Help planning a trip to Italy

Jun 5th, 2011, 11:39 AM
  #1  
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Help planning a trip to Italy

My husband and our two children (20 and 22) are going to Italy in July. We will be there for11 (not including flights) days and are flying in to Venice and out of Naples. We will be going to Florence, Rome and Amalfi Coast. I am trying to alot time in each city and make sure we see the highlights. Can anyone give me recommendations on timing, rental car versus trains and what not to miss? We would love to have a vineyard meal somewhere in Tuscany and would recommendations on restaurants and possible tours in each city. Thanks for any advice you can give.
marycol is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 11:43 AM
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With 11 days you want to see Venice, Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast? That is alot considering you will lose about 1/2 a day in transit every time you move (so of your 11 days 2 of them will be lost in transit and that leaves you with 9 days to see 4 places...). I would reconsider and pick 2, max 3 places to give yourself time to actually see and experience the places you are visiting...
jamikins is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 11:57 AM
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With all of those places in 11 days, you won't be "seeing" too much of anything. I'd skip the Tuscany vineyard and one other place. Since you are flying into Venice and out of Naples, looks like that leaves Florence as the outlier. Two mights in Venice, 5 in Rome and 4 on the Amalfi Coast is about the best you can do.

Have you made your airline reservations? If not, fly into Venice and out of Rome, include Florence and take a day trip to a Tuscan vineyard from Florence. You may need to rent a car for a day for the vineyard but the rest of the trip could be done easily by train.
mamcalice is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 01:01 PM
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Heed the good words of Jamikins ("pick 2, max 3 places") and mamcalice ("fly into
Venice and out of Rome"). Skip Naples and the Amalfi coast unless you add another
week to your trip. You can't do both the north and south of Italy in 11 days. If you
do, you'll return home in a coma.
shermy is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 01:20 PM
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Is this trip taking place this July? 2011? My advice is to get your accommodations NOW!! You are going to find many of the good and less expensive ones taken already.

Because your destinations are in cities except for your wish for a vineyard meal, take the train. You are very new to Italy, you cannot drive into the cities because traffic is restricted and insane, and it's hard to find your way around.

Do Venice, Rome and Naples at the max. Save the vineyards for another trip. From Naples you can tour the Amalfi Coast. You might get lucky and find a place to stay in the AC, if you act fast. Then you would not stay in Naples.
charnees is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 04:36 PM
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Venice, Rome, Naples and the Amalfi coast in 11 days? Would you give a higher
priority to spending more time in the closets of your hotel rooms as you continually pack and unpack in preference to experiencing Italy's treasures?
shermy is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 05:23 PM
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Agree - in the days you have you should stick to 2 places. I would do Venice and Rome. If you must see Pompeii - spend a couple of night in Sorrento (not Naples). But that is really rushing past even the major sights.

Agree you may find it difficult to get much of a choice of hotels at this point unless you are looking at an upscale price point. And assume you want 2 rooms and aren't looking for the fairly rare family rooms that would sleep 4 people.
nytraveler is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 05:39 PM
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Yep, Rome plus one more city.
sheri_lp is offline  
Jun 5th, 2011, 06:23 PM
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Having just toured around all of those cities, I would recommend not staying in Naples.....EVER. We didn't, and I'm pleased we didn't. Naples is about the ugliest, dirtiest city in Italy. Venice is amazing, though not if you get seasick (which thankfully I don't)! Train travel from Rome Termini is confusing at best, a nightmare at worst, if you don't have a card to pay with you can't use the ticket machines and will have to line up at the office, though I would just avoid the train if possible. A taxi across Rome at rush hour costs about 20-25 Euro, at regular hours it cost about 11-15 Euro.

The Almalfi coast is very pretty, I visited Positano for a couple of hours, but didn't actually stay there, I stayed on Capri (personally I think Capri is the most wonderful place anyone could ever go!). Florence is very crowded, and not quite as pretty at street level as one might expect or hope (personal opinion here), or at least that's what I found, though I didn't have time to properly explore Florence. I was with a Globus "Best of Italy" tour, which was excellent, and I saw a lot in a short space of time. I know that not everyone enjoys tours, but I did, and the tour director was excellent.

I definitely enjoyed Venice more than Florence, and Rome is Rome (in that I mean only that there are "must see" things in Rome, but the city itself is nothing amazing). Just for the sake of trying to be useful, the Pope appears in St. Peter's square every Wednesday morning, and when he is there, the Basilica is off limits to everyone. So if you are wanting to see the inside of St. Peter's, don't plan it for Wednesday.... We ended up seeing the Pope instead of the church with the tour group, and then went back to the church after the tour was over on an extra day in Rome.

Hope this is helpful
Irishwhistler90 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 06:00 AM
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I disagree somewhat in that in 11 days you can cover more ground than 2 cities. We generally can cover a city with all that we want to do and see within 3 days. I would recommend 3 nights in Venice (the first one is tough to get through due to jet lag) 4 in Florence and 4 in Rome. Its a 3 hour train ride between each of them and if you get an early start you can enjoy lunch in the destination city. With 4 days in Florence, it should afford you a day trip into Tuscany. With 4 people it may be just as economical to book a private tour as opposed to group. I have used Lucca from hillsandroads.com. If you want a quick glimpse of the amalfi coast/capri, they run tours out of Rome. It is a long day though. I would skip Naples for sure. We cover a lot of ground while on vacation, but that would be about the limit we would do on a first trip to Italy. Enjoy
joeyrm7 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 07:58 AM
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Zillions of tourists use the trains in Italy all the time. Irish is speaking from a tour-group perspective. Apparently he/she did not have a credit card along, which seems strange. I am sure you will have a credit card with you to use the ticket machines, so Irish's concern should not concern you.
charnees is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 12:23 PM
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If I had your parameters -- definite flights into Venice and out of Naples, 11 days, in July -- and really wanted to see Venice, Florence, Rome and the AC -- I might structure the trip this way:

2 nights Venice
2 nights Florence
4 nights Rome
3 nights AC -- the final night situated somewhere to make it easy to catch the flight home

If you will be jet lagged, and if your budget wouldn't allow taking the fast trains, I would definitely reconsider tackling all four. Some things to keep in mind: Venice will be packed, meaning you'll have to fight to cover the highlights in a limited amount of time; Florence will also be packed and hot.

