Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

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giesen5
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by giesen5 »

Teacher wife and kids in school, it is the only time we can go and we are freaking EXCITED no matter what time of the year!
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VictoriaF
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by VictoriaF »

'Visa War': EU Votes to Bar Visa-Free Travel for American Citizens

From the article:
Since US won't allow visa-free entry for citizens of some EU member states, European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans.
Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
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giesen5
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by giesen5 »

VictoriaF wrote:'Visa War': EU Votes to Bar Visa-Free Travel for American Citizens

From the article:
Since US won't allow visa-free entry for citizens of some EU member states, European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans.
Victoria
Oh crap, that is not good. I see it says two months, the backlog to get visas is going to be insane.
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VictoriaF
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by VictoriaF »

giesen5 wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:'Visa War': EU Votes to Bar Visa-Free Travel for American Citizens

From the article:
Since US won't allow visa-free entry for citizens of some EU member states, European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans.
Victoria
Oh crap, that is not good. I see it says two months, the backlog to get visas is going to be insane.
Roger that.

Here is another source: Europe Votes To Impose Visas On Americans
Following today's vote, the EU Commission now has two months to reintroduce visas for Americans wishing to travel to Europe, after MEPs agreed the EU is now “legally obliged” to suspend the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) with the US
It seems pretty serious,

Victoria
WINNER of the 2015 Boglehead Contest. | Every joke has a bit of a joke. ... The rest is the truth. (Marat F)
Capsu78
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by Capsu78 »

FYI- Rick Steves just visited my inbox with some 2017 travel updates for Italy:

https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-l ... w-in-italy
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giesen5
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by giesen5 »

Capsu78 wrote:FYI- Rick Steves just visited my inbox with some 2017 travel updates for Italy:

https://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-l ... w-in-italy
Thank you!
beachlover
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by beachlover »

giesen5 wrote:Well, dammit, I have done a bit more digging into the Italian Riviera and it seems like a place to go. And dammit, Venice seems like a place to go, too.

What do you think of a Venice - Italian Riviera - Tuscany - Rome trip in mid-June? Better to start South and head North?

My original trip was Amalfi Coast - Tuscany - Rome.
Seems like that could be a good itinerary. In 2009 our family of four (young adult daughters) spent two weeks - arrived in Venice, drove Tuscany, drove to Santa Margherita and then to Milan for flight home - a couple or few days in each place. We went in late May and used apartments in each location - (except Milan, which was mainly a logistics stop before out flights out). We find apartments to be much more relaxing and usually more affordable than hotels for traveling with family.

I loved Venice. Yes it can be crowded along the well-marked paths from major site to major site, but no cars anywhere and pretty easy to get off the path and find some peace and local color.

I'd highly recommend an agritourismo or similar country inn type housing (with a pool) in Tuscany. Well chosen, it can provide a relaxing home base for day trips to Florence, Siena or nearby Tuscan hill towns. We liked this place a lot for that purpose - http://www.torrediponzano.it - but there are plenty to choose from.

Santa Marghertia (in Ligurian Riviera/Riviera Levante) was a very nice seaside town. Seems like kind of an "old money" place, but without a lot of pretense or glitzy edge. Easy to take the train over to Cinque Terra towns for day trips (very nice). Genoa has a nice aquarium.

Milan's a modern city so I wouldn't recommend it over other sites you're considering - but the Duomo's pretty impressive and you can go up on the roof, which is more interesting for it's own forest of gothic spires than the surrounding view. It just worked for us to fly in to Vienna and out from Milan.

Best of luck with your plans. Make some great memories!
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giesen5
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by giesen5 »

I think I forgot to mention that our plan is set:

June 24-27 Venice
June 27-July 1 Florence
July 1-3 Lucca
July 3-7 Rome
July 8-13 Amalfi Coast (Castiglione di Ravello)
July 13 Naples (Fly out at 7am, ugh)

------------
Tours:
Venice: Secret Itineraries
Florence: Fully day bike to Chianti
Rome: early arrival Sistine Chapel, waiting for Colloseum tours to open up

Trying not to be too heavy tour-wise, but want to learn from the experts from time to time.
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by travellight »

SueG5123 wrote:We have been to Italy many times. Random suggestions:

* If Venice is on your itinerary, try staying in Lido. It's only a short vaporetto ride away, and it's cheaper and less crowded (as far as hotel options). Restaurant and shopping opportunities there, too.

