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Italy Trip in May

So I have planned a trip to Italy in May. We will arrive in Venice stay 2 nights, then head to Florence for 2 nights, then to Sorrento for 4 nights and then Rome for 2 nights and flying out of Rome.

So far our plans are:

Tuesday - Arrive in Venice early a.m. Not sure what to do but was thinking Murano and Burano. Can we do that on our own?
Wednesday - Thinking about doing a full day tour and of course a gondola ride
Thursday - Head to Florence
Friday - Was thinking about taking a day hiking tour to Cirque Terre.
Saturday - Head to Sorrento
Sunday - Tour of Amalfi Coast with Giovanna Donadio
Monday - Tour Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius with Gaetano Manfredi
Tuesday - Tour Capri (Rick Steve's shared tour)
Wednesday - Head to Rome not sure what to do on this day any suggestions
Thursday - Tour of Colosseum (Any suggestions of a good tour company for this)
Friday - Head to Airport

Okay before everyone says I am not staying in one place long enough, that is because I am not a huge fan of seeing Catholic Churches and museums. I am more into the beauty and culture of Italy. I am also not a drinker so I am not interested in visiting any wineries either. It will be myself and my daughter and her husband. I am very excited as this is definitely a bucket list trip for me.

So any thoughts or tours that anyone could recommend in Venice, Florence and Rome?

Thank you

Posted by
466 posts

If you dont like museums, churches, etc, go ahead and skip Florence. Make home base in Lucca instead and you can venture from there to Cinque Terra.

I thought the Rick Steves audio tour for the Colosseum was all I needed.

Even if you dont drink wine, the Tuscan countryside is beautiful,

Posted by
5320 posts

If its a bucket list trip then slow down and enjoy la dolce vita.

Itinerary is too fast paced.

You've not given practical thought to travel time in between cities.

Are you driving or depending on trains?

It seems you prefer to move at a quick pace and arrange tours.

I travel solo and base myself somewhere for at least three days and use public transport. I meander, get lost and ask locals for directions (even without speaking Italian I had engage rewarding "conversations" ) stroll through street markets, wander in cemeteries, pop into churches if I hear singing, and I stand eating cichetti
and immerse myself in the wonderful food of Italy.

That's how I absorb beauty and culture.

Rethink what's most important to you and yours on this sojourn. Seeing Michaelangelo's David? Visting hill top towns? Hiking? Seeing a place on the planet like no other, a.k.a Venice? Italy's beautiful countryside?

Its a fabulous country. Relax and enjoy it.

Posted by
25 posts

Thank you so much for your quick replies. I am also thinking maybe skip Florence. Maybe it would be better to either stay extra night in Venice and Rome instead? or should we do Lucca for 2 nights?

Posted by
5010 posts
  1. The pace of your proposed trip is brutal. You need to be more realistic about:
    1A. On your arrival day in Europe, you will be wiped out. Set low expectations for what you can accomplish, just try (hard) to stay awake until after dinner local time to help you start to recover from jet lag (which will probably take a couple days). Murano and Burano are easy, and a good choice for your first "I'm just trying to stay awake" day. No need for a tour, just go.
    1B. Every time you pick yourself up and move to another location, you will consume much of that day. At best, it'll consume half a day , when: you're going between two locations that are nearby, and are well connected, and you are efficient (on your first trip to Europe, you won't be); if things are not quite that ideal, it'll take 1/2 to 3/4 of a day. You need to account for that.
    1C: You also need to account for the time it takes just to complete the basic mundane, survival and comfort tasks that one goes through every day. This always consumes a non-trivial part of every day.
    1D: As a rule of thumb, when you say you have "3 days here, 2 days there" what you really have is "2 days here, one day there" - in other words, subtract 1 from the number of days you think you have in any location - because it will take you most of a day to get there.

  2. You seem to want to take tours everywhere. Of course, you can do that, but most folks here like to travel independently (or at least mostly so). None of the places on your list seem to be particularly challenging, and if it were me, I'd just go, and use my guide book, feeling no need for an organized tour at any of them. Save money, have a more meaningful experience. YMMV.

