know whether to do the more well travelled Rome-Florence-Venice route or vary it a bit and include more out-of-the-way places.

I know it is a broad question that I am asking, but any advice would help.

Thank you.
sarasjourneys is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 04:06 PM
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"we do not know whether to do the more well travelled Rome-Florence-Venice route or vary it a bit and include more out-of-the-way places."

Well, we don't know, either. It would depend on a lot of factors, none of which you have shared here.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 04:11 PM
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Don't miss Cinque Terre if you can all hike a little bit. Stay a couple of nights. I'm partial to Corniglia for accomodations, and Monterosso for exploring. The hike from Corniglia to Vernazza is the best one.

I love Florence. It's gotten so cosmopolitan in the last 20 years.

Venice is unique and unmissable. I always recommend it be the place you fly out of, seeing it last. If you can go a bit offseason, so much the better.

Skip Pisa.

If you happen to be driving in Greve in Chianti, and you like beef... a lot... make a reservation at the Officina della Bistecca. It's a whole thing.

Italy is just the best.
ibobi is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 04:22 PM
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Let me say just how excited we are for this trip. Also, please let me know what information I can provide to make answering easier.

We want to spend time in Rome and Venice but with three weeks, could our itinerary include places in the southern part of the country as well? Do we have enough time?
sarasjourneys is offline  
Jan 19th, 2018, 07:29 PM
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We can help you better if you tell us the interests, likes and dislikes of those in your group. Museums, high-end dining, sitting at cafes, old castles, hiking, watching sports, any certain eras of history? What are some of the things that you likes the most about your trip to France? Why do you want to go to Rome and Venice?
Lexma90 is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 01:14 AM
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You could limit your trip to Rome and the area between Rome and Florence.

This is what we did in pictures, picking up a car at the Rome ariport and dropping it off in Rome proper.

Be aware that when we took this trip in the 90s, parking was already problematic in the towns, and it has gotten worse with ZTLs. On the other hand, the pictures will show that a car is undoubtedly convenient to see out-of-the-way places. We did not see Florence or Venice on that trip.

The Michelin Green Guide is good on what to see.

Last edited by Michael; Jan 20th, 2018 at 01:15 AM. Reason: added a comment
Michael is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 07:02 AM
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With 3 weeks, you can easily add a few more destinations to the main 3 and still spend a few days in each. If by "southern part of the country" you mean the Amalfi Coast, yes, that's certainly doable, and May is a great time to be anywhere in Italy. Suggestions on how to tweak your itinerary will depend on more input from you re interests and how you like to spend your time. Also, if kids are involved, knowing their age range would be helpful.
Holly_uncasdewar is offline  
Jan 20th, 2018, 11:02 AM
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Yes agree with Holly - 3 weeks could include less beaten paths

Like from Florence rent a car and tool around Tuscany and its legendary hill towns

Or take train ton Cnque Terre

Or train Rome to Naples and Amalfi Coast.

Verona and Bologna are sweet cities between Venice and Florence by train.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 06:16 PM
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Does this itinerary work?

Rome - 4 nights
Ravello - 3 nights (~ 3 hr. drive)
Lecce - 4 nights (~ 4 hr. drive)
Naples - 4 nights (~ 4 hrs. drive)
Bologna - 3 nights (~ 5 hrs. drive)
Venice - 3 nights (~ 2 hrs. drive)

sarasjourneys is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2018, 08:20 PM
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It looks like you're planning on driving for the entire trip. I would definitely discourage that, as trains in much of Italy are much faster and less stressful. IN particular, don't drive from Naples to Bologna - viamichelin puts that at 7 hours, and that's without stopping for gas, food, or bathroom breaks. The train will get you there in 3.5 hours or less. You also DO NOT want to have a car in Naples. Terrible drivers there. The train is easy from Bologna to Venice, as well, and trains will get you easily from Bologna to any other nearby places you want to visit. For the other parts of your trip, just know that the Amalfi Coast can have very heavy traffic on its narrow, winding cliffside roads, and parking is challenging in the little villages. It's often best to take the bus or the ferry between villages. I don't know about Lecce so can't comment on that leg of your trip.
artsnletters is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 12:43 AM
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I agree that driving is not the best plan for a trip like this. You will see a wholel ot of tarmac and then be faced with parking issues, including the odious ZTL issues and attendant steep fines. I'm not familiar with Lecce, either, but every other destination on your itinerary cries out for using the inexpensive and efficient rail system.
StCirq is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 03:50 AM
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Many of the towns in Italy have ZTL which means you aren't allowed to drive in the center. That includes Rome, Florence, Bologna, etc.

