1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi all! No longer will threads be closed after 1000 (ish) messages. We may close if one gets so long to cause an issue and if you would like a thread closed to start a new one after a 1000 posts then just use the "Report Post" function. Enjoy!

Travel to Italy

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Angelskates, May 30, 2012.

  1. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    I'm taking a holiday to Italy :cheer2: from around the 20th or 25th of June (still sorting out my work schedule) to the 12th of July.

    I'll be flying in and out of Rome. I'd like to see as much of Italy as possible, including all the tourist places and also Sicily.

    Does anyone have a recommended itinerary? Must see things or places? Best (and not too expensive) ways to get from place to place?

    Budget? I want to stay at places with character, funky places rather than fancy hotels or hostels - any suggestions?

    Is there any skating on at that time? ;)
    bardtoob and (deleted member) like this.
  2. Nomad

    Nomad Celebrity cheese-monger

    How long are you planning on spending in Italy?
  3. PrincessLeppard

    PrincessLeppard Holding Alex Johnson's Pineapple

    I really enjoyed Pompeii. It's sad and beautiful at the same time.
  4. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    The whole time ;) So it'll be at the most from the 20th June leaving Beijing to the 12th of July arriving back in Beijing, and at the least, 25th of June leaving Beijing and arriving back on Beijing on July 12th. So 17ish to 22ish days, depending on travel time (transit :yikes:)
  5. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    Love the Amalfi Coast but not if you get car sick easy. The North is very beautiful as well. If it's your first time, I'd go North, Florence, Venice. Rome itself is pretty amazing, the Vatican and usual attractions.

    Gelato! :swoon:
  6. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    I have been before, but not at an age I could appreciate it, so now I want to see it all again ;) I don't get car, or any sort of travel, sickness, though I can't drive in Europe. Do you mean go on a tour up the Amalfi Coast?

    I'm already psyching myself up for the :coffee: and gelato :swoon::swoon:
  7. Nomad

    Nomad Celebrity cheese-monger

    A nice Tuscan itinerary would be Pisa, Florence, Sienna, and San Gimignano. A good time to visit Florence would be the 24th, when they celebrate the festival of San Giovanni in Renaissance costume. The highlight for me was the group of sbandieratori, a group of guys who juggled flags back and forth. A bit like patriotic 15th century rhythmic gymnastics. Venice is worth the visit. Try to attend a mass at San Marco if you can; the Guggenheim was hosting Monday night Spritz, hors d'oeuvres, and cultural events back in 2010; if they still are, it's well worth the visit. Teatro La Fenice is a beautiful venue for theater or opera. Trattoria Donna Onesta serves a killer seafood salad. A visit to Murano is worth it if you like glassware; Burano is a cute little island although I doubt if all that lace is really handmade. Torcello has one main attraction - the mosaics in the cathedral. Otherwise there isn't much to see or do. Padova makes for a nice day trip - I enjoyed visiting San Antonio and the nearby Prato del Valle. Bologna is a lovely little city. The arcades are a boon in summer and you can make day-trips to Modena (Caffe Mozart by the Duomo has an awesome all-you-can-eat Sunday buffet) and Ravenna (spectacular mosaics). Genrally speaking, keep an eye out for leaning towers. Almost every city in Italy I've been to has at least one. :)
    Diane Mars and (deleted member) like this.
  8. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    If you have been to the North, go South. And if you don't mind windy mountain roads and crazy driving, go to the Amalfi Coast. I gave up a trip to Ravello, turned around and went back because I got car sick on a bus! So may be you can go see it! And Positano and Pompeii, etc. Beautiful.

