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19 Day Italy Itinerary

I'm a big planner and spent the last few months researching and putting together a 19 day itinerary for a trip to Italy in June/July 2020. Airfare + accommodations are booked but are fully refundable so we can make changes if needed. Yes, I know, summer is the most crowded time to go and it's hot. Unfortunately, that's when we are able to get away so we will do our best with the summer crowds. We are in our 30s, travel very light, out the door exploring by 6am, and like to stay busy. We are walkers and prefer public transit - not renting a car. I'm really stuck on how to do the Amalfi coast (bus, tour, boat?) - Suggestions/recommendations appreciated! I was hoping to gain some thoughts from the experienced Italy travelers to see if I'm on the right track. If anyone would be so kind to take a quick look and leave any comments, I would be most grateful! Hopefully this can be useful for someone else as well!

Arrive: Venice

VENICE: 2 full days
buy tickets for St. Mark's and Dode's Palace in advance, available online beginning in April

Day 1: Bell Tower, St. Mark's Square, Rialto Bridge, Correr Museum, St. Mark's Basilica, Doge's Palace
Day 2: Rialto Bridge & Market, Frari Church, Dorsoduro District, Gallerie dell’Acccademia, Accademia Bridge

BOLOGNA: 1 full day
Day 1: TOUR-Italian Factory Motor Tour: Lamborghini factory, Lamborghini Museum, Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum, Ferrari Museum

CINQUE TERRE: 2.5 days
buy Cinque Terre card
Day 1: (1/2 day, arrive 1pm): arrive 1pm Vernazza, Punta Bonfiglio, Manarola Scenic Viewpoint
Day 2: Hike Blue Trail (SVA) aware of some closures Corniglia > Vernazza > Monterosso; train to Riomaggiore; train to Vernazza
Day 3: Cinque Terre Yacht Tour from La Spezia

PISA: Day trip on travel from Cinque Terre > Florence
store luggage in Pisa train station during day; buy tickets for Tower of Pisa in advance
Day 1 (1/2 day, arrive 10:30am/depart 4pm): Tower of Pisa, Square of Miracles, Piazza dei Miracoli square, Church of San Nicola

FLORENCE: 2 full days
make reservation for dome, Uffizi, Galleria dell’Academia
NO MONDAYS
Day 1: Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore, Piazza della Repubblica, Mercato Nuovo, Piazza della Signoria, Palazzo Vecchio, Museo do Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio
Day 2: Galleria dell’Academia, Mercato Centrale, San Lorenzo Market, Basilica di San Lorenzo, Santa Maria Novella, Uffizi Gallery, Basilica of Santa Croce, Piazzale Michelangelo

SIENA: 1 full day
Day 1: Piazza del Campo, Panorama dal Facciatone, Piazza del Duomo OPASi Pass, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Duomo di Siena, Santa Maria Della Scala

ROME: 2.5 days
Day 1 (1/2 day, arrive 1pm): Largo di Torre Argentina, Galleria Sciarra
Day 2: Pantheon, TOUR-CityWonders: Colosseum+Forum+Palatine Hill; Piazza Venezia, Trevi Fountain, Galleria Sciarra, Spanish Steps, Piazza del Popolo, Pincio Terrace
Day 3: TOUR-WalksOfItaly: Vatican Museums+Sistine Chapel+St.Peters Basilica; Castel Sant’Angelo, Campo de’ Fiori, Piazza Navona

SORRENTO: 4.5 days
buy Pompeii ticket online in advance
Day 1 (1/2 day, arrive 2pm): Piazza Lauro > Corso Italia > Piazza Tasso. Walk to Viale Enrico Caruso > Sorrento Old Town
Day 2: Walk along via San Cesareo > Sedil Dominova > Villa Comunale Park (Church of San Francesco on right) > Piazza Vittoria > Marina Grande
Day 3: Day trip to Pompeii
Day 4: Day trip to Capri (Blue Grotto, Boat ride to see Faraglioni Rocks, Bus ride to Capri to Anacapri, Chairlift to summit of Monte Solaro
Day 5: Day trip Amalfi Coast (Positano > Amalfi > Ravello)

NAPLES: Day trip on travel from Sorrento > Rome
store luggage at airport during day
Day 1 (1/2 day, arrive 11am, depart 4pm): Spend a few hours exploring Naples (Spaccanpoli), travel to Rome

Depart Rome

Posted by
24 posts

Yikes! Some of my typing was autocorrected so please excuse any incorrect spellings of the attractions/cities in Italy!

Posted by
2855 posts

Here are some of my opinions:
Florence
You have 3 market visits planned for Florence. That is not the best use of your very limited time. The markets are, well, markets. People go there to buy food and other necessities for living. And, yes, they have a dazzling array of produce, prepared foods, etc. If you don’t have that sort of thing where you live, choose one.
Capri
I suggest you do a search on this site for people’s experiences with the Blue Grotto visit. Many have felt ripped off.
Take a look at the church of San Michele in Anacapri. In my opinion, the best sight on the island.
Be careful about your return trip. The last boat leaves fairly early, and you need to allow time to get back down to the marina and to find the correct pier.
Sorrento
You will see the Marina Grande when you embark for Capri. Nothing much.
There really isn’t much to see in Positano, except shops selling souvenirs and high-priced clothing. Amalfi and Ravello can fill a day. Both have nice cathedrals. Ravello has two beautiful villas and the best views of the coast.

Posted by
513 posts

Vernazza take the train from Campo di Marte at 7:54AM. However if there are big cruise ships in port, Vernazza would be one of the worst villages to stay in [also ill-advised to be on trains between 10 and 4:30.

http://crew-center.com/la-spezia-italy-cruise-ship-schedule-2020

The luggage drop at Pisa Centrale is near the end of Platform 1, to the right.

Don't stay in Rome twice. Florence to Naples to Sorrento and Rome last.

