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Logistics nightmare, jet lag, Cinque Terre

Would it be wise to stay in Cinque Terre (to get over jet lag) for a couple of days before beginning our first ever (trip to Italy) RS 10 days Venice, Florence and Rome tour? I’m probably over thinking this first stage our trip/ the itinerary. Concerns are husband doesn’t want to extend our travels much beyond the allotted 10 days of the tour but I really want to see CT, we hope to be traveling next spring. What is the advice of a well seasoned traveler? PS I’m also wanting to extend a couple of days after the tour to see the Amalfi Coast. Figuring out which airports to fly into and then fly home from seems a logistics nightmare. Should I just be content with our 10 days in Italy or try to “Go for it” as RS might say?

Posted by
2080 posts

More time is always better, but this is all speculation until you know how much time you have in total. Have you flown to Europe before--i.e., do you know how you generally fare after an overnight flight? I don't think you will have enough time for the Amalfi Coast (AC), but it can be just as convenient as Cinque Terre (CT) generally is.
For CT, you can fly into Genoa, Milan, Pisa, Florence, Rome. For the AC, fly out of Rome or Naples. Search "multi-city" flights--good luck!

Posted by
4065 posts

I've only done two "tours", ever, and one was a river cruise. For both we arrived in time to get over jet lag before the tour started. I sure wouldn't want to fall asleep at dinner on the first day of my tour. You could fly into Milan 2-3 days before your tour, take a train to CT and then take a train to Venice for your tour. Another thing to think about, ideally, I would arrive to the city where the tour starts the day before. There was a train strike scheduled the day we were leaving from Florence to get to Rome for a RS tour. Had the strike actually happened, I don't know how we would have gotten to Rome on time. After our Rome tour, we took a train to Naples and then the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento (with a stop at Pompeii)

Posted by
2524 posts

Cinque Terre is inconvenient as a first stop: it is not close to gateway airports, and not that close to Venice either.
Do you have any interest in the Italian Lakes? Lake Como is extremely beautiful and could be more convenient: land in Milan, get to Lake Como easily, take 2 trains to reach Venice. 3 nights in Lake Como is enough, 2 could even suffice but not with jetlag.

Posted by
2010 posts

I don't have a big problem with jet lag, but I don't schedule any late evening activities the first day or two. If jet lag gets you, you might want to check the tour itinerary to make sure you wouldn't miss out on expensive tour time.

For me, the overhead of the flight (in both financial terms and time spent) are sufficient to maximize my time at my destination.

As a solo traveler, I'll risk proposing the idea that you might stay longer than your husband and go to the Amalfi coast yourself. It's not for everyone, but it's an option.

Posted by
5035 posts

I suffer from jet lag when heading east worse than when heading west. How many days do you have in total? Personally, I have never crossed the Atlantic for less than 21 days away, so 10 days seems short.

If it’s a choice of adding days at the beginning or at the end, I would take them at the start of your trip to get over any potential jet lag so you start the tour fresh. Having said that, I am no CT fan.

You need to weigh up how much time you are going to be spending in transit vs time at your destination and convenient airports for your journey back.

Posted by
8642 posts

"As a solo traveler, I'll risk proposing the idea that you might stay longer than your husband and go to the Amalfi coast yourself. It's not for everyone, but it's an option."

CW Social! That is exactly what I was going to suggest! Plus after your RS tour you'll be more comfortable dealing with Italy on your own.

If this is your first trip to Italy there is plenty to do in Venice ahead of the tour.

Also...unless you are committed to the VFR tour you could consider the Heart of Italy which spends 2 nights in CT. It also includes Rome and Florence but not Venice.

Posted by
21332 posts

OK -- repeat after me, one hundred times, "I will see that the next time." "I will see that the next time." etc.....

It is a good attitude to develop because it makes your life and planning less crazy. Save CT for your next trip it just doesn't fit well with the other parts of the trip. Fly into Milan a couple days early for jet lag adjustment. Great underrate city with lots to see and do. Train to Venice and start your tour ending in Rome. You now pushing two weeks. If still married, you could make a quick three day run to Sorrento and the Amaifi coast if absolutely critical. You can return from Naples airport but that will probably mean an early and expensive taxi ride to the Naples airport to catch a connecting flight. Personally I would save the AC for next time so I would hang out in Rome an extra or two after the tour ends and come home from the Rome airport -- reasonable flight times and easy access. The ticket into Milan and home Rome should be nearly the same price as a RT to either airport. Returning from Naples could add a few dollars.