    I stayed in Positano, at the Villa Rosa. :)
  9. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    Is it practical in the amount of time I have to go north and south?
  10. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    Actually, I think it is.
  11. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    (assuming you chose the shortest time)

    Take Air China’s Pekin-Milan route – PEK - MXP ( Monday, Wednesday and Saturday) FL CA949 and CA950. Outbound flights will leave Pekin at 13:30 and arrive in Milan at 19:00. (11 hours and 30 minutes)

    24th depart/25th arrive into Milan
    26th – 1 day in Milan
    27th – train to Verona (leave bags at station, see town, late train to Venice).
    28th – Venice
    29th – Venice
    30th – ex Venice train to Florence (1/2 day in Florence)
    1st – Florence
    2nd – out of Florence local train for 1 day in Siena (return to Florence)
    3rd – Leave Florence - New Speed train to Naples (fr Naples – ferry to Capri – 40 min)
    4th – full day in Capri
    5th – take ferry ex Capri to Sorrento (35 minutes), rest of the day explore Sorrento.
    6th – stay in Sorrento – take local train (45 min) to Pompei (or Herculanium)
    7th – out of Sorrento take local bus along the scenic route to Amalfi, travel back/get out at Positano, travel back to Sorrento.
    8th – take train ex Sorrento to Rome (that’s going to be a long day).
    9th – Rome
    10th – Rome (possible trip to Tivoli, or Ostia Antica)
    11th – Rome
    12th – Ex Rome to Pekin/Air China FL CA940 FCO-PEK – ETD 19:30

    I’ll be glad to work with you on this, and answer all your questions. If I missed any places you’re interested in, let me know. If you like any of these places – I’ll give you more details. If you have more days and CAN LEAVE ON THE 20TH – we can add few more places.

    If you can add 3-4 more days to this schedule, then I recommend adding a trip to Lake Como/Bellagio north of Milan, and 1-2 extra days in Tuscany region (near Florence), seeing towns of Volterra, San Gimignano, Aussis, and/or a trip to Cinque-terre, etc..

    Or you can use these 3-4 days to go to Sicilia (it will take that long to get a good wiff of it).

    I do NOT recommend Sicilia this time. This is your first trip to Italy I suppose, and there are "must places" and "optional places" to see in my opinion.
    euler likes this.
  12. pingu

    pingu Well-Known Member

    In July there will be Star On Ice :) It's usually located in small mountain towns in the north of Italy, and once it will be out I will probably post a link of the schedule in the italian skating thread.
    As you have a month, I think places you must see are:
    Rome, the Amalfi coast, Tuscany (Florence, Pisa, Siena and its countryside), Venice, Sicily, Puglia, Trentino or Alto Adige (beautiful mountains). If you want to visit other cities you could stay in Milan for a few days and visit a few cities for a day (Genova, Torino, Bellinzona) as it is right in the middle of the north of the country.
    I can't think of anything else now but there is so much to see, just PM me if you need any help :)
  13. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    Thanks for all of this. I will be flying in and out of Rome, and have been to Italy before (when I was younger, too young to appreciate it!) I'm interested in everywhere, and now extra interested in Pompeii. ;) I do want to go to Sicily.

    I will be flying Emirates or Lufthansa into and out of Rome, either via Dubai, Munich or Frankfurt, not that that really matters, I'm just choosing the cheapest flight!

    Now I want to go to the Festival that Nomad mentioned, and Stars on Ice! pingu - definitely keep me updated on that!! I am not on FSU as much as before (work is, well, too much work!) but have subscribed to this thread!

    I'd love to meet any FSU'ers in Italy!

    ETA: I just booked my flights! :cheer2:

    I arrive in Rome at 9 p.m. on June 20th and leave Rome at 10:10 a.m. on July 11th :) Nothing else is booked!
    Last edited: May 30, 2012
  14. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

    I've only been to Rome (6 days with BFF!) so my advice is limited :D Tinami helped me back in 2008, too!

    Not worth the time:

    You can skip the Circus Maximus - it's just a field now. Boring and a PITA walk from the Forum. Piazza Navona was cool for the merchants but otherwise ehhh. The fountains were under construction when we were there, though. I found much of the Vatican museum bo-ring. And the tour we paid for was totally worthless - get a guided one (we tagged along on one).