Posted by
24 posts

Thanks for the super suggestions!!

@Rosalyn:
- Thanks so much for the info about the markets in Florence. I wasn't sure if they each had their own unique draw. Is there one you would recommend over the others?
- I had not started my in depth research into Capri so I will be sure to check out the definitely be on the look out for Blue Grotto reviews. Also will add church of San Michele in Anacapri thanks to your suggestion! Thanks for the heads up on early return on the boat. I'll check out the schedules today and make sure I put a note in my agenda.
- Sounds like we'll focus on Amalfi and Ravello ... would you take the bus there from Sorrento or a boat?

@N_Kingdom:
- I'm a little confused on your comment on the train from Campo di Marte, do you mean to go to that train station in Florence from Vernazza? The plan is we will be staying in Vernazza and then heading to Florence, stopping through Pisa on our way.
Vernazza > Spezia Centrale (Cinque Terre Express21179);
Spezia Centrale > Pisa (Regionale11827);
Spend day in Pisa;
Pisa > Florence (Retionale23551).
That puts us into the Firenze S.M. Novella in Florence.
- SO much appreciate the link for the cruise info, I'd heard about the cruise ship crowds but that link was so helpful! It looks like on our first 1/2 day, there is one ship at port so that is what it is. Second day, one ship at port starting at 8:30am. Third day, no ships. I'll change our plan so our all day yacht tour is on the second day when the one ship is at port and then do hikes and towns on the third day when there aren't any ships scheduled.
- Thanks for the info about the luggage drop in Pisa! I'll make a note!
- We're not really staying in Rome twice. We're flying out of Rome very early our last day so have to backtrack up from Sorrento the one day. I wasn't finding acceptable departure flight options out of Naples so that's why I have us flying out of Rome. I figured on our way from Sorrento > Rome, we might as well spend half a day in Naples? We'll get into Rome late that evening, stay for a few hours at a hotel at the airport, then leave at 4am out of Leonardo da Vinci-Fiumicino Airport early the next morning.

Posted by
4053 posts

Not enough time in Venice and WAY not enough in Rome.

I say skip Cinque Terre and add it to Rome.

Posted by
24 posts

@geovagriffith:
Thanks for your thoughts! From what I've researched online, 2-3 days in Venice and 2-3 days in Rome was kind of the recommended time table so that's how I arrived at my agenda. That said, I'm completely open to changing things around! You can see my agenda ... Do you think I have too much scheduled per day in Venice and Rome and that's why you'd allocate more days? Or, are there things I've missed and should add so that's what I should add more days? If I'm missing some major things, would you mind sharing with me what you'd add in Rome and/or Venice? I'd hate to cut Cinque Terre but if my Venice and Rome agenda isn't great, then that's what I'll do!

My husband and I are busy travelers so we put a lot into a day, usually out the door by 6am and not back before 9pm. We aren't so great at "leisurely travel" but excel at having an agenda and staying busy!

Posted by
1524 posts

It's helpful to us if you count your trip in NIGHTS not days- makes itinerary clearer all around

Venice could use an extra day- your first day is jet lag day I assume? How many NIGHTS do you actually have there?
Your days are quite busy which is fine but you won't have time to wander off the beaten track and see the real Venice- that's where the magic is- or to ride out to the islands. Not sure where you can take that extra night from though. I'd take from CT (actually I'd skip CT completely and add to Florence, Rome and Venice but...

Siena can be a day trip from Florence rather than another hotel change- take the bus.

Florence- I see no problem with the 3 markets you have listed- they are all very different and don't take a lot of time. Mercato Nuovo is tiny and has historical significance- easy to just walk thru. Mercato Centrale is wonderful - grab lunch or dinner there
San Lorenzo is a street market you basically have to walk thru anyway to get to Mercato Centrale and other nearby sights.

I would add a visit to the Bargello and San Marco Museums- both are small, easily seen in less than hour and will not be anywhere near as crowded as Uffizi, etc.

Rome definitely needs more time. I would do as above- move all Rome nights to end- you'll get more useful time out of the few days you have there that way.

Sorrento- there is not really much there to see other than town itself which is delightful but you don't really need a full day for that as you have allotted on Day 2. You can and will see Sorrento in the evenings after your day trips.
We were extremely pleased with the Mondo Guides tour of Capri and Pompeii-money well spent.
www.sharedtours.com
They also have a very affordable way to see the Amalfi coast towns.
Capri- skip the Blue Grotto- it is a real time suck and may not even be open. The boat ride around the island is fabulous.

I am confused by your last day- why store luggage way out at airport?? Doesn't Napoli Centrale have storage?

Posted by
670 posts

I would also vote for skipping the crowds and the masses in Cinque Terre, especially since you will have the beautiful village, coastal experiences in the Amalfi area.
You've obviously done a lot of research, and are listening to the input given here. What a joy! Have a great trip!

Posted by
16590 posts

The reason we're suggesting you put all your nights in Rome together at the end of the trip is that it does take some time to get yourself from the train station to your hotel and get checked in. There's no advantage to going through that process twice. Since you're flying out of Rome, you need to be there on the last night anyway, so it would be more efficient to travel from Florence/Siena straight to Sorrento and do your Rome sightseeing at the end of your trip.

Posted by
513 posts

Agree Rome is way to light; drop CT.

Much easier to get to Naples from Florence vs Siena. At Napoli Centrale you can be driven to your Sorento Hotel for around €80, or one of the trains downstairs at Garibaldi:

https://www.sorrentoinsider.com/en/naples-to-sorrento-train-schedule

https://www.sorrentoinsider.com/en/campania-express-train-schedule [less uncomfortable]

Note that Pompeii Scavi is the stop for Pompeii. Sorrento ferries [later on] here:

https://www.sorrentoinsider.com/en/ferry-schedule

Luggage storage at Napoli Centrale, not the airport. Walk toward the platforms an you will see it [deposito bagagli] to the left.

