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Revamp Italy Summer Vacation

So I posted on here over the past few days about our trip this summer to Italy. Many have questioned renting a car for part of our trip, which I understand the concern. In our initial planning I found a car rental was the fastest way to get where we would like to go. For example, the train/bus time to get from Rome CIA to Maoiri is 5.5 hours. That can be driven in about 3 hours and would allow us to stop at a pizza place in Naples my daughter wants to eat at. That being said, I don't think driving on the Amalfi Coast is something I want to attempt. We would probably use the bus/ferry option to get around the area. I am having an issue getting a firm answer as to any additional charges on the rental car at pick up, which concerns me.

So how about some ideas on revamping the trip? The trip right now is as follows: Air into Rome CIA on June 10 (non-ref), 2 days rental car (refundable), Maoiri hotel June 10/11 (non-ref), Rome hotel June 12-15 (refundable), 4 days rental car (refundable), Florence hotel June 16 (refundable), Milan hotel June 17-19 (non-ref), Venice hotel June 20/21 (refundable) and air out of Venice (non-refundable). In addition to the above cities, my daughter has a pizza place in Naples she wants to eat at, she want to spend a few hours at Pompeii (I doubt she will last longer than 3 hours) and she wants to see the tower in Pisa. The wife wants to take the Bernina Express to St Moritz from Milan and I was also hoping to get to the Alfa museum, but it is a bit out of the city. I am not entirely sure how to do all this without a car. One thought I have is to eliminate Florence and either stay in Rome for another night (maybe a day trip to Pisa?) or stay overnight somewhere between Rome and Milan. I would think that using the train system makes a one night stay anywhere much more time consuming. Getting to and from the train station would take time. So here is your chance. What would you keep or change?

Posted by
1528 posts

I honestly couldn’t get past the “drive into Naples for pizza” bit

Other than Florence you hardly have enough time IN any of your locations.

Are you sure about Rome to Maoiri being just 3 hour drive?
Finding that hard to believe
Didn’t google it

What time do you actually arrive at CIA and where are you coming from?
Will you be jetlagged?

Posted by
33 posts

We arrive in Rome at 12:30PM from London. It's not a long flight, so I doubt we will be jet lagged. We have done a lot of traveling around the US (which I realize is much different than Italy) and we typically have unique stops, such as restaurants. A few have been the ghost town in Bodie Nevada, the dog chapel in New Hampshire, the abandoned Minuteman missile silos in South Dakota, and the abandoned Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania. Sometimes restaurants decide where we travel, such a Paula Dean's in Savannah, Junior's in NYC and some "famous" taco stand in William's AZ. It's doubtful a car rental would make financial sense for two people, but with three people it makes a bit more financial sense, even with including gas, parking and tolls (assuming I can successfully avoid the ZTL's). And it also gives us the opportunity to stop for a couple of hours in Orveito driving from Rome to Florence, or pizza in Naples driving from Rome to Maoiri, or to take a picture in the southern Dolomites driving from Milan to Venice. That being said, I'm open to suggestions.

Posted by
19 posts

lol re: pizza at Naples. Your daughter sounds like mine who is 14 years old. We are leaving LAX on June 4th, heading to Rome, Orvieto, Florence, Venice, and Milan. We are flying by on June 20th. Your trip sounds like a lot of fun. The only thing is that Train/Bus is a lot cheaper than renting a car plus buying the unreasonable super cover insurance.

Posted by
1082 posts

Online I found 3 hours and 40 minutes from Rome to Maiori. I have never done this but advice I saw was to take fast train from Rome to Salerno (2.5 hours) and then 30 minute ferry to Maiori.

I have been to Naples and you do not want to drive there. It has great pizza but so do other places.

I also have been to Amalfi coast and you do not want to drive there. The buses and ferries work just fine, although with only two night you aren’t going to see much of it anyway.

Personally, I would take train to Salerno and ferry to Maiori. I would do same thing in reverse to Rome.

One night in Florence? I would consider just taking the loss of your Milan hotel and adding days to Florence. You could take a day trip to Pisa from Florence if you want.

You then can take a train to Venice from Florence.

Posted by
3987 posts

You have 11 days and you're staying in 5 different places? Plus planning side trips to Naples, Pompeii, and Pisa?

