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I would like your comments and opinion

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I would like your comments and opinion

My wife and I are planning a trip to Italy this May. It is our "trip of a lifetime", 12 days touring Italy, and we would like to do this one and only trip right. We used an Italian travel agency to plan the visit and squeeze in all the "must see" sites. The last part of this email is the trip as planned out by the agency. It's a L..o..n..g read but for those who can endure it I would appreciate your comments and suggestions. The private guides and personal transportation is because of my handicap so please overlook that part. Are we seeing all the "must see places" and is the time allocated for each city reasonable? All suggestions are appreciated. Your experiences will help us avoid mistakes.

I want to thank everyone who responds in advance.

Monday 5 May – Rome

Arrival at the airport in Rome. Meet our private driver in the waiting area holding a sign with

your name.

Private transfer from the airport to Hotel Santa Chiara*** or similar.

Hotel Santa Chiara is located near Piazza Navona and the Pantheon, so in the heart of Rome.

Included: 3 nights in a double superior room with breakfast included.

Afternoon/Evening: Golf Cart Tour of Rome at Sunset

With our Golf Cart Tour you will be able to access in any restricted areas and our RPG guide

will drive you around hidden corners and small alleys with historical palaces once

inhabited by nobles families. The beaten heart of Rome is along the narrow alleys and old

sections of the city from the Renaissance periods. You will see Baroque churches, the Key

Hole, the Circus Maximus, the Baroque fountains and baroque squares and many more

sights you will find on your way!

Included: 3 hours private guide with Golf Cart

Tuesday 6 May - Rome

Morning: Walking Archaeology Tour of Rome with Coliseum Undergrounds

First you will have the unique opportunity to visit the restricted parts of the Coliseum,

including the Undergrounds. This is very unique because these areas are usually closed to

the public. First, you will visit the Arena where gladiators used to fight, then the tunnels of

the Undergrounds and finally you will go up to the 3rd level of the Coliseum where you will

enjoy a stunning view of the city center.

Then you will continue the visit of the Coliseum with your guide. Then you will go to the

Roman forum where temples are still standing, you will end your tour at the Capital hill

Square.

Included: 3 hours private guide, skip the line tickets for 2 adults for the Coliseum and the

Roman Forum, reservation for the restricted parts of the Coliseum.

Early Afternoon: Vatican Tour with skip the line tickets

With this tour you will see with our private guide: the Vatican Galleries, Octagonal court,

Room of the Muses, Round Room, the Gallery of the Candelabra, the Gallery of the

Tapestries, the Gallery of the Maps, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica.

Please note in case the Basilica of St. Peter is closed for special Mass celebrated by the

Pope, we will offer an alternative visit inside the Vatican Museums.

Included: 3 hours private guide and skip the line tickets for 2 adults.

Wednesday 7 May – Rome

Underground Rome and Catacombs Tour

With our private dedicated guide you will discover the undergrounds of the Eternal City with

over 3000 years of history. You will visit the undergrounds of St. Clemente’s Basilica: here

you will go about 45 feet below the ground level and like a time machine that takes you back

in the past, you will admire a well preserved 4th century Christian church with frescoes from

the XI century. You will go further below to see a 1st century house transformed in the 2nd

century in a pagan temple and school.

Your next stop will be the Appian Way, the first roman road lined by many monuments,

basilicas and Christian catacombs. You will visit the unique catacombs started at the end of

the 2nd century AD, where you will be walking through narrow tunnels built like a maze!

From the Catacombs with your dedicated guide you will go to the Crypt of the Bones, where

you will be astonished by the impressive cemetery of the Capuchins where each crypt is

decorated with the human bones of the Capuchins that lived in the old convent.

Included: 3 hours private guide

Thursday 8 May Rome – Sorrento

Private transfer with driver and car from your hotel in Rome to Termini rail station. 1st class

high speed train from Rome to Naples. Our private driver will pick you up at Naples Central

rail station for private transfer to your hotel in Sorrento. Hotel Plaza Sorrento**** or similar

Included: 2 nights in a double superior room with breakfast included.

Friday 9 May – Full Day Amalfi Coast Tour

Our driver will pick you up from your hotel in Sorrento to enjoy a Full Day Tour of the

Amalfi Coast with private car. Our driver is an English speaking driver-guide, so he will tell

you all about the beauties, anecdotes and traditions of the area. The tour lasts 8 hours and

you will have fun along the Amalfi Coast Line doing pleasant stops in Ravello, a village

perched on the hill, go to the beautiful Positano and Amalfi Village. On the way you might

choose to visit the unique Emerald Grotto and to take local boats to Amalfi village. You will

have also the chance to taste the world famous Limoncello liqueur!

