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Italy schedule - via COSTCO travel - June 2016

Hokay - like everyone else, I think Rick Steve's is a wonderful resource and thanks Rick.

We are pretty well traveled in Europe and Asia, however Italy is new territory. I'm busy and getting older so I booked a 14 night trip via COSTCO (and you can bet I will let you know how that works out - I think just fine), mostly because they had decent prices based on flying business class (although I went with BA (half is AA) - I should probably have gone with Air France). Edit - I am very tall - so coach is really tough,

I have booked tours and tickets and supplemental in advance. Here's what we are doing (two adults and a 10 year old).

Rome - Florence - Venice is the plan and here itinerary to throw rocks at:

Rome - Day 1 into Rome early - who knows. Possibly Tivoli or Ostia Antica
Day 2 - Vatican tour (am tour booked) - after ??? Perhaps a leftover from day 1 or a walk around.
Day 3 - Possibly general Pope Audience (if my reservation is actually there) in AM, PM is open.
Day 4 - Train to Naples and Cicumvesuviana to Pompeii, thence Sorrento and back to Rome (long day)
Day 5 - Colosseum (have tickets pre-booked but no tour) - May parse day 2/3 time into the tickets (48 hrs 1 -visit each place) and keep this day open.
Florence
Day 6 - To Florence from Rome (early AM)- Open but with dinner reservations at Quattro Leoni
Day 7 - Uffizi in the AM - Accademia in the early PM (remember we are dragging a kid along - can't linger in museums forever - tickets booked)
Day 8 - Train to Bologna (booked) - Ducati factory tour (booked) - probably take train to Modena from Bologna for Enzo Ferrari museum - thence back to Bologna and to "Florence" (long day).
Day 9 - Open early morning - then 5 hr. vintage Fiat 500 drive through Tuscany w/lunch, etc. (booked and nice deal as kid is free).
Day 10 - Duomo (booked) - museum, bell tower, Duomo and a few other sited included.
Venice
Day 11 - Florence to Venice - early AM - no specific agenda - relax and explore
Day 12 - Venice - no specific agenda - relax and explore
Day 13 - Venice - no specific agenda - relax and explore
Day 14 - Train to Pauda and Scrovengi tour (booked). Will go to St. Anthony's Basilica as well.
Day 15 - Early am out to airport and back.

We started out thinking we would relax and see the sights (having never been to Italy before). Of course after finding out that there are 500 sites (for starters) I pared it down and have kept Venice open as I think we will be on overload (hahaha).

Hotels: Rome Starhotel Metropole (near termini) - Florence the Baglioni, Venice the Danieli.

Part of posting this is to remind myself of the schedule - I have an half an inch of tickets in a folder. The other parts are to review COSTCO travel (I expect to be fine - however this is not an inexpensive jaunt) and to benchmark my travel plans off others.

Getting ready to go so have a glance and chime in.

Posted by
1728 posts

No doubt, you will see a lot. And I will be curious to see how the logistics via Costco work out. Is it self-planned or a pre-set tour? Only issue I really have is with Day 4, but you know it's going to be long going in, so you can be prepared for dragging towards the end of the day. I think adding Sorrento to the mix that day, which includes Pompeii, is borderline masochistic, but that's just me. If it's hot at the ruins, that could knock the stuffings out of you which is a shame because Pompeii is spectacular and really demands an entire day to pace yourself and soak it all in.

Good luck, let us know how it turns out!

Posted by
51 posts

Thanks Jay

Costco provided: RT air, hotels and also the transfers into Rome and out of Venice EDIT - also the rail links from Rome to Florence and Florence to Venice.. Everything else I have done via internet i.e., Trenitalia, Museums, Ducati, etc., and a bit with City Wonder and Viatour (Vatican and Tuscany).

Day four - yes - Sorrento is totally optional - if we make it we do - if not, no bother - the train schedule back to Rome is the governing part.

Posted by
23851 posts

I think all of you will have an enjoyable time with that schedule.

The only things I would have changed would to have swapped ends to start in Venice and end in Rome. Flights out of Venice connecting elsewhere in Europe back to North America tend to be very early in the morning which means being up in the middle of the night whereas flights home from Rome tend to be later in the day.

The other thing is I would have added more days to Venice, as much as a week because it is absolutely unique - but if you stayed additional nights at the Danieli you would probably have to start selling children to pay for it.

Let's see how Costco does....

