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Subject:  Re: Italy Date:  10/29/2004  3:35 AM
Author:  kakoisle Number:  5101 of 24620

My own 2 cents, I realize that this is a late reply. My wife adores Italy, we've been there 3 times together, and when every new vacation comes up, she always suggests, "Italy?" It's a great place, don't get me wrong. I was there twice myself before I got married. But know that though I like Italy, I don't absolutely "love" it. With that in mind, I think I can offer my own take.

1. Rome is only OK. It's very crowded and expensive compared with many other places. The famous spots are very, very crowded, especially in summer. The last trip we flew into Rome, then took a connecting flight to Sicily. We made our way back up the peninsula, ending up in Rome for only one night. I was fine with that.

2. Besides Palermo, most of Sicily is the exact opposite of Rome, even in summer. Palermo itself is even not so crowded, but is the big city on the island. Renting a car and driving south to Agrigento is an easy 2 hours or so one way. Agrigento has ruins that you can basically walk up and touch (though they do have some blocked off). The people in Sicily are very friendly. Also, Cefalu is a great place to visit for a day. It would be easy to spend a week in Sicily alone. We spent 5 days there and still missed out on much of the island (we used Palermo as a home base and visited places via car). Great seafood. Overall much cheaper than Rome.

3. The Amalfi coast is also lots of fun. Beautiful scenery. Some towns more expensive than others. Positano is more expensive than, say, Praiano, even though they are very close together. Getting rooms without a reservation might be tough in the more popular towns (like Positano, Ravello). I'd just blow through Sorrento on your way east, unless you are going to Capri (then you take a ferry or hydrofoil to Capri). One thing - the roads are very narrow along the coast. Lots of times if you are in a car, you will have to back up or somehow negotiate yourself around the numerous tour buses - they are everywhere.

4. Capri - expensive, expensive. But a very beautiful island. And lots of walking (no cars), so maybe not so great for your older folks. But things like the Blue Grotto are not to be missed. Fun people watching. And high end famous shops all over the place.

5. Pompeii is definitely a great place to visit, but I really think you could do the ruins in a day. If you are really, really into it, maybe 2 days. With that you could also take a side trip to Mt. Vesuvius. Depending on your interest in volcanos, of course. Maybe kids (and grandparents who remember the eruptions) would like it.

6. Florence - wonderful bridges over the canals. And though it's crowded, seeing Michaelangelo's David is impressive. I always seem to see more of a younger crowd in Florence when there.

7. Naples - I would avoid this place. Tough to drive in. Lots of crime. Sometimes the problems there are pretty big. Last time we were there, there were tanks rolling through the streets to calm things down.

But I think what is key is what kind of traveller you are. Do you want to see famous things? Do you want to see beautiful scenery? Meet people? Go to museums? Do you want to drive? Take a train? Just go with tour buses? How about shopping? Figuring these things out first would help you decide where to go.

Just know that the food most every place in Italy is great (though you will see a difference between areas, like Rome to Sicily).

In any case, it's tough to have a bad time in Italy, especially if you have never been there. Have fun.
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