Included: 8 hours private driver-guide with private car.

Saturday 10 May – Sorrento – Florence

Our private driver will pick you up from your hotel in Sorrento for private transfer to Naples Central

Station.

OPTIONAL: stop to visit the Archeological Site of Ancient Pompeii on the way to Naples.

1st class high speed train from Naples to Florence. Arrival at St. Maria Novella Train station

in Florence. Our private driver will pick you up from the station for private transfer to your

hotel in Florence. Hotel Plaza Lucchesi**** or similar.

Included: 4 nights in double superior room with breakfast included.

Sunday 11 May – Florence

Morning: 3 Hours Classic Walking Tour of Florence

You will meet our private guide for 3 hours Classic Walking Tour of Florence. This tour

includes the visit to the Academy museum where you will see the impressive Michelangelo's

David and its prisoners carved for the tomb of the Pope Julius the II. From the Academy fine

art gallery you will proceed to the religious center of the city where you will see the Duomo

with a Pieta of Michelangelo and see other important works inside the spectacular basilica.

Your adventure continues with a small stop in the San Lorenzo Market to visit the local and

typical market and to the Old Bridge and Signoria Square adorned with beautiful statues .

Included: 3 hours private guide and entrance fees and reservation for the Academy for 2

adults.

Monday 12 May –Florence

OPTIONAL: Day Trip to Cinque Terre from Florence

Our driver will pick you up at your hotel in Florence for a Full Day Tour of Cinque Terre. A

memorable experience discovering the 5 Lands, so well renowned for their beauties, the 5

villages are located along the Italian Riviera.

9 hours private English-speaking driver-guide with private car Euros 550,00

Tuesday 13 May – Florence

OPTIONAL: Half Day Tour of Florence with visit to the Uffizi Gallery

3 hours private guide.

Wednesday 14 May – Siena, San Gimignano plus overnight in Chianti Area

Meet our private driver at your hotel in Florence for Full Day Tour of Siena, San Gimignano

with overnight in Chianti area. Our English-speaking driver will drive you south from Florence along the Tuscan hill renowned for the production of the Chianti wine. After 1 hour you will reach San Gimignano, a picturesque and fascinating medieval town also called the medieval Manhattan

due to the incredible numbers of towers, symbol of power of the noble families. San

Giminiano is a World Heritage Site by the UNESCO. You will have free time to stroll along the

charming alleys lined by artisans shops and wine stores. Do not miss tasting one of the best

ice creams of Tuscany!

Our tour will then continue on to Siena, the splendid medieval-walled city.

OPTIONAL: 3 hours private guide in Siena.

After Siena your driver will drive you to Chianti area, world-famous for the production of

Chianti wine Country Resort Borgo Casa al Vento, a top class luxury BB surrounded by the Chianti countryside.

Included: 1 night in double deluxe room with breakfast included.

Included: 9 hours private driver-guide with private car.

Thursday 15 May – Chianti (Florence) – Venice

Our private driver will pick you at your BB in Chianti for private transfer with car to Florence

St. Maria Novella Train Station.

1st class high speed train from Florence to Venice.

Our tour escort will meet you at the platform at St. Lucia Train Station in Venice for private

transfer with boat to your hotel in Venice.

Starhotels Splendid Venice**** or similar.

Included: 3 nights in double room with breakfast included.

Afternoon: 3 hours Classic Walking Tour of Venice with private guide.

With our private guide you will visit the heart of Venice with its impressive St. Marks’

Square, Doge Palace, Bridge of Sighs, Basilica of St. Mark with its splendid Golden Pall

with over 2000 precious Gems. Your adventure will continue to Rialto Bridge. With

your dedicated guide you will discover hidden corners and have the chance to visit

the picturesque district of Rialto with its colorful market.

Included: 3 hours private guide and skip the line tickets and reservation for Doge

Palace and St. Mark’s Basilica.

Friday 16 May – Venice

Venice Market Tour with private guide

Enjoy a true exploration inside Venetian authentic food traditions. With our private guide,

you will walk along the calle (the picturesque alleys of Venice), visit the bustling and colorful

Rialto Market and taste delicious local specialties. The Rialto Market, with its vibrant

atmosphere, has been Venetians’ favorite place to buy their food for centuries. From fruit

and vegetables to fish, you will realize that everything has to arrive by boat here!

Our tour will combine food with art in an enjoyable mix. For this reason, with our private

guide you will see the Church of San Giovanni Elemosinario, housing a great artwork by

Titian. On your way you will also be able to see the Church of St. James, protector of the

merchants. Strolling makes you hungry? The ideal end of our tour is a stop in a local wine

bar to taste the traditional Cicchetti (Venetian Tapas) accompanied by white or red wine.