I'd give serious thought to cutting down to two or three towns. There is so much to see, so many things to do, in each of the places you're looking at. Slow down; you won't regret it.

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks for the replies.

aimeesoo - When I looked (and maybe I missed some cheaper options) the cost of three for train/bus vs. rental car (including gas, parking and tolls was comparable. And I have already purchased zero deductible rental car insurance as an option to my trip insurance.

BethFL - Maybe because we would be leaving from Rome CIA, which is south of Rome is why it comes up as about 3 hours? I don't plan on driving along the Amalfi Coast and Maoiri can be driven to without driving on SS163. If we take the train/ferry when do we see Pompeii? I don't really think losing the Milan hotel money is an option, as there are a few things in Milan the daughter and wife want to do. Honestly, I feel we are going to Venice because that is what you are supposed to do. I'm not really excited about Venice.

Posted by
464 posts

OP- please do not take offense at the posts this thread will receive. BUT have you researched driving and parking (I should say, attempt) in Italy- especially the cities you are mentioning? Sorry but I sense a post from you 6-18 months after your trip about all these tickets your getting from ztl’s (tlz to some), camera speed traps etc. I greatly appreciate all the unique places you have traveled to in the US but driving and parking in Italy is a totally different subject. A quick drive into Naples to grab a slice is simply not going to happen.

But hey, go for it. It will be an adventure. Probably more costly then you anticipate but an adventure!

Posted by
1528 posts

The wife wants to take the Bernina Express to St Moritz from Milan

Is this a day trip??

Posted by
33 posts

I'm not offended. Just looking for alternatives. So far, the only option I have found to do all we want to do is to rent a car. Yes, I have researched the ZTL's and parking. In fact, I have done considerable research on driving in Italy. I spent several hours on google streets in Pisa, Florence and the Amalfi Coast. And I do realize this is much different than actually driving, but it is all I have right now. I have also been communicating with friends that live in the Naples area. As I said, I understand driving in Italy is much different. Which is why I am looking for other options.

Yes the Bernina Express to St Moritz from Milan is a day trip (12 hours?).

Posted by
1528 posts

I am having an issue getting a firm answer as to any additional
charges on the rental car at pick up, which concerns me.

In your other thread many of us recommended autoeurope- are you dealing with them?

If you must keep non-refundables- then is it possible to add a night to Maiori?

I count 12 nights

CIA to Maoiri you won’t get here til dinner time at best no matter train or driving and if you stop in Pompeii and /or Naples well, all bets are off
Gives you 1 day to see Amalfi coast towns
This is a long way to go for such a short time during the most crowded season as well.

You could hire a driver to take you to Naples with a stop in Pompeii- don’t know where your pizza place is but maybe you can get dropped there?

We used this company:

Naples to Rome you will most likely arrive here past dinner time 4 nights =3 days

from Rome, stop in Orvieto on way to Florence- where are you staying in Florence?
I see many tickets in your future if you drive.
Florence 1 night—why?? you do not need or want a car in Florence and do not need a car to get to Pisa. If Pisa is what you must see then drive from Rome to Orvieto to Pisa- and stay there

Florence to Milan- 3 nights
If Bernina Express is a day trip- which I assume it must be that’s 1 day gone.

Milan to Venice 2 nights
You say you have no interest in Venice yet need to depart from here

You are mistaken when you say getting to/from train station takes more time than driving. Stations are in the centers, when you drive you will have to deal with traffic, parking, ZTLs, etc.

Your entire itinerary can be done so easily by train/ferry. Your zero deductible insurance will not pay for the tickets or headaches.
Driving in Italy is nothing at all like driving in US- especially not in all those cities. If you were planning to rent a car and toodle around Tuscany I'd say absolutely. The rest is just not sensible for a "road trip".

Maybe something like this- NO CAR
CIA- Train Rome to Salerno- ferry to Maiori- 2 nights
Driver to Naples- Pompeii on the way stay 1 night Naples
Train to Rome- 3 nights
Train to Florence- 2 nights- day trip to Pisa via train
Train to Milan 3 nights- very long day trip Bernina Express
Train to Venice 1 night

Daughter gets her pizza, Pompeii and Pisa, wife gets Bernina, somebody gives up Orvieto and you will all want to return to see more of Venice on next trip ;)

ETA Shoot- sorry missed that your Milan nights are non refundable- my plan has the dates moved out 1 day- is that possible?

