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May Itinerary

Hi all,

My husband and I are planning a 20th anniversary trip to Italy in May. This is our first (and possibly last) time to Italy. We want to see a little bit of everything. We are using Points for the flights (so we needed to book in and out of Rome) and Marriott Rewards for at least 7 nights of hotels, so we need to stay in a Marriott hotel in Venice, Rome, Capri and possibly Naples.

Based on Marriott Hotel availability in those areas, this is what I've come up with:

Day 1: Depart
Day 2: Arrive Rome --To Venice, sleep in Venice May 10
Day 3: Venice, sleep in Venice May 11
Day 4: To Cinque Terre, sleep in Monterosso May 12
Day 5: To Florence, sleep in Florence May 13
Day 6: Florence, sleep in Florence May 14
Day 7: To Siena via Pisa, sleep in Siena May 15
Day 8: To Rome, sleep in Rome May 16
Day 9: Rome, sleep in Rome May 17
Day 10: Rome, sleep in Rome May 18
Day 11: To Naples, sleep in Naples May 19
Day 12: To Capri, sleep in Capri May 20
Day 13: Capri, sleep in Capri May 21
Day 14: To Sorrento sleep in Sorrento May 22
To Paestum via Amalfi Coast
Day 15: Sorrento, sleep in Sorrento May 23
Day 16: To Naples via Pompeii, sleep in Naples May 24
Day 17: To Rome, fly to Paris, sleep in Paris May 25
Day 18: Paris to Los Angeles, LA to SLC May 27

So, I have a few questions:

  1. Would it be better to spend a day in Rome before taking off to Venice?
  2. Would it be better to stay only in Siena or Florence, rather than both?
  3. Would it be better to just stay in Sorrento, rather than going back to Naples for a night?

We like beautiful scenery, culture, art, history, and good food (in that order-although DH would put food higher). We would like to eat and stay in more local places when we don't have to stay at the Marriott. We want the real Italian experience.

Posted by
14 posts

Hi Sandy (and other kind advisors),

Thanks for the ideas and detailed information. That helps a lot. There is so much to learn. I'm sure it would be easier to go with a tour the first time.

I've revised my schedule. I have free hotel stays in Venice, Rome and Capri, so I must stay in those places a certain number of nights.

Alternate Itinerary
Day 1: Depart
Day 2: Arrive Rome - sleep in Rome May 10
Day 3: Rome - sleep in Rome May 11
Day 4: Rome - sleep in Rome May 12
Day 5: Rome - sleep in Rome May 13
Day 6: To Florence, sleep in Florence May 14
Day 7: Florence, sleep in Florence May 15
Day 8: To Siena/Lucca sleep in Florence May 16
Day 9: To Venice, sleep in Venice May 17
Day 10: Venice, sleep in Venice May 18
Day 11: Venice, sleep in Venice May 19
Day 12: To Capri, sleep in Capri May 20
Day 13: Capri, sleep in Capri May 21
Day 14: To Sorrento sleep in Sorrento May 22
To Paestum via Amalfi Coast
Day 15: Sorrento, sleep in Sorrento May 23
Day 16: To Pompeii, sleep in sleep in Sorrento May 24
Day 17: To Rome, fly to Paris, sleep in Paris May 25
Day 18: Paris to Los Angeles, LA to SLC May 27

I left off Cinque Terre :( and Naples. Does that look like a more workable itinerary?

Thanks!

Posted by
14 posts

Hi Sandy (and other kind advisors),

Thanks for the ideas and detailed information. That helps a lot. There is so much to learn. I'm sure it would be easier to go with a tour the first time.

I've revised my schedule. I have free hotel stays in Venice, Rome and Capri, so I must stay in those places a certain number of nights.

Alternate Itinerary
Day 1: Depart
Day 2: Arrive Rome - sleep in Rome May 10
Day 3: Rome - sleep in Rome May 11
Day 4: Rome - sleep in Rome May 12
Day 5: Rome - sleep in Rome May 13
Day 6: To Florence, sleep in Florence May 14
Day 7: Florence, sleep in Florence May 15
Day 8: To Siena/Lucca sleep in Florence May 16
Day 9: To Venice, sleep in Venice May 17
Day 10: Venice, sleep in Venice May 18
Day 11: Venice, sleep in Venice May 19
Day 12: To Capri, sleep in Capri May 20
Day 13: Capri, sleep in Capri May 21
Day 14: To Sorrento sleep in Sorrento May 22
To Paestum via Amalfi Coast
Day 15: Sorrento, sleep in Sorrento May 23
Day 16: To Pompeii, sleep in sleep in Sorrento May 24
Day 17: To Rome, fly to Paris, sleep in Paris May 25
Day 18: Paris to Los Angeles, LA to SLC May 27

I left off Cinque Terre :( and Naples. Does that look like a more workable itinerary?