Personally, I wouldn't drive, but if you were comfortable doing that, you could consider the following:

Venice 3 nights
Tuscany 5 nights (in the countryside with a day trip to Florence, vineyard tours, etc.)
Amalfi Coast 3 nights

Again, personally, I would give up Venice and the AC before Rome, but it wouldn't make sense to skip Venice if you are flying into there. And in July, the AC may be a better choice than Florence. You've got to decide what's most important to you and go from there. Good luck!
wayfinder45 is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 12:39 PM
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I would look into available lodging in your budget range for the places on your wish list. Unless you have a very generous budget, your options may already be limited.

Then I would look at the travel times involved in getting anywhere other than Venice, Florence, Rome and Naples. You have 11 days on the ground, and three half-days are already lost moving between the big cities.
Jean is online now  
Jun 6th, 2011, 01:02 PM
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Having read a number of her recent posts, I would say take anything Irish says with a huge grain of salt. Naples has actually experienced a bit of a renaissance in recent years and, garbage disposal and other occasional issues aside, has a wealth of things to offer visitors. Rome is most certainly an amazing city, in hundreds of different ways. And yes, people take trains all over Italy every day without any problems. One Globus whirlwind trip of Italy is hardly a reliable lens through which to generalize.

To get back to your itinerary, though, I think you need to narrow down the field a bit and give up a place or two (I'd start with the AC, myself). You're really talking about only 9 days for actual sightseeing - the rest will be taken up in moving from place to place and settling in. If this were my trip (which of course it isn't), I'd stick to Rome and Venice and make the most of those two wonderful places, either of which could easily consume you for weeks at a time.
StCirq is online now  
Jun 6th, 2011, 01:18 PM
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While one can approach an itinerary using so many days so many cities type of rule, there is another way to look at an itinerary.

If you visit Italy in the future, you will find that certain destinations tend to get naturally incorporated into your itineraries. Rome and Milan tend to be in this category due to the availability of flights and Venice to a lesser degree. Florence, on the other hand tend to be a way point in pretty much any train trip connecting Rome to anywhere in the North. So I tend to go light on these type of destinations and guess what, over several trips, I end up visiting these cities many times.

Unlike Rome, AC is very difficult to tack onto an itinerary. It has to be specifically added. For this reason, if I was to hit the destinations you mentioned, I would put more weight to these out of the way places and add just enough Rome or Florence to hit a few places and to get a better feel to help me with my future trip back to these gateway destinations.
greg is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 01:53 PM
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Seeing as you are flying in to Venice and out from Naples (I assume you already have these flights)...a lot of the responders are really not replying in the most effective way.

Considering the ages of your "children" I like wayfarer's second suggestion. DO spend 3 nights in Venice. Then rent a car to do "Tuscany or Umbria" (based on where you can get lodging) for 5 nights, and then 3 nights in Sorrento (from which you can see much of the Amalfi Coast). Drop the car off at the airport in Naples.

On the "Tuscany/Umbria" issue -- really - at this late date, you should try to find a spot where you can either chill out and enjoy the use of a pool or plan a day trip into Rome or Florence (via train) -- again depending on what location you choose from what is still available. Check out the areas around Montepulciano or Siena or Spoleto or Cortona.

You don't need to spend all your time in "The Big Three" to get a lovely taste of Italy. Good luck!
uhoh_busted is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 02:47 PM
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Skip Florence or Rome, you can get art in either one. 2-3 nights Venice, 4 nights Rome, 4 nights Amalfi. Don't bother staying in Naples unless you want to do things there.
anothertravelinsong is offline  
Jun 6th, 2011, 04:13 PM
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"Skip Florence or Rome, you can get art in either one." Well, that's one way of choosing vacation destinations.
Jean is online now  
Jun 6th, 2011, 08:57 PM
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StCirq, I was only trying to help, and sharing my personal opinion, which is what everyone does on this forum. I was in no way trying to offend. I really did find the trains confusing, mostly because not even the station "help" people that wander around knew which platform the train was going from anymore than I did, which seemed odd. One guy would say go to the train area, the next would say go to the metro, and I was showing a purchased ticket to all of them. charnees, I did have a credit card, it just didn't make any sense to me to use it, as the foreign currency and use fee would have made the ticket three times as expensive that way. In my comment, I was merely pointing out that you can't use cash with the ticket machines, which is good to know if you are planning on using cash for most of your trip, again, I in no way meant to annoy or offend anyone. I sincerely wish to help future travelers.
Irishwhistler90 is offline  
Jun 14th, 2011, 05:49 AM
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Thanks for all the tips! I changed it up a bit. We are flying in to Venice - 4 days there. Train to Florence. Three days there with one day being a private winery tour and a meal in a vineyard. Train to Rome. Staying in Rome for five days and flying out of there. Had no trouble finding hotels and even got a direct flight from Rome to Wsshington.
marycol is offline  

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