Posted by
934 posts

Hi. My first reaction is that you will be adding to your weariness jumping through hoops trying to get to CT on your first trip to Italy. Something I always like to remind myself to do is minimize the stress of travel; you could be adding to it by trying to reach CT before Venice.

I have taken this tour twice. At the end of the day, there is not a lot of time spent in any of the three cities. Some of the romance of Venice for me is wandering away from the crowds and getting lost. If it were me, I would spend an extra day in Venice (or more). If that sounds like too much Venice, Padua is an hour's train ride away. But, by booking a day or so ahead of the tour in the tour hotel and minimizing transportation may be the chance to unwind you need at the start of the tour.

I cannot speak to Amalfi. But, I would say if you are up for some extra travel, perhaps the end of this first tour to Italy might be better. You would have gotten your introduction to the country during the tour and might be more prepared to branch out.

One other thought - not sure of your timing. If around Easter or spring holidays, CT could get quite crowded with Italian holiday makers. Maybe check your tour dates against Italian holidays and school schedules. I don't think you can go wrong with an extra day or so in Venice. Ah, relaxation!

Posted by
1737 posts

I'll foot stomp Frank's advice. Catch CT next trip.

Besides, I think that would not be a good introduction to Italy. Who knows what it will be like by the time you travel, but pre-Covid CT had gotten way over-touristed, especially on the days when the cruise boats disgorge thousands of passengers into the region.

I like the idea of checking into flying into Milan, then just unwinding there. There's plenty to see and keep your time there open, just soak up the city. You're going to face a pretty aggressive schedule on your tour and there's no need to wear yourself out before you begin.

Posted by
2386 posts

Linda- I do get the desire to see more/do more and extend your trip. I always try to get as many days out of a cross Atlantic trip as possible.
That said I don't think CT is the place to get over jet lag- it's a bit of a pain to get to and you don't say how well traveled you are. Typically overrun with crowds, etc. (Have not been there and frankly have no desire)
Are you used to train travel in Europe and comfortable making that trip on a jet lagged arrival day? I've been to Italy twice (3rd trip in 18 days) as well as many other places in Europe and even I would not want to do that trip on arrival.

Getting to Amalfi is also a bit of a pain involving multiple trains/modes of transport but easy than CT and closer to your last stop on tour. You also have option of flight home from Naples or Rome.
I can see adding a few days there at end (3 nights minimum), nice relaxing way to end a rather fast paced tour.

I can also see and strongly advise getting to Venice a few days early. The tour really only includes the basics in Venice- there is so much more you can do there and from there. Take vaporetto out to lagoon islands, take a day trip to Padova or Verona, etc.

I'll also add this- you can never have enough time in Rome- again the tour only covers the very basic sights. To simplify things you could just fly RT Rome- spend 2 nights there first then head to Venice a night or 2 early for the tour. After the tour ends in Rome- fly home.

Save the Amalfi/CT etc for your next trip.

Posted by
4065 posts

I will add that I also think that since you will have already paid for the flight, if your husband can't extend the trip, you could stay longer on your own. I've done that a few times, now. In fact, one time, I did an Iceland layover by myself.

Posted by
7809 posts

At the risk of being repetitive, CT is too far away from the rest of your trip.

If possible, fly into Milan and go to Lake Como ( e.g., Varenna) for 2-(3) nights before going to Venice to start the tour.

After tour if you want to do "Amalfi Coast", spend at least 3 nights and fly home from Naples

Posted by
676 posts

One option is to start in Nice; its the French Riviera instead of the Italian Riviera. Then you can fly to Venice or take the train. Given that this transport will take much of a day, I'd only suggest it if you can add 3 days on in front of the tour. As the others have said, CT is not that convenient to get to.

If it were me, I'd fly into Bologna. It isn't on the coast, but it's a pretty city with amazing food, and it's not on your tour. It's easy to do day trips to places like Modena and Parma. Then take the fast train to Venice early in the afternoon before the tour starts.

After the tour it wouldn't be hard to take the fast train to Naples, then the Circumvesuviana to Sorrento. You can fly back from Naples.

