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

I know Lake Como is out of the way but I still want to GO!

I know Lake Como is out of the way but I still want to GO!

Jan 3rd, 2009, 06:15 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 320
I know Lake Como is out of the way but I still want to GO!

Here's my itinerary. I have a few questions regarding car rental vs trains and should I keep Varenna?

We are four adults - two couples.
ROME 4 nights - Apartment Residenza Giubbonari.
POSITANO 3 nights - Villa Rosa Positano
TUSCANY 5 nights (Val d'orcia) Le casine Di Castello - apartment

After Tuscany, our friends will be leaving us for Venice and then home. The rest of the trip is just my husband and me.

FLORENCE - 2 nights Relais Cavalcanti
VARENNA - 2 nights(Lake Como)
VENICE - 3 nights Pensione Guerrato

I was planning on renting a car at Rome airport after our four days there and driving to Positano. Our hotel can arrange parking. We can get a better choice of cars at airport and drive directly to Tuscany after Positano. I do know driving to Positano will be "exciting" to say the least.

After Tuscany, should we drop off car in Siena and train to Florence? We can make sure our friends transfer to Venice train and we can cab to our hotel in Florence. Then my husband and I will train to Varenna and then Venice.

I have always wanted to see Lake Como (think George Clooney) even though I know it will be a long train ride there and back to Venice.

As a background - my husband is not into museums just food so I thought he would like the market in Florence. This itinerary sounded perfectly plausible last July, but now I either need a few hours of therapy or need to join a meeting of Overplanning Anonymous.

So please fellow fodorites - yea or ney?

rfbk50 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 07:22 PM
Join Date: Jan 2006
Posts: 374
While we love lake Como, and have been there three times, I think you are packing too much into your trip. Sometimes you can be so busy travelling from destination to destination, that you have no time to relax and enjoy. I would add a night to Positano, another to Tuscany or Florence, and finish in Venice. Also I would strongly recommend not renting a car to go to Positano. Even though your hotel can arrange parking, it is very difficult to park at most of the towns in the area. Not only are parking spaces hard to come by, but they are often far from the place your are going to and very expensive. It is much easier to get around either by local boat, bus, or cab. The boats are actually very pleasant and faster.

Another thought is to save Positano and the Amalfi coast for another time and do Lake Como. Distance wise, that might make more sense.
packed is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 07:48 PM
Join Date: Jul 2004
Posts: 497
Venice to Lake Como makes sense. Save Amalfi Coast for another trip.
SuQue is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 08:06 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 628
I completely missed time of year.

I think SuQue is right. I'd save Positano for a separate trip and spend all your time north and center. Varenna-Milan-Venice is a piece of cake by train. Lake Como is SO SPECIAL, you'll hate limiting yourself to two nights, unless this trip is in November. Forget about seeing George. He's on the other side of the lake and much further south.

I would drop the car in Florence and train to Milan and change trains to Varenna.
NYCTS is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 08:07 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 320
My Rome, Positano, Tuscany and Venice nights are set. We are flying into Rome and out of Venice.
We could drop Florence and add one night at Lake Como in Varenna and pick up a night somewhere in Tuscany. We rented an apartment in Tuscany and I am not sure if I can add another day as she gets booked up quick.

As far as a car in Positano, I plan on just driving there, parking for two days and using ferries. Has anyone driven to Positano and lived to tell about it? Rome airport for car pickup offers best selection and 24 hour pickup.

rfbk50 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 06:26 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,512
Nice trip, but you need some tweeking. First, forget the car to Positano. Train to Naples and hire a private driver to Positano--I know several. Why pay for a car and very expensive parking--just not needed. With 4 of you, I would then get my car in Sorrento as you leave and drive to Tuscany. The drive is not bad and you will also save by not renting at the airport location.
Next, if you must do Como, and I would, then drop Florence and add a day each to Como and Venice. I would keep the car as far as the city of Como and then ferry to Bellagio or Varenna. Hope this helps.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 06:29 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,167
Hi rf,

>As far as a car in Positano, I plan on just driving there, parking for two days and using ferries.<

May I suggest taking the train from Rome to Salerno and the ferry to Positano?

You can take the ferry or the SITA bus back to Salerno and get your car there to go off to Tuscany.

It's easier to drive to Varenna from Siena (4:30 hr) vs 6 hr by train.

Having a car on Lake como is not a bad option, and it won't cost any more than just leaving a car parked in Positano.

