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10-days in Italy/Our first trip/We're not rich! Need tips, info, etc.

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We live in UK, a happy, healthy married couple in their 50s. Love history and 'connecting the dots'. Like the arts, museums, architecture, good food, walking, soaking up local culture, relaxing.

We've just purchased air tickets (LHR to FCO) for a 10-day stay in Italy in late April. Our first time to Italy.

Will base ourselves in Rome. We don't plan to rent a car.

Below is a rough idea on how we see the 10-days going - but open to suggestions.

Looking for:

- Hotel recommendaitons in Rome. Within walking to lots of sites, functional rather than beautiful, about 4 nights.

- Good/economical Rome guide for local attractions.

- Travel info from Rome to Venice. Assume rail? The early train seems to be the cheapest and would give us most of the day to tour.

- Also looking for Venice hotel/B&B recommendations. For our Venice hotel, we are looking for beauty more than functional - but can't afford expensive! 2 or 3 nights. (Is there enough to do in Venice for 2-3 days?)

- Going back to Rome after Venice (so could try another hotel?)

- Would like to do a day trip to Ostia Antica - is Viator a good company to use for this?

- Would like to do a (long) day trip to Pompeii by minibus (Viator?) but we're after an interesting guide (prefer for just the 2 of us, but aware of cost).

- Any "must do's" appreciated. Other than Venice, Rome, Pompeii, and Ostia Antica, we are open to anything - bearing in mind cost and not having to pack up a suitcase every few days and taking the train somewhere.

- Would prefer to avoid crowds wherever possible. (Yea, I know - ha ha)

- As non-Italian speakers how are English speakers accommodated/treated?

Thank you! In the meantime, we will read the trip reports here.

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