Spain/Italy European Vacation

Feb 20th, 2014, 06:08 AM
  #1  
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Spain/Italy European Vacation

My wife and I are flying into Barcelona June 14th around 12:30pm after taking an overnight flight from Canada and staying in Europe until July 1 when we fly home from Rome at approx 2pm. The flight in and out of Europe is the only thing booked so far. So we have the half day in Barcelona when we arrive and then 16 full days to explore Spain and Italy.

After quite a bit of research and guidance from people on this forum, we have finally gotten to a point where we have figured out our itinerary for the places we want to see and for how long (with possibly a few more minor tweaks). I'm very interested in your feedback on our latest, so here it is:

June 14-18: Barcelona (4.5 days)
June 19: Fly RyanAir 10:40am flight (Treviso) or Vueling 6:50am flight to Venice
June 20: Venice
June 21: Venice (2 days). Take latest 7:25pm train to Florence or next morning (8:37am, 9:25am, 10:25am...)
June 22-24: Florence (3 days). Will use one day to tour Tuscany. Day trip to Siena.
June 25: Take morning train to Sorrento or Amalfi Coast via Naples Central Station. Spend afternoon/evening relaxing and touring the area.
June 26: Spend the day touring and enjoying Amalfi Coast
June 27: Take train to Pompeii. Store luggage at train station, tour Pompeii. Take train to Rome by mid-late afternoon. (2 days for Naples area)
June 28-30: Rome (3 days)
July 1: Fly home

We originally didn't have Sorrento or Amalfi Coast as part of our plans and were trying to work Cinque Terre or SML into our plans from Tuscany but logistically it was too difficult. I was disappointed by this because we really want to have a chance to visit a part of Italy which has that picturesque coastal scenery. We had planned on spending a day visiting Pompeii and since Sorrento/Amalfi Coast is so close, it made more sense to explore this area and it would be a shame to miss it. We had to figure out a way to squeeze it in somewhere.

We are also giving the most time of one of the stops to Barcelona (instead of Rome for example), because Barcelona is the only destination in Spain that we will be seeing and fly directly to Italy afterwards where we spend the majority of our time. I like having the flexibility of time in Spain in case we decide to take a day trip outside of Barcelona. We have also identified the most attractions that we want to see in Barcelona as well. Yes, even more than Rome!

So I have a few questions if you would be so kind...

#1. Flying to Venice. I have read quite a bit that Vueling is a better choice to fly with than RyanAir. They fly to a more convenient airport. I've also heard that Vueling doesn't have as many hidden fees. Is that accurate? I would choose Vueling but the flight time that RyanAir offers is much more convenient. Is RyanAir to Treviso really a bad idea? What would you suggest?

#2. Would it make more sense to take the train from Venice-Florence on the evening of the 21st or the next morning? Basically, which should I give a BIT more time for, Venice or Florence?

#3. When I take the train to Naples, would you suggest that I spend my 2 nights in Sorrento or Amalfi Coast? I still need to do a little bit more research on how to get there by train but I would assume Amalfi Coast would be a little bit more difficult to get to than Sorrento. From Napoli Centrale I believe I need to use the Circumvesuviana.

#4. Storing luggage at the train station in Pompeii. Is it safe? We plan to leave our hotel on the 27th and take everything with us, get to Pompeii, store our luggage, tour Pompeii and then go directly to Rome afterwards instead of having to backtrack just to get our stuff.

#5. Is 3 full days enough in Rome to see the major attractions? Our final 3 days will also fall on a Sat, Sun and Mon so its possible that it will be busier than if it were during the week. The attractions we would like to see in Rome are obviously the Vatican and Colosseum. Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, St. Peters Square, Roman Forum and a couple of other things sprinkled in there. I have read that 3 days is enough for the major sights but I am still a little bit concerned, especially since its a weekend.

As you can see I have done my research so your feedback on some of the tweaks and logistics I have identified above would be very much appreciated!
Nightfawl is offline  
Feb 20th, 2014, 06:22 AM
  #2  
 
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1) You never want the answer of a flight question to be Ryanair. Staff difficult and website tricky to get right.
The airport is important so check which ones both go to.
2) For me the best part of Venice is evening and morning when the hordes from the floating horrors have gone, so staying on during the day is not that great for me. Florence has a lot to do
3) don't know
4) Naples station is theft heaven. http://www.grandistazioni.it/cms/v/i...003f16f90aRCRD don't turn your back on anything (Makes parts of Barcelona look honest!)
5) 3 days is good for a light visit. Spanish steps are a set of steps (?) no idea why anyone goes there. I'd give the Vatican a day if you are Catholic. Forum/Colosseum/Typewriter a day and Ostia Antica one day that does not leave any time for the museums or galleries
bilboburgler is offline  
Feb 20th, 2014, 07:11 AM
  #3  
 
