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TeaLoverDenise Feb 9th, 2013 08:01 AM

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

Mimar Feb 9th, 2013 08:27 AM

You're going to love Italy. It chimes perfectly with your interests. And April's a good time to go, for better weather with fewer crowds.

Yes, there's enough to do in Venice for 2 or 3 days. Be sure to stay in Venice proper, not on the mainland or on the Lido. You lose so much of the experience of Venice if you're not there at night. Hotels are expensive in Venice, though. You may need to splurge a little bit. Can you give us a budget per night for hotels?

I wouldn't add to your destinations. You'll find plenty to do in Rome and Venice. And don't worry about communicating. Many Italians speak English, especially in the touristed areas. And everybody is eager to help you.

adrienne Feb 9th, 2013 08:44 AM

First - thank you for describing your interests and saying something about your expectations. This makes responding so much easier and enjoyable!

I would stay near Campo dei Fiori for access to the square in the morning and evening and for the ability to walk to many sights. You can always take a bus but I find taxis in Rome to be affordable so you can splurge a bit and save some time.

There's a thread about private guides but usually they are expensive.

There are a number of good tour companies that offer affordable tours.

The train from Rome to Venice is the perfect way to travel. Pack a picnic lunch and relax on the train.

You can easily see Ostia Antica on your own via train. On the way there or back you can stop for 90 minutes at St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the major basilicas in Rome.

I think you already have enough on your itinerary but you could add Orvieto, a short trip by train from Rome.

The churches in Rome are filled with art, each more glorious than the last one. If you enjoy sculpture and Bernini do visit the Borghese Gallery (reservations required and there is a 2 hour limit inside the museum). You can take the docent led tour in English for a small fee.

Venice is a visual feast every where you turn. I loved the Ca d'Oro museum and the Miracoli church. Also try to visit Torcello and Burano, if there is time.

suec1 Feb 9th, 2013 08:44 AM

Not sure you need to do both Ostia Antica and Pompei - I think the easier one would be Ostia Antica. You might do some hotel research on - for both cities you can put in an area, there are reviews and of course price-points. You will have better luck with specific recommendations here if you give us your budget. I'd push the budget for 3 days in Venice - plenty to do. Can you get Rick Steve's guidebooks in the UK - he has lots of moneysaving and practical, logistical info in his books. Enjoy!

bilboburgler Feb 9th, 2013 09:16 AM

If, for money's sake you decide to stay in Venice Mestre ten at least get up early one morning and see the dawn in Venice proper.

TeaLoverDenise Feb 9th, 2013 09:20 AM

Thank you so, so much for your help everyone. Lots of good reading for the next few hours. :-)

Our nightly hotel budget for Venice would be £100-150 - or less if we could get away with it.

For Rome, it would be £100 or less .... by the way, I was just reading about staying at a convent in Rome called Fraterna Domus. What do you think??

Sassafrass Feb 9th, 2013 09:27 AM

First, kind of hate to start with a negative, but wish you had asked before booking flights. You could have done a multi city and flown into Venice and out of Rome for about the same as cost of train to/from Venice to Rome. However, if that can't be changed, it is minor. Just create your itinerary based on the fact that you will need to be back in Rome at the end.

Your flight from England is short, so go directly to Florence or Venice, or even Pompeii area, do all your other travel at the beginning and put all your time in Rome at the end.

English speakers are treated fine. If you can learn a few words like Good morning, Thank you, Excuse me, etc. it will be appreciated.

Train to Venice is easiest and takes you right to Venice Sanata Lucia Station - a beautiful way to enter Venice. Much better to spend two nights in Venice. You will have only part of the first day. It is too far to be an enjoyable day trip from Rome, and people who do it only as a day trip are often unhappy with Venice.

Tours, just my opinion: Many people love tours, but if you buy really good guide books and study even a little bit, you can get do most things on your own and save lots & lots of money. I may enjoy a tour, but find I actually don't remember a lot of what the guides say. You want to save money. That is one way to do it.

Venice: easy to do on your own unless you want a tour of a specific place like Doges' Palace.

Rome: Only had a couple of tours and found I preferred being on my own, so depends on your own desires.

Pompeii: I hate this as a day trip and would not do it as a tour. Many people do it as a day trip from Rome, but I would stay a night or two in Naples or Sorrento. That is personal pref though. With a day trip,you wouldn't have to change hotels. I just hate hours of travel in one day, so don't do it. You can take the train and go to Pompeii on your own. At the entrance, you can hire a very good local guide - much cheaper than doing a whole booked tour from Rome. You could also book a guide ahead to meet you at Pompeii. I've had two tours and once with my own, quite long, written guide. I got much more out of walking and reading, but I had read a lot before hand.

Ostia Antica is also easy to do from Rome. You do not need to take an expensive guided tour.

You like art and architecture.

You might want to include a day in Florence for David, the Duomo and Baptistery and Uffizi. You would probably enjoy two days there, but with only ten days, you have to make choices. If Pompeii is a must, Florence works OK as a day trip from Rome and no checking into and out of hotels.

In Rome, of course the Sistine, but for great sculpture, don't miss the Borghese. It is great also because you must book ahead. It has only two hour time slots. So, no lines or waiting.

Do you actually have 10 days on the ground or does that include arrival and departure days? What time to do you arrive?