Posted by
11506 posts

Very kindly but you're trying to fit 3 weeks of destinations into 11 days. I've no idea how you're going to try to squeeze Maoiri, Pompeii, Rome, Orvieto, Florence, Pisa, Milan, Venice + a Bernina Express day trip into that amount of time and do them any justice.

You'll kill what's left of arrival day in Rome just getting to Maoiri (yes, drop the pizza in Naples idea; you do not want to drive there and you don't have time) and will have just 1 day for the coast; not enough for that region. Florence is definitely not worth keeping if you're only going to be there to sleep - which would be the case if sightseeing Orvieto too - and Pisa is not a day trip from Rome; it's a day trip from Florence.

The car will be a liability on the coast during the summer (very heavy traffic, scarce parking and ZTLs) and of no use in Rome, Florence, Milan and Venice. You also do not want to leave anything of value in an unattended vehicle and/or your luggage within view. Honestly, your itinerary leaves little time for along-the-way sightseeing anyway.

If Maiori is a must, my suggested itinerary would drop Milan:
Jun 10 -12 Maiori (3 nights+ Pompeii enroute to Rome)
June 13-16 Rome (4 nights)
June. 17-19 Florence + Pisa (3 nights)
June 20-21: Venice (2 nights)

If unwilling to drop Milan, then I'd drop Maiori:
Jun 10 - 13 Rome (4 nights)
June 14-16 Florence (3 nights, include day trip to Pisa)
June 17-19 Milan (3 nights, include Bernina Express day trip)
June 20-21: Venice (2 nights)

If unwilling to drop either Maiori or Milan, then Florence and Pisa get shelved:
Jun 10 -12 Maiori (3 nights+ Pompeii enroute to Rome)
Jun 13 - 16 Rome (4 nights)
June 17-19 Milan (3 nights, include Bernina Express day trip)
June 20-21: Venice (2 nights)

I have dropped Orvieto entirely unless you want to do it as a day trip from Rome, and would do all of this via public transit. Trains (+ ferry to Maiori) are going to get you place-to-place faster than a car.

Posted by
1528 posts

If unwilling to drop either Maiori or Milan, then Florence and Pisa
get shelved: Jun 10 -12 Maiori (3 nights+ Pompeii en route to Rome)
Jun 13 - 16 Rome (4 nights) June 17-19 Milan (3 nights, include
Bernina Express day trip) June 20-21: Venice (2 nights)

I'm thinking due to the non-refundability of Maiori and Milan this is the best plan.
Totally doable- no car needed and just a tad more relaxed.

OP- perhaps help your daughter (how old?) find something really cool/unique to see in Rome or Venice - in place of Pisa?

Posted by
69 posts

You may want to suggest that your daughter research Pepe in Grani as an alternative to the pizza place in Naples. It's an hour outside of Naples, so driving may be easier, and it's described by many food writers as the best pizza in the world.

What's the pizza place she wanted to go to?

Posted by
463 posts

The last time I checked timetables, Milan to St. Moritz to Milan was possible in a single day only by leaving very early. Say your last feasible train is around 8am and you will be back at 8pm, leaving you a couple hours in St. Moritz.

Posted by
13933 posts

3 years ago I ate pizza while I was in Italy. I grew up in Chicago on thin crust pizza and consider myself somewhat of a maven. On that trip I had great pizza in Venice, Salerno, and Rome as well as trying the 2 most famous pizzerias in Naples - da Michele and Trianon. The pizza outside of Naples was at least as good as da Michele. I would not recommend Trianon to anyone. If you get to da Michele at lunch time, you could well be in line for seating for half an hour, maybe more. You haven't told us where you live, so I have no idea what kind of pizza your daughter has eaten. Most Italian pizza is unlike most American pizza.

You plan a 2-day car rental from CIA to Rome. So you pick up the car around 1 pm on the 10th and must be in Rome before 1 pm on the 12th to avoid paying for a 3rd day's rental? And you want to stop in Naples and Pompeii? On that basis, you won't have time for anything on the 12th, so you'll either use a good part of your single day in Maiori going to Pompeii, or you'll be in Pompeii in the afternoon - the hottest part of the day in a place where there's almost no shade. Have you figured out where you'll park in Pompeii? Are you aware that you should leave nothing visible in a parked car (no personal belongings - will all your stuff fit in the trunk of the car?) anywhere in Italy but especially in Naples and Pompeii.

