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To Italy for 2 weeks in May - help with itinerary?

To Italy for 2 weeks in May - help with itinerary?

Old Feb 25th, 2004, 01:15 PM
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To Italy for 2 weeks in May - help with itinerary?

My wife and I are going to Italy in late April/early May to celebrate our 5th Wedding Anniversary. I'm hoping that some of you might have suggestions or could pick out any flaws with the itenerary I have put together. I've did quite a bit of research on various websites, but found the most helpful information on this board. Thanks to all whose great trip reports and reviews helped me plan our trip on our own!!

Two week trip leaving KC on April 29, 2004 and returning on May 13, 2004.

Airfare - Round trip air from Kansas City to Milan.
We weren't originally planning to fly into Milan, but we found such a good deal on our flight that we couldn't pass it up. We checked airline prices for several weeks and were seeing prices for RT to Rome, Venice, Naples and Florence and open-jaws involving Venice/Milan and Rome/Naples consistently around $850-$950. Then last weekend, we saw a round trip from KC to MILAN for $615. This was cheaper than NY or CHI to MIL for the same days. All other locations were still around $900, so we went ahead and bought the tickets. I know we will lose some time this way back-tracking to get back to Milan at the end of our trip, but to us it was worth the $500 - $600 we are saving. Did I make a good choice?

Our Itinerary:

4/30 - Arrive in Milan at 8 am. Thinking about making reservations to see "The Last Supper" in late morning/early afternoon. Then take train to Venice in mid-late afternoon. Arrive in Venice and check into hotel. We are staying in Venice for two nights at Casa Rezzonico (www.casarezzonico.it).

5/1 (Our Anniversary) - Spend the day in Venice. Will try to make reservations for "Secret Itineraries" tour. Maybe a trip out to Burano or Murano.

5/2 Take train to Florence in late morning/ early afternoon. Check into hotel. Staying in Florence at the B&B Peterson for four nights (thanks to Ira's trip report : ).

5/3, 5/4, 5/5 - In Florence most of the time with a day trip on the Bus to Siena and/or San Gimignano

5/6 - Train to Rome. Staying in Rome for two nights at Relais Banchi Vecchi. Read some good reviews of this place, and it seemed to be in a good location.

5/8 - Train/SITA to Amalfi Coast. Staying for 4 nights at Le Sirene in Poistre (again, thanks to Ira). Plan on making day trips to Capri, Pompeii, and spending time relaxing and unwinding from the hectic Venice/Florence/Rome part of our trip.

5/12 - take overnight Train back to Milan. Flight leaves Milan at 10 am on the morning of 5/13.

Concerns/Questions I have:

1) When we arrive in Milan, am I making a mistake by trying to go into the city center and seeing "The Last Supper" and grabbing a bite to eat? Should I instead go directly to the main train station and head to Venice? I'm afraid it will be too much of a hassle to mess with our bags and get into town, leave them somewhere, sight-see, and then over to the train station so we can get to Venice at a decent time.

2) Should we spend an extra night in Venice and take one away from Florence? I know we will be exhausted when we arrive in Venice, and will essentially only have one full day and a couple of evenings to see what we can in the city. I've read a lot of mixed opinions on the subject. Any thoughts?

3) Should we rent a car in Florence so we can spend a day exploring some hill towns in Tuscany, or should we just take the bus to Siena and/or San Gimignano. What about a wine tour out of Florence? Anyone have any ideas?

4) Is taking the overnight train out of Naples on our last night a good idea? Our plane leaves Milan at 10 am the next morning, and it looks like there are overnight trains that arrive at Milan from 6am to 8am. Should I be worried about missing a connection or the train being late and therefore missing my return flight. I know it takes a while to get from the train station in Milan and the airport, so how much time should I leave to play it safe. Or should we take a flight or train the day before and stay in a hotel in Milan close to the airport to be safe?

