16 days - first time to Italy

Leaving Oct 7 for 16 days in Italy for the 1st time! After weeks of trimming itinerary, now reaching out for advice. We are relatively active, over 50, love wine, food, history and any coast! No resorts/moderate budget. We want to sightsee, but we also wany to relax and absorb the people/scene. The only thing for certain: we are flying in and out of Rome. Everything else is up for grabs. Taking train (probably). For now: CT for first 3 nights, then Sienna for a night, to Rome for 6 nights, then to Sorrento/Amalfi for 4 nights, back to Rome for last night (bc of early flight), leaving 1 wiggle day. Too much time anywhere? Are we missing something we really shouldn't? And does anyone want to forecast the weather?

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

I would probably take one night away from CT and add it to Sienna (or someplace else in Tuscany) actually I would probably take a day or two away from Rome and add it to Tuscany as well, but I love the Tuscan countryside and villages and just exploring. No Venice or Florence???

Posted by Bryan
Rome, Lazio, Italy
288 posts

The nice thing about Florence is that you can hit the main highlights in a day. It would be a great exchange for the extra night in CT.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2506 posts

I also suggest an overnight in Siena, swap it out for a night in CT. From Rome you can do an easy daytrip by train to Orvieto. From Sorrento/Amalfi, you can do a daytrip to Paestum. Another thing to consider is adding 2 nights in Florence, take 1 night away from CT and one from Rome, and do Siena as a daytrip from Florence (or 2 nights in Siena with Florence as a daytrip). Enjoy Italy!

Posted by melany
Efland, NC
12 posts

This is EXACTLY the kind of advice I was looking for! In order to try to not pack everything in and have a stressful vacation, I had knocked off Venice, the Dolomites, the Northern Lakes/Bellagio, Milan . . Florence was the last place I had knocked off itinerary - and now it is back on! Will either spend 2 nights in Florence and day trip to Siena or the other way around. Will definately take the advice about Orvieto. So grateful for the suggestions! I am glad I reached out in this. Any and all other suggestions welcome :)

Posted by Barb
Central Florida
192 posts

When I travel, I try to go for variety in my itinerary. Since you already are spending 4 nights in Sorrento/Amalfi - you already have your beautiful coastal experience. CT would be more ocean/rocky shoreline. So, cut-out CT and use that time elsewhere. Enjoy Gelato!!!

Posted by Gillian
Corpus Christi, Texas, USA
23 posts

Melany,
I'm here in CT now, second to the last leg of our 3week Italy vacation. I would scratch this place off your itinerary. Hard to get to, regional trains, numerous stops, on and off other regional trains, crowds, trains filthy. We visited Rome, Sorrento, Siena/Florence, CT, and now off to Venice. I redid my itinerary last minute before I left the States and replaced the Lakes with CT...big mistake! Numerous conversations here with locals, Northern Italy is highly recommended. Weather here now is nice and cool. Cardigans and long sleeves will work. We have encountered some rain too. Good luck and safe travels. BTW, Sorrento/Amalfi area is absolutely beautiful! Fast train from Rome (we rode Italio) then fast boat to Sorrento....only way to go!

Posted by Bobbie
Park Ridge, IL
524 posts

Meleny. Fast forward past your finalized itinerary. Were you planning to make hotel reservations in advance? October can still be very busy. If you don't need the itinerary flexibility, then book in advance. Personally, I don't want to spend time looking for a hotel; I would rather hit the ground running in my new place. Bobbie

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
915 posts

I know you already discarded Venice, but I think you should consider putting it back in. It's magical and completely unlike anything else you'll ever see. Here's one possibility: Arrive in Rome, catch a train directly to Venice. You'll be tired, but you can nap on the train. Spend 3 or 4 nights in Venice, then train to Florence and day trip to Siena (3 or 4 nights). Train directly to Sorrento from Florence ... spend 4 or 5 nights. Train back to Rome, and spend the rest of your time there. Rather than splitting your time in Rome, spend it all in one chunk. I personally think your original plan of 7 nights total in Rome, out of a 16 night vacation, is too much. Some people love Rome, and you very well might, but I found it overwhelming; 4 days in Rome was plenty for me.

Posted by melany
Efland, NC
12 posts

Wow - I totally did not expect the CT response. I am loving all of the suggestions and re-doing itinerary. I had cut out Venice because I thought it might be a real money-soaker, and I was trying to trim itinerary, but too many people have told me now that we should not miss Venice. Still confused about CT . . but it may be difficult to do both, for sure. Can't book hotels in advance - flying on buddy pass and really do not know which day we're actually going to get there!! But, we will have at least 15 days. I am prioritizing hotel choices (using ES suggestions and sugggestions for others on this Helpline) so that once we are on ground, I can try to spend time getting things lined up efficiently. We are knocking Rome to 3 nights now. And adding more Tuscany time.

