Q: Hi, Peter. If you were going to spend a month or two in Italy and you had already seen Tuscany and Florence, where would you go and why? How easy is it to get there by train or bus?
–Maureen DeLoach, Lavonia, Ga.
A: The Amalfi Coast is one of my favorite parts of Italy because of its unique beauty and serenity. There are Positano's confetti-colored facades, Capri's sapphire seas, fabulous beaches, quaint fishing villages, and hearty local cuisine. Note that in the height of summer, destinations such as Sorrento, Capri, and Positano are quite busy, so you may want to visit during the shoulder season.
To get there from other parts of Italy, you have many options. You could take a train to Salerno and then a bus or ferry the rest of the way to Amalfi. If your starting point were nearer Naples, you'd take the train to Sorrento and then a bus to Amalfi via Positano. Or if you were in Rome, you could take the Marozzi bus all the way there; but it only operates during the summer.
Sicily is an excellent year-round destination and somewhat off the beaten path because of its distance from mainland Italy. But there's much to recommend this island. If you go in the winter, you can ski in the Madonie or on Mt. Etna. In the summer, there are great coastal areas with pristine beaches, archaeological remains (Eraclea Minoa), and nature reserves (Riserva Naturale dello Zingaro). Erice, Sicily, is also a great medieval town near Trapini, where you can snap some beautiful pictures.
And of course don't skip Palermo, where you can devote a day to exploring the Cattedrale di Monreale, the Galleria Regionale della Sicilia, and the Catacombs. Of course, you'll have to fly or take a rail-ferry combo trip to get to Sicily from the mainland. From Rome, it's an 11-hour train trip and costs about €56 ($84) for a one-way ticket.
I love Milan, too, because it's Italy's capital of fashion, culture, and urban sophistication. From the stunning Duomo cathedral, to Leonardo's "The Last Supper" at the Santa Maria delle Grazie church, to La Scala opera house, you won't be bored. Milan is also home to legendary Italian football (soccer) club A.C. Milan, which you can watch in action at San Siro stadium. Tickets in the second section from the top are about €28 (about $42) apiece. Intercity trains can take you into the center of Milan from most major Italian (and European) cities. Milan is one of the few Italian cities to have a subway system, which is the fastest and cheapest way to get around.