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Need help with Amalfi Coast, Rome & Umbria itinerary planning

Need help with Amalfi Coast, Rome & Umbria itinerary planning

Jul 6th, 2009, 07:06 PM
  #1  
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Need help with Amalfi Coast, Rome & Umbria itinerary planning

Hello Fodorites,
My husband and I will be going to Italy and will be visiting Oct. 11- 28 of this year. I normally love doing the research for our travels but for this trip I'm feeling overwhelmed because it’s only 3 months away.

Our last trip to Italy was in 2006 where we visited Venice, Florence, Cortona, Cinque Terra, Portofino & Santa Margherita. We had decided then that we would do Rome & Amalfi Coast on our next visit.

We are flying into Naples around noon. I was thinking of using Sorrento as our base because we plan on visiting Positano, Capri, Pompeii, Amalfi & Salerno?
Should we take a train, bus, or taxi from Naples Airport to Sorrento?

My husband has driven in France & Switzerland on past trips but to avoid adding more stress I have insisted that he not drive on the Amalfi coast or Rome. From what I have read so far, it looks like we can take either train, bus or ferry to get to places.

Leaving the Amalfi Coast, I thought we could take a train to Orvieto and make that our base for that area? My husband thinks maybe we should make Siena our base? I was thinking of day trips to Deruta, Perugia, Assisi, Montepulchiano and Siena? This is one area that we will rent a car to get to these places. Does anyone know of a good car rental place in Orvieto or Siena?

Rome will be our last destination since we are flying out from there. My husband isn't so keen of large crowds so that is why we aren’t staying longer here. We do want to see the beauty and history that Rome offers. I know we can’t do everything but can we see most of the major tourist sights (Coliseum, Vatican, St. Peters, Piazza Navona, Panteon, Sistine Chapel, Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain, in 4 days? I’d be curious to know if there were any places that you would of skipped?

My tentative schedule is
6 nights in Sorrento
7 nights in Orvieto or Sienna
3 nights in Rome (should we do 4 nights and take a day off from other?)

Any recommendations on hotels/neighborhoods (especially for Rome) would be greatly appreciated. We prefer 3-4 star hotels that we can walk to most of the major tourist sights.

Thank you in advance for your help and thoughts on my itinerary.
portobelloB is offline  
Jul 6th, 2009, 08:34 PM
  #2  
 
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A couple of initial thoughts:

Have you considered Perugia as your base in Umbria? Better transportation connections, IMO, to the various towns, by train or bus. I was just in Orvieto and loved it but wouldn't make it my base for a week, if I wanted to see other sighes in Umbria.

Consider adding a day to Rome shaving it off of one of the other days.

One hotel in Rome you might want to look at is Albergo del Senato adjacent to the Pantheon. Nice hotel and hard to beat the location. We walked to Ancient Rome areas (Colosseum, Forum) as well as Piaza Navona, Trevi Fountain, and the like (Vatican was about a 10 Eu taxi ride away).
annw is offline  
Jul 7th, 2009, 05:06 AM
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I would get your car as you leave Sorrento and drive to a rural Tuscany destination--having lunch in Orvieto. It is not a good base to tour Umbria/Tuscany--too far south. I suggest a location near Montepulciano for your scenario.

My timimg would be :
Sorrento--5
Tuscany/Umbria--6
Rome---5

Drop your car at Orvieto as you head back to Rome. Here are some Rome hotels options. Holler if you need Tuscany options.

BOB’S FAVORITE HOTELS IN FLORENCE


All are within :20 of most of the attractions. Prices are for a double:

SMALL B&Bs: Prices range from 90E to 180E—vary by season.

www.touristhouseghiberti.com Lovely place near Duomo

www.ilvillino.it Great people and best value in town

www.florencegrandtour.com Newer B&B with good reviews

www.bedinflorence.it Your budget option—only 65E

MID-RANGE HOTELS: Prices range from 150E to 300E by season

* www.hoteldavanzati.it Great location and amenities

www.ortodeimedici.it Perfect location and lovely hotel

www.hotelcasci.com Good family hotel in good location

www.hotelsilla.it Nice oasis across the river away from noise

NICER HOTELS: Prices range from 180E to 350E by season

www.hotel-pierre-florence.com Very central & lovely hotel

www.hoteldelaville.it A Florence standard for nicer hotels

www.monnalisa.it An elegant historical palace—Santa Croce

www.hoteltornabuoni.it Great location—historic old world flair
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 7th, 2009, 05:09 AM
  #4  
 
