We are travelling with our two teenaged kids the first two weeks of June, into Venice and out of Rome. Plane tickets are bought aleady. Arrive Venice late morning; depart Rome in AM also. I'm considering: 2 nights Venice, 2 nights Cinque Terre, 2 Florence, 2 Sienna, 1 Orvieto, 2 Sorrento, 3 Rome. Is it too rushed? Thoughts about CT vs Sorrento? Worth it to stay only 2 nights in Sorrento? I'd like to use it as base to see Naples/Pompeii. Not sure about Amalfi coast bus ride because of motion sickness. Is boat a good option? What about flood damage still in CT?
Your planned itinerary is just a little hurried for the days you're there. Remember that the day you fly in and the day you fly out are pretty much wasted days. Italy has so much culture, history, architecture, art and food, and it's a country best taken slowly. You should just split your time between Venice, Florence and Rome; travel between cities is best by train. The C/T is over on the Mediterranean side and north, and just a little out of the way. Many rent cars for day trips out of Florence, as Tuscany and Chianti have incredible hill top cities to visit. Siena, Volterra and San Gimignano are very popular. We spent a weekend in Florence, and moved to a farm/agriturismo outside Certaldo for 4 nights with a car doing day trips. We loved staying one day and night Orvieto where we turned the rental car in. The incredible Civita is also closeby. Rome was just 1 hr. by train south. You could easily spend a week in Rome, and just scratch the surface of what there's there to see. The Roman suburbs have incredible history going back 2,800 years, and you could spend another week there. Naples, Pompeii and the Amalfi coast is 150-180 miles south of Rome, and is probably a trip reserved for next time you visit Rome. There's just so much of you to go around.
Chris, you can save some unpacking and hotel checkin/out by making a couple of your stops daytrips. You can visit Orvieto as a daytrip from Rome (one hour each way by train). You could also make Siena a daytrip from Florence (one hour each way by bus or train). I would add another night to Rome and make either Orvieto or Siena a daytrip from Rome and Florence, respectively. Your teens might be interested in some of the Palio history in Siena (which also has a torture museum). Orvieto has Saint Patrick's Well, castle ruins, several good, small museums near the Duomo, and of course the Duomo itself. If you spend two days in Sorrento, you might be able to spend a day in Paestum, an ancient Greek city south of Salerno (or you could spend a night there). It has impressive ruins, a very good museum, a beach, and mozzarella farms in the area. Or, leave Sorrento (after seeing Naples/Pompeii) and spend the night in Paestum. That might mean just one night in Cinque Terre, however. My preference for the Amalfi Coast is to take a bus from Sorrento to Amalfi and then take a boat back (two different perspectives).
Chris, Your proposed Itinerary is far too ambitious and rushed (IMO). Keep in mind that each change of location will require a minimum of half a day, and in some cases more. I assume your trip is actually 16 days, to allow for the two flight days? You'll arrive in Europe the day after you depart. I'd suggest skipping Sorrento & Pompeii on this trip and adding the time elsewhere. Travel to Sorrento from Rome will take at least 4-5 hours in each direction which won't leave much time for touring. You WON'T have time for an "Amalfi Coast bus ride"! Is the order you listed the same that you plan on travelling? I'd suggest Venice > Florence > Cinque Terre > Siena > Rome. As a previous reply mentioned, you can easily take a day trip to Orvieto from Rome, which will save an annnoying one night stop. Regarding "flood damage still in CT", this is no longer a problem. I was there in September and everything was great! Keep in mind that only the old town of Monterosso and the town of Vernazza were affected, and both are now back to normal. The other three towns were not affected by the flooding. One VERY important point to mention is that for travel to the C.T. in June, I would HIGHLY recommend getting hotel reservations SOON! Many of the tourist businesses will still be closed for the season, but you could start contacting them perhaps in February. Which of the five towns are you planning to stay in? If this is your first trip to Europe, it would be a good idea to read Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip. Good luck with your planning!
The trip from Rome to Pompeii is not five to six hours hours each way. I seem to remember we took slow train from Rome in two hours to Naples and half hour to Pompeii so can do that in one day.