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I don't think you are allowing enough time in the Italian locations or factoring in how long it takes to check in/out of hotels, get to and from airports/train stations, to and from city centers/hotels.
kybourbon is online now  
Feb 20th, 2014, 09:11 AM
  #4  
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#3. I am researching and it looks like it might be easier to get to Amalfi Coast if I take Trenitalia to Salerno and get to Amalfi from there. I think its better than Napoli Centrale and then use Circumvesuviana because that only gets me to Sorrento. I would prefer to stay in Amalfi if I can.
Nightfawl is offline  
Feb 20th, 2014, 09:40 AM
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There are NO trains to the Amalfi coast - only ferries (limited schedules) and buses (very slow, very crowded that time of year) and car rental/taxi.

We stay in Sorrento which is easy to get in and out of - with a car (and a hotel with free parking) so we can drive to Pompeii, the coast road (this is late May) and take ferries to Capri or down the coast.

While the smaller towns along the cost are cute we prefer to stay in a larger one with better access and more shops/restaurants. But we are not beach people (nor are the beaches here conducive to swimming or even sunning (mostly pebbles if not rocks).
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 20th, 2014, 10:12 AM
  #6  
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Thanks for that info. I prefer staying in Amalfi as this is exactly the scenery we are looking for. And its only for a day and a half. It seems that getting to Pompeii afterwards is pretty straight forward too. Take the ferry back to Salerno and then Trenitalia to Pompeii Scavi. Store our luggage while we tour Pompeii and then train back to Rome.

Would it make sense to rent a car out of Florence and drive down to Amalfi rather than doing the trip by train and ferry? We could return the car when we get to Rome a few days later.
Nightfawl is offline  
Feb 20th, 2014, 11:09 AM
  #7  
 
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One issue with getting into Venice so early is you may not be able to check into your hotel. You can probably leave your luggage though and head out for sight seeing.

Evening is magical in Venice, but you will have two evenings there, and there is nothing much to do at night, so using the third evening to travel makes sense. I also like waking up in Venice, but with your desire to do day trips, three whole days in Florence seems minimal. Staying another night in Venice and leaving early would not do much for extra sight seeing in Venice, but that extra half day in Florence would.

BTW, you have done a great job of sorting things out from your first trip plans. This one is a bit rushed, as I noted when making some of the suggestions, but it gives you so much of what you were looking for with the least travel time.

Don't know if it has been mentioned, but validate train tickets before getting on the train in Italy.
Sassafrass is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 05:47 AM
  #8  
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Regarding accommodation, I should have mentioned that we plan on using AirBnb for all of our accommodation. So we definitely plan on communicating with the person who owns the property about when we plan to arrive. I think one of the major benefits of AirBnb is that you can get a place with a small kitchen so not all meals have to be in restaurants. We can go to a bakery and pick up some bread and have a couple of meals at home. We can also find a place very central and exactly where we want to stay.

About our time in each place, I know that we are not staying in any place for very long but this is our first trip to Europe and our primary goal is to see as much as we can without going too crazy. In all of the 17 days we are in Europe, only 2.5 days are used for travel. Which I think is well planned and also will give us some time to relax on the train and enjoy the view as we will need some time off our feet. I wish I had an extra day for Rome, but besides that, I think we have enough time for a good taste of each place.
Nightfawl is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 06:43 AM
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>>>Take the ferry back to Salerno and then Trenitalia to Pompeii Scavi. <<<

No. Trenitalia does not go to Pompeii Scavi. Only the Circumvesuviana does that runs between Sorrento and Naples.

If you take Trenitalia from Salerno, there is a Pompei stop, but not Pompeii Scavi. There is no luggage storage at the Pompei Trentialia station and it's a distance from the Pompeii Scavi entrance (you would have to get a taxi). There is an entrance to Pompeii Scavi (the site, not the Circumvesuviana station/stop) closer to the Trenitalia Pompei station, but it does not have luggage storage and doesn't always seem to be operational.

>>>Take the ferry back to Salerno and then Trenitalia to Pompeii Scavi. Store our luggage<<<

This part could take 1/2 a day. You don't seem to understand the logistics of travel. You have to get to the port in Amalfi with your luggage, catch a ferry (if running and they don't run often like the buses), get from the port in Salerno to the train station (taxi), catch the train to Pompei (there is a gap in service on this route in the morning so if you can't make a 9:00 train which is not all that likely taking a ferry, you will have to wait until the 11:00 train), take train to Pompei, get taxi to Pompeii Scavi.

