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Tuscany-Amalfi itinerary/B&Bs help (& car rental drop off near Volterra?)


Mar 12th, 2012, 06:20 PM
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Tuscany-Amalfi itinerary/B&Bs help (& car rental drop off near Volterra?)

With a new streamlined itinerary, I’d appreciate any further comments before I make reservations. As background: we are doing a relaxed Amalfi trip, skipping Capri and town hopping; and then day dirves to different hill towns in Tuscany. Specific questions:

(1) Tuscany car rental: I want to pick-up a car away from a city, so coming from Rome and headed to Montepulciano I’ve heard to use Orvieto or Chiusi. But other than Siena, I’m not sure where to drop off the car if my last nights are in Voltarre. Through AutoEurope I can only find a Siena-Siena rental. Any tips?

(2) Any first-hand help with these Montepulciano B&B/hotel: Camere Bellavista, Hotel Duomo, Meuble il Ricco, or B&B Dimora Nel Corso?

(3) and these Ravello B&Bs: Villa Amore, Boccaccio B&B or Hotel Garden? (I don't think Villa Amore has AC but I think in mid-May that wouldn't be criitcal ???)

ITINERARY (flights are done)
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Arrival Day – Turin (meeting my daughter after her Study Abroad semester so these 2 days are fixed)
Day 1 Turin
Days 2-3 RAVELLO -Early flight direct to Naples, see Pompei, bus Sorrento to Ravello
Days 4-5 PRAIANO
Day 6 ROME – stopping just to break the travel day on our way to Montepulciano, will see Rome another trip
Days 10-12 VOLTERRA
Day 13 Return car somewhere and bus/train to MILAN, probably through Florence – this needs help!
Day 14 Early flight out of Milan

Thanks again! I'm getting there....
Dacon_R is offline  
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Mar 12th, 2012, 06:28 PM
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I wouldn't stop in Rome for a break. The train from Naples to Rome is only one hour. I would go on to Orvieto or Chiusi and pick up the car.

>>>Through AutoEurope I can only find a Siena-Siena rental. Any tips?<<<

When selecting pick up and drop off locations, you must figure out which are the same company. You can't select a Hertz location and an Avis drop off or AutoEurope will say not available.

You are doing too many 2 nighters IMO. Too much moving around.
kybourbon is online now  
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Mar 12th, 2012, 06:32 PM
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I think you would like the Hotel Duomo location in Montepulciano-- very near Piazza Grande. Be sure you have good detailed drivng and parking directions---that town is not easy driving.

After Volterra, I would drop the car in Pisa--at the airport, which is easy to access. The train line goes there as well. The connection will be via Genoa to Milan I will guess.

I like your destinations but I hope you are experienced. I would consider gettting my car in Sorrento and driving to Tuscany. Why train to Rome and then to Orvieto--just drive it.
bobthenavigator is offline  
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Mar 12th, 2012, 07:08 PM
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You are perhaps going to hate me, but this is how I would do this trip, given your destinations::

Day 1 -- Turin

Day 2 -- Pick up car, drive to Parma for lunch (drivetime to Parma, 2.5 hours)
After lunch, drive to Volterra, stopping for a gelato en route (3 hours drive time)

Day 3 & 4 -- 2.days Volterra/San Gimignano

Day 5, 6 & 7 Drive to Montepulciano, stay there

Day 8-- Drive to Orvieto, drop off car, head to Naples or Sorrento, stay there

Day 9 See Pompei, head to Praiano

10, 11, 12 Praiano (have lunch in Ravello)

Day 13 leave Praiano after lunhc, fly to Milan from Naples airport

Day 14 Depart Italy

But somebody else would do it differently!
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Mar 12th, 2012, 09:34 PM
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kybourbon, I agree about the 2 nites/2nites Amalfi schedule. I am so torn between Ravello views, and the small town vibe with nice piazza/cafes to hang out in at night. But when Dayle mentioned Le Sirene in Praiano --- which also has fantastic views - I just can't seem to find anything to tip the scale. Both places have about a 20 minute bus ride to Amalfi where we could get a ferry.

Montepulciano & Volterra were each 3 nights and I was hoping the B&B availabilty requests would help me decide but so far I'm doing OK. My favorite B&B is in Volterra but I don't want to be there for 6 nights!

