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Mad Cow's Italy trip discussion thread


Where should we go for our trip?  

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I'm seriously missing Italy.  Literally every night I've had at least one dream I was still there.  Three different night I've woken up and thought I was in my hotel room or a museum.  Just walking around my house asleep wondering why I keep walking into a wall that isn't supposed to be there (in my mind) until I woke up.  :lol:  Last night was particularly awesome as my wife and myself were having a 3 way with an Italian broad.


Thankfully we have a lot of access to Volpi products which is one of the few things we have here that is pretty much exactly the same prosciutto, salami and other meats that we had there.  I also had a large shipment of olive oil show up yesterday and we have access to plenty of authentic Chianti until the bottles I ordered arrive.


Thanks again @Chemical X and everybody else for your advice.  We can't wait to go back and explore the rest of the country as well as spend some more time in Florence. :thumbup:

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On ‎4‎/‎16‎/‎2016 at 8:01 AM, St. Louis Bob said:

:thumbup:  In Rome now,  would love some recommendations. 

sorry man, never saw this..................I am heading out in about 3 weeks.  most excited to hit outdoor hot springs in bagno san filippo.

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5 minutes ago, Chemical X said:

sorry man, never saw this..................I am heading out in about 3 weeks.  most excited to hit outdoor hot springs in bagno san filippo.

No worries GB.  We found some great places.  One was pretty curious.  We just walked back to the hotel from the ruins, about 5 miles, were tired and hungry so went out a little early.  Found a ristorante that sounded good and got seated right away.  About 20 minutes later, before our food even arrived, a lot of couples/groups started to show up wanting a table.  They seated some, but told others, all Asian, that all available tables were reserved. :unsure:

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Man, I am so anxious to go back, but our trips are spoken for for the next few years.

Heading to Peru at the end of May for a medical humanitarian trip, Japan next summer to pick up our daughter who is there from now until then, and then perhaps in 2018 we can get back to Europe, though still need to visit Spain, England, France, etc. :wall:

So many places to visit, so little time and money. . .

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2 hours ago, jamny said:

Heading to Sicily in June. Palermo for a few days, then heading down south to a beach resort before ending up in Taormina. Can't wait!

I just hope ISIS doesn't storm the beach while we're there.

I am hopping a cruise out of rome and will be in Palermo May 30.  will report back......

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11 minutes ago, Chemical X said:

I am hopping a cruise out of rome and will be in Palermo May 30.  will report back......

I'd be curious to hear what you think since you're so familiar with the country. It's the one stop that I'm a little iffy about. It sounds like it might be similar to Naples. I couldn't find something really nice in the city so we're staying at the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, which is down just a bit north of the port. I figured if the city is kinda shabby, at least we'll have a nice place to come home to.

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On ‎4‎/‎29‎/‎2016 at 1:43 PM, jamny said:

I'd be curious to hear what you think since you're so familiar with the country. It's the one stop that I'm a little iffy about. It sounds like it might be similar to Naples. I couldn't find something really nice in the city so we're staying at the Grand Hotel Villa Igiea, which is down just a bit north of the port. I figured if the city is kinda shabby, at least we'll have a nice place to come home to.

I am not tremendously optimistic, but we decided to try the hop on hop off bus tour.  I have heard awful stories about taxis & just about any manned, for hire, transportation...especially those 3 wheeled bikes.  we want to make a couple of stops on our own, definitely no siteseeing.  gonna try to hit nino u' ballerino, mercato il capo, dainotti's and enoteca picone. 

 

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  • 3 weeks later...

sitting in sky club at jfk waiting for flight and pretty stoked.  17 nights with a multitude of things planned.  thinking I may ship back up to 10 cases of wine.  hoping msc delivers a great cruise after our 10 nights in Italy.  if anyone wants to chat or is looking for advise on this kind of trip, post ahoy.  we didn't do any boat tours, we went all private.  I think the group boat tours are a money grab and time waster.  pretty psyched for the bagni san filippo hot springs.

 

ciao

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  • 3 weeks later...

