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Budget for Italy

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Inexperienced traveler to Europe here....4 of us (2couples) planning to go to Tuscany and the Northern Lakes area in early May next year for 2 weeks. Can anyone help me with a budget range? Any help would be appreciated. Thanks!

Bob P

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    We can't predict airfares for you.

    What level and type of hotel accomodations are you considering? Perhaps you could do a quick search online and get an idea of what's around that would suit you, and then we could help you find a reasonable target range.

    What type of eating are your preferences? Cheapest possible? Fine dining? Food tourist?

    Will you want tours, guides, museums, etc? Anyone speak Italian?

    As you can see, although the question you pose is simple, giving useful help requires a bit more information from you.

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    You can go at many different price ranges are expecting. It depends on what you want (4* full service hotel vs modest B&B with shared bath - sit down dinner in what tablecloth restaurant every night versus picnics with food you have bought at a market).

    I can say that you need to assume almost everything will cost at least 25% more than it will in the US - even if you're living in NY.

    We allow 300 to 400 euros per night for a hotel (deluxe room in 4* - not 5*) and 100 euros for a basic restaurant dinner for 2 - with one splurge dinner in each city at 300 euros for a couple.

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    I agree that things will cost about 25% more than in the US - assuming you are talking about the exchange rate. Right now (and for much of the past several years) it has been 1.32. So if something costs 10€ it is really about $13. But I think some things are really less expensive in Italy, even given the exchange rate.

    I have consistently stayed in clean, well located small hotels for under 100€. Some have been charming, others just 'functional' - and I'm not talking luxury. But safe, clean places that are perfectly adequate if your goal is to be out and about most of the time rather than sitting in the room. And almost all of them are 'ensuite' which means private bathroom, plus most have AC, TV, wi-fi, and most hotels in Italy include breakfast. Start by looking on sites like booking.com or venere.com, and then read reviews, both on those sites and on Tripadvisor.com. Rome and Venice are generally more expensive, but some smaller cities (e.g. Verona, Sorrento, etc.) can be less.

    Food costs are all over the map, just like anywhere else. Although I do think the foods you can get in markets (depending on the location some are held daily - usually in the morning, while smaller towns will only have their markets once or twice a week) and in small shops are much better and more interesting than what you'll find in a lot of American cities. So making up picnics is easier and better. Lots of fresh fruits and veggies and the pizza and paninis/sandwiches are great. I'm not a foodie and don't need or want elaborate dinners every night so I easily eat for about 30€ a day on average (if breakfast is included in the hotel rate). But I know lots of people spend that on lunch alone. In most Italian cities the water in fountains is drinkable (potable) so you can fill up your water bottle there (saves money and better for the environment). House wines are cheap (soda is expensive). Gelato is worth the price (but you can usually find it around 2-3€.

    Walking is the best way to see cities/towns and that's free. Public transportation is very reasonable. Trains between cities can be really cheap if you do your research and book ahead of time. Since there are four of you, renting a car may make financial sense but gas is more expensive (though cars get better mileage) and parking is as well. You just have to do a cost analysis of trains vs car rental. Also of course depends on where you plan to visit. If mostly cities, even smaller ones, then a car is not worth the price. If you want to visit a lot of tiny hilltowns and countryside then it is usually the best way to go. Obviously, you can also do a combo of renting a car for a few days and trains the rest of the time. But don't plan on having a car just sit there for several days while in cities as the parking cost will eat up any savings.

    Admissions to churches, historical sites, etc. can add up. Major sites will be well over 10€. I don't skimp on these since I'm there to see things and am not going to pass up some wonderful sites to save a few bucks. On the other hand, you don't need to go in to absolutely every place in the guide books. The cities and towns themselves are sites - and you can easily do up your own walking tours by doing a little research in guide books and on line.

    So really, no one can give you a specific number. But you can pretty easily figure it out for yourself by looking at the hotel booking sites, and checking train/car prices on-line, and looking at admission prices of the sites you want to see (also all available on line).

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