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Looking to see the North, Middle, AND South in 9 days - Too much?

Hi all,
I'm visiting Italy for the first time for about 9 days traveling with my partner and his teen child —
I'm a bit stuck in planning in wondering if I'm going to overdo it. I want to see some of the big highlights of Italy in particular for the wonderful art of my college past in Florence, Rome, but my heart is set on seeing the Amalfi Coast as well. I'm hoping to fly into into the country in the North and back from the South, and travel mostly by traun between major cities. If this were the ideal trip, I'd do the big cities (Rome, Italy), I'd go to Venice for a gondola ride, enjoy a glass of wine in Tuscany, make a pit stop in Naples for pizza, and have time for a gondola ride, or other see other small cities along the way.

Ive looked at the highlights in my Rick Steves book and other sites, and I don't see a lot of itineraries combining the north and south in this short of a timeframe, I'm sure for good reason. I acknowledge that there is a such a thing as too much of a good thing.

It's it realistic to hit some highlights of the north, middle and south of the country? I am willing it cut some major cities a little shorter to see more while Im there in order to take a half or day trip out of major cities, but I certainly don't want the trip to be an insane run around and not enjoy the moment.

Anyone else try to do this with success, or tried and regret it? As a first timer, is there anything you would not to to make time for something else?

Thanks

Posted by
15315 posts

Recommended minimum number of nights:
Rome 4
Florence 3
Venice 3
Amalfi Coast and Naples area (Capri, Pompeii, Sorrento) 4

If you just need to check it off your list, you could probably remove one night from each location. You won’t see much, but you will be able to tell your friends back home: “been there! Done that!”

Posted by
2344 posts

Yes, it’s too much. Do people do it - yes. There is a whole generation of travelers who are just checking places off their Instagram wish list, barely stopping to experience a place so long as they got a great picture of their backside in front of someplace famous (preferably in a flowy dress, straw hat and shoes that no real traveler could wear all day long).

You say you have “about 9 days”. Be honest with yourself about what that REALLY means. Are you including arrival and departure days? If so, that really only gives you 7 full days. Then each time you move, you lose at LEAST half a day, depending on how long you’re traveling.

Also remember that 4 nights in one place only gives you 3 full days. This would be the minimum for Rome. I agree that Florence and Venice deserve 3 nights each, especially for an art enthusiast. That puts you at 10 nights minimum to see those 3 places, which you don’t have. Drop one place. Personally, I would do Rome and Amalfi this trip, and save Florence and Venice for the future.

Posted by
15378 posts

I certainly don't want the trip to be an insane run around and not enjoy the moment.

You even described your own plan.

Technically, it can be done. You will live on trains, you will be able to tell people you saw all those cities, you might be able to do ONE thing in each place.....and you would be sorely disappointed when you returned home. Not to say exhausted as well.

You are right....fly into one city and out of another. Pick 2-3 places max and preferably near each other. Stay in the city center as to not waste time each day traveling to and from your hotel.

My suggestion for a first timer.....the big three--Rome, Florence and Venice. With your time limits, you need to be picky in each of those places. There is a high speed train between the cities. Personally, I would go to Rome first and give it some extra time in case you or any of the people you are traveling with get jet lag.

On your next trip, you can return to Rome to see what you didn't get to see your first trip and then head south.

Posted by
2344 posts

After re-reading your post, one thing that pops out at me is you will be traveling with a teen. A teen who probably will be museum-ed out after the first museum. Same with cathedrals. (I speak from experience with my two teens!)

Wherever you end up going, plan on ONE must-see sight per day (museum, church, coliseum, etc). Preferably early in the day. DO NOT think you are going to blaze through six sites per day like you’re on the Amazing Race. Include the teen in your planning, and include things he/she is interested in. This way you create GOOD memories.

We found that our energy/interest levels were best when we hit the must-see site first thing, had a nice lunch (usually someplace with a view), went back to the hotel for a break/nap/dip in the pool in the afternoon, then back out for sightseeing & dinner in the evening. Remember that dinner is 8pm or later in many places in Italy.