Posted by
1524 posts

I count 18 nights, is that right?

18 nights is a nice length trip but it doesn’t really allow for 2 water/coastal locations when you want to visit 3 or 4 main cities as well.

Since you did say CT could be cut here is a suggestion- all quick and easy via train/bus/ferry just a tad less moving/changing hotels. You said you like to stay busy, you will have plenty to keep you busy and you’ll still need to go back.

Venice 3

Bologna 2
I assume this is a must? consider adding a night here
do a food tour?
(I’ve not been to Bologna yet, will be there in Sept)

Florence 4
day trip Siena, skip Pisa, maybe day trip another hill town

Sorrento 4 or 5
day trip Pompeii & Naples, day trip Capri, day trip Amalfi/Ravello

Rome- 5 or 4 (I consider 4 nights bare minimum for Rome)
(Also add Galleria Borghese to your Rome itinerary- tix in advance)

Posted by
11417 posts

FLState, I like Christine's suggested itinerary for all sorts of reasons. Your first itinerary looks suspiciously like it may have come from Rick's "Best 3-week Trip" plan? Maybe not but if so, most of us here think that one involves WAY too much moving around and too little time in certain locations, such as Rome.

From what I've researched online, 2-3 days in Venice and 2-3 days in
Rome was kind of the recommended time table

Nope. I think most of us here would say, as Christine has, that 4 nights/3.5 days is the minimum just to scratch the surface of that one. After all, it's a lot bigger than Venice proper! I'll say the same for Florence; if interested in her treasures, there is a LOT to see there. I second the vote to skip Pisa and the CT, day-trip Siena from Florence, and add the Bargello and San Marco Museums to the must-do list. Adding a third day will also allow you to shift some activities on your overloaded Day 2 itinerary.

Rome: as I see that you appear to enjoy art museums, I'd definitely add Galleria Borghese to the list. That one is a honey that we much preferred to the crush at the Vatican; excellent crowd control. Your current day 2 is a little overloaded, and it's a loooong walk from the Colosseum up to the Pincio (we've done it) so I'd shift the Spanish Steps, Piazza Del Popolo and Pincio to a separate day and add Galleria Borghese, Villa Borghese and Santa Maria del Popolo to it.

https://galleriaborghese.beniculturali.it/en/
https://www.turismoroma.it/en/node/739

Sorrento/Amalfi Coast: I'll second as well that suggestion to skip the Blue Grotto. If there's an attraction that falls into the tourist trap category on the island, that's the one. As noted, it is a real time suck (way more time involved in waiting to get into the thing than actually being in it) may not even be accessible, and there are lots of comments out there about the boatmen hassling people for tips. There are better things to do, IMHO. We enjoyed some treks to some further reaches of the island where a lot of the day-tripping mob doesn't go, such as up to the ruins of Villa Jovis.

https://www.capri.net/en/traveller-search?todo%5B%5D=nature&all=1

We didn't take a boat tour of Capri other than ferry from Sorrento (prefer our sightseeing on foot) but the tours are very popular so I'm probably in the minority there. We didn't take a Mondo Tour either but they see very high praise from folks who have, and will solve your transport puzzle for Positano/Amalfi/Ravello. Personally, given the oh-so-economical price of that tour (Amalfi Coast Full Day From Sorrento) I think this is a great option given all forms of public transport around the coast will be extremely busy in summer.

You're going to have a GREAT trip! :O)

Posted by
288 posts

I'll chime in with the "skip CT" crowd. Because of the crowds.

Venice is a great place to wander and get lost. Spend more time there.

You are also cramming a lot of Florence into a very short time frame. No time to savor anything.

Too little time in Rome.

Overall, I think you have done a tremendous job of planning, but along the way have overlooked a sense of pace and place. Your plan allows you to "see everything" and that is about it. Think about adjusting not only the pace of your journey but also how long you are staying in any given place.

Enjoy your trip.

Posted by
24 posts

WOW!!! These are fantastic suggestions - thank you all so, so much! I'm going to try to clarify some things and respond to some questions here ...

First, here's the schedule in, perhaps, a more understandable format:
𝘋𝘰𝘯'𝘵 𝘭𝘢𝘶𝘨𝘩 𝘣𝘶𝘵 𝘐 𝘳𝘦𝘴𝘦𝘢𝘳𝘤𝘩𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘱𝘱𝘳𝘰𝘹𝘪𝘮𝘢𝘵𝘦𝘭𝘺 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘭𝘰𝘯𝘨 𝘪𝘵 𝘵𝘢𝘬𝘦𝘴 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰 𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩 𝘪𝘵𝘦𝘮 𝘐 𝘭𝘪𝘴𝘵𝘦𝘥 𝘪𝘯 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘨𝘦𝘯𝘥𝘢 𝘪𝘯 𝘮𝘺 𝘰𝘳𝘪𝘨𝘪𝘯𝘢𝘭 𝘱𝘰𝘴𝘵. 𝘛𝘩𝘢𝘵'𝘴 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘐 𝘢𝘳𝘳𝘪𝘷𝘦𝘥 𝘢𝘵 𝘩𝘰𝘸 𝘮𝘶𝘤𝘩 𝘵𝘰 𝘥𝘰 𝘦𝘢𝘤𝘩 𝘥𝘢𝘺. 𝘐 𝘢𝘭𝘴𝘰 𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘦𝘥 𝘵𝘰 𝘮𝘢𝘱 𝘢𝘭𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘦 𝘢𝘤𝘵𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘵𝘪𝘦𝘴 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘨𝘳𝘰𝘶𝘱 𝘰𝘯𝘦𝘴 𝘤𝘭𝘰𝘴𝘦 𝘵𝘰 𝘰𝘯𝘦 𝘢𝘯𝘰𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰𝘨𝘦𝘵𝘩𝘦𝘳 𝘪𝘯 𝘰𝘳𝘥𝘦𝘳 𝘵𝘰 𝘱𝘳𝘦𝘷𝘦𝘯𝘵 𝘸𝘢𝘭𝘬𝘪𝘯𝘨 𝘣𝘢𝘤𝘬 𝘢𝘯𝘥 𝘧𝘰𝘳𝘵𝘩.

