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Italy

Australia
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Italy

My husband and I and two children are travelling to Italy next September. My thoughts were to base ourselfs around Como for 3 nights, then head to Venice for 2 nights by train. From Venice head down to Tuscany and do the sites around there for 3 nights. In Tuscany we would hire a car and go down to Capri, Naples etc..Then we would head back to Rome for 2 nights before flying home. I would like my husband to drive but he is reluctant. Is getting around on public transport easy? We would appreciate any thoughts or ideas to help us make the trip a wonderful experience for the whole family.

Thanks for your time. Maree

UK
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1. Re: Italy

Hello whatthe11111 (enough 1..s ?!)

Public transport in Italy is cheap and efficient. You should have no problems travelling on trains and buses. There are all sorts of discounts for family groups and long distance travel on trains too. The public buses/coaches are airconditioned.

Looking at your itinerary - it does seem a bit of a route march. Do you think you should concentrate on visiting fewer places - how long is your holiday altogether ? You'll be very tired if you're travelling around all the time, and will you have enough time in any one place to soak up the atmosphere ?

I wouldn't recommend driving if you don't have to - and I understand your husband's reluctance to drive - particularly the further south you go. In the north of Italy - driving isn't too bad (but they go fast and their reactions are faster than yours )- as you go beyond Tuscany and into the area around Rome, it becomes somewhat hair-raising. All over Italy people are quite likely to reverse down the slow lane of the motorway if they've missed their exit ! You'll be tootling along happily in the slow lane thinking you're safe and suddenly see yourself hurtling towards the car in front much faster than you thought you were driving ! Oops - he missed his turning and is doing a slow reverse.... They'll overtake around you if you're in the middle lane and not going fast enough for their liking. You need to keep your wits about you because they do odd things at traffic lights (you'll find them slowly turning right on a red light if there's nothing coming - so watch out if you're crossing the road on foot). Don't even think of doing the Amalfi drive by car if your husband is not happy about driving - it's all bends - continuous bends. The road is only one car wide in each direction and you have to give way to full size buses and tourist coaches coming the other way - and they need to go over onto your side of the road to get round the bends. You'll find yourself having to reverse with a hard rock cliff-face on one side and a sheer drop to the sea on the other... do go by public transport and enjoy a relaxing holiday !

Trains: www.trenitalia.it

Bus companies you'll have to find local ones - so do a websearch for each region using 'autolinee' plus the region or town's name.

In the Naples/Sorrento Amalfi area:

Bus schedules for Naples /Sorrento / Positano / Amalfi/Ravello and Pompei :

www.sita-on-line.it/CampaniaTPL.html

Boats and hydrofoils to the islands and Amalfi Coast / Positano - Any bad weather and services of the boats/hydrofoils/metro del mare will be suspended. So do check - metrodelmare.com (look for 'regolarita corse' on the home page of the website) or telephone the call centre : 199.600.700 ( suspect you need a dialling code for Italy, plus the Naples code 081 )

websites as follows:

www.metrodelmare.com

www.navlib.it

www.snav.it/eng

www.aliscafi.it

www.alilauro.it

Circumvesuviana trains between Naples / Sorrento / Pompei / Herculaneum etc. : www.vesuviana.it/faqen.htm

From the railway station there are several buses to the centre of the city and elsewhere, including other towns and villages in the area.

They are run by the ANM company : tel. + 39 081 251 41 27

ANM public transport buses (no.3S) leave outside 'Arrivals' at Naples airport every 15 minutes going to Napoli Centrale railway station and Naples port.

If you are going to Sorrento you can catch the Circumvesuviana train from the lower level of the Naples Stazione Centrale in Piazza Garibaldi, it takes about an hour. Alternatively, there is a bus run by the Curreri bus company - which goes direct from outside the airport to Piazza Tasso in the centre of Sorrento. website for the Curreri co. is www.curreriviaggi.it where you can check the time-tables. This bus takes one hour and a quarter, and costs about six euro per person.

From Rome Termini station, you can catch the train to Naples then the Circumvesuviana train to Sorrento from the lower level of the Naples Centrale railway station. Alternatively, you can catch a Marozzi company airconditioned public bus from Rome Tiburtina Station to Sorrento and Positano, direct.

Hope you find this helpful. Most railway stations have a person in the information office who can speak English. And the trenitalia website mentioned above has an English version too.

