Help! I have just begun planning my honeymoon in Italy and I am completely overwhelmed! We are planning on going to Italy for 2 weeks starting in mid September. We would love to spend time in Venice, Tuscany, Rome, and the Amalfi Coast, everything else is up in the air. Any help would really be appreciated. I just orderded Rick's book Italy 2013 to read so maybe after that I will have a better idea of a set itinerary. My main concerns are 1.) Where to fly in and out of, we are coming from the NYC area. 2.) How are we going to get from point A to B (train, rental car??) 3.) What are Cant miss places to see while we are there. Again any help at all will go a long way. Thank you in advance! Zach & Christina
A number of people will say, stick with the four areas you've mentioned. They might be correct. I've only been to Italy twice and still haven't seen what I want to see. However, reading Rick Steves guidebook will help you determine your favorite locations. Regarding flights, do an open-jaw, lets say, arrive in Rome, depart in Venice, as an example.
Zachary, First of all, congratulations! If this is your first trip to Europe, I'd highly recommend reading Europe Through The Back Door prior to your trip. It has LOTS of good information on "how" to travel in Europe. Regarding flights, my suggestion would be to use open-jaw flights, inbound Venice and outbound Rome. Keep in mind that you'll lose both the first and last days in flight times, so will only have 12-days for touring. Although it won't be a huge concern for a two week trip, travelling north-to-south may be better in terms of weather. Also, the culture becomes more "intense" as you head south, so starting in Venice may provide a more "gentle" introduction to Italy. Using public transit to "get around" is usually the best method, especially the high speed trains that travel at up to 300 kmH. There are some potentially expensive "caveats" to be aware of with both public transit and rental cars. If you need further information after reading the Italy book, post another note. The Guidebook will provide a good description of the sights in each location, so you can both decide which places are "can't miss" for you. My idea of "can't miss" may differ from yours. Where are you planning to visit in "Tuscany"? It's a large region with lots of possibilities. Where are you planning to visit on the Amalfi Coast? Transportation there is not as well developed as in the north, so you'll have to plan accordingly. Good luck with your planning!
Thank you for your quick responses Jim and Ken. Reading through previous posts on this site led me to realize that an "open jaw" approach is our best bet. I would love to fly in to Venice and out of Rome, I think that is the only part of the trip that is set. I am going to purchase Europe Through The Back Door to get a better grasp of traveling overseas. Ken I love your idea of traveling north to south so that I am eased in to the increasingly intense parts of Italy. I think traveling via train is my best bet and I have been cautioned to rent a car in Italy so I will only do that if completely necessarry. I do not know which parts of Tuscany I would like to visit so any suggestions would be great. I would love to rent a villa or do something that allows us to interact with locals. I would like to visit Positano as it looks gorgeous but other than that I am open to suggestions as well. Hopefully the Italy book (just arrived via Amazon) will help me narrow down where we will stay. Thanks again for your great advice!
If I were planning a romantic honeymoon, here's what I would suggest: Start your trip by flying into Naples. Arrange to have a taxi pick you up at the airport and take you to your hotel in Sorrento. Truly, there is no greater luxury than to see a driver holding a card with your name on it when you get off a long transatlantic flight. He will take you right to your door while you relax and enjoy the scenery. You can arrange this transfer with your Sorrento hotel. Spend a few days in Sorrento ... visit Capri and Pompeii, and see the Amalfi coast by bus or ferry. Now go to Rome for a few days, by train. When you leave Rome, take a train to Florence for a couple of days. Or if you prefer, pick up a car and tour Tuscany for a few days. Be careful about driving in Florence and other major cities (you'll need to read about the dreaded ZTLs). Then end your honeymoon with a few days in amazing Venice. If you have a car, you could drive yourselves all the way to Venice and drop off it off there (you won't need a car in Venice) or you could drop it somewhere along the way and take the train in. And then, fly home from Venice.
Congratulations Zachary! I agree that arriving in Venice and leaving from Rome will be perfect. Don't skip Florence! You can day-trip from there to see Sienna, and even arrange a wine tour of Tuscany. One of the most romantic nights of my life was wandering from Piazza to Piazza in Florence, with the lit fountains, and enjoying the spontaneous opera singers and other musicians that play near the sites. When you're in Rome spend an evening in the Trastevere neighborhood. You've chosen well by deciding on Italy as a Honeymoon destination. I'd take trains everywhere. You may want to rent a car for pick up while you're in Florence, for example (at the train station) and tour Tuscany from there, but it's really not necessary. You cannot drive in Florence at all, as anywhere within the city is a ZTL (no driving zone unless you're a resident w/permit) You won't want to drive in Rome either for just that reason. With two weeks, you only have 12 days on the ground, and you don't want to spend all of it on the train! Changing cities takes a minimum of a half day by the time you check out of one hotel, get to the train, travel by train to the next city, taxi to the next hotel and check in! My advice would be to choose three cities only which will be 4/4/4 -- actually more like 4 3 1/2 3 1/2.....So choose three! IMHO
You'll be much more confident and better informed after the Rick Steves Italy book arrives and you've had a chance to look through it. The book answers all three of your specific questions. WARNING: Do NOT be tempted by his overly ambitious itinerary for 14 days. This is the one thing about Rick that makes me want to grab him by the shoulders and shake him. Part of the joy of Italy is slowing down. You've identified four destinations. Stick with those (or even drop one, as suggested by Donna) and you will have the honeymoon of your dreams. Start adding more destinations and it could turn into the honeymoon of your nightmares. (The book will help you decide which town in Tuscany and on the AC to stay in.)