Thanks!

Posted by
62 posts

depends on how long of layover you have in Roma before Venezia but when you have the time look for a travel agent with a train sign & if you understand each other (english spoken I am assuming you are not fluent in italian) you can buy all the rest of your train tickets all at once from agent and not in train station to save time(this is what I did)and just kept tickets in safe place. I figured out prices and trains I wanted from Italian train site and agent did not charge a fee for tickets. Works if your trip is firm and since you are using marriott points sounds like their will not be a change this could work for you. I was very happy I did this after looking at line in Florence train station. I had to change date(because of strike) and the only thing I had to pay for was reservation charge for seat but I don't know if this still applies.

Posted by
31055 posts

Paulette,

It's unfortunate that you're limited to flights to and from Rome as flying "open jaw" into Venice and back from Rome would have been a better option. However, I'll try and offer a few suggestions based on your circumstances.

To begin with, I'd drop Pisa from the list, as you're dealing with a limited time frame. Take the Bus from Florence to Siena. I'd probably arrange the order of visits a bit differently, but I'll look at it again in the morning when I'm not tired.

You can easily visit Pompeii when you're staying in Sorrento. It's only a short trip on the Circumvesuviana. If you have a large budget and want recommendations on a great place for dining in Sorrento, post another note.

If you want the "real Italian experience" and want to stay in more "local places", check Rick's books. You might have a look at Hotel Desiree in Sorrento - it's a true RS classic!

Regarding your question No. 1, my preference would be to get to Venezia right away, even though you're going to be tired and jet lagged. You might try to book a flight that lands in the morning. Allow sufficient time to get to Termini from the airport (minimum 30 minutes via the Leonardo Express). There are trains leaving Termini throughout the day with travel time on a direct train (no changes) at about 04H27M (reservations compulsory). Check Rick's books regarding which Vaporetto to choose (No 1?) to get to your Hotel. I'd suggest taking the "Italy" book with you.

I'll have another look at this tomorrow and try to offer some further suggestions. I doubt this will be your last trip. Once you've been to Italy, you'll find that you'll be anxious to get back!

Cheers!

Posted by
14 posts

Hi Ken,

Thanks for your thoughtful reply - and at 1:19 a.m.! I was disappointed about not getting the open jaw but that's the sacrifice we made to get our flights free (with points).

We land in Rome at 1:20 p.m. and depart at 7:40 p.m.

Thanks for the tip on Sorrento. I'll check for availability on that one.

I think you're telling me to just stay in Florence and do a day trip to Siena. Is that right? And are you saying to stay in Sorrento, instead of Naples?

We're going to try to keep a tight reign on our food budget ($60 - $100/day). I think breakfast will usually be provided. We would like to find 2 or 3 memorable dining experiences while we're there and splurge. We would be willing to cut back on other days in order to do this.

I've heard mixed reviews on Pisa but it seemed like one of the important places to see. I'm glad to know that it's something I can drop. What about Lucca or San Gimignano? Also- a friend told me her favorite thing was biking around Ravenna but it looks a bit out of the way.

Thanks so much for your help,

Paulette

Posted by
62 posts

May 11 you are going from Venice to Cinque terre that is 6.25 hrs to 7.25 hrs on train that does not leave much time to walk or hike. What about going to Verona instead? Most trains take about 1.25 hr. You are still going to coast in Sorrento. Also if you are going from Rome to Sorrento in one day - Circumvesuviana most of the day trains run every 30 min and is 1hr from Naples to Sorrento plus 1:30 hour Rome to Naples so plan for about 3 hours. If I was taking this trip I think I would go from Siena Day 7 to Naples and depending on time could go to Capri. This does take 5 hrs Siena to Napoli but then it cuts out 2 - 1 night stops(days 16 & 11) add Rome before go Paris. I don't know if there is something you want to see in Naples but it does free a couple of days if you want to see Paris or somewhere else around Rome, Still have 3 nights in Sorrento and can visit Pompeii or Erolano and Paestum.

