Old Jul 8th, 1999, 04:13 PM
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We are planning a 21 day trip (our first)to Italy in April, 2000 with my sister & her husband. We're considering renting a car, staying in pensiones. Florence, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi, and Sicily are our choices. Is this realistic? We are young 50's & active. Do we have enough time, or are we taking on too large an area for the time we have?
Old Jul 8th, 1999, 07:07 PM
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I almost exclusively stay in pensions, in peoples homes or in small hotels when traveling in Europe. Our travel has been mainly in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and France althought I have been to Italy 3 times in the last 6 years.

From my perspecitive Italy is a different animal from the countries referenced above so take my advise from my perspective.

I think independent travel (renting a car and staying in the pensions or wherever) is the way to go.

You need to ask yourself some questions based on what follows below to determine if it is for you especially your first time.

You may need to be patient in trying to find a place to stay. We usually go with no resewrvations with the exception of maybe the first or last night (somewhere near the departure airport). For example it took us 3 hours to find a hotel or a place to stay near Malpensa airport in Milan. This is a big city with only 3 hotels near the airport!!!!
I don't think things in Italy are going to be identified as well as in other places. It will be harder to find places to stay in Italy from my perspective.

Please remember, I am not trying to discourage you, I am a believer in what you are trying to do. I have just had bad experiences in Italy each time that I have beent there.

In terms of rental cars, rental car companies don't like to rent in Italy because the theft rate of cars is so high. Try taking a car into Italy from another country and see the cost go up.

Again just my opinion.

Old Jul 9th, 1999, 07:55 AM
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I think you'll be fine, but you will not want to take a car into major cities. My suggestion would be to stay outside of these places or plan the trip so that you won't need a car the whole time. What city are you flying into? I would probably say Rome. Public transportation is great so I would suggest staying outside of Florence and Rome, or stay inside Rome, but don't rent the car until you are ready to leave for Amalfi, etc. Be careful the further South you get. I wouldn't worry about the car in and around Amalfi, I would suggest staying in Positano or Sorrento, great towns. Find a pensione that has parking. You will need to do some work before you go. On your way back north, I wouldn't be too concerned about reservations in Tuscany in April, but it never hurts, but I would not take a car to Florence unless the hotel or pensione has a garage. Parking is difficult. I think 21 days is ok, but I suggest you visit a library and check out some books on Italy to familiarize yourself.
Old Jul 9th, 1999, 12:59 PM
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On our recent trip to Italy, we rented a car and tried to stay outside of some of the cities and then drive into them - Siena, Perugia. We drove into Rome (what an experience - confusing in the extreme). Our hotel had private parking and we just left the car there for the 3 days we stayed. Of couse, we paid for 3 days when we really didn't need a car. However it was lovely to drive between the major destinations and pick intriguing smaller towns mid-way for luch stops and sightseeing. I personally would not want to stay outside rome and then "commute" in for sightseeing because you'd lose the fun of rome at night. At any rate, your trip is completely feasible. I would suggest trying to book ahead in Rome (and probably florence if you want to stay in the center) because you certainly don't want to be driving around Rome looking for a place to stay.
Old Jul 9th, 1999, 02:41 PM
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Elaine, A large part of this equation would be your options, e.g. arrive Milan, rent car, tour Tuscany, return car, train to Firenze and Rome, rent car @ airport, tour Amalfi and Sicily and fly out of Rome. Can do or no?
Old Jul 9th, 1999, 07:33 PM
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No, you are not planning too much for the time period. First, let me say that you will love Italy in April. It is already well into spring and flowers are in abundance everywhere. I would advise you to choose your pensione's now ( Karen Brown's two guides on Italy are my favorites) and fax for your reservations. You already know roughly where you want to be, so why waste time after you get there looking for a place to stay? I have planned and taken numerous 4-5 week trips there, so I have lots of information I can share with you. Why don't you e-mail me directly so I can respond at length.

Ciao, Barbara

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