You are going from North to South, so consider a cheap flight between Venice and Naples. Do Florence as a day trip from Rome rather than Pompeii as a day trip.

Idea for start of planning:
Day 1 Arrive Rome - train straight to Venice
Day 2 Venice
Day 3 Fly to Naples, bus to Sorrento or stay in Naples and go to museum, or if your flight is very early, go ahead and visit Pompeii.
Day 4 Pompeii (if you didn't go on day 3) & train to Rome
Day 5,7,8,9 Rome (day trip to Ostia Antica)(day trip to Florence)
Day 10 depart

senozkadir Feb 9th, 2013 09:30 AM

To save money on public transport (vaporetto) in Venice,you can buy a 3 DAY ticket(25 €) which is valid also for Murano,Burano and Lido.(Standard fare is 6€ one way)
The following link may help you planning Venice sightseeing

adrienne Feb 9th, 2013 09:35 AM

<< in Venice,you can buy a 3 DAY ticket(25 €) >>

It's not a 3 day ticket, it's a 72 hour ticket which makes a difference. The price is E35.

senozkadir Feb 9th, 2013 09:38 AM

Sorry but in order not to give wrong info,I have checked it from this website.

Nikkei Feb 9th, 2013 10:03 AM

I highly recommend the Bed and Breakfast Association of Rome for accomodations. As you say, you are looking for "functional". We used their services for a four day stay in Rome after a cruise, and were highly impressed with them. Their home page is here:

senozkadir Feb 9th, 2013 10:08 AM

Yes,Adrienne you are right.Sorry for the wrong info. I've checked it again-72 hours 35€.Still cheap when compared to the 6€ ticket each time,isn't it?:)

As to the hotels,we stayed at Ca Centopietre(Venice) in August 2011 and it was a mid-range central hotel.The owner Marco was very hospitable and the hotel was very clean.

In Rome,Hotel Serena,Hotel Assisi and Hotel Marconi are the ones we tried and found clean,safe and comfortable.
You'd better try finding a hotel using the
have a nice time in Italy :)

TeaLoverDenise Feb 9th, 2013 10:19 AM

Mimar, thank you for the suggestion of staying in Venice proper.

A friend has recommended the Murano Glass Factory tour. (Too touristy??) We love the glass works of the American Dale Chihuly, so thinking that maybe Murano would be enjoyable.

RobIm Feb 9th, 2013 10:38 AM

We have been to Italy three times. We are not rich. My wife scours the internet for good deals on nice places. Look on my website for my write-ups. It includes where we stayed, things we did and suggestions. -


TeaLoverDenise Feb 9th, 2013 10:41 AM

Adrienne, thank you for your detailed suggestions - I especially love the one about packing a picnic lunch for the train!

You said:

"You can easily see Ostia Antica on your own via train. On the way there or back you can stop for 90 minutes at St. Paul Outside the Walls, one of the major basilicas in Rome."

1) Can you walk from the train station in Ostia to the site itself?

2) Is 'St. Paul Outside the Walls' the name of the stop on the train line?

TeaLoverDenise Feb 9th, 2013 10:51 AM

suec1 Thank you for your reply, the link, and yes, I actually just received Rick Steves' ITALY 2012 yesterday from Amazon. I love his travel style.

Seeing that our Venice hotel budget is £100-150/night, we are now looking at convents as a possible alternative. But Rick has some great suggestions in his book, as well.

Thanks again.

TeaLoverDenise Feb 9th, 2013 10:52 AM

bilboburgler: The ONLY time I enjoy rising early is when on holiday, so will definitely catch that Venice sunrise! Thanks for your reply.

annhig Feb 9th, 2013 10:53 AM

Hi Denise,

I second the idea of going straight from Rome to Venice though it does rather depend on what time your flight lands at Fiumicino; if it's quite late, you might like just to go to Florence on your arrival day, and make that your first stop.

to know how many nights you should spend where, we really need to know what time you are supposed to land in Rome, how many nights you have in Italy, and what time your flight leaves on the last day.

The shorter the time you have, the more these details matter!

ellenem Feb 9th, 2013 10:56 AM

1) Can you walk from the train station in Ostia to the site itself? Yes. Use the station named "Ostia Antica" for the ruins. There are other "Ostia" stations for the modern town.

2) Is 'St. Paul Outside the Walls' the name of the stop on the train line? Yes, but in Italian: Basilica S. Paolo

TeaLoverDenise Feb 9th, 2013 11:03 AM

Sassafrass...I know, I know about the flights thing! You are so right. I am the one who always plans our trips, itineraries, etc., but for some reason Mr. Tealover has decided to play tour operator this time and he booked flights before we had really discussed exact plans. Sigh.

Like your idea very much of taking the train up to Venice on Day 1. (We arrive on Wed 24 Apr Day 1 and depart on Sat 4 May)

You said:

"Day 3 Fly to Naples, bus to Sorrento or stay in Naples and go to museum, or if your flight is very early, go ahead and visit Pompeii.

Day 4 Pompeii (if you didn't go on day 3) & train to Rome"

Naples nor Sorrento were on our radar. Other than the Pompeii connection (figuratively/literally) which one would you recommend over the other - and why?

And finally, if daytripping to Florence from Rome, is Florence easy to get about from the train station?

Thank you!

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