Your itinerary doesn't make sense as it has you going to the Amalfi coast area (Naples/Ravello) twice which is backtracking. A waste of time. Ravello is up a cliffside so makes it more difficult to travel around the Amalfi coast.

An easier itinerary would be:

Fly to Rome - 4 nights
Train to Naples - 2-3 nights
Train/bus to Amalfi area - 3-4 nights
Rental car to Lecce - 4 nights
Drop car and train to Bologna - 3 nights
Train to Venice - 3 nights

Lecce seems to be out of the way and takes away from time I would want in the other cities. Is there something you must see in Lecce? I would want more time in Rome. Four nights give you only three sightseeing days and there is a lot to see in Rome.
kybourbon is online now  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 10:58 AM
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only drive where trains are not good and you want to go thru countryside - heed warnings about cars being a liability in cities - having to even with a hotel in city centre park your car on outer edge of town centers. Trains are faster too.
PalenQ is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 03:49 PM
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Thanks everybody.

What we love about driving is that you can stop where you want as you drive from one destination to the other, making the journey almost as interesting as the destination.

We do want to see the southern "heel" part of Puglia, and Lecce looks wonderful. We can take day trips to Otranto and/or Gallipoli and also have some time relaxing at the beaches, which also look glorious. We may even add a day to our vacation so we can have some more time in this area.

We know there is much to see in Rome, but with three weeks, we want to be able to have a taste of the different parts of Italy in one trip and three weeks and this itinerary allows it, I think.

I do agree with taking a train from Rome to Naples and from Naples to the Amalfi area, but then rent a car for the remainder of the trip, dropping the car off in Venice.
sarasjourneys is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 04:08 PM
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Well it is not a trip I would want to do, but if it worked for your in France, I don't see why it wouldn't work for you in Italy.
suze is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 04:20 PM
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Mix time staying in cities with time in the countryside, such as Tuscany, and Umbria.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2018, 05:52 PM
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Hi Sara,

We have been to Italy three times and have visited different parts of the country. I think your new itinerary looks good, but remember, you will be seeing less of each place you visit but will be able to see more places. I know that seems obvious, but there are those who feel the need to see most of what one place has to offer and others who want to experience different places but see less in each place. Each traveller has their own preference but I side with you.

Lecce and Bologna are just fantastic. If you have the time, you should visit Ascoli Piceno and/or Urbino as you drive from Lecce to Bologna.

Megane is offline  
Jan 24th, 2018, 06:22 AM
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>>>if it worked for your in France, I don't see why it wouldn't work for you in Italy.<<<

Suze - the difference is in Italy you aren't allowed to drive in many of the towns unless you are a resident. Most hill towns in Tuscany have ZTL, but so do Rome, Pisa, Florence, Bologna, etc. There are ZTL cameras everywhere. Some hotels have arrangements that allow you to drive in and drop off your luggage before you find parking in a garage somewhere. It's not in and out privileges to do day trips. Parking per day can be 40€ or so. Fines for driving into a ZTL are much higher. The rental cars charge about 40€ if they have to provide your info to the police because your car was caught on camera. The tickets can be 100-200€.
kybourbon is online now  
Jan 24th, 2018, 12:03 PM
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Also be aware the rental car insurance works differently (stricter) in Italy than in other countries. Be sure to read the fine print on whatever credit card you are using, or you will get hit for paying for insurance at the rental agency.
ibobi is offline  
Jan 24th, 2018, 12:33 PM
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Don't think ZTLs are only in cities - they are also in small towns - Lucca, Montepulciano, etc - (just some examples)

Sorrento has a few ZTLs as well and there is no train on the Amalfi Coast. Best there is to use the ferries or sit in traffic on the Amalfi Coast road.

The only place the car makes sense to have (and is really useable at all) is in the countryside. Otherwise it is an unnecessary expense

Hopefully you do read up on the ZTLs as so many people go drive all over the place and then complain that Italy is out to get them when the fines are received. This is a very real thing and Italy used to be drivable everywhere but ZTLs were implemented for a very good reason: to try to preserve these ancients cities and towns and were built centuries ago and not suitable to withstand the impact from vehicles.

It really can't be stressed enough since you seem to not want to take the excellent advice about using the trains which are very fast, frequent and stress-free
GBruno is offline  

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