6/14: Flight arrives Venice 7:25pm; night in Venice

6/15: full day Venice; night in Venice; night in Venice

6/16: full day Venice; night in Venice; night in Venice

6/17: 6:26am train to Bologna; night in Bologna

6/18: 9:00am train to Vernazza, arrive Vernazza 12:43pm; night in Vernazza

6/19: full day Vernazza; night in Vernazza

6/20: full day Vernazza; night in Vernazza

6/21: 8:46am train to Pisa, arrive Pisa 10:30am; 1/2day in Pisa; 3:46pm train to Florence, arrive Florence 5:07pm; night in Florence

6/22: full day Florence; night in Florence

6/23: full day Florence; night in Florence

6/24: SITA bus to Siena (depart early morning, ~1hr train ride); day in Siena; night in Siena

6/25: 9:18am train to Rome, arrive Rome 12:49pm; 1/2 day in Rome; night in Rome

6/26: full day Rome; night in Rome

6/27: full day Rome; night in Rome

6/28: 9:26am train to Sorrento, arrive Sorrento 1:17pm; 1/2 day in Sorrento; night in Sorrento

6/29: full day Sorrento; night in Sorrento

6/30: day trip to Pompeii from Sorrento; night in Sorrento

7/1: day trip to Capri; night in Sorrento

7/2: day trip Amalfi Coast; night in Sorrento

7/3: 9:27am train to Naples, arrive Naples 10:43am; part of day in Naples; 4:09pm train to Rome, arrive Rome 6:07pm; night in Rome

7/4: Flight departs Rome 6:05am

I know I'm going to get questions about jet lag on that first full day in Venice ... I sleep quite well on planes because while I am very thrifty elsewhere, I fly first class on international travel. For me, it's proven to be worth it arriving well rested.

Yes, I have pulled many parts of my itinerary from Rick Steves and many parts from the hundreds of websites I've visited re: itinerary recommendations. This is a first time trip to Italy so I'd like to get a good intro to various areas and if I really fall in love, then schedule another trip to spend more time in those particular areas.

Bologna, yes, it's a must :) I simply cannot go to Italy and not go to Lamborghini. Ferrari, I'm going because it's there. But Lamborghini I've loved and studied since I was about 5 years old.

I'm honestly sad to skip Cinque Terre. It's on almost everyone's list of "must see"... including my friend from Italy. I'd planned to do hikes starting at 6/7am on the day no ships would be at port and before the crowds and the heat. Then relax and spent the day on a sailboat the entire next day. However, I can't help but read all the comments here suggesting to skip it. I'm definitely thinking about allocating those CT days to Rome/Florence instead. When I was planning a trip to Austria+Switzerland, I remember reading many posts from folks saying skip Zurich ... we really enjoyed our time there so I'm glad I left it on our schedule! That said, I agree cities like Rome and Florence are magnificent and deserve their time.

My husband couldn't care less about seeing Pisa but even a quick stop seems fun to me. Perhaps not at the cost of something else. More things to consider ...

Maybe also skip Siena and add that day to Rome, Florence, or Venice?

As for putting all my Rome days together, I have to agree. I hate backtracking but I'm going to no matter what.

Posted by
24 posts

Ran out of room on the last post ...

As for the "why store luggage at the airport in Naples" ... my mistake. Originally, I had us flying out of Naples. That's also why I don't have Rome last. I changed our Italy departure from Rome when I found better flight options.

We do enjoy art museums and I selected the Uffizi primarily due to the collection of Renaissance art. I do see an incredible amount of people recommend the Galleria Borghese though, particularly for the Bernini sculptures. Will have to consider which one we'd like to see more!

Blue Grotto is off the agenda! Thanks for all the comments.

Appreciate the comment about the long walk from the Colosseum > Pincio. I'll take your suggestion and move some things around.

For Capri, we usually like to explore on foot on our own. I will, however, check into the Mondo Tour that some recommended. Especially if it helps with the transportation bit!

Here's a question: If I cut out Cinque Terre, Siena, and Pisa (almost 4 full days), where should I allocate those days? I'm getting a strong feeling you all might suggest adding another 2 days to Rome (taking us to 4 full days in Rome), adding a day to Florence (taking us to 3 full days in Florence), and adding a day to Venice (taking us to 3 full days in Venice) . Yes? Or maybe something different? Oh, so much to see!!

You all are incredible with the comments & suggestions! If you feel like continuing to contribute ... my eyes are reading each one! Hopefully I can be as helpful to others as you all have been to me!

Posted by
245 posts

Hmmm.....I'd say too much time in Venice and Sorrento, not enough time in Florence and Naples, IMO.

In Naples, be sure to spend a few hours in the National Archaeological Museum.

In Florence, please spend some time in the Museum of the Duomo, not just at the Duomo itself......it's full of wonderful treasures and art, but it has a very low profile.

Posted by
24 posts

I also don't think I mentioned, my husband love to hike. I desperately wanted to do the Dolomites but it is just too far out of the way. It's fun to visit ritzy cities and hotels but my husband and I are very much at home out on a trail in our hiking shoes. I've already listed the hikes I know about in Cinque Terre but other than the Path of the Gods (which we'd do if we added anther day to Amalfi Coast), are there any other hikes that are enjoyable?

Posted by
13904 posts

I'm not much of a hiker any more but lots of folks here enjoy the Path of the Gods on the Amalfi Coast. I think the AC is has more scenic beauty than the CT, both on the road and from the sea. I didn't think there was much to see in Sorrento itself. It's a good base because of the transportation connections and restaurants. You might consider a day in Salerno, which has a well preserved historic center and a long seashore with a large sandy beach, wide promenade, great retaurants and very good gelato at Nettuno's.

