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Advice for travelling around Italy in April

I'm in the middle of planning our big trip to Italy (plus a couple of other destinations)for 2011 and would appreciate advice on getting around and accommodation. So far our itinerary is to arrive late March in Paris (6), Amsterdam (2), overnight train (1), Munich (3), Venice (3), Varenna (3), Milan (1), CT (3), Florence (3), Siena or some other town in Tuscany (4), Orvieto (2), Assisi (2), Sorrento (4) and Rome (5).

We're planning to travel by train for the majority of the time but were thinking of hiring a car to travel around Tuscany and Umbria. Should we keep the car and return it in Sorrento or is public transport an easy option? We're also open to rearranging some of the destinations and possibly spending more time in Orvieto with a day trip to Assisi.

We want to stay as close to the city and town centres as we can so any recommendations for budget accommodation are also appreciated, happy to consider B&Bs, convents and Monasteries, apartments and basic hotels.

Cheers and thanks in advance.

Posted by
3258 posts

Hi Sam,

Your itinerary looks pretty good. I'd consider the following:

*Combine Florence and Siena--chose one, spend 4 nights there and do a day trip to the other.

*Pick up rental car outside of Florence (possibly airport) for your drive around Tuscany. Drop off in Orvieto. Orvieto is an easy train trip (about 1.5 hours) to Rome. Trains are a good way to complete the rest of your trip.

*Take the 3 nights from Florence/Siena and travel by car around Tuscany. Use the area near Montepulciano as a base. We liked Hotel I Due Cigni. It's about 4 km. outside of Montepulciano but is reasonably priced and has good parking.

Just some initial thoughts--I'm sure others will have suggestions too!

Posted by
18 posts

Hello Sam,
Don't know if you have found it yet, but venere.com is very user friendly and lets you look at lots of different kinds of accommodations in each place for specific dates, based on cost or rating...lots of pics and lots of user recommendations...
Have fun!

Posted by
204 posts

Hi Sam

My husband and I drove from Milan to Venice -to Tuscany, Umbria down to Sorrento then back to Rome- We took a month to do this and it was great.

I do suggest 2 things- driving to Sorrento was okay and then we went over to pass to Positano.- there we left the car at a car park and used the local bus and ferry to Positano and up to Ravello.

Would we drive again to Sorrento- probably not- look to leave the car in Orvieto and take the train to Naples then the local train to Sorrento(Pompeii is easy to back track to on the local train from Sorrento)

2nd - We took the car into Rome to the Hertz car rental drop off in the heart of Rome - would not do that again.

So the northern area is easy to use a car - except Florence.

We left the car at the train station on the Venice mainland and for 2Euros took the 5-8 minute train ride into the main train station in Venice

In most cases we stayed in Rick Steves mentioned 2 star hotels which were great - We are heading back to Italy in May and Venice again is on the list as well as Rome. We are going by train some of the time but renting a car to explore the back roads of Tuscany and will stay in Montalcino and Volterra and Orvieto.

When in Orvieto take the bus to Civita.

Have a great trip you will love Italy.

Next trip I hope is Australia and New Zealand.

Posted by
22 posts

Thank you, some great suggestions and I will definitely check out venere.com for accommodation - I've seen them mentioned quite a bit and gather that they're a reputable booking agent. We'd like to stay in apartments where we can, do they usually have washing machines or will we need to find a laundromat?

Even though we're used to driving long distances, I was concerned about driving down to Sorrento and think that we'll probably travel by train.

Can we expect difficulties with getting seats on trains in April or should we play it safe and buy a pass and make our reservations before we leave Australia?

Shelley, feel free to ask me as many questions as you like about Australia and NZ, I love them both although I've probably seen more of NZ because of it's size :-)

Posted by
22 posts

Sorry, another question I just thought of. If we want to go from Florence to Montepulciano via Pisa is that possible? Should we then pick up a car in Pisa?

Posted by
22 posts

Really sorry, would it be better to stop in at Pisa when travelling from CT to Florence?