Our private guide will be glad to recommend you good restaurants and bars for your stay in

Venice.

Included: 2 hours private guide.

Saturday 17 May – Venice

Free day at leisure

Sunday 18 May – Venice – Paris

Our tour escort will meet you at your hotel in Venice for private transfer with boat to St.

Lucia Train Station, where you will board your train to Paris.

New York City, New...
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41,061 posts
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1. Re: I would like your comments and opinion

I admit I didn't read all the details but you mention you have a "handicap;" IF it is related to walking: - are you aware of that to enter the Catacombs, you walk down a lot of steps deep below ground (about the equivalent of four floors) (no elevators) to explore them? They really are not for the someone who has walking issues.

Cinque Terre is all about walking as there are not cars at all in four of the villages, just basically one street that runs through the village - in my personal opinion, the way to enjoy the villages if one can't hike or easily walk through the villages, is by boat. I assume the driver/guide will drive you to each village and then take you down into the village, walking - coming back up can be difficult. Again, walking is the only thing you can do in four of the villages. Monterosso being the exception where there are parts of the village where cars can travel.

I think it is an unfortunate waste of money to go first class on the trains, especially the short runs like the 70 minute one from Rome to Naples as second class is really pretty spiffy on the trains in Italy - just to get some idea of the trains: roninrome.com/transportation/train-travel-it… (lot of great info and photos so you know what to expect) - there are a few about 4 steep, narrow steps up into the train cars that can be awkward, especially if you have too much or too heavy luggage.

It's an extremely packed itinerary but if these are all the places that are what you wish to see, then you will have the trip you want. And, whatever the definition is of "must see" places, of course, you aren't seeing them all - the country and each of those destinations are bursting at the seams with choices but you have a nice listing. I would probably ditch the Capuchin Crypt given you are going to the catacombs - I'd take that tiny bit of time and just sit back and relax in an outdoor cafe in a beautiful piazza and enjoy the world going by - (one of the joys of being Italy and, to me, Rome especially).

There have been some great reviews of the golf cart tours - I think it is an ingenious way of getting people close to sites that are not reachable by buses/metro (which are quite a few) in the case of someone having some impediment - you can search the forum in the search box above for "golf cart tours rome" to read some of them if you like.

You know you can read reviews of your hotels in various sites - here, www.booking.com, www.venere.com - but, from what I know of the a few of the names I recognize, they are fine.

Do make sure you don't miss the Pantheon in Rome - I am assuming that it will be included in the golf cart tour.

There is a world of walking in this itinerary - given that, be sure (1) take two pair of good shoes for walking (good support), ones that are not brand new but broken in (2) walking on cobblestones and marble is a whole new experience and you will feel it when walking for some time on those surfaces.

You will appreciate having that free day in Venice so you can get off the tourist beaten path and explore some other charming areas of Venice, of which there are many.

Your guidebook will fill in all the blanks about what you are going to see - sounds like a nice adventure. Oh, again, not knowing if your issue has to do with walking but if it does, walking down (and then up) through the pedestrian only portion of Positano would be another difficult challenge - Amalfi, the village is much flatter.

For me, the biggest disappointment would be only three nights in Rome given that one of those nights is the day you arrive; you will barely get a chance to really see Rome but, I'm assuming the travel agent designed this trip based on what you wanted to see so, if that is the case, then I assume 3 nights is all you wanted there.

Have fun with your continued planning!

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2. Re: I would like your comments and opinion

Thank you for your wonderful reply. I will take all your suggestions to heart. I do have difficulty walking for 30 minutes or so without a break to sit and recover. Or too much time on my feet for any given day. I intend to bring along a large supply of Naproxen to kill the pain. I already purchased a good, highly recommended pair of walking shoes.

If you wanted to spend one additional day in Rome what would you cut out?

Bill

Portland, OR
Destination Expert
for Positano
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3. Re: I would like your comments and opinion

I would skip the Cinque Terre and add that day to Rome, especially since you will see the sea and great views while visiting the Amalfi Coast.

Forestville, CA
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4. Re: I would like your comments and opinion

hi: i did read through but skimmed when getting to Venice. Your list of "must sees" are well known places and as MomCat expresses....there is so much more. A "trip of a lifetime" sounds lovely and I'm sure you wish to get "it right" but do understand that all travel comes with weather surprises, exhaustion, getting lost, losing things, lack of understanding the language, fumbles and stumbles....i have always found that traveling for long periods in a different country requires patience and a sense of humor....even with excellent planning.