Posted by
14 posts

Hi Sandy,

Thanks for those ideas. I can see how your plan would be less crazy for me. I hadn't considered Verona. I know about Romeo & Juliet being set there. I'll have to look into that more. As far as switching Rome & Capri/Sorrento - I would have to check on hotel availability, since those are two of the places we're using Marriott. It's a bit limiting since they only have so many "points" rooms available. I'll check into it. I like the thought of ending up in Rome. More and more, I'm hearing that Naples is not such a great destination. Maybe we will forego that and just stay in Sorrento.

Thanks so much!

Paulette

Posted by
1589 posts

Paulette,

Take a closer look at your map. The CT trip is an all day affair just for the travel. While it is a very worthwhile destination (I would pass on Venice, which to me has become Disney World #3), it is a great spot for at least 2 days.

I agree with the suggestion to do Rome first instead of leaving right away for Venice. Lucca, IMO, is much better then Pisa for a day visit.

Posted by
14 posts

Hi Bob,

Thanks for your ideas. Wow! So much to consider. It's hard to take it all in. It sounds like the main thing is that I've got too much in my itinerary to be doable. I just don't know when we'll get back there, since we want to visit other countries in Europe on future trips. We have no problem with covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time (We did the Road to Hana on Maui in 6 hours after everyone told us it couldn't be done). Sure, we'd like to spend more time everywhere, but we're energetic travelers who like to see all we can. Having said that - we don't want to run ourselves into the ground trying to do the impossible.

Thanks for your tips,

Paulette

Posted by
7737 posts

A few thoughts:

  1. Spend the first two nights in Rome, instead of going straight to Venice.
  2. I think you're spending too much time doing the Naples, Amalfi, Capri, Sorrento thing. Add more time to Florence, Venice and/or Rome.
  3. Don't overnight in Naples - sleep in Sorrento instead.
  4. The CT is similar in many ways to the Amalfi/Sorrento area. I would drop it. (It's getting too crowded these days, anyway.)
  5. Reconfigure this so you spend at least two nights in a row in one spot, otherwise you're going to be worn out.
  6. I've heard most people enjoy Capri as a day trip, rather than two nights there. Sleep in Sorrento instead.
Posted by
389 posts

Hi Paulette, I totally understand your feelings about "last time to Italy" and want to see as much as possible. But do yourself a favor and check out travel time to each and every place you want to go to. Add an extra hr to each one of them for buying tickets, looking for hotel, checking in, etc. Then add all these times up and you will be shocked at how many hours you will be taking away (wasting) from "seeing" what you came to see. Your time is valuable and I really don't think you want to spend so much of it on a train or car. Picture landing in any one of those places, spending what will probably amount to in some cases, only a day, and then knowing as much as you love it there, you will be hoping on a train again in the morning. It's sad and not worth running to your next destination only to go through it all over again. Even at 2 nights in each place, you'll feel rushed...don't do any one of your choices for any less time. Just my advice!

Posted by
62 posts

Here is a link that should help in planning. It is Deusches Bahn site but it is good for other countries also. It will even help you with rome put in Roma aeroporto and it will options.

www.reiseauskunft.bahn.de/bin/query.exe/en?rt=1&

I do like Lucca. You can walk around ramparts in Lucca it is a flat easy hike and there are several beautiful churches. We took train from Lucca to Assisi but looks like you leave Florence 9:08 arrive Lucca 10:30 Leave Lucca 2:39pm back to Florence 4:22 pm train 5:10pm to siena at 7:23 but I think bus is quicker and it lets you out closer to center of town. I went by car but this also doesn't leave much time for Siena.

I have another suggestion. You listed scenery is very important so there is a small town I loved - San Miniato. I drove but the train goes to San Miniato Basso station called S.Miniato-Fucecchio takes about 40 min from Florence and you need to go up hill to San Miniato old town. I think it was about a mile uphill from train station and there are taxis. San Miniato is known for its wonderful truffles. Go to Trip advisor and click on traveler photos you will see some pictures. You can google San Miniato Pisa(it is in region of Pisa). Beautiful churches in San Miniato. Go up tower and you have view of arno valley. Bonaparte's Uncle? lived here (and another 1hr and 15 to 39 min to Siena) Check it out it might work for you and still leave some time for siena.

