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50 year old woman alone in Italy- needs advice/encouragement

50 year old woman alone in Italy- needs advice/encouragement

Old May 30th, 2006, 03:29 PM
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50 year old woman alone in Italy- needs advice/encouragement

I'm turning 50 this fall and probably separating from my husband/partner of 30 years in August (not my choice). As a result of both events I'm thinking of a women's only Cinque Terre walking tour in September with CountryWalkers. I think doing something active with other women would be empowering and good for me. However, I'm hesitating because it's a long way from California to Italy (14 hours) for just a week, especially since I suffer horribly from jet lag/time changes. Therefore, I'd like to go a few days early to recover before a week of strenuous walking, but husband/kids' schedules will only allow me to get there about two days early.

I'd probably fly into Rome, which I've never been to, but am wondering how easy it is to get from the airport into town and navigate my way around on my own, especially when I'll be exhausted from the flights, unfamiliar with the city, and don't speak any Italian. Also is it worth going to Rome for just two days or should I go somewhere else? I have no problem being on my own in US cities when I've been on business trips, but this will be a lot different emotionally since all my previous foreign travel was with my husband. Once I get to the tour with other women, it will be okay, but it's the upfront part that I'm hesitating about. I think I'd be better off emotionally in a big city like Rome then a small country village, but I'm worried that it would be too overwhelming for my first two days off the plane. However,I really want to do the trip and I know I'll need to go a couple of days early to acclimate myself. So I guess I'm looking for encouragement and advice about what to do. Thanks.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 03:50 PM
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The most difficult thing is getting from the airport to downtown Rome. After that, it's easy. Don't rent a car...they drive crazy there. Just take the train. But the city is very convenient and walkable. And there is more than enough to fill two days. I love it there.

I'm sorry to hear about you and your husband. But good for you that you are moving on and doing things for yourself. Enjoy your trip!!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 03:52 PM
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You certainly have my support and encouragement. I've traveled Europe on my own several times. In fact, I like traveling alone. Your circumstances are unfortunate, and I think you've got a great attitude that you want to take this trip.

I was just in the Rome Airport and it was easy to find my way around. In fact, other than good morning and thank you, I rarely needed to speak anything in Italian. English is everywhere.

If you are concerned about arriving with jetlag, an easy answer is to hop in a taxi to your hotel and give yourself time (and a drink of wine) to unwind. I also live in California and feel the effort is worth the long trip.

The Cinque Terre is wonderful -- don't miss it!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 03:53 PM
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Rome is a great place to be alone and a great place to get your solo travel legs. Big cities are actually easier that way because lots of people are going about their business on their own. You won't feel like you stand out, like you might in a beach resort or Tuscan hill town.

The cheapest way to get from the airport to town is the train. The station is right in the airport (just follow the signs) and costs less than 10 euro. When you get to Termini (the Rome station) find the taxi queue and get a cab to your hotel. ONLY take a cab from the taxi queue. Don't take a ride from any of the taxi drivers inside the station who offer you a ride. These guys will most likely take you for a LONG, expensive ride.

It's a good idea to take a couple of days to acclimate. Stroll through the amazing sites of Rome on your own time and at your own pace. Stop for wine and people watching at outdoor cafes frequently. Then you can take the train to meet your group in the Cinque Terre.

You're going to love traveling alone and Rome is a great place to get started. Enjoy!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 03:55 PM
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Go – definitely go – the advice that you get on this forum will give you the confidence you need to overcome some of the hurdles. I’ll try and kick off:

Airport to the hotel – you have a couple of options – take the train from the airport and then catch a taxi to your hotel. The train option is very easy from Rome, station is easy to find and taxis easy to find at other end. Even easier, though a little more expensive, would be once you have found a hotel, arrange for them to send a car to pick you up. If they have your flight number and arrival time they can monitor the flights – so even f you are delayed it no problem – they will meet the flight when it arrives.

If the train option appeals I can give you more directions – and others on his forum will probably give you even more detailed info.

So – book the flight and the walking tour and then use this forum to help you fill in the other bits. You’ll can get all the advice you need here.

