14 days in Italy

Old Apr 22nd, 2012, 09:56 PM
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14 days in Italy

I am a 43 year old single male traveller, going to Italy from 8-21 July. Landing and departing Rome. On a tight budget and don't want to spend more that 100 euro max/night acc. I have an idea layed out for my trip.

Landing at Fiumicino midday on the 8th and take train to Pisa, then two days in Santa Margharita and then two days that I'm not sure what to do, then two days Venice, 3 days Florence and then to Rome until I depart the evening of 21 July. How does this sound?
I always suffer from jetlag (or perhaps just tired as I just cannot sleep on a plane). I prefer to sleep in as few as possible places as I feel I'm losing half a day everytime I need to relocate.

What should I do with the 2 uncertain days in my itinary?
How does my itinary look in general?
I would love to spend a little time in the very small villages, but will it be possible to get transport there?
Is it better to rent a car than to use the train?I do not want to drive into cities as I struggle to adapt to left hand driving. I see that a train pass is a good thing but if a understand correct you still need to pay extra for a reservation- is that correct.
Do I need a phrase book or do most Italians speak English (which is my 2nd language)
DOUGIE_GORDON is offline  
Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 12:30 AM
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Dougie, your english is good for second language. For the touristy places you are going, you will have no trouble finding English speaking people.
How much train travel have you done before? This itinerary involves a lot of trips, so pack light, again, pack light.
Looking on Trenitalia website, you can get a train from Rome to Pisa that only takes 2 hours, plan ahead to choose that one. After Pisa, would you consider the Cinque Terre, its about ann hour and a half by train, switching to the local train at La Spezia.
The Cinque Terre is beautiful, though crowded, and it has some nice hikes between towns. You could take an extra day to do a day trip by train to Santa Margherita.
From there, you can double back to Pisa, and continue on to Florence. About 2.5 hours. Enjoy your 3 nights in Florence, then train to Venice, 2 hours if you get the fast one.
Spend your extra day in Venice, there is a lot to see there, and when you say `2 days`do you actually mean 2 nights, because with your travelling time you don`t get a full day at your destination.
When you are ready to go back to Rome, choose a fast train that gets there in 3.5 hours.
Rail Europe website can help you decide if you would benefit from a rail pass.
Florence, Venice and Rome are all expensive destinations, so some others might be able to help you choose areas to stay that are more affordable.
Try b and b world website for some cheaper room alternatives in the Cinque Terre.
The 5 towns of Cinque Terre are all charming, but not sure if Vernazza is ready for visitors since the flooding there last Oct.
Just a tip, Rick Steves website can help to decipher European train tickets if you have never used them before.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 12:57 AM
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Not sure that you will need a pass. Check the cost of train tickets point to point. IMO, the price of train tickets in Italy is cheap. Regional trains do not require seat reservation.

I would see Pisa as a 1/2 day trip from Florence.

I suggest the following plan:
- from Rome airport take the train to Venice; 3 nights
- train to Sainta Margherita - 2 nights
- train to Florence - 4 nights
Day trips from Florence to Bologna, to Pisa, maybe Siena
- train to Rome 5 nights
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 01:28 AM
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Thank you a lot for this help. No I have not done train travelling before except for short day trips to places around a city. I live in a country with very little public transport. I always try just a small backpack and small suitcase with wheels. It seems I will spend too much time on trains. I will study Cinque Terre now on internet. Yes I mean 2 nights. I will really want to see at least one opera somewhere for the experience.

Also will I be able to buy a prepaid simcard for my mobile to use in Italy or what is the cheapest way to phone.

Thank you again very much I really need all the help.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 01:31 AM
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This is an excellent website for train information: http://www.seat61.com/ And I have found that point to point tickets are the cheapest way to go in Italy. The earlier you book the cheaper they can be - look for mini fares.

For cheap accomodation look at www.eurocheapo.com

You may want to check out Verona and see if there is an opera on while you are in the Venice area...they have them at the Roman Arena!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 03:17 AM
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Thanks jamikins the seat61 website extremely helpful
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 05:42 AM
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>>>Also will I be able to buy a prepaid simcard for my mobile to use in Italy or what is the cheapest way to phone.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 06:01 AM
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Yes, you could add the 2 days to Florence OR to Pisa and make either of those cities a base for travel to the countryside. I dare say there would be more organized tours (so you don't have to drive!) from Florence but other Fodorites can confirm.

Assuming you are buying your train ticket at the airport? Follow the train icon signs and allow time to walk from airport train platform in Rome to the platforms for your next travel destination.

Have an amazing trip!
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 06:14 AM
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Well I started reading Rick Steves warnings on scams and I now realise how lucky I have always been. Never got targeted or robbed, but what worries me is that so many people have been robbed or scammed in Italy specially Rome. What is the #64.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 10:55 AM
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Dougie, don't worry about it, just keep your wits about you. Italy might have petty crime, but we felt a lot less safe in Guatemala, for example. Totally different story.
Dougie, I thought you wanted to overnight in Pisa, but if not, then I agree kybourbon's plan is a good one.

jamikins, how have I gone to Europe all these times and not known about seat61? Thanks for the tip.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 01:17 PM
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Glad to help
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 01:26 PM
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I like valtor's itinerary suggestion. www.venere.com is also a good website for lodging - you can search by city/area/budget
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 07:41 PM
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Thanks for all the help. I'm landing at Fiumicino at 11:50 on Sunday 8 April and not being a good air traveller I doubt I will be up to a 5 hour train trip.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2012, 09:03 PM
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you may want to check out renting rooms through airbnb.com or even check into youth hostels, if your budget is small. it can be a good way for a solo traveller to meet people. it can leave more money left over for great meals and activities.
some of the hostel locations are world-class. (and some are depressing...) check on fodors to find great ones if you are interested.

i would not rent a car-- as others have said... just buy single travel tickets. if you are willing to commit and book ahead, the mini fares are great-- and you reserve you seat online from home. then you print your ticket-- and you also can file it away in your email. it's a great way to go.
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Old Apr 24th, 2012, 01:01 AM
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I have only once stayed in a Hostel in 1998 in China and that was a horrifying experience. I arrived in Shanghai at midnight and had to stay the night, but left the next morning and booked into a hotel. The hostel owner insisted that I pay for the extra 5 nights that I've booked.

I realise that there must be well kept hostels. Please give advise. Is there a locker for your luggage and valuables. And I always thought hostels are only for the youth.
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