Posted by Charlene
Centennial, CO, US
915 posts

I found Booking.com to be really easy to use for reservations for an upcoming trip to Puglia. The website shows you what's available, ranked by customer ratings; requires no deposit; and has a generous cancellation policy (most of mine can be cancelled with no penalty up to 6 days before the booking). You might check it out now, and register, so that when you arrive you can check the available hotels against your list, and quickly make your reservations.

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

This may not be responding to the OP, but if the choice is between Venice and CT and you've never been to Venice-go to Venice. It doesn't have to be expensive. I've managed to stay there for about what it would cost in Rome/Florence. For coasts, all along the Italian Riviera from Ventimiglia on south to at least La Spezia, you will find attractive coastlines. Some place may fit your itinerary bette than the CT. Santa Margherita? San Remo? Around Sorrento and onto the Amalfi Coast, there are beautiful coastlines and many towns.

Posted by Susan
Trussville, Alabama
60 posts

Just know that you can't do it all! There will be another trip to Italy in your future! Have fun!

Posted by Les
Divide, Colorado, USA
78 posts

I agree with Susan----you'll just have to return because there's too much to see. We've been three times and can't wait to go back! A definite must see is Florence and for relaxation you can't beat the Lake Como area. We stayed in Bellagio (at La Limonera----highly recommend) and had a wonderful time riding the ferries to all the towns in the mid-lake area. Have a great trip!

Posted by Les
Divide, Colorado, USA
78 posts

I agree with Susan----you'll just have to return because there's too much to see. We've been three times and can't wait to go back! A definite must see is Florence and for relaxation you can't beat the Lake Como area. We stayed in Bellagio (at La Limonera----highly recommend) and had a wonderful time riding the ferries to all the towns in the mid-lake area. Have a great trip!

Posted by Terry kathryn
Ann Arbor, Mi
2608 posts

Glad you put Venice back in... I don't think you will be disappointed. As far as Amalfi and CT I would probably choose one or the other for this trip and definitely add to your time in Tuscany. If you really want to explore Tuscany it is best done by car. You can always reserve on at the best rate you can find and then cancel if you change your mind. If you do have a car you can also explore the Lake Como region which is beautiful.

Posted by Karen
Santa Rosa, CA
611 posts

Hi Melany, We are about the same age and have the same interests; food, wine, coasts, and history, not so much into museums. Last trip I had planned CT instead of Venice, and then my husband finally told me his must see was Venice, so we swapped the two. No regrets with our 1 night in Venice. We arrived at 2PM and and left Venice at about 2pm the next dsy. Stayed right on Piazza San Marco, and spent lots of time wandering and exploring. Another night would have been nice, but we maximized our experience in the 24 hours we had. PM me if you'd like the name of the place we stayed. More time in Tuscany! Especially if you enjoy wine; one night isn't enough. We spent a week near Cortona and daytripped to Sienna and Montelpulcino. We enjoed the very small town feel of Cortona and Montelpulcino in comparison to Sienna. Glad we saw the Plaza in Siena, but also loved spending most evenings in Cortona, not Siena.
Our next trip is in April, and CT is on the list, but we may decide again to cancel CT for more time in Tuscany, and are spending 5 nights in Sorrento.

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
2506 posts

Melany, a good option for lodging in Venice is a monastery - there are several. Check monasterystays.com. Very simple rooms but usually in a quiet area, most have a curfew (usually 11pm or later) and provide a simple breakfast. Glad to see that Venice is back in! Regarding hotel reservations, you can make them up to a night before if you use booking.com (or some other service). They will send you an almost instant confirmation (message on the site). The fine print says that the hotel can charge your credit card, and although booking.com does not charge anything to you, most hotel cancellation policies usually give you up to three days to cancel without any penalty, so check that carefully. You can choose by location, guest reviews, cost, or amenities.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3509 posts

I was in the CT for a day and a half in mid-October and was lucky with the weather - glorious sunny day. There were hardly any tourists, and I had a great time. I took a chance and it worked out for me. But if the weather is poor (and that is more likely in October), there's nothing to do and it would be a big disappointment. And it takes a long time to get there from anywhere. I was in Sorrento this February, and even in gray, rainy weather I loved it. Do NOT skip Venice. So romantic. I like the idea of going straight to Venice. It's a great place to start, easy to relax and soak up the atmosphere and recover from the jetlag. Get vaporetto passes (see the Venice Connected website) and ride it back and forth along the major routes for a great sightseeing tour. The best place is the very front seats, second best is the very back seats. Both can be had by waiting a bit and edging up to them.

