Help with Italy Itinerary: October 2016

May 21st, 2016, 12:24 PM
  #1  
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Help with Italy Itinerary: October 2016

Hello,

I am a woman in my late 20's and am planning my first trip to Europe since I studied abroad in Finland during college. I love art/architecture/culture/history. I am not into the party life.

I am traveling to Italy this fall for the first time. For the bulk of my trip, I will be on a 8 night hiking/biking tour of the Amalfi Coast. Through the organized group tour Ciclismo Classico, I am staying in Positano 3 nights, Ravello 2 nights and S. Maria del Castellabate 3 nights. I have already placed my deposit on the tour, so this cannot change. The rest of the time, I will be solo.

Things the tour covers: tons of hiking/biking through Positano, Ravello, Paestum, Capri and more, Villa Jovis, Villa Cimbrone gardens, Paestum Greek temples

Things the tour does not cover that I am interested in: major cities and their museums, Pompeii/Herculaneum

My question is what I should do with my remaining time in Italy (an extra 6-7 days)? I am coming from the US, and have yet to make my flight. I have requested the time off work, but if it would help to adjust my dates around the tour I could change it so that all my solo time is at the beginning of the trip.

The following Itinerary is all Rome and Southern Italy. I feel like I might be able to fit another major city in there--maybe Florence, but I am not sure. It seems like there is a lot to do in Rome.

Itinerary:

Wednesday, October 5th: Board plane from USA to Italy

Thursday, October 6th: Arrive morning in Italy; either arrive into Rome and catch a train to Naples directly, or fly into Naples, spend night in Naples

Friday, October 7th: See Pompeii and/or Herculaneum; spend night in Naples

Saturday, October 8th: Join tour group at Salerno train station at 12 pm for transfer to Positano

Sunday, October 9th - Saturday, October 15th: Hiking/biking tour

Sunday, October 16th: Leave tour group at Agropolis train station in the morning; travel to Rome. Intro walking tour of Rome. Overnight in Rome near Spanish Steps.

Monday, October 17th: Rome; Colosseum/Forum/Palatine Hill

Tuesday, October 18th: Rome: Vatican visit

Wednesday, October 19th: Rome: Borghese Gallery and Gardens

Thursday, October 20th: Day trip somewhere/catch a plane in Rome to the USA early??

Friday, October 21st: Catch a plane to the USA

Thanks for any feedback/help!
annk5 is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 01:53 PM
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Since you don't list Naples as somewhere you intend to sightsee, I don't get the point of staying there.

Is it possible to fly into Naples and out of Rome or the other way around? Check prices. You could visit Pompeii or Herculaneum on your way from your tour to Rome.

>>>Leave tour group at Agropolis train station in the morning;<<<

Does the tour end here or you are leaving the group early? Just wondering if you will have your luggage since you don't list staying there.

Do you intend to see both Herculaneum and Pompeii or will one be enough?
kybourbon is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 02:11 PM
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I am also a little unclear on the timing of all this, but if it were me I would just add Rome, perhaps fly into Naples and out of Rome as kybourbon suggests. Sightsee in Naples itself your first couple days (if you have the time?), then meet your tour. After the tour, go to Rome and spend the rest of your time there. You won't run out of things to do in the Eternal City!
Leely2 is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 02:13 PM
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p.s. If you feel you want to do a daytrip from Rome, Orvieto is one of many appealing and fairly easy options. Have fun.
Leely2 is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 02:36 PM
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It seems as though you're very interested in antiquities, and you could see so much more in Rome than just the Colosseum, Roman Forum, and Palatine Hill.

Ostia Antica, the ancient Roman port city, an even larger site than Pompeii: http://www.ostia-antica.org/

The baths of Caracalla, a beautiful large bath structure.

Trajan's Market, near the Roman forum. Inside you can walk on the ancient Via Biberatica, lined with ancient Roman shop fronts.

The Via Appia Antica, lined with ancient tombs, catacombs, and a Roman racecourse. You can rent a bike, preferably on a Sunday, and explore the area, including the Acqueduct Park.

The Ara Pacis, the Emperor Augustus' Altar of Peace

The Villa Giulia, one of the world's foremost museums of Etruscan civilization.

The Case Romane under the church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, with its Roman shops and apartment blocks.

The Domus Romane under Palazzo Valentini, with a very well-done sound and light show to indicate how the ancient Roman dwelling might have looked in ancient times.

The Capitoline Museums, and the National Roman Museum (four sites), including Palazzo Massimo alle Terme. These are world-class museums of Roman antiquities.

The three days you've indicated in your itinerary include probably the three most crowded sites in Rome. The Vatican Museums is painfully crowded; the Colosseum, just annoyingly crowded; and the Borghese Gallery, which limits the number inside, just crowded. The other places I've mentioned are blissfully uncrowded, and, if I were you, I'd ditch one of the crowded sites for one of these wonderful hidden gems.
bvlenci is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 02:48 PM
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Good ideas from bvlenci.
Leely2 is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 03:24 PM
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Annk5, I encourage you to spend more time in Naples where you will find an abundance of your loves--art, architecture, culture, and history. You can click on my name for my trip report from last May.
bon_voyage is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 05:15 PM
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Thanks for everyone's help! I am so overwhelmed by your help.

For general clarification: The hiking/biking tour group runs October 8 - October 16th and actually ends at the Agropolis train station, so I will have my luggage. I have a couple days before the trip and longer afterwards.

kybourbon and Leely2: I think flying into Naples sounds like a good idea. However, researching it, coming from a small city in the US with an equally small airport, I would have to have 2 connections vs 1 connection to get to Rome. Do you think it is still worth flying into Rome vs. taking the train from Rome? I'm not sure how long the taking the train takes exactly but seems like the flight generally adds another ~3 hour layover, either in Madrid or FCO.

Leely2: Orvieto sounds like a fun day trip. Orvieto's cathedral looks beautiful!

bvlenci: Wow! Great ideas. I admit to at first wanting to hit the must-sees. I think I might be happier spending some time at Trajan's Market (I was an Economics major, so commerce is especially interesting) or the Villa Giulia. I think I am going to play my last day in Rome by ear (day trip vs another day in Rome) and see how much of Rome I can see in 3.5 vs 4.5 days. Maybe plan for the big attractions in the morning and some of the most interesting but less crowded sites in the afternoon.

bon_voyage: I think spending time in Naples is a good idea, especially since everyone agrees it is better not to add Florence. I want to spend time in at least a couple large cities. Also, I take art classes at the local modern art museum for fun, and one my fellow students lived in Naples for 2 years. She loved it.

I plan to do a walking tour--probably one of Rick Steves on Thursday afternoon of Naples. And thinking about it, I might eliminate Herculaneum from Friday, sticking to Pompeii. Then I can spend more time in the archaeology museum, that I previously was hoping to hit Saturday morning for an hour or so before my train to Salerno.

General Question: I am thinking of using day tour groups for the busy sites, like Context Travel for the Borghese Gallery and City Wonders for the Vatican and Colosseum. The City Wonders Vatican tour is expensive but enters before the general public. Are these tours worth it? City Wonders also offers just early access tickets sans guide. I think that might be the way I go, so I can stare at the ceiling uninterrupted.

Thank you!
annk5 is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 05:31 PM
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Also, bon_voyage, I just started reading your trip reprot, "Solo in Italia May 2015: Sorrento, Amalfi, Paestum, Naples, Rome."

A great read so far!
annk5 is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 05:57 PM
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Thank you, annk5, and happy planning!
bon_voyage is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 06:05 PM
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annk,

I was going to suggest choosing between Herculaneum and Pompeii so you could visit the archaeology museum so glad to hear you are planning that. I especially loved the mezzanine level where all the amazing mosaics from Pompeii are!

I did two tours with Context in Rome, the Arte Vaticano and Antiche Roma. Both were excellent. I did find the audio guide at the Borghese detailed enough for my interests.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is online now  
May 21st, 2016, 06:15 PM
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We didn't use a tour for Borghese Gallery, one of my favorite places. We just bought our tickets in advance. I liked doing that because we could spend our allotted time admiring whatever we chose. If you like to meander in museums, you might prefer going it alone. The tours that passed us in most of the museums , seemed to be moving at quite a clip.
Cjar is offline  
May 21st, 2016, 06:30 PM
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We usually don;t do guided tours since my degree was in history and DH is a a buff - so we usually know more than the guides tell you - so we do only a rare tour with an expert guide.

But if you don't have a lot of background you may want to use a guide for the more complicated places (although the Michelin green guides are really great). For instance you speak of the Vatican Museums as if the only thing to see is the Sistine chapel when it fact it;s a massive museums that you can easily spend hours in. I would do some advance reading so you are sure you don't miss the things you want to see most in all of these places.
nytraveler is offline  
May 22nd, 2016, 08:12 AM
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We didn't use City Wonders and we t to the Colosseum after hours at night and I liked that. It didn't feel overcrowded and rushed. You might like the early entry.
Cjar is offline  
May 22nd, 2016, 09:21 AM
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While Naples is in the South you have not really seen much of the south, have you considered Sciliy, Puglia or Basilicata.

