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Italy first draft itinerary / time of year?

Italy first draft itinerary / time of year?

Old Dec 5th, 2023, 01:47 PM
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Italy first draft itinerary / time of year?

Hello Fodorites! Would love some initial input on my first draft Italy itinerary (below).

Rome: 4 nights/5 days
Sorrento: 3 nights/4 days
Florence: 3 nights/4 days
Venice: 2 nights/3 days
Bologna: 3 nights/4 days
Milan: 1 night/2 days

A few notes:
  • This would be for my first time visiting hence the focus on some of the bigger cities. If it helps, I am a big foodie and absolutely nerd out about historical things.
  • I've heard Venice, though beautiful, is incredibly expensive and a bit overrated but don't think I could justify going to Italy and not seeing it. With that, I'm open to suggestions for alternative places from which we could do Venice as a day trip.
  • I've been told that Milan's highlights can be seen in a day and we don't need much more time there unless we're interested in shopping
I'd be looking to go late September/early October 2024 or late April/early May 2025 - open to suggestions if one time of year is noticeably better than the other

Thanks in advance!
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 02:07 PM
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IMO, those who say Venice is overrated only go there for 1 or 2 days and never get away from the hordes of visitors. The worst thing you could do is make it a day trip.....

I'm not a big fan of huge, modern cities like Milan. For me, the beauty and charm of Italy is smaller towns and countryside. With this itinerary you'll get a taste of the bigger cities, and none of that rural charm. You would do yourself a favor by dropping places like Bologna and Milan, and using that time in smaller towns in say Umbria or Tuscany.

Also remember that you will lose half a day or more every time you change location.
For 15nights I would book 3, maybe 4 max places to stay.

Forget Sorrento. Geographically it's an outlier. Save south of Rome for another trip.

Either mid/late spring or fall would be fine.

Give yourself time to slow down and taste the chianti.....




Last edited by J62; Dec 5th, 2023 at 02:20 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 02:23 PM
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I hope you're not planning to do them in that order. It's a lot of stops for the time you have, and remember that you lose at least a half a day, and often more, every time you change cities. One night in Milan doesn't really give you two days, because you're moving on to your next stop the second day. If you insist on this many places, a better order would be to fly into Milan, then Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Sorrento, fly out of Naples, although it's better to be in the city you are flying out of the night before. (I mention flying into Milan instead of Venice because it will probably be cheaper.)

Not sure who you're talking to, but anyone who says Venice is overrated is nuts! And you can't really see a lot in Milan in one day, especially if it's your first stop, when you're dealing with jetlag. Note that tickets for The Last Supper have to be bought ahead. They open up the sales a certain number of days before the date you want, I can't remember how many off the top of my head. They generally sell out that first day they're available, so you really have to keep track of when they go on sale.

Of course, J62 makes a good point that it would be better to cut out a couple of places (I agree with cutting Sorrento and would also cut Milan) and add more nights to the remaining stops.

Last edited by SusanP; Dec 5th, 2023 at 02:27 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 02:45 PM
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I think you are overcounting your days. Do some checking on Trenitalia and Italo (can look at current schedules) to get an idea of how long it actually takes to get to/from your cities and then figure out how much time you really have. You will probably want to trim something.

Example: Rome

Day 1: let's say you arrive in Rome in the morning, maybe from an overseas flight? Get out of the airport and to your hotel. Let's say that takes 2 hours. You're at your hotel at 11am-ish. Drop your bags and sightsee. I wouldn't call this a full day, maybe 2/3 of a day at best.

Day 2: Rome
Day 3: Rome
Day 4: Rome
Day 5: Travel to Sorrento - depart Roma Termini at 9:53, arrive Sorrento 12:35, check in hotel, can be out and about by 1:30 if you're quick - Day 5 is a half day in Sorrento.

Etc.

I personally love Venice and tend to stay a full week but everyone has differing interests. I also like Milan, and find it more enjoyable at a relaxed pace, but something's got to give.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 04:16 PM
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You list 16 nights with 22 days. That is not physically possible.
Leely2 is giving good advice on laying things out.
You really cannot count most travel days as sightseeing days. Whole sightseeing days are the number of nights in a place, minus one. Three nights in Sorrento gives you two whole days, perhaps with parts of others, but unless it is very well planed and everything goes to schedule, sightseeing is less efficient when it is only pieces of days. Even then, it will be limited.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by J62
I'm not a big fan of huge, modern cities like Milan. For me, the beauty and charm of Italy is smaller towns and countryside. With this itinerary you'll get a taste of the bigger cities, and none of that rural charm. You would do yourself a favor by dropping places like Bologna and Milan, and using that time in smaller towns in say Umbria or Tuscany.