Posted by
11417 posts

It's not in the Cinque Terre but we spent a day walking the Via Appia Antica in Rome and LOVED it. There is a lot which can be seen along the way, and it's flat so the miles go by pretty easily. The park/road itself has no fee to explore but some of the attractions along the way, such as the catacombs, do. Sundays are the best days to do it as they shut it down to traffic....not that there's much of that the further out of Rome you are on the thing. I might suggest starting at a further-out point and hiking your way back into the city; we'll probably do it from Ciampino next time as it's an easier jumping-on point than what we did last time.

Just another reason to add more time to Rome!
https://www.parcoappiaantica.it

Sections; we've done the first two + some other stuff when we got back into central Rome:
https://www.parcoappiaantica.it/home/itinerari/appia-antica

Useful downloads of things to be seen along the way:
https://www.parcoappiaantica.it/home/risorse-e-utilita/download/category/4-itinerari
You want Route 1, 2, and/or 3 in ENG. Downloads for other sections of the park, such as the aqueducts, are included as well.

Posted by
24 posts

Made some adjustments to the agenda, I did leave Cinque Terre

What are the thoughts on this agenda?

6/14: arrive Venice 7:25pm (overnight Venice)

6/15: Venice: (overnight Venice): St. Marks Square+Rialto Bridge+Correr Museum+St. Marks Basilica+Doge's Palace

6/16: Venice: (overnight Venice): Rialto Bridge & Market+Frari Church+Dorsoduro District+Gallerie dell'Accademia+Accademia Bridge

6/17: Venice: most of the day, then evening 2hr train ride to Bologna (overnight Bologna): Casually explore Venice without any agenda

6/18: Bologna: (overnight Bologna): Italian Motor Factory Tours

6/19: Early morning 1hr train ride from Bologna to Florence, spend most of the day in Florence: (overnight Florence): Casually explore Florence without any agenda

6/20: Florence: (overnight Florence): Cathedral Santa Maria del Fiore [museum/cupola/baptistery/archaeological site/crypt]+Piazza della Repubblica+Mercato Nuovo+Palazzo Vecchio+Ponte Vecchio

6/21: Florence: (overnight Florence): Galleria dell'Academia+Mercato Centrale+San Lorenzo MArket+Basilica di San Lorenzo+Santa Maria Novella+Uffizi Gallery+Basilica of Santa Croce+Piazzale Michelangelo

6/22: Florence: (overnight Florence): Bargello and San Marco Museums

6/23: Early morning 4hr train ride from Florence to Cinque Terre: (overnight Vernazza): Spend second half of day hiking Cinque Terre Blue Trail

6/24: Cinque Terre: (overnight Vernazza): Yacht/sailboat tour all day

6/25: Early morning 8hr train ride from Cinque Terre to Sorrento: (overnight Sorrento):

6/26: Day trip to Capri: (overnight Sorrento): Possibly do tour? + Explore Sorrento after return from day trip

6/27: Day trip to Pompeii: (overnight Sorrento): Explore on our own + Explore Sorrento after return from day trip

6/28: Day trip to Amalfi Coast: (overnight Sorrento): Possibly do tour? Possibly hike Path of the Gods?

6/29: Early morning 2hr train ride from Sorrento to Rome (overnight Rome): Spend most of the day in Rome

6/30: Rome: (overnight Rome): Spanish Steps+Piazza Del Popolo+PincioGalleria Borghese+Villa Borghese+Santa Maria del Popolo

7/1: Rome: (overnight Rome): Buy Tour of Pantheon/Forum/Palatine Hill+Piazza Venezia+Trevi Fountain+Galleria Sciarra

7/2: Rome: (overnight Rome): Buy Tour of Vatican City+Castel Sant'Angelo+Dampo de' Fiori+Piazza Navona

7/3: Rome: (overnight Rome): Casually explore Rome without any agenda

7/4: 6am flight out of Rome back home

Posted by
513 posts

One full day in Vernazza not justified by all this travel time. Plus on the two days noted there are mega-ships in port with combined capacities of 11,000; Vernazza the worst village to stay in. Train time 2:19 from Campo di Marte at 7:54AM. Arrives just after 10:00 which is expedient as being on trains up to 4:30 not recommended because of the big cruise ships.

Posted by
24 posts

I just referenced the ship schedule for Vernazza .... definitely not with 2 ships in port! Ugh. I so want to try to work Cinque Terre in. Main reason is to do the hike and the sailboat day. Starting to look quite bleak :(

Posted by
24 posts

... I'm also shuffling some things due to things being closed in Florence on Mondays (and other random days). Will report back ...

Posted by
1524 posts

Have you added nights to your trip- I now count 20
If so- that is awesome

Would traveling from Bologna to CT before Florence help?
(specifically with ships in port?)
You’ll have a few long trains ride anyway- esp if you go CT to Sorrento
You have expressed how important CT is to you so at least stay 3 nights-make it worth the trouble.
You could take a night from Rome or Florence- given all you’ve said I’d take from Rome, 4 nights there is still a decent amount of time.

Would this work?

Venice- arrive evening- 3 nights
Bologna- arrive late afternoon- 2 nights
Early train to CT- (4 hrs) 3 nights
Florence- 4 nights- (Mon, Tues, W, Th I think?)
Train to Sorrento- (4 hrs) 4 nights
Rome- 4 nights

Just a note on Rome plans- split Campo de’Fiori and P Navonna- spend an evening in each and spend a morning at Campo de’Fiori market.
Try to spend at least 1 evening/afternoon in Trastevere.

I think you mean “buy a tour” for Colosseum- not Pantheon. Pantheon is free- takes less than an hour. Hit it at opening time if you can.