Posted by
45 posts

I’m am so grateful for all of your responses, thank you so much! Frank, my new mantra will be “I can see it next time”. I trust and value everyone’s advice, that being said we are planning on flying into Venice several days before our tour begins and exploring (possibly getting lost) on our own while getting over jet lag which I know nothing about. We are in our mid sixties and when I asked my husband “what does jet lag feel like?” He replied “It feels like we feel each day when we wake up”, Lol. Most likely at the end of the tour we will stay in Rome and explore on our own for several days before flying home. PS the younger traveler with in me still wants to venture further south in 🇮🇹...what’s my new mantra? Oh yes I can see that next time 😂. Thanks everyone!

Posted by
2080 posts

That's pretty much it for me--jet lag is just sleep deprivation. I think walking around Venice will be the perfect antidote, and a great way to start off a trip!

Posted by
21332 posts

Jet lag is a true medical condition dealing with the resetting of your internal, biological clock. It is more than just sleep deprivation.

There are two principle schools of thought on how to deal with it. Sunlight is critical to resetting the clock. One approach is to stay wake and be active in the sun, outdoors on your first day arrival. Inside activities like museums, etc. is avoided as is sitting in a bus or train going somewhere. We tried that for years with only marginal successful but others will swear by it.

The other principle approach is similar - outdoors, in the sun, on arrival but adding a mid-afternoon nap for a max of two hours. We discovered that approach by accident one year and have never looked back. We set an alarm to insure a max of two hour but rarely go beyond an hour and a half or so. That recharges our batteries to enough have a pleasant evening dinner and retire around 10 pm local time. The next day will be a little so so but by the following day we are complete adjusted. Coming from Denver we generally need to adjust about eight hours. The PM nap for us works great.

Posted by
45 posts

Thanks for the tips about jet lag. My husband is very adaptable in any situation, and I am his opposite. I am very much a person who is strongly affected by the sunlight maybe because I grew up in Southern California, Idk. We will certainly take advantage of the sunshine as well as find opportunities to nap those first couple of days.

Posted by
21332 posts

Now -- one of the best things you can do is to fly business class !!!

Posted by
1737 posts

Now -- one of the best things you can do is to fly business class !!!

Agreed! On our last trip to Italy, we were able to fly first class. We have an AMEX Skymiles card and put everything on it, including all our travel expenses for work. We get to keep the miles. We earned enough miles to allow us to fly first class for $700 a ticket. Our seats made into a bed and we were able to sleep for most of the flight. This played a huge role in our ability to combat jet lag.

Frank mentioned two trains of thought. We subscribe to the latter, though sometimes it's hard to push through. On our last trip to France, we flew into Paris, then traveled to Loches, arriving about 5:30 in the afternoon, where we met our grandson. We wanted to grab a bite and walk through the town, retiring about 9:00. It turned out the parents of one of his friends had planned to cook a dinner at their home for us. We couldn't say no! We ended up visiting until past midnight. The next day was shaky, but we made it through and were set for the next two weeks.

Posted by
676 posts

One thing to add about sunlight is that it is important not to wear sunglasses. These block some of the light frequencies that are important in helping reset your clock. For me, jetlag is a pain. It takes me a few days to feel ok, and I use a sleeping pill the first 2 or 3 nites. If you haven't travelled to Europe before you might want to get a prescription from your doctor and bring the pills just in case. I ask for the time-release version of Ambien.

Since you're going into Venice a few days early you might want to look into a few nearby cities easily reachable by train. Padua is nearby and has the amazing Scrovegni chapel, as well as being a nice place to visit. Not too much farther is Vicenza which has some Palladium architecture, or even Verona which is about 1.5 hours by train. You could even take a fast train to Bologna for a day, about 90 minutes away. Or you could look into going north towards the Dolomites.

Posted by
39 posts

So much to see so little time ..... we do Italy basically as it keeps calling us back .. got airfare for our 30 day trip for $527ea ... flying into Atlanta then straight to Venice ... ending in Rome ... no chance if they want you to quarantine as they do if your connection is say in England .... stayed in Cinque Terre 3 times in the past .. Lucca is a gr8 walled city nearby Florence u might like .... lake Garda is the biggest and best in Italy where many Germans vacation so German food more in the northern part of the lake which is 31 miles high and 10 at the bulge at the bottom with mountains on both sides ... (paraglide) Como had a lot of flooding... got George Clooneys place I read ... Bolzano is north of Verona (town has the highest quality of living in Italy and has the Iceman in their museum ... get the Bolzano card from your lodging for free public ,buses,trains,lifts,museums in that region ) nowadays we look for events/festivals and plan our trips around them ... every May 15th is the candle festival in Gubbio ... a must see (YouTube it ... YouTube all your towns .. learn learn learn) we plan our next trip as soon as we get back home ... we're in our 70's and can't get enough of traveling in Europe... have fun planning and anticipating your trip!