I’ll close as I opened – GO! GO!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 03:58 PM
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Hi, My friends and I ( all single, two in their forties and myself, just turned 50 last summer) went to Rome last March. I really enjoyed it. I found that many hotels offer car service from the airport to the city. It's pricey, about 50 euro, for one, but convenient. I'm sure others here can give you advice about trains if that's too expensive. I mention it because to me, when I'm tired, it's worth it. I loved Rome. Had no trouble with language barrier, enough people speak English, that we got by easily. Rome is very walkable and staying in the Centro Storico was very convenient. I'd also suggest you consider Florence as it is closer to cinque terre- I think some would find it a little less frenetic than Rome. Although, if you like cities I think you would like them both. I wanted to say that I think it's great that you are planning this trip for yourself. Traveling by yourself when you can do what you want, when you want, can be great. Good luck!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 04:01 PM
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You also have my support! Don't let the long flight hold you back. I think it's a good idea to stay in Rome for a few days to adjust.

If you don't want to deal with a cab/train from the airport to the city in Rome, look into getting a private car service. We used limoservicerome.com. Andrea was on time and safely got us to the airport. It's 45 euros.

Good luck and have a wonderful trip. Sometimes it's what you need to heal a wounded heart!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 04:03 PM
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I'm about your age and travel alone overseas 1-2 x a year; the women's walk in the CT sounds like a GREAT idea! Although Florence or Milan seem closer to your point of interest in the CT, and could work, I think what others here have said make sense. Also -- there's something about places that have endured the ages (I'm thinking of ancient Rome -- Forum, Colliseum, and the like) that encourage oneself to endure as well.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 04:10 PM
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I'm sorry for your troubles, but I think you have a healthy plan for dealing with this.

Have you considered flying into Milan? It is generally less expensive than flying into Rome, and might be a slightly shorter flight, overall. It would also be a shorter trip from there to meet your group in Cinque Terre.

Also, jetlag has a lot to do with the timing of your flight, and number of changes. We find it easiest to take a flight from the west coast that goes all the way to Europe on the first leg---no changes in Chicago or the East coast. And a late afternoon or evening departure gives you an opportunity to sleep, even if it is a very short "night".
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Old May 30th, 2006, 04:14 PM
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There is much in Rome to lift the spirit; I'd agree with the others who are advising you to go spend a few days there. When we've been to Rome, we've always stayed at the Alimandi (www.alimandi.it). It has the distinct advantage of offering a pick up service at the airport, and it's not too expensive (about 150 Euros). Its location in Rome is convenient only to the Vatican, but if you wish to spend some time at the Vatican museums, the entry is about 100 nyards from the Alimandi. It's not too hard to get to other parts of Rome from the Alimandi, and the Tiber is close by. It's great to walk along the Tiber in the evening with Castel Sant'Angelo by your side. Another plus about the Alimandi is that it's a family run outfit (three brothers), and the staff is quite friendly. They all speak good English; well, at least the two I met did. Enjoy L'Italia!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 04:16 PM
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I would definitely go to Rome. It sounds like your whole life is about to change, like it or not, so you might as well jump in.

If you stay in the Piazza Navona/Campo dei Fioiri/Pantheon area, you won't feel like you're in a big city, it's beautiful and sort of villag-ey.

We also used limoservicerome.com, they will pick you up & drop you off & you won't have to worry about anything, they're not that expensive. You might consider staying at a convent, too.

Here's a link to WillTravel's trip report to give you inspiration:


Good luck!!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 04:16 PM
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I've read the other posts, and you've gotten some great advice. A year ago I spent the month of May in Italy; the last ten days on my own (2 days in Rome; 8 days in Florence). I would recommend taking the train (Eurostar) from Rome to Florence and spend your "alone time" there. It is smaller, very friendly, lots of English speaking people, etc. I'm in my fifties and had a wonderful time on my first "solo" flight! Good luck..have fun.

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Old May 30th, 2006, 04:33 PM
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The idea of landing in Milan and going to Florence is a good one - but I have another suggestion - how about going to Siena? It is a wonderful city, very easy to get around, and you won't feel an overwhelmning need to run around to museums, etc. There are lovely churches filled with art, beautiful piazza where you can sit and people watch and the piazza cafes are less expensive by far than Florence. It is less tourist-y, and after the flight etc. it will be wonderful. I have been there twice and Florence 3 times. I love Florence, but it can be a little overwhelming for only 2 days. I wouldn't suggst going to Rome unless you have at least 4 days, and 3 nights. (You don't want to wear yourself out). Siena is also full of art - but again it is a lovely small city. Very gracious and the food is wonderful. Good luck and God bless!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:00 PM
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I would really recommend flying into Milan (closer to CT), kick back for your 2 days (sightseeing a bit) and then train to CT.

