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Advice for a first timer

Hey fellow travelers! (sorry for the lengthy post)

My wife and I are going to Italy for our honeymoon From March 22-April 2 and I couldn't be more excited! We're going to Venice, Florence, Positano, and Rome (trip is already booked, so I prefer not to hear on where I should have gone instead). My main questions are as follows:

-What will the weather be like? I've read multiple places it's very unpredictable that time of year. Could be sunny, could be rainy.
-I know lines are long, but are they typically shorter this time of year?
-Is the Doge's Palace Secret Itineraries worth it?
-If you had to choose one, would you go to Uffizi or Accademia?
-Will ferries be running from Salerno to Positano? Or should I just go Florence to Naples --> Sorrento --> Positano?
-How much time should I allot for Pompeii, and does it make sense to visit on the way from Positano to Rome?
-Is the underground Colosseum tour worth it?

Thanks so much everyone!

Posted by
1493 posts

cold, no ferries to Positano, but you can take the bus from Salerno as easily as Sorrento.

Could you share where you land and depart? Plus add what is booked--we want to give you some tips to maximize your time.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks! Landing in Venice, leaving from Rome. Haven't booked anything in advance yet, just kicking around ideas. Only things I've booked are Tuscan wine tour day trip and a dinner in Rome, but no tours.

Posted by
1493 posts

Allow me to suggest you save Positano for an anniversary trip--that would give your itinerary some nice breathing room, as four days per place is really perfect, and it eats up a bit of travel time--and congrats!

Posted by
256 posts

I did the Walks of Italy VIP underground. I thought it was interesting enough. If the cost is a lot more, I wouldn’t do it. If it’s minimal, then I would. What I liked about the VIP is you also get to go inside the coliseum not just see it from the outside of the stands. I would definitely do the VIP for that reason alone.

Also in Rome, I would highly consider doing this in the evening. It’s wonderful.

https://www.eatingeurope.com/rome/twilight-trastevere/?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIkbrCqNuG5wIVCtvACh2nXQ5SEAAYASAAEgL11fD_BwE

Posted by
207 posts

If you had to choose one, would you go to Uffizi or Accademia?

Out of those 2, I'd choose the Uffizi, but neither are my first choice for art in Florence -- I'd choose the Bargello. It's more about sculpture than painting (someone called it "the Uffizi of sculpture"), and that's my preference.

How much time should I allot for Pompeii,

That's a really personal thing, about what you like, expect, and if you've ever seen ancient ruins before. I was very happy with my 2.5 hour stay, but I know there are others who are happy spending the entire day there!

Posted by
188 posts

First of all, congratulations! Regarding Doge's Palace Secret Itineraries--we went on this tour last March, about the same time of year you will be in Venice. I felt it was well worth it; very interesting history and our guide really explained the structure of the building. Venice is such an amazing city! Be sure to take time to just wander. For Venice in general I felt lines and crowds were not bad at all; I definitely noticed a difference between week days and the weekend but still not overwhelming.

Uffizi vs Accademia: It really depends on your interests. The RS Italy book describes both quite well--perhaps the book (or another travel guide book) is available at your local library so you can compare them. Given your time frame, you are wise to choose one. Remember...you can see the other on your next trip:).

Regarding weather--our experience last year (March 15-April 5) was generally mid-50's daytime, 40's at night. One day it drizzled in the morning, another day was a torrential downpour all day. Other than that it was usually sunny or partly sunny. I tend to chill easily so I wore a silk base layer, fleece jacket, and a scarf most of the time. I wore my rain coat when it was windy, as well as on those two rainy days. On most days (hmm...I think every day!) we were comfortable eating lunch outdoors.

Again, congrats--and enjoy your time in Italy!

Posted by
261 posts

First of all, congratulations! I will try to answer the questions where I have a bit of experience:
Weather - can be iffy, just be prepared with layers for cold and a good waterproof (not water resistant) rain jacket.
Long lines depends on where you go. I suggest getting reserved dates/times for the Uffizi and the Accademia, whichever you choose.
Choosing between the Uffizi or Accademia - depends on how much art you want to see, both are wonderful. There's more art in the Uffizi, but the Accademia has David, which is a sight to behold. Me, I'd probably choose the Uffizi, but I've seen the David twice and the Uffizi only once. Perhaps fit in both?
Pompeii - I'd allot at least 3-4 hours, it's big and there's quite a bit to see. I haven't traveled from Positano to Rome, but you could perhaps do it on the way, if you left Positano really early in the morning. Buon viaggio!