In addition to Rick's book, his videos will help you decide which parts of Italy you may want to focus on. You can see them on Hulu and YouTube. I wholeheartedly agree with Michael that I like much of Rick's advice, but NOT his suggested itineraries - particularly for a honeymoon.
Thank you everybody for your tips and advice. I just started Rick's book so I'm sure a lot of my questions will be answered as I read through it. I would love to hear from anyone who has done a 14 day trip. Seeing as 2 days are reserved just for the flight in and out I agree that going to 3 areas for 4 days each is a good plan. I am wondering if 4 areas for 3 days is feasable.
Donna & Charlene - both ideas sound amazing! You are getting me very excited for my honeymoon! Cant wait!
Zachary, The suggestion from donna to skip one location would be a good one to consider. Of the places you mentioned, I'd suggest skipping the Amalfi Coast as that adds transportation time and reduces touring time. A Venice > Florence (Tuscany) > Rome route would be much more efficient and would minimize travel times, allowing more time for sightseeing and a more relaxed travel experience (likely important considering the occasion). You could (for example) structure the trip along these lines.... > Travel (2 days) > Venice (3 days) > Florence (4 days) - side trips to Siena (by Bus), Lucca, Pisa or other locations > Rome (5 days) - side trips to Orvieto or other locations (there's LOTS to see in Rome, so it wouldn't be hard to find things to do for five days). You might want to pack along the Italy Guidebook, as it will be a good reference source while travelling. Cheers!
Auguri , Zachary!
As usual, Ken has nailed it. Stick with three areas and know you will be back!
Zach and Christina, congratulations! I strongly suggest flying into Venice and out of Rome because flying out of Venice on an early morning flight can be challenging. You'll also be able to fly direct from Rome to NY, a bonus after two weeks of traveling. The Amalfi Coast is one of the most beautiful areas, I would keep it on you list and stay at least one night in Positano or Ravello. Scale. back on some of the suggestions in RS' itinerary, because it's your honeymoon! This trip could be the basis for future memory-making travels. So, I would suggest Venice-Florence-Amalfi Coast-Rome, with a side trip or two in Tuscany while you are in/near Florence (Montalcino comes to mind, small city, great wine and food).
Just don't try to do too much! I really liked the idea of arriving in Naples with the car waiting too! I'd hate to see Honeymooners spending all that time on trains........I've left out of Venice and found it very easy to maneuver the airport. Took a private water taxi early in the AM to the airport, and it was well worth the $$ and was a great last look! And I think Delta flies direct from Venice to JFK during the peak season.
Since we started our honeymoon in Venice I am a bit biased. ;) The "private car" idea works well there too; you can pre-book a water taxi and they will take you from the airpport to your hotel. Pricey, but maybe no more so than th eprivate car from naples to Sorrento. Or take the Alilaguna as we did; that was more our style and we were coming off a loooong flight from the west coast of the US. I join with those who advise going north to south, but I believe you have time for four destinations: Venice, "Tuscany", Amalfi Coast, and Rome, in that order. Then you can say, "Arrivederci, Roma!") A villa in Tuscany is not practical for two, but you could consider an agriturismo if you want to be out in the countryside. You would need a car if you opt for this. Personally, I would do this over staying in Florence, as you already have a big bustling city (Rome) in your plans. I suggest you look only at non-stop flights, into Venice and back from Rome. That will make your travel much easier. And it turns out that Delta has flights that on a very good schedule. You can depart JFK at 8:35 pm, and arrive in Venice at 11:05 the next morning. by the time you go through immigration and make your way to your hotel, you should be able to check in. For the return, you have several choices, but a good one is the 2:40 departure, so you don't have to rush around getting to the airport on your last day. You get back at 6:15 pm. Price for this combo in September is around $1150, at least according to Kayak.
Congratulations! We went on our honeymoon in November and spent about 2 weeks in Italy. We started in Venice and stayed there for 3 nights. We then took a train to Florence and spent 3 more nights. We considered going to Orvieto, Assisi and Siena but never pulled the trigger. We then took a train to Rome and spent 5 nights there. Keep in mind that your arrival day will be spent with finding your hotel and dealing with jet lag. Venice was easy to deal with because we took a water taxi from the airport directly to our hotel. It was a nice 45 minute boat ride and the fresh air was welcome after that long flight!