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Oops !
Sorry about that--here is Rome:
BOB’S FAVORITE HOTELS IN ROMA
All are located in the centro historical area of Rome and within a :20 walk of many of the major tourism sights. All prices assume a standard double room:

SMALLER B&BS: Prices will range from 130E to 200E—average 170E
* www.nicolasinn.com Near Colosseum with helpful hosts

www.daphne-rome.com Tasteful B&B in 2 locations—good press

http://www.banchivecchi115.com Nice B&B near Piazza Farnese


FULL SERVICE 3 STAR HOTELS: Prices will range from 150E to 220E
www.albergocesari.it Great location & my wife’s favorite

www.hotelteatropace.com Near Piazza Navona—opened in 2004

www.lancelothotel.com Nice hosts near Colosseum—good reviews

www.hotelsancarloroma.com Near Spanish Steps & shopping area

www.smeraldoroma.com Good location and decent price

www.hotelportoghesiroma.com North of Piazza Navona—has quad


NICER 4 STAR HOTELS: Price range from 240 to 320E
* www.locandacairoli.it Newer Boutique hotel near Piazza Navona

www.hotelpontesisto.it Nice modern hotel near Jewish quarter

http://www.residenzafarneseroma.it Very nice near Piazza Farnese


BUDGET 2 STAR OPTIONS: Prices from 90 to 140E for double in season

* www.hotel-giardino-roma.com Good location and nice people

* www.solealbiscione.it Popular place near Campo de’ Fiori

WILD CARDS: Both have hotel and apartment options near Spanish Steps

www.hotelmozart.com Nice features—great choice for families

www.hotelmodigliani.com Good reviews & friendly owners
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 7th, 2009, 05:33 AM
  #5  
DRJ
 
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I personally think that, even as I really like Orvieto, its a little remote from my favorite places in Umbria. It is, however, a mere one hour train ride from Rome and the Hertz office is around the corner from the train station. And lunch at I Sette Consoli in Orvieto Alta is a must. The funicular is across the street from the station.

You'll find more info about Umbria than you need if you click on my initials. Buon viaggio.
DRJ is offline  
Jul 7th, 2009, 05:37 AM
  #6  
dcd
 
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A couple of thoughts.

As you're travelling in Oct, the crowds shouldn't be too bad.

I'd recommend at least 4 nites in Rome. My wife hates crowds, too. But she loved Rome anyway. We went at the end of April when the crowds weren't bad. There's just so much to see and do there.

Sorrento is a lot bigger than the other AC towns. I'd suggest reading up on the pros and cons of basing your entire time there. And 7 nites is a lot to spend in any one AC town unless you really enjoy kicking back and sitting on your terrace and reading a book or two. If you liked Cinque Terre and the small towns there, you might prefer one of the smaller AC towns such as Amalfi or Positano, which also make great bases.

At that time of year, I'd recommend some time on the island of Capri. I think 3 nites there would be a nice contrast to Sorrento, especially if you can stay at the very reasonably priced Aiano in their largest room with the huge terrace which is pictured here: http://www.capri.com/en/c/aiano We spent 4 nites in that piece of paradise this past May and would love to return some day.

I'd look into a villa or farmhouse type lodging for Tuscany/Umbria and agree with Bob that Orvieto is a bit south to day trip to the likes of Siena.
dcd is offline  
Jul 7th, 2009, 06:17 AM
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Neither Perugia nor Orvieto make a good base for daytripping by car in Umbria. Central Perugia is very interesting but to get to and from the center you must traverse a lot of uninteresting sprawl. Which would get tedious, day after day. And, as others have said, Orvieto is not central. Plus it's up on top of a mesa. So you have to drive down the side of the mesa every day. Or leave your car at the bottom and take the tram up and down.

I like Bevagna as a base for Umbria. It's not a hilltown, on the flat, so easy to get in and out of. It's a small town though, so not a lot to see in the town and not a lot of places to stay there.