Posted by
85 posts

I agree with others don't try and do CT on this tour. It's too out of the way. I'm heading to Italy with a friend at the end of Sept and before we head to Venice we're stopping at Lake Como.. From Milan its 1 hour away by train which I just discovered a month ago. From Vernazza to Venezia it's about 5 hours train ride. I say stay in any hotel that has Lake views and unwind. Also give yourself a day or two beforehand in Venezia before tour starts. The last time I was in Italy gasp was 93. I'm excited heading there in a month.

Posted by
45 posts

I’m so grateful to all of you for posting such wonderful and insightful travel tips. It will be difficult but I will try and not wear sunglasses on my first day ever in Europe/ Italy to help with jet lag. Frank I would love to fly business class even better if we could fly first class. My husband is Leary to purchase tickets until this latest COVID variant settles down and we learn that we can actually make this trip. I’ve been very busy researching all of the various towns and sights that you all have recommended and now Milan is of great interest, so much to see and only a little over an hour to Lake Como. I’m not sure if I’m being practical or if I’ve already forgotten my new mantra... I can see it next time. I don’t know what it is exactly but I have the mindset that this is my one and only chance to go to Europe. Do I need a mindfulness class for travel? 😝

Posted by
4065 posts

If you do have a certain time frame in mind, it would be good to watch airfares. In general, depending on where you live, fares are quite good right now. If you need to change your trip and did not purchase basic economy or equivalent, you could get credit for a future flight. Also, when I look at airfares, I use "flexible dates". That is one thing I use to determine the days I choose to travel.

Posted by
2773 posts

I would think twice about the suggestion to not wear sunglasses to get over jetlag. Check with your eye doctor. That suggestion would ruin the first few days of my trip and perhaps cause permanent damage to my eyes.

Posted by
21332 posts

Sunlight is the same in Mass or Rome. So if you don't wear sunglasses all the time at home, it is not going to make any difference in Rome. And I have read earlier similar advice that wearing sunglasses can delay the jet lag adjustment. I wear sunglasses about half the time so I don't know if it does or not. We live at 6,000 feet so light is a bit more intense for us.

Linda, Keep repeating, "I will see that next time." Our first trip was in 72. We decided to go a Wed evening with the plane leaving on Sat night and we didn't even have passports. Small detail. But we made it. Even then Marcia's attitude was, "Save it. We will be back." Back wasn't till '93 but we made it. The '93 trip made us devote Steves' follower. The amount of luggage we took for that trip was enormous. The second thought to repeat is, "Twenty pounds is all I need !"

Check your local library for Rick Steves' DVDs. That might you decision process.

Posted by
2773 posts

Yes, of course, if you don’t wear sunglasses at home, then there is no change for you. However, that doesn’t make it healthy. Sunglasses help delay certain eye issues so keep or put those sunglasses on!. Jet lag is better. LOL

I don’t recall where you are from, but the best way I have found to beat jetlag is to take a day flight to Europe, sleep in a real bed, and then go to your final destination the next day. Whether those flights are flying right now is another issue.

Posted by
45 posts

A huge thank you to all of you well experienced travelers 🧳 I am busy planning and taking in all of your wonderful suggestions to help make our first trip together to Italy 🇮🇹 a great and positive trip!

