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-   -   1st Time to Italy, can you assist? (https://www.fodors.com/community/europe/1st-time-to-italy-can-you-assist-17522/)

Thom and Barbara Feit Sep 29th, 1997 12:37 PM

1st Time to Italy, can you assist?
 
Planning our first trip in June 1998. Have started
with research via Fodors, Frommer, Rick Steves books
and guides. Plan to visit for 30 days: Rome-Venice-
Florence-Almalifi coast - Lake Como - Dolminites -
Tuscany - Glacier Express are some of the areas on
our agenda. Do you have other suggestions? Any
"must see" locations? Respond here or you may
E-mail direct: [email protected]

Tricia Sep 29th, 1997 10:07 PM

Looks like you got it covered-but you might want to scan through last months topics and read the ones onItaly- there were some good websites I found and posted for lodging. They are countesses homes, farm homes wherein you help bring in the harvest, resorts and the best beaches in Italy to swim etc. There was one town in particular that someone asked about and I found out about all kinds of festivals, bike marathons happening there all the time. Art and opera too I believe. Use the EXCITE search engine and type in Italy ____, and that should bring up a host of goodies. Good luck

B. Becker Sep 30th, 1997 08:05 AM

We just returned from 2 weeks in Tuscany, Umbria and Positano (on Amalfi Coast). Spend time in Chianti if possible. The drive is fabulous. See Montalcino and Montepulciano. If you can get to Assisi do it, everyone is very friendly. If your into wine and food, make reservations now for Taverna dei Barbi outside of Montalcino. It is in Fodors. We loved Tuscany. Not a lot of tourists and very nice people with the exception of Siena. Positano is great if you don't mind the drive getting there. The roads are difficult at best. We stayed at Palazzo Murat which was wonderful. In town, very nice staff, beautiful rooms. I do not recommend Capri, what a mess. The whole coast is crowded but Positano is the most picturesque, although parking is quite difficult and expensive.

Paula Oct 1st, 1997 03:31 PM

Just be prepared to find extreme prices on everything! This is the one country I recommend that you visit with a tour to cut down the price of everything!

However if you are going to tour by yourselves by car? I wouldn't miss Naples, Mt. Vesuvius, Pompeii, and Herculaneum.

The Amalfi coast with Sorrent and the isle of Capri is really beautiful.

Is there any way that you can go earlier on your tour? The summer months are just packed with people and if you can just adjust your schedule to travel in the "shoulder" months you can cut the frustration! The museums, shops, beaches, etc. are packed with tourists and natives alike!

E-mail me for further tips!

John Oct 2nd, 1997 04:33 PM

Your previous answers almost have it covered, please either go in early May or Sept. Been there 12 times on business and pleasure.

D. Spiegel Oct 3rd, 1997 11:35 AM

Just returned. Loved Venice. Take a morning or afternoon to visit the island of Burano (not Murano) where the houses are painted all the colors of the rainbow. For Venice, rent the movie "Summertime" with Kathryn Hepburn. Time permitting, visit the Italian Riviera. I stayed in Santa Margherita, which was convenient to the other towns by train.

Carolyn White Oct 3rd, 1997 01:08 PM

Travelled from Paris to Rome and then on to Venice.
Skip Rome. Aside from the major tourist attractions it's just like New York City, only the people, especially men, are ruder. Italian trains were filthy and service people at the stations were not the least bit helpful. Venice was beautiful and it was fun to get lost in the narrow streets that wind throughout the city. Rode the French train back to Paris and it was the epitome of comfort. April was an excellent time to be in France and Italy.

Jill Landman Oct 4th, 1997 10:51 AM


Hi Paula--
I saw your message on the bulletin board. We are
possibly thinking of spending our honeymoon in
Italy and France. We are unsure of the weather, as we will be travelling in early April. Can you advise on the weather and possibly recommend some places we might enjoy. We're both mid-20's, pretty active, and we would like to splurge since this is the big one!!
Any help would be greatly appreciated. Much thanks!!!!

kris Oct 4th, 1997 12:33 PM

I wouldn't spend too much time in Rome, maybe two days, but the Vatican and Colliseum are worth seeing. It is also only a short distance to Pompeii. There are a couple of beautiful islands off the coast of Napoli. Capri and Ischia were two of my favorite places in Italy and they wern't swamped with tourists. If you enjoy camping I recommend Ischia (and I'm not sure if I'm spelling this right. . .but it's close).