It is (to me) too much travel in a 12-day period. As MomCat suggests...do take time out to just sit in a cafe and write in your journal or people watch....I realize it's the "trip of a lifetime" yet .....What jumped out at me in the itinerary is the lack of visiting Naples.... for me, that would be a "must see"... there are many beautiful coastal towns in Italy but there is only one Naples AND you are already going to the Cinque Terre. Speaking of....there is really only walking and hiking in the CT towns themselves as they are small, hilly and steep. Other transportation for getting around the CT is the ferry or the little train which skirts above and goes mostly through tunnels. Perhaps if your driver can get you there early enough, then a ferry (which I loved) is a nice way to admire the Cinque Terre villages from the water and the striking marble cliffs. You might wish to look into that but still, you need to transverse a narrow stone walkway, steps and gangplank to get to the ferry (in Manarola). Perhaps extending time at the Almafi Coast to include Naples, would be more enjoyable than to cram in a very long day-trip from Florence to the Cinque Terre.

I would leave the guide behind on Tues. 13 in Florence and have your own private day. I would leave the guide behind when in Siena as well but know that Siena has small cobblestone streets. I'm glad you will be at least seeing Siena, a most magical medieval city. MomCat (poster above) provides great suggestions. Best travels to you....

pittsburgh
Destination Expert
for Rome
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5. Re: I would like your comments and opinion

You're doing a ton of tours.

Most of the sites you mention "can" be seen without the benefit of a private tour guide. The colosseum underground is one such example. There are tours you can book online of the underground which take you to the arena floor, the underground and third tier. You also have access to the main areas of the colosseum as well as the forum and palatine hill.

The same goes for the Vatican museums. You can borrow a wheel chair from them and use the wheel chair tour in order to visit the museums. You can go at your own pace starting and stopping as you wish.

I admit, I didn't read much past the part where the tour guide takes you on a tour of ancient Rome in the morning and has you visiting the Vatican museums in the afternoon. To me, this is too much (and I'm physically fit!). I think you will be exhausted by mid morning and need a few hours to relax and get your wind back.

One question I would ask your travel agent is if they have actually visited all the sites they have listed for you in the time frame they have listed for you. With your disability I really can't understand why they are grouping things the way they are. There is no reason to visit San Clemente, then the appian way and then come all the way back into the city to visit the Crypt of the Capucchin monks. Also, trying to do this in 3 hours means you'll be doing each site at a very brisk pace. Also, the catacombs along the appian way have their own guides which you must use for the visit so I would ask about that as well.

For the trip to Sorrento, you may want to have the driver stop in Pompeii along the way. Otherwise this is just a day of travel and no sightseeing.

Donna

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6. Re: I would like your comments and opinion

I agree re: removing Cinque Terre from the itinerary as you will be visiting the Amalfi Coast, which is spectacularly beautiful - for some clues:

www.positano.com

A daily photo blog of Positano by someone who lives there (just so you realize you won't be missing much if you don't make it to CT since they are both seaside (gorgeous) areas):

http://positanodailyphoto.blogspot.it

As you can see, quite vertical but there are parts along Viale Pasitea in Positano where you can take your time walking (even though there is a bit of incline on that small internal road) so you don't have to climb up and down any steps (as you will have to do in CT).

Add CT day(s) to Rome is my opinion - I think slowing down your time in Rome is essential to actually enjoying it and taking it in - as it is, you are on the run from beginning to end most of the brief time you are there. It is a magnificent thousands of years old city and there is so much enjoyment is just slowly wandering side streets in Trastevere, the Jewish Ghetto, Campo de'Fiori, Monti - and other areas - time when you have no itinerary items to achieve, just wander - you will not be bored for even one second. And, if you get tired, find a cafe and sit and have a coffee or a drink, relax and then continue.

Guidebooks have photos of all the neighborhoods so you have some idea of what to expect in the places you are traveling.

Good about the shoes - do be sure to wear them as much as possible between now and your trip; it is good to have two pairs in case it rains heavily one day (not unheard of that time of year) and because while shoes may be broken in at home, as I mentioned, you will be walking on unfamiliar surfaces and shoes end up creating blisters sometimes even if you have worn them a lot just because you are walking differently than usual. Can't stress this enough.

For me there two vacation killers: (1) shoes that are a problem and (2) packing too much stuff making moving from place to place a misery.

I too would ask your travel agent to tell you the last time he/she visited the places that have scheduled for you. Many are going on years past experiences and since many have become obsolete with the internet, some aren't even visiting/traveling to the places anymore even as they continue to make arrangements for travelers.

7. Re: I would like your comments and opinion

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