Hi, I'm trying to plan my first trip to Italy for my husband and I's 10th anniversary. Both of us have never been there. We will be flying from JFK to Rome but unsure if we should focus on Northern region or Southern region. Both appeal to us, how do you decide. Any suggestions on where to start with the planning?
What time of year?
Get a tour book, RS or others, and see what interests you.
For your available time, limit yourself to 2 , 3 at most, destinations.
If your 10 days include the days you fly, you really should limit yourself to 2 destinations
We will be going in May. I really want to go to Southern region and Amalfi Coast but I also do want to go to Montepulicano because I love their wines!
Cinque Terre looks lovely too. I'm all over the map quite literally!
I also agree that two destinations would be preferable. Does your 10 days include travel days? If so, then two destinations would be even better. If you have never been to Italy, I would pick Rome and either Venice or Florence. If you have not made your flight reservations, you might want to consider a multi-city flight plan into Venice and home from Rome. Delta flies non-stop from JFK to Venice and Rome.
Yes that includes travel days. Ok, I'll focus on 2 destinations.
I’ll give you my vote: Amalfi Coast and Rome! Go straight to Amalfi Coast/Sorrento when you land. Ideally, spend a few days in Sorrento to see the sights on the Bay of Naples side, then a few days on the actual Amalfi Coast. I’d split it 6 days/ 4 days in Rome. It still won’t feel like enough, but you will get to see plenty. This region was probably the highlight of all my travels. May is a great time to go!
Are you flying both into and out of Rome?
If so I'd say Rome and Amalfi with at least 5 nights for Rome.
Count nights on the ground, not days.
I've not booked any flights yet. I am hoping to use miles (Delta) and have some flight times for both Rome/Rome also Rome/Venice and Rome/Milan multi trip.
For 10 daysI would do Rome and Amalfi Coast. You can't go wrong. Save the northern area for the next visit. Fly into Florence and do Tuscany and Cinque Terre/Venice...
Rome and Amalfi Coast (stay in sorrento). If you can, fly into Naples, and get a car service to pick you up at the airport and drop you at your hotel. You hotel can ptobably arrange for you. Then take train to Rome and fly home from their.
We spent 5 nights in Sorrento after 2 nights in Rome in April a few years ago. Plenty to keep yourself busy using Sorrento as your home base.
We used Monetti Taxi (mentioned in RS Italy) for a day to see the Amalfi Coast, stopped in Amalfi, Positano, the visited Paestum to see Greek Ruins. It was like having our private tour guide.
You will love Italy!
If you're in the New York area, we have a monthly meeting where some of get together in person to talk about travel. Keep an eye on the Rick Steves Travel Group sub-forum to see the details of the next one: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/travel-meetings
If you're flying Delta from JFK in May, you should be able to get a nonstop flight to Milan, Venice, or Rome. If you're willing to make a connection in Paris (Air France) or Amsterdam (KLM), you will be able to use almost any airport in Italy. Don't book flights until you know where you want to go.
I wouldn't look at this choice as "north vs south" as there's so much to see all over, and it's all good (not to mention that Rome is more central than southern Italy). Just pick two or three places to see, and make sure there are good connections between them. You'll find, as so many of us do, that Italy requires multiple return visits (I've been 7 or 8 times - yes I've lost count!).
I'd recommend Rome and Amalfi Coast or Florence and Tuscany. Either is enough for 10 wonderful days, depending on what appeals to you when you look closely at the guide books.
If you haven't booked flights yet, I would fly into Venice and out of Rome, especially since this is your first trip to Italy. Fast train from Venice to Rome is 3 hours 45 minutes.
How do I decide? My first trip, I really wanted to see Venice, so I looped from Milan - Verona, Venice, Florence, Viareggio in 13 days. My second trip, I wanted to go back to Verona for the places I missed first time (it was only a day stop on route to Venice), and I had to return to Venice and Florence, then I added Rome because it's Rome, duh. After that I really wanted to see Pompeii, but I couldn't go to Italy and not go to Venice, then Florence was "on the way south", spent a few days in Rome, then time in Sorrento and back to Rome for a few days more. The next 3 trips were chosen after reading so many responses on this forum - Sicily, Amalfi Coast, Emilia-Romagna, Umbria. I think my next trip, probably in 2020, will be one or more of the lakes and lots of small towns and villages or maybe the far south. There's great food and wine everywhere, lots of history, and absolutely no bad choices, especially in May when weather is likely to be good every where.
Rome 5 days, Florence 5 days (including day trip to Sienna)