Joe Lomax Oct 6th, 1997 01:24 PM

I think you need a give a contrary opinion to kris
and Carolyn White.
As my wife says, "East or West, Rome is best."
There is no city anywhere that has as much important
from as many eras as Rome: Ancient, Medievel,
Renaissance, Baroque, 19th century and Modern. When
St. Phillip Neri had the Chiesa Nuova (The New Church) built, New York City was a log stockade
built by the Dutch at the tip of Manhattan.

I cannot comment on what happens to an unaccompanied woman, because I never will be one. However, as a
couple, neither will you. Accompanied, my wife
never has had any trouble with Italian men, and in
contrast has always been treated with the highest of
respect. Italians, even Romans, are not New
Yorkers, but they have very set views of politeness. If you are unaquainted with their ways, for example
grabbing merchandise directly off of the shelves,
they will be very curt with you. However, if you
have problems, they are among the best problems
solvers you will encounter. They have spent their lives avoiding, passing through and cutting red-tape. You must always ask, not demand. If they feel you are not simpatico, they are perfectly willing to invoke one of the myriad of rules that cover every situation.

The other major challenge wrt Rome is that there is
so much, that you can often walk by it without
realizing it. Typical course of attitude towards
Rome:

First two days: overwhelmed; seen the Vatican and the Coleseum. Wish you had gone camping. ;)
Next two days: getting acclimated, and have learned
to get around. Finally found the Pantheon, the Trevi Fountain and have been to a few more museums.
Found a couple of good places to eat.
By the end of the week: convinced you have seen
nearly everything. Gone to S. Maria Maggiore,
a Carravaggio and the Trastevere. Have heard there is a neat church near S.M.M. with some good mosaics. Finally start figuring out the appeal of Bernini
and Borromini. A regular a the resturants or
now have about 5 good resturants to choose from.

Soon into the second week. Overwhelmed again, but
got the fever. When will I get to see the Raphael
frescos at the Villa Farnesina? Can I get the nuns
at S. Cecilia to let me see the Cavallini's? Will
I see Shelley's grave?

After that. A realization that, only with two
lifetimes will you get to see everything.

As compare to other Italians, it is true, Romans are less likely to give directions, as they have had to
deal with tourists since the time of Ceasar. They
will give you directions but quickly and not twice.
In contrast, a New Yorker would suggest you change
your diet and die.

Rome is pricey. Two ways of dealing with this are
1) stay in a convent: the Villa Lante and the
Suore Francescane on the Via Nicolo V, are both
very good, friendly and reasonable. 2) Use
'tavola calde' (hot table) shops to get carry out,
Italian style. It may not be as romantic or as
comfortable, but it is very good food and it
makes a fancy resturant even more special.

I am not doubting the sincerity or observation
powers of the two other writers, but I felt that, as
written, you were not getting the full story.

P.S. If you want out of the way beauty, try the
Abruzzi and Gubbio.

KAREN SMITH Oct 6th, 1997 04:28 PM

Dear Carolyn,

Just read your review of your European vacation. I am also trying to plan a trip and was wondering if you used the EuroPass to from Venice to Paris.

What class did you travel by rail? Approximately what was the cost?

Thanks for your help.

Karen Smith

Thom and Barb Feit Oct 22nd, 1997 07:21 PM

Thanks to all who have given advice. We are still
taking notes. To respond to some of the questions
we must travel in June, and plan to do as much of
the travel by train and bus as posible. I understand that driving in Italy is a true challenge. This may eliminate some of the cities and towns. Keep ofering advice. Thanks! Ciao!

Monica Oct 24th, 1997 03:29 PM

I loved Venice (our favorite--do the Rick Steve's Osteria tour for sure) and Rome but not Florence (too loud and crowded with all of the motor scooters). Two cities no-one has mentioned are Verona (really loved the flavor--like your stereotypically European city) and Assisi, but that was before the earthquakes.


Rod Oct 24th, 1997 03:45 PM

Agree with several above - don't drop Rome! You might think about renting a car when you leave Venice, for the rest of the trip. That way you can better enjoy some of the great scenery in northern Italy and Switzerland. Also suggest including Interlaken, Switzerland - a wonderful final destination before you fly out of Zurich.