Posted by
471 posts

We did something similar to that this year but with Milan and Como instead of Venice. We took 21 full days to do it. Even with a fabulous train system, it takes a long time to get places. Florence to Salerno was over four hours and we did go through Naples. Transporting to the Amalfi Coast is a long trek from anywhere. Even open-jaw flights wouldn't help a lot with that short of time.

You could happily spend the entire time with Rome as a homebase. There's plenty to see. It's a fast train trip to Florence to visit what's there. Maybe one of those excruciating day trips to Naples and Pompeii if that's on your bucket list. Ostia Antica is a great trip which is much closer to Rome. We have a great love of aperitivos and people watching. That's probably not going to work with a teen.

You're going to need to think about lodging. Triple rooms may not be a good solution. After a couple of days, I'd want more separation. A two-bedroom Airbnb would be much more comfortable with a teenager. Every kid is different. How they travel, what they eat (and when), what interests them and their energy level can vary from day-to-day. Sometimes, you just don't know in advance. I'd have a couple of structured days and then the rest more fluid.

Our first trip to Italy was in 2019. Our biggest regrets were not spending enough time in certain places. In nights, we did Rome-4, Florence-2, Cinque Terre-4, Venice-3 and Paris-4. We went back to Florence this year for four days because we wanted more time. I want to visit Venice again. In retrospect, we should have left off Paris. However, it was our first Europe trip and we wanted to see Paris. I will say that the thoughts of Paris did sustain me through the my COVID lockdown and that made it worth it.

Posted by
119 posts

Can it be done? Yes. Will it be go, go go... yes. However, my take is if you want to do it, do it. People advised me on here to avoid one night stays. I still had one night stays and saw some of the things that I wanted to. Looking back, I am glad I saw what I wanted to. People do their vacation in their own ways and if it is absolutely what you want to do, then do it. I think one question you should ask yourself is when will you be back to Italy? If the answer is maybe never or not for a LONG time, then do what you want.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks everyone, this is wonderful.

For more context, we have a young but very mature teenager traveling with us. Close quarters are not an issue if I chose to do that, thought I do plan to do at least half our stays at AirBnBs for a few extra amenities.

I’m a travel lover but don’t have close friends that can and are willing to pay for European vacations and am I’m traveling with those who may not come to Europe again (they don’t travel much even locally). It could very well be a 1x trip.

Given the feedback, would it still be reasonable to do Florence, Rome, and the Amalfi coast as my 3 main stops, or is the Amalfi coast just unreasonably far to make the trek?

Posted by
15897 posts

TravelGirlie16, what time of year are you looking at doing this trip and how, more exactly, are you counting your 9 days? For instance, do your travel days TO and FROM in Italy figure into the count?

It can be more realistic to count your nights on the ground in Italy. The Amalfi Coast also isn't a great choice for the colder months.

LOL, not ALL teenagers burn out on museums or need/want an afternoon nap ( I was, and still am, a go-all-day-traveler) but you know your young traveling companion better than we do! :O)

Posted by
10 posts

Not sure how to reply to specific posts so consolidating here:

Our traveling teen is not much of an issue - this will be her first time traveling abroad, but she's very flexible and goes with the flow. No need for a mid-day nap but we will likely take a break from the walking most mid days for everyone. We don't need a sit-down meal nightly — if 1 meal a day is seated, that will do. She has only asked for "1 fancy dinner" while we're there, hah.

The 9 days does not include the major travel days — looking to do this mid April, flying out Thurs 4/13, returning on Sun 4/23 from the east coast, leaving the nights of 4/14-Sat 4/22.

As far as budget, looking to keep things reasonable but don't need to keep things as cheap as humanly possible - some costs are being split and airfare is covered by travel points.

Posted by
992 posts

It would help if you write yourself a day-by-day itinerary listing exactly what museums or train rides you want to see or take each day. Do not buy advance tickets for two museums in one day. For each day, write one activity and a time of day. Then write "If time", followed by whatever else you think you would like to do. You might or might not do any of what you write after "if time". Do not plan exactly how much time you will spend in your first museum or site each day.

