So you're looking forward to your Amalfi Coast odyssey and wondering how to spend the remainder of your time in Italy? Well you are certainly spoiled for choice, the options are endless. Much will depend on the amount of time you have available and what interests you but this just may provide you with some food for thought........
When our time in Positano comes to a close and we reluctantly say farewell (until next time), most of us will head to Naples to begin our onward journey. Naples is an easy "stepping-off" point for almost anywhere in Italy. A train ride will take you to beautiful cities, charming hilltop villages or achingly lovely lakeside retreats - Italy's rail network is extensive.
Alternatively, Naples is a short flight to any number of locations (both within Italy and beyond), and budget airlines (ie. EasyJet) offer great value and reliable service. So getting to where you're going is the easy part, narrowing down the choice is the challenge. So here's a little inspiration........
Options for 14-15 days
Venice, Florence & Tuscany, Rome
For a complete contrast to your time on the Amalfi Coast, fly to Venice for an aquatic experience of a very different kind. 3-4 days exploring this magical city, the palaces and churches, the art, the bridges and canals ...... there's nowhere like Venice.
Next take a train to Florence and be immersed in Renaissance art and architecture for a few days before leaving the city to tour the hill towns of Tuscany. Driving in this region is relatively easy and gives you the freedom to visit some of the most beautiful and less accessible villages. Find a base from which to explore the region, perhaps your own Tuscan Villa in a small village or one of many Agriturismo (farm stay) options - 5 days would be ideal.
If driving isn't your preference, take a train to your town of choice - perhaps Siena? - and concentrate your Tuscan experience here, experiencing the true character and beauty up close after the day trippers have disappeared.
Make your way to Rome (train or drive) and spend your remaining 4 days in the amazing eternal city.
Milan, Lake Como, Lake Garda, Venice, Rome
Keeping with the aquatic theme, fly north to Milan then on to stunning Lake Como (1& 1/2hr drive or 3hr train). Bellagio is a lovely base for 3 or 4 days, but there are many other options. Just over a few hours scenic drive away and you'll find yourself somewhere on Lake Garda, the village of Sirmione would be on my wish list. Lake Garda is the largest lake in Italy and quite a different flavour to Lake Como. You can fill your time with swimming, water sports, boating or simply wander picturesque lakeside villages, indulging in the local cuisine and other offerings.
From here it's pretty easy to access Venice by train. Take time in Venice to explore & lose yourself in this unique city, take a trip across the lagoon to one of the islands - we love colourful Burano. Depending on how long you decide to stay in Venice, you may even wish to take a day trip to lovely Verona - really depends on the pace you prefer. It's an easy train journey south to Rome and depending how long you've spent in other places you will hopefully have adequate time to enjoy here before setting off home.
Options for 7-8 Days
Naples & Rome
If you have only a week or so to spare post Positano and you're keen to take in ancient Pompeii, you might like to combine your archeological roaming with a stay in Naples. Naples is a polarising city - some love it, some don't. However it's full of amazing art and archaeological treasures, fantastic food, is unapologetically authentic and offers easy access to both Pompeii and Herculaneum and so much more. A few hours by train back to Rome and you can fill your final few days in Italy with all that Rome has to offer. Should you need a break from city life, our suggestion would be day trip to lovely Tivoli and the stunningly beautiful Villa D'Este - an easy and scenic train trip from Rome.
Orvieto (or Assisi) & Rome
If crazy busy cities are not your speed, you might like to contrast your Amalfi Coast week with 3 or 4 days in a gorgeous hilltop town in Umbria. Instead of disembarking in Rome continue on to the divine town of Orvieto. Peter and I had the loveliest time here a few years back, one of Umbria's most charming destinations. Immerse yourself in Umbrian life, the food the wine, storybook-pretty cobbled streets, a majestic duomo, gorgeous shops, but not too touristy ..... down the funicular & a short bus ride away is the fascinating & sparsely inhabited hill town of Civita di Bagnoregio - check out the photo on the right. Under 90 minutes sees you back in Rome for a few days exploring before your flight home.
Another Umbrian option might be Assisi - birthplace of Saint Francis. I loved this town when I visited many years ago and whilst I'm sure little has changed, the number of tourists visiting continues to rise Many of these are day trippers though so don't let this discourage you if Assisi takes your fancy - it's equally picturesque and after the tour groups disappear for the day you'll be able to enjoy the real flavour of this historical Umbrian treasure.
These are only a few of many, many possible itinerary options. I have made no mention of the incredible island of Sicily, majestic Dolomites or the Ligurian Coast ....the possibilities are are endless. No doubt you have your own wish list but if any of the above ideas has struck a chord then it was worth the effort.
In regards to accommodation, you might want to consider alternatives before always opting for a hotel. We found some fantastic apartment accommodation on Airbnb and (Venice apartments in Venice) - feel free to chat with me about this if you'd like any advice. If a driving tour of Tuscany appeals and you're after a great base ...... check out Castello di Bibbione in the hills of Chianti - quintessentially Tuscan, it's steeped in history dating back to the 9th century.
For these itineraries I've made the assumption you'll be finishing your journey in Rome (& this may well be incorrect) but if this is the case and you're wondering where to stay, may I suggest the Centro Storico, between Piazza Navona and the Tiber. This is very much the heart of Rome, it's brimming with character and central enough to walk to most locations. We stayed in a 14th century apartment on via del Governo Vecchio last time and loved the location so much we've booked another one just around the corner for our time there this year - both on Airbnb. Staying in an apartment gives you so much more space than a hotel (especially in Rome or Venice where rooms tend to be small & expensive), it's cost effective, you have total privacy and it gives you a sense of living like a local. However always read the reviews and take your time over the location to make sure it suits your needs, (with google maps you can virtually walk down the street, see the nearby buildings etc). Choose carefully and you'll be rewarded with a great experience.