Hi everyone - First time traveler to Italy and had a quick question I was hoping to get some help with. We're going to be in Rome for 5 days in May and wanted to take 1 day and do a day trip outside of Rome. A couple of options we were considering: 1. Naples/Pompeii per Rick Steves' day trip recommendation - the hesitation we have with this trip is we've heard Naples is a very densley populated, more crime than we'd prefer, somewhat dirty. Those are just comments we've got from people who have been there. That being said, Rick's daytrip definitely makes it sound interesting/worth the trip. 2. Florence - We've got great comments about Florence from friends that have been there. My question are this: Those of you that have been to both cities, which would you prefer or which would you do if you only had one day? Whichever way you'd go, we'd plan to take the first train in the morning out of Rome and the last day back just to get the most out of our day. Any thoughts/comments/advice anyone has would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance!
Do not fear Naples. We did Rick's tour and were fine. It is however busy, congested and overwhelming as a city, and you will be exhausted as well as exhilerated. Also, the pizza just is not that great. (Sorry Naples fans. Calling it as I see taste it.) Florence is, IMO, more accessible, more beautiful, so it depends on what you want: art in in Florence or the whole Naples experience ala Rick Steves. That said, there's more than enough to keep you busy in Rome for 5 days.
Josh, While I love both Naples and Florence, the time involved in getting to both and doing more than a walk thru,would be daunting. I think a better option would be to go to Orvieto, 70 min. train ride and it's a charming Umbrian Hilltop town. A total change from Rome.
I agree with Jerri. Orvieto is closer and a great change from the big city. Without a visit to a smaller town, you will not get the real feel of Italy. Rome is fabulous and you could spend weeks there, but the quiet life of Italy is also spectacular. Take the train and enjoy the day. Enjoy the local wine, the cathedral, and the people. Save Florence for the next trip and stay 4-5 days then.
Caveat: I have not been to Florence, but I will say good things in favor of Naples/ Pompeii, which was fabulous. As long as you watch your valuables, it's doubtful you'll be a victim of crime in Naples. Yes, it's "somewhat dirty", just like any other city of similar size (Rome included)...but the cultural attractions are amazing and it's a very lively, vibrant city. If you don't want to go all the way to Pompeii, then Herculeum is a closer and less crowded site on the way to Pompeii. But I don't see how you can do Naples AND Pompeii in just one day - there's too much to see in Naples alone. I think the train takes at least 2 hours just to get from Rome to Naples (from what I remember of my trip), so you're killing 4 hours right off the bat just on transit. Then it's another hour (or maybe less?) from Naples to Pompeii on the local circumvesuviana train.
Totally agree with the Orvieto suggestion, but if you insist on Florence vs. Naples, then go with Florence. Naples is fine if you are careful and not as bad one would think from reading about it, but still it is a big crowded, dirty city where you have to be on your guard a bit more than elsewhere. Florence is accessible and if you plan it right you can see the the David, Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and some other sights in one exhausting day. Right after you get in on the train take a taxi to Piazza Michelangelo and take in the panorama of the city. Then take a deep breath. Have a coffee at the restaurant and start your day by walking down to the Ponte Vecchio and then just power your way through the day.
I'm from Florence, therefore I might be partial. In your shoes, if I had to choose between the two, I'd choose Florence over Naples. However that is nothing to do with crime or rubbish. Naples is less dangerous than any US city of similar size. As a matter of fact if Naples were in the US, it would be the safest city with over 500,000 people after Honolulu and San Jose. Garbage collection was a problem (and still is in part) in Naples (I won't bore you with the reasons of it). However the historical center is kept clean.
It'd be too difficult to do Naples/Pompeii or Florence, as both cities deserve more time than one day. I agree that Orvieto (70 minutes from Termini) would be a great day trip. It'd be better if you spent the night and visited the incredible Civita, just south of Orvieto. We stayed in Zagarolo, 20 miles south of Rome. Our B&B host convinced us that there are as many fabulous tourist sights close to Rome that are perfect for day trips. We were driven to the top of Castel San Pietro Roma, a hilltown fortress @ 2,500 ft. elevation, and we walked down ancient foot paths to Palestrina, a 2500 year old pagan temple.
Very interesting tourist sights are all over the Roman suburbs, and they're very often overlooked by tourists who spend their time only in The City.
Florence is a direct hour and a half trip on the high-speed train, it's easy to walk and there's tons to do and see. It would be my choice. If you pre-purchase your tickets 120 days in advance, it could cost as little as 9 euro each way. In addition to great art and great sights, Florence also has great food - another reason to visit.
Another vote for Orvieto. It's a quick train ride and it will be a welcomed break from the big city of Rome. Florence is another big city and Pompeii is such a long trip from Rome.
I will always advocate for Naples. It's incredibly vibrant... my favorite city in Italy. HOWEVER, if you're just heading down that way to see Pompeii because you're interested in seeing well-preserved Roman ruins, you might consider going to Ostia Antica instead. Some people have their hearts set on seeing Pompeii; there's a certain romance or ghoulish allure to it. These folks mustmustmust see a city that was destroyed by Vesuvius, and they will accept nothing less. And that's fine. But if you just want to see the ruins of a Roman city (and don't want to pay 50+ Euro per person for the extra-fast train), and don't care which one, Ostia might be a better bet.