Three of us will be in Rome in early March. (Me, my daughter and niece, both in their early 20s.) We plan to spend first three days (sat/sun/mon) staying with relatives in Rome. Then, take a train to Florence, where we plan to spend two nights (tues/wed). First day, seeing Florence, and the second day, perhaps Sienna and one of the hill towns known for wineries. First questions: Is that doable? Do I need a car? Recommended hill town? After that, we were going to take a train to Naples, where we would stay two nights (thur/fri), visiting Sorrento, Pompeii, Amalfi Coast. Questions: Is that doable, and do we need a car? After that (Sat), train back to Rome for last look. Home to the states on Sunday. Suggestions, comments? I know you can't do everything in one trip and have tried not to overbook. Have I succeeded? Did I miss anything?
You missed a lot but you don't have six months either. Many sites will be closed on Monday especially if open over the weekend so your Monday may be light. I am sure your relatives will have lots of suggestions. The Alpian Way should be visited on Sunday since traffic is restricted on that day. You never need a car if you have a little patience with local transit and you have limited use for a car with your locations. Instead of Naples I would stay in Sorrento. Easier to get to Pompeii and that is a good half day if not a bit more. Save the Amaifi Coast for another trip.
Thanks, Frank. I was wondering about staying in Sorento. If we do decide to do the Amalfi Coast, is a car the best way? Also, another thread suggests that Vatican sites might be closed in March because of the conclave to choose new pope. Hear anything about that?
With two nights only in Florence (basically one full day), you won't even have time to see Florence, let alone Siena and other small villages. Florence and Siena can be done easily with public transport. Florence and Siena are connected by frequent bus service (70 min city center to city center) or train (90 min station to station). For smaller villages a car would make it easier and quicker. There are nearly one million wineries in Italy (almost 1000 times the wineries of all of California) therefore I'm not sure you can find a town or area that has no wineries (maybe on top of the Alps, but only very very high in altitude). Chianti is probably the wine area of Tuscany that is most known worldwide. I agree with the previous poster about the Gulf of Naples area. With two nights only you may need to cut something off your schedule. Or you could do the following: day 1. Train Rome Term.-Naples Centrale, then Vesuviana train to Sorrento and bus to Positano (about 3.5 hours all inclusive), check in hotel, drop luggage, visit Positano in the PM, maybe bus to Amalfi, come back to positano, sleep. (Amalfi Coast= check) day 2. from Positano take a day boat excursion to Capri (purchase the previous day at the harbor). Spend all day at Capri with the boat trip. Return to Positano for the evening. Dinner in Positano, sleep. (Capri=check) day 3. Early check out. Bus to sorrento. vesuviana train to Naples. Stop in Pompeii along the way. Drop luggage at luggage deposit (at station). visit Pompeii site for a few hours. In the afternoon leave pompei, retrieve luggage and proceed on the vesuviana train to Naples Centrale. (Pompei=check) Catch fast train back to Rome for an evening in the eternal city.
Jean, re your Vatican question: certainly the Sistine Chapel will be closed during the conclave, since that's where they'll be meeting. The starting date has not yet been announced. I'd guess the museum option of the Vatican website (vatican.va) will be the best source of up to date info about what is closed and when... once schedules have been set. While you can easily do Siena by bus on your own, there are also various tours leaving from Venice that visit multiple towns on a long day trip. I've always preferred Context Travel (eg, Context Florence), but I've not taken day trips away from Florence with them. All tours I've taken with them (at least 15, in multiple cities) have been great. You could check their website. I guess the only other thing that strikes me is that 1 day to see Florence isn't much time, but it depends on your interests. If art isn't really important in your travel, 1 day would give you enough time to wander the city, visit a market, and do a quick walk through one of the major museums. I spent 10 days on my first visit to Florence and didn't make it to everything I wanted to visit, and have been back multiple times since then.
Going from Rome to Florence and then back down to Naples is extra time. If you only want to peek at Florence for a day stay in Rome and save Florence for another trip.
Reading your advice, and more of Rick's book, I am thinking of eliminating the Naples/Sorrento part of the trip, and just going to Venice instead. So we'd start in Rome, then go to Florence for two days, then Venice and then back to Rome. Does that make more sense, given our time frame?
Jean, that makes tons more sense. It's a shame you can't fly out of Venice, instead of having to train back to Rome.
Jean... I agree with new plan... sounds more reasonable and there aren't too many people who go to Italy and don't want to visit Venice. The only time a car might be fun is in Tuscany, but it is probably not worth the time and trouble with such a short time. Take a bus or train to a Hill Town and you can see some of the countryside. The girls will have a great time (and you as well.)