Also- Florence- your 6/21 day is too full. I know planning Florence is a pain due to closed days — can you move San Marco museum to 6/21- it is near Accademia.
Move Uffizi, S Croce to next day with Bargello, plan to be at P Michelangelo at dusk/sunset- views are fantastic at that time of day.

Posted by
24 posts

Okay, I just spent the entire day re-doing the entire agenda. Whew! I feel like maybe I just start a new thread? This is so different than what I originally created. Here are the updates based on all the AMAZING comments & suggestions you all provided!

6/14 (Sun): arrive Venice airport 7:25pm

6/15 (Mon): Venice [St.Marks Square, Rialto Bridge, Correr Museum, St. Marks Basilica, Doge's Palace]

6/16 (Tues): Venice [Rialto Bridge & Market, Friari Church, Dorsoduro District, Gallerie dell'Accademia]

6/17 (Wed): Venice [Nothing scheduled/planned]

6/18 (Thurs): Venice > Bologna

6/19 (Fri): Bologna [Lamborghini Factory Tour, Lamborghini Museum, Ferruccio Lamborghini Museum, Ferrari Museum]

6/20 (Sat): Bologna > Florence, arrive Florence 10am [Boragello Museum, Basilica Santa Croce]

6/21 (Sun): Florence [Galleria dell'Academia, Palazzo Vecchio, Ponte Vecchio, Piazzale Michelangelo]

6/22 (Mon): Florence [Piazza del Duomo/Santa Maria del Fiore: museum+cathedral+dome+baptistery+bell tower+crypt; Piazza della Repubblica, Fontana del Porcellino/Mercato Nuovo]

6/23 (Tues): Florence [Uffizi, Piazza della Signoria, Santa Maria Novella, San Lorenzo Market/Mercato Centrale, Basilica di San Lorenzo, Museo di San Marco]

6/24 (Wed): Florence > Sorrento, arrive Sorrento 12:30pm [Piazza Laura, Piazza Tasso, Corso Italia, Sorrento Old Town, Church of St. Francesco]

6/25 (Thurs): Sorrento [Day trip to Pompei]

6/26 (Fri): Sorrento [Day trip to Capri]

6/27 (Sat): Sorrento [Day trip down Amalfi Coast [buy all day ticket for bus, stop Positano first, Amalfi second, Ravello third]

6/28 (Sun): Sorrento [Amalfi Coast: Hike Path of the Gods]

6/29 (Mon): Sorrento > Rome, arrive Rome 1pm [Largo di Torre Argentina, Galleria Sciarra]

6/30 (Tues): Rome [Pantheon, TOUR:Colosseum+Forum+Palatine Hill, Trevi Fountain, Piazza Venezia, Campo de'Fiori]

7/1 (Wed): Vatican City [TOUR:St.Peter's, dome, museum, Sistine Chapel, St. Peters Basilica; Castel Sant'Angelo, Trastevere]

7/2 (Thurs): Rome [Galleria Borghese, Villa Borghese, Santa Maria del Popolo, Piazza del Popolo, Spanish Steps, Pincio Terrace]

7/3 (Fri): Rome [Campo de'Fiori, Piazza Navona]

7/4 (Sat): Depart Rome Airport 6am

Posted by
16590 posts

You should see the word "Edit" under your signature block on the earlier post. Though maybe not if you're posting from a smartphone??

Posted by
24 posts

Oh my gosh, thank you!! I feel like an idiot. My brain is fried from working on this all day. I'll go back and edit it.

Posted by
16590 posts

Not to worry. Lots of people miss it. I did, until someone happened to mention it in a post I was reading. Hiding in plain sight, more or less.

Posted by
1524 posts

Wow- you gave up CT?

Here’s a suggestion-
Instead of 5 nights Sorrento and all that bus travel for Amalfi/hike
consider actually staying on the Amalfi coast for 2 (or 3!) nights. Or try to take ferry either to or from - the bus will be so hot and crowded.

3 nights Sorrento- 2.5 days
1 day trip Pompeii, 1 day trip Capri

2 nights Amalfi (transportation hub) - day trip Path of Gods hike/Positano
(if 3 nights then add day trip Ravello- hike out to Villa Cimbrone or do the lemon trail Maiori to Minori)

Take am ferry to Salerno- fantastic views of the coast- catch train to Rome.
Super easy- port is less than 10 min walk to station.

Posted by
24 posts

@ChristineH
I did give up CT :( It was a very hard decision but considering how much time we would spend getting to/from and the situation with the cruise ships (even with switching around dates), it just seemed like a real struggle. Not to mention all the comments about needing more time in the larger cities like Florence, Rome, etc.

I love your idea about staying in Amalfi for a few nights instead of staying the entire time in Sorrento. Everything I read said to "home base" out of Sorrento. Seemed like a hassle to me so I'm really happy to see you suggest it! Thank you also for the transportation guidance on how to get to to Rome because that was going to be my next question!

Posted by
11417 posts

Hard as it was, I think you made a wise decision giving up the CT. The other issue I saw with that one was hitting the "Blue" midday; the worst possible time to do that. To avoid some of the conga line that trail has become - and 2 of the 4 sections will still be closed this year - you'd have wanted to get on it first thing in the morning.

Worth mention: the treks I'd provided in the Capri link do not require tours! They do try and sell them (of course) but just follow the directions provided in the info for each hike/walk. Buy a map of the island on the day you arrive for weaving your way though the narrow pedestrian routes they call streets.

Yep, think about spitting your stay in the Sorrentine/Amalfi, as has been suggested.

Posted by
1524 posts

Sorrento is a good base for Pompeii, Capri, Naples but not a good base for the actual Amalfi coast.
We spent 9 nights in the area- it was our 40th anniversary trip so we were more laid back than normal.

We did 4 nights Sorrento- day trip to Pompeii, day trip to Capri (Mondo guides for both), a day to just chill.