5) I know we are spending very little time in Rome, but is it feasible that during one full day and two half-days/nights, we would be able to see the Sistene Chapel, the Forum, the Colosseum, the Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain? I know these are only the main tourist sites and we are missing out on most of the city this way, but it is a sacrifice we have made in order to spend more time down in the AC or up in Tuscany. Is the Scavi Tour out of the question in this short of time.

I know this is a pretty busy itinerary, but we are young, ambitious travelers. We are up for an adventure. We want to see as much as we can before we have children, because once we do, it might be 20 years before we could go back. A lot of the sentiments I've got from people I have talked to are: "Don't worry about it. It's Italy. It's all beautiful and you'll love it all." This is the attitude I'm trying to take.

Thanks in advance for any input you might have!!

Scott
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 02:00 PM
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Hi Small,

Lovely trip

Some suggestions:

I think it would be safer if you arrived in Milan the day before your flight. If you tke the train arriving at 06:25, you will be at the airport about 7:00 - 7:30. What happens if the train is 1 1/2 hr late - not uncommon?

You could use that day to see the Last Supper, etc.

Thus, Fly into Milan and go direct to Venice. The excitement of being in Italy will carry you through.

Do the rest of your trip, except add one night to Venice and skip Rome.

I know that it seems heretical, but you're not going to see much of Rome anyway, so you might as well enjoy Venice more.

This way you can include Milan without any trouble.

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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 02:13 PM
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Here are my answers to your numbered questions, but first I'd like to say that most itineraries don't have flaws. If you like what you plan to do, there can't be much of a flaw, usually.
(1) I suggest you skip the Last Supper and head for Venice right away. You can see it when you return to Milan.
(2) I'd say stay in Venice one more night.
(3) If you cut a day out of Florence, I think you could take one or two day trips. Or you could just enjoy Florence.
(4) I haven't personally checked train schedules out of Naples, but frankly I don't like that part of your plan. I would change it and leave earlier, then spend a night in Milan, see the Last Supper, and leave on the final day.
(5) Your Rome plans are ambitious. Adding the day I suggested would make it more enjoyable and less hectic.

A question you didn't ask: I would add a day to Rome and delete a day from the Amalfi Coast. Apparently you believe the Amalfi will be your unwinding time. You could still unwind with one less day.

One final comment: You might check into going through the same destinations in a counterclockwise direction; that is, go directly from Milan to Florence, then to Rome, then the AC, and then Venice, and finally back to Milan. You might possibly gain some time if you check out that route. It's worth checking, at any rate. You are going on a pretty ambitious trip, and it will be a bit hectic but very rewarding. Good luck.
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 02:14 PM
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Hi.

Well!

I may not be able to address all of your concerns but there are a couple of things that pop out:

Upon your arrival in Milan I can assure you that you are going to be VERY tired and cranky (your fare tells me you'll be in coach). You'll have been in the air for about nine or ten hours. Regardless of what you'll be able to see in Milan, you will NOT want to be boarding a train. Is it possible to stay in Milan for the night? You'll be able to see the L.S. (if you have the energy) and then you could get a good night's sleep.

I believe you are cheating yourself with respect to Venice. This is the grandest, most romantic city in the world. It merits at LEAST two full, unencumbered days to stroll, explore, get lost, feed a bird or ten thousand. Forget about Murano or Burano. They are not worth the time when you are on a tight schedule.

Don't take a bus. Rent a car in advance and explore on your own. Driving in Italy is a snap; no worse than here. You will love the freedom.

I'm afraid you plans for Rome are impossible. You simply cannot see and appreciate all those sights in the time you have. DO NOT miss St. Peter's, but do try to rethink your other ideas.

Yes, taking the train from Naples when trying to catch a flight is risky. It may work out okay but I wouldn't try it myself (although my ulcer would love the challenge).

