I am considering Naples-Pompeii, Ostia Antica, or Florence-Pisa. I realize that Naples and Florence day trips are going to be long days but its worth it to me. What would you recommend?
Of the three locations that you mentioned, Ostia Antica is the only "practical" location to see in one day, as it's reasonably close to Rome.
As noted in the other posts here, it is possible to visit Florence in one day but not something I would do. The planning has to be very precise, and even one unexpected event in the travel chain can throw the entire trip for a loop. There's so much to see in Florence, and it would be better to spend a few days and tour in a more relaxed manner. I wouldn't even consider trying to see Pisa and Florence in a single day trip!
The Naples / Pompeii day trip is also a bit challenging. At the least, it's a VERY long day. If you leave early (06:00), you won't get back to Rome until about 21:00 or so (depending on how much time you spend touring, and what trains you choose). You might also check to determine the hours of operation for Pompeii, as they may be operating on reduced hours at the end of December when you'll be there. You might want to defer that to a future trip, and stay a few days in Sorrento and/or Naples?
Another option you might consider would be a day trip to Orvieto. It's a beautiful Umbrian hill town, and has some interesting attractions. The Duomo is beautiful and St. Patrick's Well is worth seeing also (will probably be quite chilly at this time of year though). Siena is also possible, but as with Florence I'd recommend budgeting at least a couple of days for Siena.
Good luck and happy travels!
Laura: It all depends on what you're interested in seeing: Ostia and Pompeii are about ruins/ancient history; Florence is much more than that (art/history/shopping/culture/etc). If you provide some clues to what you want to experience/see, we can give better advice.No one, here, that I can recall has planned to do both Florence and Pisa in one day trip from Rome--trying to go the extra distance to Pisa is just too much, you'll most of your time on trains and in train stations.
We did a half day trip to Ostia Antica, and combined that with a visit to the Catacombs.
The day before, we did a day trip up to Florence. We barely had enough time to do the essentials in Florence, and I felt so rushed that I am actually returning to Florence for a week on my next trip. We caught the Eurostar at 6:30am, arrived in Florence at 8am, toured as fast as we could (had Uffizi and Accademia reservations, and it was December so the crowds were light anyway), had dinner in Florence, then caught the Eurostar back at 7:30. However, the train was late, so we didn't actually board until closer to 8pm and made it back to Rome just before the metros closed at 10pm. It was an extremely long day, though absolutely worth it!
Under no circumstances would I try to add Pisa onto that. You will spend the entire day on the train and not see anything.
ETA: A note about the cost of going up to Florence. Between the train tickets, museum admissions (plus we hired a private guide for the Uffizi which was very much worth it), food, and some shopping, I think that daytrip cost each person about 200 euro.
P.S. I will be there 12/26/-12/30!
Liz, how did you like your trip:
We did a half day trip to Ostia Antica, and combined that with a visit to the Catacombs.
My geography of the region is really bad...I have been looking up maps and reading but I am still a little fuzzy. The Amalfi Coast is the area I would really like to see. From what I have read Naples is okay but Pompeii is amazing. I know that everyone says expect to be back but I really won't be so it's now or never. I guess the logical side of me says Florence because it's so much closer but thats the only reason! I want to see the beautiful Mediterranean Sea! Are there any quaint towns along Amalfi Coast where we could enjoy the day?
