Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Help with Italy itinerary (18 days: Rome, Umbria, Puglia, Amalfi?)

Help with Italy itinerary (18 days: Rome, Umbria, Puglia, Amalfi?)

Old Mar 12th, 2014, 03:05 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 226
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Help with Italy itinerary (18 days: Rome, Umbria, Puglia, Amalfi?)

We just booked tickets into Rome and out of Naples at the very end of August (most of travel will be in September). My husband and I have been before (our travelogue: http://www.hitherandthither.net/2005...june-2005.html), but this time we will have a 3 yr old and 6 mo old along. We're avid travelers and have done a lot with one child, but obviously we'll be going slower this time. The goal is to enjoy good food, culture, and some beaches (but not so much the historical sights/museums).

Could use help with itinerary and especially transportation advice. I'm concerned the transportation logistics will make this too ambitious... but would love help! Hoping to move around more at start and then end with relaxing week of staying put at beach.

Thinking perhaps:
August 23-24 arrive Rome
24, 25, 26 (3 nights) Rome

August 27 Car north to Umbria / Tuscany
27,28,29,30 (4 nights) Hill towns in tuscany area (day trips from either agriturismo or base ourselves somewhere like Siena with a couple of day trips?) (is 4 nights enough? or should it be 5 and we split time between bigger town and villa?)

August 31 or 1st Drive south to Puglia
31, 1, 2, 3 (4 nights) Puglia (possible stops: Matera, Matarea, Lecce, Otranto, Polignano a mare, Monopoli, Locorotondo, Alberobello) Thinking Matera plus one shore base like Polignano?

September 4 (7 nights) Drive to Positano and settle into apartment for week. (But should we cut it to 6 nights? And if yes, to which part would we add extra night?)

September 11 Head to Naples airport and fly out in afternoon.

Thoughts? I haven't actually researched the driving/transportaion yet...

Thank you in advance!
Ashley
alovesa is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2014, 04:15 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
With children that small I think you really need to think twice about how difficult it might be to spend most of your time in steep, hilly places -- especially since this is still summertime and most places will be hot.

Siena is extremely steep. Positano is extremely steep. Not every town in Umbria is steep, but many are. A great deal of the time you will not be able to push a stroller and your 3 year old is going to balk at all that climbing --or you won't want to go at a 3 year old's pace.

Since you are really not interested in historical sightseeing, there are some absolutely enchanting small flat towns in Italy where you could spend a week and be part of a very kid-friendly scene plus eat very well.

I suggest you not stay in Rome any longer than it takes to get over your jet lag. You cannot comfortably sightsee with children that small in the heat of August/September. Rome is nerve-wracking with motorcyles and the pollution blows right in the kid's faces. Save it for when they are older and you can all enjoy it.

I suggest that after 2 nights in Rome:

1) Go to Bevagna in Umbria. Stay in an air conditioned apartment. Do a very small amount of daytripping to easy places like Lago Trasimeno or farms with animals or countryside restaurants to have a nice long lunch.

2) Rent an air conditioned apartment in to Ascoli Piceno in Le Marche. Visit the nearby scenic sights, the beach and the small towns.

3) Go to Vasto for a while and enjoy the beach, either at a kid-friendly resort or apartment rental. (Don't bother go as far south as Puglia).

4) For the finale of your trip I suggest staying in Sorrento. Just for a couple of nights, so you can get to the airport. But extend your time other places.

You need air conditioning everywhere you go so you can shut the windows against mosquitoes as well as keep cool.
sandralist is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2014, 04:29 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Vasto

http://www.theguardian.com/travel/20...ly.vasto.beach

Ascoli Piceno

http://www.le-marche.com/Marche/html/ascopic.htm

Bevagna

http://www.italia.it/en/travel-ideas...-of-italy.html
sandralist is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2014, 09:45 PM
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 226
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you, Sandralist--these are all great considerations and certainly things we have been thinking of.

We're committed to Rome at the start and Positano to finish. We had debated whether to arrive on the 4th or 5th in Positano, and we'll do so on the 5th to allow for some more time in between. So we have 9 nights/10 days in between those two spots.

It's hard to switch courses entirely.

I'll definitely follow up on the suggestions you make, but I have to say I'm pretty interested in seeing Puglia--Matera looks fascinating, and some of the coastline towns like Polignano have really captured my interest.