    Depending on your interests:

    I enjoyed walking on Via Appia Antica. We didn't go quite far enough out of the city to see the huge aqueduct ruins. Took the train to Colli Albani stop and then a bus to the road. We went on the San Sebastiano catacomb tour.

    Everyone goes to the Forum, but I felt underinformed, even with my Rick Steves book. I later found one that had overlays of Roman architecture vs. current day, and I wish I'd had it with me. A lot of the importance of things was lost on me. It's really ruined ruins, too - hard to tell what things are.

    Unexpectedly cool:

    Piazza del Popolo was very cool. Really impressive, large twin churches. We did a circular tour starting at the Trevi Fountain, up the Spanish steps, through Villa Borghese and to Piazza del Popolo, then down Via del Corso where all the uber fancy stores are.

    If you are a cat person, check out the stray cat sanctuary. It's in the Campo dell'Fiore area. www.romancats.com

    Pompeii was (obviously) incredible - and mind-bogglingly huge. Plan an entire day for it and pay for a tour. I really wanted to visit Ostia (it was a Latin class joke - "Ostia on the coast-ia") but ran out of time.

    Things I'm sad we missed: Ostia, Baths of Caracalla, Castel Sant'Angelo.


    We stayed in a fantastic hostel on Via Palermo. Comfortable, clean, and only 90 euros for six nights. The best part was the location - completely central and an easy walk to everything but the Vatican. It was fairly residential and we never felt unsafe. There really isn't anything west of Piazza Navona. If you stay in the area around Via Nazionale, you're in a great neighborhood.
  15. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    versperholly - thanks! Do you have a link of the hostel?

    Any idea on how much to budget for 3 weeks (including transport and accommodation)?
  16. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    You're lucky you can so much time to take a long vacation--I'd kill to take a three-week holiday!!!

    I completely agree with the wonderfulness of Pompeii, Southern Coast (Amalfi/Sorrento/Capri), and Tuscany. Definitely don't skimp on Tuscany. Loved Florence, Sienna and San Gimignano and I'm dying to go back and see more. Try the pici in Sienna, so delicious. Don't waste too much time in Pisa; just take a look at the tower and move on. Venice was cool but doesn't require more than a day or two, and the canal water is kind of smelly, IMO.

    As for Rome, if you are into art, check out the Borghese Gallery--you need to apply for tix online ahead of time, but well worth it.

    Also, if you have time, and you like water and pretty houses, consider the Italian Lake District--very beautiful and tranquil.
  17. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    It's been a while coming! I go back to Australia every Christmas, but every holiday I have had in 10 years has involved working. I own my own (very small) business, and even on this holiday, I am sure that I will need to work to some extent. I was putting it off and putting it off until I worked out my schedule, and then I realised that if I kept waiting, my schedule would be full, and I wouldn't be able to take a holiday at all! I always feel like I am letting people down when I take time off work. There aren't many people in Beijing doing what we do, so if they don't have me, they don't have anyone. But I need a break before I have a breakdown.
  18. Ajax

    Ajax Well-Known Member

    I've been to Sicily and it was one of the most amazing trips of my life. You'd need to rent a car I think. We stayed in Cefalu which is a nice little town and from there took tons of day trips. Mount Etna, Taormina (amazingly beautiful village on top of a mountain) and Agrigento's Valley of Temples were highlights. The food was also amazing.

    Other great places in Italy: Siena, San Gimignano, Venice, Como/Garda region, Rome... Skip Pisa, there's little of interest there beyond the tower.
  19. KikiSashaFan

    KikiSashaFan Well-Known Member

    When I travelled through Italy I flew into Milan and out of Rome. Spent arrival day and one more day in Milan, 2 days in Venice, 3 days in Florence, 1 day in Siena, 1 day in Ostia and 3 days in Rome. Florence and Siena were far and away my favorite places and I'd love to go back to them again.
  20. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    I am going to say how it is and how I see it, and if step on anyone’s travel toes, please forgive, no harm intended.