Laura- I've been to Ostia Antica and it takes about 1/2 a day. I looked into going to Pompei, but heard so many "bad" stories of people trying to do it in a day that I changed my mind. However, when I was in Florence, I talked to a couple who paid to do it on a bus tour. The bus picked them up and brought them back to their hotel. She said it was about 200 euros (I think per person) Anyway, if you do it, I highly recommend you do something like that. What I found in Researching is that catching trains, etc. is extremely stressful and missing a train means big expense and problems. Be aware that the couple spent about 6-7 hours on the bus to have 5 hours at the site. Ostia Antica is a wonderful alternative if you decide against Pompeii. (From what this couple told me, you would be hard pressed to do Pompeii and Naples in one day.) Do pick one or the other. If you are seeing the Forum area you will already have enjoyed a large area of ruins. We added in Ostia Antica- I enjoyed it, but by the end I did not feel a need to see more ruins. If you go to Ostia Antica using Rick Steve's directions, you enter through the back way. My advice would be to walk all the way up to the front visitors center and then make your way back seeing the ruins. Some of the best ruins are up by the visitors center, and we were getting worn out by the time we got there. We spent too much time going through "lesser" ruins. Next post: Florence
Florence in a day: can be done and if that is all the time you have, go for it!! Just be sure you catch an express train. It will only make a couple of stops between and gets you there much quicker than a train that stops at every town between Rome and Florence. It is worth the extra money. Map out what you want to do and have a timeline. That way you hit the ground running and don't waste time trying to figure things out. If you are seeing David or the Uffizi, have reservations. If I was choosing one day trip, this would be my first choice. We did Florence in a day in 2003 (we were staying in Siena, but we probably had the same amount of time by the time we drove in and found parking, etc.) Also, in 2003, we were not suppose to go to Rome. However, when we realized we were an hour away in Orvieto, we just had to spend a day in Rome. We caught an early train and I had a timeline and everything worked out. I knew what Metro stops to get off, etc. We hit the ground running and saw St. Peters, The Vatican Museum, The Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain (twice), the Pantheon, The Colloseum, and The Forum. It was an awesome day. Could we have used more than one day-you bet. However, if one day is all you have-go for it!! We returned this year and spent more time in Rome, but we will never forget our first whirlwind tour of the city. It was one of the highlights of the 5 week trip. My vote: Do a day trip to Florence. (you probably will have already seen some Roman ruins at the Forum.) But I would not try to add on Pisa. It would add too much time messing around with the train. Spend some time at the outdoor markets in Florence instead. Buona Fortuna!!
Laura, can you tell us what you're most interested in? Art, ancient history, wandering around the city, churches? That will help us help you make a good plan. Are you only in Italy/Rome for 4 days then? Are 12/26-12/30 full sightseeing days or are they tied up with transportation (flying in for instance)? Also, how much are you planning to see in Rome itself? Is that included in the 4 days?
Ostia Antica: I absolutely loved it, but I am very interested in ancient Roman history. I preferred it to the Roman Forum because it's much better preserved and you can walk around on the ruins (climb to the top of an apartment building, the amphitheater, etc.), whereas the ones in Rome are fenced off. We went there on a tour bus, but it is quite easy to get there on the metro-train, and only costs 1 euro each way I believe.
Catacombs: there are several. I believe we went to the one called San Cecila. It was interesting, but probably not worth a detour for me, but then I'm not especially interested in religious history.
Florence: Absolutely worth a day trip, especially if you aren't sure you'll make it back to Italy and you like Renaissance art. I think you will be surprised how much of an impression Italy makes though, so you may end up planning a return trip whether you expect it or not. ;-)
I haven't been to Naples/Pompeii so cannot comment on those. However, the general advice is that you should not need to do Pompeii and Ostia Antica in the same trip unless you have a lot of time. Since you will be in Rome already, I would recommend staying closer and doing O.A. and not worry about Pompeii.
Also haven't been to Amalfi Coast, so hard for me to advise you on that. However, it does depend on how much time you have. If those 4 days includes Rome, you will probably only be able to do one long daytrip and maybe squeeze Ostia Antica into half a day. There is a TON to see and do in Rome.
I have been to Pompeii twice but this last trip we went to Ostia Antica and we all enjoyed it more. It is so easy and close and much more economical with both money and time than Pompeii. Go to www.ostia-antica.org for a tour. It's one of our favs now. You probably need to allow one hour each way to get there and three hours to enjoy it. I, like Ron, highly recommend a day trip to Orvieto. It too is very quick and inexpensive to visit from Rome and offers a whole difference experience as a hill town. We passed through Pisa this summer, as our daughter's flite departed from there, and while the tower and churches are striking (for an hour) I surely don't think that it's worth your valuable time. I love summers in Sorrento, Capri & Positano but I don't think you'd have the same experience with a day trip in winter. I also find tours and Eurostars are very expensive and avoid them and apply those savings to my next trip to Europe.