If we stayed more close to the orginal plan, but chose to base ourselves outside of Siena, what might be a more well-suited home base from which to see some of the towns we are most interested in. I don't need to visit all, but I'm more curious about places like Spello, Speleto, Orvieto, Narni...
Should I still be considering visiting Siena? Or is it better to choose a smaller town?

The hills and the heat can be tough, no doubt, but I'm not too deterred. Not that it's equivalent, but we spent a month in Bali with our one-year-old and have endured some hot and humid summers in New York... I'm sure we can brave it with the help of some a/c'd naps.
alovesa is offline  
Old Mar 12th, 2014, 09:54 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 226
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
By the way, same question regarding Puglia... if we end up going: best home base? or two (perhaps two nights Matera and two or three nights elsewhere?)
alovesa is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 01:45 AM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Hot and humid summers in New York, with all its air conditioning, are simply no preparation for what you will face in southern Italy in the summertime. These places themselves simply shut down totally during the middle of the day. Matera is a completely unshaded rock pit that is totally unsuitable for touring during the middle of a summer day with small children.

Bevagna with an air conditioned apartment is my best suggestion for Umbria. You can look at a map to see if there is another more southerly town that might be more convenient to your wish list of sights. Hopefully you can find a flattish town (Spello would be very much the wrong choice with children). Perhaps you should just find an agriturismo with a ppol where you can rent an apartment. Ordinarily I would never even suggest someone go to an area of Italy as hot as Umbria will be at the end of August but the beaches will be so slammed out with vacationing Italians, it is hard to suggest an alternative to going inland..

Siena will be totally slammed out with tourists. So will Positano. Both of them involve not stop steep climbing, and in Positano, on narrow, uneven stairs. If you are committed to Rome and Positano, then I suggest simply going to the easiest place possible in Umbria and trying to satisfying your curiosity about seeing the places you've named in a very relaxed way. You could leave Rome by train and pick up a car in Orvieto and then not stay too far from there in an apartment on a farm that also has a good restaurant. Then you could take the train to Naples and get a car transfer to Positano.

Perhaps someone else can think of a way to help ease what looks like a fairly grim late August/early September itinerary for a 3 month old and a 3 year old. But I dearly hope you be able to put aside your personal wishes about wanting to go to Matera or Puglia for a mere couple of days in the staggering heat of summer to go sightseeing. If you need a pretty beach town, you don't have to go that far south for that and you will have that in Positano.
sandralist is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 01:51 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Posts: 6,534
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I also feel obliged to add that one of the reasons I wouldn't take children that small to southern Italy in the terrible heat of summer is that not only are they not acclimatized to that heat as Italian children are, medical facilities throughout much of southern Italy is poor, and in the time you are going, thousands of Italian doctors will be vacationing. Especially the most successful ones. I simply would not plan an itinerary like this with children this small out of curiosity to see something unusual or pretty.
sandralist is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 04:05 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,923
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Based on your travel experience I think your plan will work fine. You've been to Italy in summer, you know it will be hot and that mid afternoon things close down. I've been to all the places you mention except Puglia - we are going there in July so I've done a lot of research into it. It does seem the siesta is longer and more extensive there than the other places on your list. But actually with kids that age the siesta will be a good thing, hopefully it can coincide with naps.

But because of the kids as well as the crowds and the heat I'd make a couple suggestions. Whereas I usually think day trips are a great idea, in your case I'd move around more so that you are mostly staying in the towns you want to see. That way you can get out early in the day before the heat and crowds and do your exploring and then go back to the hotel for siesta and then go back out in the early evening. When you are doing day trips it's harder to schedule your day that way. So even if it means moving every couple nights I think in your case it would work better. You could also try to schedule your moving between towns for that mid afternoon time, maybe the kids can sleep in the car (mine did at that age).

You know your own kids but for my kids staying some place with a pool at that age would have been useless. A six month old obviously can't swim and unless there is a kiddie pool how much will the 3 year old get out of it. Same for the beach, in Italy they are big pebbles, not sand, not much for the 3 year old to play in.

I do agree that Rome is probably not the best place to spend much time with that age kids in the hot summer so I'd limit my time there to the minimum. I also agree that Positano would not be ideal but you appear to have been there already been there so you should know how you feel about it. I think Positano is more of an adult destination and that Sorrento or even Amalfi town would be more kid friendly (and flatter).

