Rome - Amalfi Coast - Sicily

Old Sep 14th, 2023, 11:51 AM
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Rome - Amalfi Coast - Sicily

I am planning to take my wife, son, and daughter to Italy for her High School graduation and his college graduation in the summer of 2025. I have been to Italy 5 times but they have never been. I traveled there while in the military. I want to spend 3 nights in Rome, and scoot down to the Amalfi Coast for 3 days and nights. Then we want to go to Sicily and stay on the eastern coast around Taormina for 3 days and then head over to Palermo for another 2 days. We plan on flying home from Palermo.

I need some help with suggestions on either renting a car or taking the trains to all of these different cities. I will be a whirlwind 12-14 days and I want to maximize the time that we have. Any suggestions on what route I should take?

Also would it be better to VRBO instead of booking two rooms in the cities we are staying in due to needing 3 beds every night?
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Old Sep 14th, 2023, 01:04 PM
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Your 3 day stays will each be diminished by at least one day used to change location: Arrival day, leave a place and arrive in the next, etc. Transportation times are a lot more than the times listed between two points as you must pack, check out not miss the train or alternatively pick up your car, then do it all in reverse at the next spot, and also you may want to eat. By the end of this marathon, you will be exhausted and your family will hate you.

Just do Rome and the Amalfi coast. Fly into Rome, home via Naples, and have a very nice time. I always favor hotels over VRBO or Airbnb, especially for inexperienced travelers. Problems are fixed in a short time, rather than in a day or two.

Last edited by AJPeabody; Sep 14th, 2023 at 01:05 PM. Reason: typos
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Old Sep 14th, 2023, 01:24 PM
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I agree. But if you must add Sicily please stay in lovely Ortigia/ Siracusa instead of in over touristed Taormina which attracts huge cruise ships.
You are giving your children such wonderful graduation gifts!

Last edited by HappyTrvlr; Sep 14th, 2023 at 01:27 PM.
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Old Sep 14th, 2023, 01:57 PM
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Yep, either Rome + Amalfi Coast or just Sicily would be an ideal trip to me.
When does school get out/what is the earliest you could depart? Go as early in summer as possible, due to crowds/prices/heat.
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Old Sep 14th, 2023, 02:26 PM
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I would also opt for Rome and the Amalfi coast. Plenty to do and see. The advantage of just 2 destinations as hubs is that you get the chance to have some downtime and just wander, grab an ice-cream, sit do some people watching whilst having coffee or a drink. I echo what Yorkshire says about going as early as possible to avoid the European school holidays.
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Old Sep 14th, 2023, 07:05 PM
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What a lovely idea. I've travelled with both my kids and it's been wonderful.

However, I agree that you are probably attempting too many places that are too far apart. I'd reduce the number of stays or the distance between them. And especially so if, say, 2 days is actually 2 nights (which is only one full day). Sometimes less is more.

However, if you would like to stick with your plan, I suggest trains and buses as the best modes of transport (although I've yet to visit Sicily so don't have experience there). Driving (and even more, parking) on the Amalfi coast is a challenge. Take a look at trenitalia website for trains (pick a day not too far away from now). Tickets in Italy on the fast trains (not regionale services) are often cheaper if purchased in advance (up to a few months ahead). Rome2rio is also useful for giving some guidance as to journeys but you often need to click through to the transport provider for accurate timetables. Flights often soak up much more time than the actual flight time, once you factor in door to door travel.

For accommodation, many types of accommodation are available on websites such as booking.com, airbnb, etc. Sometimes an apartment can be cheaper for a family but not always (and if cost is a concern, don't dismiss hostels as some are great and have private rooms). Some cities are cracking down on short term apartment letting as it is adversely affecting local residents but this may not be the case where you're heading. A separate room for the kids may not be a bad idea if they plan to occasionally return very late at night.

Enjoy yourselves!
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Old Sep 15th, 2023, 06:02 AM
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Thanks for the input. I was a little worried about being able to enjoy all of the spots I mentioned as well. I am glad you said that and have now made up my mind to just do Rome and Amalfi.
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Old Sep 15th, 2023, 06:38 AM
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I know Fodor's generally skews towards slower-paced trips, and I do think there's no such thing as too much time spent in Rome... But, realistically, if you have 14 days you can visit Rome and the Amalfi coast and still get to Sicily. Book a 4-couchette compartment on the sleeper train from Salerno (or Naples) to Sicily (Palermo, or Catania, Taormina, Cefalu'...) to optimise the use of your time: you board the train after dinner, wake up in Sicily. Taormina is very touristy, but is also is gorgeous and interesting to visit. Still, it might makes sense to skip it and head to Palermo, probably with a 1-night stop in Cefalu' or a day trip there later. Siracusa is great, but southeast Sicily would deserve more time than you'll likely have, whereas 4 or 5 days in Palermo and surroundings make sense.