Hope you have a wonderful holiday. Nolana

Australia
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2. Re: Italy

Thanks Nolana for your response - it was very helpful. You are right I think we need to cut back on the places to visit. We only have 11 days in Italy and do want to soak up the culture. I suppose Australia being so far away, I'm unsure when we will get back.We have decided not to drive at all and use the public transport. We are now thinking 2 days in Como, 2 days in Venice, 4 days in Tuscany and 3 days in Sorrento. Or maybe forget Como and spend 6 days in Tuscany. What do you think? Is the Como area worth seeing or would we benefit more from exploring the Tuscany area and hiring a car for around here? Of cause we wouldn't drive into any of the main cities. From Tuscany is it easy to do a day trip to Rome?

I think the problem is so little time and so much to see.

Thanks again Maree

Asti, Italy
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3. Re: Italy

Maree, I disagree with Nolana about using public transport, but not about the need to scale down your itinerary if you want to really experience Italy and not have unhappy kids on your hands. I myself would hate to be taking public transport with children, the idea of having to navigate all the train stations carrying suitcases up an down the stairs to the platforms and on to the trains, dealing with train schedules which often change, not to mention strikes etc etc. If you are young and travelling with a backpack then its fine, or only travelling from one city to another, but your whole 2 week tour, thats too much. I am in the travel business and nearly every family I know drives, you can use your car as a base and see the real country, stop anywhere and its much more flexible, and shucks driving in Italy is not that bad, I've seen worse in many Asian cities, not that says anything.

As for an itinerary I assume you are flying into Milan as you want to go to Como fisrt, why not consider Lake Maggiore which is also nearby, there is a cable car at Stresa you can go up to see the stunning views of the lake and the mountains, as well as the Isola Bella with its interesting palace and sculptured terrace gardens (the whole island), plus other kid friendly things. You can go on to Venice, maybe a stop at Gardaland on Lake Garda, a disney like theme park, hardly Italian culture, but keeping the kids happy (one day for you, one for us) makes your trip much smoother. From Venice drive through Tuscany, see if you can stay outside Florence if you have a car, then end up in Rome, that's more then enough I think, and gives you the big 3, Rome Florence and Venice.

And I haven't even mentioned Piedmont famous for its wine and food in Italy, plus September is big festival month in Asti and Alaba and surrounding areas, you could as an alternative skip Como, spend a few days in Piedmont (3 is the minimum in my opinion) and then drive down to Genoa, historic rival of Venice, lots of kid attractions (one of the biggest aquariums in the world) and a very charming old town with alleys leading to the restored harbour, spend a few days here and then a few days in Cinque Terre, then on to Florence, a few hours and then Rome. OK you will miss Venice, but you can't do all of Italy in only 2 weeks.

Australia
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4. Re: Italy

Thanks for you advice.... now we are really confused!! We are coming from Switzerland, what say we catch a train straight to Venice(my kids really want to go there) and forget Como. Stay 2 days in Venice, then drive from here down to Tuscany for another 6 days. Is it easy to do a day trip to Rome from here? My husband really wants to go to Sorrento, so spend 3 days there. We may however catch a train to Sorrento. We Fly out from Rome so we would have to catch a train back.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks Maree

UK
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5. Re: Italy

Youu must be confused conflicting ideas, think perhaps the way you have summed it up ideal, some journeys by car and some train, missing out Lake Como its very beautiful but really not much there for children, you dont say their ages, Venice is a must because there is no where like it, something not to be missed, love the hill towns of Tuscany Sienna is great,down to the Neopolitan Riviera, Sorrento very busy but certainly worth a visit such a lot to do and see in that area, personally I feel Capri overrated and the crowds very hectic,Naples itself has a certain charm lovely buildings,if you didnt feel like going that far south there is always the Cinque Terre, I will stop as not to add to the confusionwhatever you do I am sure you will enjoy.

UK
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6. Re: Italy

I agree with both the above posters....in ways ! Why did you choose Como ? Reroute your journey into Italy. I would stay in Verona, visit Verona, Lake Garda (for a taste of the lakes) and visit Venice (easy train day trips even with kids-no luggage. I've done it.) Tuscany - another must - again, base yourself in one town and take easy train/bus trips between the most important towns without luggage. Why would you be carting your luggage everywhere ? And then Rome - if you're only getting a taste of Italy - it's the furthest south I'd do on such a short trip and you need a taste of the south, both scenery/buildings/cuisine particularly. Furthermore you have the Castelli Romani area nearby and places like Frascati etc.

Sorrento/Amalfi area maybe - it is a famous area from the Grand Tour era that people don't wish to miss... but it is a long way south for this trip. As for Capri - touristy nowadays, and the scenery is similar to the Amalfi coast, as Sophie says, I wouldn't bother. Each region of Italy has its own flavour, and each is one you shouldn't miss, but you can't 'do' the world in ten days, not even 'Italy' alone ! As Sophie says, if you want a flavour of the sort of scenery you would find on the Amalfi coast, Cinque Terre (Genoa area) is a good substitute, and beautiful in its own way. Choose carefully, so you get the flavour of different areas, rather than more and more of the same (ruins, scenery, food or art !)

In all the years I've been travelling to Italy, I've never been stopped from travelling on public transport by a strike...why should you be so unlucky ?

As for Gardaland...you could be in Disneyworld in Paris or US (can your kids not live without that sort of entertainment ? Mine did, and now in their late twenties tell me they didn't miss it - plenty of opportunities for rides on local funfairs at home if necessary- don't waste a good holiday!.

We also went to Genoa, 'did' the 'old town ' (quite small) and Acquarium... yes, it's impressive (it's housed in a series of 'containers' - the shipping kind - and one old boat.. but again, not unusually impressive... we have a big acquarium in London too - I bet you've got plenty in Australia !).

How many modern kids get a chance to ride on trains ? They spend their lives cocooned in cars. Trains alone will be fun. Set the kids loose with drawing paper and coloured pencils while you picnic in the countryside in Tuscany, on the train - or while sitting on a wall in the Forum - they'll get plenty of entertainment... children can make their own entertainment anywhere in the world - and they'll be really wowwed by Venice ! Isn't everyone ? !

Travel light - in Italy the warm weather ensures your clothes dry overnight. You don't need lots of changes of clothes, not even children.

Now you have all the conflicting comments - you can sit down and decide what you really want from this trip - and choose your own version !!! Have a great holiday ahd here's wishing you many returns to Italy - you'll always have a good time every time you come back ! Best wishes, Nolana

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7. Re: Italy

By the way, if you do visit the Cinque Terre you must go by train. There's no parking to speak of, the local train is excellent and only to be recommended. The area has extremely narrow, tortuous roads between the little villages, and because of the terrain is impossible to do properly by car. But the walks,and footpaths around the Cinque Terre are wonderful...views to die for. Call up the websites on the area with a search, and you'll see what I mean (about the trains v. car too). Regards.

UK
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8. Re: Italy

Nolana you really do put your points across so well,all these places need time its a holiday not an assult course, I read some on these itineries peolple give them selves and feel quite worn, its understandable coming half across the world to want to try and fit a lot in butby doing so such a lot is missed, I agree really with Nolanastick to north of Rome if you are only here for about 2 weeks,

A good way of doing the Cinque Terre is to boat hop a steamer stops off at the villages and you can hop on and off, and it really looks lovely from the sea. we stayed at Portovenere and went from there,

I suppose too a lot does depend on the age of the children, when my daughter was young beautiful scenery was like water off a ducks back,so boring such a waste,

West Sussex
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9. Re: Italy

whatthe111111 you've been getting good advice from the contributors above. I really understand that, coming from the other side of the world, you want to see as much as possible but it simply isn't worth it - you'll need another holiday to recover and all of your memories will merge so you won't remember which place was which. Italy is a wonderful country so do it justice - slowly. Personally, I would spend a day or two in Venice and the rest of the time in Tuscany. As has been said, driving is easy there and there is so much to see. Base yourselves in one of the villages/towns on the SR222 which runs through the Chianti countryside between Florence and Siena. Could be Greve, Radda, Panzano or Castellina. If you want any hotel advice let me know. Save the south for another trip.

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10. Re: Italy

Even in Tuscany, parking for the historic hill-top towns is on the outskirts and you have to walk or bus in. For Florence (and we were staying in the countryside, with our own car, because we were camping. We were told to leave ours at our accommodation (Figlini Val d'Arno)and driven to Florence in his car by a Florentine friend who lives there) we parked in suburbia and caught a bus into the centre. For the return (he was going on elsewhere) we caught the local train, fast, cheap, and a cheap taxi ride home from the station. The historic centres of Italian towns are protected. In Venice you won't need a car !