Italy Itinerary, Car or Train

Jun 5th, 2002, 04:12 PM
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Italy Itinerary, Car or Train

My husband and I would like to travel around Italy this fall. I have a number of questions.

1. Should we rent a car or use the train or some combination? I'm not sure either of us wants to drive in Rome. We've travelled by car through Germany, Ireland and Portugal, but Italy seems more daunting - is it?

2. If I were to plan the perfect itinerary it would include the following places. Rome, Amalfi Coast, Umbria, Tuscany, Florence, Cinque Terre, Venice (I'd like to throw in The Lakes district, too, but don't think that's feasible on this trip).

We like medieval towns, castles, countryside more than cities (but we do like cities). We've both been to Rome and Florence before, but not together and there are things we want to see that we missed the first time.

How long would we need to cover this itinerary at a moderate pace. How many nights would you recommend in each place, considering the distance we would need to cover and the relative things to see and do?

Thanks for your suggestions.
Jun 5th, 2002, 05:24 PM
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What will you do with your rented car while you are in Rome, Cinque Terra and Venice? It sounds like you'll be paying for a parked car for half of the trip. Why not rent a car for just a few days' drive through Umbria and Tuscany?
Jun 5th, 2002, 05:47 PM
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Hi Dee,
Just returned from Italy Friday. We went to Rome (6 days) Siena (3 days with a day trip to Florence and Montelpuciano) and Sorrento (5 days) I would not suggest driving in Rome. Stay somewhere in old Rome and walk everywhere. We stayed right by Piazza Navona and could walk everywhere easily (Pantheon, Colosseum, Vatican, Spanish Steps) This is my second time going and we wanted to go to Venice but thought it would be too much with wanting to go to the coast as well. We were gone 16 days and felt we need more time in Sorrento and of course Rome (you could be ther for 2 weeks alone) Anyway Sorrento is a great base beacus it is the middle of everything. We went to Pompeii and Vesuvius in one day and could have spent the whole day at Pompeii. We went to Capri for a day and regretted not taking the advice of people on this forum to stay the night-it was very charming. We also went to Amalfi, Positano, and Ravello for a day. We wanted to go to Ischia (they have thermal baths there) but with taking one day to relax and sunbathe we had no time. we did not even get to Naples. Another reason to stay in Sorrento is that there are far more hydrofoils leaving for destinations (more times available) In amalfi there was only one time option to leave and come back for the day and we thought this would be very limiting.
As far as traveling between cities we picked up a car at the Rome airport and drove to Siena (very easy the autostrada it right there) Then we dropped the car off in Florence and took the fast train to Naples (there is no fast train out of Siena-only local- and it takes 3 hours to get to Rome where it took us three hours to get from Florence to Naples. (another great tip from this forum) We then took the train form Naple to Sorrento (it was basically a subway- I wasn't too pleased, but the cab ride was $90. We took the cab on the way back and then took the train from Naples to Rome and flew out of Rome. I would suggest flying from Naples to Roem for anyone who reads this. If you have any other questions feel free to e-mail me!
Jun 5th, 2002, 06:34 PM
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Dee, The answer is both--the trick is to figure out the itinerary and the sequence. You will need at least 15 days to do that itinerary--17 if you include the lakes--and you should. Here are some samples that have proven valuable for others--you can obviously mix and match. I would start north for this trip and end up in Rome. Driving is easy in Italy--just not in the cities. Let me know if you need help.


* Arrive and depart from Munich--14 nites--May thru Sep.--car travel
* ITINERARY: Salzburg, Dolomites, Venice, Lake Garda, Bavaria
* Arrive Milan, depart Venice--15 nites--car & train travel--April thru Oct.
* ITINERARY: The Lakes, Ligurian coast, Tuscany, Florence, Venice
* Arrive & depart Rome--12 to 14 nites--car & train travel, all year
* ITINERARY: Florence, Tuscan & Umbrian hilltowns, Rome
* Arrive & depart Rome--12 nites--car & train travel--March thru Oct.
* ITINERARY: Amalfi coast, Tuscan/Umbrian hilltowns, Rome
* Arrive and depart Zurich--12 nites--train travel--June thru Sep.
* ITINERARY: Berner Oberland, Lugano, Lake Como, Luzern
THE VILLAGE SAMPLER: [my off-the-path personal favorites]
* Arrive Milan & depart Rome--12 to 15 nites---car travel--April thru Oct.
* Small quaint villages to include: Lake Orta, Portovenere, Montalcino,
Spello, Orvieto, Sperlonga, Ravello, Castelrotto [ pick four of above]
These are merely intended to be sample itineraries. Every TRIP PLAN is unique
and is designed to meet your personal travel style, budget, and preferences.
Jun 5th, 2002, 06:50 PM
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My husband and I did a very similar trip this year in March/April. We had 5 weeks away -
4 night Rome
6 nights Sorrento
3 nights Orvieto
2 nights San Gimignano
3 nights Lucca
4 nights CT (Manarola)
3 nights Santa Margherita Ligure
6 nights Venice
3 nights Rome

We did day trips from everywhere and travelled on public transport, mainly trains.

In hindsight, and because we have visited Italy before, we could have cut down on time in Rome, Sorrento, Lucca, Manarola and Venice by about a day. We had a leisurely trip which was what we wanted.

We had a couple of train trips not go to plan, like the Eurostar from Rome to Naples that was over an hour late arriving, and the train to Siena that wasn't running so we had to wait 2 hours for a bus instead. I think a car would have been a hassle generally, the towns were made long before cars were thought of and parking is outside the towns in many cases.
Jun 5th, 2002, 07:18 PM
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OK Dee, here goes for your perfect itinerary. My 2 cents worth.

Fly into Venice
3 days Venice
train to Cinque Terre
3 days CT or SML
train to Florence with a short stop in Pisa
2 days Florence, since you've been there
pick up car in Florence
or train/bus to Siena then p/u car
8-9 days between Tuscany/Umbria
drop car in Orvieto
train to Rome
2-3 days Rome
train to Naples
4 days Amalfi Coast/Capri
fly home out of Naples or Rome

I haven't researched the exact train schedules for this itinerary, so there might be adjustments that would make better travel time. This would be my initial plan based on my mere 2 Italian trips.

Buon viaggio!
Jun 6th, 2002, 05:38 AM
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Dee, do you have any constraints like a maximum trip length that should be born in mind? In other words, what is the size of your trip pie; then it is easier to figure out into how many pieces (stops) you should cut it, and what the 'filling' for each 'piece' should be (days at each stop.)

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