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks everyone for your well wishes and advice! Very helpful. When it comes to going to the Accademia solely to see David, how does the real thing compare to the multiple replicas around the city? I know there are a couple in some of the piazzas. Obviously they’re not the real thing, but from what I’ve read, David is really “the only thing” in Accademia. If that’s the only reason to go to Accademia, would it be worth it to skip and see the replica?

Posted by
934 posts

You're in Florence why would you NOT see the real David. I will say I was blown away by seeing him. I did not expect him to be that grand. It's like the Notre Dame Cathedral, It's there...until it's not, then what a shame to not have seen it. We chose Accademia over Uffizi, but entrance was included in a walking tour (Walks of Italy), so it was not the only thing we did that day.
For the Naples/Positano portion of your trip where are you making base? I was suggest Sorrento.

Posted by
17 posts

Reason it’s one or the other is because my wife doesn’t want to commit to anything just yet in case she wants to relax and hang around the city (trust me, I know, when in Rome (or florence!). We’re going to be staying in Positano. Surprisingly not too expensive and it was really one of the main reasons we wanted to go to Italy. I heard a couple arguments of staying in Sorrento, but we wanted Positano.

Posted by
11091 posts

When it comes to going to the Accademia solely to see David, how does
the real thing compare to the multiple replicas around the city?

If it matters enough to see the real deal versus a copy, then there's your answer. Don't bother with the authentic version in the Accademia if you are not prepared, or care enough, to tell the difference. It's perfectly OK if you're not really into art but just understand that there IS a difference?

Personally? My favorite of a number of famous "David" sculptures in Italy is Bernini's version in Rome's Galleria Borghese. If I had to choose between the Accademia and Uffizi then I'd choose the latter but I'm also an art geek.

if you've read that the weather could be unpredictable, that's exactly what that means: no way anyone can tell you if it'll be warm, chilly, wet or dry during your scheduled trip. Prepare to dress for any or all of that, and not to let a variety of weather spoil your good time. :O)

How much time to allot for Pompeii? How interested are you in the history? I've been twice in my life, spent 5+ hours the 2nd time and still didn't cover it all. Some folks spend 2 hours and some spend 2 days. There's no singular answer here.

Is the underground of the Colosseum "worth it"? Based on your other comments, I would say no. I've not done it either but because enough of it can be viewed from the upper tier, and the tours don't spend all that much time down below. The serious student of archeological science might feel differently.

Posted by
13787 posts

Go to timeanddate.com and look at the "past weather" page - choose a city, then choose any month for the last 10 years and see what the actual weather conditions were. It will give you a much better idea of what may come your way than any anecdotal experiences from us here.

I've been to Rome in low season February and there were long lines for the Colosseum/Forum and the Vatican. I'd expect them to be longer a month later. And even longer in June. You can buy tickets in advance for most places.

The Secret Itineraries Tour is very interesting if you like history.

If you need to ask which one museum to visit in Florence, maybe Florence is not your best option. It is chock-full of Renaissance painting, sculpture and architecture. If you want charming towns, this is not where you should be. There are lots of other places between Venice and Rome that you could choose.

Are you aware of how long and complicated or expensive it is to Positano? From Florence you can get a highspeed train direct to Salerno. The journey takes 4 hours. Then you need to take a taxi for a 1.5-2 hour drive to Positano. Or you can take a bus to Amalfi (runs every 30-60 minutes, takes 1.25 hours), then change to a bus to Positano (runs every 3- or 60 minutes, takes about 45 minutes). OR via Sorrento - take a highspeed train 3 hours to Naples, then the local Circumvesuviana to Sorrento (runs every 30 minutes, takes 1-1.25 hours), then bus to Positano (about an hour, runs maybe twice an hour) or taxi from Naples (1.5 hours). . . . with luggage.

The only reasonable way I can see for you to visit Pompeii on the way to Rome (given the details in the answer to your last question) is to hire a private driver or a taxi from Positano to Pompeii. Then you still have to take the Circumvesuviana to Naples and get a train to Rome. You'll need to allow plenty of time for the transfer in Naples since the Circumvesuviana only runs about every 30 minutes and is often late.

Posted by
96 posts

We loved Positano---If that's where you want to go you will not be sorry. I know alot of travelers on this forum tend to dislike it but then they only spend a few hours during the day. It's magical!

If you have time for a hike, the coastline is amazing but your itinerary looks like you will be pretty busy.

You could definitively see Pompeii on your way back to Rome---especially if you had a driver to get you from Positano/Pompeii/Naples.

Enjoy your trip!