Posted by
51 posts

Nigel - I'm laughing at your post - yes - as I have seen the Danieli is dear - but we do need to keep the kids. I booked way back in December. The same thing for Venice hotels applies for camping spots in our Yellowstone NP. Yes it is a 0400 at the dock departure from hotel. Ireland always irritated me about that too - not as much as the mother in law in Dublin - but close...

Posted by
1728 posts

Bud Light--

The fact that you can rest on the train on the way back is comforting, even for a tall dude like you. BTW, I envy you in business class on the flights. Being able to stretch out makes a ton of difference.

Finally, back to Pompeii--do advance research or at the very least download the RS Pompeii podcast for use in real time while there. We did it a year ago March and it really helped understand the ruins because almost nothing is marked. Even better if you have a knowledgeable guide.

Posted by
17088 posts

I enjoyed Ostia Antica (Rick has an audio guide you should download in advance onto your electronic devices), but I suggest not dragging yourselves out there on jetlag day when you have a trip to Pompeii scheduled a few days later. If you are not feeling ambitious enough to go out to Tivoli on Day 1, you might consider wandering around Trastevere and/or going to one of the local street markets (standard warning: guard you wallets and purses).

Posted by
11701 posts

Day 5 - Colosseum (have tickets pre-booked but no tour) - May parse
day 2/3 time into the tickets (48 hrs 1 -visit each place) and keep
this day open.

It sounds like you are thinking about splitting your visits between two different days? That's fine; just be aware that the combo ticket is good for 2 consecutive days from the first use (not 48 hours). Even though they're technically two sites, the Forum and Palatine are considered a single attraction, meaning they must be visited together on the same day, and are 'attached': you pass directly from one to the other inside of the gates.

For example, you can do, say, the Colosseum on a Monday and Forum/Palatine on Tuesday or the other way around. What you can't do is the Colosseum + Forum on Monday and the Palatine on Tuesday: you can't do split visits to Forum/Palatine. Does this make sense?

It usually makes the most sense to do all three on the same day as they're in the same area but you certainly could split them up if that's too much for the kids.

Posted by
51 posts

Kathy thanks yes - makes sense - I had not thought about it that way. My idea was if we were to split it would be exactly as you describe from a logistical standpoint - that was what made sense - so very cool for you to put me straight on that!

Posted by
5164 posts

I have heard good things about Costco travel. I've checked with them a couple of times for domestic airfare and rental cars, but it didn't seem like they had any price advantage over self-booking online. Did you have a cost comparison for the airfares through them vs on your own? Do they have much expertise to offer on European travel?
Did they actually provide you any advice or guidance, or did you know exactly what you wanted in advance? I have nothing against travel agencies (and use one often) I am just wondering if Costco provided some added value.

Posted by
2525 posts

More than a handful of travel bookings via Costco Travel for me, including hotel only, hotel/auto packages and cruises. Trips were within the U.S. and internationally, except no trips booked to Europe. I’ve booked airfare separately in all cases so can’t comment on that aspect. Auto rentals can be a good deal. Representatives are knowledgeable (much more so than the travel agents contacted in the past) and helpful. What I like is a) quality service and b) no surprises as to pricing. It’s easy to shop with Costco Travel and compare with your other options. Like.

Posted by
4090 posts

I agree that Ostia or Tivoli might be a bit much for Day 1. Have you considered just having a "Welcome to Italy Orientation Day?" You're arriving early, but you still have to get to your hotel, check in, find lunch ... and as you know, as seasoned travelers, you're going to poop out early that first day.

Rome is big, loud, bustling... in other words, it can be overwhelming. I'd seriously consider taking it easy. Walk around, see the Pantheon, find that good gelato place near there, peek into some churches for the art, find a trattoria for dinner... Then get a good night's sleep and be ready to experience the best of Italy.

Happy travels.

Posted by
11701 posts

I'll agree as well that Osita/Tivoli are too much for Day 1. Best to spend it just getting acclimated.

As you haven't posted actual dates, I can't tell what day of the week your Day 1 is? I see you've noted a Papal Audience on Day 3 so that may be a Wednesday? If so, Day 1 is Monday and Osita Antica is closed anyway. Or is your Day 3 a Sunday?

Unrelated: your member name has got me hankerin' for a longneck but Beer O'Clock is still a good 7 hours away!

