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Getting around in Italy - 5 weeks


Nov 6th, 2013, 11:07 PM
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Getting around in Italy - 5 weeks

Hi Everyone,
I am planning a trip around Italy for August-September next year ... a 5 week trip.
I would love some help on sites where I can get public transport information esp. planning the routes and times etc. My husband loves driving and isn't keen on public transport, but I am reading the posts about the difficulty driving in some areas.
And if anyone would like to critique the itinerary, feel free! We still have some flexibility to change
1. We land in Milan and head to Bellagio - 3 nights
2. Baveno at Lake Maggiore - 3 nights (should we hire a car here?)
3. Aosta - 3 nights
4. Genoa - 2 nights (and then dump the car here?)
5. Manarola, Cinque Terra - 5 nights
6. Castellina in Chianti - 7 nights (we will hire a car here for the week)
7. Ravello on the Amalfi coast - 4 nights (catch the train from Florence to Naples and then ferries?)
8. Capri- 2 nights
9. Rome - 5 nights (my husband is querying if this is too long in Rome - we have been there once before, but it is decades ago...not sure that he wants to line up to see all the churches and monuments again
Also we arrive on 14th of August and leave on 17th September - are there any major festivals that we should be rearranging our itinerary to see?
Thank you so so much...there are quite a few questions here!!
MYOBlady is offline  
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Nov 7th, 2013, 03:09 AM
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I suppose you will land at Milan Malpensa airport. Rent a car after arrival and drive to Baveno (only a few miles as the airport is closer to Lake Maggiore than to Milan city). No need to go to Bellagio for 3 days: Baveno, Stresa, Isola Bella Island, Isola Madre Island, Pallanza, etc. (all reachable by boat in less than half an hour from Baveno) are more beautiful than Bellagio.
But you can easily do a day trip to Bellagio by car; its a extremely scenic itinerary:
Baveno - Intra - car ferry - Laveno - Luino - Ponte Tresa - Lugano - Porlezza - Menaggio - Cadenabbia - car ferry - Bellagio - Como - Monte Olimpino - San Fermo - Olgiate - Gazzada - Motorway - Exit Gravellona - Baveno.

The most secnic car itinerary from Baveno to Aosta goes through Switzerland:
Baveno - Sempione highway up to Varzo - Simplon Pass - Brig (castle) - Leuk (tiny untoristy medieval town) - Leukerbad (mountain thermal spa) - Varen (absolutely untouristy village in the vineyards) - Sierre - St. Leonard (underground lake) - Sion (medieval city center, old castle partly in ruins, old church, oldest playable organ of the world) - Saillon (thermal spa) - Martigny (roman theatre) - Grand Saint Bernard Pass (monastery) - Etroubles - Aosta.
If you approach Aosta from the Italian side, you will have to backtrack a lot on your way to Genova.
Visit the many famous Aosta Valley castles and at least the high mountain resort places of Courmayeur, Cervinia-Breuil and Gressoney (gondolas from all these places up to altitudes of 10.000 feet and more).

5 days is way too much for 5Terre.

Keep your car up to Tuscany and give it back before heading to Rome.

Amalfi Coast: either train from Rome to Salerno and bus from there or train from Rome to Naples, shuttle train Naples - Sorrento and bus Sorrento - Amalfi. No ferry needed. Boats make sense for local excursions only
neckervd is offline  
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Nov 7th, 2013, 04:25 AM
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I think you do need a car for the Aosta Valley although the lakes can be done with out one. Personally I found Lake Como much more beautiful than Maggiore so I would either keep it at three days each or do more days on Como.

For the Genoa / CT part -I agree 5 days is too much for just the CT but there's also Rapallo, Santa Marguerita, Camogli, Portofino, and Portovenere. I did five days based in Rapallo and visited the CT and those other towns last summer and it was great. I ran out of time before I got to Genoa but you have 7 days in the region so you should be OK. But I'd base in Rapallo or Camogli for the entire 7 days (one less hotel to worry about) and do day trips to the others. You do not need a car for the region. Here's my trip reports (that part is in the middle so scroll down) http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...swiss-alps.cfm

You need a car for Tuscany. And then you don't need one for the rest of your itinerary.

