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ballettmaus
05-31-2012, 07:23 AM
You already have quite a few suggestions, still, adding some more as a few smaller Tuscan cities might be worth visiting as well. Volterra is famous for its alabaster, Carrara for its marble. And then there's the tiny community of Monteriggioni. It's a medieval town and when I was in Italy, ages ago, they had a medieval festival at least one night but I think it was more than that. With your food you got a clay bowl and clay jar and a carved, wooden spoon to eat with which we still have!

Angelskates
05-31-2012, 09:29 AM
Angelskates - two things to carry around on your travels: toilet paper and hand sanitizer. Train station bathrooms are not always well-maintained. I learned this the hard way.

Since I live in Beijing, I am never without either of these in my bag all the time. ;)

Tinami Amori
05-31-2012, 09:37 AM
(your travel palns)

Great news about flying into Rome and out of Milan! now if you only would give up Sicilia…. :D. You can visit Sicilia, but it will cut days from other places. You will have to fly to and from Sicilia. You do not drive, and will be limited to public transport which will get you to 1 or 2 places other than Palermo, given you have only 2-3 days for that location, in view of all other places you want to see.

So here are few route ideas including Sicilia. I’ll be glad to give more details for each location covered, if you like, once you chose the dates and locations.

June 20th – arrive Rome.
June 21, 22, 23rd – in Rome
-----------------------------------------------
June 24th – Train to Naples to Amalfi Coast/Sorrento/Capri (more details if you chose this opetion).
June 25, 26, 27th – Sorrento/Pompeii/Amalfi/(Capri?)
June 28th – back to Naples/flight to Palermo/Sicilia
June 29, 30th – Sicilia
July 1st – flight ex Palermo to Florence.

Or

June 24th – flight ex Rome to Palermo
June 25, 26th – Sicilia
June 27th – flight ex Palermo to Naples.
June 28, 29, 30th - Sorrento/Pompeii/Amalfi/(Capri?)
July 1st – to Naples train station – train to Florence.
---------------------------------------------

July 2, 3, 4th – Florence/Tuscany Towns
July 5th – train ex Florence to Venice.
July 6, 7th – Venice
July 9th – early morning train to Milan (~ 3 hrs), see central Milan/Duomo afternoon.
July 10th – trip to Lake Como/Bellagio – exhausting last day.
July 11th – departure ex Malpensa/Milan

Again, you’re taking up 4 days, basically, to spend 2 full days in Sicilia, with limited mobility outside of Palermo. To see Sicilia well, all the interesting places, takes at least 1 week, and with a car.

I would take these 3-4 days and add 1 to Rome, 1 to Florence/Tuscany area, and 1 to Venice or Milan/Lake Region – it would be wonderful to spend 1 night on Lake Como in Bellagio or next adorable town Varenna, 10 minutes by boat instead of rushing back to Milan that same day. Lake Como is CHARMING at night!

But… that is only IMHO. Do what you heart tells you.

Now few notes/info/suggestions on individual locations.

ROME.
- You will arrive to FCO-Fumicino (l-d-vinic) airport. Find “trains to Rome” sign. There is a speed train Leonardo Express which in 30 minutes gets you into Rome Central Train Station – Termini. The cost of the one way ride is between 10 and 12 euro. (have not taken train in a while, love driving in Rome – my kind of drivers and great chaos like in Moscow!).
- Hotels in Rome. DO NOT stay near Termini unless you really have to, regardless of the fact that most inexpensive hotels and hostels are in that exact area. Bad area, relatively unsafe at night and is a long walk to “central attractions”. However, there is a metro station inside Termini which will take you to several central locations in Rome. Google Roma Metro – you’ll get many sites with maps and instructions.
- It’s better to find a small hole in the wall, near Via Del Corso, Pza Navona, Trastevere (northern section along Tiber), Pantheon, C-mpo Fiore, etc…
- If you feel comfortable to give me your hotel budget, I can make hotel recommendations, as long as you’re not looking for one under 150 euro. Or if you like, show me the addresses of the ones you’re considering.