Posted by
1700 posts

For a Costco trip the overall plan and only staying in 3 places all makes sense and makes good use of your time without being rushed, some of the days may be a little rushed but those all sound optional or things you booked.
Obviously cars is a big thing for you, so you are doing things I would not do (factory tours and the like that would not be on my short list of must do's but good you were able to find things of your specific interest not on the trip itinerary and make them work.
My only negative would be and your plans are no different from how most see Italy is you are only going and staying in the 3 biggest cities for tourism and not seeing much outside of those cities.
Your day 9 should be lovely and get you out to the countryside, but that is about it of scenery / natural beauty other than a rushed view in Sorrento.
if I were self-planning I like a mix of city and country whether that be Tuscany, mountains, lake or sea just to break up the busy out all day site seeing that usually accompanies the tourist main cities.

One aspect I am very impressed with is the hotel choices, especially for Florence and Venice they seem fantastic.
Usually another reason I like to self plan is to pick each hotel, I have seen some tours that say you are staying in Rome but really you are staying quite far from the historical center ; your hotel mix though seem very good.

Posted by
51 posts

Wow, lots of great objective info - thanks. Where to start..

Kathy - thanks - we discovered that this Jubilee year has some Saturday audiences, folks can go to the Holy See website and search. I mailed in the request to Papal household on their form, so we will see (no pun intended) how that works out.

Stan - no real guidance from COSTCO - just standard air/hotel/rail/transfer packages. Hotels somewhat limited in Italy to what they have contracted to meet whatever standard COSTCO sets - that said the hotels to me look fine. In terms of value, the business class flights were less expensive from COSTCO that I could generally have gotten on my own, assuming I could have gotten the same rates as Costco on hotels. Certainly that is where the saving are for us - as we are a group of 3 and it adds up.

Jane/Kathy - Day one - yes, to be determined. Our experience in traveling eastbound (we are originating on west coast) is to stay up as long as possible first day into evening, as internal clock will have us up in the wee hours, or at least very very early day 2. Eastbound is always harder than westbound. So what we can accomplish on day 1 depends a lot on when we get situated. It may go out the window - but I know if we go to hotel and crash we will be up at 2am staring at walls and having made a dozen trips to Germany and Ireland - we know the value in making use of day 1 - any it may be foot events locally as suggested by several.

ACraven - Noted on security aspects. We will do what we can to be vigilant. Dublin and Spain are also havens for the distracted - we possibly overdo it in terms of keeping stash/ID/cards safe - but have not had a problem and have been able to spot and detach ourselves from attempts. Dublin up by Christ Church is terrible for that.

Mreyn - Yes the motor stuff is a hobby thing - I'm part of an Italian motorcycle group ("group" is perhaps overstating - if you can fog a mirror and have an Italian bike you are in - hahaha), so Ducati is pretty darn legendary and unfortunately Aprilia up by Venice does not do tours.... so Ducati it is. Since we will already be in Bologna for Ducati, the train to Modena is half an hour and one of the Ferrari museums is a short walk away. My wife actually though it would be a great idea when I mentioned it. Hey what ladies don't like Ferrari's? The way I booked train tickets for Bologna was for whole day anyway - so not to be rushed. Yes day 9 looks like a lot of fun as well - and laid back.

All our travel by train (except to Padua and I expect to Modena as well) is via Frecciarossa business class. price difference from 2nd to 1st (business) was negligible). Its about 1:45 +/- minutes down to Naples from Rome and about 1:05 +/- returning from Naples to Rome. I tried to pay for short time travel. It's not cheap, but then again for 3 people R/T to Naples from Rome was E 162, that works out to E27 per person per leg - so not outrageous. Florence to Bologna average was E19 per leg/person and 35 minutes.

All - thanks so much in taking the time for thoughtful replies.

Posted by
4090 posts

Hey, that's what we're here for! And we all get more advice than we give. Pay it forward!

Posted by
11701 posts

Kathy - thanks - we discovered that this Jubilee year has some
Saturday audiences, folks can go to the Holy See website and search...

Yes, the Papal schedule is very easy to find. There is only 1 Saturday audience in June (18th). Is that the day you will be there?

http://www.vatican.va/various/prefettura/en/udienze_en.html

Jane/Kathy - Day one - yes, to be determined. Our experience in
traveling eastbound (we are originating on west coast) is to stay up
as long as possible first day into evening, as internal clock will
have us up in the wee hours, or at least very very early day 2

Yes, getting onto local time as quickly as possible is always agood idea but day trips which involve navigating trains/buses out of the city shortly after landing - when you are tired and disoriented - is not the best idea? No need to go to the hotel and crash - we never do that - but just getting your bearings can be enough to keep you up until normal bedtime on local time. I am from the Midwest so our Europe trips are eastbound.