    First of all let me say that ANY part of Italy you will chose to visit is going to be in 90% cases a beautiful wonderful experience. Second, you’re young and getting a little tired and sleep deprived will not hinder your travels that much.

    But there are few facts, as I see them, which you should take into consideration to get the OPTIMAL enjoyment, and value out of your long awaited trip. And you do NOT want to get exhausted completely riding trains and buses on long stretches of the journey. No matter what good shape you’re in – the long segments of travel, even with a small back pack, take a tall.

    My recommendations are not the 10 commandments, you have your own head, and a strong one, and that is the only reason why I allow my self the liberty to be so blunt with my suggestions:

    - You’ve been to Italy when too young to appreciate (in your own words), which means you have not really been to Italy. Do not skip the usual number of days required to see the more famous places. You have only 20 days.

    - You need at least 3 days in Rome, and on the Amalfi Coast.
    - You need at least 2-3 days to see Venice and Florence.
    - You need at least 3-4 days in Venice and Florence if you want to take local trips to see places outside of Venice and Florence (the Islands of Venice, Verona, Padova and Towns and Hills of Tuscany around Florence).
    - In Milan, you need 1-2 days, and at least 2 more days to see Lake Como, and 1 more day to see the hill-top town of Bergamo (reached by local train only, off the main routes).
    - There are 2 other famous lakes in the region – Maggiore and Garda, and few smaller ones.
    - Maggiore – will be hard to reach and see the small towns without a car.
    - Garda – is much further from Milan, and maybe a good stop ex Milan on the way to Padova/Verona/Venice route. Garda has a wonderful town of Sermione. 100% worth a visit. But it is a detour from “major cities route”.

    - I am not fan of Genova and Turino if you have to sacrifice other locations. Unless, you stop over in Genova on the way to Cinque-Terre, and from Cinque-Terre proceed into Tuscany/Florence.

    - “Stars on Ice – Italia” usually takes place in locations in the Dolomite Mountains in towns where they have rinks (naturally). Van Gardena, Alta Badia, Asiago, etc…

    - All are located in the North East of Italy/North East of Milan close to the border with Austria. It is about at best, if no traffic, a 3-4 hour drive from Milan (on a car), and at best 2 hour drive from Padova, Verona, and a 3-4 hour drive from Venice.

    - these towns are NOT located on the main train routes, and while they are charming, to reach them from main cities and towns takes a detour, and traveling on local trains and buses (which is not as simple as it looks, given time constraints).
    - Unless someone gives you a ride (a fellow FSUer, or others), it will be difficult for you to come see the town, see the show, and leave to the next destination on the same day.
    - In the past the events took place in August, not July. I don’t know about this year.

    - since you’re flying in and out Rome, you have limitations in terms of time and routes. I wish you bought split tickets, using airports of Milan and Rome to come and go, in any order. You want to see the North of Italy and Sicilia, – you can – but you’ll spend a lot of time on trains and buses.

    - Will you consider at least 1 or 2 domestic flights? Yes, it costs additional money, but do you want to loose a full day just traveling?

    - Sicilia. Unless you just want to see Palermo, you need few days there. Even if one RENTS a car, it takes at least 2-3 days to see, rather 3-4 days to see “the best of Scicilia”. But you are not renting a car, and that puts even more limitations on your schedule. You may either miss a lot of interesting places, or completely exhaust your self hopping from town to town via local transport.

    - If you HAVE to see Palermo (get to Sicilia), your best bet is to take care of your Amalfi Coast first, and then either take a train ex Napoli to Palermo – 9.5 hrs; or you can take a domestic flight ex Napoli – 50 minutes. Then from Palermo you can take direct flight back to Rome, and spend 2-3-4 days in Rome as the last stop.

