Italy for 16 days!!

Old Jan 31st, 2014, 11:22 AM
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Italy for 16 days!!

Hi All,

I am going with my family (myself, husband and two daughers (20/21) for 18 days to Italy!!! It is our first trip abroad so I am a bit overwhelmed. I have tried to plan this trip for three years and each time, I have to stop! This time, I purchased my airline tickets so there is no turning back!!

We fly into venice and back to Georgia/USA from Rome.
My thoughts were as follows:

May 14th - land in Venice around 11;00am
May 14th - 16th - stay and see Venice
We do not have a place to stay here yet and I am open to hotels, B&B's or apartments. Something nice (maybe 4 star) and convenient. We do like pretty nice hotels but we usually travel off season so we can get them for great rates! Not so sure about that in May! We would like to stay in something authentic to the region.

From what I am hearing, we can see Venice on our own? But if you think a tour would be easier and can suggest one, that would be great!

May 16th - Travel to Florence
May 17th - Day trip (maybe Pisa, Lucca and surrounding area?) With a guide?
May 18th - See Florence

May 19th - See more of Florence and then Travel to countryside by train and rent a car?
May 19th - 21st - stay and see countryside - Suggestions on a nice place to stay in this area where we can day trip to Siena, San Gimignano, other suggestions? Again we would like an authentic place with pretty nice rooms or apartments/villas. A friendly place, nice but not snobby. Should we have a guide in this area? If so, any suggestions?

May 21th - Travel to Amalfi coast (not sure where to stay yet) Ideas?

May 21 - 27th We could stay in two locations and see Positano, Capri, Sorrento, Pompeii, ??? Other suggestions. Do we need a guide?

May 27th - 30th - stay and see Rome - I have found an apartment here which is great and so much less than the hotels!!
Morning of May 30th fly home.

Thanks for any suggestions!!
JNE is offline  
Old Jan 31st, 2014, 12:10 PM
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By time you get to your hotel and checked in, you will be jet lagged and have less than a half day in Venice on May 14. You will use at least a half day getting from hotel in Venice to hotel in Florence on May 16, so no more than a morning in Venice, and time spent either taking luggage to train station and storing it, then allowing time to retrieve it, or returning to your hotel to pick it up. So, first suggestion, stay three nights in Venice. Depart very early on 17th directly to Florence.

Whatever day you go from Florence to Amalfi Coast, travel will take most of the day, so it can't be counted as sightseeing time. The 21st will be a travel day.

The 27th is also travel and the 30th is just going home, so you have only two days in Rome. After the AC, that might be enough anyway.

Positano is stunning, but Sorrento has a variety of hotel options and is an easy base to travel to/from Pompeii by train, the AC by boat, and has beautiful views of the Bay of Naples.

Hotel: star ratings in Italy have to do with amenities rather than quality, so having an onsite restaurant, parking garage, 24 hr desk service, elevator, etc. might increase stars, but not tell you how nice the hotel really is. Rooms tend to be smaller than in the US. You may have to rent two. Apartments are great if you can rent one for shorter than a week period. In Venice, staying in the city rather than commuting in is important for the experience, so location is important.

Hiring a guide or taking a tour is personal. We usually do not; prefer to read a lot and carry notes with us, but it helps that I was an art history teacher. Some people love tours and get a lot out of them. At Pompeii, you can hire a guide right at the site.

From Florence, it is very easy to take the train to Pisa and Lucca and makes a great day trip, absolutely no need for a guide. It is also easy to bus to Sienna, and also no need for a guide, but harder to include San G that way. You could have all the info ready, and make decisions about day trips from Florence once you are there and have seen everything you want in Florence.

Cruise late at night on a vaporetto, down the Grand Canal in Venice.
Take time to sit at cafes and enjoy the views, especially in Sorrento or on the AC.
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 12:12 PM
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BTW, you were very smart to start in Venice and end in Rome, saves time and money backtracking.
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 12:28 PM
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I wonder why you're planning to spend five days on the Amalfi Coast and only two days in Rome. You're leaving the Amalfi Coast on the 27th, and since it's a long trip from there to Rome. You're flying home on the 30th. So really you'd have only the 28th and 29th in Rome, which is very little time for a city with so much to see.

In general, you seem to be double counting your days, considering them both as travel days and as sightseeing days. This doesn't work unless you have a magic carpet. You actually have five travel days in your schedule, and nine full sightseeing days, of which five are on the Amalfi Coast. (If you split the Amalfi coast between two different places, you'll have four full days there, and six travel days.) You have one full day in Venice; two full days in Florence, of which one will be spent on a day trip to Pisa and Lucca; one full day in the Tuscan countryside, which wouldn't be enough to see all the places you want to see. Then the five full days on the Amalfi Coast, which you're thinking of splitting into two different places, giving you another travel day. And two full days in Rome.

I have a feeling that if you stick with this itinerary, your trip will be a blur when you get home. Also, don't underestimate how tiring it is to get from place to place by train, bus, and boat with your luggage, as well as the constant packing and unpacking, checking in and checking out of hotels. There is not enough pleasure in this itinerary, and too much logistics.

You really have sixteen nights to spend in Italy. I would suggest a maximum of four hotels, with maybe some day trips. I would spend at least three nights in Venice, three nights in Florence, three nights in Sorrento, and four nights in Rome. That leaves you three nights to sprinkle about in places where you want to take day trips, or maybe to rent that car and spend two nights in the Tuscan countryside, and add one night to one of the other cities. That would be five hotels, and is really more moving about than I would want to do in that amount of time.