* Anything you see in Rome will take your breath away, so you can't go wrong. My personal favorites were the St. Peter in Chains church (yes, that's Michelangelo's Moses! and, yes, those are the chains that held Peter!), and the catacombs under the Vatican, for which you must request permission in advance. (Real easy, look it up online.)

* San Gimignano or Lucca or Orvieto would make excellent bases in Tuscany. Lucca, particularly, would be a nice retreat, easy to access Pisa and Florence by short train hop. Sienna also is quite nice, but make sure your schedule doesn't conflict with the Palio, or it may cost you $$$$$. Florence can be hot and crowded in August, but if you're going for art, make sure you see the Fra Angelico frescoes at the monastery near San Marco; free and not heavily trafficked (unlike the Academia down the street, where you'll wait in line forever to see David).

* Positano and Sorrento are lovely places on the Amalfi coast. Can't go wrong with either.

* Make sure you validate your tickets when getting on trains or buses, as American tourists seem to be easy marks for transport police who will levy stiff fines for not having validated! (Members of our party were fined 50 euros each for not having validated their train tickets.)

* In Florence particularly, you will see many street vendors hawking obviously counterfeit merchandise; be aware that Italian police will arrest or fine the purchaser and not the merchant!!!

Have a great time!
I agree with Lucca or San G. as places to stay. Between Positano and Sorrento, I would prefer Positano but Sorrento is more central and convenient especially if you take the ferry to Capri.

If you make it to Siena, I would recommend Taverna di San Guiseppe (or as I call it, Joe's bar). Best tiramisu I have every had; worth getting reservations for.
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curmudgeon
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by curmudgeon »

VictoriaF wrote:'Visa War': EU Votes to Bar Visa-Free Travel for American Citizens

From the article:
Since US won't allow visa-free entry for citizens of some EU member states, European Parliament voted to end visa-free travel for Americans.
Victoria
Remember that the European Parliament has a distinct resemblance to the "Debate Society" back when you were in high school. This particular vote is, if not meaningless, at least toothless. The EP is powerless in this matter. The vote does serve a purpose of raising visibility of the issue (and making the members feel good).

I would put this relatively low on my list of things to worry about for a Europe visit.
amoose
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by amoose »

VictoriaF wrote:Here is another source: Europe Votes To Impose Visas On Americans
Following today's vote, the EU Commission now has two months to reintroduce visas for Americans wishing to travel to Europe, after MEPs agreed the EU is now “legally obliged” to suspend the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) with the US
It seems pretty serious,

Victoria
This is not worth worrying about. This is a non-binding resolution, asking the commission to look into changing the rules. This is most likely a move to get the attention of the US administration, who have been slow to extend VWP to several EU countries. Any changes (even if the Commission wanted to make them, which it most likely would not) would take years and require approval by every EU country.

Incidentally, the linked website appears to be rather disreputable, judging by other 'news' stories on that site, and the fact that (in the quoted text) it reports that the EU must suspend the VWP. VWP is a US program, the EU has no power to suspend it. I suspect that site has a vested interest in misrepresenting the vote for their own ends.