Wife and I just got back from 10 days in Italy.  We planned our own itinerary through Trip Masters since we wanted to have flexibility on what to do through our trip instead of getting stuck in a group tour structured setting.  It worked really well.   We focused entirely on the Amalfi coast and loved it.  People were very friendly.  The areas we visited were all tourist hubs but I didn't get the sense they were very touristy - hard to explain but the areas had markets/shops but they were not the ones like you get in the Caribbean that were real pushy or sketchy. 

Day 1:  Flew into Naples and were staying in Pompei the first night so we hit the ruins for a few hours in the afternoon.  Hung out in the city center for dinner and just watched the people congregate and walked around.  There was a beautiful church there as well that we got to see.  Very nice town.  Sure it is touristy but it could have been worse.  The ruins are massive.  We saw as much as we could in 3 hours on our own (we bought an audio tour device for 5 euros to walk around with) - I was surprised at the amount of access they allow you to have.  In the U.S. everything would be gated off and you'd have to stand 20 feet away.

Day 2:  We went to Amalfi.  Walked around the city center, hit the church downtown, and explored before eating dinner.  Our hotel was about a 10 minute walk to/from the city center and it was up a hill so we definitely got exercise going back and forth.  Walking that street was a treat since cars come zipping by you and are about 6 inches away sometimes. 

Day 3:  We took a 5 hour hike from the city center.  Took a route through some old paper mills and along the river where you could see waterfalls.  Got to see some great sights along the way in a real quiet environment before stopping for lunch in a very small town way above Amalfi.  We had a beautiful view of the town below and where we had hiked from in Amalfi.  Took about 45 minutes of going straight down stairs to get back into town. 

Day 4:  We hiked over to Atrani and checked the town out before hiking bike to Amalfi.  We then took a ferry to Maiori, hiked back to Minori, drank a beer along the beach and then took a ferry back to Amalfi. 

Day 5:  We were driven to Sorrento and got to pass through Pasitano along the way.  Had a room right off Italia Road in the heart of the city.  Great location.  We walked around town and just enjoyed going down the small alleys and visiting shops.   Sorrento was more busy than Amalfi but we enjoyed it very much.  It looks like it is a perfect hub for tourists to get to Naples, Pompei/Vesuvius/Herculaneum, Capri, Amalfi. 

Day 6:  We were tired from hiking and walking so we booked a bus tour where we spent a half day at Herculaneum and another half day at Vesuvius.  We had heard Herculaneum was better preserved than Pompei and less crowded.  I agree.  Got to see some great sites at Herculeneum but on a smaller scale though.  They were not able to excavate the entire city since the new city is buried above the old ruins.  Makes you wonder what else is down there since unlike Pompei there is no forum, amphitheater or large public buildings/settings.  The Vesuvius trip was great too.  We got to hike a half hour up to the top of the crater and admire the view below of Naples, Naples Bay, Sorrento, and the islands. 

Day 7:  We hung out in Sorrento.  Wife wanted to do some shopping. I really wanted to sit at an umbrella off the sea but we didn't have time. 

Day 8:  Took a ferry to Capri at 9 am.  When we got there it was crazy busy.  There was an Italian holiday on June 2 so a lot of folks were taking long weekends.  The crowds in the city center were nuts and so was the line to take a bus to Annacapri.  We ended up hiking to Villa Jovis and hanging out there before having dinner.  Our hotel was great.  Had a perfect view of Vesuvius and the Mediterranean from our room.  The service there was also impeccable - they offered shuttle service, got us bus tickets in advance, booked our ferry tour of the island.  Worth every penny.

Day 9:  We got up early to get to Annacapri.  We hit the chair lift to Mt. Salero to take in the view.  Then got to take in some sights - including a small church with a tile floor from the 1700's.  Very beautiful.  We then headed to the Port to take a one hour boat tour around the island.  We skipped the blue grotto and am glad we did since the line was nuts.  Only problem with our boat ride was we hit a tour group that didn't see a picture they didn't want to take.  Lady next to me must have taken a 1,000 selfies of herself with the island in the background.  She was swinging her Ipad around like she was participating in the hammer throw.  Was so hoping that thing would just fall into the sea but alas it didn't.  We then headed on ferry to Naples.  Took a crazy cab ride to our hotel before heading out for some pizza.  Town was crazy busy.  We didn't stay out much since we had to get up early for our flight the next day.

