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annimal Aug 15th, 2006 12:57 PM

Italy travel logistics - need help planning
We've booked our flights and accommodations for our trip to Italy next month. Now I'm trying to get to the little details for a smoother trip. Basic details: we fly into Rome and stay for a couple of nights, then take the train to Naples where we can either pick up our rental car there or we can travel to Sorrento and pick up our rental car from there and drive down to Praiano where we still stay for several nights, then we drive from the Amalfi Coast to Venice (yes, one long drive but we're road trip kind of people and used to it) where we drop off the rental car and stay in Venice for a couple of nights, then we take the train from Venice to Varenna for a couple night and finally take the train to Milan for one night's stay as we leave to go back to the US on the following morning. I could use some advice/tips/help on the following:


1. Is the best mode of transporation on foot? (i.e. walking to the sites - Vatican, Colosseum/Forum, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps etc, to dinner, shopping and so for) If it's better by bus, could someone provide me with a link to bus schedules and fares?

2. Should we buy tickets for the Colosseum, Vatican tours, etc. in advance or just get it when we get there? If we should get it in advance, can someone tell me where I should get it?

3. Do we need to make dinner reservations at Antico Arco (Trastevere) and Trattoria Monti (by Termini)? If yes, how far in advance?


4. Should we/can we buy train tickets from Rome to Naples in advance? (weblinks?)

5. We can either rent our car from Sorrento and either take the hyrdofoil or the Circumvesuviana train from Naples to Sorrento or we can rent the car directly in Naples, but it looks like the only Hertz (we're members) station open on Sunday (the day we are traveling) is at the airport. Do you suggest renting from Sorrento? If so, what's your take on the hydrofoil vs. Circum. train to Sorrento? How do you get to the hydrofoil dock in Naples - via taxi? How far is the drive to get to the dock? How dangerous is it to take the Circum. train? How far is the train station in Naples to the airport in Naples if we were to rent the car in Naples? If we took the hydrofoil or Circum. train, should we / can we buy tickets in advance?

6. Do we need to make dinner reservations at Donna Rosa (Positano), Il Buco (Sorrento), Da Constantino (Positano), Cumpa Cosimo (Ravello)? If yes, how far in advance?

7. Should we / can we buy tickets in advance for Pompeii?

8. Is there a cost to see Mt. Vesuvius?

9. Should we / can we buy hydrofoil tickets in advance to and from Capri?

10. Where can I get driving maps for the Amalfi Coast, the drive from the Amalfi to Venice, etc.? (weblinks?)

11. How long is the drive from Praiano to Ravello in the 3rd week of September? (trying to figure out when we would need to leave our villa in Praiano for dinner in Ravello)


12. Approximately how long is the drive from Praiano (via Salerno?) to Venice?

13. Are there any good places to stop by on the way to Venice for lunch?

14. Does anyone have any experience dropping off a rental car afterhours in Italy? (Hertz says there is afterhours drop off in Venice....)

15. Do we need to make dinner reservations at Fiaschetteria Toscana? If yes, how far in advance?

16. Should we / can we buy tickets in advance for tours (i.e. Doge's Palace)?

17. Can anyone send me a weblink to the vaparetto schedules and fares?


18. Should we/can we buy train tickets from Venice to Varenna in advance? (weblinks?)

19. Do we need to make reservations or buy tickets in advance for villa tours?

20. Can anyone send me a weblink for hydrofoil/ferry schedules and fares?


21. Should we/can we buy train tickets from Varenna to Milan in advance? (weblinks?)

I know some of these questions are tedious and I can find most answers in severa guide books, but there's so much information out there that I've gotten a bit overwhelmed. I was hoping Fodorites might be able to easily help answer my questions. Thanks!!!

bobthenavigator Aug 15th, 2006 01:10 PM Buy there
You do not want the car on the AC
Train to Venice
Read for good input on the AC[Campania]

jgg Aug 15th, 2006 04:42 PM

I can answer a few of your questions. We find the best way to get around Rome is on foot, depending on where you are staying. If you are staying centrally located (i.e. Piazza Navona, Pantheon) walking most places is not a problem.