I suggest Sorrento instead of the Amalfi Coast because it's more central, so easier to get to Pompeii as well as Capri and the Amalfi Coast. If Pompeii isn't a must, you might just as well stay on the actual Amalfi Coast. The town of Amalfi is fairly easy to get to, by taking a train to Salerno and then a bus or boat to Amalfi. However, anywhere on the Amalfi Coast would be a very long and tedious trip from rural Tuscany. One of the towns where people often pick up and drop off rental cars in Tuscany is Chiusi. From there to Salerno by train takes from four and a half to six hours, depending on which trains you take. There would be at least one, and sometimes two changes of train. Then you'd have the drive to Chiusi from where you're staying, and the bus or boat to the Amalfi coast town. It would really be a full-day ordeal, and you'd better all pack very light.

If you skip the stay in the Tuscan countryside, you could perhaps add another day to Florence and take a day trip either to Siena or to San Gimignano. It's fairly easy to do with local transporation. The trip to Salerno would be easier and quicker, because you could use high-speed trains the whole way. There's even at least one direct train from Florence to Salerno, which would be the easiest and quickest of all.

I suggest you rethink the whole trip, and cut out some of the things you want to see. Ticking "must-sees" off a list is almost never a pleasant vacation.
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 12:39 PM
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thank you for your reply. I have thought about staying in Venice an extra day, so we probably will do that! Since we won't spend much time in the hotels I don't really care much about the amenities, just want a nice room and bathroom and within walking distance. I do appreciate all your advise and tips!
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 12:46 PM
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Thank you for all the advise. I was not aware of how much travel time it would be!! I do like the idea of staying in Florence and taking a day trip to the countryside. That would seem to help my whole plan! I will relook at that.
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 01:02 PM
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Dear JNE

based on the advice above and your extremely sensible reaction to it, this is a possible way to plan your trip:

May 14th - land in Venice around 11;00am, orientation day in Venice/recover from jetlag
May 15th - venice
May 16th - Venice
May 17th - early train to Florence, arrive before midday, check in, lunch. orientation pm
May 18th - Day trip (maybe Pisa, Lucca and surrounding area?) With a guide?
May 19th - See Florence
May 20th - day trip
May 21st - Florence
May 22nd - train to Sorrento - arrive pm. orientation evening
May 23rd - Sorrento/area
May 24th - day trip
May 25th - Sorrento/area
May 26th - am train to Rome
May 27, 28,29 - see Rome
May 30th - fly home am.

that hopefully gives you an idea of how much time is going to be taken up traveling, which is now rather less than before.

have a great trip!
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 02:18 PM
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As you decide how to allocate the days, keep in mind that making Sunday/Monday your two days for seeing Florence could be problematic. Many of the things you're likely interested in seeing may be closed one or the other day and/or Sunday afternoon. You should make a list of what you want to see/do in Florence and then search the open/closed days and hours. You could make your Pisa/Lucca day-trip on one of those days to free up a better day in Florenc. Buy timed entry tickets for the Uffizi, Accademia, etc.

This is an official website, so info should be accurate:

This is a very helpful but unofficial website:
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 03:49 PM
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You have wonderful advice above---not much I can add so here are some Venice hotels for you---nice trip !


BEST MID-RANGE 3 STAR HOTELS: Prices will vary from 140 to 250E Rave reviews near San Marco Popular hotel in Dorsoduro on Zattere A Venice standard on Grand Canal Small hotel in Castello with decent prices Diverse family apts. in good location Love this location and their garden

SMALL B&Bs: PRICES VARY FROM 100E TO 220E AND BY SEASON Helpful hosts in San Polo area Popular hotel off-path Great value in quiet neighborhood location

NICER 4 STAR HOTELS: prices range from 250 to 500E—vary by season Lovely place at Rialto on Grand Canal Boutique hotel near Accademia Bridge Lovely amenities in Castello

WILD CARD OPTIONS: Hotel & apartment options with good prices: Well priced B&B in Castello Apts. in a real 16th century villa Nice 3 star at Ca Rezzonico stop
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Old Jan 31st, 2014, 04:29 PM
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I agree looks like you've received some good advice and your itinerary is really coming together. We have stayed at Locanda Orseolo in Venice in the past and absolutely loved it!! (probably one of our top places in the world). However, in a stay this past March we needed a triple and they don't do triples there and I did not want to pay full price for a room for our 17 yo son, we stayed at Hotel ai Reali, which just opened in Nov. 2012. It was an excellent location, large size rooms (esp for Venice) and great service. I would strongly recommend it.

We were also in Sorrento this past March and stayed at Hotel La Favorita. Again, excellent location, nice rooms and great service.

Here is a link to my blog which gives some more details about the hotels along with pictures:
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Old Mar 21st, 2014, 06:28 AM
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Just two small corrections to Bob's Venice hotel list:

Pensione Accademia is not on the Grand Canal. Rates are probably higher than indicated on his list, above.

Locanda Orseolo has prices closer to 300e (more than 400 US dollars) per night in most seasons.
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Old Mar 21st, 2014, 09:06 AM
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Here is a vote for NOT staying in Sorrento, if you want to see the Amalfi Coast. There are only 2 boats a day from Sorrento to Positano, so if you goal is to see the Amalfi Coast you should stay somewhere on the AC.

I always stay in Positano, as IMO it is the most picturesque of the villages on the AC. From Positano there is good ferry service to Capri, Amalfi/Ravello and Salerno.

You can see Pompeii on your way from Florence or on your way to Rome, as there is a left luggage facility at Pompeii.

There is quite a variety of hotels in Positano, but you should book quickly as it starts getting busy in May. Many hotels have been booked for months.
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