Went to bed and then stayed up 23 straight hours for the flight from Naples, to Rome, to Detroit before driving home and going to bed. 

Overall, a great experience.  People were friendly and the food was good.  Just keep in mind that when you order a fish you are getting the whole fish on your plate - head, tail, bones and all until that stuff is all removed.  We will definitely go back at some point (likely Venice, Tuscany, and possible Florence and Rome) although it will he hard  to duplicate this trip.  It was nice to just wander around and explore as we wanted.  We are not avid hikers at all but it just turned out to be a fun activity so we could see more places. 

Overall we liked Amalfi the best but liked all the towns - they are all unique in their own way which is good to have for a trip.

 

 

 

 

 

  

Edited by skillz
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1 hour ago, skillz said:

Day 8:  Took a ferry to Capri at 9 am.  When we got there it was crazy busy.  There was an Italian holiday on June 2 so a lot of folks were taking long weekends.  The crowds in the city center were nuts and so was the line to take a bus to Annacapri.  We ended up hiking to Villa Jovis and hanging out there before having dinner.  Our hotel was great.  Had a perfect view of Vesuvius and the Mediterranean from our room.  The service there was also impeccable - they offered shuttle service, got us bus tickets in advance, booked our ferry tour of the island.  Worth every penny.

You could have just taken the stairs.

 :P

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On ‎6‎/‎6‎/‎2016 at 0:04 PM, skillz said:

Wife and I just got back from 10 days in Italy. 

  

Sounds awesome skillz!

We hope to spend a month in Italy in a few years and want to spend a good amount of time in Amalfi. We saw a bit of it during a previous trip when we stayed on Capri. BTW - how nice is Capri at night once the crowds leave? So nice and peaceful. We did the Blue Grotto, the line wasn't too long, and although it's a little cheesy it was still fun and I'm glad we did it.

 

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On ‎5‎/‎2‎/‎2016 at 0:13 PM, Chemical X said:

I am not tremendously optimistic, but we decided to try the hop on hop off bus tour.  I have heard awful stories about taxis & just about any manned, for hire, transportation...especially those 3 wheeled bikes.  we want to make a couple of stops on our own, definitely no siteseeing.  gonna try to hit nino u' ballerino, mercato il capo, dainotti's and enoteca picone. 

 

Update?

 

We're flying out on the 18th.

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so, back from 17 nights........

we found Palermo, in the 7 hours we were there, to be very Naples-esque.  Grimy, dirty, noisy, confusing.  This was our least favorite stop and one of our least favorite ports, but admittedly, we didn't do many touristy things or really know what they are.  we heard the cathedral is nice, but I've seen about a billion of them.  a Sicilian we know said monreale was a must see, but I am not sure what is there.  the hop on hop off was a diesel ingesting adventure.  we hit the il capo mercato and it was disappointing......it was located in mid city and we hopped off the bus to walk there, but it was situated down a narrow alley.  most vendors were selling fruits and veggies.  we had a hard time finding a great panelle shop.  we did buy 1/2 kilo of cherries and apricots for 1 euro each, which seemed a bargain.  neither fruit was very ripe. 

 

overall, Palermo didn't catch my attention quickly enough for me to want to return there.  I would try other areas of sicily likely, maybe a bit more rural.  etna for sure, but that is way southeast.    

 

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Yeah, after some research, I've decided that we'll just spend a few hours on the day of arrival (Sunday) in Palermo. We'll spend the next day heading east along the coast going to Cefalu for the beach and back to Caccamo for a few hours. We leave the next day to head south to a beach resort near Sciacca for a few days before heading to Taormina. I'm even more glad now we didn't book our hotel in the city in Palermo and down by the shore instead.

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5 hours ago, jamny said:

Yeah, after some research, I've decided that we'll just spend a few hours on the day of arrival (Sunday) in Palermo. We'll spend the next day heading east along the coast going to Cefalu for the beach and back to Caccamo for a few hours. We leave the next day to head south to a beach resort near Sciacca for a few days before heading to Taormina. I'm even more glad now we didn't book our hotel in the city in Palermo and down by the shore instead.