Bobthenavigator - Thank you for the Hotel Duomo & Pisa ideas. What did you mean by "I hope you are experienced" - did you mean for driving in Tuscany or something else? With several Forum folks saying not to drive the first time, originally I wasn't planning to drive at all. Then I started to get convinced that driving in Tuscany is less hectic. But driving from Sorrento to Montepulciano doesn't sound relaxing.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 06:42 AM
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Your welcome!

Will your daughter have a significant amount of luggage at the end of her semester of living abroad? If so, I suggest you ship the vast bulk of it back to the US and not try carting it around some of Italy's steepest hilltowns and cliffs, and through train stations.

You have an incorrect picture, I think, of Ravello and the Amalfi Coast in general. The entire coast is overloaded with gorgeous views. Ravello is small, but it has no small town vibe. What it has in the way of a resident population is well-secluded in private villas. There is a pin-spot of an immaculate public piazzetta whose cafes are only used by tourists. There are some lavish gardens to visit. That's it. It you enjoy gardens and views, then you will surely want to make the trek up the hill to see Ravello during the day. But you can stay anywhere along the Amalfi coast and have amazing views. Most people think the views at night in Positano are the best.

It is pretty difficult to combine Turn, two separate areas of Tuscany and the Amafli coast and Pompei in the same 12 days and not have a hectic trip. I read in your earlier thread that you and your daughter don't want to re-visit anyplace you've visited before, but you trip would be so much more relaxing if you eliminated southern Italy. Have you been to the Portofino promontory? (Santa Margherita Ligure, Camogli, Portofino, Rapallo). You can reach it by train from Turin, and after some relaxing days, take a train to Pisa, pick up a car and have a short drive into rural Tuscany.

Sorry if you don't think any of this is helpful, but your proposed itinerary is not going to give you a relaxed trip. If you are up for a big adventure, you can fling yourselves around like this, from Turin to Ravello, Pompei to Praiano, from Montepulciano to Milan, but you are going to be on the move with your luggage almost all the time.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 07:33 AM
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We love to use Avis when we travel to Italy. They are very reliable, and do not block us money for excess insurance, even though we still pay for the daily excess insurance. They do it so that they are covered for sure if God forbid, an accident had to happen.

With many car hire companies you can easily pick and drop off the hired car at different locations. So you are going to hire a car on the Amalfi coast? If so, and you do not mind changing hotels, you can book two hotels at different locations at Praiano and Ravello. Ravello is beautiful high up on a mountain, and close to Amalfi, and nearby coastal towns. Praiano is a bit further away, very close to Positano. But bear in mind that they are both on the Amalfi coast, not the Sorrento coast, which has a lovely view to the Gulf of Naples and the Vesuvius. If it was me, I would spend 3 nights in Praiano, where I can very easily reach Ravello, Positano and Amalfi, then on my way back I would stop at Sorrento (the hotels on the harbour have the most magnificent harbour views) and spend a night there.

You remind me so much of a holiday we made to Italy last year, we visited Tuscany and Amalfi coast in one holiday, spending four nights in Tuscany and 4 nights on the Amalfi and Sorrento coast. We drove all the way from an agriturimso on the San Miniato mountain near Pisa, to Montepertuso near Positano. We left at 11.30am, and on the way we stopped for a visit to Siena (only about an hour and a half short visit). We arrived in Montepertuso very late in the evening at around 9.30pm, also considering that my husband is a very experienced driver in Italy.

If I were you I would skip Rome, as like another reviewer mentioned, it would take you roughly about just over two hours from Praiano (naturally not considering being stuck in traffic). Why don't you stop somewhere in southern Tuscany or southern Umbria on the way? But if you do not mind a long drive, you would still make it by very late evening.

To arrive to Volterra, which we visited during those four nights (we managed short visits to Florence, Siena, Pisa, a villiage in Monte Amiata, and San Gimignano where we were sleeping) you need to drive up a narrow very winding road, as it is up a high hill.

