Rome/Positano/ Lake Como

Jul 29th, 2006, 02:35 PM
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Rome/Positano/ Lake Como

Hi all. I am in the preliminary stages of planning a trip for my family...husband and 2 sons ages 9 and 15 and my parents. The trip is a gift to my parents as we celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. We hve 10 days in mid April. We'd be flying out of Boston. First trip to Italy for all.

I am reading with interest the comments and advice and would like to add a few questions to get us started.

Does three nights in Rome upon arrival, 3 nights in Positano and 3 nights on Lake Como sound reasonable? I like the sound of the train from Rome to Salerno then the ferry to Positano. We'd like to rent a car then in Positano and drive to Lake Como, then back to Rome to spend the night before we depart.
I would rather hire a driver to see Rome than terrorize my parents by trying to drive through Rome ourselves while seeing the sights. I believe people when they say that driving in Rome is even more hair raising than Boston. Once in Positano though, is there any reason not to rent a van to tour the countryside between Positano and Lake Como? We would then return to Rome to spend our last night. Does this sound reasonable as a starting point?
MarciaMarciaMarcia is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 03:11 PM
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According to Viamichelin the drive from Positano to Varenna (Lake Como) is a minimum of 8.5 hours. This part of your trip will not be a 'tour' of the countryside.

Renting a vehicle while traveling can get you to towns and accomodations that might not otherwise be possible. OTOH for some people renting a vehicle can be too exciting a first trip to Itraly/Europe. Speaking from person experience even smaller cities can be interesting to drive in.

Your Amalfi Coast, Rome, and Lake Como itinerary sounds fine. And a wonderful 50th Anniversary gift to your parents.

Would you consider flying into Naples, then going to Positano, then go to Rome, then go to Lake Como and fly out of Milan?
Big_Red is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 03:19 PM
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Yes absolutely, I was just going over the map and that makes much more sense. I'd hate to lose an entire day rushing to a destination while it while we still had daylight. We could do the ferry and train to Rome in reverse.

MarciaMarciaMarcia is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 04:20 PM
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Here are my thoughts...

Lake Como and the Amalfi Coast have many similarities (towns on a mountainside along a shoreline, etc) yet are quite far apart. Lacking variety or a change of pace, I see no good reason to go from one to the other as you plan to do.

I suggest that you consider a much tighter (geographical) itinerary, say Rome, Amalfi Coast and Tuscany for instance. Or maybe just two stops, not three.

The beauties of Italy can be readily appreciated without traveling great distances; in your planning, try to minimize the moving times from Point A to Point B. These are lost hours and the most stressful times for anyone, especially for inexperienced travelers with a short vacation time and a large family group.
TuckH is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 05:28 PM
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Ditto TuckH's comments, especially as you only 9-10 days.
Jean is online now  
Jul 29th, 2006, 05:51 PM
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Too much geography. Do north or south but not both in your short time.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 05:52 PM
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Double Ditto! And as you're going in April, the weather in the Lake Como area may not be optimum. Our first trip there was in early May, and we experienced gale-force winds, torrential rains and cold temps, making it difficult to even see the area! Even though I consider it one of the most gorgeous places on earth, I'd re-consider and just stick to the southern and/or central parts of Italy for this trip.
Also, with six of you, renting a car to hold everyone plus luggage will be next to impossible. Italy has wonderful public transportation - just sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery. One possible itinerary would be to spend most of your time in Rome, renting an apartment, and take day-trips from there via train. Orvieto would give you a hill-town experience, and could easily be done as a daytrip. I haven't been to Ostia Antica yet, but I understand it's a lovely, relaxing side-trip, and a great way to see a well-preserved ancient Roman town. You could even train up to Assisi for 1 or 2 nights.
Try to keep in mind that the trip over there will probably be exhausting, especially for your parents, and to hit the road running could take some of the pleasure from the experience. If they were able to settle in to one place for most of the trip and see things in a relaxed time frame, they might enjoy the trip more. Just my thoughts, I'm sure others will have many more options for you to think about. Sounds like a memorable trip for all of you - have fun!
Hagan is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 06:32 PM
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Having just returned from our second trip to Italy with 3 nights in Rome, 3 nights in Tuscany, 3 nights in Lake Como, and 2 nights in Venice where we then flew home, I would agree that you are taking in way too much geography.

I would suggest flying into Rome and touring there without a car. We walked all over Rome both times, but did use a tour guide for the first time: This time we did venture out to Ostia Antica with a tour guide, which was my husbands's highlight of the trip.

Upon leaving Rome, we then rented a 9 passenger van at the train station. Yes, there are vehicles for larger parties. We traveled with 2 other couples and found it extremely comfortable for all of us and the luggage.