We do not plan on many museums (Vatican and one in Rothenburg, Germany) we just don't care for them. We are more into the "behind the scence" sort of stuff like open markets, antique and second hand shops. By the time I have seen all the typical Rome stuff(Pantheon, Trevi, Spanish Steps)in Roma I don't think I will really care to see Ostia Anica and (Florence-I haven't really researched it because everyone talks about the chuches and museums again not interseted.) We are going to be coming from Paris and Munich so I think I will be architecturally and churched out. I really want to see the Mediterranean. Sea!!!
I think Pompeii is really neat from what I know about the history. The way I calculated it 2.5 hours there 2.5 hours back. So if we left at 6am and got back by 11pm that's fine. We would have time to tour Pompeii, go to the Museum in Naples about Pompeii, then have dinner on the coast and what the sun set on the Med.....Sounds perfect very rushed but perfect!
Do you have to go all the way to Amalfi Coast to have a great day enjoying the Med.?
You should check Trentitalia's website for train schedules. To get to Pompeii you have to go through Naples and then connnect to the local train(see RS) and that takes more time. Between getting to the station in Rome, the train to Naples and the connection to Pompeii and the whole return it's surely alot for one day. It sounds like you might enjoy Sorrento more than Naples. It is beautiful and sits on cliffs that look to Capri and Naples and the beautiful Mediterrean. Sorrento is just south of Pompeii and I think that there are more trains returning from Sorrento than Pompeii to Naples. The Hotel Belluvue Syrene sits in a perfect spot to watch a most romantic sunset. I'm just not sure how the Amalfi is in winter. If you could spend the night it would certainly make it all more enjoyable.
I live in the sticks we have to drive 1 hours to get to the grocery store and we go 1.25 hours to go to dinner. Long days and long distance travel don't mean a thing to me: that's our way of life. I realize that "speed" traveling is not for everyone but it's for us.
You may want to reconsider going to Pisa. I feel that it's not worth going to. But, it's one extensive travelers opinion, which makes the world go round.
So after researching I have come up with a tentative plan:
Rome 6:30am-Naples 8:30am TRAVEL
Naples spend 2 hours: Museum (can eliminate)
Naples 10:30 am- Pompeii 11 am
Pompeii spend 2 hours
Pompeii 1pm-Sorrento 1:30pm
Sorrento spend the rest of the day leave 7pm
Sorrento 7pm - Naples 8pm - Rome 10pm
Laura, I actually think you would like Ostia Antica, but that is up to you to make the final determination. It's very much a 'wander about, explore the ancient buildings' vibe, as opposed to a museum. Not being interested in churches and art, I say forget Florence. It's THE city of art.
We are going to Orvieto on our next trip, and from all reports it is absolutely lovely, and has more to explore than just the Duomo and museums. We are hoping to go to a street market on Saturday morning, and spend time shopping for ceramics in the afternoon.
Some people do well with long days and lots of time on the road--you sound like you would be one of those who would do just fine. However, I would caution you to build a little bit of 'slop time' into your plans. One train strike or getting lost could really derail your plans!
I'll let others comment on the Naples-Sorrento plan. Have you considered actually changing locations and spending the night in Sorrento instead of returning to Rome?
Staying the night in Sorrento would be great but we have already paid for our hotel in Rome and I don't really want to waste that money! The new plan is in the Rome-Pompeii-Sorrento-Rome post it think it's better and more "doable" then the previous thought. We will have 2 hours in Pompeii and 6 hours in Sorrento....sounds great to me.
Laura, 2 hours in Pompei is NOT enough time. You will be running. Without a tour guide, you will be lost. You have to figure in travel time to get between the site and the train/bus too, plus unforeseen travel delays.
Skip Pompei unless you do it as a day trip from Sorrento. Ostia Antica is a much more practical day trip.
I spent a week in Rome last year. We spent 3 days just exploring Rome, soaking it all in, not rushed. We took a day trip to Ostia, and spent the better part of the morning until just after lunch there.
