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Planning a trip to multiple cities

I was stationed in Italy (Naples) in the late 80's but now want to go back with my new wife. She's never ben there.

I'm not seeing any trips through travel outlets that go to the cities I want, and I'm afraid we'd be a little dissatisfied if we can take our time in any given area. My wife loves the museums.

My desired itinerary is:
- Rome (2 days)
- Florence (1 day)
- Venice (2 days)
- Naples (1 day)
- Sorrento (2-3 days)
- - Includes Isle of Capri, the Almafi Coast and maybe Sorrento

I'm planning 12-13 days to account for driving time from city to city. I believe it best to fly in to Rome, visit each of the cities, then fly back out of Rome.

We did our own trip to Nova Scotia and absolutely loved it. This will be different mostly because of language barriers. Driving is another mild concern.

Lots of questions but I'l stop for now and ask for any thoughts from the group regarding my planned itinerary.

Thank you!

Posted by
6439 posts

Have you mapped out your proposed trip?

For most of it a rental car is a liability and you need to double your time or slash the number of destinations.

My first reaction was to ask "Is this a joke?", its that unrealistic.

Posted by
2585 posts

I agree that you're trying to visit too many places in too few days. You have to plan time to get from one to the next, so 2 days in Rome followed by 1 day in Florence means you'll really only get about 1.25 days in Rome and half a day in Florence.

If you have 12-13 days on the ground in Italy and want to focus on major museums, then try:

Day 1: arrive Rome
Day 2: visit Rome major sights & museums
Day 3: ditto
Day 4: train to Venice
Day 5: visit Venice major sights & museums
Day 6: ditto
Day 7: train to Florence
Day 8: visit Florence major sights & museums
Day 9: ditto
Day 10: train to Naples
Day 11: visit Naples major sights & museums
Day 12: ditto (or skip this if you are only staying 12 days)
Day 13: return to Rome, stay near the airport for your flight home next morning

If instead you want to spend time in the south -- Naples, Sorrento, Capri, etc. -- then eliminate Venice and Florence.

Posted by
13 posts

To Joe32F: Thank you. No, I hadn't mapped anything yet. Just starting with a rough sketch of the places we'd really like to see. I did know it was going to be tough but already realizing I'd probably have to drop something.

Posted by
13 posts

To epltd: Thank you. I was considering dropping Florence because I'm sure she'd want to see Venice, but also want a chance to see the Amalfi Coast. I might be able to add one more day but won't know for a couple of days.

I didn't mention in my first post that I'm looking at the early February timeframe.

Posted by
619 posts

This is a challenging itinerary for 12-13 days. I am assuming that this doesn't include your travel days. For each day you are in transit, the rule of thumb is half day to move from one place to another which severely cuts down on the time you can actually spend in one place. RS has a good Italy travel map that my husband and I used for our recent trip to Italy (we had 15 days of real travel time). We used this conjunction with mapping out our must see sites to prioritize our time and focused our trip on Venice, Cinque Terre, Florence (and surrounding countryside) and Rome and save Naples and Sorrento for future trips. In retrospect, I wish we would have eliminated one of the cities as transit time really ate into our sightseeing.

If you do decide to do this itinerary, I would fly into Venice and fly out of Rome. I would take a train from Venice to Florence, then Florence to Rome and then train to Naples. You can then consider whether you want a car and/or public transport on the Amalfi Coast. It will be a whirlwind trip.

Travel planning is hard and I hope this helps you in your decision making.
Sandy

Posted by
11701 posts

Paul, if you're going in February then I'd drop Sorrento/Amalfi, Really, you have too many locations for the time that you have and that's not a great time of year for the coast. How many nights will you have on the ground in Italy? It makes a difference when working itineraries.

You do not want a car for Venice, Naples, Rome or Florence. Trust us on this one!! Trains are the most efficient way to go and they're not difficult to manage. There will also be little-to-no "language barrier": the cities are experienced hosts for travelers from all over the world, and excellent-to-passable English is widely spoken in the hospitality industry.

Editing to add, if your wife loves museums, don't drop Florence! In fact, I'd give that one ample time.:O)

Posted by
5899 posts

Save Naples for when you return on another trip to stay on Amalfi Coast, Capri. Venice, Florence, Rome this time will be perfect!

Posted by
13 posts

Kathy: Thank you - very helpful! What is your opinion of Amalfi Coast area in early April?

Posted by
6439 posts

With the love of museums and the time of year, Venice, Florence Rome,( in that order) is really the best way to use your time and make it enjoyable and not just a dash from place to place.

Fly into Venice, trains to Florence and Rome and fly home from Rome. ( Generally easier to get an outbound flight from Rome at a decent hour, than doing so from Venice)

Also consider that in Feb., the daylight hours are decidedly fewer than late Spring and Summer.