I agree that Orvieto would be a wonderful day trip from Rome also. We stopped by on the drive to Tuscany and found it to be the "surprise" of our trip. What a wonderful little town and amazing Duomo! Just wished we had more time than the hour or so we alotted.

The drive from Tuscany to Lake Como was then almost 6 hours. So it took us almost all day just to get there. Keep this in mind when you alot your days.

While we LOVED Lake Como, I would tend to agreee with the previous poster that April may be tricky. We say pictures with lots of snow there in the winter, So April may be tricky.

Positano is a dream of mine, but my husband will not tour there in the summer (my only time to travel), so April may be ideal to travel to that spot. On the way you could visit Pompeii also which was the highlight of my children's experience in Italy during a study abroad tour.

With your 9 days, you might just split your time between Rome and Positano and still wish you had more time.
joycap is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 06:48 PM
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Marica, Marcia, Marcia!

With only 10 days and 6 people of widely varied ages - limit your self to 2 destinations. Either Rome and Positano or Rome and Como. Considering it will be April - do Rome and Positano.

Rome will have plenty of interest for everyone! Day trips if you want to Orvieto or Tivoli or both are well worth while.

While in Positano, be sure to visit Pompeii - either on the way down or back. Plan on 2 - 4 hours or more depending on your level of interest.

If it were me, and considering the people involved, I would do Rome 6 nights, Positano 3 nights, last night in Rome.

I would NOT rent a car if you choose the above.

Buon viaggio!
Dayle is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 06:57 PM
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We did a North/South trip a few years ago and really had a great time, but we flew between cities. We landed in Milano and rented a car to go to Bellagio. We stayed in Bellagio three nights. Then we drove to Linate airport, turned in the car, and flew to Naples. We had a driver pick us up in Naples and take us to Positano.

I know that combining these two regions doesn't seem to make sense, but it was a truly wonderful trip. It was a special occasion, and I am glad that we did it just the way we did.

So, you could possibly fly to Milan, go to Lake Como. Fly to Naples, go to Positano. Then you could train to Rome, or, as the friends we met in Positano did, hire a driver to take you to Rome. Hopefully, you could fly out of Rome.

I just don't know about driving in the Amalfi Coast/Positano area. Every time we were in a vehicle, I got deathly ill. We took the bus to Amalfi from Positano but I insisted on the boat back. The roads were very difficult, and even my husband, who loves to drive, and considers himself an expert, was thrilled to have a driver pick us up in Naples to go to Positano.

On the way back, the driver picked us up in Positano, took us to Pompeii, then lunch, then dropped us at the Naples airport. We had flown to Milan on FF tickets, and our return to the States was via Milan. So we got a fairly cheap round trip from Linate to Naples and back. From Linate, we took the bus to Malpensa and stayed over at First Hotel before our early morning flight home.

I see that others have great luck with open jaw tickets, but I never have been able to score the open jaw tickets I wanted on FF points.

But flying between the North and South worked well for us.

Buona Fortuna.
tuscanlifeedit is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 07:05 PM
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If you are going to the Amalfi in mid-April, you need to check to make sure the ferries are running. Even if they are scheduled to be open by that time, you need to check that weather has not cancelled them.

I agree with everybody who says you are taking in too much Italian geography. I'm also concerned that for an April trip, you might not get what you think you will from the Amalfi. The spectacular views never change, and April is often sunny, but there will be little lounging by pools or on the beach that early. You might consider staying in Sorrento instead, which would give you easier access to Pompeii and Napoli should it rain, but also give you ferry rides to the coast if it is not.

Perhaps if you told us what special interests your parents and sons have (plus you and your husband) it might be possible to craft an Italian trip with lots of variety and great sights that gives everybody something without being in motion all the time.
nessundorma is offline  
Jul 29th, 2006, 08:08 PM
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We just (husband, 2 teen boys) returned from a week in France and 2+ weeks in Italy. I would agree with several other postings that you are trying to cover a large geographical area and I think that would be extremely stressful and could be hard your parents. I would cut out Lake Como all together and I think it would make it a more relaxing and memorable trip.

If you want to do your mentioned itinerary, then I think you need to fly open jaw--into Rome or better yet Naples and out of Milan as otherwise you will be spending alot of time in the car. We have done 5 family trips to Europe and have always flown into one city and out of another. There is a drop charge for our rental car--sometimes as much as 300-400 Euros, but we find it is worth it. You mentioned Salerno, but with only ten days I would skip it.