You would arrive Pompeii mid-day in late June when it will be terribly hot. There is little to no shade in Pompeii.
kybourbon is online now  
Feb 21st, 2014, 08:30 AM
  #10  
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Ok...I do appreciate your feedback but you are only identifying holes in my itinerary without providing any recommendations at all. Its always easy to criticize. What would you suggest since I don't "seem to understand the logistics of travel"?
Nightfawl is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 09:05 AM
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Well the obvious solution is to stay longer in fewer places. Also note that airbnb often has a surcharge when you stay less than three nights.
yorkshire is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 09:31 AM
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#2: FLorence deserves the extra time.

#3: Looks like you've answered the question: you want to stay in Amalfi so stay there-BUT see #4 below:

#4: If you stay in Amalfi, it will be very difficult to visit Pompeii: Ferry to Salerno, Trenitalia Salerno to Napoli Centrale. Store your baggage. Take Circumvesuviano to Pompeii Scavi, then return, pick up your baggage and get a train to Rome. If you stay in Sorrento, you can make a day trip via the Circumvesuviano to Pompeii. So it depends on your priorities: if Pompeii is the priority, stay in Sorrento. If Amalfi Coast is, stay in Amalfi and skip Pompeii this time.

#5: three days is not enough time in Rome, but then again, a month wouldn't be, either, and you have to start somewhere.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 09:42 AM
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If you want to see Pompeii on the way back from Amalfi I would head to Sorrento - where you can pick up the local train that stops at the Pompeii site (with luggage storage). Not sure if the ferry runs this route or how early. The bus would - but you have to leave plenty of time - or take a taxi from Amalfi to Sorrento and pick up the local train there.

After Pompeii you take the local train on to Naples where you switch to the express from Naples to Rome.

Just be aware that 3 or 4 hours is a quick look at Pompeii (it was a whole city) and that it will be uber hot with no shade.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 09:59 AM
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>>>Ok...I do appreciate your feedback but you are only identifying holes in my itinerary without providing any recommendations at all. Its always easy to criticize. What would you suggest since I don't "seem to understand the logistics of travel"?<<<

You have five threads about your itineraries and dozens of people have explained about not allowing enough time places. I didn't just "identify holes" although there are many. I explained about the various transport/stations/trains which you don't seem to understand. Others have also tried to explain.
kybourbon is online now  
Feb 21st, 2014, 10:29 AM
  #15  
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Thank you both for those replies! Very helpful. I now know exactly what I need to decide.

So regarding my other questions...

#1 - I will probably go with RyanAir since the departure time is just so much more convenient. But I will pay special attention to the details when booking. What still remains is how would be the best mode of transportation (at approx 1pm) from Treviso to close to the main part of Venice where I will try to find a place.

#2 - I will probably take the train from Venice to Florence on the evening before. Leaving me with 3 FULL days for Florence/Tuscany.

#3 - You helped me with. If I do stay in Sorrento I have heard of some bus tours that seem to drive from Sorrento to Salerno (thru Amalfi Coast) and back? This may be a very viable option. The thing is I want some ground time in Amalfi Coast and maybe even walk the "Footpath of the Gods".

#4 - Correct me if I'm wrong but my options for storing luggage when I go to Pompeii (en route to Rome) are Pompeii Scavi station or somewhere at the Pompeii site itself?

#5 - I know 3 days is not "enough" for Rome. Poor choice of words on my part. I wish I had a week for Rome alone but with the other places we want to see, we don't. At this point removing a stop isn't really something I would want to do. But I guess I could shift things around so I had an extra day in Rome. I guess the better question is, if I want to see the major attractions of Rome, could I do it in 3 days? A lot of the guide books have sections on "3 Days in Rome" so I'm sure it's something that a lot of people do (and inquire about) and have success at.
Nightfawl is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 03:03 PM
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Traveling to the Amalfi Coast can seem daunting until you have done it once.

To clarify a bit more, the Circumvesuviana line is the private, local, commuter train that skirts the coast around the Bay of Naples, along the Sorrento Peninsula where it juts out west to Sorrento. That train line ends in Sorrento. The Pompeii Scavi Station, a 100 or so meters from the entrance to Pompeii, is on this train line about half way between Sorrento and Naples. That is why people who want to see Pompeii, but have limited time, often stay in Sorrento. If they want only to see Pompeii and not any of the AC, they may stay in Naples.

The Trenitalia train line goes more directly from Naples to Salerno. Both train lines depart from the central Naples station. It can be confusing because maps do not always show both train lines.

