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Feb 15th, 2016, 02:58 PM
  #1
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Help with Ambitious 12 Day Italy Itnerary

i Folks-
I am planning a trip to Italy for my family of five (3 kids ages 20,18 and almost 16))- June 22-July 4/5, 2016. My oldest will be in Florence through 6-25-16 on a school abroad program. She will travel to Rome as a school group while she is studying there. SO.... I am thinking that we will start in Rome before we meet her, and head north to join her Florence for a couple of days, so that she can show us around. We are an active group and have traveled within the US and to Mexico quite a bit, but never to Europe. My husband is well traveled (been to Italy as well) and I have been a few places in Europe (not Italy). I am thinking that we will spend most of out time seeing the countryside and tasting the culture, hitting the major sites. I don't think that my group will want to do many museums, although we want to see and participate in the most major sites in each location. I am looking for help in deciding if my days in each location and travel schedule is doable, so that we are not running ragged, but so that we can see as much as possible. You will see that I don't understand the train system very well..

Here is my potential itinerary:

Fly from SFO to Rome on 6/22, arrive 23rd
6/23-24- Rome
6/25- Train to in am to Florence to meet my oldest daughter
6/25-6/27 Florence (day to trip to Sienna or Pisa?)
6/28 - train in am from Florence to Venice
6/28- Venice
6/29- train in afternoon fro Venice to area around Cinque Terre (I assume the train runs here from Venice?)
( we can skip this leg if too ambitious!!)
6/29-6/30- Cinque Terre
7/1- train to Positano
7/1-7/3: Positano
7/2 day trip to Capri by Ferry
7/3 train to Naples to stay one evening
7/4 fly out of Naples back to SFO
7/4 Fly out of Naples on 7/4

I can flip the order of any of this - but I need to do Rome before going to Florence and I have to meet my daughter on 6/25! Suggestions?
pamelalewis94 is offline  
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Feb 15th, 2016, 03:17 PM
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Suggest you fly into Venice before meeting your daughter in Florence, skip CT and proceed in a southerly direction and home from Naples. You have your seaside fix in the south and it will save the time & expense of backtracking, inject a bit of relaxation.

So Venice, Florence, Rome, Positano/Capri/Naples.
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Feb 15th, 2016, 03:42 PM
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It occurs to me now that daughter may want to see Venice, too, if she hasn't already. In which case, have her take the train north to meet up and suggestions above remain the same. One person backtracking, but far less than all of you in your original itinerary.
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Feb 15th, 2016, 04:42 PM
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If you ask me, this is too ambitious. You will spend more time traveling than you will in being in any of the places.

Like MmePerdu, I would suggest dropping one of the seaside locations.

Then sit down with your entire group, and explain the plan. I.e., arrive in Rome on 23rd, at whatever time. Rest of day there, then one full day. Pack up next morning, take cab to train station, ride on train, take train to lodging in Florence, check in, unpack. And so on. Make sure they're ok with packing and moving every two days or so. Also, have a family (minus DD in Florence) viewing of some travel videos and see what sights in the various places that your family wants to see. If the list of sights is longer than you have time for, then you've answered your own question.

Let your daughter decide whether to take you on a day trip to Siena or Pisa, she will be the "local." Also, however, have some ideas in mind in case she doesn't.
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Feb 15th, 2016, 05:25 PM
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Train schedules here using italian city names:

http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en

Figure at least an hour on either end of a journey when changing hotels. I suggest you limit your stops to 3. Even then, subtracting travel days you end up with 8 full days on the ground.
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Feb 15th, 2016, 05:42 PM
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IMHO too many places in too little time - evenif you drop the CT. You are spending a large part of your limited time just getting from one place to another - since you need to allow 1/2 a day getting from the hotel in city a to checking into the hotel in city B.

This is fine as long as you realize it will give you just enough time to figure out what you want to do/see in which places when you return with enough time to see more than 1 or 2 major sights in each place.

For examples, IMHO a first tip to Rome needs 3 days (4 nights) to see even the most major sights - and ignoring dozens of other worthwhile ones. Plus don't you want some time just to relax, to sit in a cafe in a piazza with a drink and soak up the local atmosphere. Your trip just allows no time for that - you will be rushing from place to place to try to get places before they close or to beat the longest line.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 12:42 AM
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now you want to see some "culture" as you may know that means different things to different people. For me Italy is about "the family" but for others it might be opera, football, museums, hiking etc etc.

If I was doing this trip I would try to look at the place food fits in the family and maybe do a food course (half day whole day) or maybe good see how wine, cheese etc is made. How is your Italian (not that it will be a problem in your tourist targets) but it does give you a flavour of what is going on a bit more than sticking in English all the time.

What will you be doing to get to see the culture? Maybe you daughter has an answer.

Oh yes, do less travel, more holiday

Day trip from Florence, Pisa and Lucca (do the two as a combo) are dead easy by train, Siena less so but still easy.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 04:15 AM
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In both Rome and Florence, the "major sites" in most people's minds tend to be the famous attractions, which end up being extraordinarily overcrowded, and beyond belief in the summer months; trying to see them in a day or two per city is a recipe for misery.

I suggest you forget most of the major sites, especially since you're not terribily interested in museums. If you want a taste of some ancient sculpture or Renaissance art, there are some smaller, less-crowded, but equally important and interesting museums and archaeological sites, that will make your vacation much more enjoyable.

I would choose either the Vatican or the ancient Roman area for an in-depth visit and do a less stressful visit of the other. (There's no law that says you have to visit either one, and on a short visit I would probably not try to make a full visit to either.)

The Vatican Museums, especially, is not only insanely crowded in the summer, but it's also mostly not air conditioned. However, your full day in Rome will be a Friday, and they usually have night visits on Fridays in the summer (except August), when the numbers are limited. If you feel you can't live without seeing the Sistine Chapel, I would try to reserve a night visit on the Friday, at mv.vatican.va . Tickets go on sale about two or three months in advance, and I would reserve early. If you also want to see St. Peter's Basilica, go there before your evening visit to the Vatican Museums. It closes at 7 PM in the summer, and if you go late, there's less likely to be a long wait in the security queue; entrance is free. Do something relaxing the rest of the day, which would exclude the Colosseum. You have to be "modestly" dressed for the Vatican. Men are supposed to wear slacks (although often guards let men in as long as their knees are covered), while women can wear anything that comes below the knees. Neither can wear anything sleeveless.

On the other hand, if you feel the Colosseum is the one thing your family absolutely cannot renounce, I would schedule that as early in the morning as possible of your full day in Rome. I would suggest first visiting the Roman Forum as soon as it opens (8:30 AM), and then walking through the Palatine Hill (up some steps from the Roman Forum), exiting near the Colosseum.

The same ticket is good for both the Forum/Palatine site and the Colosseum. There usually isn't much of a line for tickets at the Roman Forum, and that's the part of the ancient sites that tends to get unbearably hot (all those ancient stones) as the day wears on. If you want a self-guided audio tour, Rick Steves has a fairly good one (free) for the Roman Forum, with a simplified map to help you find your way around. He has nothing for the Palatine Hill, unfortunately, but be sure to see the ruins of the Imperial Palace (Casa di Augusto). Rick Steves also has a free audio tour for the Colosseum. I've never used them, but I downloaded them for my young nieces, and listened to them. They seemed well done, but a little superficial. Since you have such a short time in Rome, superficial may be an advantage.

I don't see any advantage to going first to Venice. I would definitely skip the Cinque Terre. It's a long, long trip from Venice to there, and another long, long trip from there to Posistano. There are no trains to Positano. You should take a fast train to Salerno, and then a boat to Positano; or else a fast train to Naples and by boat or private transfer to Positano. (The cost would be about the same, and the private transfer would be less hassle.)
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Feb 16th, 2016, 04:48 AM
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One idea is to skip lines to go 'in side' places and just see them from the outside. Obviously this doesn't work with museums but for example the Coloseum is (I think) MORE impressive from outside than inside. Walk around it, if you can, go both mid day and at dusk (gorgeous lit up against a dark blue sky) but don't necessarily wait in the horrid lines to go inside. Even the forum can be very well seen from a couple of places without going in (although lines and crowds are less there, and being in it more interesting). Same goes for St Peter's - being in the Piazza, seeing it might be enough for some people without waiting in the line to go inside. Although it's pretty magnificent inside as well. But I know so many people who literally spend most of a day to go to the Vactican Museums just cause they think they should and didn't see much else in Rome. And the lines for the Vactican Museum is much longer than to go into the church. For me there is so much else to see in Rome that you can see without any lines (the Piazzas, the backstreets and neighborhoods, etc.) that on a short visit I wouldn't wait in any lines.
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Feb 16th, 2016, 05:54 AM
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One day in Rome is simply not enough. Neither is one day in Venice or a few hours in Naples. There are no trains to Positano (no trains on the Amalfi coast) so you won't be taking a train there.

>>> Ambitious 12 Day Italy Itnerary<<<

Go back and calculate travel times based on real info. It will take you 6 hours to reach the CT from Venice. It will take about that long (or longer)to reach Positano from CT.

You only really have 10 full days to do things in Italy (look at a calendar and you can't count arrival or departure day). Your current itinerary has you traveling by public transport on 7 of your 10 days leaving no time to sightsee. With only 10 full days, limit your hotel bases to 3 locations. It appears with your flights, this will have to be Rome, Florence and Naples.

Fly to Rome, stay at least three nights (that will only give you two sightseeing days), train to Florence for three nights(take a day trip from there - Siena? Pisa?), train to Sorrento (easier to reach than Positano and has transport to the things you want to see on the coast). Three nights on the coast probably won't give you time to see the things you want to see (that's only 2 sightseeing days) so you probably should stay four there and your last night in Naples to catch your flight. You only have 11 hotel nights and 10 full days in Italy.

>>>You will see that I don't understand the train system very well.<<<

Trains do not go everywhere and some places are better accessed by bus (Siena from Florence for one).
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Feb 16th, 2016, 06:22 PM
  #11
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Wow, these are all amazing suggestions. Thank you! I feel like such a novice. I would be interested to know if you have all booked your own trips or used some kind of travel consultant in the past? I am at the beginning of my research here...
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Feb 17th, 2016, 12:21 AM
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Just about everyone on this site plan their own trips and have done so for a fair few years. We are lucky enough to have experts living or regularly traveling through out Europe.

I last went of a bought-in holiday more than 30 years ago
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Feb 17th, 2016, 12:22 AM
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"I last went of a bought-in holiday more than 30 years ago"

sorry coffee too strong this am

I last went on a bought-in holiday more than 30 years ago
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Feb 17th, 2016, 02:30 AM
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pamela - you say that you want to go to Rome before you meet up with your DD - so could you fly there earlier to give yourselves a decent start to the trip?

IMO you need at least 3 nights here - and another 3 in Florence.

After that - you say that you want to spend time in the countryside - but I don't really see much time for that apart from the CT which it now looks that you might be dropping.

Alternatively find a villa or agriturismo in the Tuscan countryside [preferably with a pool] and spend a few days there relaxing with your family before going onto Venice and fly home from there.
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