Chris, your plan is too rushed & you'll spend so much time in transit & not enough time in each place. I would save the CT & Sorrento/Amalfi Coast for future trips. The CT is too far out of the way & in my opinion, 2 nights is not enough for the Sorrento/Amalfi coast areas. Does your 14 days include your arrival & departure days? Your arrival day will likely be a wash by the time you get to Venice, get from the airport to your hotel, check-in, etc. Coming from CA will make for a very long day of travel & you'll likely be tired your first day or so. We are never "up to speed" for the first 1-2 days. I would split your 14 days between the other places on your itinerary. I would visit Siena as a day trip from Florence & Orvieto as a day trip from Rome. I would personally stay a minimum of 5 days in Rome. I think your teenagers will really enjoy Rome as it will bring their history books alive. You could even tack on a few more days to Rome & visit Ostia Antica as a day trip (a substitute for Pompeii) as well as Hadrian's Villa in Tivoli, etc. I think your family will enjoy the trip a lot more if you pare it down & spend more time in each place. This will give you the opportunity to really soak in each place instead of having to worry every 1-2 days about moving to another town. It's pretty tiring to pack, check/into out of hotels, get to/from train stations, schlep luggage onto/off of the trains & then do it all again at your destination. Have a great trip!!
Thank you all for your great responses! So I will try to cut the number of places we go. I can't decide whether to give up the Cinque Terre or Sorrento/Amalfi. Suggestions? Also, is it a crazy idea to stay an extra day in Rome and day trip to Naples and Pompeii from there?
@Gail, Just to clarify, the travel time estimate was based on total time for travel. That involves checking out of one Hotel, getting to the station waiting for departure, the train ride from Rome to Naples, buying Circumvesuviana tickets and waiting for departure on that, and finally getting to the Hotel and checking in at the new hotel after arrival. In some cases, it won't take that long but realistically speaking, it's not going to be a two or three hour trip. Cheers!
Chris, You can certainly take a day trip to Naples and Pompeii from Rome, but that will be a LONG day!
I agree with others when they say you have too many stops / change of hotels. If you and the family really love hiking, the the CT is the way to go. Lots of beautiful scenery and you can hike between towns. If you don't like hiking, then maybe Sorrento is a better choice. you can still get plenty of exercise, but it will be from walking around the cities and Pompeii. We recently spent 11 nights in Italy as follows: Venice: Arrive mid-day on day 1. Spend 3 nights in hotel and depart day 4 early afternoon for Florence (2 hour train ride). Florence: Arrive around 3 PM and spend 3 nights. Depart mid afternoon on day 7 for Rome (1.5 hour train ride).
Rome: Arrive around 5 PM on day 7 and spend 5 nights. the last night was spent at the airport Hilton because we had a 5:55 AM flight. We also took a bus/train to Ostia Antica from the airport. This is a pretty neat sight that takes around a half day to see. It is a very good option if you don't get to Pompeii. We purchased our train tickets in advance and found super economy fares of 9 euros per person for each train ride. If you don't mind setting your travel time in advance, you can save a lot of money doing this. From Florence or Rome, you can day trip to Sienna and Orvieto. You won't get to experience their magic when the tourists are gone, but it will save you from losing a half day switching hotels.
I assumed the poster was only going to Pompeii for the day, that is why I said it is doable in a little more than three hours each way if that is what they plan.
I prefer the CT to Amalfi (although both are beautiful) and think it might be a nice break for the kids. Lots of hiking, nature and the sea. If it is all cities, and museums and historical sights they may get a little weary of it. I know the teens I have taken to Europe need some down time and CT is perfect...lots of excitement in the day, but a different vibe when the daytrippers leave. If you like staying in smaller villages you can also stay in Tuscany and do a day trip into Florence.
We did a day trip fr Rome and did Herculaneum and Mt Vesuvius (mind you, Herc is smaller and a quick stroll ~15min if memory serves, it was 2008~ from the train stn). We prob left Rome around 9am, got off at the wrong stop in Naples and had to wait almost an hour for a train back, did Herc (~2-3 hrs), ate pizza, van tour to Vesu, and we were back in Rome prob by 8pm. So it is doable if you go early and get off at the right stop :) I'm sure we used the fast train there and back.
last March I did: 3 nt Venice 2 nt Florence
5 nt Rome We daytripped to Pisa, actually 6hrs maybe Daytrip to Pompeii and walked naples for several hours. Left Rome 7am and returned 9pm. Train ride was where we talked with locals the most in the whole trip!