Rome and Southern Italy itinerary?

Hi All, hope you seasoned Italy travelers can help with some suggestions! My family (me and my husband, 7 and 17 year old daughters) are planning to go back to Italy next summer (July - alas only month we can go). We went 2 years ago and LOVED it, swore we'd go back. Back then we were based in a house near Siena (in Castleneuovo Berardenga - loved it) and took day trips to many hilltowns, Florence, Assisi, and Pisa, then spent 2 days in Venice. Loved it all, but this time want to see a different area of Italy, so are thinking Southern. We haven't seen Rome, so want to include a few days of Rome in this next trip. Love to hear some guidance or suggestions on how to map out trip, we will have 2 weeks including travel days. Should we fly into Rome, spend 3 days, then rent a car and head south to Sorrento and base ourselves there, or some other beautiful town? Day trip to Naples, Pompeii...where else? Go to Sicily, or is that biting off too much for this trip? Will we find Southern Italy very different than Tuscany, and do you like it better? Love to hear all input, we have made no commitments to anything yet so completely open to suggestions. THANK YOU!

Posted by Gail
Eugene, Oregon
133 posts

Hi Karen,
We have also been to northern Italy and wanted to go south this time. We spent 4 days in Rome, them rented a car and drove south. We stopped at Pompeii on the way to Positano where we spent another 4 days. We loved it, however, we were there this past May, so I'm sure it will be busier in July. We drove the Amalfi Coast road down to Paestum to see the amazing Greek Temples. I know a lot of people on this forum think its crazy to drive it, but we loved it. We didn't find it any more challenging then Hwy 1 in California, but again, we didn't go in July and left on a Sunday morning. From Paestum we drove to Matera and stayed there for 3 nights. Incredible place. Google it. If you are interested I can send more info via PM. You will love southern Italy!

Posted by Zoe
Toledo, Ohio, US
5881 posts

Gail has suggested three of my favorite places, the Amalfi Coast, Paestum and Matera. I love Rome, and all of Italy. Differences from the North? Things move a little more slowly, but if you have a car, you won't need to rely on public transportation. An hour's drive from Matera is Alberobello, which can be quite touristy, but I can recommend a small B&B in the countryside and you can visit Alberobello as well as some of the other hill towns in Puglia. Also Castel del Monte, the medieval castle built for no known reason by Frederick II. There's an exceptional restaurant, Madre Terra, in the area. PM me for specific recommendations if you wish. I would save Sicily for another time, with your time limits.

Posted by Cristina
Como, Italy
81 posts

Hi Karen, I suggest you get in Rome and either spend a few days in the city or just head southern, in Terracina, beautiful town on the sea, about 1 hour by train both to Rome and Naples. Beaches are really nice in the area, with most renewed Sperlonga and Sabaudia (Vip's beaches). Check pictures on google, you'll love those places. From terracina you can also day trip to Ponza, really beautiful island part of the isole pontine. You could also rent a car to sightsee the area, but I would suggest you take the train to Rome which is easier. Let me know if you choose this area, I can tell you we're to stay, eat and everything else since I got relatives there and usually vacation there when not in the States.

Posted by Roberto
Fremont, CA, USA
5507 posts

Three top choices to add to 3 full days in Rome. 1. First timer in South Italy must include Naples' area (Naples, Sorrento, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast, Capri, Paestum etc. if you drive there ask your hotel for parking accommodations. It's super congested in July, especially weekends. 2. Puglia ( Apulia) region is another area. Zoe mentioned some of it above. I will add the Gargano Peninsula and the Salento. Matera could be included. It's not in Apulia technically, but close. 3. Sicily. So much to see here. Probably the most beautiful region in Italy, along with Tuscany. It's far, so you should fly here from Rome first, then rent a car in Sicily. It's too long to drive from Rome. With only 12 full days on the ground, you have time only for one of the above options, in addition to Rome. That is my opinion. Sicily needs two weeks by itself.

Posted by Karen
Seattle, Washington
13 posts

Thank you all so much! This is great advice, and gives me a much clearer picture and great insight into planning our trip. I will start checking into all of the towns suggested here, and then I am sure I will have more questions. While initially we were thinking 2 weeks total, we are now considering 3...Not to cram more stuff in, but to do it all at a more leisurely pace. I think our big decision will be to either do Rome then go to Positano/Sorrento/Naples/Amalfi Coast/Pomoei and any other towns you all suggested, or to do Rome then Sicily instead. I agree and appreciate the guidance: Sicily may be best saved for a third trip if not done on this trip. Thanks again!

Posted by Chloe
Asnieres sur Vegre, France
97 posts

I agree with spending some time on the Amalfi coast but equally as beautiful is the area in Basilicata around the towns of Maratea (not to be confused with the inland town of Matera) and Aqua Fredda. I would consider getting reservations wherever you go in July as it may be very crowded, although not as bad as August.

Posted by John
Van Nuys, CA, USA
266 posts

Rome, then Sorrento and environs, then the Adriatic coast would be a nice trip. I would suggest 4 days in Sorrento, with one of them devoted to simply relaxing on the beach (you can pick which of the 4 days during the trip). Plenty to see in the area; Herculaneum or Pompeii (I prefer the former), Amalfi, Capri, Sorrento itself, take a boat ride along the coast if you don't do Capri, etc. The Adriatic side is not as visited by Americans but very popular with Italians. Knowing a few phrases in Italian helps to get by; you don't need much, just the basics (and a GPS!). Lonely Planet and Insight Guide make guidebooks we have used. Towns like Trani, Polignano al Mare, and definitely the Gargano Peninsula were beautiful to visit. But rather than going from a list here skim thru the guidebook and go off and explore! That's what we did and ended up running across these beautiful places. There are some nice towns inland, too. Frankly we haven't seen as much of the Adriatic side as I'd like, Lecce and Taranto are supposed to be nice places, and I imagine it is also nice a bit more north on the coast.

Posted by Susan
Marin County/San Francisco
3712 posts

Love Sorrento! We've been there 3 times for a week each time. It's beautiful, relaxing and fun. Plus, so many wonderful day trip options. We've always stayed at La Tonnarella Hotel, they have a private beach that we really enjoyed. We've always been there in July and never thought it was crowded.