    - Again, I do NOT recommend you trying to see North of Italy and Sicilia on the same trip. But if you decide to go, I’ll gladly give you recommendations on best transport options that I know of, from the location you’d be coming from.

    - You are arriving in the evening on the 20th of June after a long flight and transfers. 20th is GONE as far as your “tourist time”. It will take you at best 40 minutes to get ex FCO to Termini on the local train, and at least 15-20 minutes to your hotel.

    - You want to be in Florence by the 24th to see the San Giovanni Festival. Please keep in mind, many thousands of people AND SCHOOL CHILDREN out on their summer breaks want to see it too…. From ALL over Europe… :lol:. Reserve hotel/hostle NOW! And remember, everything in Florence will cost more, have longer lines, you will be trampled on a bit, it will be HARD to get tickets on the days you want into major hotels (Academia, Uffizi, Pitti Palace, etc). In short – you will be inside a Mad House, and local trains to Tuscan towns will be full, and local Tuscan towns will VERY crowded.

    - In the days of “Grand Tours”, even in times of Marcello Mastroianni and Sophia Loren, in the old movies, etc., when an unsuspecting traveler stumbled upon a small mountain town celebrations of St. Francis of Aussi or San Gennaro, the experience was charming and quant like a chapter out of classic literature. Now it feels like a chapter out Marquis De Sade…

    - this is NOT the worst: http://www.google.com/imgres?q=san+...=1600&h=1200&ei=YmvGT_z4NqGe2AX83vHDAQ&zoom=1
    - but in short, in worst case you will be lucky to see the Feather in the HATS of the men in the parade, and you’ll be guaranteed to see the ends of their flags and piques.

    - If you want to see something truly authentic, there is Palio di Siena, which takes place 2x per year, July 2nd and in August. You WILL need to buy tickets in advance, and I believe the better seats are subject to lottery. It will be crowded, but besides the horse race, there are several processions and festivals which will take place inside the Old Town Walls.

    - Here is info for Palio di Siena tickets. That’s the only one I could find in a hurry. If you’re interest – I’ll dig through old files.


    I am sure I missed a lot of points, but let’s now overdo it in one post. In brief, is you do NOT commit yourself to any dates and events in any particular places, I would do the following.

    Arrive Rome. Take train to Milan the next day. Spend few days in Milan, see the 1-2 day lakes. The go in the direction of Padova/Verona/Venice (stop on the way in one or two places). From Venice – train to Florence. Stay in Florence long enough to see it and few local towns in Tuscany. Take train ex Florence to Napoli/Sorrento/Amalfi Coast. Spend the time you require. Return to Napoli – take flight to Scicilia, then ex Scilia flight or train to Rome (train will be 13 hours). Spend few days in Rome as the “final gift to yourself” before departing.… :D.

    NOTE: There is (as of few weeks ago) a new Super-Speed Train service in Italy. Called Italo – NTV: http://www.ntvspa.it/en/index.html

    Some of the routes may suite your needs. I have not yet used it. But did make arrangements for relatives, and it worked for our purposes. It is not cheap, and as far as I know is not covered by Tourist/Student Passes.
    Diane Mars and (deleted member) like this.
  21. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

    Mona Lisa Hostel: http://www.hostelworld.com/hosteldetails.php/Mona-Lisa-Hostel/Rome/13489

    The price might be more since my trip was 4 years ago. Definitely book ahead, they have a main hostel where the kitchen is, and a secondary one that's just rooms, the main hostel is better. Only two bathrooms in the main one but I never waited to shower. They provided breakfast (milk in a box!) and the reviews say dinner but we always ate out.