Took a day trip to Ovieto - I'd been before and LOVED it, wanted to take my daughter to see it. BEST day trip from Rome!
You are trying to see too much in one day. You really want to slow down. Sure, you can say you were there - but did you really see it? NO, not Pompei in 2 hours! You cannot soak in the history, or see much of his fairly large site in the time you have allowed.
We considered a day trip to Florence from Rome, it was actually a plan, but once we got to Rome and I realized the cost of the train and the time it would time, we skipped it. Florence for me is best left as a separate trip. (I've been there before, wanted my daughter to see it - we'll go again,Florence as a base)
We've been to Italy 6 times now. We certainly plan to keep going back, each time to explore a different region. Try to control your desires to see it all this trip.
Pisa is best seen from Florence, not Rome as others have stated.
If you want to see Italy from a train window, "tag" the site with a few photos, you go girl, but now you've got way too much planned as day trips. Enjoy Italy by enjoying the calm and beauty. You can certainly spend a good 4-5 days on sites in Rome alone!
I agree with what many have said-don't try to do Florence AND Pisa. Pisa is really not worth the time it takes to get there. Of all the places I've been in Italy (and I love Italy), Pisa disappointed me the most. There were so many tacky souvenir booths surrounding the area.
Ostia Antica v. Pompeii:
Pros of Ostia: Ostia is MUCH closer and easy to get to. You won't have the crowds of Pompeii. In fact, you can wander for long chunks of time without running into another person, depending on where you are at the site. It's very peaceful, except when you run into groups of Italian school children on field trips, but those are charming in their own way. Ostia is a HUUGE site (almost as big as Pompeii) and it's only recently been dug up (20th c.) so it's in pretty good shape as ancient Roman ruins go. Pompeii was dug up starting in the 1700s so it has suffered over the years from looting and weather damage. (The cafeteria at Ostia is quite good.)
Cons of Ostia: The Ostia museum onsite is small and not particularly impressive, but worth it, if you're already there. Ostia doesn't have the "romance" or the fame of Pompeii, since Ostia wasn't buried all at once by a volcano - it was slowly abandoned and then buried over the years.
Differences - Pompeii was the resort town where the wealthy Romans went to get away from the city. Ostia was a functioning thriving seaport.
Laura....are you kidding? I sure hope so. Have you ever traveled to Italy before? If not, then you have no idea that what you are planning is nearly impossible. Not unless you want to step out of the train and look and then jump right back on....saying you were there. Sorry, but your itinery is not at all possible to do in one complete day. Pick ONE destination and enjoy it.
After your collective response to my plans I have decided to research Sorrento hostels. I think we may stay the night in Sorrento so we have more time to explore and we can go to the Archaeology Museum in Naples. The only bummer is we already paid for our hotel in Rome so I hope to find a cheap bed in Sorrento, either way I think it will be worth it.
Thanks to most of you! I really appreciate critique, but to a few, your cynical criticism I could have gone without.
laura, I can appreciate your predicament, given that you've already paid for your Hotel in Rome. Finding a Hostel in Sorrento for one night will probably make for a more enjoyable and relaxing trip, and won't add a lot to your travel budget.
Although your latest schedule (your Post of 11/8) is theoretically feasible, the timing is very "tight" and one unexpected event could upset the best laid plans.
I believe there is at least one Hostel in Sorrento listed in Rick's Italy book (don't have my copy in front of me, so can't verify this right now).
As you will be off-season I think that you may get some great offers from hotels/hostels. We'e stayed at Hotel Minerva & Albergo Cielo Settimo (email@example.com). Both have amazing view rooms with balconies although if the weather isn't great it's a bit of a walk. We took the hydrofoil to Naples and had fun walking up to the museum via the historic part of town.
Not to throw another wrinkle in here, but if you truly want to see and enjoy the SEA - find Orbetello (sp?) on the map. It is a small "island" just north of Rome. Porto San Stefano is a great fishing village - and you can actually get right down to the sea and walk the beach... Just a thought.
"Orbetello" is indeed the correct spelling. It's on my list of places to consider going on our next trip to Italy.