I am coming off my second deployment and will be taking 18 days off to travel Europe again. Last year I did 12 days solo in Germany and had a fantastic time. I will be flying into and out of Germany again, but have a friend from the states meeting me. He is dead set on visiting Italy during our time which will be between 2 and 20 March 2013. We will be traveling with a backpack each and not a lot else. I've read the warnings for Rome, Naples and Florence and expect to stand out so early in the season, but I've been trained to spot troublemakers before they get too close. At any rate, does anyone have suggestions for what areas will be nice to visit during this off-season period? I am not very interested in Rome, after all the reading I've done, but we'll likely spend 2 days there seeing the sights. I have also considered the CT, Florence and Herculaneum. Rick Steves and fellow adventurers here did me well last year, I look forward to your advice!
Hi Bruce... Will be traveling to Italy for the first time too, so I don't have much to offer. I was not that interested in Venice because I had the notion it was just a tourist trap. But the more I read about it, the more I fell in love with going there. It's really amazing to see the satellite view of Venice on google maps, too! Mainly I just wanted to shake your hand, say thank you, and wish you a wonderful trip. :)
If you are considering Herculaneum, you might want to spend a couple of days in Sorrento and perhaps go a little further south to Paestum, a nice place to relax among Greek temple ruins and a beach, but the beach probably won't be open that early. As for Rome, I lived there on and off for nine years, didn't go back for several years and scared myself by reading all the warnings. But it's Rome, I had to go, have been several times recently and have never had a problem.
I forgot to add, we'll be traveling by train from Frankfurt to Munich and from there on to our destinations in Italy!
I have to say that I'm wondering what kind of "warnings" you've read about Italy, and what you've read about Rome that would make you not interested in it. (And you're not going to "stand out" any more than thousands of other tourists.) I suggest getting a copy of Rick's book on Italy as a great way to acquaint yourself with this amazing country. Happy travels.
My references were to petty theft, which Rick points out in his books. After spending as many months as I have here, I'm not in the mood to deal with something like that, especially if I can avoid the high-incidence areas. I'd like to relax. Anyhow, I've got a few copies of Rick's books, but I'm interested in what people have to say about where to go in March.
We are older tourists and have been in Italy twice for three weeks each time and both times in middle March. Tourists will always stand out no matter when we go. We had no problem with petty theft, pickpockets, etc. This is not to say it will never happen. Where ever you travel you should be alert, whether in a foreign country or the US. Also, between the two trips we spent 12 days in Rome and plan to return again. Don't know what you've read about Rome; I hope whatever it is will be disproven when you're actually there.
March in Italy will be very enjoyable. It's too early in the season for the Cinque Terre and other rural attractions. Depending on your route, Bologna is a nice interesting city and has enough liveliness to help you pass the evening hours.
I will be in Italy the end of March. What kind of weather should I expect? Not sure whether to pack spring stuff or still warmer-wear.
Pack for spring, it is unlikely you'll encounter hot weather. As for Venice, both realities are true - it's an incredible place that you really should see, and it is now totally dependant on tons of tourists. Seeing it in March is good as it will make it easier to see deeply. I find getting up and out early is another way to gain insight. And, of course, the more you know about a place, the more you will see.
Thank you all for the advice so far. All the information I have found so far says that many of the Cinque Terre inland trails and places to stay are open. Is there another place for more updated information?
Hi Bruce, Here's a link to a site created to assist Vernazza with its recovery and it has lots of helpful info about trail conditions. Check out the Trip Advisor drop down menu, and especially its Trip Planner sub-section. http://savevernazza.com Thanks for your service! Have a fun trip!
Hi Bruce, My (now) husband and I went to Rome for 5 nights in March 2011 and onto Venice for 3 nights. Everything was open, we used the subways and buses, gave Michael the job of wearing either the moneybelt or the one that hangs off his belt (hee hee) and kept alert and had no issues. We seen the Borghese Gallery and Gardens (AMAZING!!), we did the Colosseum underground tour which takes you underground and then onto the third tier then walked aroud the main on our own, very highly recommended and then continued onto the Roman Forum. It was also very interesting and again, highly recommended. We never never made it to Palentine Hill b/c our feet were killing us and plan on seeing that this November for our delayed Honeymoon. We also went to the Vatican and loved it. We did some of Steve's walking tours and just explored. I will admit, those flower pushers are ANNOYING but I just said "no" loudly everytime they approached us and they left us alone. The weather in Rome was really nice, and light coats were perfect. In Venice we did a tour of Dodges Palace and loved it! When we got to Venice in rained probably 80% of the time but that didn't bother us, we just sat at Cafes and people watched! I look forward to your reports on your trip, I'm sure you'll love it!!