For accommodation, use a booking platform (like Booking.com) and see what's available. There are lots of short-term villa or apartment rentals, tourist room rentals (affittacamere), bed&breakfasts, guest houses, farm stays, and other accommodation types that might work better than hotels. Even for apartments or villas, proper booking platforms generally offer you lower chances of last-minute cancellations or other issues than VRBO and AirBnB, in my experience.
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Old Sep 15th, 2023, 07:49 AM
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With 2 weeks you certainly have time to visit Sicily too.

I'd caution against a car on the Amalfi coast especially in summer.My husband and I have driven this area three times now and vowed never again on our last trip in March! One of the big issues apart from some horrendous traffic , is getting the car parked easily.Basically, it can be impossible.There are excellent ferry services between the various small towns on the Amalfi coast which are a more relaxed way to see this stunning area, albeit they can be jam packed too.It's just such a popular area and no wonder.There is also a good bus service but again, very busy standing room only very often and those buses fairly whirl round the tight corners and bends so it's not always a great experience.
But with ferries you can still easily visit Positano (unless staying there though prices even in March were beyond eye watering.) Capri is also a wonderful day trip.There are some terrific walks both above the coast (the Path of the Gods), out at the far end of the peninsula too, above Nerano and Termini.

Due to cost, last March we stayed in a delightful small family run hotel just outside Sorrento and near Massa Lubrense which feels a bit less touristed.We stayed in the Hotel Bellavista Francischiello and loved it.Good bus service too but we had a car (free parking).

I'd stick with Taormina in Sicily which although busy, is so for good reason - it is gorgeous.Glam too, the beaches below town but pretty cramped in a pretty setting.The Roman amphitheatre is a stunner.
If anyone in the family is a Godfather fan, then beautiful Savoca village not too far away (we drove) is a must.Bar Vitelli is even lovelier than in the film.I was in tears here as the Godfather theme played gently in the background.

Syracus/Ortigia - yes, but I was overall a bit disappointed in these adjacent cities/towns.That said the castello area was excellent.

We tend to use booking.com and Airbnb - the latter might be your more affordable option.Rarely had any issues with Airbnb places though I tend to research places to death.Had some really beautiful accommodation through them.

Palermo is outstanding - the Cappella Palatina and Monreale (easily accessed by a good bus service) are jaw dropping inside.Some of the finest interiors I've ever seen.We stayed outside Palermo in a very pretty , small villa development in a gated area and took the train in to the city.A really nice compromise.We then drove to Taormina via Mount Etna. Sicliy's road, we found very straightforward to drive, well signposted, not too busy.

Sounds like a brilliant family trip!






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Old Sep 15th, 2023, 08:59 AM
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I still think that less is more. I know that being in the UK I can get to mainland Europe easily, but I have regularly gone long haul to Australia, USA and the Pacific apart from living and working in Mauritius. The places I remember most and enjoyed best are those where I was not rushing around and moving to the next destination every day or every other day. I know some people like to tick off their list of destinations, but for me a combination of downtime and exploring is ideal. There are plenty of places to see and go to for the day from Rome and Amalfi coast without throwing Sicily into the mix. I would create a list for each location and work out your itinerary. If you find you have a week to spend in Sicily, then go for it, but I suspect you will find your time is pretty well occupied.
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Old Sep 15th, 2023, 09:15 AM
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It does sound as if the OP has settled on just Rome and the Amalfi Coast and to forego Sicily this time.

I hope you have a fabulous trip!
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Old Sep 15th, 2023, 06:48 PM
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I think it would be fine to stay in three different places in two weeks. I would obviously aim to maximise your time in Italy if at all possible.

If you have settled on Rome and Amalfi Coast, you could do something like Sorrento for 4 nights, somewhere more southerly like Amalfi for 4 nights, then Rome for the remainder. Travel along the Sorrento and Amalfi coasts is slow so staying towards both ends would be good I think. From Sorrento, possible day trips could be Pompeii, Herculaneum, Naples, Capri, hiking, etc. From somewhere like Amalfi, you could hike the Path of the Gods or one of the other trails in the area, visit Positano, Ravello and/or one of the more southerly villages like Minori, Cetara, etc, or visit Paestum. Then take the ferry or bus to Salerno and the train to Rome.

Alternatively, you could perhaps travel to somewhere like Orvieto or Siena on arrival in Italy, then the Amalfi coast, ending in Athens.

There are a gazillion options, including many less famous places, so nice problem to have!

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Old Sep 16th, 2023, 01:22 AM
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Originally Posted by uktravelover
I still think that less is more. I know that being in the UK I can get to mainland Europe easily, but I have regularly gone long haul to Australia, USA and the Pacific apart from living and working in Mauritius. The places I remember most and enjoyed best are those where I was not rushing around and moving to the next destination every day or every other day. I know some people like to tick off their list of destinations, but for me a combination of downtime and exploring is ideal. There are plenty of places to see and go to for the day from Rome and Amalfi coast without throwing Sicily into the mix. I would create a list for each location and work out your itinerary. If you find you have a week to spend in Sicily, then go for it, but I suspect you will find your time is pretty well occupied.
I agree that less is more sometimes, but staying in 3 different places in 12-14 days seems perfectly fine, as dreamon says; itís definitely not rushing to the next destination every day.