Posted by
7124 posts

Day 8 - Train to Bologna (booked) - Ducati factory tour (booked) - probably take train to Modena from Bologna for Enzo Ferrari museum - thence back to Bologna and to Rome (long day).
Should this read ... "back to Bologna and to Florence" ?

Forget Sorrento on Day 4.

On Day 7, the Uffizi and Accademia are better the other way around, in my opinion.

Posted by
51 posts

Yes - "Florence" changed above - thanks.

I'm getting the "forget Sorrento" vibe, and will probably save that for next time.

I agree on day 7, however it was at the mercy of ticket time availability.

Posted by
7124 posts

Cool. Looks like you've got everything in hand. Be interested to hear how it goes. Have a great trip.

Posted by
17 posts

Looks like you've done all the groundwork. I'm with you 100% on the trains. Always worth going for the Frecciarossa (fastest trains) and when the upgrade is reasonable paying for the extra legroom.

Re Florence: 4Leoni is a good safe choice - I've never had a bad meal there. If it is Friday or Saturday night you WILL need reservations, however any other night, particularly in off season you should be able just to rock up and grab a table. Worth beaing in mind that there are a couple of other nice trattorie in the same little piazza (P. della Passera) both of which are less well-known (particularly on the internet) and yet get their ingredients from the same market, and in my opinion are serving food just as good as 4Leoni.

Nice that the vintage 500 tour let you take your child for free. Another idea for kids would be a cooking class, if you are into Italian food. Manuela La Spina does them from her home in Florence and I think kids are half price depending on age (not free, but better than nothing!)

Just a thought - I noticed you have planned the Duomo-Florence and Colosseum-Rome on you last full days in each city. When visitng a new city I tend to book thing on the first few days, because its only once you arrive that you might hear of something that interests you for your 'free days'.

Posted by
51 posts

Carl, thanks for the tips on food!!!

Rome - day 2/3 will probably be the Colosseum / Palatine-Forum and day 5 open. Tickets are not date specific so flexible and point well taken.

Florence - I got locked into schedule dates for the Uffizi and Accademia and with the other excursions there was simply no place else to put the Duomo... The Ducati and Fiat things were booked many many months ago and until last week I had not really planned Florence out (before wife came back from dentist who is well traveled (I have the work to prove it - hahaha - and mentioned to reserve or risk disappointment).

Venice - I did also just book the skip the line Euro 2- reservations for St. Mark's Basilica in Venice. Handy live webcam shows the door for appointments versus the stand in line. Worth the total 6- Euro cost. I'm simply not sure about the Venice card for museums. I will buy transport cards when we get there and figure if the card is what we want - it's a little complex - mainly as we don't really know what we are going to see.

Posted by
51 posts

OK -just back from a GREAT trip. I will post more in trip reports, however this is a recap of how the schedule worked out. First off, COSTCO delivered. No other way to say it. Perfect airport transfers - great hotels (started great and went to obscenely incredible). The key in selection was flying 3 seats in business class - COSTCO had the price and the skip the airport lines (at all airports) and lounge access made the air trip almost pleasant. More on that in the trip report section later on.

The schedule was Rome - Florence - Venice.

Rome - Day 1 into Rome early - Hotel at Starhotel Metropole - room ready early, three beds immaculate and perfect housekeeping. Went to Trevi Fountain, walk around Rome. Walked a lot for sight-seeing..
Day 2 - Got our metro passes. Vatican tour first thing (City Wonders). Heavy crowds, glad we had tour. Walked through the bronze doors, went to Vatican Post for some Jubilee coins and such, picked up our Papal audience tickets from Swiss Guards for next day. Sightseeing, dinner at Campo de Fiore, played in square - Uber to hotel.
Day 3 - Pope Audience - great time. Heavy walking to sights. Colosseum and Palatino Hill in late afternoon. Dinner at some small lasagna fast service place near Palatine Hill. More walking and more sights.
Day 4 - Train to Naples and Cicumvesuviana to Pompeii, thence early dinner in Sorrento and back to Rome. This was easily done. Key is fast trains and keeping to schedule. We had about 3 hours in Pompeii which with a 10 year old was quite a lot.
Day 5 - Finished Rome with a trip back to Vatican, and river walks with side trips to Pantheon, and other sights. Too many to list.