Posted by
999 posts

That is biting off alot! I too wld drop Milan and add time in Florence and train to Pisa for possible daytrip. From Florence train to Venice. Been to Amalfi Coast many times and we always stay in Sorrento, which technically isn't on the A. C., but is a great springboard to see the coast and Pompeii. We have only driven the A.C. rd. 1x coming from Basilicata in Oct. and traffic was crazy! Had a car here on a July trip and parked it at our Sorrento hotel till ready to leave. The summertime traffic is even crazier on A.C. Been to Naples a number of times, most recently last Oct., but my husband wld NEVER drive in Naples where traffic signs are optional and he has driven alot in Italy. The further south in Italy you go the crazier they drive. LOL driving past Naples to Sorrento 1x and someone passed us on the shoulder! Buon Viaggio!

Posted by
11506 posts

I'm thinking due to the non-refundability of Maiori and Milan...

True, Christine. That detail probably eliminates scratching either so that leaves the third itinerary. Personally, I would have kept Florence versus Milan but I guess it depends on the sorts of things one is or is not more interested in? :O)

Posted by
4073 posts

I was in Naples last weekend. We tried to go to all the "famous" pizza places at all times of day, but the wait times were 1-2 hours. All were complete mob scenes - you could see the crowds from several blocks away. I think that a stop in Naples for pizza is not a quick affair at all.

Posted by
46 posts

Personally, I think heading into Naples for a pizza is an awesome idea. Just go in knowing what you're getting yourself into, and enjoy the experience. I would recommend a place in the western suburbs if you're interested - driving the Tang is... fun.

Posted by
33 posts

Thanks for all the suggestions. So how does one manage this? I have so many questions. Let's start with the first leg of the trip, Rome CIA to Maiori. If we take the train from Rome to Salerno, then the bus to Maiori, what is the the closest train station to CIA that goes to Salerno? The Trenitalia website has about 12 Rome stations listed and I have no idea where they are located. I assumed the train to Salerno would leave from the Rome Termini station, but is that the best departure station? If we arrive at Rome CIA at 12:30 on June 10, what departure time should buy the train ticket for? How do we get to the Termini Station? Is the bus from Salerno to Maiori the SITI bus, I've heard they are extremely crowded. Is luggage an issue on these buses? Where does the bus leave in Salerno? I am open for alternatives, point me in a direction!

Posted by
1528 posts

Take the ferry from Salerno
It is just a few min walk downhill from station to the port

I wouldn’t buy any tix in advance from Rome to Salerno as you have no idea if your flight will be on time

Station is Roma Termini

There is a bus from CIA to Ciampino Station where you catch train to Termini
Trains to Salerno from Termini run about every hour

Use to check train times
Buy your tickets when you get there

For your other train travel you can certainly purchase tix in advance as long as you are set on a day/time
You’ll get some nice discounted prices purchasing those in advance

Posted by
33 posts

So the bus from Rome CIA to Termini would be about 15 euros. The train to Salerno is anywhere from 30-130 euros, and the ferry to Maoiri is 24 euros. The one way trip to Maoiri would be anywhere from 69-169 euros and it looks like it would take about 6 hours or longer. The return trip would be the ferry back to Salerno (24 euros), Train from Salerno to Pompei Scavi (11 euro) and Pompei Scavi to Rome Termini (48-87 euros and involves transfer in Naples). That is a total of 152-291 euros. It looks like the most economical tickets from Termini to Salerno are already sold out. Would there be a chance we could not get on the train we want and would have to wait at the station for the next train?

And I am not trying to be difficult, just thorough. I can rent a Fiat 500L diesel from Autoeurope, which has assured me there will be no extra charges at pick up, for 105 euro. Even with 10 euro parking at Pompeii and petro, this seems to be about equal to the cheapest train/bus/ferry option and could be end up being a lot cheaper (assuming there are no tickets!)

To be sure, both public transportation and renting a car have certain advantages and disadvantages. I'm just trying gather as much information as possible to make an informed decision.