For hotels, I always look at www.tripadvisor.com. And maybe www.venere.com and www.slowtrav.com. Lots of reviews there and a wider set of contributers.
Mimar is offline  
Jul 7th, 2009, 07:30 AM
  #8  
DRJ
 
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I second Bevagna. Its close to Montefalco (Sagrantino), Spello and Assisi. Perugia, Todi and Norcia are not very far away either. And I recommend you look into Le Case Gialle as a place to stay. Mauro and Silvana will take good care of you. LCG is a half dozen km. west of Bevagna. You will find lots of comments on LCG on this board.
DRJ is offline  
Jul 8th, 2009, 12:38 PM
  #9  
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Hi all,

Thank you so much for all your helpful information. I will add one more night to Rome and take 1 day from the Amalfi coast. I think 5 days in Sorrento might be too long in one place so will stay only 3 nights and add 2 nights in Capri. I can't wait to research all the hotel suggestions but I reviewed the one in Capri (wow).

When we leave the Amalfi coast, I'm hoping we can catch a train to Orvieto and rent a car from there to drive to Bevagna. (unless we can take a train straight to Bevagna?) Also, I'm considering staying at Le Case Gialle because of all the reviews.

I'm thinking it might be good to spend 1 night in Orvieto (we could spend a day seeing the town) if we are returning the car there before going on to Rome. Does anyone have thoughts about this?

We both don't speak Italian (although, I'm trying to learn a few phases) and I'm wondering if we will find some difficulty with the language in these smaller villages? I'm going to bring a phase book but it seems that every Italian language book that I have looked at has a different way of saying things. Any suggestions on the most helpful phase book to bring?

I'm looking forward to other input and hope responses will still continue. I'm feeling so much better now that I have all this helpful guidance in shaping up our plans. This forum (you fodorites) are so much better than any guidebook.

Thank you all for helping me.
portobelloB is offline  
Jul 8th, 2009, 12:53 PM
  #10  
 
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Have you considered flying into Tuscany or Rome and starting your trip in Tuscany/Umbria before heading south?

Your current itinerary has you in the warmest locations during the warmest time of the month and then heading north to the chillier locations in the chillier part of the month. If you start in the north and head south, it won't be as cold in Tuscany/Umbria and will still be warm in Sorrento later in the month.
joannyc is offline  
Jul 8th, 2009, 01:56 PM
  #11  
 
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Hi portobello,

My thoughts -

How did your husband like the crowds in Florence? My opinion was that Florence seemed MUCH more crowded because everyone is condensed into a small center where most of the museums and sights are located.

Rome, although bigger and busier, didn't bother me because everyone is more spread out - if that makes sense. LOVE Rome!

I also would not want to stay in Sorrento. Too big, too British. Not really the Amalfi Coast. I love Praiano - small, untouristy, non-resorty. If you like "resorty" go to Positano.

I agree that Orvieto is not a good base for the towns/cities you mention. We loved Orvieto and stayed there 3 nights - day trips to Deruta, Todi, Civita di Bagnoreggio, driving of course.

Last trip I stayed in Spello and did trips to Montefalco and Assisi. Spello was very easy to get in/out and tiny, charming, untouristed..look at Palazzo Bocci, but it might be too late to get in.

One time we stayed in San Sano, near Gaoli in Chianti and did day trips to Siena, Greve, San Gimignano & Volterra. SG & Volterra in one day was too much and too much driving windy roads for my friend who gets car sick!

Agree Orvieto is a great place to pick up/drop a car as long as it's during the week. An excellent idea to stay overnight. There is much to see and do.

Hope this helps! Buon viaggio
Dayle is offline  
Jul 8th, 2009, 07:14 PM
  #12  
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joannyc: We originally were going to fly into Rome but when we added a few more days on this trip United didn't have Rome available for the earlier date. We are using FFM and so limited on when and where we can go. We had to pay $300 for the change to Naples so I'll be packing more warmer clothes. Thank you for giving me the heads up about the weather.

Dayle: My husband didn't like the crowds in Florence and as long as we stayed in front of the crowds - he was ok. One time I couldn't move fast enough and got swallowed by the cruise ship crowds. I can still see his expression on his face as we got separated for awhile.
It's good to hear that Rome won't be so bad.

The reason why we are staying in Sorrento is because I have read that it's easier for transportation connection but I will look at the place you mentioned.

I'm going to look into maybe staying in Spello instead of Bevagna. I'm started to read alot of good reviews on Spello. I just read Franco's review on Umbria (he has some following on this board) and he mentioned lots of construction was taking place in Bevagna last year.

It looks like we will be heading for Orvieto on the weekend (Sat) so I'm not sure what to
expect?

I appreciate all your helpful tips and information. Please keep them coming.