I'd shorten the time in Rome and Positano and add it to Puglia - I'm planning on the same towns you mention and thinking my 8 days won't be enough.
isabel is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 04:51 AM
  #9  
WWK
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 1,582
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I think you'll be fine in Rome as long as you stay somewhere very central with good AC. We've done it many times in August, and yes it's boiling hot, but if you plan your day well with lots of breaks, you'll be fine.

Our favorite hotel in Rome is Albergo Del Senato, which is just across a tiny street from The Pantheon. The hotel has a couple of options for a family your size: A ground floor apartment ( no view), or a senior suite, which is two rooms, one with a day bed that opens out.

This hotel has got great AC, which can be a rarity in Rome, and one of the best locations for exploring, even in a limited way. It's only steps away from The Pantheon, and on the Piazza Rotunda, which happens to house one of the best gelaterias in ROme, as well as many trattorias, cafes, shops, etc. You can easily walk to The Trevi Fountain, and a bit further, Colosseum from the hotel. Or, in the opposite direction, Piazza Navona and The Spanish Steps.

There's also a lovely rooftop bar for short breaks, which has a stunning view of the city.

Now about Positano, which we've been to many times, most recently in July. I would strongly suggest you look at hotels that are close to or on ground (beach) level.Because climbing back and forth to town/beach is going to get old quickly with a stroller.

Some hotels to look at: BUCA DI BACCO, COVO DEI SARCENI, and one whose name I'm blanking on, even though we've had lunches there. Will get back to you on that.

Either of the hotels I mention will minimize all the stairs/hills associated with Positano.

Unlike some of the advice above, I highly recommend Positano over Sorrento in almost every way. It's simply more charming and beautiful, and feels more Italian, even in the crush of the summer tourist crowds.

There's also a lovely beach (FORNILLO BEACH) which you can access by taking the seaside path beginning at COVO DEI SARCENI. This beach is much less congested than the one in town, but beware- there are lots of steps to get down to it. However, once you do, you will find a very family-friendly beach, with a couple of casual beach bars for lunch ( PUPETTO CAFE) and lots of young kids playing in shallow water. Really fun place!

Good luck with the rest of your itinerary!
WWK is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 05:24 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The only way I would suggest this itinerary is to leave the kids home with Grammy. Too much exposure.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 06:09 AM
  #11  
WWK
 
Join Date: Apr 2013
Posts: 1,582
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I should have waited until the coffee set in... Now that I've read through all the posts, I have to agree with sandralist. This itinerary is going to give you the vacation from hell in August.

You can't underestimate the sun, the sheer size of the crowds, or what it's like trying to navigate through them. Believe me, we did a few trips like yours through Italy in August when our kids were small, and it was miserable.

If your heart is set on this particular itinerary, wait until the kids are older, or leave them with the grandparents.

And if not, think seriously about dramatic revisions. I'd suggest the lake towns ( Stresa or Maggiore) which would be notably cooler in August, but those will be mobbed, too.

Lastly, if you must stick to part of this itinerary, think about spending the bulk of it in an apartment or hotel close to the beach, and minimize the time spent in broiling cities like Rome.
WWK is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 06:53 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,923
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Have any of the rest of you gone to her site (she provides the link above)? Her husband is an MD. They are experienced travelers, including with an infant. I really don't think she is planning to haul the children around in the hot sun for hours at a time in mid day. She asked for advice as to how long to spend in various locations and for suggested bases.

alovesa - It sounds like you are already planning to do most of it by car which I think is your best bet with kids that age and their equipment. I repeat that I believe it's a good idea to plan to either be in the AC car transferring from one location to the next during the hot mid afternoon hours - and on other days to plan to do most of the sightseeing in the morning (which can start as early as 7 or 8 am - museums are not open then but it's a great time to stroll around and explore and photograph, then a break at a cafe, followed by an hour or two at a 'sight', then back to the hotel for the afternoon.)This strategy works better if you are only spending a couple nights in each place rather than parking yourself for a week and doing day trips. With that strategy you tend to be in the car in the cool morning hours and in the place your are 'seeing' mid day. Plus harder to go back to the hotel for breaks.
isabel is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 07:19 AM
  #13  
ekc
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,645
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
"I won't keep banging at you" - well that's good news.