Good news: There is great ferry and bus service from Sorrento to points South (Positano, Amalfi, etc) along the Amalfi Coast. If you stay in Sorrento, it is easy to take a ferry along the coast, stopping in various towns, and take the bus (or ferry) back to Sorrento. Views from the water are so spectacular, you will have the great scenery you are looking for.

Choose a hotel on the cliffs above Sorrento, and you will have great views from there also. With your short time, this is the one place I would splurge on the budget and do this, and not try to save money by cooking or anything like that. You won't have time. Just IMHO, though.

With luggage, etc., it would be easier for you to stay in Sorrento and do a day trip down the AC. Have a relaxing lunch in Amalfi (or Positano) or take a short hike or walk somewhere.

I did not learn to love Rome until, after several short trips, we spent a week there. However, IMHO, three full days is fine for a first visit. Select thoughtfully what you want to see, and organize and plan times carefully. It will be fine.

Sincerely hope this makes things seem easier.

The rest.
I would still try to fly into Marco Polo, but if you can't, you can't.
I've not used airbnb in Italy, so do not know how much is available in the Sorrento area. Just make sure whatever you get there is an easy walk to get to the dock and train station or has shuttle available unless you plan on using a taxi. There are shuttles from the dock to city center. It is a very short walk, but it is uphill with steps.
Sassafrass is offline  
Feb 21st, 2014, 03:51 PM
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#4 - Correct me if I'm wrong but my options for storing luggage when I go to Pompeii (en route to Rome) are Pompeii Scavi station or somewhere at the Pompeii site itself?

I believe the luggage storage is at the Pompeii site itself, but only near the entrance by the Pompeii Scavi train station.

#5 - "3 Days in Rome"
I've done quick trips with friends this way:
1 Ancient Rome (Colosseo, Forum, Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill)
2 Vatican Museums and St Peter's
3 Centro Storico (Pantheon, Piazza Navona, Trevi Fountain, interesting churches)

I numbered them so you could see the three days, but I would change the order based on the weather and the day of the week. for example, I'd avoid the Vatican museums on a weekend. The sights I've listed would be the major sights, but I'm always ready to connect the sights with a stop in a church to see some of the best art and architecture in Rome for free.
ellenem is offline  
Feb 24th, 2014, 10:09 AM
  #18  
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Sassafrass - Yet again, you're input is extremely helpful! Thank you so much! I think you are correct about staying in Sorrento. We will more than likely stay there and then take a ferry through AC just like you suggest. I read your comment "Choose a hotel on the cliffs above Sorrento" and I was wondering if you could elaborate on a specific location for example? That would be a huge help. And to clarify, I do not plan on eating meals at our apartment in Sorrento. Probably more so for Barcelona, Florence or Rome. At least we have that option with AirBnb.

Again I think the 3 days for Rome would never be enough but I think we can see quite a few of the big attractions in that time.
Nightfawl is offline  
Feb 24th, 2014, 11:22 AM
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Nightfawl--good! If you have three days for Rome, then three days it is. Better to see it for three days than not at all. I think you can see the most important things in that time. First time we went was for two and half days, and one day was a day tour to Naples and Pompeii (and a couple of very important cameo factories, of course). We saw St. Peter's Basilica and the Forum from the Campidoglio while walking around, and immediately began scheming to go back (both to Rome and to the Bay of Naples). Sassafras is right on about what to see on a first trip.

Sassafras--having been to Rome a number of times, still can't say I "love it" like I do, say, Venice or the Bay of Naples. Keep going there because it's my spouse's favorite city and because there is always something more to do or a place to revisit because we've learned since the last time that we missed something. Rome would be my fifth or sixth choice of where to live if I lived in Italy.
dwdvagamundo is offline  
Feb 24th, 2014, 06:11 PM
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Thanks, Nightfawl,

The negative of Sorrento is it is very touristy because of the convenient location, and lodging is often booked way ahead. Finding your place here might best be your first priority, followed by Venice, asap.

I suggest you start a thread just asking for lodging/hotel/apartment advice. If you find something you like on airbnb or with booking.com, you can post it here and get opinions on the location, etc. I look at Trip Advisor also for ratings.

My favorite hotel in Sorrento is La Minerva on Via Capo 30, but I checked and it is fully booked. However, you can still enjoy it. They have a most beautiful terrace with stunning views. If you have time your first evening, walk up there and have a drink. The whole bay twinkles with lights on boats and along the coast. Ultra romantic!

So, don't be too fussed if the hotel isn't perfect. There are lots of places to walk for the views, and you only have the first afternoon really. You might want to walk through one of the lemon groves in Sorrento. The second day you will be seeing the whole coast.
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