Posted by
14 posts

Great idea, Sandy. I'm also wondering about the feasability of getting a Rail Pass for some of the days. We're not opposed to getting a car for the Florence portion of the trip but aren't sure what the best thing will be for us.

Thanks much!

Posted by
408 posts

Paulette I think you've got a MUCH more workable ittinerary. Italy is a quality rather than quantity type of travel experience. Slice yourself some choice morssels and savor them.

For Florence try to book your museum reservations as early as you have a firm ittinerary. We were there last May and even the the lines were formidable. It was nice to breeze to the front of the line with our reservation number while hundreds of others got in line for the 1.5 hour wait.

You'll find many timesaving tips here to make the most of your time in Italy. How will you get from place to place?

Posted by
7737 posts

The Venice to Capri travel day will be lethal. How about doing Rome - Siena - Venice - Florence - Capri - Rome?

Also, I don't know of many people who would spend nights in both Capri and Sorrento since they're so close to each other and provide a similar experience.

Posted by
14 posts

Good point. So where should I spend more time. Should I put back in the Siena and Cinque Terre stays, or is there something else I should see. I definitely want to see Pompeii.

Thanks!

Posted by
62 posts

One of my favorite places is Sirmione on Lake Garda. My family perferred Sirmione to Venice. Really like going over moat and Castle. I stay at Hotel Marconi with lake view in 2009 is 115 euro. May is not too touristy.
Another place Lake Como either Varenna or Bellagio. Both beautiful. Several Villas to visit.
What do you prefer? Don't want to suggest too much. You know your travel style and what you prefer. Some people just don't take as long to take things in and others just race by while others take forever.
I think Cinque Terre is over crowded. I was there twice in October and it was me and several thousand of my best friends last time I was there 2 years ago. I am not kidding.It was extremely hard to walk the via del amore people were jammed like sardines 3 or 4 across and people shoving you in the back. We took train to Montorosso because it was so hard to walk. I don't think I will go back.
My husband and I also spent our 20th anniversary in Europe but in Germany.
Since it is your anniversary I would go with lakes area it is romantic and quiet at same time. The last time I stayed in Florence area we stayed at Quattro Gigli in Montopoli Val D'Arno, with views of Arno valley, I don't know if pool working in May, but the best part of hotel was romantic restaurant. If you stay for 2 days dinner is 25 euros but if nor 100 euros. I found out because waiter didn't realize we were hotel guests and gave us regular menu 100 euros. This restaurant specializes in 1800 Tuscany recipes and is on gourmet food tours of Tuscany.My husband is a wine lover and still takes about house wine. Just for an idea.
www.quattrogigli.it/eng/main1.htm
but you need car for this.

Posted by
14 posts

Wow! You've given me a wealth of information here. It sounds as if we should rent a car around Florence and then to go up to Venice and the lakes. Is that what you would suggest? I've heard we don't want a car everywhere. So would you suggest we pick up and drop off in Florence?
Also - which lake do you think is the most scenic - Como or Garda? We're not serious hikers but we do love to take "walking hikes" in beautiful places. I've revised the itinerary again to include the lakes. Have I given that region enough time or do I need to add a day? I feel like we have to at least see Venice - plus we get the hotel free (with points).

So what do you think about this plan, as compared with the previous two?

Thanks again to all of you for your efforts on my behalf.

Alternate Itinerary #3
Day 1: Depart
Day 2: Arrive Rome-To Florence-Sleep in Florence

Day 3: Florence, sleep in Florence

Day 4: To Siena/Lucca sleep in Florence

Day 5: To Venice, sleep in Venice

Day 6: Venice, sleep in Venice

Day 7: To Lake Region via Padua/Verona

Day 8: Lake Region

Day 9: To Rome - Sleep in Rome

Day 10:Rome - Sleep in Rome

Day 11:Rome - Sleep in Rome

Day 12: Rome - Sleep in Rome

Day 13: To Capri, sleep in Capri

Day 14: Capri, sleep in Capri
Day 15: To Sorrento sleep in Sorrento To Paestum via Amalfi Coast

Day 16: To Pompeii, - sleep in Rome

Day 17: Rome, fly to Paris, sleep in Paris

Day 18: Paris to Los Angeles, LA to SLC

Posted by
62 posts

If I was taking trip I would go to lakes before Venice just because you have a great train connection to Roma only 4 hrs between.
I also like to mix large cities and small towns. for example Florence -Varenna- Venice. It just makes large cities more enjoyable for me.