  3. I'm not a big fan of Capri. IMHO it's probably Italy's most notorious tourist trap. Tastes vary though.

  4. You have NINE usable days. That's a very, very short trip to Europe. With just 9 days, I'd pick 3 locations maximum. Assuming you've already booked your flights (and you can't extend your trip) you are locked in to Venice and Rome already, then pick one more location. Florence would be ideal (from a geographical and logistical standpoint), but it's filled with those uninteresting museums and churches. You could do CT (packed with crowds) or Sorrento/Amalfi Coast (lots more travel time getting to/from there).

Bottom line: you need more time (many more days) or fewer stops (a lot fewer).

Posted by
1131 posts

Have you traveled to Europe before? Jet lag affects almost everyone and preludes your first day schedule.

I usually plan to be outdoors and not to do anything too demanding. I would not want to figure my way to Murano and Burano. If I haven’t slept on plane, I will need an hour nap. Everyone is different but I would plan to stay close by your hotel.

I never count day I arrive from overseas flight as a full day. You may arrive early but you still have to go through airport and make your way to hotel. Then leave luggage if room is not available yet.

You have to consider that it takes a minimum of a half day to change location.

So you have 1.5 days in Venice (at best)
0.5 day in Florence
1.0 day in cirque terre.
.5 day in sorrento
1.0 day amalfi coast
1.0 Pompeii and mt Vesuvius
1.0 for Capri
1.5 days for Rome

We did Capri as day trip and Pompeii as well. We did mt Vesuvius a different day than Pompeii. Frankly by the time we finished with Pompeii we were ready to go back to sorrento.

I think you are moving too fast to be enjoyable .

Posted by
466 posts

We did Lucca for two nights, and I loved it. One day was spent on a train to Cinque Terra to walk around. another spending in Lucca. It is a beautiful little town.

I agree with everyone else that the pace seems fast. I also really haven't done guided tours. I found that Rick Steves audio tours in Italy were so well done and all I needed.

I loved Rome and 4 nights was barely enough. but one of those days was the Vatican, which you aren't interested in.

We did the Colosseum and Forum in one day. I just loved walking around that city.

Two nights in Venice was enough for me. I also loved just walking around and taking the vaporetti.

Posted by
3470 posts

Welcome to the forum.

The first thing you need to know is you're not allowing enough time for your city to city transfers. To transfer from Venice to Florence this is what you may encounter. Check out of hotel, 10m-1/2 hr. Vaporetto ride to train station 20-45min. Train to Florence 2hr5m. Acclimating to a new city and walking or taxi/bus to your lodging 30m-1hr. Checking in and getting settled another hour. And trying to do the CT hike from here could be frustrating. You'd be spending over 4hrs R/T in transit allowing very little time to hike.

Since you seem to have very little interest in Florence, try this path.

Arrive Venice. 3 nites.

Good informative tours.

Fly Venice-Naples. Easyjet has several flights a day. Prices start at €33.

Arrive Naples. Take this bus to Sorrento.

Cost €10. 1Hr15m.

4 nites Sorrento.

There a lot of wonderful hikes in this area.

From Sorrento travel to Rome.

3 nites Rome.

For colosseum tickets use this site.

Posted by
3112 posts

You say that you're traveling with your daughter and her husband, but your post only talks about your interests and preferences. Have you taken their interests and preferences into account? I'm not trying to be disrespectful in any way, but that did jump out at me. If they do have some different interests, then perhaps you and they could do different activities on a few of the days and compare notes over dinner.

Jet lag affects people differently but, unless you know for sure that all 3 of you are only mildly-affected, plan for an active but less challenging first day of activities. If you go to Murano and Burano the second day, buy a 24-hour transit pass for that day or maybe even a 48-hour pass for your entire stay in Venice.

Florence has tons of interesting things to do that have nothing to do with museums or churches. I spend significant time in Florence every year, rarely visit museums and churches, and I'm never bored.

Since you won't arrive in Rome until midday at the earliest, consider some of Rick's self-guided walking tours and possibly a stroll through the Villa Borghese park after reaching the nearby Spanish Steps. Like Florence, there's no shortage of non-museum things to do in Rome. If you do a Colosseum tour, book the one that includes the underground and top level. I did that tour the first year it was offered, but I believe a different company or companies conduct them now. Do a search (use box at top of page), as there have been many posts on that topic.

I would build in a few more days to explore on your own rather that booking long tours almost every day.

Posted by
11700 posts

Singing with the choir here.

