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Ruisa Dec 29th, 2011 11:00 AM

7 Days in Italy late September 2012
My husband and I have a pre-paid 7 day hotel stay in Italy. We've never been to Europe and I think this will be the first and our last trip to Europe due to the cost. Since we will be in Europe, we would like to see the Eiffel Tower, too. Would you please recommend or suggest an economical itinerary for us? BTW, what is the exchange rate and where or what is the best way to exchange USD to Euro? Thank you.

cmeyer54 Dec 29th, 2011 11:04 AM

Let me understand your question - you have 7 nights prepaid in italy and want to see paris as well? Where will you be in Italy? Can you add days before or after the italy portion as getting to Paris for a day trip would be nearly impossible. The exchange rate will fluctuate at least daily - I would use ATM's to withdraw euros as needed during your trip. You could fly into paris, spend some days there and then take a train to Italy assuming you'll be near a major city, then fly back from that city.

StCirq Dec 29th, 2011 11:07 AM

Why did you prepay 7 days in Italy if you wanted to zoom over to France? And is there anything else you want to see besides the Tour Eiffel? (Because if that's all, it's simply nuts to go all the way there for that.) There is no fixed exchange rate; it's always changing. And you don't want to "exchange USD to euro," you just take your ATM card with you and withdraw from the machines.

Ruisa Dec 29th, 2011 11:17 AM

Thank you for your reply, cmeyer54 and StCirq. Actually, what we have is a prepaid 7 days hotel stay in France (CDG) or Italy. What would you do if you were in our shoes?

StCirq Dec 29th, 2011 11:23 AM

You have prepaid a 7-day stay at CDG - the airport? Why? At any rate, if I were in your shoes I'd spend all 7 days in Paris and maybe take a daytrip or two.

annhig Dec 29th, 2011 11:35 AM

please Ruisa,

can you post exactly what you have pre-booked and paid for, so that we can work out what the possibilities are?

7 days prebooked in Italy is very different from 7 days pre-paid in in France or Italy. is CDG where you are flying to? where are you flying out of? where are you flying from?

help us to help you!

qwovadis Dec 29th, 2011 11:41 AM stay in Paris plenty to do for 7 days
skip Italy.Icurrently am booked at the Marriott CDG for
April that area is ok not great but you can make your way
cheaply around from there no problem if you have free rooms
that would be the way to go.

qwovadis Dec 29th, 2011 11:46 AM Euro dropping currently $1.30 USD=1 euro
I put everything on a no foreign fee Visa CC there are
several great ones. Sapphire CC is a new one offering 50000 points which can be converted to cash just got a $500 check from them will use in europe for all transactions
close before the end of the year so always get best rate that way.Also use a bit to ATM local money big bank ATMs only. money belt do carry back up USD in my moneybelt.

Have fun!

denisea Dec 29th, 2011 12:02 PM

If your hotel is at CDG, you will be at least 45 minutes from central Paris and the ET. I would take the Italian hotel, if that is the case. Don't get me wrong, Paris is wonderful but the area around CDG is not (in my opinion).

What choice do you have in Italy for the hotel, if any.

Agree with previous post that you will want to use your ATM card to withdraw money as you go. Avoid Travelex, will pay more to get money. If you have a credit card like Capital One or AMEX platinum, they don't charge foriegn transaction fees for your charges (if you aren't using cash). It is nice to have as a back up, just in case.

cmeyer54 Dec 29th, 2011 01:28 PM

Where is your prepaid/booked, (whatever)stay in Italy? you could easily do the entire trip in Florence or Venice or Rome. Likewise with Paris. A week in any of those places would be wonderful.

Ruisa Jan 4th, 2012 09:10 AM

Thank you all for your replies. I really appreciate all of them. Hubby and I decided to stay in Italy. The hotel is in Florence area. Now, we just need the right itinerary to make the most of our trip. We would like to see The Vatican and do the Gondola ride. (I still wanna see the Eiffel Tower/Paris, though). Any suggestions/recommendations will be appreciated.

StCirq Jan 4th, 2012 09:41 AM

Hi, Ruisa.

Your hotel is in the Florence area.

The Vatican is in Rome.

The gondolas are in Venice.

The Eiffel Tower is hours away in Paris.

Leaving aside the Eiffel Tower (which you should leave aside too), if you are planning to stay at this hotel every night (as opposed to finding accommodations in Rome and Venice), you will have very long days taking the train south to Rome and then north to Venice (or vice versa) and then returning to your base near Florence (and if you're not right in Florence, you'll need to figure out how to get to the trains).

I would start by getting yourself a map of Italy and acquainting yourself with its geography - see just how far apart all these places are. And a guidebook so you know what there is to do in and around Florence, the attractions of which you haven't even mentioned as being on your wish list.

Is it set in stone that you must spend the entire vacation in one hotel? If so, then I would plan the trip around that particular location rather than trying to hop all over the country.

charnees Jan 4th, 2012 10:29 AM

Yes, first of all, it is virtually impossible to take a day trip to Paris from Florence, see the Eiffel Tower, and get back again. That is why stcirq says you will have to forget about it.