    I took about $300 for spending money for the week (excluding hostel $ which was paid for in cash on arrival) and it was plenty for food, tickets and a few souvenirs. We usually had lunch from a street cart or small cafe, and then had a restaurant dinner (mostly around the 25 euro mark). But at that time, the euro was $1.54. Now it's 80 cents :eek:
  22. pingu

    pingu Well-Known Member

    IMO you can visit Milan and Como in one day (one for each city of course). And I don't recommend to go to Siena during the Palio because it's going to be a complete mess. You could go a few days after it, the city is not messed up any more but you can see the flags hanging in the winning Contrada, and its contradaioli wearing a pacifier hanging arounf their necks :)
    You can skip Sirmione IMO.
    A useful tip: remember to bring your own bottle of water while citysightseeing. A touristic city such as Florence, Rome or Venice has usually higher prices for everything, including water. It can cost around 5€ in very touristic areas (Vaticano, for example). If you bring your own bottle of water you can save a lot of money.
  23. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    I'll look through these posts more carefully later, but I have to :lol: at the posts relating to crowds. I live in Beijing, I know crowds. I've ridden buses and subways in peak hour and waiting 4 hours in line many times...

    I am willing to take domestic flights. I'd also be open to organised trips. I do not want to drive myself (I have driven twice in 10 years, and neither times were delightful experiences, even though I used to love driving, Europe is not a place to get back to it!)
  24. sk8pics

    sk8pics Well-Known Member

    I love the Como region. Be sure to go to Bellagio, take a cruise on Lake Como, if you go there.

    Have a great time!
  25. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa discriminating and persnickety ballet aficionado

    Tinami should write her own travel guides.
  26. KCC

    KCC Well-Known Member

    My favorite part if Italy is the Dolomite mountains in the north, but understand that I really love mountains. Been there six times, and want to go again. If you put this area in your itinerary, let me know and I can give details.
  27. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    :lol: I have friends who live in northern Kamchatka, and I have yet to convince them to go to Iceland, even during summer... :rofl:

    There are few organized tours you can take for 1 or 2 days. Some are group tours with guides, and some are not much than just "transportation" to and from an attraction/place of interest. Are you willing to go on a pre-set tour with a guide? It may not be a bad idea, actually to do it, and have some company for few days, if you're travelling alone.

    The more popular ones are:

    - Ex Sorrento to Pompei.
    - Ex Florence to Cinque-Terre
    - Ex Florence a bus trip to one or two wineries in Tuscany.
    - Ex florence to St. Gimignano and Sienna.
    - Ex Rome to Tivoli Gardens and Haidrian's Villa.

    etc... Again, some are fully guided tours, and some are just for a group of people who want to share transportation.

    - You should sign up for a tour of Vatican NOW, since it is VERY hard to get single entry tickets at the door during summer.

    - You should buy tickets to Uffizi, Pitti Palace and Academia NOW on line, and even now there is no guarantee you will get the dates you want. Don't wait.

    (Sorry, you're too lake to see Last Supper in Milan; the sign up is 3 to 6 months in advance).
  28. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    My secret hiding place is west of Dolomites... Bormio and its hot springs - Bagni Vecchio swimming pools perched on the mountain cliff http://www.verdenetwork.it/vncms/storage/public/2005/200503251457000.23902400.jpg - the mineral pools inside the caves.http://static.b-travel.net/img/hote...iginal/1032089-2477766-hotel-bagni-vecchi.jpg - and ancient roman bath they dug up further below in the labyrinth of caves http://photos.hotelsclick.com/I/BRMI/106695/136.jpg
  29. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

    I've managed to change my flights so I am now flying into Rome and out of Milan :)

    Tinami Amori - where do I buy tickets for stuff?

    Now that I'm flighting out of Milan, does it change where you think I should go? I have people I want to visit in both Rome and Milan.

    My top places to go are Rome, Milan, Pompeii, Almalfi Coast, Sicily, Venice, Tuscany and Florence, and maybe Naples.

    I'm not sure if it makes a difference, but I am vegetarian, don't really drink, don't want to drive and hate cycling with a passion :lol:
  30. Nomad

    Nomad Celebrity cheese-monger

    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.