In addition to hotels like Bucca di Bacco on the beach, there are also a couple of apartments which would be a great idea with the kids. I almost rented this one, but found another that was better and cheaper (but way too many steps for your little ones):

http://www.lacaravellapositano.com/index.php?lng=en

Hotel Pupetto would also be a good option for you. It is located on Fornillo Beach, which gets less sun than the main beach so it would be cooler. And it obviously has great beach access! There are a few small cafes on Fornillo beach also.
ekc is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 07:25 AM
  #14  
ekc
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,645
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Although you do need a car for Umbria and Puglia, you do not want a car while you are in Positano. Traffic on the Amalfi Coast is insane during the high season (and that includes September) and parking is scarce and expensive.

From Puglia, I would drive to Salerno - stopping at Paestum on the way and drop the car in Salerno. I would then take the ferry from Salerno to Positano (if the schedule is the same in 2014 as 2013, the last ferry to Pos leaves at 2:10). When you get off the ferry, hire one of the porters to take your luggage to your accommodation.

At that time of year, the ferries are really the best way to get around and you can easily reach Capri, Amalfi/Ravello and Salerno by ferry from Positano.

I forgot to say that you need to book your accommodation for Positano ASAP, as many places have been booked for months (I rented our apartment in October for my visit in June).
ekc is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 07:37 AM
  #15  
ekc
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 1,645
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Whoops - I just read your Italy travelogue and see that you know all about Fornillo Beach and the ferries!

I can recommend the restaurant Le Tre Sorelle on the beach in Positano - great food and if you reserved a table at the edge of the restaurant, the 3 yo could run around the little square there while you are eating.
ekc is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 11:42 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 7,249
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Isabel, there are lots of lovely, wide, sandy beaches in Italy, including in Puglia. I don't know where you got the idea that they were all pebbles.

Also, the medical services in Puglia are perhaps not as good as in Milan, but they're nowhere near as dire as Sandra thinks they are. If I needed heart surgery, I'd probably prefer Milan, but if a kid has a fever or diarrhea, they can handle that in Puglia.

It's true that it's likely to be very hot in Puglia in early September. Matera is at a fairly high altitude, though, so if you stay out of the "Sassi" during the hottest part of the day, and perhaps base yourselves at a rural agriturismo, I don't think the heat should be a great problem. Alberobello could be considerably hotter, but you don't have to stay there long.

I've never been to the beaches in Puglia, but I would assume that the sea moderates temperatures as well. We were in Puglia in September once (Alberobello, Matera, and Trani, mostly) and we didn't find the heat so deadly. I don't remember if it was early or late September, but I wouldn't worry about it too much, especially if you're moving about in an air-conditioned car.

Positano would certainly present a problem with a stroller. You may have to carry the kids a good part of the time. It might be worth investing in a good back carrier for the three-year old.
bvlenci is offline  
Old Mar 13th, 2014, 01:05 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 6,923
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I was referring to the beach in Positano which I remembered to be mostly big pebbles. In re-reading what I said it does sound like I was referring to Italy in general. Sorry, didn't mean to insult Italian beaches. And certainly I've seen lots of 3 year olds playing at various beaches in Italy. I just meant that I didn't think going to Italy with kids that age and then just parking yourself by a beach would be the best use of a vacation. These people are from California. 8-)
isabel is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2014, 09:22 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 226
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
We're back! And here's a trip log from the first segment of the trip, in Rome:
http://www.hitherandthither.net/2014...ome-italy.html

Great time. Weather couldn't have been better—in fact we had to buy jackets because I'd gotten so worried about being hot that I neglected to pack any!—and everyone was so kind to the kids.
In fact I should mention that I felt I was over warned (a little unnecessarily) about heat and crowds. Maybe just different this year, but crowds were light... even in Rome! And weather was very manageable.

We did, though, take Puglia off the itinerary and I think that was the right move. We had plenty to see and do!

Happy to answer any other follow up questions, but thank you all!
I'll follow up with the other travelogues once they're up.
alovesa is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2014, 09:24 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2008
Posts: 226
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
P.S. I thought Rome was wonderful with kids! I'd wished we'd had longer there. That said, we weren't first-time visitors to the city so perhaps we'd put less pressure on ourselves to "see it all." It was an easy place for both parents and children to be entertained while just out walking.
alovesa is offline  
Old Oct 1st, 2014, 09:28 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 18,571
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks for coming back, good to know
bilboburgler is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information