Then had a private driver take us to Amalfi where we stayed 2 nights-
(https://www.topexcursionsorrento.com)
also used them for a transfer from Napoli Centrale to our hotel in Sorrento

Original plan was 3 nights but at last minute we decided to stay a night in Ravello and glad we did it that way.
From Amalfi we took bus to Positano- walked down thru town had lunch then caught the ferry back to Amalfi. That was enough Positano for us.
We enjoyed Amalfi more than Positano. Beautiful cathedral there.

We took the Red HOHO bus up to Ravello- I described how that worked out for us here:
https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/ravello-amalfi-salerno-bus-to-ferry-logistics

In Ravello- we had rain on and off which was a bit of a bummer but the walk out to Villa Cimbrone was great, fantastic views from there.

Took the ferry from Amalfi to Salerno and stayed there 2 nights- visited Paestum.

You could do this:

Venice 3
Bologna 2
Florence 4
Sorrento 3
Amalfi 3
Rome 5

It might be getting a bit late for lodging in Amalfi (and Sorrento too actually) so don’t delay if that is where you decide to stay.

Also note 6/24 is Feast of St John in Florence- I think you'll be OK leaving early that morning- not sure but train schedules may be diff/holiday schedule?

Posted by
24 posts

@ChristineH

Hmm, I was thinking of doing Pompeii and Capri on our own. Do you think a tour was worth it? We never do tours but this Italy trip is proving otherwise ... tour at Vatican, Colosseum, Italian sports car factories ..... I notice many tours get you in places an hour or two earlier and skip the lines. I'm definitely not interested in wasting valuable time waiting in lines!

I might like your idea of a private driver taking you from Sorrento > Amalfi. I'm reading that during the packed summer months, the bus can be jam packed. We travel very light so I'm not concerned about luggage. Just want to get from Sorrento > Amalfi on 6/27 and looks like the earliest bus leaves Sorrento at 9:15am according to their schedule. My plan was to arrive arrive Amalfi via SITA bus approx. 10:55am, go to hotel drop bag, then explore Amalfi and Ravello - I added your suggestion of walk out to Villa Cimbrone. Thanks! The next day, 6/28, plan is to take the SITA bus from Amalfi > Bomerano, hike Path of the Gods to Nocelle, take steps down to Positano, explore Positano, and then maybe walk back to Bomerano, SITA return to Amalfi.

I've already booked all my updated hotels but thanks for the suggestion! I book everything as fully refundable in case I change things around but at least I have something!

I think my latest agenda is almost identical to what you suggested in your last post :) Guess I'm on the right track!

Good to know about 6/24 Feast of St John in Florence, had no idea. I'll be sure to check holiday travel times just in case.

I still have one day with nothing planned and that happens to fall in Venice. If I scratch it, my schedule only gives for 2 full days in Venice. I can always shift that free day further down my schedule to another location. However, I'm thinking now that I've cut out CT, Pisa, and Siena, I've left a lot more breathing room in the other larger cities. I also have 6/15 in Venice packed from 9am-5pm. What do you think, should I leave the "open" day in Venice?

Posted by
24 posts

@Kathy

Thanks for confirming giving up CT was the right thing to do. Oh, it was such a hard decision! I also didn't like the hike starting mid-day. I gave it up because while I'm disappointed in the almost complete lack of hiking on this trip, I'm absolutely not interested in hiking with tons of other people on the same trail. I'm more tolerant of crowds in towns/cities but not with hiking because getting away from people is the point of the hike! Haha!

Thanks for the tips on Capri, I'll check out your links again. We so much prefer going on our own than a tour if at all possible. I haven't really scheduled out Capri yet so I'll work on that today.

Posted by
1524 posts

Tours- we only do if necessary as well. We don’t like walking around with our noses in a book trying to figure out what we are seeing. You just have to pick and choose wisely and of course your budget matters.

The Colosseum tour we did with Walks of Italy was fantastic. The 2nd time we visited Colosseum on our own.
The early entry Vatican/Sistine is worth every penny. No matter what you will be in a crushing crowd in the museums but getting in to chapel early was worth it.
We really enjoy Food tours- highly recommend any of Eating Europe tours offered in Rome. We did the am Trastevere tour and enjoyed it very much. Others here highly recommend the Twilight Trastevere tour. Use EATWELL10 for a discount.

Borghese Gallery- you must book in advance- it is a timed entry- 2 hour limit. To me- the Borghese is a must do

Venice- the Secret Itineraries tour of Doges was really good and also worth the very affordable price. You can also book a timed entry to St Mark's for a few euros to avoid a wait there- time it so you are in the Basilica when it is illuminated.
https://palazzoducale.visitmuve.it/en/pianifica-la-tua-visita/special-itineraries/secret-itineraries-tour/
http://www.basilicasanmarco.it/?lang=en

Another really fun tour is Alessandro’s Cicchetti tour. Search here on forum for reviews- it is mentioned often.
https://www.schezzini.it

For your 3rd day in Venice you can just wander or take vaporetto out to Burano/Torcello. If anything just to get away from the crowds but the ride is fun and Burano village is very picturesque and charming.
Purchase a length of stay vaporetto pass- you will get your moneys worth out of it. Remember to validate every time you board.
We had a short 2 days in Venice last trip and still went out to Burano again. Visited Rialto in the am- walked across island to Fondamente then vap to Burano. We took a picnic lunch. If you go be sure to check the return schedule and get there early- it will be crowded at the vap dock. (For this reason I’d put Burano/islands on your 2nd day- since on 3rd you are leaving for Bologna late afternoon)

Pompeii-- many just visit the site on their own- use RS audio or whatever but having a really knowledgeable guide was worth it to us. She made the place come alive, she knew which areas were closed, knew the traffic patterns so steered us around avoiding crowds and we learned so much. Even though it was pouring down rain that day!- it was one of the best things we have ever seen in Europe. 15€/each plus the price of admission = money well spent.