Posted by
1878 posts

Definitely covering too much ground in the time allotted, stays too short, and this is not a driving itinerary. Trains are cheap in Italy, also you can save by booking ahead. I advise cutting either the northern stop, or the southern stops. I don't know if dropping Florence really helps the much. One night stays do not make a lot of sense in big cities, it takes time to get there, time to settle in, time to pack on departure. (Not like driving in the countryside in say Ireland where a one night B&B stay can work fine).

Rome is good for three full days minimum, four is better. Venice two full days, three is better. Florence two full days, three is better. Venice is harder to get to, you might not return there as often so good to extend your stay there by a day.

Also fly open jaw, into Venice and out of Rome for example. Especially with such limited time, you don't want to backtrack. I don't know about Amalfi Coast, I have been to Italy four or five times and never made it south of Sorrento. It just seemed even more inconvenient than the rest of Italy, which is already fairly inconvenient. In February I would not hold high hopes for places where outdoor scenery is the point of being there.

Posted by
3112 posts

This intinerary is busy but might work, using open jaws flights to maximize your short visit. Day 1: Arrive on flight to Venice and stay 3 nights. Day 4: Take morning train to Florence and stay 3 nights. Day 7: Take morning train to Naples or Sorrento and stay 3 nights. Use one or the other (but not both) as your base to explore the area. Day 10: Take morning train to Rome and stay 3 nights. Day 13: Fly home from Rome. If you have an extra day, add it to Naples/Sorrento or maybe Rome. If you have one day less, subtract it from Florence. Only rent a car on days you want to travel to places not easily reached by train or bus.

Posted by
14014 posts

See if you can fly open-jaw, into Venice and out of Rome or (preferably) Naples. Venice is the best place to start your trip, relax and soak up the atmosphere as you get over the jetlag. From there you can train to Rome. You could even take an early morning train to Florence, store your bags at the station and see the highlights, then take an evening train to Rome. FRom Rome you can take the fast train to Salerno, then train to Naples or Rome for your flight home. Unless you have an afternoon or evening departure, you should plan to spend your last night in the departure city.

I spent 5 nights in Salerno last year in February with a rental car and it was a great time to visit the Amalfi Coast. Salerno was the perfect base for me. I picked up and dropped off the car in Salerno, drove the AC to enjoy the beautiful scenery and explore the quaint towns. One day I drove south to Paestum to see the archaeology museum and the Greek temple ruins.

Posted by
1728 posts

Kathy: Thank you - very helpful! What is your opinion of Amalfi Coast
area in early April?

I have been to the A.C. in early-to-mid March twice, and the above poster (Chani) has been there at that time as well. When we were there, it was all but deserted, and magnificent. In April, it should be just about perfect if you want to fit it into your itinerary.

Posted by
11701 posts

What is your opinion of Amalfi Coast area in early April?

LOL, you have it from Jay and Chani, and I'm going to cheerfully bow to their experienced weigh-ins on the subject. :O)

One of my biggest reasons for voting against the Amalfi in February, potential weather complications aside, is that the ferries/jetboats don't run to most places along the coast at that time of year. As that's my preferred mode of transport in that region, it's a factor for me although maybe not for you. They do run to Capri from Sorrento and Naples all year unless the weather is REALLY foul, though.

I'm not sure they'll run in early April either but spring schedules seems to swing a bit from year to year. The websites usually note Easter as the start-up date.

Posted by
2585 posts

I'd just like to underscore that if your wife is a museum fan, Florence is an absolute must. And if you're going in February, the major museums in Florence will be much less crowded than they are in summer.

Flying open jaw would be preferable. You do not need (or want) a car for this itinerary. You mentioned Nova Scotia, but you need to realize that Nova Scotia is an entirely different kind of place from Italy.

Posted by
13 posts

Thank you to everyone who has opined. I appreciate all the great, very helpful information. I'm re-working my plan and as it stands right now I'm going focus on Rome and north. I'll have to see if we can make it back for a trip to Naples and south.

Posted by
3341 posts

Your revised plan to stay north of Rome is good thinking. Just do Venice, Florence Rome, in that order and you'll really be able to do justice to three great cities. A later trip south of Rome will be a good excuse (not that anyone really needs one) for a return visit.

Posted by
13 posts

Okay, new set of questions:

  1. It's been 30 years since I was stationed in Naples. I knew enough Italian to get around. Of course, I've forgotten just about all of it. We'll work on that but wanted to know how prevalent is the use of English in Rome, Florence and Venice.

  2. I remember crime being relatively low, at least in Naples and Rome. Most of what I experienced was teams on scooters doing smash and grabs from cars stuck in traffic, or pickpockets. We just always kept an eye on people, kept our wallets out of easy reach, lock valuables in the trunk, etc. What is the opinion of the group as far as these towns now in 2018?

