First time traveller in Italy

Old Jun 21st, 2005, 09:28 PM
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First time traveller in Italy

Hi everyone,

I am planning my first trip to Itay and would love some help with the planning. I've got an ambitious itinerary and would love comments! Also I'm travelling alone, which means that I probably need to be 'on the go' for fear of boredom! =)

Days 1 to 3 - Venice. Leave on overnight train
Days 4 and 5 - Cinque Terre (or is one day sufficient?)
Day 6 - travelling to Florence via Pisa
Days 7 to 11 - 4 days in Florence, plus a day trip to Siena and San Gimignano (is it do-able to go to both in a day?)
Day 12 - go to Sorrento via train
Day 13 - day trip to Pompeii
Day 14 - Positano
Day 15 - day trip to Amalfi and Ravello
Day 16 - spend most of the day in Positano, going back to Naples at night in time for ferry over to Lipari in the Aeolian Islands
Day 17 - Lipari
Day 18 - Stromboli, doing the night trek.
Day 19 - leave Stromboli in the morning, going to Rome.
Days 20 to 23 - Rome
Day 24 - Leave!

Too ambitious? Not enough times in places or too much? Any thoughts or tips much much appreciated!!!!

mcmugg is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2005, 09:56 PM
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Cinque Terre (or is one day sufficient?)
i'm not the biggest fan of CT but the main charm is walking between all 5 villages and back (or take the boat on the return). for this you ideally need one full day. therefore, ideally you have 2 nights with the full day for the walk in between.

Siena and San Gimignano (is it do-able to go to both in a day?)
Possible maybe, but i would not recommend it.

overall, the plan is ambitious which you realise. for myself, i would not do it as there is not enough time in most places to really enjoy being there and soaking up some of the atmosphere.

for example, if i move to a new location in the morning, arrive around mid-day, it usually take me all that first day to relax, get settled in the hotel, get my bearings around town, and warm up to the place. at the end of the second day, i usually feel that i'm just STARTING to experience the place. therefore, i very rarely spend only one night (or even two) in a place. i like at least one full day to experience without having to think about moving on later in the day or that night.
walkinaround is offline  
Old Jun 21st, 2005, 11:05 PM
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Is there an overnight train from Venice to the Cinque Terre? I am definitely not an expert, but I believe you would have to change trains at least once, if they even run to that destination at that time.

I really doubt you will get bored in Italy if you slow down your itinerary. But your itinerary does look doable (although I don't know much about southern Italy so can't comment), so if you are happy with it and have worked out all the train connections go for it.
WillTravel is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2005, 03:33 AM
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I admire your enthusiasm and it is a very ambitious itinerary, which can be done. The question becomes "do you want to?" From past experience, I think you will find that your memories of your whirlwind tour will be of trains and train stations.

As contributor walkinaround indicated, it takes some time to settle into your surroundings and appreciate them, which is difficult to do when you pack up and move almost every morning.

I would suggest that you rethink your itinerary, possibly dividing Italy into north and south sections, using Rome as the dividing point. Choose one or the other, that is north or south, and save the other for another trip. That way you will have more time in your selected areas to discover, experience and enjoy.

I too used to be an ambitiuos traveler, trying to squeeze three or more major sights into a day. What I learned was that I was doing well to get two major sights in a day, and still leave time for simple wandering, cafe life, and just observing. I don't really have too many memories of how many sights I saw in a day, or on a trip, but I do recall extraordinary little shops, squares and cafes that I found by wandering, on quaint, ancient sidestreets off the beaten path of which I'll never be able to find again.

Maybe what we are trying to say is "slow down, take time to smell the roses." Good luck my friend.
kjosker is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2005, 03:51 AM
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I spent three nights in CT in 2002 and felt it was perfect - since you enjoy keeping a fast pace, two is good for you. The villages are quiet at night, but perfect to enjoy a long dinner & stroll with gelato.

I stayed in Capellini's rooms in Manarola and would recommend it, you can find their info on the web doing a search, but its an email you correspond with, and its not truly a hotel (no breakfast), but has great views!

I would trade a day in Florence and add it to Venice, but you'll get a lot of opinions on that one

One thing to note is that trains, even when not on strike, were not very reliable in Italy - so don't leave your schedule TOO tight. We spent HOURS in Florence waiting for a train to Rome, they were all 2-3 hrs late for some reason. We ended up hoping an express headed to Rome that we hadn't paid for, but the ticket collector understood and let us! Very strange... the train was quite a bit nicer than the rest we traveled on and virtually empty!

Anywho, I think you're ambitious, but not too much so. (though I've also never done southern Italy) Enjoy!
travelphile is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2005, 04:56 AM
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thanks for the advice - it's much appreciated as I'm finding really overwhelming to plan for this trip because everything in Italy sounds amazing, and because I'm flying in from Australia, I'm trying to pack in as much as possible. But I agree with everyone - I certainly don't want to remember Italy as a series of train stations and want to be able to soak in the atmosphere! Catch 22 there I'm afraid!

I see that my itinerary jumps a lot more to 'one day here, hop on a train, another day here' so here's the question: is it better to stay in Positano to explore the Amalfi Coast or stay in either Sorrento or Amalfi, then do day trips? I also really want to see Pompeii, but am not sure which is the best way to get there (I do know that there is a train that runs there from Sorrento) - i'm on a budget so public transport is my only option I'm afraid!

Also, has anyone been to the Aeolian Islands and how long would you recommend staying in those islands? I really want to do the night trek on Stromboli, but also would like to see other islands as well - which island would be the best base?

Once again, thanks a lot for all your help!!
mcmugg is offline  
Old Jun 22nd, 2005, 05:17 AM
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I certainly would prefer to base in Sorrento or Positano and do day trips along Amalfi, and even to Pompeii. You probably will get more people here telling you Sorrento is more central as a base for all those excursions, and that may well be true. I'd prefer Positano, but that's just me. While there are always exceptions, in general, you'll find Sorrento easier on the budget than Positano. But, if Positano holds a strong appeal, you can with perseverance find a room with a view at a good price, even if you may have to skip some of the the hotel amenities. Really, it comes down to a subjective choice & only you know what makes you smile when you experience it!

I'd agree with trying to cut down the one-or-two nighters as much as possible. They do detract from your "vacation time" as you tend to underestimate how much time & toll logistics take. Overall, sounds like a lovely trip. Enjoy!
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Old Jun 22nd, 2005, 05:18 AM
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Hi mc,

If Pompeii is a must, Sorrento is the most convenient town in which to stay.

The Circumvesuviana train will take you to Pompeii Scavi, Herculaneum and Naples. From Pompeii Scavii you can go to the Pompeii Centrale station and go to Paestum, if you wish.

SITA buses leave on a regular schedule for Positano and AMalfi, from where you can go to Ravello.

ira is offline  
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