Beating the Euro in Italy

Old Feb 28th, 2008, 06:30 AM
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Beating the Euro in Italy

I've really enjoyed the enduring hope present in the many current threads here related to combating the high costs of travel to Europe. Your tips and suggestions show that pulling off a trip without breaking the bank is possible...with a fair amount of careful planning.

We have two updated guides in the works at the moment that could surely benefit from your expertise- <b>Fodor's Rome</b> and <b>Fodor's Florence, Tuscany, &amp; Umbria</b>.

We'd like to include a section of your recommendations for top values, budget-friendly attractions, and other strategies for stretching your money in these specific destinations. Just like our other <i>Word of Mouth</i> features, if you're quoted you're eligible for a complimentary guide. do you answer skeptics who doubt that Italy can be anything but expensive for travelers? :-?

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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 06:46 AM
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Much of the best stuff in Rome is free. When I went to Rome with my husband, I had been there once before. We took a walk the afternoon we arrived, climbed Michelangelo's steps (the cordonata) up the Capitoline Hill and walked around to the rear of the Senate building for the astounding view over the Roman Forum toward the Colosseum. While taking it all in, I said that we'd go down there the next day. My husband looked amazed. &quot;They let people in there?&quot; It felt like the kind of place that would be behind glass, like art in a museum. But indeed you can walk around, sit on the ruins while contemplating history, and all for free.

The Pantheon, also free. Trevi Fountain, Piazza Navona with the wonderful fountain of the four rivers. Innumerable churches, free. Walking across the pedestrian Ponte Sant'Angelo with the statues by Bernini and others and the great view of the Castel Sant'Angelo.

The Basilica San Clemente, with wonderful mosaics, is free, and it only costs three euros to go into the excavations of the twelfth century church, the fourth century church, and the first century house with its pagan temple to Mithras.

St. Peter's Basilica is free unless you want to climb the dome or go to the treasury. The view of the shafts of light streaming in through the dome: priceless.
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 07:03 AM
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Hi K,

In Florence:

A: The B&amp;B Peterson and the B&amp;B Cassia ( are well maintained, have AC and are only 65E for a dbl in high season.

The B&amp;B stands for Bed and Bed. No bkfst, but the Peterson is located next door to a very friendly cafe, where bkfst (cuppa and a sandwich) is only about 4E.

Both are in a residential area, less than a 10 min walk from the SMN station, on a safe street.

See my trip report:;tid=34451044

B: The no. 7 bus will take you from the SMN train station up to Fiesole for 1E (0:20 hr ride).

After visiting the town and the Etruscan ruins, you can watch the sun set over the city from the terrace of the Bar Blu for the price of a glass of wine.

C: The no 12 and no 13 buses (which stop right in front of the B&amp;B Peterson) will give you a tour fo the city (including the Piazza Michaelangelo) for 1E.

Hope this helps.

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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 07:06 AM
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If you do include them in the guide, please let the Ancillotti's know.

They will be thrilled.

Tell them Ira sent you and sends his best regards.

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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 07:11 AM
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Stopping by a market to grab some fruit, meats, cheeses and wine, is always a cost effective way to enjoy dining al fresco.
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 08:00 AM
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A great way to end the day in Florence is by watching the sun set over the city from Piazzale Michelangelo. An amazingly beautiful sight that doesn't cost a thing to enjoy.
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 08:19 AM
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The drive to Volterra from San Gimignano is one of the most scenic we have taken in Italy. The vistas are breathtaking.

Once in Volterra, buy a bottle of wine, some cheese and crackers and enjoy a relaxing picnic in the lovely park that is adjacent to Fortezza Medicea, which still serves as a prison after hundreds of years.

Afterward, meander through Volterra until you reach an overlook where you can see the well-preserved remains of Volterra's Roman theater and baths.

With all the money you saved, pick up a gelato for the walk back to the car.

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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 08:56 AM
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Oops, just read on another post that the Forum is no longer free.
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 09:04 AM
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-rent a apartment in Rome instead of staying in a hotel. Our family is paying &euro;160 per night for 4, in the Centro Storico

-use public transit: &euro;1 for bus, &euro;29 train Rome-Florence

-picnic lunches: the meats, cheeses, fruits, wines, gelato etc available at shops and markets in Italy are extraordinary
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 09:07 AM
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Katie, Thre are really 2 secrets to impacting the costs in any significant way. The first is to go off season---I suggest March or November for better air prices and also accommodations. The other secret is to stay in apartments in the major cities, which you can rent for much less off season, and plan some of your meals in-house. Make the noon meal your biggest of the day and then have a small dinner in the apartment at night. Those 2 factors will have a big impact on total trip costs. Good luck !
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 09:46 AM
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1. Avoid the tourist restaurants next to main attractions or in main piazzas (Piazza Navona, for example) and turn round a street corner or two to find much cheaper places to eat.

2. Instead of the expensive and inflexible hop on-hop off torist buses, use public transport. Bus routes go everywhere, normal buses depart much more frequently than those tourist ones.

3. Bars always have two different prices: If you have your coffee at the counter it's cheaper than when a waiter serves it at a table.