Why don't you drive to Pisa airport - we just drove to there this last December, leave your hired car there, very easy parking area of hired cars, as it is located outside the airport, and then take a low cost flight like Ryan Air from Pisa to Turin? That is unless you want to drive yourself to Turin - we would certainly do that. But it might prove even more economical, considering fuel costs have gone much higher in Italy, and would also lessen your driving, if you do not enjoy it that much. One suggestion, why don't you stay in San Gimignano? We stayed in an agriturismo about 1km away from San Gimignano, it was even walkable to it, but we went by car often - we went about three times, even just to have a dinner, since we were close to this lovely ancient town. From there you can easily reach Volterra, or Siena, or Pisa and Florence. The agriturismo we stayed in was called Agriturismo Palagetto di Sotto, just in case you would be interested. It has beautiful country views and of San Gimignano.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 07:59 AM
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Forgot to add - I do agree with you that Praiano has the best scenary on the Amalfi Coast. Its rugged coastline views are so breath-taking, and on some curves of its coast you can also see the town of Positano, which is so lovely with its terraced colourful houses. A particular hotel on our drives on the coast caught my eye. It is called Locanda del Fiordo in Furore, which is extremely close to Praiano, the village after it in fact, it is built cliff edge directly in the rocks, and has a restaurant with this enchanting scenary. Monepertuso, which is on a mountain above Positano, also has a beautiful view of Positano, you would have to drive up a mountain road to reach it, but worth the effort.
I would definitely stay in Furore or Praiano on my next visit to the Amalfi Coast. I agree with another reviewer that Rvello is very quiet and cut off from the other towns and villages, consider that since your time is limited on this coast.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 10:53 AM
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Here is another suggestion for you if you really want to go to the Amalfi coast.

The train trip from Turin to Pisa is about 4 hours. Instead of flying to Naples right off the bat, take a train to Pisa, rent a car and drive to Volterra. Then work your way south. You can either drop off the car in Orvieto or in Sorrento. Fly out of Naples airport to Milan for your return.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 01:02 PM
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Zeppole - "Fling" is a good word! I have always wanted to see Pompei so I do realize this is creating more travel time. Your description of Ravello may change my mind. And Anna-Galea's description of Praiano is making me lean towards that for all nights. Also, yes - I was planning to ship my daughter's large suitcase home, leaving her with just the carry-on. At least that one decision is solid!

Anna-Galea, I'd be willing to skip Rome if I could get the travel time down. You mentioned 2 hours but I could only put together a 7+ hour bus/train trip from Praiano to Tuscany:
9:35am bus from Praiano to Amalfi, 10:40 ferry to Salerno, 12:39 train to Orvieto to get a rental car. What do you think? I could also do the last Amalfi night in Sorrento if that is better for transportation connections to Tuscany. But I'm sure I must have checked that out. I have 67 pages of notes and started to look at things twice, forgetting what I've done. Crazy. I'm going crazy!

Back to reality: if we stopped in southern Tuscany/Umbria for the night so we weren't driving late (I definitely don't want to be doing my first ever Italian driving experience in the dark!), then what town would you suggest?

OK, your description of the narrow, winding Volterra road is making me doubt the whole driving thing! My husband says if I'm nervous about driving, maybe I shouldn't do it this trip! I drive in Boston all the time, and have done Ireland -so thought I should be able to handle Tuscany - no?

It's just that the Tuscany area without a car seems to put us in even more of a "traveling" mode vs sightseeing. So I'm trying to stick with the driving idea until someone convinces me otherwise.

Is San G/Agriturismo Palagetto di Sotto area flatter, so that perhaps that as a home base makes more sense than winding our way up to Volterra?

OK - off to my Italian language class - I've review these new ideas tonight. Ciao!
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Mar 13th, 2012, 01:50 PM
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I do like zeppole's suggested itinerary, but if you want to stick with your original order, you can make that work too.

Visit Pompeii on the way to Praiano, after your early AM flight from Torino.

I would also recommend sticking with just one hotel on the Amalfi Coast. I would not want to stay in Ravello due to the difficulty of traveling up and down on the small bus, time wise and crowd wise.

Le Serene does have nice views, but not quite as scenic as what you would find in most of the Positano hotels with sea views. Owners are very nice and helpful, breakfasts a bit better than typical. Very quiet, MANY stairs to the hotel from the main road. They will carry your luggage back up for you upon departure. My roller is a convertible pack back model and this is the only place I ever had to use it!

For your return to Tuscany from Amalfi Coast. Don't stop in Rome. No need. Plus your plan is making it a little more difficult than necessary.

I would:

Praiano - Sorrento = SITA bus

Sorrento - Napoli Centrale = Circumvesuviana (the station is right at the station bus stop in Sorrento)

Napoli Centrale - Orvieto or Chiusi = train (will need to transfer in Rome)

pick up rental car - Orvieto / Chiusi will not be open Sundays or Sat PM, Mon AM, check this!

drive to Montepulciano

Another option to further simplify this day would be to hire a driver to take you from Praiano to Napoli Centrale. If I do this trip again, I feel it would be worth the price.