Since you suffer from jet lag, Rome will be overwhelming. You'll barely get there and then have to leave.

However, if you do decide to go into Rome, definitely use limoservicerome.com - it's so easy - book on line. They meet you at the airport and drive you directly to your door. My first trip to Rome was last year (for a week) and I really appreciated the limo service - too much hassle with trains & taxis.

I also flew from California.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:05 PM
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My encouragement is about jet lag, which I suffer horribly. I have learned to build in a couple days in the first city, where I just kick back. Eat and sleep as I feel like it, do or don't do anything.

I'm not sure if your time will permit, but this has really saved the day and made the rest of my last few trips much more enjoyable overall.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:12 PM
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Hey Pam!
If you are going to be there in October, maybe we can see if other Fodorites want to join us for a GTG! I hope to celebrate my 50th in Tuscany this fall too!
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:26 PM
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Thank you everyone for your advice and encouragement. You're right that my life is about to change against my wishes, so I am going to make the best of it and do something for myself as opposed to mope at home. The Florence or Siena suggstions are good, but we just spent time there as a family two years ago, so I was looking for someplace new. However, we only spent a morning in Siena as the kids were complaining too much, so it might be good to go back at my leisure.

I agree that two days in Rome hardly seems worth it, especially as I'll be exhausted. I have considered flying into Milan instead, but I'm just not up to speed on what there is to do there as opposed to Rome. I will research it however and of course welcome suggestions. It probably does make more sense given my time constraints. If I do decide on Rome, all the advice on transportation from and hotels is really helpful. Thank you all.

Re: flights and jet lag, I always do try to take an evening flight nonstop from California to Europe, and then make my connection in Europe. Even with that and sleeping pills for the first couple of nights, I suffer terribly. In the past, we always went for 2-4 weeks, so I had more time to adjust. I guess I'll just deal with it because overall the trip will be worth it. Thanks again. Pam
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:36 PM
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Hey, Pam, you go girl!! You are going through a big transition in life and when you conquer the challenges ahead, you will feel a rush of empowerment like nothing else in the world. You can do this.

As for the walking tour, yes, yes, YES, do it!! I have done walking tours myself and loved it. You will make new friends on your tour and the trip will be like a much needed breath of fresh air. I also hate jet lag, but I think you have the right idea to arrive early enough to get past it.

You've already received some good travel advice and I'm not much help with travel around Italy. But I would like to wish you well and I hope you will post us back if you need anything. This board is not just for travel advice, we give each other a lot of moral support as well.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 05:52 PM
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And don't forget, you won't have to deal with his dirty laundry when you get home! Good luck & have fun.
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Old May 30th, 2006, 06:10 PM
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Go, Pam, go go go !!!

Fly into Roma with the attitude that you are going to have 2 WONDERFUL days in one of the greatest, most beautiful, most exciting cities in the world! Wow, there's nothing you can't do. You can do anything you want to do!

Make the most of your 2 days, you will find it a whole new experience to go solo just for a couple of days. You will talk to more new people, locals and other visitors alike. You will observe more, see more, enjoy more. And, the best part, since you will be doing a walking tour, you can eat as much gellato as you want. Woohoo!!

Rome is fabulous, really very easy to do on your own with a detailed map because you can walk everywhere.

I would just take the train, the Leonardo Express, to Termini. It leaves every 1/2 hour. Do make sure you take a taxi from the taxi stand and do not take a ride with anyone who approaches you, inside the station or outside either. The legit drivers will be standing by their cabs and in the line up.

I had a pirate taxi driver meet me NEAR the taxi stand and try to escort me to his cab as he asked me where I wanted to go. Since I already had taken this ride before, I knew it cost about 6E with 1 bag. I asked him how much, and he said 20E! I said, "wrong price!" and left him standing there while I got in a real taxi. Just keep your wits about taxis and the rest is easy.

The walking tour sounds wonderful (eat lots of seafood) and physical activity is a great healer.

You will have a real trip to remember. Write us a report.

Buona fortuna!
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