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Booking all hotels in advance?

Old Jun 5th, 2002, 03:47 PM
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Booking all hotels in advance?

Hi there -- My fiance and I are planning our honeymoon in Italy (mid- to late September). We have about 2 weeks' total, maybe a few days more.

The sketchy plan right now is to fly into Venice, spend a few days there, then on to Liguria/Cinqueterre and spend some days there, then on to the Tuscany hill towns for a few days and back to Venice. We will obviously book hotels in advance for the Venice portions of the trip.

But, since we're "play-it-by-ear people," I'm thinking of renting a car when we arrive in Liguria and just taking life as it comes on the Liguria/Tuscany portion of the trip. In other words, stay in the towns that most appeal to us when we actually see them and try to find accommodations on the spot.

My question is, would this be nuts?

Old Jun 5th, 2002, 04:42 PM
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Last summer we travel through Tuscany and Umbria and we did not have reservations. It was easy to do. We always found a delighful place to stay. go for it.
Old Jun 5th, 2002, 04:43 PM
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A car won't do you any good in Cinque Terre, so it is best to do the CT before renting a car. Once leaving there, you can use the car for exploring the Tuscan villages, then return it at Piazzale Roma when you get back to Venice.

For mid-to-late September, I would guess you could probably take the chance on not reserving a hotel, as long as you are not overly choosy with regard to your room and/or amenities. In most cases, you should be able to find a hotel that meets whatever your standards might be. The nicer the hotel, the more likely it is to be available. The economical places always book up first.
Old Jun 5th, 2002, 09:02 PM
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Hi Terri,

I was in Italy (Florence/Tuscany region) during the second half of September two years ago. I reserved a hotel in Florence in advance, but was not too happy with it. Using both a Fodor's guidebook for recommendations and one other -- can't remember the name -- I had a difficult time finding something else as it seemed all the hotels in my price range (between $125 to $175 a night) were booked. After two days of calling around, we finally got into another hotel in Florence. Although it may be easier to find something in smaller towns, I felt that September was still a crowded time of year in Italy.
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 03:51 PM
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Hmmm...thanks for the advice....we may just move it back to October then...
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 08:37 PM
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Just returned from a week driving in Tuscany/ yourself a favor - if you drive - do Not pre-book your hotels...that way, when you get lost, (and you will) - you can enjoy Not having to be anywhere except on vacation....there are tons of vacancies in all types of accomodations.
Old Jun 10th, 2002, 08:50 PM
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Hi Terri. We were recently in all three of those places: Venice, Tuscany, and Cinque Terre. We booked places ahead of time in Venice and Cinque Terre, leaving Tuscany open. We ended up finding a wonderful place in Siena which only takes reservations a few days in advance so we couldn't have booked it before we left anyway.

As for Cinque Terre, it turns out we were very fortunate to have booked a room in Vernazza ahead of time since the weekend we arrived happened to be Italy's Liberation Day weekend and Vernazza -- and the other Cinque Terre towns -- were mobbed. We met a number of people who were unable to find a room in any of the five Cinque Terre towns that weekend. However, if it hadn't been for that holiday weekend, I'd bet they could've found something. So the moral, I guess, is: if you're thinking of staying in one of the five Cinque Terre towns and not reserving ahead, check to make sure you're not going to be there on a major holiday weekend.

Sounds like a great itinerary for a honeymoon. Hope you have an unforgettable trip!
Old Jun 11th, 2002, 03:27 PM
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So.. if this is a honeymoon I gather you don't belong to my geezer crowd. These days, my husband and I try to plan ahead as much as we can... but when we were younger we really winged it. Had some delightful times and some dreadful ones. (But the dreadfuls sure do give one lots of stories!) I'd book in the major places and take chances otherwise. Should tell you a LOT about your future life together -
Old Jun 11th, 2002, 03:39 PM
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Hi there, Grandma!

Well, no, we don't qualify as geezers yet, but we're not 20-somethings either!! We're just not the plan ahead types. It stresses me out to be on a schedule when I'm on vacation. Why change our personal style just because it's a honeymoon?

But we'll definitely take your advice and make reservations in advance for Venice, which will be our first stop!
Old Jun 11th, 2002, 03:43 PM
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Hi Capo -- See, that's exactly what I'm talking about...when you say Cinque Terre was really crowded so you were glad you had a reservation.

Well, if I got to Cinque Terre and saw that it was really crowded, without a reservation, I'd just hop in the car and go somewhere else that was less crowded.

I don't know, I just feel freer without being tied to reservations.

But, hey, everyone has their own style. I have some friends who would really *hate* going away without knowing what they were doing in advance. I believe there are good and bad aspects of both planning and not planning.

Thanks all for your input!
Old Jun 11th, 2002, 04:05 PM
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Terri - I'll be on my honeymoon in August with a very similar itinerary. I booked everything ahead, however. (Five nights in hotels, one week in a villa.) First, it's my style. To not have a reservation would stress me out. And second because August is one of the busiest months. And congratulations!
Old Jun 11th, 2002, 04:24 PM
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Hi there, Adventuretwin....

