5 weeks in Italy?

Old Jun 24th, 2022, 02:27 AM
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5 weeks in Italy?

My family is looking to spend 5 weeks in Italy this October (the first week of November we'll be in Rome.) My husband has been once but I've never been. I'd love some recommendations on where to base ourselves. I was thinking the first two weeks in the north and the second two weeks in the south. Kids are 17, 15, 10, 6

We won't have a car so we need a walkable city/town with access to groceries, shops,etc and be close to mass transit for day trips (and be able to rent a car for a day or two if we need)

Needs to be somewhat affordable and have enough airbnbs

I'll need to spend a few days in Pompeii so easy access to that would be great when we're in the south.

I'd like it to be safe enough that my teenagers can walk around by themselves.

Not a deal breaker, but I'd love if it's pretty.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 07:39 AM
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I mean this in the nicest way... You need to read some guidebooks or online travel sites in order to narrow your thinking. Without knowing exactly what you want to see/do (other than Pompeii and Rome), there are literally hundreds of cities and towns to suggest that would serve your basic needs: train/bus services, groceries/shops, walkable, safe, pretty/charming, etc. We can't know what you mean by "somewhat affordable."
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 08:10 AM
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I have not stayed in Pompei, but found this: https://thatbackpacker.com/2018/02/2...tay-in-pompei/
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 08:16 AM
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For the north, you might consider a week in Bologna (or someplace in that neck of the woods) and a week somewhere in Tuscany. For the south, perhaps a week in Pompei and ? We loved visiting Sicily.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 08:39 AM
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For south I think the kids would enjoy Sorrento. It might be very English speaking, and touristy (but pretty), and the 'beach' are wooden planks out in the water, but great daytrips (Capri; Positano by bus or ferry; Naples; Herculaneum) and, of course, the train also goes direct to Pompeii so you don't have to stay in that plain little town by the ruins.

Bologna is indeed an excellent rail hub. You can even pop down to Florence from Bologna quickly; then there's Ferrara, Parma, Ravenna, Mantua, even Venice for day trips. And I think Bologna is indeed best when you have plenty of darkness, because the streets get loomingly medieval making for enchanting walks all over town, and the student life keeps it vibrant.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 11:52 AM
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You could even do a night or two in Pompei (I don't know how much time you need there) and then move to Sorrento. Sorrento can be pricey but you will be off season so it may be more reasonable.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 11:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Jean View Post
I mean this in the nicest way... You need to read some guidebooks or online travel sites in order to narrow your thinking. Without knowing exactly what you want to see/do (other than Pompeii and Rome), there are literally hundreds of cities and towns to suggest that would serve your basic needs: train/bus services, groceries/shops, walkable, safe, pretty/charming, etc. We can't know what you mean by "somewhat affordable."
I don't want to see or do anything other than enjoy four weeks in a town or two in Italy. I figured I'd see what people suggest and then narrow it down from there. Like you said, it's impossible to narrow it down just looking at a map. There are plenty of places that could fit what I want. Seems like Bologna and Sorrento are pretty popular suggestions.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 11:59 AM
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Thank you. This is helpful! I'll need to stay three days in Pompeii (at least) so I'll definitely look into staying nearby.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by KTtravel View Post
For the north, you might consider a week in Bologna (or someplace in that neck of the woods) and a week somewhere in Tuscany. For the south, perhaps a week in Pompei and ? We loved visiting Sicily.
Did you have a favorite city or town in Sicily? My grandmother was from Ragusa and I'd considered staying there, but I've read it isn't fun if you don't have a car.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by dfourh View Post
For south I think the kids would enjoy Sorrento. It might be very English speaking, and touristy (but pretty), and the 'beach' are wooden planks out in the water, but great daytrips (Capri; Positano by bus or ferry; Naples; Herculaneum) and, of course, the train also goes direct to Pompeii so you don't have to stay in that plain little town by the ruins.

Bologna is indeed an excellent rail hub. You can even pop down to Florence from Bologna quickly; then there's Ferrara, Parma, Ravenna, Mantua, even Venice for day trips. And I think Bologna is indeed best when you have plenty of darkness, because the streets get loomingly medieval making for enchanting walks all over town, and the student life keeps it vibrant.
My husband was in Bologna a few years ago and raved about the food. I'm pretty sure all he did was eat there. I'll look into Sorrento. I don't love super touristy places, and we'll be coming off traveling in Paris and Lisbon (and heading to Rome), but it seems like a popular suggestion.
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Old Jun 24th, 2022, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by kimincincy View Post
Did you have a favorite city or town in Sicily? My grandmother was from Ragusa and I'd considered staying there, but I've read it isn't fun if you don't have a car.
I am in the middle of a trip report on Sicily. Ragusa Ibla would be a great place to visit BUT not great without a car or for a family long term. Your two best bets IMO would be Taormina or Ortigia. If you wanted to visit Ragua, you could do that, with the limited available public transport.

With regard to Pompeii, don't stay there, just do a day trip. Sorrento is only a few train stops from there and a much better option for you and the family. We have stayed there in October and November and had good weather both times and reasonably priced lodging. It may be pricier than some small owns in Italy, but those can be downright cheap, compared to what we are used to in the US, From Sorrento, in addition to Pompeii you can visit the Amalfi coast, Capri, Naples, even Ischia island and Paestum if you want more historic ruins.