- Must places to see: Colosseo, Roman Forum, Capitolii/Museums, P-za Navona, P-za Spagna (Spanish Steps), Villa Borghese Park and Gallery, Vatican, and a lot more.

I suggest you buy Roma Pass - http://www.romapass.it/p.aspx?l=en&tid=2
It will give you 2 free entries and discounts to many attractions (minus Vatican) and free transportation.
You can order it on-line and will have to pick it up at the designate location (on the website) or at the designated kiosk at Termini (when you arrive from Airport).

Another card recommendation, which gives you entrance to Colosseo (lines are 2-3 hours otherwise) is Roma Archaeologia Card.

Here is a website where you can buy all the above cards and few more.
http://www.ticketclic.it/gb/HTML/musei/Tourist_cards.cfm

Tickets to Vatican and other info. Entry into St. Peters is free. Ride up to the room is 7-8 euros, line starts on the right side of the building. Vatican Museum is tricky. Tours are not cheap, but see if you can find what suites you to see Vatican Museums and Sistine Chapel,

This is a service that offers more than Vatican tours.
http://www.rome-museum.com/?gclid=CKeTnfSIqrACFegbQgod1VynTA

This is official site.
http://www.myvaticantour.com/vatican_default.aspx?gclid=CNKDjLiJqrACFQF6hwodSUV VVg
To comfortably visit and see all of the above – you need solid 3 days in Rome – MINIMUM!
If you get the 4th day (by canceling Sicilia), you may consider taking a trip to Tivoli/Villa De Este and Haidrian’s Villa.
http://www.romaround.com/rome-tours/day-trip-to-tivoli?gclid=CK_YiaSKqrACFaUZQgodSmBUTg
or
http://www.viator.com/tours/Rome/Hadrians-Villa-and-Villa-dEste-Half-Day-Trip-from-Rome/d511-2390GRET7

Keep in mind there are MANY tour companies in Rome offering these tours. If you don’t like the two above, just goodle “tours Villa De Este and Haidrian’s villa”.

This company Viator is pretty good as far as tours. It attracts nice decent crowd, very pleasant people (not rifrafs).

Here is a list of all 1 day tours they offer in Italy, scroll all the way down, it lists by attraction and location. Florence, Amalfi, Venice, Milan, etc.
http://www.viator.com/Italy/d57-vd

AFTER ROME
Out of Rome - Option 1 – take a flight to Sicilia. (back to that subject later). And then from Sicilia take a flight to Naples (and do the Amalfi coats).

Out of Rome - Options 2 – take early morning train ex Rome to Naples. (2-3 hours depending on which train you take).

Once in Naples, you have few choices how to get to your next destination which will be your “base” for your visits to Pompeii, Amalfi and Capri. And you have few choices on where to “plant your bones” in the area.

From Naples (port of Naples, short taxi ride ex Naples Train Station) there are frequent ferry boats to Sorrento and Island of Capri.

There are three major boat/ferry/hydrofoil companies. Tickets slightly cost more than on the train, but I recommend taking the ferry or hydrofoil at this point of your journey.
http://www.alilauro.it/index.php?lingua=english

http://www.consorziolmp.it/
http://www.navlib.it/

(the last two are not in English, but you look carefully, the Italian words and letters are not that different from English when it comes to transportation terms and names of places. Just don’t block your head with a thought it is a foreign language – start reading and you’ll surprise yourself how much you understand – it’s all latin after all).

From central Naples there is a local train which runs along the Bay of Naples all the way to Sorrento and back. The same train stops in Pompeii, to and from Sorrento. There are few options which station and how to get there, but that’s later, after you select your route and transports. The name of this train service is Circumvesuviana: http://www.vesuviana.it/web/en/Azienda

I would like to recommend two options.
Option 1 - boat to Capri, spend that night and next full day in Capri, then late in the evening, or early the following morning take a ferry/hydrofoil to Sorrento (35 minutes one way).
Stay in Sorrento for 2 or 3 days. 1 day – trip to Pompeii, 1 day – trip down the Amalfi Coast. I will give tour info and transportation options later, once you pick your schedule.