I spent 13 nights in Italy: 6 nights in Florence, 3 in Naples, 4 Rome. Maybe 4 or 5 nights on Florence would have been enough and then I could have spent an extra night in Rome. I probably would have liked Venice. I skipped it. Maybe I'll go to Venice in the future. I wanted to see Pompeii and ancient Roman ruins.

Posted by
33005 posts

for folks confused by the dates, the dates do match April 2023. The 9's must have slipped in by accident, but it does line up for April.

(a particularly good month for Amalfi Coast if all the other stars align)

Posted by
10 posts

I plan to do exactly that, Mike. This is a postponed Big Bday trip for me and I will be doing all the planning and any itinerary is on me.
I have an Excel doc going :)

I'm sure I would like Venice as well, but am willing to skip it. Tuscany was big on my list before the reality of this trip set in, but with the teen going, I hope I can return one day for an adults only trip and enjoy a more adult itinerary.

I am from Ca and the two other travelers are from the East Coast — I've seen green wine-growing countrysides enough that I think I can skip for now, but am just looking to explore. They are looking to be wow'd by monuments and the coastline.

I went to Amsterdam a few years ago and imagine the big attractions in Rome being like the Rijksmuseum. Absolutely stellar and I was only there for 3-4 hours, only got through half of the museum. I could have stayed longer but there were other things to see and I dont regret leaving half unexplored.

Posted by
15378 posts

You can do the Florence-Rome-Amalfi in your time limit.

Fly into Florence and fly out of Naples or vice versa. Don't waste time backtracking. And with your time limits, I'd probably skip sightseeing in Naples. Go directly to Amalfi.

Maximize your time by taking early morning trains. (You could leave Florence after an early breakfast and be in Rome for lunch.

Plan out your days to maximize your time. Remember, the places you've chosen are very crowded so leave extra time.

Posted by
4105 posts

With you now eliminating points north of Roma, look at a RT tickets into Rome. It’s going to make your transatlantic flight a lot shorter. From Rome immediately head to either Naples (1H17m) or Salerno 1H49m) much closer to the Amalfi Coast)

From Naples, Sorrento would be about the same travel distance to either location by train to Naples and bus, ferry to the Amalfi coast.
Once you figure out what you want to see, you can then decide which location would better fit your needs. Or if you’re willing to stay in Naples itself.

While Naples can be overwhelming for first time visitors, it’s an amazing city with some outstanding art and wonderful museums. You just need to be prepared to adjust to its crazy tempo.
It’s one of my favorite cities.

Spend 4 nights.

From Naples train back to Rome. Easier to fly from here home. Spend 5 nights. You’ll never run out of things to see and do.

Posted by
155 posts

We’re going to Italy for our 4th time and going to Rome for our first time and doing Umbria and the Lakes & Dolomites. We’re spending 4 weeks doing this. We don’t plan to do the Vatican and will probably just do the Coliseum from outside, possibly in the evening. Similarly Trevi fountain, Spanish steps and Pantheon early morning or after supper. We will have 4 days +/- in Rome.
What do you want to see in Amalfi coast? We spent 4 days there in 2019 with hiking. You could catch a train to Salerno and get a ferry to Sorrento and stop in Amalfi &/or Positano going one way and stopping in the other on the way back..
Your planned trip reminds me of some of the trips you see advertised, some of them want your bags outside your room door by 7:30am as you tick off a couple of ‘must see’ towns per day. Not my sort of trip. Of course, as my sign-in implies, I’m probably significantly older than you with different likes & dislikes.
Just discuss it with your teenager and partner, leaving some open time & be flexible. 30 plus years ago we took our 3 children to Disneyland and after a couple of days, they just wanted to play in the pool on the roof of our hotel.

Posted by
755 posts

You can do it but be sure to take lots of photos because it may end up being a big blur when it is over. It reminds me of my first trip to Italy many years ago. We had two weeks including travel days. We flew into Venice and from there went to Florence, Cinque Terre, Sienna, Pienza, Montepulciano, Rome, and then off to Sicily, then Malta, back to Sicily, Amalfi coast, and Naples. It was fantastic! And the most bizarre part is that we didn’t even have reservations at hotels for a lot of it! Live and learn and have fun doing so.