Congrats to you as well...and have a great time on your *planned* honeymoon!

Should I look forward to seeing a trip report from you??

Old Jun 11th, 2002, 05:22 PM
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I'm a different Diane who was in Italy for 3 weeks last year. We noticed lots of people stopping at the Info offices in the hill towns (e.g., Montelpulciano, Pienza) and easily finding rooms. We made reservations for the big cities (Venice/Rome/Florence) and had gotten a deal at Castel Bigozzi near Monteriggioni by booking ahead, but we also had decent luck "on the fly" in Orvieto and Frascati. You should do just fine. Have a terrific trip.
Old Jun 11th, 2002, 05:53 PM
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Terri, we were glad we had a reservation in Vernazza because that's the town we both really wanted to stay in. If we hadn't cared where we stayed -- as you guys don't -- then of course it wouldn't have matter how mobbed Vernazza and the other Cinque Terre towns were; we simply would've gone somewhere else.

The more flexible one is in regard to location, the more sense it makes to wing it rather than make reservations. Conversely, the more one wants to stay in a specific town, the more sense it makes to book ahead.
Old Mar 6th, 2003, 03:22 PM
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Posts: 67 wife and I will be honeymooning in Italy for the month of July and I am concerned about whether or not to make reservations. I backpacked throughout Europe in '95 with no reservations and it was fine, but this is our honeymoon and I was wondering what people thought about finding a place in Vernazza with a view? Should I make a reservation? I don't want to be too tied to anything, but more than anything, I would like us to stay in Vernazza (3 nights). Also, how do you make a reservation, from what I remember, most of the places to stay are just rooms for rent? Thanks.
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Old Mar 6th, 2003, 05:27 PM
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For Vernazza try,
"martina" <[email protected]>,
[email protected]
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Old Mar 6th, 2003, 05:31 PM
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You can always find A place to sleep without reservations, but it might not be THE place, in THE location, at THE price you would like to have. It just depends on how important the location and atmosphere of your accomodations are to you. Some people just want a place to sleep. Others want something else. If you know for certain where you will be when, then there's no reason not to make reservations. If you don't, then it doesn't make sense to make reservations. Keep in mind also, that at any time of the year, a local fesival, or a trade show, or some other special event can fill up the most desirable accomodations even out of season.
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Old Mar 6th, 2003, 05:35 PM
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Hi Josh,
Making reservations is what you should do when you want to be in a particular place at a particular time. has listings for Vernazza.
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Old Mar 7th, 2003, 08:35 PM
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Ira, any specific recommendations for places to stay in Vernazza (or Lake Como area, Venice, Siena)? Thanks for the website...

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Old Mar 8th, 2003, 08:02 AM
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As said above if you want a specific location (view or no), price range, amenities (private WC), cleanliness and not rerouting or spending time looking advance booking is the key. Yes you do loose flexibily but you do retain a degree of control. To avoid getting lost we have maps, internet trip tics, and emails to B&Bs, hotels etc for directions before we leave. We also then know driving times and distances so we do not stress out driving too far and reducing potentially getting lost. Even though miles/kilometers may seem few, driving conditions (especially in Italy) could make routes take longer.

We have made 3 trips to Europe and our planning our 4th this sept. Our first one was the only one without reservations, in Sept 1984. We had a really tough time because fall is still high tourist, and a lot of seniors go knowing the kids are gone. Plus it is a high convention month in Europe. We had hassels in several cities, including ending up in Bologne where we did not want to be for a night and even there it was tough due to a convention.
Most places even small B & Bs provide 24 to 48 hour cancellations (although some do not). So if you really want to change that is an option, learn cancellation policies.

The other nice thing about reservations is that in most cases they have email. We communicate with them before we leave on parking, driving routes, sites, payment options, and sometimes even dinner reservations if there is a place of particular interest. Some places do not want Credit cards and you find this out in advance.

It all boils down to personal preference. We have found if you minimize the driving hassel and do "planning" you do not feel pressured when you get there. Plus you avoid that annoying thing when you ask people "Well what do you want to do or go next", ultimately no one knows until you get there and find out no one wanted to go there or you learn later that you really missed a spot that was a high priority.

By the way, when we went to Venice in Sept, 1999, we started making reservation for Major cities in Feb. Even then our first two Venice choices were booked. One because of location and small size, one because of a tour group. Already this year, in January the place we wanted in Rothenburg was already booked for this Sept. Sometimes the smaller quaint places really go early.
Right now there may be pent up planning due to cancelled trips from 9/11. It is anybody's guess if this will change. Rick Steves recently announced that 80% of his 2003 tours were booked.

What ever you choose, choose what is best for you (planning or not) and have a lovely relaxing adventure!
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