Would love to hear your about your trip..........side note, buddy who lives by my place in umbria says the place to go is Sardinia.  he says its much more rural than sicily, but less crowded with better beaches and food.  I think sicily is where the tourists go and Sardinia (via ferry) is where the Italians go.

 

may give that a shot next time.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Incredible trip, one of our best ever.

We wound up never even going into Palermo. We only chose it as a place to get acclimated for a day or two before moving on. We got there around noon on the first day and hung around the hotel property, which was away from the city down just north of the port. Beautiful property. Had dinner at a local place, I think we were the only non-locals there. The next day we spent most of the day at the beachfront town of Cefalu about an hour away. We almost went into the city the following day before checking out but it was rainy so we decided to check out early and take a western route to our next hotel. Stopped at a great hilltop village of Erice with some incredible views. Spent a few hours there, having lunch before moving on to the next resort, driving through some small, beaten down towns and wine country.

The next stop, Verdura Resort, is one of maybe the top 5 places we ever stayed. And we usually stay at the best resorts. 3 golf courses, awesome pool, really nice beach layout and a bunch of great restaurants. We're into modern, contemporary design and this place was perfect for our tastes. You really feel like your in the Caribbean instead of Sicily. The weather was great when we got there and the next day but was pretty crappy the third day and the following day when we checked out. Really the only bummer of the whole trip.

We slept in a little late before checking out, stopped at the Villa Romana del Casale before moving on the Taormina. What an incredible town! So many restaurants, you could really stay for a week with no problem and barely touch most of them. We stayed at a small boutique cliff side hotel with great views. It's actually the #1 rated hotel on TA for Taormina. Had some of our best food in all of Sicily at the hotel. It was a hike up and down the steps to get into town but it was worth it for the view, quiet and cooler breeze compared to the heat and crowds in town. Really loved Taormina and hope to return one day.

Kept this short but it was truly an incredible trip. There is so much variety on every corner of the island, from the lush mountainous north, to the dry, flat south to the beautiful scenic east coast. We had hoped this trip would eliminate the need to see the island if we ever do get to do our planned month-long Italy trip but now we're not sure. We really want to go back and see some of the southeast of the island, like Siracusa and a little more of the surrounding area around Taormina. The trip far exceeded our expectations. Really recommend it.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I am planning on a July 2017 3+ week trip to Italy with my family of 4, which includes a 12 and 14 year old.

I have learned, though rough vacations in the past, that my family enjoys staying in one place for more than just a few days. So I feel that my 3 week itinerary should include just 3 stays, minus those travel days, of course. So my trip could be 21-24 days.

I have been focusing on Rome, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast as my three stops. I am not that interested in Venice or Cinque Terre, but you might convince me.

What we are looking for:
- beach (swimming) time: I understand most beaches aren't sandy, but swimming is important
- small town time: I would like my kids to feel somewhat comfortable, enough that they might be able to roam a bit on their own.
- local time: Along with above, we would like to visit markets and not eat much in restaurants
- airbnb options: Would like to stay in town, or near the water
- Rome time: Not my kids speaking here, but my wife and I would like to see the sights
- some quiet time: I know that summer in Italy is far from quiet, but can we stay in a small town that is somewhat quiet at times?

Questions:
1. Are there other areas that we should visit/replace?
2. What is the best flow for these three areas?
3. Where to fly in and out of?
4. What are the best towns to stay in in Tuscany and Amalfi?

Okay, that's it for now. Thanks for your advice!

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Just some basic things:

1)  I understand not wanting to hop around too much, but 3 weeks in Italy and you really should be visiting more than 3 places.  I understand not wanting to jump around every 2-3 days, but you can do 4-5 different areas pretty easily in that timeframe, especially with the ages of your kids.  Part of the reason is the ease in getting around the country.  See #2

2)  Trains are really a great way around Italy.  They are not that expensive, cover the entire country at pretty much all times of the day, and are easy to navigate while getting you where you need to go in a timely manner. 

