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Budget Hotel Recommendations For Italy and Spain

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My five friends and myself will be traveling to Italy (Florence, Rome) and Spain (Madrid, Barcelona) Fall' 2013. I have been told that there are good budget hotel chains in both countries. I have been given the names Formula 1 and ETAP, anyone familiar with these names and do you any other recommendations.

The budget piece of this is important because our trip to Africa this year is sooooo expensive and we need to pare expenses if we can do so without jeopardizing safety, living environments etc.

I have been told that visiting both countries may be too ambitious for a 15 day trip but do not be concerned by that because we can increase the number of days if necessary.

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