Anyone planning a trip to EU countries should be completely unconcerned about this. They may want to lobby their elected officials to get VWP extended to the affected countries, though, since this may become more of a problem in the long term.
Capsu78
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by Capsu78 »

OP,
FYI- In 2008, I arranged for the Scavi tour under St Peters in Rome and my group of 8, including non Catholics, considered it the coolest thing we did in Rome...plus you get some interaction with the Swiss guards at the beginning of the tour.
Simply follow these instructions (if interested), and at the end of the tour you end up exiting right in the area below the main alter so the sequence is "do the tour, then tour the Basilica:
http://thecatholictraveler.com/vatican-scavi-tour/

I have only run into 2 other persons in almost 10 years who have done the tour.
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giesen5
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by giesen5 »

I wish we could do the tour, but our kids are too young. I guess we will have to come back to Italy again. Darn.
tacster
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by tacster »

Capsu78 wrote:OP,
FYI- In 2008, I arranged for the Scavi tour under St Peters in Rome and my group of 8, including non Catholics, considered it the coolest thing we did in Rome...plus you get some interaction with the Swiss guards at the beginning of the tour.
Simply follow these instructions (if interested), and at the end of the tour you end up exiting right in the area below the main alter so the sequence is "do the tour, then tour the Basilica:
http://thecatholictraveler.com/vatican-scavi-tour/

I have only run into 2 other persons in almost 10 years who have done the tour.
I'm going to Italy next month and am signed up for the Scavi tour. Didn't realize the Scavi includes admission to the Basilica...does that also include the Vatican museums? Really looking forward to it, along with everything else.
INSERT PITHY QUOTE HERE
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chickadee
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by chickadee »

The Scavi tour does not include admission to the Vatican Museum. And it's an awesome tour, enjoy! Admission to St. Peter's basilica is free for everyone.
LookingForward
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by LookingForward »

It sounds like an excellent trip.

Venice is wonderful. It's a little like Disney World in that it's almost purely tourist, in a good way. My wife and I went in 2006, and she has so far refused to return, out of concern for ruining the wonderful memories from that trip. :)

I would reiterate people's notes about the heat. We've visited Florence, Lucca, and Rome during the summer — like you we have kids and so are limited in our vacation time choices — and it can be hot. We saw a woman faint in Rome; her companions caught her and carried her over to a nearby fountain to sprinkle water on her face. We did one lap of the Lucca walls on rented bikes, and that was sufficient exercise in the heat. Florence is just packed and hot.

Having said all that, all of those places are wonderful, and I don't regret any part of those trips. Carry lots of water, refill the bottles at water fountains (to keep the water cool if nothing else), and take frequent rest/gelato breaks. It helped us to nap or rest in air conditioning in the early afternoon, and go back out and enjoy the evenings.

In Rome, we took a hired-car tour for just the four of us, from "romeinlimo". It was something like $500, but it was probably the best money we spent. An icily air-conditioned car whisked us from site to site, letting us out to bake and see the sights, then picking us up after an appropriate time. They gave us a phone to call when coordination was required for the pick-up. The Borghese gallery was also a favorite. It's set in a beautiful area, and the sculptures are wonderful. Outside the gallery, we rented a four-pedal cycle car thing to bike around the gardens, that the entire family enjoyed.

We haven't yet visited the Amalfi coast, but we did stay in Portovenere, near the Cinque Terra, and it was beautiful. It's not one of the five towns, so it's less mobbed during the day, but it has the history, water and beaches, pastel houses, and views that make that area of Italy so wonderful.

I hope you enjoy your vacation — please let us know how it goes!
Capsu78
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by Capsu78 »

tacster wrote:
Capsu78 wrote:OP,
FYI- In 2008, I arranged for the Scavi tour under St Peters in Rome and my group of 8, including non Catholics, considered it the coolest thing we did in Rome...plus you get some interaction with the Swiss guards at the beginning of the tour.
Simply follow these instructions (if interested), and at the end of the tour you end up exiting right in the area below the main alter so the sequence is "do the tour, then tour the Basilica:
http://thecatholictraveler.com/vatican-scavi-tour/

I have only run into 2 other persons in almost 10 years who have done the tour.
I'm going to Italy next month and am signed up for the Scavi tour. Didn't realize the Scavi includes admission to the Basilica...does that also include the Vatican museums? Really looking forward to it, along with everything else.
Question was answered above...but the tour ends at a pretty non descript door that leads into the crypt level where many old Popes are interred. In 2008, Pope John Pauls tomb was still down stairs so we exited the tour and we were right in beside his tomb... the pilgrams from around the world, but especially Poland where kneeling in front of it and we had no choice but to "Excuse me, pardon me, so sorry" our way through the kneeling people. It was quite a finale to our tour and very moving! He has since been " kicked upstairs" with his promotion to sainthood.
windrose
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by windrose »

I think your itinerary sounds good. We all have our views/favorites, and you have a nice variety of places planned.

