OK - now itinerary planning is done. Original itinerary was 15 nights starting around March 20. New itinerary is starting around June 10.
Here is the new itinerary:
Rome - 4 nights, AC - 4 nights, Florence - 3 nights, CT - 3 nights, Venice - 3 nights, Varenna/Milan - 3 nights. Total - 20 nights.
Thanks all who provided the feedback - particularly ChristineH, Jay (Chicago), vickie_322, etc.
Old thread material below for people reaching here via Google/Bing search for March/April itinerary planning:
I have booked tickets for March to Italy (flying in Naples from San Francisco, flying out Venice back to SFO) and in the early stages of itinerary design - so may have some impractical notions.
Details about us and interests: my wife is in mid forties and I am in the late forties - not traveling with kids this time. Interests are photography - mostly outdoor cityscapes as well as landscapes - and fairly intense about it (at times with a tripod). We love going out on very early morning walks when the light is good or possibly late night when there are fewer crowds. Less interested in museums and churches - but most of the day time is without the magical sunrise/sunset hour and one has to spend time in between somehow. Based on the photography interests - the highest priorities will be the Amalfi coast and Cinque Terre. Other nice to have would have been hilly landscapes in Tuscany and Varenna on Lake Como but unlikely to fit this time.
So here is my first draft - possible I may drop a destination or two. Please give suggestions - is it too hectic and better to drop something? Or a day less/day more at some place?
Day 1: Arrive mid day in Naples - travel to Amalfi Coast and stay at a home base.
Day 2: Explore Amalfi Coast (Positano, Amalfi, Ravello).
Day 3: Day trip to Capri.
Day 4: Travel to Rome - on the way visit Pompeii. Since Pompeii takes around 3-4 hours, I assume the whole day will be gone.
Day 5, 6 & 7: Rome sightseeing
Day 8: Travel to Siena (ideally this would be a road trip with stops like Montalcino, Pienza, etc. - not sure of feasibility - rental car, etc.).
Day 9-10: Florence
Day 11: Travel to Cinque Terre (possibly stop for a silly photo with the Leaning Tower at Pisa)
Day 12: Cinque Terre
Day 13: Travel to Venice
Day 14-15: Venice
Day 16: Fly back to SFO around 10 am from Venice.