1st Trip to Italy Suggestions?

Jan 3rd, 2009, 08:13 AM
  #1  
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1st Trip to Italy Suggestions?

My sister is planning a trip to Italy in June with a group of 13 people, I believe 7 adults and 6 teen-agers. Their must-sees are Rome and Venice. This will be everyone's first trip to Italy. There are no Italian speakers in the group. Any suggestions? They are interested in a cruise or tour and have a travel agent who is helping them...but they are looking for some advice from experienced travelers.
dlejhunt is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 08:25 AM
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Most people here on Fodor's plan their own trips independently, but hopefully some will have suggestions for a tour company or cruiseline that would include those two cities.

Usually this is the time I chime in & encourage people to do it themselves, but with such a large andn diverse group I think buying a packaged trip is an OK idea.
suze is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 09:03 AM
  #3  
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Hello Suze, my sister is open to planning the trip herself, but with so many people I think it might be really difficult.

dlejhunt is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 09:32 AM
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I LOVE to plan and wouldn't want to be responsible for the happiness of 12 other people!

Grab a copy of travel magazines like Budget Travel and Conde Nast and look at the advertisements for various tour companies. All the major players advertise there (Globus, etc.)

Rick Steves guidebooks and TV programs are another good resource in the initial planning phases.

Even if they pick a tour, they'll want to make sure that it fits what people are expecting as far as destinations, pace, type of hotels, etc.
suze is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 10:38 AM
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First of all how many days do they have to travel will be the thing to determand how you do any trip. Second, take those days & see how many you want to spend in Venice & in Rome & go from there. This will let you know where & how you should do the rest of your trip. Like a cruise that starts in Venice & ends in Rome, or a tour that does the same thing. We have been on a cruise that started in Venice & ended in Rome( the coast of Rome) that was a 12 day cruise that did the Greek Islands. See what I mean!
RONREYN2008 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 11:13 AM
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Your sister is a very brave person. She is taking on a very thankless task, and unless she does some very necessary and very smart things, she may be a very unhappy person a few days into the trip.

She needs to hold regular meetings with everybody in the group, inform them, show them videos, make them read reports from people on this website and others - or else she’ll get unfairly blamed for anything and everything people in the group won’t like, much of it because it’s, well, different.

People will be tired, have jetlag, will not like the unfamiliar this and that, and in that state it is easy for the vibe to sour if they are all inexperienced travelers.

For a reality check: Does everybody in the group realize that they will spend, on average, about twice what they would spend if the vacation was in the US?

Things cost more, often it is not possible to scout out a cheaper eatery even if there were one somewhere - the larger the group, the less the flexibility, so you settle in where it seems handy and timely and - voilà - it is not a cheap place.

There are no refills (!), no seconds, probably no ice in drinks, no “doggie-bags” for left-overs - just to sit down at a table involves a few bucks in “cover charge” for the bread and the table cloth... That’s just the way it is - does everybody in the group know that, so that they won’t start grumbling and complaining on Day 1?

Do they know that sitting down outside at a café costs twice as much as sitting inside, and that standing at a bar or counter if there is one costs even less? But that it is totally not okay to order cheap at the counter and then go sit down?

It is those little culture-shock things that make people grumpy, they feel “taken” and insecure - when they should have been educated as to the different ways of doing things in a different country.

So make sure your sister educates herself and the group, maybe by asking around for someone who has travelled extensively in Italy to come address the group over pizza one evening?

Until we know how many days you have, we can’t address an itinerary, except to suggest that you make out the tickets so you fly into one city and home from another, to save bigtime on backtracking just to catch a flight. Your travel agent will know how to do that.

Whatever you do, build in generous down-time with nothing planned. People want to just be, amble about, do laundry, go on a little excursion by themselves, in twos or threes.

Make sure people have a good map each, and a little compass - buy a bunch and hand them out, in Venice it is fun to get a little lost, but with a compass and a map it is never a drama.

Your sister will not be able to keep such a large group together at all time, so make sure everybody has those things plus a piece of paper with the hotel and any phone numbers etc., plus a place and time where you all meet if you get separated.

Do they all know how to pack light? I mean l-i-g-h-t? So that nobody becomes a pain in the you-know-where to the others, slowing down the group?

Do they all know about electricity, plug adapters versus voltage converters, about leaving cosmetics and jewellery at home?

About pickpockets - serious business, not to be ignored!?! No wallets, especially not in back pockets, and so on?

Do they know about notifiying banks so that the ATM cards and the credit card purchases won’t get blocked?

And on and on.