Clearly you've done a lot of homework, but don't forget that this your vacation, not a marathon. If I were the angel on your shoulder I would suggest that you spend the night in Milan, train to Rome for a few days, rent a car and drive into Tuscany and Florence for a few more days, then drive to Venice for about four days of idolence(you can drop the car just outside the city), then catch a train for the return trip to Milan.

I'm sure others wil have some good suggestions. Good luck and H.A!

You're welcome.
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 02:19 PM
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Ahem. The word is "indolence".

And, by the way, when you get home I suggest that you find the people who designed the K.C. airport and beat them with sticks.
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 02:37 PM
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I would say forget Venice entirely if you have only one day there. It would take at least 3 days to see the most worthwhile sights--we were there 4-1/2 days on our first trip there and didn't even come close to having enough time to see the Accademia, the Guggenheim, any of the better known churches besides Basilica San Marco, or any of the smaller lagoon islands (e.g., Murano, Burano, Torcello).

It is astounding how many people give bad advice on Venice being done in just one or two days--it's just a matter of ignorance. Venice is more than the Grand Canal, Rialto Bridge, and P. San Marco.
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 03:10 PM
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Thanks so much for all your replies so far.

I think I'll change my trip to get into Milan the day before to avoid the stress. I didn't like this idea either.

I appreciate all your comments and realize that cutting out certain parts of my trip would surely make it more manageable and allow for more time to actually vacation instead of running around from place to place. We will seriously consider some of the suggestions you've made.

On being in Venice for our anniversary. For my wife and I, it's a dream come true. Just because we might only see 1% of what it has to offer doesn't mean we won't have a lovely time. To me, the equation Great City + Lots to See = Skip It doesn't make sense.

Thanks again. Looking forward to hear more!
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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 03:28 PM
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Don't try to see the Last Supper on your arrival unless you are just dead set on it. I don't think you'll be able to enjoy it.

I agree with another poster who suggested you turn your trip around. You might consider heading straight to Rome and give Rome two nights and one full day of sightseeing. This only scratches the surface, but in one day you can see St. Peter's and the Sistine Chapel, the Coleseum, and perhaps hire an English-speaking taxi driver to drive you around to the other sights. This only scratches the surface, but I did it and enjoyed it. Be sure to start your day at the Sistine Chapel.

I suggest you end your trip with Venice. It is a relaxing city. The fact that it takes a long time to get around forces you to take it easy. Then go to Milan, see the Last Supper, spend the night and leave.

Good luck!

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Old Feb 25th, 2004, 03:33 PM
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Hi smallworld-

Spend at least 1 more day in Venice.

I think your itinerary in Rome is ok (a bit hectic):
Spend your 1 full day in Vatican- Vatican Museum + Sistine Chapel + St. Peter's
Spend an afternoon 1/2 day in Forum/Colosseum (both are open until 7p)
Spend a morning 1/2 day walking from Piazza Navona -> Pantheon -> Trevi Fountain -> Spanish Steps
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 07:37 AM
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Hi smallworld, glad to see you're changing your last day Milan arrival. That was a little risky. Anyway, thought I'd answer your Scavi/Rome question. Yes, you have time for the Scavi tour (used to be 2 hours, but now I think it's less), but that's dependent on whether you can get a reservation. If it truly interests you, then put in your request with the Vatican office for your one full day in Rome, and if you're lucky enough to get a time, you can work that into your Vatican museums/St. Peter's, etc schedule.

Another option that might also work for you is a Scala Reale (or other) tour. If you don't want to spend a full day touring the Vatican, etc. I'd recommend looking into a morning tour with SR. They're 6 people max and give you great background and history as you go through the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel and end in St. Peter's. If I recall correctly, they last around 3.5-4 hours, which would leave you time for lunch and more. If you're feeling really ambitious, yes, you could even do the Colosseum and Forum. You don't say what time you get into Rome that first night or if your hotel is nearby, but the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain are nice for pre or post dinner strolling. Or depending on what time you leave Rome, you can still switch things around depending on your timeframe and location of hotel.

