planning my travel route in italy...have been to the major cities before...going to smaller cities. Want to hit up Cinque Terre, see some tuscan hill towns (any suggestions?), and then down to Naples/Sorrento/Positano. Where should i fly into and start? Is there anything up north i would want to see? How long should I plan for Amalfi Coast?
Lori, the key is to go in one direction as much as possible. Minimize backtracking. You could start by flying into Milan, going to the CT via train. Then getting a rental car in La Spezia to drive through Pisa, Siena and the great small hilltowns in Tuscany. Then bypass Rome in your rental car down to the Amalfi Coast. You can then see if you have enough time to get to the rest. Then fly out of Rome or Naples or some other place south of Rome. You could also do the trip in reverse.
Here's a possible route: 1. fly in to Milan, 2. visit Lake Como, Bellagio & Varenna, 3. the Cinque Terre, 4. Tuscany, including Lucca, the Chianti region, San Gimignano, Siena, 4. go further south to Orvieto and other Umbrian hill towns, 5. on to Naples, Sorrento, Pompeii & Vesuvius, 6. finally to Positano, Amalfi, Ravello, etc. 7. fly out of Naples. Plan on at least 3 nights in the Cinque Terre, 2-3 nights between Naples & Sorrento, & 2-3 nights on the Amalfi Coast. Just an idea...
Lori - I'd echo the suggestion to go one way, but I'd rent a car only for the days you'll want to be in small town Tuscany. There are lots of towns in Tuscany to see, but I'd suggest concentrating around Siena - San G., Montalcino, etc. It depends on what you like - architecture, wine, history?
I'd drop the rental car in Orvieto and take the train to Naples and the Amalfi Coast. I wouldn't to hassle with parking and the driving in that area and trains are cheap.
How much time for Amalfi? First, do you want to see Pompeii along the way? It's on the train line. I'd give Amalfi itself half a day plus the travel to get there. I'd spend a day in Positano (and stay there if I could). I'd want a day in Capri (and then come back to Positano) If you have more time, then just hang out! I wouldn't worry about Sorrento unless there's something you really want to see. You'll have to change from the train to the SITA bus there anyway.