3)  Rome seems to be an important destination and place to spend time and there is certainly more than enough to see and do there to occupy a few days.  There are many different types of tours or you can manage it all yourself but keep in mind it's a large city.

4)  Florence needs to be on your list.  I know you listed Tuscany but specifically you'll want to spend at least 2-3 days in Florence.  If there's one city you don't want to miss on your trip, this is it.  You can make that your Tuscan base and also do day trips from there, like Siena or San Gimignano or other smaller towns.  Pisa also isn't too far.  Maybe the one place to consider getting a car to venture out into the countryside.  Florence itself, however, is a small city and you can walk to every location you need to visit.  If there's anything you take away from my post -- Do not miss Florence and go visit all the major sites and museums here.

5)  Amalfi coast -- I'd highly recommend Positano/Sorrento/Amalfi area.  Just beautiful and you can venture on your own with ATVs or scooters in that area that would be incredibly enjoyable.  From there, would definitely visit Capri as part of your time there.  And Naples, which wasn't traditionally a city many wanted to visit, has transformed quite a bit lately and is very beautiful to visit.  You can take a train into Naples and visit the shopping/eating area there and enjoy yourself.

6)  For beaches, I'd recommend the Rimini/Riccione area if you're looking for nice beaches.  It will be very crowded as it's highly visited but there's a reason for it and gives you the best "beach" experience, IMO.

If you fly into Rome, you should be able to hit those 4 major areas in a 3 week time frame comfortably and see/enjoy all they have to offer.

 

ETA -- Venice really gets a bum rap.  The best way I'd describe it is that it's not a place I need to visit again but it's a place that I'm glad I've been to at least once.  It doesn't sound like it's a place for you given your requirements above, although if I was spending 3 weeks in Italy and it was my first time, I'd try to make it out there for a day.  If you decide to listen about the beaches, you could get there pretty quickly from the Rimini area to spend one day and visit.  It's a city like no other. 

Edited by gianmarco
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Just got back from Italy last night. Saw Rome, Florence, and Venice. Traveled by train from each city without issue. With a family of 4, definitely skip Venice, the streets are cluttered with people due to it being a popular stop for cruise ships and can't imagine the headache you would have keeping track of everyone. 

Also as mentioned above, do not miss Florence. If you are going to Rome it's only a little over an hour train ride from Rome to Florence.

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Definitely hit Florence. Lots to see and do there.  I don't think a trip to Italy counts unless you've seen the David.

I enjoyed Venice more than some of the others mentioned here.  I dug it at night, after all the cruise ship tourists left.  Sitting at a cafe in St. Mark's Square listening to an orchestra is one of the my favorite memories of Italy.

Your best bet for a small town is probably in Tuscany or Umbria, but I don't know too much about those.  I really liked Assisi in Umbria, which is a pretty small town with a lot of history.  A bit off the beaten path of most tourists.

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12 minutes ago, Don Quixote said:

Definitely hit Florence. Lots to see and do there.  I don't think a trip to Italy counts unless you've seen the David.

I enjoyed Venice more than some of the others mentioned here.  I dug it at night, after all the cruise ship tourists left.  Sitting at a cafe in St. Mark's Square listening to an orchestra is one of the my favorite memories of Italy.

Your best bet for a small town is probably in Tuscany or Umbria, but I don't know too much about those.  I really liked Assisi in Umbria, which is a pretty small town with a lot of history.  A bit off the beaten path of most tourists.

Yep, some good stuff here.  I similarly caught a small chamber orchestra concert in Venice that was excellent.  Along those same lines, if that's your thing, you can find small little concerts like this in churches in many of the cities in Italy.  They have posters up that will give details and they are really cool to listen to.

Assisi is a great little town but further away and more out of the way than Siena and San Gimignano that offer some similar things.  Ravenna (nearer the beaches) is another town with similar offerings.  If I remember correctly, Ravenna is famous for the mosaics in the churches. 