We have stayed in Bologna (and if you click on our name, there is a trip report). Plenty of places to get to by rail from there (we compared it to over-crowded Florence in our report). But perhaps, you also could consider a town like Como with great ferry access to many fun places on Lake Como (Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna) and day trips by rail to Milan, Bergmamo, Verona or even Venice for a long day. Another favorite (and we did a trip report on that as well) is Rapallo with easy access to Cinque Terre (if kids like hiking), Genoa, Portofino, Portavenere and so many other places.
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Old Jun 25th, 2022, 03:25 AM
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Originally Posted by whitehall View Post
I am in the middle of a trip report on Sicily. Ragusa Ibla would be a great place to visit BUT not great without a car or for a family long term. Your two best bets IMO would be Taormina or Ortigia. If you wanted to visit Ragua, you could do that, with the limited available public transport.

With regard to Pompeii, don't stay there, just do a day trip. Sorrento is only a few train stops from there and a much better option for you and the family. We have stayed there in October and November and had good weather both times and reasonably priced lodging. It may be pricier than some small owns in Italy, but those can be downright cheap, compared to what we are used to in the US, From Sorrento, in addition to Pompeii you can visit the Amalfi coast, Capri, Naples, even Ischia island and Paestum if you want more historic ruins.

We have stayed in Bologna (and if you click on our name, there is a trip report). Plenty of places to get to by rail from there (we compared it to over-crowded Florence in our report). But perhaps, you also could consider a town like Como with great ferry access to many fun places on Lake Como (Bellagio, Menaggio and Varenna) and day trips by rail to Milan, Bergmamo, Verona or even Venice for a long day. Another favorite (and we did a trip report on that as well) is Rapallo with easy access to Cinque Terre (if kids like hiking), Genoa, Portofino, Portavenere and so many other places.
Thank you! This is such helpful advice. We're considering spending two weeks in Sicily--we found a cheap place that, combined with a rental minivan is cheaper than our one week in Rome-- and then two weeks elsewhere. I'm going to look at Como bc that sounds great and then look at a couple days in one of those towns near Pompeii.
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Old Jun 25th, 2022, 06:33 AM
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It sounds like you need to visit Ragusa due to your family connection! While there why donít you rent a car for a few days to visit the other Baroque towns and perhaps spend some time at a beach?
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Old Jun 25th, 2022, 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by HappyTrvlr View Post
It sounds like you need to visit Ragusa due to your family connection! While there why donít you rent a car for a few days to visit the other Baroque towns and perhaps spend some time at a beach?
we've actually decided to rent a van for two weeks while on Sicily so that we can stay at a less expensive Airbnb in a little fishing village and be able to do day trips. It comes out to cheaper than our week in Rome and gives us the chance to explore and meet some distant cousins.
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Old Jun 25th, 2022, 10:36 AM
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Sounds wonderful!
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Old Jun 25th, 2022, 11:40 AM
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Originally Posted by kimincincy View Post
Thank you. This is helpful! I'll need to stay three days in Pompeii (at least) so I'll definitely look into staying nearby.
If not mentioned earlier, Sorrento is about 30-40 mins on a direct train from Pompeii. Naples about the same time away on the other side of the train line.
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Old Jun 25th, 2022, 02:49 PM
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My votes are for Ravenna in the north and Sorrento in the south.
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Old Jun 25th, 2022, 03:33 PM
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Originally Posted by TDudette View Post
My votes are for Ravenna in the north and Sorrento in the south.
Are both cities accessible without a car?
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Old Jun 25th, 2022, 05:39 PM
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Yes! My hub and I mostly traveled by train in Italy.

We based in Bologna and one of our day trips was to Varenna. Lots to see, lighter than Bologna.

Sorrento's train is the Circumvesuviana and a direct trip to Pompeii. Weather permitting, you can take the ferry to Capri. We took the city bus along Amalfi Coast but only got as far as the town of Amalfi before we ran out of time. Again, old info but we liked Hotel Grand Vesuvio... had a resto, bar, billiards room, and an on-call jitney to town.

All my info is pre-covid and getting older so do look online for latest info!

Last edited by TDudette; Jun 25th, 2022 at 05:55 PM.
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Old Jun 25th, 2022, 06:22 PM
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You mention Pompeii several times, but not Herculaneum. ***
The archeological site there is absolutely beautiful with more complete buildings than in Pompeii, even some of the painting on the buildings is still there. It is very close to Pompeii.

Do get down the Amalfi Coast to Positano and Amalfi.

The kids might find a tour of the underground excavations in Naples fun and interesting and could do it on their own.

With the lovely AC on your itinerary, don’t include Como.

Are you writing about or doing research on Pompeii? If you must actually go to the archeological site for three days, there are lots of other places to stay within easy reach. Even Naples, though a bit gritty, has great museums and food and is interesting, plus ferry and train access to other places. I would stay in Sorrento, but would also consider the town of Herculaneum, just above the archeological site because it is on Circumvesuviana train line. Choose something with a close train station.

Sorrento will not be that touristy by that late in the Season. As a matter of fact, it is unlikely that most ferries will be running. Check times to see. There will be something.

The kids could take the bus (or ferry) (and from some places, a train) down the coast. They could also take the ferry to Capri. They could go to The Royal Palace of Caserta, not far from Naples, on their own. There are plenty of other places. That is just a few, as long as the older two will look after the younger ones.

From Rome, Orvieto for a hill town, an hour by train.

No Venice on this trip?
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