I think it's good that you've been really receptive to the other suggestions you've gotten and willing to make sensible changes, but also know what's important to you (even if it's not always the "ideal" way to do it.)
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Old Feb 26th, 2004, 12:06 PM
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Thanks again to all of you who took the time to look at my itinerary and give feedback! Your comments have been really helpful!! We've made a couple changes so far, and are contemplating a couple others.

1) We'll be getting out of Milan right away after our flight lands. Probably taking the express from Malpensa over to the train station, and then the next available train into Venice.

2) We axed the overnight train idea from Naples to Milan on our last night. That was a pretty crazy idea in the first place. One idea we thought about is taking a flight from Naples to Milan on the day before our flight leaves. We've seen flights on volareweb for about $50 per person including taxes. This would allow us to get back to Milan in under 2 hours instead of the >7 hours it would take to get there by train. Maybe then we would have time to actually enjoy Milan a little and see "The Last Supper" on the 12th. Any thoughts? I know we'll have to take a day away from somewhere to accomplish this. We'll probably end up reducing our Florence stay from 4 to 3 nights. I know that it was suggested by some to skip Venice or Rome since we will have such short trips there anyways, but we kinda already have our heart set on those places.

3) We're trying to decide whether or not to add a night to Venice. However, since we are already losing a day in Florence above, we would then have to take a day away from the AC, which is the location my wife is most excited about.
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Old Feb 27th, 2004, 07:17 PM
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Hi smallworld,
Did anyone mention that you must have reservation/ticket for the Last Supper? Get it ahead of time.
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Old Mar 5th, 2004, 11:08 AM
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Re: (IMO)your Rome itinerary

The beauty of B&B Banchi Vecchi, is that you really are just a wander away from all of the sites you listed.

If on the full day you started in the colossuem/forum area you could walk down Via del corso to Spanish steps area and back through the little side streets and hit the pantheon and piazza navona. Can't beat the side streets betw. the B&B and the p. navona/pantheon area. You can use the map Milena gives you @ the B&B which details all of that for you. There is a tiny wine bar(you'll see an easel with the name on it and outdoor seating)named La Boticella, on Tor Milina right off p. Navona. The owner is Giovani, he speaks English, and he gives great advice for restaurants/ bars to go to. There is a GREAT (casual)Roman restaurant he recommended nearby, 3 blocks from his bar, called Da Francesco at the corner of Via del Corallo.

I suggest seeing the Trevi at night to get the real effect, and if you are seeing the Sistine only, you can really book right through the whole Vatican museum in just minutes. Just follow the signs. Then at the back right corner(exit end)of the Sistine Chapel, there is a door, that says it is reserved for guided tours only. There is a guard there, but he won't stop you if you look like you know what you are doing. This will lead you right to St. Peter's and save you the walk back around the wall. You can go up to the Cupola, and if you are in fairly descent shape, climb up to the top of St. Peter's for the amazing view over Rome. Really a must see!
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Old Mar 5th, 2004, 11:56 AM
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Please don't depend on the overnight train from the Amalfi Coast to Milan. I hate to generalize, but Italian trains are in my experience the least punctual in Europe. (Thats just what I love about that country...things happen when they happen). Spend the night in Milan before you fly home. You'll be too stressed otherwise. And upon flying INTO Milan, head straight for the train to Venice to get there earlier. Save the Last Supper for your final day in Milan. I personally would add a day in Rome and subtract one for the Amalfi Coast because I seem to enjoy Rome the more I visit. But no matter what you do, a 2 week trip anywhere in Italy will be unforgettable.
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Old Mar 5th, 2004, 11:58 AM
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Oops! Sorry, didn't see your last post. Looks like you've already made some reasonable adjustments to the itinerary. Ciao!
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Old Mar 5th, 2004, 12:38 PM
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Another possibility would be to catch a connecting flight to Naples upon arrival in Milan then work your way North. Something like 3 nights Almalfi (a good place to get over jet lag), 4 nights Rome, 3 night Florence, 3 night Venice (a good place to unwind), and last night in Milan.