Posted by
621 posts

Weather can be anything from cold and rainy to glorious and sunny. Even if you do get cold and rainy (won't be everyday) weather there's plenty to do everywhere except Positano. Being on the Amalfi Coast on a cold rainy March day (I've done that) - well bring a good book (and it is your honeymoon, get a really nice place to stay). But when it's nice it's really nice.

Yes lines are much shorter. We waited 10 minutes for the Doges Palace in March a couple years ago. I had been there just the previous July and the lines were hours long. It will still be somewhat crowded especially for major sites in Florence and Rome though so plan accordingly, go early. Perhaps book entries the day before (I did that in March for climbing the duomo which requires a timed entry, couldn't get one the first day I tried but there were plenty of spots for the following day.)

No ferries that early from Sorrento or Salerno to Positano. From Sorrento to Capri will (obviously) be running.

Some people spend the entire day in Pompeii, some 'see' it in two hours. I spent about 4-5 hours. I know you want to stay in Positano but since you also want to see Pompeii, and you are going in March, I would consider basing in Sorrento instead. Then you can do easy day trip to Pompeii (and Naples if that interests you) as well as to Positano/Amalfi/ravello. And that way if you do get a rainy day you use that day for Pompeii (obviously nicer in good weather, but better than Positano in the rain) and spend the nice days in Positano/Amalfi. At that time of year things are not all open in Amalfi/Positano (or even Sorrento). There will be plenty of places to eat/stay but lots of establishments are painting/repairing/getting ready for the 'season' (which starts after Easter). One year I went to the Amalfi Coast in March as well as having been there just the previous July (different trip than the one I mentioned above re Venice) and the contrast in the feel of the places was significant.

Anyway, here's a trip report I wrote about Italy in March. This one doesn't include the Amalfi Coast which was a different March trip which unfortunately I didn't write a report about.

https://andiamo.zenfolio.com/blog/2017/5/italy-through-fresh-eyes---chashing-the-sun-in-italy-in-march

Posted by
207 posts

Obviously they’re not the real thing, but from what I’ve read, David is really “the only thing” in Accademia. If that’s the only reason to go to Accademia, would it be worth it to skip and see the replica

If you want to see Michelangelo's David and you're in Florence, go see the original. If you don't really care if you see his David or not, then don't bother with the Accademia, because there's not much else there. The question isn't whether to see the original or a copy, but to see Michelangelo's David or not. (It's not my favourite Michelangelo, or my favourite sculpture of David, so I didn't go).

Posted by
111 posts

If you are able to get tickets for the guided underground tour through the coopculture webpage then I would go for it.

https://ecm.coopculture.it/index.php?option=com_snapp&view=products&catalogid=4C0930AC-4328-54A9-269F-0167A81F48EB&snappTemplate=template3&lang=en

Tickets are 31 euros for an hour fifteen minute guided tour of the underground and the third level. (apparently the fourth and fifth levels are currently currently closed to the public.) We did this tour and it gave us a great understanding of not only the colosseum but many other aspects of ancient Roman history and culture. Even the people in our group who don't get all excited for historic sites really enjoyed it.

Posted by
17 posts

Thanks everyone for the advice, I ended up just purchasing the Doge's Palace secret itineraries, the guided tour of the Vatican, and will be purchasing the underground Colosseum tour when they're available.

I've decided not to book the Uffizi or Accademia in advance, should we purchase tickets, it will be when we're there (my wife doesn't want the entire trip to be set in stone with no free time in case we feel the need to just meander).

Also will be deciding on Pompeii on the fly.

Posted by
101 posts

Since you are going to have a guided tour of the Vatican I would skip the Uffizi. We saw both when we went to Italy and seeing the Uffizi museum after the Vatican was museum overload for us. We did like seeing the David statue in the Accademia and that was a more manageable visit. You are going to some fabulous places! Have a wonderful honeymoon!

Posted by
2146 posts

If it were my choice, I'd go to Uffizi in Florence and see Michelangelo's Pieta in St. Peter's. Of course, I prefer paintings to sculpture.

Posted by
17 posts

So I've got a question regarding the underground and third order tour for the Colosseum. I have been leaning toward getting that specific tour, but I was wondering if it would be better to get the guided tour of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum? I'm not sure what it's like to wander Palatine Hill and the Forum without a tour guide. From what I've read, the underground tour doesn't offer the guided tour of the other two sites, only the Colosseum. And the guided tour of all three sites doesn't offer the underground. This is all strictly on the Colosseum website, not third party sites.

Posted by
11091 posts

I'd opt for the guided tour of the Colosseum, Palatine Hill, and Roman Forum. The Palatine and Forum are complex sites that can greatly benefit from a guide's knowledge, especially structures which can take some imagination/explaining to visualize as there's little left of them. :O)