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First time in Italy (2-week Itinerary)

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Jul 28th, 2012, 09:02 AM
  #1
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First time in Italy (2-week Itinerary)

Hello! Looking for some guidance on my travel plans for Italy (for the first time ever) with my husband in May. Our plans are:

Fly into Venice. Stay 3 nights.
Take the train to Tuscany and rent a car (perhaps in Siena). We will be bypassing Florence.
Stay 4 nights in Montalcino (with day trips to San Gimignano, Siena, Pienza).
Drop off car in Orvieto, take train from Orvieto to Naples. Hire private driver from Naples to Positano. Stay 3 nights in Positano.
Use the same driver to take us to Matera. Stay 2 nights.
Back to Rome (via local train/bus to Bari, then express train to Rome). Stay for 2 nights. We will fly out of Rome.

I know we're not giving much time to Rome because I really want to see a lot of countryside. But I am debating adding an extra night at the end to Rome, if we can. We want a romantic and relaxing trip, great food, beautiful/unique scenery, and as few train changes as possible!
I was originally thinking of visiting the Dolomites for 2 nights after Venice, instead of Matera, but Matera just seems so amazing. Plus, there don't seem to be any cable cars open until very late May in the Dolomites. Also, Venice seems quite pricey to fly into, but it just seems more convenient to fly in than fly out of Venice. Any advice would be much appreciated!
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Jul 28th, 2012, 09:16 AM
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looks pretty good to me, not sure why you are using a private driver, are there any particular issues you want to put on the table?
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Jul 28th, 2012, 09:21 AM
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Jojo I agree Matera is amazing to see, but it's quite a ways off your itinerary route.

Although google maps shows it to be only 3 hours away, it doesn't take into consideration all the twists, turns, and slow moving traffic.

I am allowing 5 hours min for our trip from Matera to Amalfi, and Positano is further.
Just so you know...

You might find 3 nights on the Amalfi coast not nearly enough, especially since your travel there will take up most of a day. Ditto for Rome, 2 nights not enough, especially for first time there.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 09:36 AM
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I guess that was a big question for me: Is Matera worth the trek from Positano and back to Rome? We'll really only have one full day there, but I hate the thought of having been that close but missing out on it.

Everything I've read about transportation around the Amalfi Coast has scared me. I am definitely a wimp, so I thought it would be easiest (although not cheapest) to rent a driver. And if I'm hiring a driver to get us there, I guess I could hire one to get us to Matera (which looks about the same distance away as Rome).

We can probably stay 15 nights at the absolute most, so I will definitely add one more night to Rome. My plan for Positano was really just to relax on a balcony, with a bit of hiking. So I'm hoping 3 nights will be enough.

Although I have my heart set on Matera, if we were to cut it out, would you suggest perhaps a night in Sorrento and an extra night in Rome? Or maybe the Dolomites after Venice?
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Jul 28th, 2012, 09:48 AM
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I agree---very nice trip but Matera is just too much hassle and cost to be justified. I would spend that time on the AC or in Rome.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 10:01 AM
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Thanks Bob! The thought breaks my heart, but I can definitely see the logic in cutting out Matera. I'm sure when I'm spending that extra time on the AC, I won't even remember my heartbreak!
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Jul 28th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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Have you considered taking the ferry to Capri for a day from Positano, or Pompei?

Or, take the bus or hire a driver to take you between towns on the Amalfi Coast. They are too beautiful to miss; Amalfi, Ravello, even past Amalfi to Maiori, and further, the fishing village of Cetara.

We rented a smart car from Positano for a day, and had a great time exploring. It wasn't scary at all.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 10:07 AM
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Well, I think Matera is absolutely fascinating and worth a detour. But I would never hire a driver just to navigate Italy. I'd rather drive the Amalfi Coast than drive from DC to Richmond on 495.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 10:15 AM
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I'm definitely considering Capri, Amalfi, and Ravello. And I am starting to see the benefits of a longer stay on the AC.