For trains between cities, check trenitalia.com or italotreno.it for advance purchase. I got super economy fares of 9 euros for each leg on trenitalia. The problem with buying in advance is that the tickets cannot be changed. If you want to just wing it, you should be able to get a train whenever you want, but it will be expensive.
Thank you for your advice and suggestions everyone. I feel like I should owe someone money for the help! One other question - does anyone have a suggestion for what type of camera to bring? I really want to bring a nice DSLR but I am nervous because Ive heard that pickpockets are rampant in many parts of the touristy areas of Italy. Does anyone have an opinion on this? I never want to forget these moments so I am planning on splurging and it will be fully insured but im not sure if it is safe to do so or if a point and shoot is a better idea.
My husband has a DSLR and has never had it stolen (in Europe--he had a rental lens taken in Costa Rica and another lens stolen in New Haven). If it's insured and you are careful about not leaving it around, shouldn't be a problem. I hear things about stealing in Naples, but I have never been, so I can't speak to the safety issues there. But I think you will want it for Venice, which is a photographer's dream. If you are a serious photographer, you may kick yourself for leaving it at home, unless of course you don't want to worry about taking pics on your honeymoon.
If you want to take the DSLR, go ahead. The threat of pickpockets is exaggerated when it comes to things like larger cameras. What they really want is your wallet and credit cards. At least that is what it seems; in many trips to Europe, including Italy, we've never been approached nor have we seen any suspicious activity. Keep it attached to your body with the neck strap if you are concerned, and do not set it down on a table or leave it iin an unzipped bag when you stop for lunch. Our 18-year-0ld daughter took hers (a nice Nikon) on our last trip to Italy and had no trouble at all keeping it safe. And now she has those wonderful photos.
We're all SO excited for you! Have a great Honeymoon -- feel free to name the first child after any of us! No monetary compensation needed.
Zachary, Regarding the Cameras, my suggestion would be to take both a DSLR and P&S. That's the method I use, and so far it's worked well. The DSLR provides a lot more flexibility under a variety of conditions, and the P&S is great for snapshots and for a "backup". There's always the risk of theft, so you will have to be vigilant. Don't hang the Camera on the back of your chair when you're having lunch, and be wary of any "distractions" that might occur. If you decide to go out at night and only take the P&S, it's a good idea to remove the memory card from the DSLR and keep it in your Moneybelt. What type of Lenses are you planning to travel with? Be sure to pack along adequate memory cards and at least one spare battery for each Camera. Cheers!
As for the camera, I don't think you should worry about having your gear stolen. Proper precautions such as those Ken suggested will keep you safe. I have a CAnon T3i but didn't want to take the camera bag along, so I bought a new p&s camera, but it's not just an ordinary camera. The Canon PowerShot SX260 HS is a 12.1 MP CMOS Digital Camera with 20x Image Stabilized Zoom. This means that, with IS turned on, the camera accounts for shaky hands or a moving subject. the 20x zoom is optical with an additional 5x digital. It also has a 25mm Wide-Angle Lens and shoots 1080p Full-HD Video. I could zoom in on objects very far away (1/2 mile) and see them clearly on the screen. To give you an idea bout the quality of the images, we took 3 of our pictures and had them blown up to 20" x 30" and have them on the wall over the sofa. They are not grainy at all and our guests can't believe that we took them with such a small camera. The general file size of these pictures is around 2 to 3.5 MB. I had 2 32 GB memory cards and didn't come close to filling one up (over 1500 pictures). I think Canon has developed a newer version of this camera, but for slightly north of $200, I don't think you can beat it. To me, the key is the optical zoom. The bigger that number, the better. Second on the list is the MP of the camera. This one is 12.1, but there are others up to 16 MP which will give you a little better definition. This camera is pretty small, but does a great job with allowing you to change shooting modes. It has face recognition and a gps. here is a link in case you are interested. http://www.amazon.com/Canon-PowerShot-Digital-Stabilized-Wide-Angle/dp/B0075SUK14/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1364389531&sr=1-1&keywords=canon+powershot+sx
I plan on using my camera for this trip, future trips, and other life events (baby, parties, etc.) so I don't mind splurging. The way I am looking at it is building the cost of camera and lens in to the honeymoon. I am looking at a few different full frame Canon DSLRs and a wide angle lens plus one with a decent zoom. I will have a camera case thats basically on a sling so that its always on me so I guess I should worry. From your past experiences it doesnt sound like cameras are the main target for pick pockets. I have also looked at borrowlenses.com as they allow you to rent any camera and any lens for a reasonable price. I think I would rather purchase one as an investment instead.