On this last trip we spent 4 nights in Sorrento as the transportation connections are much better here than in Positano--especially if you want to go to Pompeii and the island of Capri. The train line ends in Sorrento and you either drive, bus, or take a boat to Positano. We had a car and parked it at our hotel and used the bus and boats. I'm not sure how comfortable you would be driving the short stretch of the Amalfi Coast from Positano to Sorrento. There will be less traffic in April but there are hairpin curves. We took the bus from Sorrento (very cheap) to Positano and then my husband could enjoy the scenery too and then the boat back to Sorrento.

The island of Capri is a fun day trip from Sorrento that you might want to consider. If you stay in Sorrento, be sure and get rooms with a view. We stayed at Settimo Cielo on Via Capo and every room has sea views and balconies. Very nice place, not fancy but highly recommended for the balconies and views.

We spent 3 nights in Rome (and flew home from here) on this last trip and have been there once before and have never driven in Rome. That would be a total nightmare! We drop our car at the airport and taxi to our hotel. We stayed at a hotel near Campo di Fiori (Hotel Smeraldo which is very nice--small, comfortable rooms but great A/C if there in the hot months) which was central for walking to many of the sights. Otherwise you could use public transportation but under no circumstances would I ever want to drive in Rome.

I think instead of going as far north as Lake Como, my vote would be also for visiting a hilltown like Assisi (which we really enjoyed) or Orvieto (didn't get here but sounds very nice.) On this trip we spent a week in an agriturismo (farmhouse) in the Tuscan countryside near Montepulciano and it was heaven! We did daytrips to surrounding hilltowns and it was so relaxing. There is nothing better than enjoying a bottle of wine with some parm.-Reg. cheese and a view of the tuscan countryside. Sometimes these are the best memories of all!

Have a great trip and let us know what your itinerary is!
Jul 30th, 2006, 02:14 AM
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I agree with the other posters that you should limit yourself to two places: Rome plus Positano or Sorrento. When we stayed in the Amalfi Coast a couple of years ago in Sept/Oct, we were there the day the ferry schedule changed to off season and it became much more difficult to get around, so I would check that before you decide. And definitely fly home from Naples - - it is a long drive back to Rome, there is really no reason to do it. In fact, if you limit your trip to Rome and the Amalfi coast, you don't need a car at all.You can hire drivers when necessary. I'd do 5 nights in Rome, 4 nights in Positano, then the final night in Naples and fly out from there.
FromDC is online now  
Jul 30th, 2006, 04:35 AM
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Such valuable advice, many, many thanks! Nothing beats first hand experience.

I think concentrating our geographic itinerary makes much more sense, and I love the idea of a day trips to Assissi or Pompei. Perhaps flying into Naples and checking into a hotel there to recoup after the overnight flight or perhaps 2 nights there then on to Amalfi Coast for 2 or 3 nights then train to Rome for the remainder. Does that sound more reasonable? My parents will be 76 but are in great health. My mom can get sore in her knees so I want to arrange for a way for her to see the sights of Rome but minimize too much walking. I don't want to drive ourselves around in Rome and with this itinerary we may not need to drive at all.
MarciaMarciaMarcia is offline  
Jul 30th, 2006, 06:23 AM
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How about this...

Fly into Rome. Midway thru your stay there, take a day trip to Orvieto by train (Assisi is further). Go to Capri for two nights. Fly home from Naples. No car needed; minimum time lost 'en route'.
TuckH is offline  
Jul 30th, 2006, 08:33 AM
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If your Mom has bad knees and you think she's going to have trouble with the walking in Rome - she is really going to have a bad time on the Amalfi Coast! Everything is vertical, either upstairs or downstairs. Very little level walking there.
Dayle is offline  
Jul 30th, 2006, 08:47 AM
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I agree---2 destinaions--but try to start on the AC. Flying into Naples is ideal but no reason to stay in Naples--hire a van/driver to take you to Sorrento. I would do 4-5 since day one is a wipe out. Try to get an apt. in Rome---look at Palazzo Olivia for best location and prices.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 30th, 2006, 10:31 AM
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I agree with Bob's advice that staying in Sorrento is better than Naples. It also gives you easy access to ferries (if they are running) and to Pompeii.

I highly recommend two other things: One is that you bring to Italy some kind of collapsible, portable seat for Mom so she can have a sitdown any time she needs one. (The kind of thing golfers often carry.) Some double as walking sticks, and Mom might find that useful too.

The other tip is that, well in advance, you buy a guidebook and/or video about Pompeii. The site is much, much bigger in terms of square acres than most people realize. Your family will get much more out of your viist if you all come prepared, having done a minimum of research. Also, even in April it can be overly warm in Pompeii and there are no shade trees. Make sure everybody has water and even umbrellas if it is unseasonably hot.

Enjoy your trip!

nessundorma is offline  

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