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Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

michigan
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Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

Thank you in advance for all you help and time. Great site/forums.

My dad (Half Italian, 62 yrs) Has always wanted to visit Italy. So this September 4 of us will be taking a 18 day vacation to Italy and I need help planning/suggestion.

Day 1: Land into Naples

2-3: Naples/Pompeii

4: Train to rome

5-8: Rome

9: Train to Florence

10 -14: Florence/Pisa/Tuscany

14-Train to Venice

15-18 - Trip to my dad's grandparents town/Venice

It seems a bit too much but it's probably going to be the only trip they take to Italy... any suggestions? Pompeii and Pisa are the things I wanted to do (start on my bucket list early :o) Could it be better organized. Thank you!

Eichstätt, Bayern...
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1. Re: Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

Your trip sounds pretty good, and you do have enough time to do it nicely.

Consider though that there are high-speed trains available. Currently by 2 operators: TrenItalia Frecce (State-run) and NTV Italo (Private-run)

www.trenitalia.com

www.italotreno.it

Might also want to check this site for info on trains in Italy: http://seat61.com/Italy-trains.htm

You can get some pretty good deals on those trains if you know your dates and book in advance (for September, the Tickets aren't available yet on Italo, they usually go 4-6 months in advance)

Travel times on the High-speed trains:

Naples-Rome: 70 minutes

Rome-Florence: 90 minutes

Florence-Venice: 120 minutes (2 hours)

Differently from airplanes you have some "advantages":

- No check-in; security check; etc. if you have a ticket for a reserved train (all High-speed trains are bound to a reserved train, though you can buy them up to just before it leaves) all you have to do is get to the Station, find the Platform and hop-on;

- No limit on liquids (beverages) which you can carry with you, same goes for food;

- No limit on luggage, if you can carry it, you can take it.

At all those major stations you also have a Left-Luggage Deposit available.

Practically you could:

Leave in the morning, and you'd have most of the day already for sightseeing in the destination City.

Leave in the late afternoon, and you'd have most of the day in the City you're leaving from.

My personal suggestion would be to take off one of the Florence days and add it to Naples, you might then visit one of the following: Sorrento, Capri, Vesuvius, Ravello & Amalfi, more of Naples City.

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

It it a lot but it is doable if this is for some reason the only time you think your parents will go and these are the places they most want to see.

Where are you flying home from? Try to get a multi-city ticket (i.e., fly into one city and home from another (say, Venice, if you will be closed to there at the end of your trip). It will save time and backtracking.

September is high season so prices will be higher - you may want to begin looking to book lodging so you get what you most want - you can check www.venere.com to see what's available in your budget range, etc.

If you know exact dates you will be traveling from city to another, try to book your tickets 120 days in advance on line (train tickets) to try to secure really good discounted fares - hundreds of euros can be saved if you are able to do this. You can book at www.trenitalia.com or http://www.fsitaliane.it (they are both sites for the Italian train system, Trenitalia).

Seattle, Washington
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3. Re: Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

For first-time travelers to Italy from the US, I always recommend the Rick Steves guidebooks. That's exactly who they are designed for. They do not try to be comprehensive, but rather focus on those locations that Rick thinks are most likely to be enjoyed on a first trip. He takes you through all the logistics you'll need to know, and even suggests itineraries for each of the cities/locations you mention.

Word of caution: There are a few people who frequent this website who absolutely despise Rick Steves. I think it's because his books are very opinionated and do not cover huge parts of Italy (e.g. Sicily and Sardinia, and the far south). But from personal experience, I found his books to be incredibly helpful the first couple of times we went to Italy.

Also helpful is the www.roninrome.com website. He (Ron) also functions as a travel agent, so you might consider hiring him for a consultation. He's a great guy and couldn't be more knowledgeable about travel in Italy.

michigan
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4. Re: Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

Thank you everyone for your insight, we can't wait to explore Italy!