Two weeks spent strictly in Rome and the Amalfi coast would be a bit slow for most people; sure, you could easily fill your time with very worthwhile day trips, but at that point itís not any slower-paced than just going to a third place and staying there, is it? If anything, going to Palermo (or another city) and exploring there at a leisurely place is more in line with your idea of a good trip than doing a bunch of back-and forth day trips.

I disagree with the idea that you need a week in Sicily for it to be worth visiting. You donít need to visit multiple places on the island; you can pick one city or town and visit that. If youíre taking the sleeper train or a flight or a ferry to Palermo, visiting it and then flying home from there, you donít need a week, for instance; 3 or 4 days are perfectly fine.
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Old Sep 16th, 2023, 02:21 AM
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A car might be an advantage in Sicily, but elsewhere a car would be more of a hindrance.
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Old Sep 16th, 2023, 03:01 AM
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I do trips where I spend 3 nights in 3 places and that is fine where there is not lots to do and see as effectively you only have 2 - 2.5 days in each location once you take account of travel time, packing/unpacking, checking in&out plus orientation.
To get to Sicily from the AC, you have to return to Salerno/Naples and either catch a ferry (9 hours) or train/ferry via Villa San Giovanni (7 hours) or a 1 hour flight which takes about 4-5 hours by the time you add on transfers, checkin, security, etc. and the OP would need to spend 4+ hours to return to Rome for their flight.
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Old Sep 16th, 2023, 03:35 AM
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9 nights total in 3 places, an average of 3 nights in one place, is one thing; I agree thatís a bit fast-paced for some travellers, although more than fine for many, many others. But what youíre suggesting here is 11-13 nights in 2 places, so staying twice as long in one place on average; I think thatís a bit excessive, barring special interests (some people could spend 2 weeks in Rome and not feel like it was enough). 3 places in 14 days (13 nights) should be perfectly fine even for those who enjoy slower-paced trips. And again, if the time you would have spent getting to another destination is spent doing day trips, is it really more relaxing and pleasant?

To get to Sicily, you can take a sleeper train (from Salerno or Naples), as I first suggested. You can get a whole private compartment for four people, with an actual (bunk) bed for each. Itís a long ride (involving the train going on and off a ferry while youíre on it), but youíre sleeping overnight, so you donít care; itís very time-effective. Even if they do decide to fly, taking half a day (a generous estimate; it doesnít take that long) to travel there is not that bad in the context of a two-week trip. At the end of their trip, theyíll presumably book a flight home from Palermo; with a layover somewhere, sure, but itís not really that much extra hassle.

Again, I know Fodorís is very in favour of slow-paced travel, but really, 3 destinations in central-southern Italy in 2 weeks is not some crazy schedule.
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Old Sep 16th, 2023, 05:02 AM
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Naples is well worth a stay, and together with the Amalfi Coast and Rome that makes three destinations with much less travel time between them.
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Old Sep 16th, 2023, 07:54 AM
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I actually agree that Naples is well worth a visit, and it could make sense to stay there a few days and skip Sicily. I was going off of the original post and the places listed there. I donít think Naples is necessarily more worthy of a visit than Palermo, and the physical distance to Sicily isnít a big deal thanks to the trains and other means of transport, so it eventually comes down to personal preference, but certainly staying in Rome, Naples and the Amalfi coast would make for a very nice trip.

Naples is full of interesting sights itself (the archeological museum, castles, palaces ave more) and also makes a good base for the islands, Pompeii/Herculaneum/Oplontis, Caserta and Capua VetereÖ Palermo has a unique mix of architecture (from Arab-Byzantine-Norman to Art Noiveau/Liberty) and some highlights like the Palatine Chapel and ItalyĎs largest opera theatre (Teatro Massimo). Food is incredible in either place. You canít go wrong with either. The eastern coast of Sicily is another great option, but again, it would benefit from more time and more overnight stops.
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Old Sep 16th, 2023, 08:14 AM
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Wow, thanks everyone for giving me some great options and getting my old pea brain thinking. LOL We took a family vote and all agree that we will make the Rome-AC-Sicily stops. It will be a blast and I will plan out the details to maximize our time in each place. I have traveled to 52 countries so I know how to get around pretty fluidly. I also know that the best laid plans don't always work out, but the planning must be done to set us up for success. I will definitely be back on this forum for future advice. Thanks so much for all of the suggestions.
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Old Sep 16th, 2023, 10:09 AM
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Please report back after the trip.
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