I would take as many guided tours as you can, especially when looking at ancient sites, where you might need a little help with interpretation, since much of it is no longer there.

You don't always have to book these through 3rd party vendors, sometimes the sites themselves have an option for an English speaking guide. 2nd best option is the rented head set thing-y. Guidebooks alone are a distant 3rd, but better than nothing...and better than trying to eavesdrop on some random tour, which you will see a lot of.

While in Rome, you may want to visit the Domus Aurea. This was a former party palace for Nero, complete with an artificial lake. The lake was later drained and the Colosseum was built in its place.

It was not open to the public for many years, and apparently closed again after I visited (due to damage), but appears to be open again. So I guess I'd say visit at your own risk (!), but this may be a site you can't come back to in the future, should they close it again. It's also underground, so nice and cool. You have to make a reservation in advance due to the limited space. They have tours in English, but only certain times of the day. At least they did when I visited some years ago.

I also love the National Museum of Rome...especially the room with walls from the Villa of Livia. Obviously I prefer ancient Italy over Renaissance Italy, and I'm probably in the minority there, but it is all pretty great.

6 days in Amalfi means you will have time to see both Pompeii AND Herculaneum. I like them both but if I only had time for one, I think Herculaneum is more interesting. If you want to go down the coast, but don't want to drive it yourself, there is a local city bus that you can take. I think I caught it in Salerno, and it ended up in Sorrento--it was 5 euro. It stopped in a few of the towns and once we actually had to switch buses....but it is a great way to enjoy the ride while without having to do it yourself.
Diogenes
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by Diogenes »

amoose wrote:
VictoriaF wrote:Here is another source: Europe Votes To Impose Visas On Americans
Following today's vote, the EU Commission now has two months to reintroduce visas for Americans wishing to travel to Europe, after MEPs agreed the EU is now “legally obliged” to suspend the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP) with the US
It seems pretty serious,

Victoria
This is not worth worrying about. This is a non-binding resolution, asking the commission to look into changing the rules. This is most likely a move to get the attention of the US administration, who have been slow to extend VWP to several EU countries. Any changes (even if the Commission wanted to make them, which it most likely would not) would take years and require approval by every EU country.

Incidentally, the linked website appears to be rather disreputable, judging by other 'news' stories on that site, and the fact that (in the quoted text) it reports that the EU must suspend the VWP. VWP is a US program, the EU has no power to suspend it. I suspect that site has a vested interest in misrepresenting the vote for their own ends.

Anyone planning a trip to EU countries should be completely unconcerned about this. They may want to lobby their elected officials to get VWP extended to the affected countries, though, since this may become more of a problem in the long term.
Agree with you amoose on the total lack of credibility of that quoted news site. Clearly another agenda there. This is a non-binding resolution and rather meaningless. Not even the EU Commission is concerned.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/03/worl ... .html?_r=0
No sense getting worked up, or changing travel plans over. By the way, if it ever did happen, the EU would then face a similar restriction, and has far more to lose.
Truth and clarity are important in all things...
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giesen5
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by giesen5 »

windrose wrote:I think your itinerary sounds good. We all have our views/favorites, and you have a nice variety of places planned.

I would take as many guided tours as you can, especially when looking at ancient sites, where you might need a little help with interpretation, since much of it is no longer there.

You don't always have to book these through 3rd party vendors, sometimes the sites themselves have an option for an English speaking guide. 2nd best option is the rented head set thing-y. Guidebooks alone are a distant 3rd, but better than nothing...and better than trying to eavesdrop on some random tour, which you will see a lot of.