Option 2 - Go directly from Naples to Sorrento (by boat or by train Circumvesuviana).
1 day – local bus to Amalfi Town, moving back towards Sorrento bus to Positano, and again last leg – Positano to Sorrento. Or you can go on an organized tour, more info later.
1 day – tour to Pompeii during the day. Walk around Sorrento in the afternoon/evening. The best of Sorrento can be seen in 3 to 5 hours. However, if one has special interest in Sorrento – there are 100 interesting little things and places one can do and visit that will take up a week. But are they worth the time away from more interesting places? (that is the question!).
1 day – boat trip to Capri (full day in Capri, return to Sorrento by boat). Or! Spend the night in Capri, or 2 nights and take boat ex Capri to Naples (so that you can fly to Sicilia). Or return to Sorrento and then get back to Naples to take a flight to Sicilia.

(the rest tomorrow, got to go, my skype conf call from UK coming in…).

Angelskates
05-31-2012, 12:27 PM
Great news about flying into Rome and out of Milan! now if you only would give up Sicilia…. :D.

Okay :shuffle: my Italian friend (who also posts here :P) agrees with you, so Sicily is out.

My accommodation budget is more like the one vesperholly posted ;) That hostel has space too...

Any suggestion at around 150 to 200 Euro per night, since you don't do under? :P

I have my ticket/itinerary now! Nothing else, but it's a start!! :cheer2: (I also downloaded the Italy Lonely Planet Guide :lol:)

flyingsit
05-31-2012, 01:26 PM
When you go to Venice, part of the charm is to get lost! Just wander the streets, turn corners at random, and who knows what beautiful thing you'll find. It's a small place, and an island at that, so you can't get too lost, but it is magical.

Angelskates
05-31-2012, 01:28 PM
When you go to Venice, part of the charm is to get lost! Just wander the streets, turn corners at random, and who knows what beautiful thing you'll find. It's a small place, and an island at that, so you can't get too lost, but it is magical.

;) I am guaranteed to get lost wherever I go; I have an absolutely dreadful sense of direction. (I also always think "north" is straight ahead!)

Jenny
05-31-2012, 02:50 PM
It's been mentioned a few times in this thread already, but with so many opportunities in Italy, a bit buried, so I must wholeheartedly recommend CAPRI.

Easy access from the Bay of Naples, close to Pompeii. Playground of royals and other celebrities going back to Roman times. Several good ancient ruins, the spectacular Blue Grotto, charming hilltop towns with plazas, cafes and designer shops, incredible cliffside walks, glimpses of the rich and famous, stunning vistas at every turn.

We spent part of our honeymoon there many years ago, and it remains, in our opinion, one of the most beautiful places on earth. :)

IceAlisa
05-31-2012, 04:51 PM
Capri was fun but I didn't think it needed a whole day. Make sure to try the local fish--it's to die for, forgot its name. May be Tinami remembers? I recall the food on Capri with fondness. :swoon:

In general, food is so important to me when I travel--Italy will not disappoint! :)

Jenny
05-31-2012, 06:09 PM
Capri was fun but I didn't think it needed a whole day. Make sure to try the local fish--it's to die for, forgot its name. May be Tinami remembers? I recall the food on Capri with fondness. :swoon:

Really? We were then for about 5 days, and found plenty to fill our days! There are two main towns each worth exploring, several houses and churches of historic or artistic interest, the ride up to the top of Mt Solano for the views, several really interesting cliffside walks, extensive Roman ruins, lovely squares to while away an afternoon at a cafe table, gardens to peak at over walls, the boat tour to the Blue Grotto and around the island, and even shopping, both designer and local crafty stuff.

As for food, there's the now widely enjoyed Insalate Caprese of course, but I don't recall anything else specific. I do remember that there were lemons everywhere, but no one seemed to drink lemonade!

Angelskates
05-31-2012, 06:28 PM
IceAlisa, no fish for me, I'm vegetarian ;)

IceAlisa
05-31-2012, 06:31 PM
IceAlisa, no fish for me, I'm vegetarian ;)

In that case, don't miss the local eggplant dishes.