Maybe sign on for a cookery class or a yoga class to get to meet the locals a bit.. All that Roman stuff is interesting but you are being shown the sort of Florence/Rome/Naples/Venice bit that evreyone goes to.

October will be still be warm in the south.
bilboburgler is offline  
May 24th, 2016, 03:36 AM
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Dayle, Cjar, and and nytraveler: Thanks for the advice on tour groups and making sure I know what I want to see beforehand.

I am actually just started a more general research into Italy. I have gotten a few books recommended on various travel sites. I am reading right now "The Secrets of Rome: Love and Death in the Eternal City" and then plan to continue with "Rome: An Oxford Archaeological Guide" and "Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling." I'll look for books on Pompeii and Naples. For Amalfi, I have on my Amazon wishlist, "Art and Patronage in the Medieval Mediterranean: Merchant Culture in the Region of Amalfi."

Let me know if you have additional book recommendations--especially about Naples or Pompeii!

Bibloburger: I'm not sure I have time for more of the south this trip. Really want to spend some time in Rome--as I have never been to Italy before. Definitely an option for the next!

I'm actually thinking of doing a food tour in Rome with Eating Italy. They have a Twilight Trastevere Food Tour that sounds interesting. Cooking class sounds great--but I don't speak Italian so would also have to attend one for tourists, similiar to the food tour.
annk5 is offline  
May 24th, 2016, 03:40 AM
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The Eating Italy food tours are lot of fun. I'd actually recommend the Testaccio tour as that area is particularly significant as far as Rome's food history, but either would be worthwhile.
indyhiker is online now  
May 24th, 2016, 04:14 AM
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Food course is a great idea, the family is based around the kitchen.
bilboburgler is offline  
May 24th, 2016, 04:43 AM
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Trajan's Market is a bit of a misnomer. It was really a large building, originally built to function partly as a retaining wall, after a large part of the Quirinal Hill was cut off to create an easier passage between forums. Historians think it mostly was occupied by administrative offices, including those that administered Rome's grain ration. (That should be interesting to an economist!) The building did have shops on the ground floor, as most large ancient Roman buildings did.

There is an ancient Roman street, the Via Biberatica, that can be accessed only from inside the Trajan's Market museum. The street is lined by ancient shop fronts. You can see the grooves in the door sills that held the wooden shutters with which the shopkeepers shut the shop at night. At one end, there is a hole in the groove. This held the axis of a swinging shutter that served as a door. This was bolted shut at night from the inside. The shopkeeper then climbed a ladder to his apartment above the shop.

I may be a heretic, but I don't consider the Borghese Gallery a must-see, unless you're particularly passionate about Baroque and Mannerist art. If not, you might enjoy the Capitoline Museums or the Barberini Gallery more. I think a lot of people go there just because they've been told that the Borghese Gallery is a "can't miss". This is also why six million of people visit the Vatican Museums every year; it's pretty obvious that most of them never darken the door of an art museum back home. And it always seems that two million of them are in the corridor in front of me whenever I'm there.
bvlenci is offline  
May 24th, 2016, 05:21 AM
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My husband visited Rome both last year and this year and have yet to visit several of what people consider "must sees." The crowds are, for us, simply that off putting. We did do a night tour of the Colosseum, but have not been to the Vatican or the Borghese Gallery. Last year, we opted instead to visit the Doria Pamphilj Gallery and the Centrale Montemartini (since we were nearby for the food tour), both of which we really enjoyed. My husband is an engineer and was especially taken with Centrale Montemartini.

This year over a two-day visit (just last week), we spent the better part of a day at Ostia Antica and saw a wonderful photography exhibit at the Palazzo Esposizioni. We did venture to the Trevi Fountain since it was under construction last year. The literal crush of people convinced us that we'd made the right decision to again avoid the most heavily visited spots. I know this approach may counter conventional wisdom, but it works for us and I don't think our enjoyment or education suffered from not seeing some of the "must sees."

I'd further offer that both times we have stayed in Monti and really enjoy the area. I think given the OPs age, she might really enjoy it herself. Lots of young people, lots of fun happy hours, wine bars and restaurants, and a very lively piazza in the evenings. I'm not sure what the OP's budget is, but on our first visit, we stayed in a reasonably priced apartment on Via Leonina that could fit the bill (I think we paid roughly 120 Euro plus a night for it, which in my mind is quite reasonable). The owners were wonderful to work with. https://www.vrbo.com/194822

The apartment is in a very safe location and is incredibly quiet.
indyhiker is online now  

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