Posted by melany
Efland, NC
12 posts

All good and thanks to everyone! After landing in Rome, we'll catch a train directly to Venice. After a 2-3 nights in Venice, then to Tuscany for (undetermined - keeps getting longer with every reply!). Beautiful suggestion to go directly to Sorrento for 4/5 nights and then to Rome for rest of trip. Maybe the Orvieto day trip from Rome. I have heard so much about N. Lakes (Bellagio), but I am afraid to try to pack that one in. And, I will indeed have to come back, with
experience! Then I can help other travelers.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3342 posts

Check flights to Venice from Rome. That includes flights from Rome Ciampino airport (CIA) to Venice Treviso Airport (TSF) with Ryan Air, a low cost airline.
It could be faster and cheaper than high speed rail. Rome to Venice is almost 4 hours via train plus you need 40 minutes to go from the Airport to Roma Termini (in total a 5 hours trip). The cost of the train is Euro 80 one way (+ Euro 14 via train from Rome Airport to Roma Termini station) If you could fly from Rome Fiumicino (FCO) to Venice Marco Polo (VCE) the day of your arrival, it's even better since you don't have to transfer to Ciampino. Both Alitalia and EasyJet fly to VCE from FCO.

Posted by Celeste
Alachua, FL, USA
234 posts

Just two pieces of advice: Siena in Il Campo as it's turning dark is magical. We always stay in Siena and day trip to Florence on the bus - under 90 minutes. We rented a one bedroom apt a few yards from the Campo for only 100 euros per night when that was what we'd paid in a B&B farther away. I found the apt on vrbo, but if you'd like the name of the place feel free to send me a private message. I also have a great recommendation for Rome from vrbo. Also, on traveling from Rome to Venice - if you're already at the airport in Rome (FCO), you can fly Easy Jet to Venice for very little at times. Then you can take the Express Bus (15-20 min) from the Venice Airport to Piazzale Roma. I've taken the train several times; however, if I'm already at FCO, I opt for Easy Jet.

Posted by melany
Efland, NC
12 posts

Thank you so much for suggestions to fly FCO > VCE. Fortunately we are flying from USA on buddy pass - unfortunately, we cannot risk buying these tickets in advance because we are not 100% sure of our arrival date. I just thought we could catch train from airport to Venice (hah!). Now I understand I have to take train or bus (or would taxi cost be prohibitive?) - to train station in Rome . . . thoughts on these choices?

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
2852 posts

"I understand I have to take train or bus (or would taxi cost be prohibitive?) - to train station in Rome . . . thoughts on these choices?" All valid and do-able, depending on your budget, comfort level, how many of you there are, personal preference, etc. Taxi cost is fixed (currently 48 euros to most of "central Rome," including Termini Station), and of course, is door to door. So, if there are several of you, this is easiest and may not even cost more than other methods. The Leonardo Express train goes twice an hour from the airport right to the main Termini Station in Rome, where you'd catch a train to Venice. There are other trains to other stations, which most likely won't be of use to you. I don't remember details of the shuttle bus, but others will have details.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
3342 posts

I think there is an atac bus to termini for euro 8. Taxi is cheaper for 3 or more people. Train is not bad otherwise and you can buy tickets at fiumicino station all the way to Venice. Just make sure you have enough time to transfer trains at Roma termini. Check roninrome.com website for easy directions in and out of FCO air terminals.

Posted by Susan
Sausalito, California
3205 posts

I agree with adding Venice back in. Sorrento is our favorite place in Italy, the more time there the better.

Posted by Fran
Albany
14 posts

I don't know why everyone says only a few days in CT. Spend as much time as you can there! The food is incredible, the people wonderful, there are dozens and dozens of hikes (not just the ones everyone goes on) and small towns with adorable cafes to visit with alleys that have hidden gems. And of course there is always the beach...

Posted by jennifer
brooklyn, ny, usa
118 posts

hi melany - it seems you have already decided to add venice back in so my post may be moot but im going to make it anyway. you definitely need to see venice. this is coming from someone who actually hated venice - im serious, i hated my time there (cue a bunch of shocked gasps from the crowd). but i do have to say its one of the most beautiful cities i have been to and im glad to have seen it. i think perhaps me doing it as a day trip was part of the problem. i should have done an overnighter and seen the city early am while everyone else was still sleeping. have a great trip!

Posted by Swan
Napa, CA
2858 posts

If you can, try to book a room at Hotel Tivoli in Venice. The rates are reasonable, it is family-run and friendly, and the breakfast (included) is generous. I've stayed there several times in a single room. The hotel is near the Frari Church.