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3 hours ago, gianmarco said:

Just some basic things:

1)  I understand not wanting to hop around too much, but 3 weeks in Italy and you really should be visiting more than 3 places.  I understand not wanting to jump around every 2-3 days, but you can do 4-5 different areas pretty easily in that timeframe, especially with the ages of your kids.  Part of the reason is the ease in getting around the country.  See #2

2)  Trains are really a great way around Italy.  They are not that expensive, cover the entire country at pretty much all times of the day, and are easy to navigate while getting you where you need to go in a timely manner. 

3)  Rome seems to be an important destination and place to spend time and there is certainly more than enough to see and do there to occupy a few days.  There are many different types of tours or you can manage it all yourself but keep in mind it's a large city.

4)  Florence needs to be on your list.  I know you listed Tuscany but specifically you'll want to spend at least 2-3 days in Florence.  If there's one city you don't want to miss on your trip, this is it.  You can make that your Tuscan base and also do day trips from there, like Siena or San Gimignano or other smaller towns.  Pisa also isn't too far.  Maybe the one place to consider getting a car to venture out into the countryside.  Florence itself, however, is a small city and you can walk to every location you need to visit.  If there's anything you take away from my post -- Do not miss Florence and go visit all the major sites and museums here.

5)  Amalfi coast -- I'd highly recommend Positano/Sorrento/Amalfi area.  Just beautiful and you can venture on your own with ATVs or scooters in that area that would be incredibly enjoyable.  From there, would definitely visit Capri as part of your time there.  And Naples, which wasn't traditionally a city many wanted to visit, has transformed quite a bit lately and is very beautiful to visit.  You can take a train into Naples and visit the shopping/eating area there and enjoy yourself.

6)  For beaches, I'd recommend the Rimini/Riccione area if you're looking for nice beaches.  It will be very crowded as it's highly visited but there's a reason for it and gives you the best "beach" experience, IMO.

If you fly into Rome, you should be able to hit those 4 major areas in a 3 week time frame comfortably and see/enjoy all they have to offer.

 

ETA -- Venice really gets a bum rap.  The best way I'd describe it is that it's not a place I need to visit again but it's a place that I'm glad I've been to at least once.  It doesn't sound like it's a place for you given your requirements above, although if I was spending 3 weeks in Italy and it was my first time, I'd try to make it out there for a day.  If you decide to listen about the beaches, you could get there pretty quickly from the Rimini area to spend one day and visit.  It's a city like no other. 

 

:goodposting: Although we really liked Venice.  Also DON'T go in the summer if you can manage unless you like sweating like a pig.  If you want heat and beaches just go the Dominican, Cancun etc, IMO

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Just back from our Norwegian Epic cruise out of Barcelona with 3 stops in Italy (Naples, Rome, Florence).

Naples - we did a small group tour with ItalyTours.eu to the Amalfi Coast, then Sorrento, and finally Pompeii.  Had one of the best pizzas of my entire life at a little place in Sorrento.  Bought some olive oil and also sampled some lemoncello cream.  I've always loved lemoncello, but the lemoncello cream is incredible.  Pompeii was awesome, but incredibly hot as I knew it would be.

Rome - The rest of our family did a whirlwind Rome tour, but my Dad and I took the train into Rome and spent the day at the Vatican.  Based on @Chemical X's advice, we had reserved the Necropolis tour and it was one of the highlights of our trip.  Groups are limited to 12 people and the Vatican only lets 250 people down there per day.  The guides on staff actually work on the excavations for the Vatican so they are experts.  The history of the excavations and how they discovered St. Peters tomb (during WWII no less) is absolutely fascinating.  For the rest of the day at the Vatican, we used the Rick Steve's Audio Europe app for the Vatican Museums, the Sistine Chapel, and the Basilica.  VERY good podcasts/walking tours and totally free, so don't bother paying for the audio guide on the tour.  As an added bonus, you don't have to trek all the way back to the Vatican Museum entrance to turn in your audio guide.  BTW, the necropolis tour finishes in the crypt underneath the basilica, so the best order to do things in is Vatican Museum with Sistine Chapel at the end (plan for 2 hours), Necropolis (plan for 2 hours), then finish in the Basilica.  I had planned to go to the top of the dome as well, but we ran out of time and had to catch the train back to the ship.  