Posted by
1146 posts

Linda- How VERY exciting to go to Italy for the first time, you have received wonderful advice so far. I am also born and raised in California, and I never get Jet lag GOING to Europe, just when I get home I am very Jet lagged for about 4 days (Just basically sleepy around 3pm). But it is a long travel day from the west coast ,so I am just the normal tired but understand that I do not go to sleep until the normal time in my destination country (10PM) or it can throw off the whole trip. It usually takes a few hours to deboard, get through any required checkpoints, go to the bathroom, find the taxi que, drive into town, check into your hotel. By that time you can freshen up and hit the ground running, take a walk, grab dinner then go to bed at normal time.
I always say Go for it! You never know what tomorrow can bring, if you want to add a few days onto your trip to see the Amalfi Coast then do it! I would base in Sorrento for The Amalfi Coast. Not sure which is your last tour city but each of the places you are going should have a train to Naples, and from there you can transfer to Sorrento. Use the website "Rome to Rio" and just plug in your destination and he will give you multiple solutions. It is actually very easy. There are also MANY Youtube videos on People taking trains from Rome to Naples including instruction on how to get tickets etc. Here is just one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mK0XAtXZXwI
I know it can all be a little overwhelming but this is what makes travel so exciting, doing things you have never done, being scared and confused but doing it anyway. Put it all in perspective, no one is going to die if you get lost, miss your train etc. It's just travel.

Posted by
45 posts

Letizia I love your attitude towards travel! Just Go For It! Thank you for your help with my planning and yes it is very exciting! It’s finally time for us to travel and have fun...kids are grown, grandkids are growing and after working for sooo long we are retired but far from finished. I must remember that this will most likely not be our only trip to Italy and that if we do miss seeing some sights that we will see them next trip.

Posted by
3924 posts

Hi Linda,

I scanned through the replies and didn’t see this idea, yet. How would you feel about joining this tour after your first one ended in Rome and let your husband return to the US?

Best of South Italy in 13 Days Tour

It covers the extra places in the south that you would like to see, and being with a tour, you wouldn’t feel alone. I’m 64 and feeling like each travel opportunity is precious time - agree that you shouldn’t have a “must see everything” mindset, but also consider that you’re already there and retired so no obligations holding you back. You would be traveling with a group of people who are excited to experience it along with you!

Posted by
1477 posts

A lot of folks here have suggested what time of day to fly to decrease jet lag, but the current problem with being tied into a certain flight is the fact that the airlines keep canceling /changing flights so often. Our upcoming flights have been canceled/changed six times. We were sold flights that haven't flown since March 2020. We had to change from flying into Zurich to Geneva, because BA canceled the flight. So be aware, perhaps use a site like Flight Aware to check if the flights you want are even flying. So until the influence of covid issues decreases, keep your itinerary simple, and add extra days at the beginning and end for flexibility.

We did the tour you are planning on, and it is a very active tour, as indicated in the RS description, and our own experiences. Give yourself some down time to recover from jet lag at the beginning, because you'll need your energy to start the tour. And you may need a day after the tour to rest. This particular tour had some early start times, as the RS Guide wisely wanted to get us into the museums early before the crowds. But coupled with the Italians' slow and leisurely dinners which ended late, we felt pretty sleep-deprived by the conclusion. It was a great, well-organized tour, but also required a lot of energy.

Have a great time planning your free time, and safe travels!

Posted by
45 posts

Jean / I couldn’t agree more that at this point in life (closer to 70 than 60, I have no idea how or when that happened:)) time is so much more precious. It would be fabulous to extend my first trip and see more of Italy, that being said maybe next time. With any luck we will meet and make wonderful new friends on our first tour and from there who knows maybe plan a future trip with friends.

Posted by
483 posts

Linda,

You have gotten some great suggestions here. That's what we love about this board. So many people who have had so many experiences. I like your idea of a couple days in Venice or Milan before the tour begins. (Personally three days has always been more than enough for us in Venice). I also liked the suggestion of visiting the Lakes region if you are going in to Milan. Once you get to Rome, tack on a couple of the extra days there. You can do some awesome day trips from Rome as well by train if you want to see a little more of Italy. Amalfi Coast is lovely, but honestly, the climbing of the stairs in Positano was a killer. I almost dreaded leaving our hotel. Walking down the stairs to the beach was easier. It's the hike back up that hill was tough. I have been to Italy many times over the years, and at first, I was see all you can see with limited time. Enjoy Venice, Rome and Florence. From there day trip from Rome. Orvieto is lovely, as Tivoli, Naples/Pompeii, Ostia Antica, and sure there are many others here who could make great suggestions. We have learned to park ourselves for several nights and enjoy each city at a leisurely pace. We have never been on one of these tours, but you will see the highlights each city has to offer. At the end of your trip, enjoy your last few days as if you were Italian!