Okay before everyone says I am not staying in one place long enough,
that is because I am not a huge fan of seeing Catholic Churches and
museums. I am more into the beauty and culture of Italy.

The reason the folks above are cautioning against so many moves is for the reasons they've given: location moves eat time. Also, local 'culture' can also be found anywhere but takes time to discover. That's not going to happen, IMHO, on a tour-heavy itinerary of the most heavily-visited tourist attractions/locations and doing things mainly tourists do, such as gondola rides. Nothing wrong at ALL with wanting to do these things but, well, I sense from your post that's maybe not what you're looking for and so you may do better in the countryside/smaller towns? Editing to add: the CT villages are an exception here as they'll likely be overrun.

All of the locations on your list are going to be mobbed with tourists in May so if you'd rather see less of those, that's another thing to consider? You CAN find corners of the cities, like Venice, that fewer of them venture to but again, that requires making time to discover them and skipping, say, Murano, in favor of quieter of the islands. Absolutely, trying to do that on a jet-lagged arrival day is not advised!

In short, I'm concerned that your expectations to experience your heart's desire may fall short on this itinerary. That would be sad as you're SO excited about this bucket-list trip!

Side note: I'll opine that all those churches/chapels and many of the museums are part and parcel of local culture/Italian patrimony, whether religious or not (I'm not) or interested in art/architecture/history or not (I am). But I get it; they're not everyone's thing.

Posted by
25 posts

Ok. I am going to skip Florence. I will now do 3 nights in Venice, 4 in Sorrento and 3 in Rome. My daughter and her husband are just like me and kinda along for the ride lol. My daughter and I share the exact same interests. This has always been something I want to do and she wants to go with me before she starts a family. She knows that my husband (her dad) will never do this trip lol.

Can we travel from train from Venice to Sorrento or should we fly from Naples?

I am not against the churches, museums etc just not what I am interested in. I may want to see the Vatican but I haven't decided yet.

Also, if I skip the tours and just do the Pompeii tour, is it easy enough to do Amalfi and Capri on our own. Of course, I would love to save the money from all the tours.

Again, this is my first trip and I am overwhelmed to say the least. I want to enjoy the food, and just relaxing too so thank you for your suggestions.

Posted by
11700 posts

Is it easy enough to do Amalfi and Capri on our own

Yes! You can avoid the worst of the mob on Capri if you trek away from the town centers/piazzas and skip the Blue Grotto. The hike up to Villa Jovis and/or Pizzolungo walk, for instance, are both recommended. Ideas here (skip the touts for tours as you don't need them):

Buy a map of the island at the tourist info center when you arrive.

The ferries and SITA buses on the coast will be very busy but not difficult to use - ask any questions here on the forum you may have - and just do some reading up in your guidebook about things to see in each location.

Posted by
3470 posts

Having made several trips between Venice and Naples/Sorrento by car, train and flight, I prefer to fly. It only saves around 1 1/2-2 hours, but there's not 2 train changes. If you decide on this, you only have to be at the Venice airport 1-1 1/2 hours before boarding as it's an intereuropean flight.

Pompeii is easily done on your own, but the guide you've picked is excellent and he's a wealth of information.

Vesuvius in my option is a waste of time and money. You travel 2 hrs R/T to have a half hour at the summit. Use this time to visit the Archeological Museum in Naples.

Capri is great if you follow Kathys directions and get off the beaten path.

To visit the Amalfi Coast, I like to ferry to Amalfi
And return by bus.

Along with the Path of the Gods, there are several short hikes in the Sorrento area.

Posted by
25 posts

My daughter does not want to fly from Venice to Sorrento. She is afraid of the little airplanes lol. So if we take the train, we go from Venice to Naples Correct? Is the Naples Main station?

Posted by
11700 posts

Naples' main train station is Napoli Centrale. Venice's is Venezia S. Lucia. It's going to take a minimum of 5 hours to travel between the two by rail: it's a long way.

Then you have to get to Sorrento from Naples Centrale. There are a handful of ways:
Private transfer: most expensive but one some travelers prefer

Circumvesuviana commuter train: departs from Garibaldi Station connected to Centrale. The Circ. is a busy, battered, no-frills thing (think 'L' in Chicago) the locals use to get around, and the cheapest option. Trains depart frequently from Garibaldi and take abt. 70 minutes to Sorrento.