Barbara Cammarata Oct 26th, 1997 10:51 AM

Buon Giorno,
We've made three month long trips to Italy, the latest being five weeks in March/April of this year. It was the best of our trips due to a spectacular new book by Fred Plotkin called Italy for the Gourmet Traveler. Mr. Plotkin has lived in Italy for close to 30 years now, and has compiled a list of all the non-touristy, out of the way ristoranti and trattorie in every region of the country. His 700+ page book gives excellent background information , lists food shops, markets and the best food places we've ever experienced. If you travel with nothing else, travel with Fred.
As for accomodations, we've found the small hotels and pensiones in the Karen Brown guide books to be the most reliable and the most satisfying. Have enjoyed the Accademia, Flora, and Bel Sito in Venice; La Saracina in the Pienza/Montepulciano area; and in Positano an incredible paradise that is listed only in Karen Brown -- La Fenice. A bargain, and one of the most beautiful and friendly places you'll find in all of Italy. While on the Amalfi Coast, don't miss the hilltop town of Ravello. A real charmer and worth the drive. Best ceramics along the coast. If you want to spend the night, Villa Maria is gorgeous and moderately priced for the area.
If you'd like to talk further, I'd welcome an e-mail from you. I have an extensive collection of books on Italy, as well as guide books and language books. Glad to help. Buon Viaggio!!

Donna Nov 5th, 1997 06:26 AM


Dear Thom and Barbara,
We spent 3 weeks in Italy in June. Flew into Rome, which we loved - took tours with Scala Reale (small groups of no more than 6, guide is an American living in Rome, has a Ph.D.) We loved Rome because you can walk to the piazzas and feel as though you are in a small town.
Took the train to Florence, stayed at Morandi alla Crocetta, lovely hotel in good location. A man who works there, Frank Peters, also gives a very good private tour. Next took train to Venice, stayed at Locanda alli Apostoli, beautiful old palazzo on the grand canal owned and run by a count.
Took the train to Milan where we rented a car and drove to Lake Como, which was gorgeous. Then drove to Cinque Terre for hiking and beautiful scenery, then on to Tuscany to Lucca (liked didn't love) San Gigmignano Loved and we were lucky enough to be there where they were having a festival. Then drove to Siena, next to Spello (Assissi little sister) then back to Rome.
If you need any hotel suggestions are other advice, email me.
Hope this helps,
Donna

Cecelia Lasseter Nov 5th, 1997 03:29 PM

Have you considered renting a villa? Try the rental agency Solemar who has representatives in the US. We did this in June of 97 and loved living like a local. You must have a rental car for accessibility.Auto Europe is excellent.Any of the small towns within 40 miles of Florence are great places to rent - especially in the Chianti region. I would disagree with the person who did not like Rome.We stayed at a small hotel in the historic center -Due Torri- where they recommended wonderful restaurants and even made our reservations.We found the Romans to be quite polite and friendly.Driving is not as bad as most people say just stay loose. Have a great time.

Nicole V. Nov 14th, 1997 02:57 PM

Since part of your trip may include Lake Como, let me suggest the small beautiful town of Bellagio, which is on the tip of the lake's penninsula which forms to two legs of the lake. The view is probably the best of all the towns on Lake Como and the town itself is very small, picturesque, full of shops and great restaurants. We visited there this past August. For more info. and some pictures, visit our travelogue at http://www.lunadesigns.com/travels/

Deidre Lockwood Nov 14th, 1997 04:34 PM

What are "shoulder" months?

Marvin Finnley Nov 16th, 1997 05:55 PM

We are planning a trip to Italy and Greece in July 1998. Perhaps I am too optimistic, but I thought we could do this in a month. We will be traveling with a 7-year old child. I know that July is probably the worst time to travel, but I have no choice. I also realize that having a child along might complicate things, but we have traveled with him before in Australia and New Zealand, and he is a good traveler.

However, I would like some opinions from more seasoned Italy travelers about a suggested itinerary, and if it's wise to try to see both Greece and Italy. Granted, we cannot see either country in depth. We will reserve that for the future; we seek to experience a bit of the best of both countries with the minimum (if possible) hassles. I had planned on spending two weeks in each country. Greece seems easier than Italy, so I would like some help on the first two weeks in Italy: should we attempt Venice given the crowds (and our child), or should we just forget Venice, spend time at Lake Como, then see Florence, Pisa, Rome, Naples (Pompeii, etc) each for a few days?

I would be very grateful for some help.

Marv Finnley


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