It's about 4 hr from Varenna to Venice. You can drop the car at Piazzale Roma.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is online now  
Jan 4th, 2009, 06:33 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,167

I left out Florence. You could, too. It's easily visited as a daytrip from Siena.

However, if you drop the car in Siena, it's 4 hr by train to Varenna from Florence, and 4:30 hr to Venice.

See www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html

ira is online now  
Jan 4th, 2009, 06:42 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,138
If you keep your original itinerary, I'd drop the car on the outskirts of Florence. You won't need a car for Florence, Lake Como or Venice. You can take a train from Florence to Milan and switch to the train to Varenna. In Varenna -- for such a short time -- you'll just use the little lake ferries to get around.

I'd also skip the car on the Amalfi Coast. As Bobthenavigator says, you'll just pay for the car and then pay to park it.

What time of the year is this trip? If it's not the summer, ferries along the Amalfi Coast may not be running. The usual way to get to Positano for us plebes is to take the train to Naples, switch inside the station to the Circumvesuviana commuter train to Sorrento, then bus to Positano.
Mimar is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 07:21 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 628
"Has anyone driven to Positano and lived to tell about it?"

Yes, some of us have lived. Others not. The Amalfi Coast, via Regina on Lake Como, the cities of Rome and Florence; these are not places for the timid or inexperienced to drive.

Again, does anyone know the time of year of this trip? High season will affect driving in the south.

Driving in Italy is often not as easy as it sounds. Maps tend to lose their staying power in the bigger cities. You will often need to just wing it. Winging it takes up valuable time as does making any wrong turn. Unless you have experience and a ton of patience, depending on the season, you could be taking a lot for granted (which is typical for new drivers in Italy).

You don't state your age. This trip sounds exhausting to me and I'm a 50-year-old kickboxer. When you limit two nights for any location and you're planning to cover so much territory, and you include a car, you risk losing free time to enjoy the place your supposed to be visiting.

Many folks on this board care a lot about saving a dollar. When I view your itinerary, all I care about is convenience and maintaining my stamina so I can feel settled enough to enjoy my surroundings. No matter what the cost, I would eliminate as much personal responsibility as possible. It's bad enough you will have luggage for two and a wardrobe for such a lengthy visit to cart around.
NYCTS is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 08:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 576
"After Tuscany, should we drop off car in Siena and train to Florence?"

I would drop the car in Chiusi and take the train up (or keep the car until Venice) Siena doesn't really have a good train connection and it can be a trial getting to the drop off in Florencve.

I think that your schedule looks good and I would not drop Positano or Como as they are both beautiful.

Since your husband is not into art, your idea of dropping Florence is good. You might get into Florence early, store your luggage and then walk around for a few hours (seeing David, the Duomo and the ponte Vecchio) then train up to Como. I missed the time of year, but in my mind Florence is unbearable crowded.

We have driven into Positano and we tought it was "fun", but we love to drive in Italy and it is a seriously curvy narrow road. The train ferry idea is good but the car allows for some exploring in the area. The other part of keeping a car most of the time is that you are not slogging luggage in and out of trains, which to us is exausting.
jnjfraz is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,018
GO! GO! GO! to Lake Como. Go to Varenna and Bellagio!!!!!
Waldo is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,601
It's a bit too much moving around for me, but that's a personal decision. I'd also suggest dropping Florence and put another night each on Lake Como and Venice.

suze is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 09:01 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 374
I agree about leaving the car for later in the trip. The Amalfi coast drive, especially in high season is unbelievable. Many,many times cars need to back up on curves to let traffic from the opposite way go by. Leave it to the experienced. A car for Lake Como makes a lot of sense.

Since you're already spending time in Tuscany I would drop Florence especially since you'll be in Rome. Skip it and move on to Varenna for an extra night. It will also give you a very relaxing few days before hitting the crowds of Venice.
chevre is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 09:07 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,523
hi rfbk50,

what bob and Ira [and others] said.

if you can't drop positano, drop Florence for now. add a night each to Como and Venice.

you will need some down time after all that travelling.

regards, ann
annhig is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 09:27 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 14,841
We've visit the Amalfi Coast on 4 trips (staying in Positano 4 times, Capri once, and Ravella twice) & the Italian Lake District (incl. Como) 4 times - and much prefer the Amalfi coast. We've always taken a car to the Amalfi coast - but seldom used it except for entering & leaving. We got "pinned" to a cliff by a bus once.