You don't need a car for this trip. The only reason you would need one is staying outside of large cities. You don't want a car in Florence or Venice. You don't need a car to get to Sirmione or Varenna or Bellaggio. Sirmione get off Peschiera del Garda & take taxi.

Which lake Como or Garda? I like both. I think Varenna is very romantic. I also really like Sirmione but I always stayed Sept, Oct, March, April so not overrun by tourists as in Summer,I think May would be okay. It depends on you budget I guess. Sirmione Hotel Marconi lake view room 115. I have reservations April. www.gardalake.it/hotelmarconi/ has pictures another link http://www.lagodigardamagazine.com/index.asp?lang=2&menu=72&ids=299
hotel website www.hotelmarconi.net/
Varenna is more expensive. Villa Cipressi is 170 euro with lake view. Varenna link lists all hotels: www.varennaitaly.com/
I have stayed in both hotels several times.
Google town or city interested in look up websites but also upper left click on images as should get pictures of area. Also webshots.com.

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks again, Sandy. It sounds like you've certainly made the rounds in Italy. I hope this won't be our last time there.

It's good to know we could do this without a car.

So we would go: Florence, Sirmione, Venice, Verona (not overnight), Rome, Capri, Sorrento, Rome. Does that look like a good mix?

I'm really excited to see the Lake Region. That sounded wonderful from the start but I had too much going on to fit it in. I think it will be a highlight. But then, it seems that everywhere we go will be a "highlight." I'm so looking forward to this!

THANKS!

Posted by
62 posts

If you stay in Sirmione you can take bus into Verona. So you could stay in Sirmione another night or stop in Verona and check bags & tour and continue on to Venice. Lake Garda is largest Lake in Italy. It takes about 4 hrs on fast boat to go from one end to the other.I like ruins at end of town, castle,spa, taking boat to other towns along lake and walking along lakefront under old rampart or stone roofs. The only way to get into center is by walking or driving over moat or boat.

Varenna is another good spot on Como. Train stops at top of hill walk down to hotel or taxi just depends which hotel you pick. Link I gave you has map of Varenna hotels. In Varenna gardens, top of different hill castle and views, boat to other towns along lake with villas to tour.

Have you had time to look at pictures of both towns and lakes? The lakes are different. Varenna walking is not level and Sirmione is flat compared to Varenna. Como is more romantic and layed back but more to do for a few days in Sirmione for me. You go to como for relaxation. You know your own travel style and which would be a better fit for you.

Do you have Mariott hotel in Rome? if not I would suggest getting an apartment. You are going to be there for 3 nights. Roma is crowded and it is nice not to return to crowded room. Mariott rooms might be larger than most Roma rooms.

Posted by
14 posts

Ohhh, they both sound so incredible! So hard to decide. I'll have to research more. Como looks like my style but Garda sounds so fun! What to do?

THANKS! ;)

Posted by
77 posts

Try to sleep in as few places as you can, your revised plan looks better. Dont be afraid to drive!!! Although the trains are great, the ease and convenience of havinag a car and driving through gorgious scenery is so fun. use the via michlen websited and print out all your directions before you leave or get a car with gps if you can. Rome is so amazing, you wont want to miss that slice of history!Siena is great, but you dont need to sleep there, day trip from florence. Have a great time!

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks, Gina! I heard it's not great to have a car in Rome. So where do you think would be a good place to pick up and drop off?

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks, Gina! I heard it's not great to have a car in Rome. So where do you think would be a good place to pick up and drop off?

Posted by
77 posts

You can drop it off in Orvieto, if its not a Sunday. Orvieto is about 1 hour out of Rome so you can take the train. We picked up out rental in rome at the termini station and it was very easy to get out of the city, 1 straight road out to the highway, you might be fine driving in. But, on the other hand Orvieto is worth seeing, the duomo is amazing!!!!! check it out on this website http://www.livingitaly.com/Umbria_Art_Cities/umbria_signorelli.htm. I love art so this was on of my favorite things to see, and the town is so beutifull!

Posted by
345 posts

Hi Paulette, regarding your revised itinerary, it seems odd to sleep in Florence but to spend the day in Siena?

Posted by
14 posts

Actually, we've decided to spend a couple of nights in Siena. I think it's called Alto Domus,or something like that.