If you can drive in Boston, you can drive in Tuscany! the small roads are uncrowded and no big deal, really a pleasure to drive. Not really that windy.

I have not personally done Bob's plan of picking up your car in Sorrento so I don't know what driving in that area is like. It would certainly simplify your transporation and probably save you some time.

Here are my tips for driving in Tuscany:

Don't rely only on GPS. They tend to get confused in tiny hilltowns. Have good, detailed maps and someone who can read them.

Understand that navigating in most of Europe includes lots of little roundabouts - which I love. They come complete with lots of signs and arrows - all pointing the way to the next town on your route. So - you need to look at your map BEFORE staring out and know the towns along the way to your day's destination. Then, just follow the signs! One of the fun parts about the roundabouts is that you can always go around again if you miss your road the first time If you get a little off track - so what? The world will not end and you might have a little adventure! You can always backtrack and make a U turn if needed (in a safe place of course). Besides, there is always more than one way to get where you are going.

When visiting the hilltowns - ALWAYS park in the first public parking lot (look for the square blue signs with the white "P") you see and hike up. Makes life very easy. Also, makes finding your B&B and the proper parking easy too! (Unless you have extremely detailed instructions from your B&B.)

If you can't find the exact car rental locations you want, call AutoEurope for live help.

Hope this helps!
Dayle is online now  
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Mar 13th, 2012, 06:16 PM
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Driving in rural Tuscany is somewhat like driving in the Berkshires if you've ever done that. It's not hard, but it is easy to get lost, especially at night. So you should plan to arrive at your B&B destinations in daylight hours.

If you have wanted to see Pompei all your life, be aware that it is a huge site (and quite hot in the afternoons, without shade). It is was a significant-sized town that was buried by the explosion, with large public squares, stadiums, shopping streets, residential areas, etc. Many people planning to see it don't realize 3 things: (a) how vast it is; (b) how hard it is to combine logistically with the Amalfi coast towns and (c) that the most spectacular artistic treasures of Pompei (in particular its amazing mosaics) are in the archeological museum in Naples.

If you are very interested to see Pompei, I suggest you swap out the day you set aside for Rome for a stop in Sorrento.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 07:48 PM
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I stayed two nights at Meuble il Ricco and found it casually elegent. The owner, Giorgio, couldn't have been more helpful. Even drove down to the local train station at a moments notice when we showed up unprepared on a holiday with no bus service to get up to town.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 08:01 PM
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Thanks everyone.

Zeppole - I was estimating 3 hours for Pompei based on Forum input - too little? I know we are leaving out the archeological museum in Naples, but I had to pick one.

I had planned on seeing Pompei on my first day - does this make sense:
Fly Turin-Naples arrive 10:40am
Train to Pompei arriving 12:16
See Pompei 12:30-3:30
Train to Sorrento
4:30 or 5pm bus to Praiano
I think I still have some wiggle room for more time in Pompei if needed. I haven't looked up the train schedule for later but pretty sure this is doable

Dayle: I'll stick with Praiano for all nights. Question: Is the bus from Praiano to Amalfi difficult to get a seat on? I was thinking it might be full by the time it got to Praiano. Which means if we are aiming for a ferry we'd need to allow for a couple buses to go by? Thanks for the suggestion to leave Amalfi going through Sorrento. I'll look those schedules up.
And the driving tips were great. I'd read about parking at the first lot - and walking off the pasta!

Back to checking brain & train schedules now!
You have all been incredibly helpful - grazie!
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Mar 13th, 2012, 08:37 PM
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I think you are being extremely optimistic that you will land at 10:40am and begin touring Pompei by 12:30pm. Assuming you are doing carry-on only and don't have to collect luggage, it will still take you at least 20 minutes to find the airport bus. The ride to the Central Staion is a minimum of 20 minutes. Even if you arrive at the Central station at 11:20, you need to buy tickets. If you can manage to catch the 11:30 train to Pompei, you can be there at 12:04, which will give you time to walk the rather long distance from the Pompei train station to the entrance to Pompei and store you luggage. If you don't catch that 11:30 train, the next one isn't until 12:30.

Also, you'll need lunch.