Posted by
1528 posts

Would there be a chance we could not get on the train we want and
would have to wait at the station for the next train?

No- these are regional trains that don't "sell out"

Not sure where you are looking I do see a connection on trenitalia
Ciampino Aeroporto 13:20- change at Termini - Arrives Salerno 17:26 15.60 €

Or take the CIA bus to Termini- and catch the next train there- they run about every hour
Roma Termini 14:26- arrives Salerno 17:26- 10:90€

I'm just trying gather as much information as possible to make an
informed decision.

Don't know how much more info you could gather- plenty of advice to you in this thread already. Only you can decide if renting car/driving is better than public transportation for your needs.

Posted by
33 posts

I realize the decision is mine and I am not asking anyone else to make it. With the info I have now I would opt for the car on this part of the trip. Maybe the second leg from Rome-Florence-Milan-Venice may be different after I gather more info.

Posted by
641 posts

Normally I'm a train person and wouldn't have even considered renting a car in your situation. But assuming you did the math correctly it could make sense.

Just a few things - it won't be a two day car rental because you won't be returning it within 48 hours of pick-up -especially if you stop at Pompei on the way back. So they will charge you for 3 days. How much difference does that make in the cost? And are you positive you have zero deductible insurance. It's not only possible, but likely you will get at least a tiny-tiny scratch and if you don't have zero deductible you will be on the hook for hundreds. I'm talking a scratch you would never bother have repaired on your own car at home but they will still charge you.

Did you ask your Maoiri hotel if they have parking? If they do the car can make sense. If not I'd re-think it.

Obviously the idea of stopping in Naples for pizza is just daft (sorry if that's insulting, don't mean to be but it just is so we aren't helping you if we don't point that out).

If you figured the time correctly it could still be faster to do the car, but be aware that google maps is notoriously optimistic about times.

Forget about the second car rental, that one makes no sense. Given your non-refundable hotels and overall time frame I'd skip Florence this trip. Not worth it for one night. Pisa is not a day trip from Rome but I guess you could see if there was a train from Rome to Pisa and another from Pisa to Milan that would allow you to stop en route to see the leaning tower. But really, I don't think it's worth the trouble. Can you add a night to Milan, or change the dates by one day and add it to Venice?

Posted by
33 posts

I reqouted this with a three day rental and that is the price I am looking at. I added two options to our trip insurance, the cancel for any reason option and a zero deductible car rental option. The hotel in Maoiri was specifically selected because that have free parking. I am currently trying to move my daughter off the stop in Naples for pizza, perhaps I can locate a pizza place in the area that is easier to get to. I’m still doing research on this, as well as second leg of our trip. The good news is that Autoeurope has a 48 hour cancellation policy. We could cancel the rental for the second leg if the first rental goes bad.

Posted by
1528 posts

After taking a 2nd look at your arrival day- it looks to me that you may have no choice but to go ahead and rent the car (or see below- private driver).
The last ferry from Salerno to Amalfi with a stop in Maoiri probably leaves about 6 pm. Whether you can make that or not is iffy- all depends on on time arrival and all train connections working out well.
There is a bus as well- but TBH the buses are rather unpleasant- although going from Salerno to Maoiri will not be as bad as the buses mid coast during the day (I assume)
The 2020 schedules are not up yet but you can look at 2019 for a good idea of what to expect

Where did you plan to drop off the car? In Rome- but where exactly? Make sure you know that specific locations closing time- if you stop in Pompeii you might be really pushing it and end up needing to find a place to park car overnight then return the next day.
An alternative is to drop in Naples I suppose and take train to Rome.

You said you are coming from London- I have to ask- will you have just spent time in London or is this a flight you are grabbing from London to CIA after an overnight flight?

Your issue is one I have seen too many times here on this forum- where one books non-refundables- like flight and hotels- before actually working out a complete itinerary. If you didn't have the non-refundable hotel in Maoiri (and are not willing to try to change- have you tried?) then you would have been better off (time/distance-wise on day 1) to visit Rome first- then heading south for your Amalfi days before going north to Florence/Milan/Venice.

I do hope it all works out. As I said above I think Kathy's #3 plan is best- just do the rental car for first 3 days- drop in Rome.
Make sure the car you get has enough room for all 3 of you plus luggage and that luggage needs to be well hidden if you plan to park at Pompeii or in Naples.