Forget Sorrento. Geographically it's an outlier. Save south of Rome for another trip.
Any towns you'd suggest that are accessible by public transport? I'm from Australia and the one time I drove on the right side of the road I literally was in an accident within 10 minutes so am not keen to repeat that so has to be somewhere transport friendly.

Bologna was on my list as I've heard from multiple people it has amazing food and has great places nearby suitable for day trips. IMO I'm happy to drop Milan or even just do it as a one day thing because chances are I'd fly in to Rome and out from Milan so it would be easiest I imagine to go from Bologna to Milan than back to Rome.

I put Sorrento on the list because I was recommended it as a base for Pompeii (I've been told by multiple sources that Sorrento is far nicer than Naples) - do you think Pompeii would be a feasible day trip from Rome if we tacked another day on to Rome?
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted by SusanP
I hope you're not planning to do them in that order. It's a lot of stops for the time you have, and remember that you lose at least a half a day, and often more, every time you change cities. One night in Milan doesn't really give you two days, because you're moving on to your next stop the second day. If you insist on this many places, a better order would be to fly into Milan, then Venice, Bologna, Florence, Rome, Sorrento, fly out of Naples, although it's better to be in the city you are flying out of the night before. (I mention flying into Milan instead of Venice because it will probably be cheaper.)
I'll be flying from Australia so given the extensive travel time I am hoping to have 1 layover at most so would need to see if we have many flight options like flying in to Venice or out from Naples etc.

If we can fly out of Naples it'll definitely saving us going back through Rome so I do like that suggestion of making our way down rather than the reverse, thank you for the suggestion, definitely more logical if the flights will allow it!
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 04:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass
You list 16 nights with 22 days. That is not physically possible.
Definitely - this was a bit of stupidity on my part in getting the post out without actually counting things out!
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 04:26 PM
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It may be cheaper to fly into Milan, but unless you have a real interest, rather than spending a day in Milan and a half day getting to Venice, fly into Venice instead.
Choose either North (Milan) or South (Sorrento), but not both in a two week trip. When you add in travel time, there is simply not enough time. You can go kind of crazy on a week or ten day trip, but by the time it is too weeks, the pace becomes a blur. There is a lot to see around Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. There is a lot to see in Tuscany. Of course, Rome is a gift of a lifetime of sightseeing.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 04:28 PM
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Originally Posted by victoriainwanderland
Definitely - this was a bit of stupidity on my part in getting the post out without actually counting things out!
No problem. Planning is pretty exciting and easy to plunge in.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 04:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Sassafrass
You can go kind of crazy on a week or ten day trip, but by the time it is too weeks, the pace becomes a blur. There is a lot to see around Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast. There is a lot to see in Tuscany. Of course, Rome is a gift of a lifetime of sightseeing.
We have about 3 weeks, give or take a few extra days for travel times.

Do you have any suggestions for places to see in Tuscany that can be easily accessed by public transport (we won't be hiring a car)?
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 07:20 PM
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I agree with everyone else about your itinerary. Do nights to see how many full days you have in a location. I would also not count your first day for much at all if you are coming from OZ. Would be good to have relatively short flights depending on where you are flying out of and land in Italy in the afternoon or early evening. Good day trip destinations from Florence include Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Greve, and Bologna. Could even do Orvieto but its about 2 hours. Might consider a bus tour to see smaller place in Chianti or SG etc.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 07:46 PM
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Your original post lists 16 nights, which obviously is a full 5 nights short of 3 weeks. Aside from travel time to and from Australia, how many nights do you actually have in Italy? With 21 nights vs. 16, the advice would probably be different.

In any event, you want an open-jaw flight (usually called multi-city on sites that search flights), to go into your first stop and out of your last stop to avoid the cost and wasted time getting back to your arrival city. And no, if you're skipping Milan, you don't want to fly in there, fly into Venice if that's your first stop.

Last edited by SusanP; Dec 5th, 2023 at 07:50 PM.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 08:04 PM
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Originally Posted by victoriainwanderland
I'd be looking to go late September/early October 2024 or late April/early May 2025 - open to suggestions if one time of year is noticeably better than the other

April would be Easter, April 25th holiday AND the May 1st holiday. You'd be one of the swarm.

September would be a little better from a crowd stand point.

Weather? Personally I'd lean towards May. April/May it's getting warmer and the world feels better. September you risk running into cool rains. While April Spring is making everything nicer September can feel a little rundown after the summer heat.

In reality weather depends heavily on your luck. This year we didn't see a huge amount of rain autumn.

The way to enjoy Venice is to wander the city after the daytrippers have left or before they arrive in the morning. Before 10am it can almost feel like a ghost town. Same thing in the evening.

If you're only looking at Milan to fly out of see what other options you have. I'm assuming direct flights are going to be rare. You can connect out of basically any city.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 08:31 PM
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Are you traveling alone or with family?

Someone already mentioned towns in Tuscany. You will likely find the history of every place you visit interesting. You could also visit a winery or two.

Recent reports of bone crushing crowds in places like Positano are off putting, but from the water, it is beautiful, and the archeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are so worth while. Add in Paestum, Naples, the cliff-side town of Positano, Ravello, etc., etc., and you could easily spend days on the Amalfi Coast.

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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 08:50 PM
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Ok folks, what if we did this as a revised itinerary on the assumption we fly into Venice and out from Naples:
  • Venice (3 nights)
  • Bologna (3 nights)
  • Florence (5 nights)
  • Rome (5 nights)
  • Sorrento (4 nights)
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 09:28 PM
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Have you determined what you want to see/do in each place? And how much time you'll need in each?

If I was coming from the other side of the world and landing in Venice, three nights wouldn't be nearly enough time. And if you're planning multiple day trips from Florence, five nights (4 days) might not leave you enough time to see the incredible number of treasures IN Florence . (FYI, most of the main sights are not open every Sunday and/or Monday.)

If it was my trip, I'd rather leave Sorrento/Naples/Pompeii/Capri/Amalfi Coast towns for another trip when I could explore at a more comfortable pace. Four nights is only three full days. You'd be sprinting.
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Old Dec 5th, 2023, 10:04 PM
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Totally agree with Jean.

We've spent 2 months in Europe every year since 1999 (except Covid years), and one month per year before that - going back to 1977. About 80% in France, 15% Italy, and the remainder "elsewhere".

The full week we spent in Venice was perhaps our most enjoyable time in Europe. Avoid the crowds!!! Don't get near St Marks Square or the Rialto Bridge anytime between 10AM and 5PM.

Sorrento is a C+ place (IMO). Positano and Amalfi are much nicer. But you don't have time to visit them with all the hassle it takes to get there using public transportation. If you want to visit Pompeii - find a tour starting in Rome. It's a waste of time to go to Sorrento if your main draw is Pompeii.

We ALWAYS add an extra day to the arrival destination. We need the extra day to adjust to jet lag & get oriented. We've visited every destination on your "wish list". I would allocate:

- 6 nights to Venice
- 3 nights Bologna
- 5 nights Florence, with a day trip to Siena or maybe a van tour to the fabulous Val d'Orcia countryside.
- 6 nights in Rome with a day trip to Pompeii

Consider Verona!!!! Easy to get to from Venice to Verona to Bologne, and then to Florence by train. Read a guide book about Verona.

Do not be in Bologne, Siena, Florence, or Verona on a Sunday, or Monday morning when many places will be closed.

We've visited Italy in March/April twice, June twice, September 4-5 times, and October 3 times. Our favorite time of year is April.

We did better that you did with driving a car on the "wrong" side of the road. We crashed & burned on the 4th day in Scotland.

Attached is my Italy itinerary.

Stu Dudley
Attached Files
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Italy-revised.doc (148.5 KB, 24 views)

Last edited by StuDudley; Dec 5th, 2023 at 10:11 PM.
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Old Dec 6th, 2023, 01:03 AM
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Stu's plan is morewhat I would suggest

but we know nothing about you, what you like to do, how many of you are there etc.
Dashing out now but, any thoughts
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Old Dec 6th, 2023, 08:01 AM
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I'm not even sure if I would recommend Florence as I don't know if the OP has interests in the Reformation.

I'd look at Venice, Podova, Verona, Ferrara, Bologna, Ravenna, Florence, Rome

trains
seat61.com
trenitalia.it (since Italian is a language where miss-spelling is virtually unheard of, you have to type the names of the stations correctly)
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