Most people are actually not very interested in Pompei. It is just a famous sight, and a two-hour guided tour makes them happy they saw it, and they are more eager to go to the Amalfi or Capri.

Can't tell if that would work for you. If it doesn't sound like it would, leave Praiano and spend the night in Sorrento or Pompei itself and see the site before heading up to Tuscany.

I don't know when the sunset when you are traveling along the Amalfi coast, but if you are doing it by bus, be aware that some people have problems with motion sickness on the long ride from Sorrento to Positano or Praiano.
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Mar 13th, 2012, 08:45 PM
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When is it you are going again? If after May, then the buses might be busy. I still don't understand going so far south to Salerno just to go north again. If the thinking is to have a more direct train route, I honestly think it' a toss up with the route thru Naples I suggested.

Remember each time you have to change modes of trans, you add a lot of time waiting.....
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Mar 13th, 2012, 11:35 PM
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Dayle, I'm going mid May. Is school still in session in Italy then? I wasn't sure when reading the bus schedules.

Zeppole - lunch! great idea !! ; ) I was looking at flipping the schedule to go from the north to south (as you said), and I could then do Pompei with more time on the last day if I stay in Sorrento the last night.

Regarding motion sickness - I'd like to do the scenic bus route once, but think I read somewhere that the best views were afer Positano (if coming from Sorrento). Is this true? If so, I could ferry from Sorrento to Positano, then bus to Praiano from there. With the goals of catching views, experience SOME of the infamous, scary route, and minimizing motion sickness. Sunset is 8:30pm - and I've made this travel day easier by removing Pompei...so the new itineary is less hectic (can't believe I started with Florence AND Rome in the itinerary!):

Day 1 Train to Pisa, rent car, and stay 5 nights in one place in Tuscany

Days 2-5 Tuscany (1 location)

Day 6 Stay Orvieto (to shortened travel the next day) This is a Sunday, so I won't be able to return the car, as dayle note

Day 7 return car in Orvieto, take trains to Naples-Sorrento, bus to PRAIANO (or ferry to Positano then bus to Praiano?)

Days 8-10 PRAIANO

Day 11 SORRENTO- train to Pompei then late flight to Milan

More relaxing I think... now I have to contact the B&Bs again for new dates!
Dacon_R is offline  
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Mar 14th, 2012, 12:35 AM
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Looks more relaxing to me!

I'm not an expert on the ferries, so you'd need to look up the sked.

In your original itinerary, you had 14 days. Are you thinking of spending time in Milan? I'm fond of Milan, but in this instance, I would give that time to Sorrento/Pompeii as in:

Days 8-10 PRAIANO

Day 11 SORRENTO- daytrip to Naples to see archeology Museum

Day 12 Sorrento -- daytrip to Pompeii early morning when it is cool

Day 13 -- fly to Milan

Day 14 -- depart Italy
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Mar 14th, 2012, 02:58 AM
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It is a good idea of Zeppole to fly from Naples to Milan, it would save you a lot of driving, and probably money as well, as, besides saving a day of car hire costs, fuel is getting increasingly expensive in Italy, and it is a long way from Amalfi or Sorrento coast to Milan, or even Pisa.

Yes, I would spend two nights in Praiano, and two nights in either Sorrento or outskirts of Naples, if you want to avoid a bit of driving and traffic since you want to see the archeology museum and Pompei. If you do decide to stay in the vicinity of Naples, and want to see Sorrento, you can stop for a visit on your way, walking along the gardens above the harbour, spend a little time down the harbour and admire the locely view of the Bay of Naples and the Vesuvius which must not be missed - plenty of restaurants and cafes, and (not that impressive, - go to the Sorrento main square). We had done this in a couple of hours about a year ago on our way to Vico Equense.

Then drop off the car somewhere in the vicinity of Naples. Check Ryan Air, they have low cost internal flight throughout Italy, and take a flight to Milan. Alitalia and even Easyjet might even offer internal flightsw in Italy.
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Mar 14th, 2012, 05:40 AM
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Wanted to point out that the train from Torino to Pisa will mean eating lunch on the train. You can't count on a restaurant car being open, so it is an excellent idea to pack some kind of favorite foldable shopping tote or small cloth backpack into which you can toss fruit, cheese, bread and chocolate, and maybe a couple of train station sandwiches before you board. It will be useful too on the long trip from Orvieto to Praiano.

You can always buy water and other drinks on the train.
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