Posted by
15897 posts

The 9 days does not include the major travel days — looking to do this
mid April, flying out Thurs 4/13, returning on Sun 4/23 from the east
coast, leaving the nights of 4/14-Sat 4/22.

Okay, that helps! Along with some of the others, I think you can do Florence+ Rome+ the Amalfi/Sorrentine Coasts. As already suggested, if you could fly into Florence and out of Naples (or the other way around), that would be best. 2nd choice would be to fly into Rome and out of Naples. 3rd choice would be RT in-and-out of Rome.

If choosing #3, because it may be the most economical and provide the most amount of flight times, you could take a train directly to Florence upon arrival, then transfer to the coast, then end the trip in Rome. I will recommend Sorrento for your coastal base as, altho not considered the AC, it's right next door and has easy transport to Pompeii (if wishing to do that one) and more frequent/quicker ferries to Capri, if interested in that one, than from some other locations. Whatever you choose to do, you'll want to be close to the airport of departure the night before your flight.

The are umpty options depending on what works for you but just as a sample....

4/13: fly to Rome
4/14: arrive and immediately take a train to Florence
4/15: Florence
4/16: Florence
4/17: Early transfer to Sorrento (it is possible to do Pompeii along the way)
4/18: AC
4/19: AC
4/20: Transfer to Rome
4/21: Rome
4/22: Rome
4/23: - fly home from Rome

This is more rushed than I'd personally like to see you do it - Rome really needs a 4th night, and time in general is going to fly by REALLY fast - but, well, it's a sample of what's possible. Art/architecture lover? I lost my mind over the art in Florence so that one could use another night too. I wouldn't go all the way to the coast for less than 3 nights, and that one is the most weather-risky; not a lot of fun in pouring rain as most of the activities are outdoors. Saving that one for a future trip would give you time for a day trip or so out of Florence plus that extra night for Rome. A future trip with a focus on the coast would also provide the time it deserves for Naples exploration, Herculaneum, etc.

Posted by
136 posts

TravelGirlie,

It's so great you are getting to go to Italy. I am here to tell you that yes you might be rushed, but you can have a good time. I spent years planning a trip that we did just this past summer. I went to several countries and spent 13 nights in Italy. Many posters advised my original plans were too rushed, and I did some adjusting, still it probably was too rushed for a lot of people. What I will tell you to keep in mind, is that you know your circumstances best, and this includes whether you will be able to go back. In my case, it was the trip of a lifetime. We do want to go back to Italy as there are so many things we missed, but we also want to go to so many other countries, and also we are at a stage in life where we will not be able to afford travel for several years (paying for kids college, and paying for this last trip, etc.). Our group had me and my husband (late forties), my parents (69 and 77) and our two teens (19 and 17). In Florence we spent three nights and split our time like this: We arrived via train from Venice around 11:30 am. We checked in at the hotel (two out of the three rooms were ready so we dropped all of the luggage in them) and had a quick lunch close to the hotel. We then walked and saw the Uffizi Gallery. The following day we saw the Accademia, the Duomo, Baptistery and Museum and Ponte Vecchio. The following day we went with a private driver to Pisa, a Winery and San Gimignano. We took an early train to Rome for four nights and again arrived around 11:00 am. Had lunch and on that day had a tour of the crypts and catacombs. The following day we did a tour of the Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and the St Marks Basilica in the morning. In the afternoon we saw the Piazza Navona, the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps. Second full day we went to Naples and Pompeii. Third full day had a mid morning tour of the Coliseum, Forum and Palatine Hill, went by the area of the Capitoline Museums (did not go in) and by the Victor Emmanuele Monument and then went to the Borghese Gallery.

Of course we missed many things, but I feel what we did see we saw well. And I feel we saw the highlights and enjoyed our time. If I can never go back to Italy, I am happy that I went and the saw the cities that were on my absolute bucket list, even if I missed many things in each of them.

So I think you can go several places in your nine nights, and you will have a great time.