We will give some thought into the car rental idea. And, from what I've read about the roads, the smaller the car the better! Again, the wimp in me would still prefer to hire a driver to get us to and from Positano (probably from Naples). But car rental is an option once we're there.

So, if I cut out Matera, I will make it 4 nights on the AC and 3-4 nights in Rome. Would you suggest staying all 4 nights in the same Positano hotel, or break it up (e.g., half in Amalfi, or even Capri). It just might be easier to relax if we're not switching hotel rooms.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 10:21 AM
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LOL StCirq! Well, we did rent a car and drive all over Ireland, which was an adventure. I just have a (irrational, perhaps) fear of driving on the AC.

I'm still considering Matera. It really looks amazing (plus, I desperately want to sleep in a cave!). Maybe it would be best to just consider driving there from Salerno, and save the cost of a private driver at least.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 10:26 AM
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<>

If you wait until you're there to rent a car it will cost you far more than if you arrange it Stateside ahead of time. If you drove all over Ireland, you'll be FINE on the Amalfi Coast!
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Jul 28th, 2012, 10:30 AM
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Hmmm...good to know!
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Jul 28th, 2012, 10:37 AM
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"car rental an option once we're there"

Jojo I think what you mean is, renting a car from Positano rather than Naples, which is a good idea.

We paid about €100 for a day rental, but as StCirq says, that would be cheaper if you book ahead.

€100 a day was still cheaper than a driver, though, and more fun!
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Jul 28th, 2012, 11:24 AM
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That depends on your definition of 'fun'!

What is your experience with renting a car in one location and returning it in another? As long as it's in the same country, are there any extra fees? And in terms of booking the train tickets in advance, I've read that it may be beneficial to book express tickets in advance, but wait to buy local journeys when you're there?
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Jul 28th, 2012, 11:52 AM
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I'm just throwing this out there: as a first-timer in Italy, with 14-15 nights max., and a preference for the coast and the countryside, would it be wise to consider (*yeesh*) cutting Venice, in favour of more time in Rome and the chance to see Matera?
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Jul 28th, 2012, 12:02 PM
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No extra fees for returning a car if it's in the same country where you picked it up. And keep in mind that a one-day rental, even if arranged Stateside, will cost about the same as a 3-day rental. A small car is usually about $30 a day.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 12:21 PM
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With Avis we are paying a drop fee for pick up in Venice drop in Salerno, but it was inc in the quote. I booked using my Aeroplan membership and saved around $50.
The charge for dropping in another country is a much steeper than the drop charge within the same country.

For trains, here is the trenitalia website, explanation of different fares

http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/inde...0080a3e90aRCRD

I'm sure someone else can fill in on train info....
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Jul 28th, 2012, 12:46 PM
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jojo - You may want to go to kayak.com or somewhere and check the price of car rentals. If they don't have the dates available this far in advance, plug others in to see. When I've looked at rentals the price of Naples to Naples was the same as Naples to Rome. So perhaps you could pick up the car on the AC or Salerno and return it to Rome and use it to visit Matera?

Your trip sounds lovely. If it was my trip, I'd skip Venice in favor of Matera. (Most wouldn't.) But if the place is drawing you - I think that's something to pay attention to.

We'll be in Positano for 4 nights in September and I cannot wait. My entire itinerary consists of hiking and sitting on a balcony at sunset. I had originally planned to take public transportation as I was nervous about driving on the AC too. But I finally reserved a car.
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Jul 28th, 2012, 12:59 PM
  #19
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rose - thank you for that perspective. That really helps. I may try to work up the nerve to consider another car rental, besides Tuscany.

I'm so excited for Positano also. Honestly, it's Positano, Tuscany, and Matera that are drawing me the most. And, it may mean tweaking a few things to make sure I get there!

Have a fabulous trip in September!
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Jul 28th, 2012, 01:46 PM
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Jojo on the Avis website at least, you don't see all the charges until you hit Select for the car you want to rent. Our one way charge is $62. Just something to be aware of. Avis was still cheaper than others, though.
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