My wife and I traveled in Italy for 3 weeks in Aug-Sep 2019. This trip report is in 7 parts, connected as replies to this Part 1. This was our first time together in Italy. Itinerary:
- SICILY - CANTANIA 2 nights, with visit to ORTIGIA. – Part 2
- SICILY - TAORMINA 1 night. – Part 2
- SORRENTO 3 nights, with visits to the AMALFI COAST, POMPEII, NAPLES. – Part 3
- ROME 2 nights. – Part 4
- ORVIETO 2 nights. – Part 4
- Near MONTEPULICIANO 3 nights, with visits to PIENZA, MONTEFOLLOCINO, near MONTALCINO, wineries, an abbey, etc. – Part 5
- SIENA 3 nights, with visits to FLORENCE and SAN GIMIGNANO. – Part 6
- CINQUE TERRE (Manarola) 3 nights. Visited all five Cinque Terre towns. – Part 7
- MILAN 1 night. – Part 7
Though it was tourist season and I intensely dislike crowds, it was a wonderful trip. We hit a few crowds, but it was manageable.
Pre-purchasing entry to attractions and train tickets whenever possible saved time and anxiety.
Learning a little Italian was well worth the few magic Italian language moments. (For Italian study I used two free websites: edx.org – to learn – and duolingo.com – to practice and build vocabulary.)
Trains: TrenItalia and Italo:
o We rode TrenItalia (mostly 2nd class) and one Italo train. Both provided a good experience, and we bought all tickets in advance.
o The TrenItalia mobile app (as well as using their web site on a PC) was very useful for planning trips and buying tickets. Thanks to these tools, we never stood in line to buy tickets.
o We used TrenItalia extensively to travel between cities and only experienced one delay. During one journey between cities we had a 5-minute and a then a 9-minute turnaround between trains; we had no problem making the transfers – even though we had to change platforms with our luggage.
Day 1: On Aug 20 (Tue) we arrived at Gatwick Airport from Seattle, then flew from Gatwick to Catania. Blessed with a 6-hour layover at Gatwick, we had pre-purchased train tickets to London and back. We rode from Gatwick to London Bridge, from whence we walked 3 hours across London to Victoria Station. From there we rode the Gatwick Express back to the airport.