Campania Express: This train also runs Garibaldi> Sorrento but only during high tourist season. It costs a little more than the Circ. but makes fewer stops and is more comfortable. Downside is that it has very few daily runs. Schedules aren't up yet for 2019 but this is what it looked like in 2018:

Ferry from Naples port:
You'd need to transfer from train station by cab or public transit to the ferry port. Journey takes 40 minutes by jetboat to Sorrento.
all that's currently showing is the limited winter schedule; spring schedules won't be up until sometime next year. Sorrento's ferry dock is below the main town - at the base of the cliffs - so with luggage you'd need to take a bus or cab up the hill.

Posted by
3112 posts

Most flights from Venice to Naples are on Alitalia using A319 and A320 aircraft, which are not small planes. There may be some flights that use smaller aircraft, but just don't book those flights. Easyjet has direct flights, but I'm not certain what aircraft they fly on that route.

Posted by
11981 posts

Given the time available, it is a good idea to skip Florence and Cinque Terre altogether and go from Venice to Naples area (Sorrento), directly.
To go from Venezia Santa Lucia station in the center of Venice to Napoli Centrale the train takes 5h10m. Some trains throughout the day require no change. If you secure a non refundable non changeable Supereconomy fare ticket in advance, the cost is under 60€ per person.

The airplane takes 1h15min gate to gate, but to this you need to add:
30 min drive on a taxi from Piazzale Roma (near the station) to the airport.
1h30min check in, airport security, boarding,
30 min deplaning and baggage claim.
The Naples airport is close to the city center so the travel from there to Sorrento would be similar to the travel from the central station, maybe 20-30 min more.

Flying would save you only half hour to one hour to the overall trip, but of course it wouldn’t be as comfortable as the comfortable as the high speed trains.

If you decide to fly, the airplanes used in that route are not small. Easyjet is currently the only airline flying the route (I don’t know if Alitalia will resume next year) and Easyjet uses exclusively Airbus A319 (same size as B737-400 used by Southwest).

Posted by
25 posts

I just checked the train schedule for Trentalia and they have a train that leaves around 10 a.m. it has no stop between Venezia Santa Lucia and Napole Centrale looks like 5 hours and 9 minutes. It has super economy for 201 euro for 3 adults. Not sure what super economy means but is that a good price? Should I book this now?

From Naples Centrale what is the easiest way to get to Sorrento?

Posted by
1728 posts

Unless something has changed in the last 2 years, I don't know that you can book Trenitalia tickets this far in advance--it's usually about 90 days out. The price sounds pretty good, however--that's a long haul. Whatever price you can fire in on now or in February (remember no refunds) will be 50% or less that you would pay on the day of travel.

Simple to get from Napoli Centrale to Sorrento--the Circumvesuviana commuter train, right there at the station. If it costs you more than 10 Euro apiece I'll be surprised. Depending on the time of day and day of the week, it could be very crowded and where there are crowds there are pickpockets, so be careful. But we rode it multiple times last year and did perfectly fine.

Enjoy your planning!

Posted by
3470 posts

As Roberto has noted, these are not small planes. 150+ passengers.

To put this into perspective, here are the direct high speed trains. The schedule will be updated at the beginning of December.

Train. Venezia Santa Lucia-Napoli Centrale.
Arrive at the station 20-30 minutes before departure.

Purchase these as soon as possible online.
Price ranges between super economy. €69,90
These sell out fast. Economy €70,90. Base €108,00 you can purchase the day of as it does not change.

Train# 9419. Depart 10:25. Arrive 15:35. 5hr10m
Circumvesuvian depart 16:09 arrive 17:17 (5:17pm) Sorrento.

Train# 9427. Depart 12:25. Arrive 17:35. 5hr10m
Circumvesuvian depart 18:09 arrive 19:17 (7:17pm) Sorrento.

Flight Easyjet. Taxi to the airport will be cheaper for the three of you compared to the bus.

Prices for May. €33,75-55,95. Seat selection
€6,95. These prices also go up the closer you are to departure. There's a restriction of 1 carry on bag, but you can upgrade luggage on the site with seat selection. If you have checked luggage, which I don't recommend on such a short trip, purchase separately when you book.
Otherwise they charge €50,00. You are required to have a printed copy or a digital of your boarding pass.


Depart 8:40. Arrive 9:55. 1Hr15m.
Curreri Viaggi bus. Depart 11:00 Arrive 12:15 Sorrento.