Florence - We used ItalyTours.eu again and visited Pisa, had a very scenic drive through Tuscany, and then went into Florence, where we did the Accadamia (Michelangelo's David) and then did a small walking tour in Florence before having several hours to spend on our own.  So much to see and do.  I really want to go back and spend several days there.

 

 

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Well, dammit, I have done a bit more digging into the Italian Riviera and it seems like a place to go. And dammit, Venice seems like a place to go, too.

What do you think of a Venice - Italian Riviera - Tuscany - Rome trip in mid-June? Better to start South and head North?

My original trip was Amalfi Coast - Tuscany - Rome.

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There have been some very good Italy threads if you do a search.  Some very good posts here.  We did a Paris/Florence/Venice/Rome trip. As others have mentioned, Florence is a must.  I personally would make it your base camp for a week.  Trust me you won't regret spending more days there than anywhere else on your trip.  You can explore Tuscany, Siena, San Gimignano. We did a 1 day excursion to Venice from there via train.  Rome is 4-5 days.  2 hour high speed train from Florence.  I didn't do Amalfi Coast so can't help there.  But with 3 weeks you have time.  

LOTS of recommendations for Florence/Rome.  

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I will pile on with the Florence Tuscany recommendation.. If you spent a week in there you could rent a car and explore the Tuscan hill towns like Montepulciano, Montescudaio, Montecino to name a few.  You would need to rent a car to get around, but it would allow you to take a lot in while not moving your family around.  

I'd also highly recommend the Cinque Terre, specifically Vernazza, though all fives of the cities that make up the area on the northern Mediterranean Coast.  All of the towns are connected by a short train ride.   There is plenty to do for the kids and also pretty romantic locale.   There are some amazing hikes if you are into that, you can kayak, charter boat rides or just explore the cool coastal towns.  I'd say that 3 days is plenty of time to explore Cinque Terre. 

If you are going to Itally you'll probably want to see all the cool old stuff in Rome, but to me I think Rome was easily my least favorite place to visit.  You probably will not want to spend more than 3 days in Rome in my opinion, plenty of time to see the Coliseum, Vatican City, etc.  The hustle and bustle is a lot to take in and the people there are so much more aggressive and jerky.  

And lastly as others have said the train system is a great way to get around and you have a lot of options in utilizing it to not be moving your family around but still be able to see different spots.  

I can't wait to go back!

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1 minute ago, lakerstan said:

How important is it to have a working knowledge of Italian, or is English common enough?

English is common enough, though a translation chart on your phone can come in handy.

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Agree with the crowd, Florence is a must. Figured it was a toss in for my wife, but ended up being my favorite. You can do all the Tuscany stuff you want outside here too...spend a week in this area.

We did Venice in basically 1 full day (got in early evening, stayed 2 nights). Would never go back, but it's a once in a lifetime unique place to see.  If you are up that way, I'd say give it a night. 

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You can easily get away with 5-7 days in Rome and 5-7 in Florence. They are very good hub cities, not to mention countless places to visit in the city proper. From Florence you can take day trips (car) to Sienna, Pisa, countless wine orchards, or a train to Bologna, Cinque Terre. If you're not intimidated by driving, you could rent a car when it's time to leave Rome and drive your family up to Florence, stopping by small cities, farms, and orchards along the way. All you need is a GPS in the rental and you're good to go. My wife and I did this same drive and it was easy; we stopped at the "Avignonesi" Wine Orchard in Montepulciano. That whole day is like top 5 days ever for me.

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If it were me, this is how I'd arrange it:

Day 1 -- Arrive in Rome

Days 2-4 -- 3 full days in Rome.  You can adjust this up one more day if you wanted, but I think this is enough.  You'd be spending a total of 4 nights here.

Days 5-8 -- Train out of Rome to Amalfi/Positano area.  Include a trip out to Capri during that time.  Ride around the area and take in the small towns.  Consider Naples.  You can spend 4 nights here.

Days 9-15 -- Train to Florence.  Make this your base for the next 7 nights.  You can spend 3 full days in Florence and then 3 more days to ride around the area, visit other Tuscan areas.