And lastly- if it were me I would take train to Termini- then train Salerno.
Private driver from Salerno to Maoiri about 145 €
Sit back and all 3 of you can enjoy the views, should be gorgeous that time of day
Top Excurison- linked above- there are others

That buys a lot of peace of mind.

If you can't add a 3rd night to Maoiri and you desperately must get that pizza- then consider
Train then driver
2 Nights Maoiri
1 Night Naples-Pompeii on your way
4 Nights Rome
3 Nights Milan
2 Nights Venice

Posted by
33 posts

Originally the plan was to stay the first 3 nights Rome, 2 nights on the Amalfi Coast, 2 nights in Florence, 3 nights in Milan and 2 nights in Venice. We were going to pick the car up when we left Rome. The problem became the drive from the Amalfi Coast to Florence - too much for one day. So we flipped the first two places. We also added another night in Rome (and decreased Florence) because one of our Rome days was a Sunday and a lot of the places we wanted to see will not be open. We would pick up and return the car at Roma CIA, which is where we are flying into. We arrive in London the morning of the 9th and fly out the next morning. The rental looks like it will be a Fiat 500L (which should have covered storage in the back) and there is luggage storage at the Pompeii Archaeological Park. I still need to verify the last item.

Posted by
1528 posts

Well dang
You were on the right track at the start

I can only think of Vatican museums closed on Sunday
Rome is open

Positive there is baggage storage at Pompeii

Posted by
33 posts

We can switch June 15th from Rome to Florence. I just need to figure out what we want to see in Rome and how long it will take. How long should one allow for Vatican City? the Colosseum? Pantheon? The thing that would be good about an extra night in Florence is we could stay outside the city and take public transportation into the city for the day. I want to spend some time looking around Florence for someplace special to stay, as it will be our 25th anniversary.

Posted by
1528 posts

Not sure why you would stay outside the center in Florence, unless you insist on getting a 2nd rental car. If you go to Florence at least give it 2 nights to make it worth your while. Not sure where you are getting that extra night? Rome?

Vatican City- what do you mean by that? do you want to visit the Vatican museums, Sistine Chapel, St Peters? All of that will take a very long half day at minimum. You might want to consider an early entry tour to limit the amount of time you stand in line for all those sights. It will be crushingly crowded.

Colosseum- do you mean just "see " it- that can be done almost anytime- only takes a few minutes. If you mean to actually tour the complex- Colosseum, Forums, Palantine Hill etc then that needs another very long half day at minimum and you will need to book your tix and entry time in advance.

Pantheon takes less than an hour to see.

I think you need a good guide book like RS Italy.

Posted by
33 posts

Originally we had 3 nights in Rome and 2 nights in Florence, but ended up with 4 in Rome and 1 in Florence. Right now we have 4 Rome nights, June 12-15, the Vatican reserved for June 13 and the Colosseum for June 15. If we cut Rome one day short, this would put the Colosseum on our departure day. We are trying to see if we can switch this to Sunday, June 14.

My thoughts with staying outside of Florence, in maybe a Tuscan villa or farmhouse, was a bit less "peopley" after time in Amalfi and Rome. And yes it would need to have access to public transportation or we have a rental car to get to Florence. Also, June 16 is our 25th anniversary, so something a bit more romantic might be in order (even though our daughter will be with us).

Posted by
33 posts

I have done pretty extensive research on the ZTL's, but thanks for the link. On the second leg of our trip we will picking up the car up at the Rome Termini station (or maybe Rome CIA) and head directly out of town. The plan right now is to stay outside of Florence, so no ZTL issues there. On the drive to Milan, we will be stopping in Pisa and the parking lot we will use is outside the ZTL. In fact, with the route into Pisa we will be taking it looks like you would have to drive through the old town wall to enter the ZTL. I "drive" these routes using google streets. We will be staying at a hotel inside the ZTL with parking in MIlan and I am a bit worried about that. I am in the process of contacting the hotel now and getting procedures for this. I also need to do more research on the drive from Milan to Venice. I am cautious of the ZTL's, but I believe they can be navigated around if you do research and know exactly where they are. Now the restricted bus lanes are another matter. I most definitely need to do more research on these.