Depart 17:25. Arrive 18:30. 1Hr15m
Curreri Viaggi bus depart 19:30 Arrive 20:45.
(8:45pm) Sorrento.

This last one would also work if you left Venice on the early evening of your 3rd day. Meaning you'd have 4 full days instead of 3 on the Amalfi Coast.

Hope this helps.

Posted by
11700 posts

From Naples Centrale what is the easiest way to get to Sorrento?

See my previous post for methods. What's considered easy for one may not be considered easy (or may be cost prohibitive) for another. The easiest is probably private driver but it's also the most expensive. My own choice would be the Circ or Campania Express, if I could make the timing work, but I have a motion-sickness issue that makes riding in back seats of cars/vans a problem. Was sick as a dog on a shuttle from Sorrento to the Naples airport but had an early flight so no choice in the matter; train wasn't running that early.

Posted by
996 posts

Ok. I am going to skip Florence. I will now do 3 nights in Venice, 4 in Sorrento and 3 in Rome.

Dear OP -

First of all, I think you're reworked plan is much more doable for the time you have. And if you daughter prefers ground transportation, then by all means, do that. At my household, we have to work around my other half's ear issues which often means being creative when planes/boats are suggested. At the end of the day, do what makes it the most fun for you and yours!!!

Second of all, you owe it to yourself to go into one church while in Rome. Even if you are not religious and not an art fan, there is something special about the churches of Rome. Pick a biggie. Just go inside and look around respectfully. It's something you may not be able to replicate in the United States (if that's where you currently live.)

Last of all - just enjoy the trip. Pick a main thing to do in each location, and then everything else is a bonus. Have a fabulous adventure!!

Posted by
3470 posts

I just checked Trenitalias schedule for May, some dates are now up and show €39,90/
€119,70 for 3 people. Train #9419. 10:25-15:35.

It's the best deal you can get.

The corresponding Circumvesuvian time I posted earlier 16:09, with arrival 17:17 would be the fastest/least expensive option to reach Sorrento. These you can only purchase in Naples.

Posted by
25 posts

A huge thank you to everyone. You guys are awesome. So I spoke to my daughter and she is ok doing the flight she just thought it was one of those small jumper planes. Anyway, I was able to get the airfare with picking seats up front (xtra leg room my son in law is very tall) and bringing an extra carryon for $140 for all 3 of us. I thought that was really good considering the train would be $100 more.

Also, its not that I am not religious, I am a Christian, just not Catholic so thats why I am not really into the bi churches, however, I do think I will do the Vatican now that we will be there for 3 nights.

You all have helped me so much. I feel so much better with my plans now. I just need to rethink the tours now. I think I will still do the tour in Pompeii. All the tours I booked are private just because I have no idea what I am doing (obviously) and where to go. Maybe I just need to keep reading my book.

Posted by
3470 posts

Here's the ticket site for an official tour of the Vatican Museum.

This one for an official tour of the Museum and St. Peter's Basilica.

Both have guides, groups are limited in size.
The Basilica is one of the most impressive art filled churches in the world.

Posted by
25 posts

What would be the best recommended transportation from Venice airport to our accommodation (which I am told is near the Orange line) not really sure what that means lol. In Cannaregio.

Posted by
45 posts

Hi Kathy, a few years ago I did Venice, Florence (which you are skipping), Amalfi Coast (basing in Positano, which I suggest), and then ended in Rome.

I would recommend basing in Positano if you do mind having lots of stairs. It is so picturesque and centrally located to visit Amalfi/Ravello and Capri. Lots of places are pricey there, but I have 2 great b&b recs. However, if Pompeii is #1 on your bucket list Sorrento makes sense.

In Rome, I used Walks of Italy tours for an early morning tour of Vatican and also a Colosseum/Palantine Hill/etc tour that we did on 2 sep days. I used the promo code in the RS book to get the RS discount. I highly recommend they were good. The Vatican was amazing to tour, and by being among the first people allowed in (only those on early morning tours are), it means we could actually get into the Sistine Chapel before it was completely packed.

I am also more into culture and food :) I have a lot of info and itinerary with recs if you want to PM me :)

Posted by
11700 posts

kapri, I'm not the OP. :O)

But I'd stick with Sorrento for the itinerary planned.