My first question is, "are we taking on too much"? Dates :October 17-30
Our plans are to fly into Milan and take the train straight to Varenna on Lake Como for 3 nights. If the weather permits our hope is to then travel to the the Dolomites (question.....Since we will need a car in the dolomites where do we pick one up which is close to the train station,(Milan, Verona, Verenna??) We plan to spend 3-4 nights in the dolomites (question #2 do we need reservations during mid october?) From there we plan on driving to Sienna where we will base ourselves for the next 4 nights and do day trips from there. (question #3 must see areas in tuscany?. Do we need reservations at this time of year or should we be adventurous and wing it?) From there we are considering driving to Orvieto and dropping off our car and then taking the train to Sorrento via Naples on the Amolfi coast.We would like to base ourselves in either Sorrento or Ravello (suggestions?) (question #4 do we need a car in the amolfi coast? We plan to ferry over to Capri, Revello, and Positano.) From here we would buss or train to Naples to fly out back to San Diego.
All in all we have 14 days which means 12 real days in country. I am concerned that traveling the length of Italy is too much driving. What do you think? Should be forget the amolfi coast and stay longer in the Dolomites?? (Is it worth going to the dolomites in mid October?) Stay longer in tuscany or in Lake Como?? We have been to lake como and are interested in Possibly Lake Guardo as it is more direct to the dolomites (any must stay places you recommend on Lake Guardo?) Would you even go to Lake Guardo or stay in Varenna instead .
My first question is, "are we taking on too much"? Dates :October 17-30
A few thoughts...
October is a great time to be in Italy, but maybe not in the Dolomites. I am very familiar with the Val Gardena and most of the lifts stop late Sept-mid Oct. See schedule here. You should check your specific target locations in the Dolomites to see what remains open. Bolzano? Sure, but it's not really in the mountains and it's really just a cute town. Castelrotto? Probably good, but again, the lifts won't be running so what are you going to do? If all you want to do is drive in the mountains, you probably can but if you want an active holiday, you A) do not need a car, and B) Will need the lifts running.
I do think you are spreading yourselves thin for the time you have. Here's how I view it:
Oct 17, Day 1 - arrive Milan, transfer to lake Como, 3 nights
Oct 18-19 - Varenna, etc.
Oct 20 - transfer to Dolomites, 3 nights
Oct 21-22 - Dolomites
Oct 23 - transfer to Siena, 4 nights
Oct 24-26 - Siena and environs
Oct 27 - transfer to Amalfi Coast (this will take most of the day)
Oct 28-29 - AC
Oct 30 - fly home
The only location you really need a car is Tuscany so if you stay in Siena, try to get a place that offers parking (a tough order - agriturismo best option). You do NOT want a car on the Amalfi Coast, IMO. You can have a car in the Dolomites, but it depends on the kind of experiences you want to have.
I would suggest you postpone the Dolomites to another trip. they are best in June-Sept and ski/winter-hiking season. Add the time to the Amalfi Coast and do that area car free. My three centissimi.
I need to disagree with the Dolomite response above. We've been in mid to late October a couple of times and loved our visits. The Mont Seuc/Seiser Alm cable car from Ortisei up to the Alpe di Siusi/Seiser Alm is open until Nov. 2, 2014. Terrific trip.
Thank you both for your input...Now I am really torn as to going to the dolomites or not. We do wish to have an active holiday and hike and would be disappointed if the lifts were not running. I will check out the schedule...thank you Laura for the link.
Is it a good idea to drop our car in Ovieto after Tuscany and instead catch the train from Ovieto down to amalfi coast?
Should we base ourselves in Sorrento or in Ravello??
One last question.... Would you recommend traveling without reservations at this time of year. The idea of being able to come and go is attractive but will we have trouble finding accommodations in tuscany or in amolfi.
Thank again for your help
I've been to the Dolomites in October more than once. Sometimes it's nice, sometimes rainy. It's a hit and miss.
Whether it's too much or not depends on your style of travel. Some people like to linger in the same place for many days and savor place. I get bored quickly, therefore I don't like to spend more than 3 nights anywhere, not even in Paris. I also don't take more than 2 seconds to drink an espresso or cappuccino. Some people nurse their cup for hours.
Leaving your itinerary firm as you describe, if it were my trip, I would rent at the Malpensa and drive to Varenna. Then from Varenna I would drive to Merano via the Stelvio pass (weather permitting). I would probably spend a night in Merano. Then from there I would drive to Ortisei and stay there a couple of nights. From there I would drive (maybe swinging via the Sella Pass and Canazei) to Siena area.
From Tuscany, I wouldn't return the car in Orvieto, if you intend to go to Sorrento. I would drive to Sorrento. In Sorrento you can return your car, or keep it ( it's up to you).
Regarding the choice of lakes, I prefer Garda (not Guardo) to Como. Also if you've been to lake Como already, I'd go to Garda this time. In this case you might consider taking the train to Verona on arrival, visit Verona, then rent a car in Verona to drive around the lake and the Dolomites. Then proceed as above.
Thanks Robert.. Great advise. Sounds like you would go to the dolomites even if raining and cold. Any places you recommend on Lake Garda?? Any must see's or places to stay that you recommend in Tuscany??
Hi again Jay.
Regarding where to stay, Sorrento or Ravello, I love love love Ravello, but it is not very efficient to stay there. It is a 1/2 hour bus ride to Amalfi to go anywhere else on the coast. And of course 1/2 hour back.... Sorrento puts you in a great spot to go to Pompeii, ferry to the islands, go to Naples, etc., a bit faster. You still have to take a bus to Positano and Ravello to see them, but not the added "commute" up and down the hill, as beautiful as that hill may be....
I for one do not like hiking in the rain. Snow, yes, but rain, not if I can help it. FYI, there is GREAT hiking on the Amalfi Coast, too. The Sorrentine Pemninsula is chock-a-block with hikes with views of the Med.
Thanks Laurel for your advise...I think I'll take it. Any recommendations on where to stay on Lake Garda? Tuscany? What do you think Lake Garda or Varenna on Como?
Dolomites mid Sept. Tell me about the Arrow in the Sky in Cortina. Tell me about strolling at night in Cortina. Tell me about the other cable cars along the Dolomite Road. Where do you recommend I stop for the night near Bolzano, what hotels do you recommend and what's a good place to strll at night.
Jay, I have not been to Lake Garda yet, so cannot comment. We really liked Varenna for a couple of days (3 nights). Rick Steves' recommended hike on the Sentiero del Viandante was a good day. Took a bit longer than Rick said it would, though. He must have been young when he did it. :-)
@Howard, you might want to post a separate question since you have some very specific ones. Rick Steves' Italy Guide has a nice overview on the Dolomites that would be a good starting point for you, if you haven't read it yet. If you like Ortisei, I can recommend the Hotel Garni Walter.
I like the North Lake of Garda. Any town will work. Although Limone is my favorite village, however several others are just as quaint (Gargnano, Riva, Torbole, Malcesine, Torri del Benaco, Bardolino etc). All are connected by bus, boat, and if you have a car you can drive all around the lake. In the south lake Sirmione is absolutely gorgeous, albeit often overrun by tourists (October should be better though). Lake Como is also very beautiful, but if you have been there already, then it's time to visit something new.
In Tuscany, besides Florence, the regional capital, there are several towns that are famous: e.g. Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Pienza, Certaldo, Colle Val D'Elsa, Monteriggioni, Montepulciano, Greve, Impruneta, and hundreds more.