  3. On our prior trips we always used AmEx traveler's cheques. Will that work in Italy, or is cash the better way?

That's it for now. Thank you all.

Posted by
3341 posts
  1. Brush up all you can with the Italian. Especially the niceties and formalities. In Rome, Florence and Venice, just about everywhere that caters to the tourist trade has people whose English is a lot better than my Italian.

  2. Crime is still relatively low. But grab and runs on scooters and pickpocketing still occur. Just keep an eye on people and your surroundings, your wallets (with only day money and perhaps one credit card) out of reach, and wear a money belt.

  3. I'm not sure anyone even sells traveler's checks anymore. Credit cards and cash (from a local ATM) is the better way to go.

Posted by
9450 posts

Great advice on itinerary from my co-conspirators. Kathy took the words out of my mouth and I’d agree in Feb to skip the Amalfi Coast.

Given some of your questions (I.e., regarding traveler’s checks) I highly recommend you read Rick Steves’ “Europe Through the Back Door” as a means of updating yourselves on European travel skills and planning. Read it before you buy any airline tickets.

Posted by
11701 posts

We'll work on that but wanted to know how prevalent is the use of
English in Rome, Florence and Venice.

Paul, we speak pathetically little Italian other than a few manner words and phrases, and we probably mispronounce the h*ll out of those. I'm sure our hosts have giggled a bit behind a polite hand. HA! We've experienced no big issues to date, and can recognize more words than roll off the tongue. I'm sure you can too.

Crime is no worse/different than when you were there. Just practice the same precautions as you did 3 decades ago.

Travelers Cheques are a dinosaur no one uses or even accepts anymore. ATMs are the way to go. Yep, just like at home. Laurel's advice to take a spin through ETTBD is great for boning up on practicalities, and this might be helpful as well:

https://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/money

And, of course, the gang is always here for more questions. :O)

Posted by
13 posts

Given some of your questions (I.e., regarding traveler’s checks) I highly recommend you read Rick Steves’ “Europe Through the Back Door” as a means of updating yourselves on European travel skills and planning. Read it before you buy any airline tickets.

Will do. Thanks!

Posted by
3307 posts

You got an important link above about money. I recommend that you both thoroughly explore other travel tips. Click on this link to get to them.

Other good information on Italy and its specific towns will be found right here on this RS website.

If y'all are thinking you need to bring big suitcases, reconsider that right away. Watch this Sarah Murdoch packing travel talk to help convince yourselves to pack light. And go to the Packing Forum for lots of discussions about why packing light is smarter when you travel by train, bus or vaporetto, when you will probably be walking with your luggage to your lodging and when that lodging will likely not have an elevator.

Posted by
13 posts

You got an important link above about money. I recommend that you both thoroughly explore other travel tips. Click on this link to get to them.
Other good information on Italy and its specific towns will be found right here on this RS website.
If y'all are thinking you need to bring big suitcases, reconsider that right away. Watch this Sarah Murdoch packing travel talk to help convince yourselves to pack light. And go to the Packing Forum for lots of discussions about why packing light is smarter when you travel by train, bus or vaporetto, when you will probably be walking with your luggage to your lodging and when that lodging will likely not have an elevator.

Thank you Lo. I'll be going through all of it.

Posted by
13 posts

My wife has some thoughts about using a tour service. Any thoughts from the group as to whether or not that makes sense? We're both fine plotting out our path, and we both like the idea we can stay in a particular spot for extra time. But she likes the idea of the information that tour guides can offer.

Posted by
6439 posts

My wife has some thoughts about using a ***tour service.*

Do you mean something like taking an RS tour, or hiring local guides or joining a local tour to specific locations in a city?

Posted by
13 posts

Do you mean something like taking an RS tour, or hiring local guides or joining a local tour to specific locations in a city?

Yes.

Posted by
9450 posts

We always plan our own travel and use guidebooks to help plan walks that enable seeing some sites. Rick Steves’ guidebooks have a lot of self guiding info whether for walking tours or through a museum or ancient site. We supplement these self guided tours with professionals where it makes sense. For Italy, I recommend using a guide for the Colosseo/Foro Romano/Palatino complex (a private guide for 4 hours will cost about €240), a guided tour from Walks of Italy for the Vatican, and a guide for Pompeii (Gaetano Manfredi is costly but he is the best).

Posted by
1562 posts

This is not an itinerary I would want to do. Too much travel between places. I would slow the pace if this was my trip.

Posted by
14014 posts

There are several options for getting more information. You can hire a private guide for just about any length of time for any sight or neighborhood. There are also small group tours that you can book. Many sights have audio guides that give a lot of information. Rick has recorded a number of self-guided walks that you can download for free. Be sure to download and print out the maps as well. Even the "free" talking tours can be very good, even with a large group. They are usually only 2-3 hours.