Capri- the part we liked the best of that Mondo tour was the boat ride around the island. The island itself doesn't need a guide.

As far as bus vs private driver. We splurged on that trip as it was a celebration. Every time we walked past the bus stop in Sorrento the line was super long. If you intend to take the bus you'll probably have to get there an hour before it departs to be sure you get on.
It was nice having a driver- we had him stop a few times for views/photos. The bus will be jam packed crowded and hot. The bus ride from Amalfi to Positano was only about 30-40 min but even I was feeling a bit sick by the time we got off. We did have a seat but the aisles were filled, standing room only.
Take the ferries whenever you can- at least it is open air!

There should be an earlier bus than 9:15- Sorrento to Amalfi
https://www.positano.com/en/bus-schedule

A day trip to Siena or any hill town from Florence would be nice. Maybe take a hard look at your to do list in Florence and drop a few things. Some of the things you listed don’t really take “time” per se- walk bys or walk thru, etc. Pick the most important museums/churches to YOU. I love art, history, architecture, etc but there is such a thing as museum overload.

Pop into any church you pass and you will be treated to amazing art, sculptures, etc- all free.

Your trip is coming together very nicely- don’t overpack it.
Piano! Piano!

Posted by
23 posts

Your revised 19 Days look good.
You made tough choices, but I think your time in Italy will be more enjoyable.

Have you decided on your hotels/lodging?

Have you booked your excursions or are you taking a wait and see approach?

Will you make reservations at restaurants or are you more of a play it by ear traveler?

Posted by
11417 posts

Just a couple of notes to add to Christine's last post....

We also prefer to explore on our own versus tours but given the crush that the Vatican Museums/Sistine Chapel have become, a tour which gets you in early and also includes the basilica - thus being able to take advantage of the time-saving internal shortcut reserved for tours - is said to be money well spent. There are also parts of the Colosseum which can ONLY be accessed with a guide (underground and 3rd tier) if you wish to see them.

Otherwise, pre-purchased tickets for most other attractions allow you to avoid long ticket lines the same as you would with a tour. No one at all skips security-check queues. There's really no right or wrong to the matter; it all comes down to how much research you're willing to do on your own versus receive orally from a guide.

As she mentioned, Galleria Borghese requires advance, timed-entry tickets, and advance tickets to the Uffizi and Colosseum (if not taking a tour of that one) will be timed-entry as well.

We did Pompeii on our own with a book purchased at the entrance plus advance reading (and it was my 2nd time there.) That worked for us but I will caution that the scavi is VAST - much larger than most first-timers anticipate - and a confusing scramble of streets so advance reading is strongly advised if going it on your own, and you absolutely will need a good map. Spend some quality time with the website!

http://pompeiisites.org/en/

Especially useful:
http://pompeiisites.org/wp-content/uploads/mappa-agosto-2019.pdf
http://pompeiisites.org/wp-content/uploads/A-Guide-to-the-Pompeii-Excavations-2.pdf

The 142-page guide in that 2nd link is extensive!!!

Lastly, if you choose to give the CT another shot on a future trip, there are many more trail routes in the park than the overloaded "Blue." Most are longer and/or more strenuous but are good ways for avid trekkers to escape the heaviest crowds. :O)

Posted by
11417 posts

I can send you some insider hidden gems

While you can't post photos here, why not just list those "gems" so that other folks researching Italy trips can benefit as well? And no, it's NEVER a good idea to post private contact info on public website, nor give it to someone you don't know reasonably well (although I'm not questioning your integrity, FLStateUGrl!) Contacting perfect strangers via email isn't particularly safe either.

Posted by
24 posts

Thank you all for the added suggestions!

Definitely booked tours for the Vatican, Colosseum, and Pompeii. I also booked a car to give us a day tour of the Amalfi Coast. All lodging is booked. As for dining, I usually do a fair amount of research, write down a list of places I'd like to try, and then try to work some of them in as we go.

All that said, it's looking rather bleak for this trip. I was really hoping everyone would be able to get in front of the COVID-19 situation but as more and more restrictions come down from my job, it's looking like much of the area will be off limits for the next year or so. My entire trip is refundable up until June so there's still a chance but, as the days get closer, things continue to worsen. Completely putting aside any restrictions I might be under, my heart simply aches for Italy and everyone else as we navigate this challenging time. I, personally, do not feel it even remotely responsible to travel, whether it be international or domestic, at this time. Especially to a country like Italy whose healthcare system is struggling so badly under the weight of the current situation. It would be unfair and completely irresponsible to add even one more person to the mix when they do not need to be there.

Even if my trip doesn't happen this year, all is not lost! I've learned so much from everyone's suggestions and recommendations (thank you again!) and I have a super itinerary for the future! I WILL do this trip another year if worse comes to worse and I'm unable to do it this year.

Posted by
9 posts

It seems like you are really trying to pack a lot into the short time you have in each city!
My recommendation is to slow down a little bit and enjoy that famous la dolce vita! I've seen that some other people have recommended food tours. I think that is a great idea as it is something you can do that it is still educational but a little bit more laid back. I've done the Roman Food tour in Rome and it was so much fun but we still learned a lot as well! I haven't done a food tour in Bologna but it is a great foodie town so I would recommend looking into that as well!

Florence is another great little city where I would try to slow things down a bit and get on pace with the locals! Florence is small so its a great town to just sort of wander around and get lost down little back alleys so make sure you leave some free time for that! Also, I've done a Vespa tour in the Tuscan countryside before which was the highlight of our trip! www.tuscanycycle.com It was a great way to do something different and still have fun and see some of Italy! They also do wine tours in Tuscany if Vespas aren't really your speed.

Also, unless you are really attached to the idea of seeing the tower of Pisa I would skip Pisa altogether. At the very least, I would only budget enough time to get in and out quickly. You don't need to spend a whole day, or even a full-half day there really!