If you want to do the Secret Itineraries Tour of the Doge's Palace you should make a reservation. Your hotel should be able to make those reservations for you.

We returned a rental car after hours in Rome. We just left the car in their parking lot. They had an after hours drop box where you left the contract and key, similar to those in the states. It was no problem. However, if you know in advance you will be doing that (we didn't) I would speak with them to confirm they have the drop box.

nessundorma Aug 15th, 2006 05:03 PM

I'll respond to some of your questions, but first I'll say: Don't buy any train tickets in advance.


1. Walking is the best mode of transporation with taxis for relief if you need it.


Are you sure you want to rent a car? If yes, pick it up in Sorrento. Take the Cirum. train.

Why are you going to dinner in Ravello? The only reason to go to Ravello is for the views. At least go before sunset, but it's better to go to lunch. Cumpa Cosima doesn't have a view, so it's a fine dinner spot. Otherwise, eat at Da Salvatore or Villa Maria, both of which have views.

No need to buy tickets in advance for Pompeii -- but when are you going? From Praiano? Why not go to Sorrento from Rome, see Pompeii, pick up your car (if you want one) and then relax on the Amalfi?


Are you sure you wouldn't rather take a train there? Or fly?

buon viaggio!

nessundorma Aug 15th, 2006 05:06 PM

PS: regarding Pompeii, what I am suggesting is that you travel from Rome to Sorrento, spend the night in Sorrento, see Pompeii, then travel to Praiano and relax.

I understand that it is possible to leave your luggage at Pompeii. (Double check me on this.) You could travel from Rome to Pompeii, store your luggage, visit the site, pick up your luggage, have an overnight in Sorrento then proceed to Praiano by bus or car rental.

If you go by bus, you can still get to Ravello for lunch and Capri for a day trip. With the money you would have spent on a car and parking fees, you can easily hire a driver to take you the Napoli train station, where you can catch a train to Venezia.

annimal Aug 15th, 2006 05:12 PM

Yes, we are going to go with a rental car for the Amalfi Coast. However, I am looking at the possibility of renting the car in Sorrento and returning it there and then taking the train from Sorrento/Naples to Venice.

By the way, where can I find the station codes for the trains? I went on Trenitalia's website and looked up trains from Sorrento to Venice. I assume "Sorrento Ma" is the main station in Sorrento. I see some trains stop in Naples at "Centrale" and others stop at "Piazza Garibaldi". These stops look like they're right next to each other. What's the difference?? Also, I noticed that I couldn't buy tickets on the website. Not sure why, but it says "NO" under buy....

nessundorma - Cumpa Cosimo for dinner in Ravello is the plan...

As for flying to Venice, I am too worried about lost baggage or overweight baggage, etc. It's bad enough we already have to put a lot of stuff in our checked bags due to recent airport security measures in the US and Europe and risk the bags not arriving with us or having things stolen from them, but I've heard enough horror stories about the smaller airlines like Ryanair, etc. that I think I would prefer to have my bags with me on a train or car.

nessundorma Aug 15th, 2006 05:26 PM

I understand that Cumpa Cosimo for dinner in Ravello is the plan. I'm suggesting is that you reconsider since Ravello is not very interesting in the dark and it takes some effort to drive there. Very few people enjoy driving that particular road at night. It is extremely steep and windy, without guard rails.

I personally would not leave for Ravello just in time to get to dinner there. I was suggesting that you much earlier, in time to look at the views and gardens during daylight.

Many people like Cumpa Cosima, partly because the food is very homey but also because the owner is very gregarious. To me, neither is reason it itself to go to Ravello when I can't see the views or the gardens. But that's just me.

I don't know what airlines fly from Napoli to Venezia. But if you'd rather not fly, then you shouldn't.

realshalott Aug 15th, 2006 06:53 PM

someone here is planning a similar trip
I also vote for taking the train to Venice, or fly from Naples.
Venice public transportation

ellenem Aug 16th, 2006 06:09 AM


1. Is the best mode of transporation on foot?
>>I prefer foot or the occasional taxi. The metro covers a limited route. Many tourists find the bus system confusing and crowded.

2. Should we buy tickets for the Colosseum, Vatican tours, etc. in advance?
>>Buy when you get there. To avoid long lines at the Colosseum, buy your ticket at the entrance to the Palatine Hill 5 minutes away. The ticket covers both sites. To avoid lines at the Vatican, I arrive about 1PM--many are having lunch then.

3. Do we need to make dinner reservations at Trattoria Monti (by Termini)? If yes, how far in advance?
>>For dinner or weekend lunch, yes. A day or two ahead should be fine. This is my favorite restaurant in Rome.


4. Should we/can we buy train tickets from Rome to Naples in advance? (weblinks?)
>>For this and all train tickets, unless you are traveling on Fridays, Sundays, or holidays, you can purchase all your tickets once you arrive in Italy. You can even buy them all at the same time if you know your schedule. Check and print schedules at Be sure to use the Italian name for cities.


16. Should we / can we buy tickets in advance for tours (i.e. Doge's Palace)?
>>If you want to do the Secret Itineraries tour, this must be booked ahead.


20. Can anyone send me a weblink for hydrofoil/ferry schedules and fares?
>>You can google these, but keep in mind that the schedules for Lake Como are very confusing. There are four different schedules for the different types of boats that one must compare to really know what's available.

Peggyann Aug 16th, 2006 08:01 AM

About Ravello. We have eaten three times at Cumpa Cosimo. Nice, fun because of the lady who kind of runs the dining room, (and the diners), but last time in Ravello we ate at (Da?) Salvatore's. Drop dead views, food that was fantastic and nice service. The caprese salad was to die for, and the fresh grilled fish wonderful.
All around a better experience.
Fred Plotkin suggests Cumpa, but also mentions Salvatore's. IMHO, the latter wins, hands down!

Also, another vote for train to Venice or better yet, fly if the price is right.
Fiaschetteria Toscano in Venice... always nice to reserve for dinne. We walked in on a Sunday afternoon with no problem.

willit Aug 16th, 2006 08:41 AM

Praiano to Venice is very nearly 800 km, and would take around 8 to 9 hours. I would really consider looking at low cost airlines from Naples (see

I found the best way around Rome was walking, but if you buy a cheap integrated transport ticket at a railway or metro stop, you can jump onto any bus, metro or tram. This is a great help at the end of a long day of sightseeing when the legs just don't want to go any further.

Kathryncee Aug 16th, 2006 09:01 AM

We walked and found it fun and do-able... did take a taxi occasionally and used the subway which was easy.

Took the Circumvencia train to Pompei, yes, Pompei does have luggage storage, it's reasonable, from Naples then to Sorrento.
Personally, I would not do it again.. a bit scary if you ask me.. almost got pickpocketed twice, 1 time at train staion and another on the train.

We took the hydrofoil back to Naples from Sorrento- don't need to reserve ahead of time, just get there early if possible for the next departing ferry.

ira Aug 16th, 2006 09:07 AM

Hi ann,

> I went on Trenitalia's website and looked up trains from Sorrento to Venice. I assume "Sorrento Ma" is the main station in Sorrento. I see some trains stop in Naples at "Centrale" and others stop at "Piazza Garibaldi".<

Trenitalia doesn't serve Sorrento. You have to take the Circumvesuviana to Naples.

Naples Centrale and Naples Garibaldi are two levels of the same station.

Also look into trains from Salerno to Venice - saves taking the Circumvesuviana.


caroldes Aug 16th, 2006 09:46 AM

FYI - it appears that Alpieagles has discontinued service between Naples and Venice.