Happy anniversary and enjoy your trip!
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Old Mar 6th, 2004, 08:49 AM
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Hi Scott,

I'm planning a very similar anniversary (8th) trip this August/September.
3 nights Venice (Hotel Al Piave)
3 nights Florence (Tourist House Ghiberti) -- also planning a day trip to either Siena or a vineyard (or both!)
3 nights Positano (Villa Rosa)
2 nights Capri (La Minerva) -- may change to 1 night & add 1 to Positano
3 nights Rome (also Relais Banchi Vecchi, but considering Hotel Santa Maria in Trastevere)
After your trip, I'd love to hear about your experience with Relais Banchi Vecchi & Le Sirene, and where you went for your day trip from Florence. And also, if you felt like the itinerary was too hectic or if you liked staying in several places.
BTW -- we have a 3 year old & an 8th month old & we have traveled to London (with the 1st), Japan, Thailand & Paris since having children. Travel is still possible, especially if your kids have wonderful grandparents willing to babysit!

Amy
 
Old Mar 6th, 2004, 11:16 AM
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Perhasp I missed something in your message but why are you departing from Milan at all? It seems that you should get a flight out of Naples thereby svaing time.
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Old Mar 7th, 2004, 10:12 PM
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Things are coming together thanks to all your help.

Got a flight via Volareweb from Naples to Milan on the day before our flight back to the states for approx. 30E/person including taxes.

Booked a night at the 5-star Le Meridien Excelsior Gallia in Milan for our final night. We found a good rate of 115E/night through priceline after researching at www.biddingfortravel.com.

Have had quick pleasant responses from Le Sirene, Relais Banchi Vecchi, B&B Peterson, and Casa Rezzonico.

Mr. Ancillotti from B&B Peterson has been especially nice. He even made reservations at the Uffizi and Galleria dell'Accademia for us to save the trouble. I can already tell Ira was right on when he described him so favorably in his trip report.

Casa Rezzonico would not make reservations for the Secret Itinerary tour for us, and my attempts at calling have been unsuccessful. I'm thinking about using selectitaly.com to try to purchase tickets. I know it's an extra $10 per ticket, but it might be worth it.

mct921 - Thanks for the great suggestions for Rome. And thanks for posting your experience with the Relais Banchi Vecchi. Your description, as well as other sparkling reviews and lovely pictures on their website, makes me think this is a special place. We're really looking forward to our stay there.

Amy- I'd be happy to let you know about our experiences. As far as day trips from Florence, we will probably take the bus to Siena and maybe San Gimignano. We are also leaning towards spending a morning or afternoon on one of the the accidental tourist outings. I'll let you know what we decide to do and how it went.
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Old Mar 8th, 2004, 01:15 PM
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To me, the equation Great City + Lots to See = Skip It doesn't make sense.

smallworld--in Venice it can make perfect sense. The problem with only one, and even two, days in Venice is that you are probably going to want to see the most famous sights. Because of the way Venice is laid out, this means that, with only one day to see these sights, you will quite likely be caught up in the daytripper herd that stampedes into Venice each mid-morning. This herd thunders along from the train station to P. San Marco--littering, jostling and complaining about the lousy tourist restaurants and cheap souvenir shops that mar the main drag. This is not usually a pleasant experience.

If you have more days, you can plan your visits to the main sights to avoid the daytripper herd, and visit those sights away from the masses while they are in town.

With only one day, if you want to see the major sights, you have less planning flexibility to avoid the crowds.

I can remember the one day visit I had with my parents to Venice in 1960--when the crowds were no where near as bad as they are now. We were caught up in that maess, and I hated the city--people, litter, noise. When my wife, son, and I visited over 30 years later, the day crowds were bigger, but we had almost 5 days which allowed us to avoid crowds and lines. I fell in love with the city.
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