4. Grocery shopping and having a picnic saves, as stated before. Learn a little Italian, at least a few phrases from a prase book that are useful for food shopping, things like &quot;A kilo of apples please&quot;. Then try these basics at markets or in those little grocery stores where the Italians buy their food. Learn how to ask for a word (&quot;Come si chiama questo?&quot; and pointing) and try the new words in those phrases. Both you and the shop owners will have a lot of fun - Italians are, unlike the French, extremely supporting and helpful if a foreign tourist makes even the tiniest effort to speak their language. You'll get great quality of fresh food for locals' prices, and if you're lucky they'll even stuff in a little extra. I once got a full bag of exotic fruits from a really cute old merchant at the Mercato Centrale in Florence when all I wanted, and paid, were a couple of oranges and some veggies.
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 10:33 AM
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For the art lover on a budget: Most of the art that I saw that I fell in love with in Rome is free...where else can you see countless Caravaggios, two Michelangelos and even more Berninis for the cost of the wear and tear on the soles of your shoes? Not only are you seeing them for free, but you are seeing them in the environment for which they were built, both aesthetically and for the purposes of teaching the congregation the stories therein.

Caravaggio's Crucifixion of St Peter and Conversion of St Paul - Santa Maria del Popolo
Caravaggio's Madonna of Loretto - San Agostino
Caravaggio's Martyrdom of St. Matthew, Inspiration of St. Matthew and Calling of St. Matthew - San Luigi dei Francesi
Michelangelo's Moses - St. Pietro en Vincoli
Michelangelo's Risen Christ - Santa Maria Sopra Minerva
Bernini's Ecstasy of St. Teresa - Santa Maria della Vittoria
Bernini's Blessed Ludovica Albertoni - San Francesco e Ripa
Bernini's Angels - copies on the Ponte Sant-Angelo, two originals in Sant Andrea delle Frate
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 10:36 AM
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Greetings to all Fodorites, near and far! Rome, these days, can give your wallet a real wallop. But do you know any great ways to s-t-r-e-t-c-h those euros? Any can't-lose budget boosters? If you have any tips on saving money when in bella bella Roma, can you let us know? We'd love to get your suggestions into the next edition of our Rome guidebook! A thousand thanks---or as they say in Mamma Roma, &quot;Mille grazie.&quot;
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 10:41 AM
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Consider an apartment rental from a company having a US office where you can pay in dollars. For example, our upcoming Paris rental is from where we made the reservation months in advance and locked in the price in dollars, thus the declining exchange rate has no effect.

Think B&amp;Bs. There are fine ones around in many major tourist spots in the 55-65 Euro range that also include breakfast. For example, Lut and Bruno Setola's B&amp;B in Brugges.

Think outside the city. For example, rather than staying in Amsterdam we are staying in Haarlem, only a 15 minute train ride away with frequent service. A *** Hotel such as Stempels has doubles beginning at 85 Euro and singles for even less. What can one find in Amsterdam at that price.
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 10:44 AM
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BTW, I realize that I am not speaking of Italy, but the principles are the same.
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 11:27 AM
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good tips.
Once more, thanks, fodor's.
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 12:08 PM
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Here's a tip for airport transfer in Rome:

Instead of taking the Leonardo Express from Fiumicino to Termini, take the FR1 to whichever station is most convenient for you. The FR1 departs every 15 minutes (instead of every 30 minutes for the Express), costs only 5 euro (instead of 9.50 euro for the Express) and avoids the hullaballoo of Termini as well as the crush of disoriented, jetlagged tourists with way too much luggage. You can buy a ticket from the small window right next to the head of the tracks (remember to validate it in the machine at the head of the tracks).

So, for example, if you're staying near Campo dei Fiori, get off the train at the Trastevere station, proceed upstairs to the little shop that sells newspapers and buy a ticket for the bus &amp; tram system (you can get a pass for the day or week if want---the weekly pass is called &quot;CIS&quot;, pronounced &quot;cheess&quot. Cross the parking lot to board tram #8, which will take you right to Largo Argentina (convenient to pretty much all of the historical center).
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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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That is a great tip. I didn't know about the CIS pass. I think that public transportation in Rome doesn't get enough attention.

There is a lot of information out there about using public transport in London or Paris, but most of what gets discussed about Rome is how the Metro doesn't take you most places you might want to go.

Some good leads on information for using busses and trams in Rome would be great. Are there bus and tram route maps out there?

I have already copied things from this short thread, and I've been to Rome 6 or more times.

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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 12:51 PM
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Hi Katie,

some things in Rome that we found that were fun and free [or almost]

st. cecilia's in Trastevere - only 3E to go down in the crypt to see the lovely mosaic chapel. and the garden in an oasis of calm.

the tour of mosaic churches in Rick steves' guide.

wandering the back streets of monti exploring the little atrisan shops and workshops.

the boat trips down the tiber, from the bridge by castel san angelo to isloa tibernia is only 1E [a great way to get from st. Peter's to trastevere or the forum]

regards, ann

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Old Feb 28th, 2008, 12:55 PM
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In Florence the centrally located Leonardo Cafeteria (one flight up)has good honest Italian food at fast food prices.

There is also a cafeteria in Venice that is quite good and very inexpensive. Their rissoto was particularly good. Leaving the train station turn left and it is about 100 meters or so up the street on the left hand side. You have to walk through a coffee bar that faces the street to get to it.

We used Siena as a base and visited several Hill Towns including SanG by local bus. The schedules were convenient and the fares were very cheap.

Many towns and cities in Italy have a market day where bargains are to be had. In Siena we bought packets of vegetable seed. Arriving in the States we of course declared them with crossed fingers. The customs officials took them to a back room for examination, cleared them and that summer we ate fresh Italian vegetables that we could not get locally.
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