Days 16-20 -- Train to beach area of your choice. Again,  I'd do Rimini area but this could be Italian Riviera if you want.  If Rimini, you can take a train one day to see Venice then relax the rest of the time on the beach. Great way to end the vacation. 

Day 21 -- Back to Rome and home.

That's very doable without being stressed and you can add days to any of those as needed.  In fact, when you mentioned you can make it 24 days to account for traveling, you can hit both the Rimini area, do Venice, then head over to the riviera on the other side for 2-3 more days before heading back down to Rome.  That would be awesome, actually.

I'll say that I did Cinque Terre, hiking between the 5 towns.  It was enjoyable and I liked it but I find it's overrated based on so many people saying to "definitely" do it.  I find there are other areas of Italy I'd rather see and visit pretty easily.  If you want to hit an area that not many American tourists hit that is exquisite is the Lago Maggiore area.  Check out Isola Bella near Stressa.  It's north of Milan, very close to Switzerland, and it's just beautiful.  Your best bet to not be as busy as the other places you'll be visiting, IMO.

Edited by gianmarco
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On ‎7‎/‎25‎/‎2016 at 1:38 AM, ex-ghost said:

I am planning on a July 2017 3+ week trip to Italy with my family of 4, which includes a 12 and 14 year old.

I have learned, though rough vacations in the past, that my family enjoys staying in one place for more than just a few days. So I feel that my 3 week itinerary should include just 3 stays, minus those travel days, of course. So my trip could be 21-24 days.

I have been focusing on Rome, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast as my three stops. I am not that interested in Venice or Cinque Terre, but you might convince me.

What we are looking for:
- beach (swimming) time: I understand most beaches aren't sandy, but swimming is important
- small town time: I would like my kids to feel somewhat comfortable, enough that they might be able to roam a bit on their own.
- local time: Along with above, we would like to visit markets and not eat much in restaurants
- airbnb options: Would like to stay in town, or near the water
- Rome time: Not my kids speaking here, but my wife and I would like to see the sights
- some quiet time: I know that summer in Italy is far from quiet, but can we stay in a small town that is somewhat quiet at times?

Questions:
1. Are there other areas that we should visit/replace?
2. What is the best flow for these three areas?
3. Where to fly in and out of?
4. What are the best towns to stay in in Tuscany and Amalfi?

Okay, that's it for now. Thanks for your advice!

I think you are contradicting yourself a bit here.  Rome, Tuscany, Amalfi...........with small town time, but not moving around a lot.  I think you first need to settle on an itinerary, then you can better decide where to stay and what to see.  Tuscany is big and needs to be narrowed down.  Will you have a car?  Do you want to sightsee?  Not each much in restaurants...so you want to cook?  If so, that changes your lodging options.  I would suggest Hotels with pools.  I would suggest mixing in things that kids would enjoy.  Do they care about the Vatican, the Uffizi, Museums?  Do you need to arrive and leave from Rome?  Will wait for answers and then think a bit.  I don't have 12 & 14 yr olds, so I am not sure what they want.

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Loved Venice. Can't wait to go back.

And I know I'm in the minority, but while I agree that Florence is a great base for day trips, I wasn't as impressed with the city itself as most others are. No doubt a great place to visit though.

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12 hours ago, ex-ghost said:

Well, dammit, I have done a bit more digging into the Italian Riviera and it seems like a place to go. And dammit, Venice seems like a place to go, too.

What do you think of a Venice - Italian Riviera - Tuscany - Rome trip in mid-June? Better to start South and head North?

My original trip was Amalfi Coast - Tuscany - Rome.

Amalfi seems better than Riveria, if I only was doing one of the two.  Kids would probably love running around a place like Pompeii.  Maybe that's for the beach time that you mentioned though -- not sure I see the appeal of flying to Italy just to lie on a beach, but diff'rent strokes.

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46 minutes ago, Brony said:

Not to distract your planning, but Bellagio on Lake Como was the highlight of our Italy trip.

Tell me more about Bellagio. Also would love to see your other destinations.

Glad to see this thread merged, looks like I have lots of reading to do.

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