I suspect when you got this reservation you were not aware of the distances involved. But if you are stuck with this reservation, you should look at the fastest train available, the Frecciarossa, to get to Rome. It will be pretty expensive, so be prepared for that. I don't think it runs often -- I confess I have not looked it up -- you will have to see whether it will fit your plans. the Vatican is huge, literally a smal
city inside Rome, and there's a lot to see there. You should start investigating how to make reservations to see the museums and the Sistine Chapel, and the Scavi (underground ruins). The lines are very long most of the day, especially if you are unable to get there first thing in the morning or to stay late in the day, due to train schedules. And you do need to find out how to get back to your hotel if you arrive late in Florence.

Venice is closer to Florence, but there is no Frecciarossa, so it will take hours to get there, close to another hour to get down the Grand Canal, then get your gondola ride, have something to eat, and get back to the train station to return to Florence.

charnees Jan 4th, 2012 10:39 AM

I hope you were not planning on driving to and from these destinations. You cannot drive into them, (actually, you can drive into some parts of Rome, but you will get hopelessly lost, and out of town cars are prohibited from central Florence) and parking, even outside the city, is expensive and will add more time getting into the historic centers. And time is something you will not have a lot of on these day trips.

Ruisa Jan 4th, 2012 10:54 AM

OK. I am starting to get this now and I feel like I am going to cry... What would you do if you were in my spot? 7D/6N at Villa Calloria, Scandicci. The nearest airport is Firenze (Florence). We are willing to stay in Rome for one night, if needed.

StCirq Jan 4th, 2012 11:07 AM

Ruisa, Scandicci is a town 6 km southwest of Florence. I just did a google search and can find no mention of any kind of transportation other than bicycle rentals (doesn't mean it doesn't exist, but I can't find any, even to get into Florence). How are you planning to get to Scandicci?

Are you renting a car? It seems you may have to, if only to get to and from Florence to take trains.

If Scandicci is your home base, then you probably need to plan your vacation around Tuscany, with maybe a bit of Umbria thrown in.

How did you come to decide on this villa anyway?

I'll try to find some time to look up transport options, but you should do the same. I guess you could take taxis.

jamikins Jan 4th, 2012 11:13 AM

It looks like an agritourismo in the countryside, which is connected to Florence by a tram (20 mins). If this is where you are I would rent a car and explore the countryside and do a day trip or two into Florence. I would not recommend driving into Florence.

This is not well located to see Venice or Rome/Vatican, so if you want to see either of these places I would take the tram into Florence and take the fast train (eurostar - booked as far in advance as possible to get the best price) and plan to spend the night.

Save Paris for another trip. If you can only afford the 7 prepaid nights I would personally save Rome and Venice for another trip as well as you will spend a lot of valuable vacation time getting there only to see a tiny bit and have to turn around and come back. Another option if you really want to see one of the two is to spend half the time in your prepaid exploring Florence and the countryside around your rental, then give up the rest of the free nights and choose between Rome or Venice and pay for your hotels the remaining nights. Try to fly into Florence/Pisa and out of Rome or Venice depending on what you decide.

Italy is a lovely country and you will have a fabulous time no matter what you decide so dont be upset about missing something (you always will miss things cause you cant see everything on a trip) and enjoy the places you decide on!

I hope this helps.

jamikins Jan 4th, 2012 11:15 AM

Info on the new tram:

charnees Jan 4th, 2012 11:20 AM

First, contact your hotel by e-mail and ask how you could get to Florence by bus, or if there is another train station would be easy to get to from your hotel. Perhaps it will work out that way, although you may not be able to take the Frecciarossa to Rome.

Meantime, go to Google and put in the name of the town, and you will see where it is in relation to the places you want to go.

Perhaps a local train stops there, which would take you to a major train station? or, because the town is near the A1 main freeway through central Italy, there are probably some other places you could get to by car if you want to start south and pick up a train further away. You could drive south to Orvieto, for example, leave the car in the free parking lot at the bottom of the hill where the train stops, and take the 1 hour train to Rome. But it will take you maybe 3 hours to get to Orvieto, so you need to spend the night in Rome. You could stay in a convent to save money. They have simple clean rooms, but also a curfew, so you have to be in by about 11 pm I think. Google convent rentals Rome.

You can also drive north on the a1 by car to the outskirts of Venice and pay the hefty parking cost, but it's a long drive, too.

Finally, if you want to salvage more of this vacation, think about going to see somethings you never considered before. You will really need to buy a guidebook!! Fodor's has one for
Florence and Tuscany. You might find lots to do that will surprise you. It just won't be quite what you were planning. But it could be quite a different, nice, experience.

StCirq Jan 4th, 2012 11:24 AM

OK, I did just find information on transportation. It appears there is a tram, plus a SITA bus that stops nearby.