I would also not split the Amalfi Coast region into two stays but would pick one base. I'd pick Sorrento from there you can do day trips to Amalfi, Positano, Ravello, as well as Capri, Naples, Pompeii, etc.

Do you have reservations for hotels yet? I'm was in Rome and Amalfi Coast a few years ago in July and it was crowded but not unbearable - except Capri was horrendously crowded but I hear August is much worse. I am currently booking another trip for next summer and finding hotels already booked up, and that's for July.
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Nov 7th, 2013, 06:58 AM
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Good for you !

Some comments. I agree that Lago Maggiore is a viable option for your lakes destination.

5 nites in Manarole is too many---3 is plenty.

Ravello is lovely, but hard to access and quite isolated.

Keep the car after Tuscany and drive to Sorrento to drop it. Then, take local transfer opitons.

Have fun planning.
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Nov 8th, 2013, 01:24 AM
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Thank you so much for your help! Sounds like I had better cut back ct to 3 nights...
As Isabel said, we intended travelling further than ct while we were based there. But a few of my friends have given me the same advice. So I will pay attention!
I am interested that Bob says ravelling is isolated... I thought ferries were near so I might have to rethink that too. We found the most beautiful apartment in a fantastic location which was why I chose to stay there.
My husband will be very happy with your suggestions about the car too!!
I have booked accommodation but have the option to cancel We have a mixture of hotels, b & bs and also looking at apartments. After 4 weeks travelling we like to have a kitchen and do our own cooking. One of my (sad but true) favourite things to do when travelling is to go to the supermarket. Much more interesting than my local supermarket.
I love the sound of the trip to Aosta..thank you neckervd for all those suggestions.
MYOBlady is offline  
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Nov 8th, 2013, 09:50 AM
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Well we spent 5 nights in manarola and loved it!

But we like slow travel...
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Nov 8th, 2013, 11:07 AM
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>>>I am interested that Bob says ravelling is isolated... I thought ferries were near so I might have to rethink that too.<<<

Ravello is at the top of a cliff. You would have to bus or taxi to Amalfi (down on the water) for a ferry.
kybourbon is online now  
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Nov 8th, 2013, 11:18 AM
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We were in Rome and Sorrento (day trips to Capri, Pompeii and Naples) early June 2011 and boy, was it crowded. Pretty warm too, especially in the afternoons, but they don't say " Bella Italia" for nothing, we enjoyed every moment of our stay all the same! FYI, Aug 15 is Assomption, a very big day in the Catholic calender.
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Nov 8th, 2013, 03:13 PM
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Thank you for the tip about Assumption - I will highlight that in my travel schedule..
Jamikins, I like slow travel too...as a compromise, I thought 3 days in Manarola and 2 in Lucca on our way to Chianti. No further to travel...Or stay the 5 in Manarola and day trip to Lucca?
The dates I have tied in are the days in Chianti and our flight dates. With that in mind, if we don't stay at Lake Como, I need to allocate 3 more days to the first part of the trip. Would it be overkill to stay 6 nights at Baveno? Or should we add more time to Aosta?
This is the apartment near Amalfi and Ravello...we don't mind catching a bus to get the ferry...What do you think?
MYOBlady is offline  
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Nov 8th, 2013, 06:26 PM
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I've visited the Amalfi Coast twice, once in mid-March and once in mid-Sept, staying in Praiano both times. Sept was still very, very busy. SITA Buses were either no-show or full and it was very difficult to travel by bus. Long delays in travel time.

The buses up to Ravello are not full size buses due to the narrow, steep and twisty road between Amalfi and Ravello. These buses are also late, no-show, and a miserable, sweaty pushing and shoving free-for-all - IF you get on at all.

If you must go during this time, I have two recommendations:

stay in one of the towns with walking access to the ferries/boats serving the coast and travel that way, or,

stay in your lovely apartment in Ravello for as many days as you want to enjoy going absolutely nowhere else and relax!

If you must go to Capri (I would highly recommend skipping it), make sure you have advance reservations on the ferry/boat over. I stayed 2 nights in Anacapri and really didn't think Capri was any more beautiful than the coast. I did enjoy getting out of the main piazza/marina area and hiking up to Villa Jovis, riding up the Monte Solaro chairlift, and taking a boat tour around the island (the highlight).