Fingers crossed for your sister, she is a brave person!
DalaiLlama is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:00 PM
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13 people, June in Italy, no plans yet, a travel agent may or may not be rendering advice. When there, cruise ship versus traveling about, apparently no agreed-to maximum budget. Rome and Venice must-sees.
Sounds like your sister herself needs to get deeply involved in making all the plans. Don't think 13 people getting involved works.
From what I have seen , the only possible way your sister can pull all this off for a June departure [I assume you already have your plane reservations in place] is to take a cruise, from Rome to Venice [or the reverse,.
All meals included so you can plan your budget. 6 teenagers will be occupied each day and night, adults can relax and enjoy a marvelous Mediterranean cruise in June...
Remus is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:48 PM
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Monogram tours is part of Globus and specializes in independent tours just handling the hotel,transportation and a city tour of each city. The remainder of the times you are on your own.This might be something you would be interested in with such a large diverse group. The web site is www.globusjourneys.com
letsgo39 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 12:55 PM
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IMHO a cruise just does not offer enough time in port to get to enjoy your destination. A land tour like mentioned above with Monogram would allow for enough free time for everyone to enjoy Rome and Venice.Of course there is never enough time in those cities!! I also love to plan but a group that size is daunting!
letsgo39 is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 02:06 PM
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Hey guys - what great advice. Thanks so much to everyone who has posted information. I am going to forward a link to my sister.

I don't think she realizes what a big task she has in front of her...your advice will help.
dlejhunt is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 02:15 PM
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DalaiLlama, You are indeed a "big hitter" as advertised---what sage advice. But you have not told me who you are and your background. Curious minds need to know.
I agree, this task is a no win situation--she will need help.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 02:50 PM
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I agree with the suggestion of a guidebook.

I would start with a trip to the bookstore and the purchase of 2 or 3 different guidebooks, ones with distinctively different target audiences.

Eveeryone on the trip should select a "must see" and you can work things out from there.

Getting the whole gang to do everything at the same time is probably unreasonable. Breaking down into smaller groups (3-5 people) who are focused on the same activities might work better.

Perhaps you want to choose each day's activies the night before. Get the guide books out over dinner or coffee and plan the itinerary one day at a time.

You won't see everything. Don't even try. Just have a wonderful time, one day at a time.

I do have general suggestions.

Make your big exciting meal lunch rather than dinner. It is less expensive that way and gives people a chance to relax and recharge.

Buy plenty of bottled water to keep in your hotel room and carry with your. Everyone will feel better if they aren't dehydrated.

Visit some catacombs in Rome. My favorite is the catacombs of Priscilla. Visit the islands of Venice and spend some time getting lost. Lost in Venice is invariably a delight.

Best wishes. Ellen

ebcutler is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 03:31 PM
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Not to sidetrack the thread, but - "big hitter"? I just get around, is all.
DalaiLlama is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 04:06 PM
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You may want to consider a stopover in Florence, it is beautiful and somewhat midway between Venice and Rome. For a large group you may want to cosider renting a mini bus, for your major journeys between cities, no real need for transportation in the big cities as public transport or taxies work pretty well. Also remember it can be hot in June and if booking your own hotels be sure to check for A/C.

Good luuck
italyquest is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 04:06 PM
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That is a famous line from CADDY SHACK that my son has often repeated---big hitter as in golf.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 05:21 PM
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She needs to spend time with guidebooks, maps & other itineraries as presented by organized tours or suggested in tour guides.

It is definitely do-able to plan this trip independently (i'd love to sign up myself to do it for them!) just a matter of how much time she's willing to put into the planning on other people's behalf, and take the attitude from people as thing unfold.

With a group you also want 'buy in' that people will have the trip that they are anticipating.

suze is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 05:29 PM
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I may be able to help a little, we had a group of 17 in Rome last summer it was great! After a week in Rome, we took a cruise, which also was very simple.

Rome:

Hotels, or Apts.
We all stayed near the Pantheon and would meet up each morning for breakfast. It was a great area for meeting up, easy to find each other, and such a nice view to enjoy your morning coffee. Post cruise we stayed near the Spanish Steps, this was not as good for meeting up.

Eating out:
Eating with a large group in Rome was very easy. The restaurants look so small, but most have huge interiors. We usually only got one check, so just make sure you know how to handle the money issues.

Rome was really easy to do with a large group.
happytotravel is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 08:52 PM
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I am actually the sister and yes, I have been going back and forth on what approach to take with planning this trip. Feedback from my fellow travelers includes wanting to visit Pompeii, Florence, and even Tuscany, but I do not think this is all possible. I am toying with the idea of renting one or two homes (one in the South and one in the North)then touring on our own, but I believe that we would have to rent a vehicle for all 13 of us. Any more feedback would be so greatly appreciated. As yet, I have not booked the flights or done anything else. We are meeting on a regular basis with hopes of finalizing our wants by the end of this month, then doing the final booking for this trip. Thanks for all of your help!
dlejhunt is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 09:20 PM
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I suggest that all 13 people don't need to do everything together, at the same time (as far as needing a huge vehicle that fits everyone).

Splitting up into smaller groups, singles, some going, some staying, will ease any potential tension on the trip.
suze is offline  
Jan 3rd, 2009, 09:30 PM
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We actually would like to stay together if possible, as it seems like we do want the same things. I am reviewing some tours that give us down time. Does anyone know what is the approximate cost for a trip to Italy as discussed? We plan on staying 10-12 days in all.
dlejhunt is offline  

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