Itinerary and questions

Planning our first trip for the family to Italy + Paris this Sept. This will be for 5 adults: my wife, sister-in-law, and myself (all 50's), son (25) and mother (75). Plan so far is: - Florence for 4 nights, with a day trip to Pisa / Lucca. - Rent a car on leaving Florence. - Drive thru Tuscany over 4 nights with stops in Siena, Montepulciano, Orvieto and Civita. No firm plans on staying the night in each town or finding a central spot and taking a few day trips. - Drive to Rome and turn in the car. Stay 3 nights. - Train to Sorrento for 5 nights. Day trips to Naples, Pompeii and Amalfi coast. - Fly out of Naples to Paris. Stay 3 nights. - Back home to the US I think this provides a good balance between seeing a good chunk of the country and having a fun / relaxing vacation. Questions: 1. Should I rent another car to drive from Rome to Sorrento? Or it is OK to stick with the train and bus for the day trips from there?
2. Any thoughts on the drive thru Tuscany and staying overnight in a few towns vs. finding a central spot for day trips? Thanks in advance for any advice or comments.

Posted by Eileen
Texan in CA
3580 posts

Do you already have airline tickets purchased? Train/bus is fine for the Amalfi Coast. I suggest going to Naples after Pompeii, assuming you're going to the museum. You could base out of Siena, for instance (I suggest an agriturismo), then perhaps spend the night in Orvieto if you'd like on your way to Rome. Orvieto would be a good place to return your rental car/vehicle (it'll need to be large enough for 5 adults AND their luggage). Others will have to chime in on Civita...

Posted by Ted
Milpitas, CA
4 posts

Thanks Eileen. No I have not purchased airline tickets yet. I have been checking prices for the past couple of weeks though. I've read where 10-12 weeks in advance is the best time to buy for Europe travel. I've also been searching for apts in Florence, Rome and Sorrento as that seem to offer the best lodging value for 5 people. Same for agriturismos in Tuscany - although many rent by the week. We've also been busy getting our passports renewed and applying for international drivers permit.

Posted by Chani
Tel Aviv
3508 posts

For my Amalfi visit, I chose Sorrento as the best-connected town for day trips and was it worked well for me. It's probably faster to go from Rome to Sorrento by train - the high-speed train from Rome to Naples (at 160 mph) would probably make up for any time loss taking the slow Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento. I found it very convenient by train. I don't think it matters whether you visit the Archeological Museum in Naples before or after Pompeii. One suggestion is to bus to Positano, then ferry back to Sorrento. There's regular bus service to Ravello too. I haven't used a car in Italy, but it might be better to stay in one place and take day trips. Aside from the time it takes to pack/unpack, etc., you'd have 5 adults and all their luggage in the car all the time. I wouldn't leave luggage visible in a parked car anywhere. Friends of mine have rented villas in Tuscany as a base when traveling with the family and found it was economical - and they had a "family-unit" instead of individual rooms in a hotel or B&B with strangers. Rome. Be realistic about how much time you will have there. 3 nights is 2 full days. How much time will you have on your arrival and departure days? Is that enough for all you want to see and do. This is also the one place that you need to consider which days of the week you'll be there. The Vatican Museums are closed on Sunday, most other museums are closed on Monday. For both those reasons, Monday is the worst day to visit because of the crowds - even in winter. Also some other sights may be more crowded on the weekend. Paris I'd be tempted to squeeze at least one day out of Italy and add it to Paris, which deserves 3 full days, unless you've been before. All in all, it sounds well-thought out. I think it will be great.

Posted by Laurel
Rome, Italy
2199 posts

You need more time in Rome. Drop a night in Florence and pick one place in Tuscany or Umbria to stay for 3 nights. Montepulciano would be great. Daytrip from there. Add those two nights to Rome. We've had great luck getting apartments with VRBO.com all over Italy. Do not drive Rome to Sorrento. The traffic can be horrible. Train is the best choice. And 5 nights is an excellent length of stay.