Eatley Aug 16th, 2006 10:07 AM

I can give you some pointers about Naples. The airport and Train station are pretty far apart. Taxi is about the only way between them and they are very easy to get... The trains are not DANGEROUS so to speak you just need to be a wise traveller and be aware of your surroundings.
I have been to Rome a number of occasions and I have found the best way to see it all especially in just 1 or 2 days is to get on one of the double decker tour busses if you want to be a true tourist!! But if you want you can do most of the best sites in 2-3 days walking...
I have also done the Naples-Venice Drive.. The only place convenient to stop for lunch other than getting off the Autostrade is an Autogrill they have pretty good food. It is kind of expensive for what you get but it tastes good. I would also suggest a stop in Pisa on the way it is about 3 hrs from Venice so it is a good final rest stop and you can have an excellent meal there if you find a good Trattoria. When we were there we just went to McDonalds on the way out as we had no time to stop for a 2 hr lunch!
The drive will probably take you 10+ hrs unless you don't stop alot...
If you have anymore questions feel free to e-mail me!

annimal Aug 16th, 2006 12:33 PM


I feel like an idiot - I am fairly computer savy and yet I can't figure out why I couldn't buy a ticket on Trenitalia yesterday (Sorrento - Venice, Naples - Venice). However, I tried Naples to Venice today and it worked just fine. Saw the little shopping cart icon to purchase tickets. When I tried Sorrento to Venice, it would say "no". Thanks for clarifying the difference between the Centrale and Garibaldi stops in Naples. So I guess it doesn't matter which stop as it's in the same building...

bobthenavigator - thank you for the links!

nessundorma - got it about Ravello / Cumpa Cosima. I misread your post the first time around. I suppose if we have time to check out some villas in the Ravello area, then maybe we could have lunch at Cumpa Cosima. Otherwise, if we don't get out that way until dinner, Da Salvatore sounds like a good option on these boards. Thanks!

jgg & Peggyann - thanks for the feedback!

Kathryncee & realshalott - thanks for the posts

Ellenem & willit - thank you for the tips

Eatley - I am so glad someone here has done the drive. I am really thinking I must have been insane when I thought of driving from the AC to Venice. I guess I thought it would be through the rolling hills of Tuscany/Umbria, but it should have looked at the map before I went on with it. I take it that driving the smaller roads would take me 2 days to get to Venice!! No thanks, I'll save that ride for another time if we'll be based in either Tuscany or Umbria.

annimal Aug 16th, 2006 12:47 PM

Ira - sorry, a few more Trenitalia questions for you if you don't mind.

1. Why are some departure/arrival destinations listed in red and some in blue? What is the difference? For example, I searched for Salerno to Venice and under Venice, some trains stop only in Mestre (blue) and other stop at both Mestre and S. Lucia. Some of these have Mestre in red and S. Lucia in blue and others have Mestre in blue and S. Lucia in red... when I look up Naples to Venice, some departure stops are in red (i.e. P. Garibaldi) and others in blue (i.e. Centrale) even though it's the same train itinerary.

2. Which type of train do you suggest? I was thinking of the Eurostar, but can you give me any insight on the other trains or do you think the ES is the way to go? If you could list in order of your preference of trains, that would be great too!

annimal Aug 16th, 2006 12:48 PM

sorry - forgot to ask one more thing re: Naples/Venice train: isn't there a new direct service between the two cities? I thought I read it on Trenitalia's site. I see one for IC Plus but not for ES. Any comments on the differences?

annimal Aug 16th, 2006 01:07 PM

Anyone know how long it will take to drive from Praiano to Sorrento (on a Thursday in mid-September), drop off a rental car in Sorrento and jump on the Circumvesuviana to Naples or take hyrdofoil from Sorrento to Naples and then get to the train station (Centrale or Piazza Garibaldi)? Am trying to figure out what train time (Naples to Venice) would work for us and how early to leave Praiano...

ellenem Aug 16th, 2006 01:49 PM

For a better understanding of the different types of trains, go to

In fact, SlowTrav's enitre section on Italian trains is great. For such a long ride, I would take Eurostar, the nicest, fastest train. I would also choose the option with the least time/least changes.

I think the red/blue issue has to do with whether or not the train actually goes to Venezia SL. You might have to get off at Mestre and switch to another train. Some trains that go beyond Venice won't go all the way across the lagoon to Venezia SL. If you click on each of the station names for each listing it should give you connection information.

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