Florence
Day 6 - To Florence early am- Grand Bagliono hotel - room ready at check in. Took cab immediately to Abbey of San Miniato for summer solstice thing. Walked down from Abbey and walked and walked. Nice meal at 4Leoni. As with Rome hotel Baglioni was near Train station, more upscale and perfectly done. Impeccable housekeeping.
Day 7 - Uffizi in the AM - Accademia in the early PM. The Uffizi rocks! Found Gusta Pizza. You should too.
Day 8 - Train to Bologna (booked) - Ducati factory tour FUN - thence train to Modena for Enzo Ferrari museum FUN- back to Florence. Easy and great day.
Day 9 - Relaxed in AM - then 5 hr. vintage Fiat 500 drive through Tuscany w/lunch, etc. Really FUN! Fireworks that night.
Day 10 - Duomo museum - GREAT, did bell tower and dome climb walked a lot, churches, etc.

Venice
Day 11 - Florence to Venice - Daneli Hotel. Took private water taxi to hotel (60 +10 for porter - worth every penny). Room ready, top floor of main (mauve) building. 3'x14' balcony overlooking canal Rio del Vin. Gondola central. Opera singers, going by on gondolas, etc. Magic. Breakfast on roof garden every morning was obscenely great. Housekeeping and hotel staff excellence defies description. It was that good. Oh yes and got our 72 hour water bus tickets and used them literally out to the minute.
Day 12 - Venice - Did St. Marks and relaxed and explore, also went to Lido for the beach for girls. Nice dinner on Lido in the big garden "Parco delle Rose".
Day 13 - Venice - explored, went to Murano, meh. Went back to Venice and explored.
Day 14 - Train to Pauda and Scrovegni tour and St. Anthony's Basilica (WOW to both). Went back to Lido for dinner same place, excellent fixed menu.
Day 15 - Early am out to airport via private water taxi and van (part of COSTCO booking) perfect. Got home about 10 hours ago and napped.

Weather was n the upper 80's to mid 90's the whole time, humid and taxing and we were active. Skipping lines everywhere you can was the way to go. There was a thunderstorm in Sorrento complete with hail - however we were dining at Inn Bufalito so simply watched the 20 minute show from inside.

So YMMV - but we hit the ground running and are pleased with what we accomplished. Safe and happy travels to all. VBR/BL

Posted by
11683 posts

Thanks for the report! Sounds like Costco Travel did a good job for you---reasonably-priced business class tickets, good hotels, and reliable transfers. The rest you worked out with your own research and planning, correct?

We love Venice and have to agree with your "meh" toward Murano. Some day I hope to stay at the Danieli and enjoy breakfast on the roof. . . .

Posted by
4090 posts

Thanks for following up, Bud. Sounds like you had a great trip, and we can profit from some of your choices.

Posted by
3481 posts

Thanks for sharing your experiences with Costco travel with us and glad you enjoyed Italy. I've only seen the Danieli from the outside and in movies. : )

Posted by
51 posts

Jean / Jane - thanks for the kind words! The magic of this forum and Rick Steve's for me was to maximize my time. Pretty much every event/site we saw - we had booked tickets to from the USA in advance. We waited only in security lines - the longest being the Colosseum and was only about 10 minutes. Everywhere else, Vatican, Duomo, Uffizi, St. Marks, etc, etc, etc., we were able to walk right in at reservation time and security was only minutes. This has a double benefit of keeping us moving and getting us out and about. For June travel we really rock and rolled.

I am really glad we did Venice last. That was the place to relax, take in our trip and unwind. It would have been really tough to do it the other way around.

PS: This trip was a test of shoes. My 150 dollar Vasques simply is not keep up with my 19.99 FILAs from COSTCO in terms of comfort. That said the FILAs are now dead - hahaha.

Posted by
1728 posts

Very impressed with you, Budster, for doing your own legwork in advance, then incorporating the subjective ideas from us on this forum. That's what makes a great trip, the cornerstone of which are great transfers and well-picked & clean hotels. So, I have to ask--what did you think of Pompeii? I know, for a 10-year old in the heat it must've looked like a bunch of hot rocks. I was amazed by the ruins myself, to the point that we may even return in February when we visit Rome.

Posted by
51 posts

Jay, we lucked out in Pompeii. It was overcast right up till we left so we really did not get baked. To answer your question it was great - and I would be interested to spend a couple days there some time in retirement off season.