Spello, Italy
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5. Re: Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

I may be alone in this, but I'm not sure about Naples for this itinerary. I loved Naples, but many people really have a hard time with it, and I've heard it regarded as a place to go if you love the rest of Italy, not really a great place to get your feet wet. It is very, very intense. I would take those days and absorb them into the rest of the itinerary. More days in Venice, perhaps, since it sounds like there is a "motherland" thing up there. Also, given that you are still in prime tourist season, I'd probably skip Pisa (unless there is a burning desire), and instead try somewhere less touristed to get a real feel for Tuscany. The less transitions you have, the more you and your parents will feel moved and enchanted and filled with discovery.

I second the recommendation for Rick Steves guidebooks. I read them cover to cover when I backpacked through Europe 20 years ago (yikes!), and I credit them with giving me a sense of possibility and understanding. Having traveled more now, I understand that some might bristle, but I do think he's great for creating a real framework.

New York City, New...
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6. Re: Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

My guess is that Pompei may be the true intended desired destination in the region - I'm not one who finds Naples that intense (yes, noisy, chaotic, but I also find it charming in that 3000 year old way which one just doesn't come across too often) -

But, if Pompei is the main reason for going to the area - it obviously makes sense to stay in Naples or, I guess if they think Naples may be too much (which, of course, we don't know), they could spend night(s) in Sorrento instead. Their first day will likely be less than busy given the long flight and jet lag and then the next day is Pompei, some Naples and then, they are off on the next.

I always sit down with the train schedule and figure out just how much time I am going to be spending just getting from one place to another and if I decide it's just too much in trains and train stations, etc., I'll then rework my plans.

If they really don't think they will return, well, then they should see what is most important to them - if they can fit it in.

Le Marche, Italy
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7. Re: Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

I think spending two nights in Naples is fine if a trip to Pompeii is planned. Naples and Sorrento are the best places to stay for a visit to Pompeii, and Naples has the advantage of being closer to the next destination, Rome. I know lots of people who have visited Naples on a first trip to Italy, and loved it. You never know if someone will love it or hate it, but I wouldn't rule it out. If they hate it, they're there only for two nights, after all.

I noticed that wat very wisely set aside travel days and didn't include them in the time spent in each area. However, there's one little slip up: the 14th is included both as time spent in Tuscany and as a travel day to Venice. I wouldn't really advise cutting any time from Florence/Pisa/Tuscany because there is a fair amount of traveling around involved in this part of the itinerary, and the double counting of the departure day has already shortened it a bit.

For this part of the trip you'll have to decide whether to split your stay between Florence and some other place, or whether to stay in one spot and visit Florence and Pisa as day trips by train. If you don't want to rent a car for this part of your trip, you could perhaps split this time between a stay in Florence and a stay in Siena. You can visit Pisa very easy as a day trip from Florence by train, and there are various small Tuscan towns that can be visited by bus from both Florence and Siena.

If you stay in the countryside, you should definitely rent a car for this part of your trip, and it would probably also be wise to have a car for the time you spend in your father's ancestral town, unless it's quite a large town. However, I would urge you not to drive into any Italian city. Large parts of cities are off limits to most traffic, and there are large fines for any infractions, such as driving in a limited traffic zone without authorization, or driving in a bus lane. It's really easy, even for Italians, to make these mistakes if you're not very familiar with the city.

I wouldn't be very keen on driving from Florence to Venice, but it might be better than turning the car in and renting another in the Venice area.

Anyone who will be driving in Italy must have an International Driver's Permit, which has to be carried along with your US license. It's Italian law; you can get the IDP at any AAA office, at a very reasonable price.

I hope you will be flying home from Venice, so you won't have to backtrack to your departure city.

capital district ny
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8. Re: Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

I am curious if you made any decisions? If Naples and Pompeii are a must for you, then I would try to add a couple of days to visit the Amalfi coast. It is spectacular.

If Naples is not a must for you, I would add those few days in the countryside of tuscany or Umbria.

9. Re: Help planning a bucket list trip for my parents

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