Angelskates
05-31-2012, 06:32 PM
In that case, don't miss the local eggplant dishes.

Eggplant I love :swoon:

IceAlisa
05-31-2012, 06:38 PM
Try eggplant caponata in the South--one of the highlights for me. And don't forget gelati and canoli. :)

Tinami Amori
05-31-2012, 07:33 PM
Okay :shuffle: my Italian friend (who also posts here :P) agrees with you, so Sicily is out.
My accommodation budget is more like the one vesperholly posted ;) That hostel has space too... Any suggestion at around 150 to 200 Euro per night, since you don't do under? :P
I have my ticket/itinerary now! Nothing else, but it's a start!! :cheer2: (I also downloaded the Italy Lonely Planet Guide :lol:)

Great! No Sicilia on this journey (but do plan for next time at least 4-5 full days on the island, and it would be good to bring a friend who drives).

So I supposed the rest of the schedule and allocation of days by areas are acceptable? Next time you want your life to be any more exciting, try to plan a trip to 20 cities in 2 weeks, and start planning 10 days in advance… :D.
Ok….. Revenons a nos moutons
Your next three priorities are:
- finalize the dates for each location (use my schedule if it suits you, or do your own).
- Reserve hotels (I will give you few suggestions). Once hotels reserved (hopefully on line immediately)…
- Reserve ALL your train tickets between major cities, or buy a Eurail pass.

Next: once you have hotels and tickets:
- plan artineraries in each city, reserve tours, buy tickets to museums on line, etc.
- Research local transportation, to and from the local attractions. The local transportation will NOT run away…

Below you will find:
- Suggested schedule (please feel free to ask questions, argue, change, complain, yell at me for missing something, etc..).
- Few hotel suggestions, for each location (within stated budget range).
- Information and websites for mandatory train and boat information.

Schedule
June 20th – arrive Rome (Leonardo Express to Termini, Taxi to hotel).
June 21, 22, 23, 24 – in Rome
- 3 days local sites (you have the websites for various tickets already).
- 1 day trip to Tivoli/Haidrian/Villa De Este (if you are going to Pompeii, no need to see ruins of Ostia Antica)

June 25 – train to Naples (on to Sorrento or Capri/TBD the sequence).
June 26, 27, 28, 29 – Sorrento/Pompeii/Amalfi/Capri
June 30 – back to Naples, ex Naples train to Florence (will take most of the day).

July 1,2,3,4 – 2 full days Florence, 1 day – Siena, 1 day – St. Gimignano and/or Volterra, or visit to winery, or other…

July 5 – ex Florence morning train to Venice, ½ day in Venice
July 6, 7 – Venice/Murano/Burano/Lido….(???)

July 8 – morning train to Milan, ½ day in Milan, see Duomo/Galleria/p-za LaScala, centro… (1/2 day is enough to see the best of Milan “a la tourist” if you can’t get into Last Supper).

July 9, 10 – trip to Lake Como, leave early in the morning, train to Town Como, boat to Bellagio, or Varenna. Overnight in Bellagio or Varenna (the second one is less expensives). The boats run between two towns every 30 minutes, takes 15 minutes in between. Night of the 10th return to Milan (hotel near Centrale Train Station). Or to hotel near Malpensa Airport. Or if you departure flight ex Milan is late at night – then return to Milan or Malpensa morning of the July 11th.

July 11th – flight to PEK

If this schedule will work for you, I will proceed checking hotels BY DATES, because a lot of hotels (better ones, location and price wise) are full, given it’s height of tourist season.

