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Help! First Trip To Italy - Does This Itinerary Sound Good?

Help! First Trip To Italy - Does This Itinerary Sound Good?

Old Mar 8th, 2002, 10:11 PM
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Help! First Trip To Italy - Does This Itinerary Sound Good?

My husband and I will be traveling to Italy on April 17 for 17 nights. We're both 35, healthy and fit, and looking forward to sampling "la dolce vita," if only for a few days. We fly in and out of Milan Malpensa (we wanted a direct flight from South Florida and this was it. Could use all the suggestions you can part with on any topic (weather mid-April/early May, pace of itinerary, hotel reviews, train travel tips, overnight train tips, short worthwhile side trips, good affordable osterias or trattorias in each destination, tips on Milan Malpensa airport transfers to train station). This is what I've got planned:
Arrive Milan approx. 8 a.m.
Milan train to Venice
(I think we're getting the Italy Rail Pass, although I can't seem to get fare info from trenitalia.it or the German bahn.de website to compare prices)
Venice 3 nights (Hotel Locanda Gaffaro in Dorsoduro a short way - just enought to get lost - across the bridge from Santa Lucia Train Station)(haven't seen anything on this site about L. Gaffaro - anyone know anything about it?)
Early morning Train to Rome
Rome 4 nights (Hotel Pensione Italia on Via Venezia)
Early Morning Train to Naples
Sorrento 3 Nights (Il Nido Hotel 5 km outside of Sorrento)(we'll also do Pompeii & Positano, Amalfi- has anyone heard of the marked trails for walking Massa Lubrense/St. Agata area?)
One week Car Rental ($263 week economy all inclusive w/Hertz) We'll have the car for 2 days of our stay on Amalfi Coast, then drive down the Campanian/Calabrian coast or down the A3 (any thoughts as to which is best? how long is this drive? where to stop for overnight rest or a bit of food/scenery?) to Villa San Giovanni for a car ferry to Messina in Sicily.
1 Night Somewhere (suggestions are welcome) between Sorrento and Sicily
Car Ferry from Villa San Giovanni to Messina
Drive to Sciacca
4 Nights in Sciacca (we're staying with my husband's relatives on the beach- using this as a base to explore Agrigento (any thoughts on where else to go for day trips in southwestern Sicily??)
Return car in Agrigento
Overnight train Agrifento to Milan (actually more like 21-hour train ... yikes... I wish I had heard the term "open-jaw" before I booked the Milan flight, I guess we'll just book a comfy sleeper and enjoy the scenery!)
Milan 1 night (Hotel Virgilio within walking distance of Milan Centrale Train Station -anyone ever stayed here?) (What can we fit into our last few hours in Milan?)
Flight home.
Old Mar 9th, 2002, 01:13 AM
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Not real help for you here since my first trip to Italy will be next year April BUT if you're going to go down to Reggio Calabria be sure to stop here and wave to the webcam:


That would be such a hoot for your friends/family back home.

Anyway, enjoy your stay....I can't wait for my trip there.
Old Mar 9th, 2002, 03:34 AM
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Hello from S Florida too. Just a few quick observations: I wouldn't buy a rail pass. For the amount of train travel you're doing, you can buy tickets as you go. Also, see if you can fly out of Rome instead of Milan (I flew into Rome, out of Venice, for no price difference). This will save you a lot of time, not to mention that 21 hour train ride. I am guessing you are flying Alitalia. If so, their flights go from Rome to Milan, then to Miami, so it's just a short flight in the beginning and then the rest of the way is "nonstop." Good luck!
Old Mar 9th, 2002, 05:50 AM
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Dear May,
yours is a very fine travel.
When you arrive at Sorrento and go to Il Nido you, maybe, alrealy need the car because hotel, as you know, is far from Sorrento.
Yes, we have many walking paths in the area surrounding Massa Lubrense. One of these, the most famous, is named "The path of the Gods" and it gives the chances to admire particular views of Amalfi Coast that you cannot watch from the road. Several other paths departure from Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi and arrive at very little bay, large enough for two or three couples where it is nice and romantic have sun and sea. It's the same, or better, than to swim into a swimming pool. When you arrive at Sant'Agata Sui Due Golfi I suggest you to go to Gregory Bar and ask for the patron Peppe. Tell him you want the map of the walking paths and he, who is very kind, will give it and will suggest the best to begin. However you have not to miss the path from Termini, a village of Massa Lubrense, to Punta Campanella. Be attention, you could touch with your hands the island of Capri !
When you begin your travel toward Sicily across Calabria, you take highway in Salerno. Be attention, I strongly suggest you to exit from highway ( highway is free of charge ) at Lagonegro - Maratea and follow banners for Paola. You leave highway when you are on the mountains and, by a very fine road you arrive on the sea. From this moment, you never miss the sea on your righ hand side. Many small towns as Praia, San Nicola Arcella, Cirella. Diamante. Diamante is already a good place for a night stop: Hotel Ferretti and its restaurant La Pagoda or, otherwise, another restaurant on the beach Lo Scoglio.
Go on. Cetraro. The best chioce for the night stop: Grand Hotel Villa San Michele: unforgettable as hotel, as view, as charme and as magic flavours of this Southern region of Italy.
Go on. Paola, Amantea. Falerna. Be attention again, in Falerna you have to keep again highway to reach in a short time Villa San Giovanni. Otherwise, you have always the sea close to you, on the righ hand and, altough if it means to arrive in Sicily later, you visit one of the best places of Calabria: Capo Vaticano and, close to it, the most beautiful town of the Tirrenian Coast of Calabria: Tropea.
You'll have a wonderful trip, it is sure.
Sciacca is one of the most elegant town of Sicily.
In your tour there is only one weakness. The train from Agrigento to Milan. No, May, it is impossible you'll enjoy the scenery for 21 hours.
No, believe me: flight from Catania to Milan. It is a strong suggest because I know what means an Italian overnight train and, after, it becomes day train and this time, so spent, becomes the murderer of your wonderful trip.
In Milan, nearby station and bus for Malpensa, I know Hotel Albert, where I go often: very good.
Have a nice trip.
Old Mar 9th, 2002, 04:21 PM
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I saw Rick Steves on TV and he was talking about a 3,000 km family rail pass that he and his family bought in Italy for $180.USD. It is explained in his "Europe Through the Back Door" book. He said there are 30 plus pages of tips. Hope this might help. I'm planning a trip to Italy in 2003 so would love feed back from you.
Old Mar 9th, 2002, 05:32 PM
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Dear May, Your itinerary sounds absolutely wonderful! Do see if you can change & fly rather than taking that long of a train trip! Yikes!! You should be able to at least go from Rome with no price difference. It might even be worth it to go from Palermo. Then you might be able to stay overnight at Lago di Como or Maggiore before leaving Milan.

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