Thanks again!
portobelloB is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 05:46 AM
  #13  
 
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The only thing about Orvieto is the car rental offices in the smaller towns are usually closed from Saturday afternoon to Monday. Check with your rental agency about hours for Orvieto to be on the safe side!

Positano has a bit better trans options than Praiano. Positano has boats and buses, but Praiano only has buses (no harbor). If you plan to go to Capri from Positano (or Sorrento too), be sure to make advance reservations! Otherwise, you will end up with a very short day trip.
Dayle is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 06:15 AM
  #14  
dcd
 
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portobello,

A few more thoughts.

If you haven't already, you might take a close look at your objectives in visiting Tuscany and Umbria. They are certainly very nice and scenic areas. Their main attraction are the various hill towns. Don't get me wrong, they are worth a visit. But they are also fairly similar to one another in that they tend to be pretty small (Siena being a bit of an exception), have a central square, a clock tower, and some shops.

We visited 4 of them over 2 days, including Orvieto, and pretty much had our fill. After awhile, they tended to blend together. Our objective was to get a feel for those areas, knowing we had other parts of Italy to explore as well. We loved the area and could see returning there with the idea of planting ourselves and having a relaxing visit. But that was our first trip to Italy together, so for us, the emphasis was on staying busy and seeing as much as we could in a relatively short period of time.

Now I've known folks who have rented villas in the countryside for a week who combine relaxing there with day tripping to various towns and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. Others take cooking classes, visit wineries,etc, to mix up the activities because just going from hill town to hill town gets a tad boring. It's not exactly "if you've seen one, you've seen them all" but IMHO that's what it will seem like if the main objective of visiting Umbria and Tuscany (and I'm excluding Florence from my analysis since you've been there) is to visit one hill town after another.

So again, ask yourself what you'd like to do in Umbria and Tuscany for 6 or 7 days. If you're active and like to be doing different things each day, you might map out an itinerary and see if 7 nites is too many, considering the other areas you'll be visiting.

Here's a suggested itinerary:

You could spend your first 4 nites in Positano which has excellent transportation options everywhere. We stayed at La Tavolozza (http://tinyurl.com/n846mr) in Room 6, which I believe is the only room with an in room bathroom. The room has has a fridge, AC, and a semi-private, large terrace, all for 95E a nite which is an incredible value. Plus the owners are very nice and helpful and the location can't be beat.

Things to do while in Positano include a day trip to Ravello to see the beautiful gardens and views at Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone and to possibly take Mama Agata's cooking class, if you enjoy cooking (http://www.mammaagata.com/cooking-class.aspx); spending a day with Salvatore on his boat cruise along the Amalfi Coast which was great fun (he's based in Positano http://www.mammaagata.com/cooking-class.aspx); and you could spend another day hiking, if that appeals to you, or just relaxing. To those who say Positano is touristy and resortish, I disagree. Before choosing to spend 4 nites there, I'd read the same things and was concerned. But I also read that this opinion was most often expressed by day trippers to Positano. Bottom line, if you day trip to any of the Amalfi Coast towns, I suspect the impression will be that the town is touristy.

Then you could spend 2 nites on Capri where there's lots to see and do.

Then you could spend 1 nite in Naples so you could visit Pompeii.

Then you could take the train from Naples to your base in Umbria/Tuscany and spend 4 nites there.

Then you could spend the last 5 nites in Rome.
dcd is offline  
Jul 9th, 2009, 06:47 AM
  #15  
dcd
 
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Portobello, one other thing to keep in mind. The ferry schedule to and from Capri changes in the off season, which is when you'll be there. Not sure if the fall schedule has been posted yet. Shouldn't be a major problem though. Just a heads up.
dcd is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 07:38 PM
  #16  
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Our travel style is usually fast and furious (that is more me than my husband) who prefers the slow and relaxing way. This will be our third trip to Italy and we will be only traveling through Italy so hopefully it will be more of a slow and relaxing trip for my husband.

We are both pretty active and like hiking and enjoy getting the feel of the local life.

We decided that after a long international flight (we are flying from the west coast) that Sorrento will be our first place for lodging since it's easier to reach than Positano. We still plan to take a day trip to Positano. I agree that spending a night there will give us more a feel for Positano than just visiting for a day.

My husband prefers the sun and sea views so now we are considering to book only the hotels in Sorrento, Capri & Rome so that if we want to stay longer on the Amalfi coast we could extend 2 more nights (in Positano) and reduce our Umbria stay to 5 nights. So much really depends on the weather.

I am still doing research on where to make our base in Umbria. I'm leaning still towards the suggestions from Mimar & DRJ gave on Bevagna because it's on flat land.

We have done this before where we leave a place earlier than plan and not had problems finding a hotel at our next destination but usually it's a bigger town so I'm not sure about what to expect in smaller villages. Can we still travel open like this? My husband thinks we can but I'm not sure since I'm concern with the language barrier. Has anyone does this traveling in Umbria without making advance hotel reservations?
portobelloB is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 08:32 PM
  #17  
Ian
 
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Have a look at Todi as a base. Easy in & out. Several hotel possibilities. A nice smattering of restaurants. Not overly touristed. Great views. And central.

We stayed at: http://www.fontecesia.it/

My Trip Report from 2002: http://members.rennlist.com/imcarthur/italy.htm

Ian
Ian is offline  
Jul 10th, 2009, 08:55 PM
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To answer your question about the use of Italian or English in the places you're considering, don't worry. While Umbria is less touristy than Tuscany, there are many, many Italians who speak a little (or more) English. We visited Umbria several years ago, stayed in Spello, and I don't recall any language issues (I speak a little Italian, but not enough to carry on a real conversation.)

I'm not sure how many days you're now considering spending in Umbria. Bevagna and Spello are both quite small towns. We spent 3 nights in Bevagna, and while there was enough of interest to us in the area for several more days, 3 nights in Spello was fine (if we had the time to spend more time in Umbria, we would have stayed in a different town, further south, for the additional time). They are both gorgeous towns, but you hit on the main difference - Bevagna is flat, and Spello is quite steep indeed.

One thing about Le Case Gialle, is that you'd have to drive anywhere you wanted to go for dinner. I prefer staying in a town and walking to dinner.

I guess hill towns can be kind of similar, but I can still remember the different hill towns we've visited, and what we liked about each. If you want a more leisurely pace, but still a lot to see, Umbria will be great for you. As I recall (or maybe I just wasn't looking in Tuscany), there are more Roman ruins in Umbria. And definitely seek out the Tempietto di Clitumnus, south of Spello, and just north of the Clitunno Springs, both located on the former Roman via Flaminia. The little temple dates from early, early Christian days, and the springs have been a tourist destination since Roman times.

Enjoy!
Lexma90 is offline  
Jul 13th, 2009, 02:52 PM
  #19  
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Ian - I will look into Todi as a possibility for a base. Looking at the map the views might be more stunning than Bevagna and more centrally located. By the way, I read your entertaining trip report and I am so happy that we are not driving the Amalfi coast. I'm impressed you were able to get to your destination. Thank you for your advice and sharing your trip report.

Lexamo90 - Thank you for your information and the note on Le Case Gialle. I had read a few others commenting on this so we won't be staying there. The property looks very nice but after a day trip or hike, we want to have the option of staying in town for dinner.

I've had to rethink my day trips as trying to do too much on this trip that is suppose to be relaxing for my hubby. He wants not to drive every day and maybe drive no more than 1-2 hours to get to a destination. Now my thoughts are 4 nights at a charming base (that has good restaurants/cafes/shops/views) and see Bevagna, Todi, Spello, Assisi, Deruta or maybe the wine vineyard in Montelfaco/somewhere?. I have decided to skip Perugia and Spoleto because of other posts where it sounded like parking was a nightmare. Two nights in Orveito where we will return the rental car. I'm looking into maybe taking a train or bus to Siena from Orveito.

Have I chosen the most charming places to see in Umbria? We are staying 6 nights in this area. 5 nights in Amalfi and 5 nights in Rome.
portobelloB is offline  
Jul 13th, 2009, 03:09 PM
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I agree with the above comments that the towns on the Amalfi Coast are more appealing than Sorrento (which is not actually on the A/C).

I like both Amalfi and Positano, and Ravello is also quite beautiful if somewhat inconvenient as a base to travel elsewhere. I think all of them are more appealing than Sorrento, and you could still travel to Pompeii from any of them. I'd also spend a couple of nights on Capri if I could b/c I only daytripped there and wish I had been able to spend the night. The daytripping crowds (of which I was part) were brutal and packed in a small area, and I'm sure it's nicer in the evenings.
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