NEXT PROJECT: Trains for Major connections.
- go to the Trenitalia website (has English) - http://www.trenitalia.com/cms/v/index.jsp?vgnextoid=ad1ce14114bc9110VgnVCM10000080 a3e90aRCRD

- Book on line AND buy both a ticket, and a seat reservation (not just “ticket to ride”).
-
- If for some reason the site does not work from your area (blocked or something), you can reserve tickets from RailEurope (overprices IMHO). This company are brokers and do mark up tickets 20-25% at least.
- http://www.raileurope.com/index.html
-
- Do look into Eurailpass, but it does not guarantee you a seat on a desired train/date/time – only a “right to ride on this segment/route if space available”. Passes are sold on line, or through RailEurope (see previous ref).
http://www.eurail.com/eurail-passes?gclid=CPW2zvuRq7ACFY4FRQodK09GUg

If you can, get tix direct from Trenitalia. However, the website has “problems”, it is not 100% user friendly. You will have to “register as client”, may have to try several credit cards before the site accepts the one that “their bank accepts”, etc.

You have an option of buying ALL tickets once you’re in Italy, upon arrival to Termini, or while in Rome. Just go to Ticket Office at Termini and buy all your tickets. Small risk, yes, that you will not get “the best morning” or “best evening” departures and rides. But you will get tickets…


Next priority Hotels.

PLEASE NOTE: Some Hotel websites will give you TOTAL FOR ALL NIGHTS, not rate per day, so when you see “cost @ 450 Euros” it is not “per room” but “for total 3 or 4 nights stay”.

Suggested hotels in Rome (these hotels do have rooms now fr June 20th to June 25th).

You will get discount if you pre-pay on line. Rooms are going quickly. There is not guarantee they will be there in 5 minutes. It’s June…
HOTEL SAN CARLO/SPANISH STEPS – 3*** hotel in a 5+***** location, 2 blocs from Spanish Steps, the safest, full-of-people area. Number 1 choice for many.
http://www.hotelsancarloroma.com/

HOTEL KING ROMA, via Sistina, 2 blocks above Spanish Steps, 3 blocks from Trevi Fountain. Choice 2 after San Carlo. Slightly cheaper too.
http://www.hotelkingroma.com/

The Spanish Steps area hotels, for under 200 Euro, is IDEAL for a single traveler on a budget. If you can’t reserve, or don’t like any of these, your next best bet is P-za Navona/Pantheon area. The hotels listed on this site may suite your requirements.
http://www.eurocheapo.com/rome/hoods/piazza-navona.html


If none of this works – there is plan B (info later if required). Or you can check hotel booking sites at your convenience - but remember – No hotels near Termini).


So…. Do the trains and Rome Hotels, and I’ll put together a list of hotels for the next locations, boats and local trains info.

Please comment, so that I can check hotel dates:

- Do you like the Schedule? If not – what do you want to change?
- Do you want to stay 1 or 2 nights in Capri?? (i recommend "yes", at least 1 night). Capri is WORTH AT LEAST A FULL 2 DAYS visit (info later), but you can see “the best” in one and half day.

Cheers!

Angelskates
05-31-2012, 10:41 PM
Tinami Amori thank so much for all of your work!

I found out last night that my mum's guide dog is being euthanised today so I am not in the best frame of mind and only intend to book the Rome hotel and then do my work and not much else for the rest of the day :(

I like the look and price of the first hotel in Rome, free wifi too, and breakfast included! 110 Euro seems like a good price! It's 5 nights, right? 20, 21, 22, 23, 24?

I think the itinerary is GREAT! I want to speak to my friend in Milan before only spending 1.5 days there though, but she has mentioned Como and Maggiore.

Yes, I'd like to go to Capri. What about Tuscany? Can I fit that in?

My flight leaves Milan at 11:20 a.m. on July 11th.

ETA: I checked the train site, and there are lots of options for each place, so I am not sure what to pick! For example, Roma has Tutti Le Stazioni, Termini, Aurelia, Tiburtina, Naples also has Tutti le Stazioni, Cantrale, Campo Flegrei, Granturo....I just select "all the stations/tutti le stazioni" and it gave me options (Roma Termini to Napoli Centrale is 19 Euro, leaving Roma at 1:45 p.m. (this also takes the longest, but there doesn't seem to be any morning ones!)

ETA: I can't get the Roma Card/other card site to work past the intro page! :mad: As soon as I click "BUY" it goes to a new page and says "not active". :mad: