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Our 33 day Itiniery ( 3 for flights)
We arrived early by plane and found that a supermarket was the only shop open at the airport. We caught the train from the airport into the HB main railway station and walked two blocks to our B & B accommodation. The HB has a reasonably good shopping centre also. We were only stopping overnight here before training it to Lake Como in Italy. We walked through the railway station turned left and then over the small bridge to where there were tourist buses. We went on the 4 hour Zurich and Surrounds Tour which was quite nice and included going up to an outlook over Lake Zurich and seeing the old town. Take some drinks and food if need be, no refreshment stops. Although this is supposed to be an expensive town were found eating out was not that dear if you looked at the menu in the railway station restaurants.
We left early and caught the train to Como on Lake Como. This was about a 3 1/2 hrs journey and a picturesque one at that. Once we arrived in Como the town, the bus north along the western side of the lake left from outside. It took us about an hour winding our way around the pretty lake side with good views. We stayed at Menaggio because it is central to most of the lake and the accommodation is less expensive. We managed to get a two double bed flat over two floors with everything you would need. It was in a reasonable walking distance of the lakefront, the piazza, the ferry terminal and shops. The Info centre has a lady who speaks qiuite good english and is very helpful. Also you may use the internet for 30 mins free. This is located in the Piazza. We caught the ferry around the little villages of the lake. Buy a day pass. My favourites were, Bellagio (15mins away) Varenna with it's steep streets and we ventured to others when their markets were on and enjoyed a longer ride up the lake to see the Italian Alps looming over the small villages...fantastic. In October, the fruit grown here is huge...see the peaches and pears. YUM! We also went by bus which pulls in at the lakefront opposite the Piazza and went for the drive to Lugano Switzerland for 1 hour. This is also an interesting town situated on Lake Lugano. All in all we were missing Menaggio and Lake Como the minute we put our foot on the train in Como to go across to the Mediterranea Sea!
We arrived in Sestri Levante after about 3 1/2 hours on the train. The trip was pretty mundane as the scenery was not that good and was misty most of the way. We changed trains in Milan and headed down through Genoa to this very pretty seaside town. We had a fifth floor apartment more like a bed sitter which was very cheap and not extremely comfortable but it had a 100 sq metre terrace to ourselves right on top of the building with views over the roof tops and a glimpse here and there of the Mediterranean. We spent our days, shopping in Sestri Levante, taking photos of this picturesque little town, catching the train up to Rapallo and then buses onwards to Saint Margarita Ligure and Portofino ( all in a day trip). We also got the train down south to Riomaggiore, one of the five villages of the Cinque Terre. It was the furtherest south and we caught ferries to each village back to the most northern, Montorosso al Mare and caught the train back to Sestri Levante. (Another day trip) We really loved this part of Italy and we had great sunny and warm weather. See my reviews on these places. Sestri Levante is not difficult to walk around and the people were very friendly and helpful. This is mainly a Italian seaside holiday town and English is limited but we still managed to communicate one way or the other.
The train to Lucca (Looka) took about 2 hrs and we changed trains in a small village.
Lucca is only about 1 hr by train from Florence (Firenze) but we decided to spend 2 nights in a B & B. Funny the old ancient wall of Napolean Bonaparte's sister's park opposite had fallen on the B& B and did enough damage to have most of it closed but we were fortunate enough to be given a self cont. area at the back and we sat on the terrace at night sipping our local wine and eating the antipasta alone! Anyway, one has to learn to have patience and go with the flow! I found my companion was not taken with Lucca but it is a very old walled city which I found interesting and it had an impressive Piazza build in a circular defensive position over an old Roman amphitheatre. We looked throught the shops and even though it drizzed a bit we enjoyed the small bar we sat in and watched the passing parade. Walking around the top of the walls which circle the old town is interesting also.
We arrived by train into Santa Maria Novella railway station (SMN). With this itiniery as we caught trains and buses everywhere in our four week stay in Italy we always managed to have self cont. accommodation close to the station. It drizzelled rain for the five days we were here. The bus station to go out to Tuscany villages is just behind the railway station. We went out to San Gimignano for a day trip.There is also a supermarket behind the station. We could walk to Ponte Vecchio, Uffizi Gallery, Palace Pitti over the Ponte Vecchio and around most of the city. We caught a bus outside the train station up to Fiesole which is more like a suburb as the distance is not far. Here we had a good view down over the city and the Duomo. We left chasing some sun by bus for 1 hour south to Siena.
The bus pulled into a Piazza which was only a few streets away from our B & B accommodation for 2 nights. As we only had basically only one afternoon and a full day, we were out and about as soon as we literally threw the bags in. Siena is old world and has a massive Piazza. Try the Panforte cake which Siena is famous for. You can buy it in the Main Piazza but it was expensive. We found everything we needed in the small shops near our accommodation for our meals. Fortunately, we could use the kitchen as long as we cleaned it and we had a great view from our room. Siena is built on three hills so the streets are steep...good walking shoes a must!
We caught a taxi to the train staion in Siena and then the train (3 hours or so) to Roma Termini station. Our B & B was two streets away and was a pleasant place to stay. The proprietors were very helpful and attentive. Roma termini also has a reasonable shopping centre below the station. There is also a supermarket which has interesting food items and alcohol as did all supermarkets in Italy that we ventured into. This is a very convenient place to find accommodation as the tour buses leave just outside the station and we went on an open air tour bus of Rome. We caught the subway trains only one or two stops either way to the Colosseum ( across the road) and the Trevi Fountain (although we had to walk a bit from the station to it). In the vicinity of our accommodation ( across the road ) was a laundrette, although washing and drying is a bit expensive. Before we left we went to the information centre (below the Roma Termini station)and booked a four hour tour of the Vatican for when we arrived back here. We decided on spending only two nights in Rome on the way down to Sorrento and three nights back here before we flew home out of Rome.
The trip to Sorrento is long and we spent over half of the day getting to our accommodation. Firstly we caught the train to Naples. Then we had to walk through a tunnel to another platform which is down many steps...be aware of the size of your luggage when travelling by train. Make it very light and manageable. We then caught the Circumversuvian train which is smaller and has plastic seats to Sorrento. I had to stand half way as it was crowded. We were advised of pickpockets at Naples station so be wary of your surroundings. Don't wear gold jewellery or watches and move your own luggage. Keep anyone suspicious in front of you when leaving the train and perhaps get off last and not rush for the doors with others.
Our accommodation was in the old town as it was in most places we stayed. This is always the hub of the sights etc. We were two streets back from the main Piazza where you could catch buses, go shopping and up the street was the supermarket.
See my review on Sorrento and towns listed below.
We went to the Amalfi Coast on a bus. Saw Amalafi and Ravello (1 day)
Isle of Capri on the car ferry (1 day)
Pompeii ( 1 day although we only spent 4 hours there and didn't see it all)
Sorrento ( 1 day)
Day one was spent getting to Sorrento from Rome, buying in food etc.
This was an interesting part of Italy and we enjoyed it here.
After the problems at the Naples station, having to stand up on the Circumversuvian train, we decided to catch the express bus back to Tributina Railway Station in Rome.We caught that from the Sorrento railway station. It was only four or so stops to Roma Termini Station. This turned out to be a great idea although it may have cost us a bit more, but nevertheless the bus trip was good and we had another view coming into Rome. We only had to walk across the road to the Tributina Station and get a ticket to Roma Termini. No hassells!
We went on the Vatican Tour which we thoroughly enjoyed. We also went on another bus tour out to the Catacombs along the Apian Way ( old Roman Road).
We rushed around shopping for trinkets and relaxed the morning we had to catch our plane in the early afternoon for the long trek back. I fell head over heels in love with Italy!