And I didn't mean to suggest Ruisa should drive right into Florence to the train station; what I meant but didn't expound upon was that she might need a car to get to transportation. But that's a moot point now.

However, Ruisa, I think you should go to Trip Advisor and read up on that villa. I just found this, e.g. (doesn't mean it's accurate or even true, but it would put me off):

Mar 21, 2010, 6:17 PM

We just got back from Villa Calloria. It was AWFUL. Please do NOT book it, particularly if you have kids. The two bedroom place we had:

(1) had a SERIOUS amount of MOLD on the walls and both my 19 month old and I got really sick from it.

(2) it was dirty, had no phones, had an ANCIENT washing machine that frequently flooded and no dryer.

(3) the kitchen was stained with god knows what And to top everything

(4) the bed broke THREE times we were there and the crib they gave us was totally broken, its bottom fell out.

PLEASE PLEASE reconsider your trip before you book into this place.

charnees Jan 4th, 2012 11:24 AM

Well, I am glad to see some others did some more research for you. If the tram runs late enough in the evening, you might be able to manage a long day trip to Rome or Venice. Or you could bite the bullet and pay for a taxi to take you to your hotel in the evening. That might be cheaper than paying for a night in Rome. You'd have to ask you hotel what it might cost.

Ruisa Jan 4th, 2012 11:32 AM

Thank you, guys! I am starting to feel that there is still hope... to see Rome/Vatican and ride the gondola. @StCirq, Villa Calloria is the only option we have in Italy that is on our kinda like "timeshare" but is not a "timeshare" thingy. @jamikins, I am seriously thinking of giving up 4 nights in Florence and stay in/fly out of Rome (so we can see Rome/Vatican/Venice). I think this is all coming together now because of you, guys. Thank you! Now I just need an affordable itinerary. I am sure that by now, you all have the feeling that I am looking for more bang for my $$ :)

Ruisa Jan 4th, 2012 11:36 AM

@StCirq, uh-oh, I think I am really going to cry now :(

jamikins Jan 4th, 2012 11:37 AM

Glad you are feeling better about it.

Just to clarify - I dont think you have time for your 'timeshare', Rome and Venice. Pick 2 of the 3 and fly into one and out of the other or you will spend most time on trains and in transit rather than enjoying the locations. Italy will still be there for your next trip :)

StCirq Jan 4th, 2012 11:47 AM

Ruisa, can you get out of this arrangement now, before it becomes even more of a disaster? Even if you have to forfeit some money, it could be worth it. It might turn out to be a wash if you find a cheap hotel in Rome, for example, and don't have to spend money on trains zooming around the country. Only you can tell, of course, but I would seriously consider starting all over with this plan.

Ruisa Jan 4th, 2012 11:48 AM

@charnees, I am seriously thinking of staying at a convent in Rome because it sounds economical and convenient. Thank you for the info.

StCirq Jan 4th, 2012 11:51 AM

Convents in Italy can be very nice and very inexpensive. I think that's a great idea.

charnees Jan 4th, 2012 11:53 AM

Oh, ruisa, I'm so sorry about that review!

I know it may be tough for you to manage, but here's what I would do:

Cancel the reservation. It's a very expensive lesson, but you might be quite miserable there.

Fly into Venice and out of Rome.

Stay two nights in Venice -- by Googling convent stay Venice, I found this thread on Trip Advisor.

Take the train to Rome.

Spend the remaining time in Rome. Stay at a convent again.

Fly home from Rome.

Or if you can't swing that, put off the trip for a year, and start over, equipped with some very hard-won lessons.

charnees Jan 4th, 2012 11:58 AM

By the way, the reason for starting in Venice is that plane flights back to the US usually depart very early in the morning, and getting to the airport from central Venice is very difficult at that hour, and might be expensive, too. It's easier to get to the Rome airport at that time of day.

charnees Jan 4th, 2012 12:10 PM

Just spotted this on another thread

degiulio on Jan 3, 12 at 9:48am

Have you considered staying in a convent? We stayed here in 2010 and it was a great experience. Clean, quiet, safe, great location right across the street from the Vatican Museum entrance and cheap, 60 euro per night in Sept. There should be reviews on Tripadvisor if you want to read them. Good luck.

Casa Accoglienza "Paolo VI"
Piccole Suore Sacra Famiglia
Viale Vaticano, 92
00165 ROMA
Tel. +39 06 3909141
Fax. +39 06 39091427
e-mail: [email protected]

Ruisa Jan 4th, 2012 12:22 PM

@charnees, thank you.

StCirq Jan 4th, 2012 12:29 PM

Ruisa, here is a site listing convent/monastery stays in Italy. Please be sure to read as many reviews as you can (on that site or elsewhere, like Trip Advisor) before booking something!

There's also a book called Bed and Blessings - you can probably get a cheap second-hand copy on Amazon.

Ruisa Jan 4th, 2012 12:34 PM

@StCirq, thank you.

StCirq Jan 4th, 2012 12:50 PM


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