While in Rome, you may want to visit the Domus Aurea. This was a former party palace for Nero, complete with an artificial lake. The lake was later drained and the Colosseum was built in its place.

It was not open to the public for many years, and apparently closed again after I visited (due to damage), but appears to be open again. So I guess I'd say visit at your own risk (!), but this may be a site you can't come back to in the future, should they close it again. It's also underground, so nice and cool. You have to make a reservation in advance due to the limited space. They have tours in English, but only certain times of the day. At least they did when I visited some years ago.

I also love the National Museum of Rome...especially the room with walls from the Villa of Livia. Obviously I prefer ancient Italy over Renaissance Italy, and I'm probably in the minority there, but it is all pretty great.

6 days in Amalfi means you will have time to see both Pompeii AND Herculaneum. I like them both but if I only had time for one, I think Herculaneum is more interesting. If you want to go down the coast, but don't want to drive it yourself, there is a local city bus that you can take. I think I caught it in Salerno, and it ended up in Sorrento--it was 5 euro. It stopped in a few of the towns and once we actually had to switch buses....but it is a great way to enjoy the ride while without having to do it yourself.
Thank you. I have to say that we are very excited to be near Amalfi for 6 days, looking forward to some down time after being in places like Florence and Rome.
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giesen5
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Short trip report

Post by giesen5 »

Hey everyone, thought I would give you a brief rundown of how the trip went, mostly through the eyes of my teenagers. Of the five places we went, the kids would rate them this way:

1. Amalfi Coast - by far their favorite place. We were in Rome just before and it was hot as hell and they really wanted to swim. This was my favorite place as well since it was relaxing, we weren't running around looking at sites and museums.

2. Lucca - kids loved the "small" town, also more relaxing. We wished that we stayed a couple more days. Biking around the walls - they could do that on their own.

3. Venice - our first stop. We were so damn jet lagged even though we stayed up late that first day. it really took us 3 days to recover and by then it was time to go. We wish we had more time to explore.

4. Florence - what a beautiful place. my wife and I want to come back here alone. Kids liked it, especially seeing the David after I had gushed about it for weeks and weeks before we got there. Took a bike ride into the countryside, was a blast (Tuscany Bike Tours).

5. Rome - not a favorite, but it was hard because it was the last stop before Amalfi Coast and two weeks into our trip. It was really hot, mid 90's. We decided to bag the city one day and head out to the beach, but wouldn't you know it that it was a strike day. Colosseum was awesome, loved watching the vendors try to scam women with roses on the Spanish Steps and really enjoyed the Pantheon. Also paid for the early entrance to the Vatican/Sistine Chapel. That was so worth it.

I think that if we had started in Rome the kids would have liked it better. But when we talk about reconstructing the trip they said they would have cut Rome out completely.

I found that doing something active every 3 days was so important for my kids. They could only handle sightseeing so much. We did the bike trip, rented a boat for a day on Amalfi Coast (their #1 highlight), took the vaparettos all over Venice, went to a concert in Ravello. I did not realize the need then, but now I would have added more of these types of things to keep them moving. The beaches were great for them on Amalfi Coast. And of course we did eat lots of gelato, all the time. It was fun deciding where to eat gelato, after awhile my kids would pop into a store and come out and say, "no good, keep on moving."

It was such a fun trip, would do it again in a heart beat. Thank you all for your advice.
Mr.BB
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by Mr.BB »

+1 One of the greatest things about traveling to different countries is seeing the different cultures, their values, beliefs, etc.
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit."
Thesaints
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by Thesaints »

Next time don’t go to Rome in july...

How did you guys like Naples ?
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giesen5
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by giesen5 »

Thesaints wrote: Wed Dec 13, 2017 6:35 pm Next time don’t go to Rome in july...

How did you guys like Naples ?
School teacher wife, no other options.

Naples was just an overnight, but we did walk around the city quite a bit. We liked it.
Orange44
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Re: Traveling to Italy - 3 weeks in 2017, advice appreciated

Post by Orange44 »

Thanks for the update. Sounds like it was worth it!
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