We stayed 3 nts in Santa Margherita, and hiked from Riomaggiore to Vernazza. We also did a 1/2 day visit over to Portofino via boat and would have loved 1 more night in the area. We really liked Santa Margherita and would have liked to visit the quarries at Carrara and Portovenere but didn't have time with just 2.5 days on the Ligurian Coast. Our trip was in May and the hiking trails were very busy, but that was in the days before admission was charged and I don't know what they are like now.

Hope this helps. Buon viaggio!
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Nov 9th, 2013, 03:17 AM
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I you use Baveno as a base for day trips by car to
the Northern end of Lake Maggiore (Locarno and it's mountain valleys),
the 3 medieval castles of Bellinzona
Cannobio and the many scenic villages arund (Trarego, Orasso, Saint Agata, etc,)
Maccagno and it's mountains (Val Veddasca, Alpe Neggia, Lake Delio, Dumenza)
Luino and the Malcantone
Laveno, Monte Campo dei Fiori and Varese
Lake Lugano with tons of scenic villages and 5 viewpoints (up to
5000 ft high) reachable by cog wheel railway, cablecar or gondola,
Mottarone, the Belvedere between Lake Maggiore and Lake Orta
Lake Orta, it's Island and the Sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso
Varallo and it's famous Via Crucis
Valsesia and it's glaciers (gondola up to 10000 ft)
Val Formazza, it's glaciers and the 143 m high Tosa Waterfalls
Menaggio and the Lake Como area
the botanical gardens of Isola Bella, Isola Madre, Isole di Brissago, Villa Taranto, Villa Carlotta
the prehistoric founds of Monte San Giorgio
etc. etc. ......
you can easily spend a whole week at Baveno

But I would rather spend more time in Aosta Valley, in order to explore the many famous castles, the roman theatre and the other roman buildings at Aosta, the many unspoilt mountain villages as well as the resorts of Courmayeur and Breuil-Cervinia with direct cableway access to the glaciers of Mont Blanc resp Matterhorn .....
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Nov 9th, 2013, 02:15 PM
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Neckervd - what are you doing to me? I still have to wait till next August! You make me want to jump on the plane here and now. So that is that...I will maybe a day more into Baveno and the other couple of days into Aosta.
My husband is delighted that everyone likes us having the car too.
Dayle - your description of the buses! URK...I think we will need to look for a place closer to the ferry and walk in,as you suggest. I don't know about Capri - friends have loved it, and people have said that it lovely in the early mornings and evenings when the daily visitors have gone. I think we have to do it, as when we last went to Italy (nearly 40 years ago) we had to miss Capri because we had no money. It was something I regretted. And don't forget it will be mid-September by the time we get there, so hopefully a bit quieter....
You have been so generous in your suggestions..we will enjoy our trip all the more as a result. Thank you.
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Nov 9th, 2013, 07:08 PM
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That apartment you linked isn't in Ravello at all, it's just named Ravello Villa. It's in the town of Minori.
kybourbon is online now  
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Nov 9th, 2013, 11:42 PM
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Hi, for what it's worth, we loved Capri..definitely not for a day trip, but it's a stunning island...We stayed in Capri (not Anacapri) for 5 nights and could have stayed longer...it's a little ritzy in parts and the day trippers make some bits crowded for a few hours but it is an amazing place - go!! Ravello is beautiful too, and you can imagine the 60s movie stars hanging out there.. We stayed a couple of days and it felt enough. I would agree with your husband, five days in Rome is a lot...have fun...
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Nov 10th, 2013, 12:10 AM
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my husband & i drove around the north of italy & loved it. we drove to Italy from the south of a france so our first stop was Santa Margherita Ligure. We had a car park where we stayed & from here we visited Cinque Terra & Portofino. It was an ideal position. OUr hotel was villa anita.
We drove all the way to Bellagio & were able to park the car thanks to where we stayed. We then did lake trips, stopping off & exploring all the little towns as well as Como.

We loved driving & for us it was harder because we drive on the left side of the road. But we would do it again.

the trick with driving is to pick places to stay where car parking is free. try to stay away from the really big cities. You need a GPS. enjoy. loved Italy.
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Nov 10th, 2013, 02:19 PM
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Just to be clear, my visit to the Amalfi Coast and Capri was in mid-Sept. Still very, very busy!
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