Actually, I'll disagree with the others about a car on the Amalfi coast - if you can find a place to park & don't mind paying for a car for several days while it sits in a garage. On the way to the Amalfi coast from Rome, we stopped at Pompii & Herculaneum on 2 different trips, also drove the entire coast twice stopping in the town of Amalfi (no problem parking), drove inland from Positano once (when a fire closed the coast road), purchased pottery in Vietri twice (used up a lot of trunk space), and then proceeded to Paestum to see the Greek temples.

I would not miss Paestum or Pompii.

In your case, I would drive from Rome to Paestum, visit, then drive along the Amalfi Coast to Positano. Leave Positano for Pompii, visit (best in early am), and then on to the Val d'Orcia.

Stu Dudley
StuDudley is online now  
Jan 4th, 2009, 11:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
Driving on the Amalfi coast depends very much on season. We have been twice in May, drove everywhere and never had a problem parking. (Caveat: We're from NYC and used to parking cars in places barely bigger than the car, and assume it may take 15 or 20 minutes driving around to park on the street - anywhere.)

But, in midsummer everything will be mobbed and finding parking places can be a real issue/expense. In that case I would leave the car at the hotel and travel along the coast and out to Capri by ferry.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 11:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 320
Thanks so much for all of your input. It gives me a lot to think about. We will be arriving in Rome April 22, and departing Venice May 11, so we will be in Amalfi at the end of April which gave me hope that the roads would not be too bad yet. I have driven in Europe many times. My husband and I have the outlook that if we get "lost" that is what we were meant to see. I have been to Venice, Florence, Rome but my husband and the other couple have never been to Italy.

I an thinking about dropping Florence and just doing a day trip there. Actually the Florence part was for me because I knew the best shopping was there. (I look at shopping as my part contributing to the local economy!)

My concern was getting an automatic car that would accommodate 4 adults and their luggage and the airport might have a better selection.

I know we are covering a lot of ground but we have lots of other countries on our list so we don't know when we will be back to Italy.
rfbk50 is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 11:45 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 21,940
I was on the AC last year at the time you are thinking of visiting. I did not think that the Drive was crowded at all at that time. Regarding the comment above about parking: Be advised that a number of hotels (sounds like yours may be one of them) offer free parking.

Also, to my mind, the shopping in Rome is as good or better than shopping in Florence. I hope this relieves you somewhat!!
ekscrunchy is offline  
Jan 4th, 2009, 01:26 PM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 628
"We will be arriving in Rome April 22, and departing Venice May 11, so we will be in Amalfi at the end of April...I have driven in Europe many times."

If only all travel queries could begin with such detailed information. Sure would eliminate a lot of guesswork.

I love April in Italy but, be forewarned, Tuscany can get a lot of rain.

The Amalfi Coast will be fine but I prefer early September.

May in Venice is a dream come true.

The temps in Lake Como will be coolish but it will be high flora season. REMARKABLE. Two days won't permit enough villa/garden hopping for my liking.

April/May in Rome is also divine.

"My concern was getting an automatic car that would accommodate 4 adults and their luggage"

I would be concerned about this, too, especially if your passengers are robust in size.

These days, for personal trips to Italy, I've been renting a B or C Class Mercedes automatic. You tend to be at the agency's mercy for car class because no one guarantees a specific car. But, if you're not renting on a budget and you speak decent Italian, the rental car agencies tend to treat you better.

Granted, I travel with photography equipment and good quality clothing. The three larger of my four bags fit well in the trunk. There's room for more but not much. My Tumi laptop backpack fills the passenger seat. The back seat is typically empty but I can't imagine two American adults enjoying their ride back there. I guess it's doable if you have a high tolerance for pain and you're happy-go-lucky.

Airport car lots do tend to offer more choices. But automatic choices are always slim.

"I knew the best shopping was there (Florence)."

There's no place like Florence for shopping but there are wonderful things to be found in Venice and Rome. I'm shopping less and less these days. Unless you plan to ship, the packages add up quickly. Air travel is no longer fun. Multiply your purchases by four, on a lengthy trip, and soon you'll need a van (and a whole lotta packing patience). Good luck with the airlines. Hopefully, you're flying First Class.

Securing your favorite hotel choices tends to dictate how the remaining details unfold. Good luck.
NYCTS is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 11:00 AM.