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Calling all Italy experts – what question do you get asked the most?

Calling all Italy experts – what question do you get asked the most?

Jun 26th, 2012, 10:21 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2010
Posts: 312
Calling all Italy experts – what question do you get asked the most?

Hi Fodorites,

We are working on a blog story about most frequently asked by people planning a trip to Italy and we would love your help! Some of you have been with us here on the Forums since our beginning, so I’m sure you’ve seen some repeat questions over the years.

What questions do you see the most often and what is your response? What are some things you think every Italy traveler should know? What’s your favorite tip or insider secret for Italy?
Amy_D is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 11:47 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
Posts: 7,142
Tips (all regarding preliminary planning/rough outlines):

1) You CANNOT "see Italy" in one trip. Choose a spot or region.

2) When in the South, allow at least 3 days for Naples - a true gem that too often gets (very) short shrift.

3) The heat in southern Italy in Summer is BRUTAL. Don't do it - go in Fall or Spring instead.

4) Rome is many, many times bigger than Florence or Venice, has a proportionally longer list of must-see sites, and deserves a proportionally longer stay (about 3X longer than a Venice stay or 5X longer than a Florence stay).

5) Yes, it cost more to stay in Venice proper - suck it up. Staying outside the city is not even worth considering. A hotel IN Venice, even with a shared bath, no A/C, no elevator, etc., is an infinitely better experience than a stay in a larger room with all the extras in Mestre.
bardo1 is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 11:52 AM
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Most commonly asked questions:

how many cities can we fit into a week? [answer - 2 max, one better]

how many days to spend in ....

is it worth spending more than 2 nights in Venice? [or variants thereof]

we've only got 9 nights, how many to spend in Rome, Florence and Venice?

we're going to Rome/Venice/Florence in May/June/July - should we book in advance?

What are the highlights in Rome?

what every traveller should know:

Italy is not just Rome, Florence and Venice.

the Amalfi and the CT are not the only coasts worth visiting.

it is possible to spend a week [or longer] in virtually anywhere in Italy and not run out of things to do.

you don't always have to book in advance outside major tourist centres.

my hot tip: hire a car, take a map and a guide book, and take off and explore.
annhig is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 11:53 AM
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and what bardo said.
annhig is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 11:59 AM
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Where can I find the BEST gelato in Rome, Florence, fill in the blank

Where can I find the BEST pizza in Rome, Florence, fill in the blank

Where can I find the BEST fill in the blank in Rome, Florence, fill in the blank.
PalenQ is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 12:18 PM
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I'm always asked (in person, not necessarily here) not just where we stayed but HOW I find/pick hotels.

Travel planning tips:

Know why you're visiting a place and what you want to see/do there. Study some guidebooks, watch some travel shows or videos, talk to friends who've been there.

Either decide how many days your trip can be (based on work, budget, whatever) and learn what's possible in that time frame (after studying maps, public trans timetables, driving times), OR figure out how much time you need to see everything on your list. For example, don't plan a trip that requires 2 weeks or more when you only have 10 days. Don't buy your airline tickets until you've resolved this basic issue.

Either pick your base/hotel based on what you can see within a reasonable distance/time, OR figure out what you want to see and then pick a base/hotel that is in the right geographic position to work either by car or public trans. See prev. ref. to studying a map.

Pack light.
Jean is online now  
Jun 26th, 2012, 12:24 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 19,643
One more tip:

After your basic itinerary is determined but before you buy airline tickets, consider whether flying into one city and out of another will work to your advantage. For example, a round-trip fare in/out of one city may be cheaper, but consider the cost (in time and money) of returning to the original city at the end of the trip. When comparing air fares, don't search two one-way fares but, rather, a "multi-city" (sometimes called "open jaw") ticket.
Jean is online now  
Jun 26th, 2012, 12:35 PM
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Shorts/clothes in churches.
colduphere is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 01:21 PM
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Hello Amy,
You never call or write---are you well?

Where do I start? I have done this since 1996 and it has not changed much over the years. Let me try to add some:

1. " Given our 10 days[or 12 or 15] how do we prioritize our destinations"
2. " How much time to spend in Venice[Rome etc]"
3. " Can I see Tuscany without a car?"
4. " How much do I need to budget for 10 days?"
5. " Where should I stay?[ Answer: tell me your budget]

Most of the answers really call for more information than in the original question [ it depends--tell me more]
bobthenavigator is online now  
Jun 26th, 2012, 01:29 PM
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Posts: 35,056
Do we need A/C in August?

What do I wear to fit in?

What is the best way to get from Florence to Siena, the bus or the train?

is the leaning Tower "worth it?"

Which one of the lakes is best?
Dukey1 is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 01:33 PM
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One of the best recent questions: Are the road signs in English?
DebitNM is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 01:40 PM
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Questions about security and pickpockets? Are they really that Bad. No, been to Rome a total of four weeks in the last sox years and have yet to see a pickpockets. Wear your money belt and forget about it.

Meals, where to eat,and the best places for ..... Never have a good answer because we tend to wonder down side streets look for crowded place and then forget to write down the name.

What area to stay in? We prefer Termini simply because it is easy to reach the hotel from the train and about every bus, tram in Rome goes to Termini - not every one but a lot do.

Would you return? Every chance we get.

How should I dress? Can I wear shorts? tennis shoes? I would not because we tend to dress a bit better than the average American tourist. When the pickpocket is looking for his mark, we think our dress and mannerism shifts his attention to someone else.

Where/how to get money? Debit cards at bank owned AMTs. How do we find ATMs? We don't, they find us.

After that it tends to break down to what to see and do and how much time and our basic recommendation to go to your local library and check out books and DVDs.

Hope this helps though I think it is pretty routine.
fmpden is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 01:44 PM
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Opps, forgot the really big one.

Can we borrow your packing list? You mean that is all you take! Have for fifteen years and works well for us. It is learned behavior. Our first trip 20 years was a disaster for luggage. Never again.
fmpden is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 01:54 PM
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1. Is it possible to visit Pompeii from Rome? Yes, but probably not enjoyable. It's about a 3 hour ride and makes for a very long day. You'd be better off visiting it from either Naples or Sorrento. It's a very short trip from either of these. Or, you could visit the site on your way back from Naples/ Amalfi Coast to Rome.

2. Should I stay over night in Capri or just take a day trip there? Staying over night will give you a much better feel for the island and you won't have to contend with all the day trippers who arrive each morning in the summer months.

3. Is Naples dangerous? Only certain neighborhoods, which are easily avoidable.

4. Where should I stay in Rome? I like the historical center of Rome, which puts you within easy walking distance of most of the sightseeing you'll want to do.

5. Can I take photos of the costumed gladiators and 'live' statues near the Colosseum? Yes, but if you do, be prepared to pay for them.

6. What are some of your favorite sights in Rome? I like the famous "Aventine Keyhole", in one of Rome's most exclusive neighborhoods. If you look through the keyhole of the green door in the villa, you'll see St. Peter's Basilica, framed by two rows of green ( cypress??) trees. It's worth taking a cab there to see it! Also check out the Bocca Della Verita, made famous by Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in the movie, "Roman Holiday." Tradition says that if you are telling a lie about something, and you stick your hand in the mouth (bocca) it will bite you.

7. Should I bring Euros with me or change my money at the airport? I like to bring enough so that I don't have to deal with changing money for the first day or two. Then I use ATMS for the rest of our trip.
Weadles is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 03:07 PM
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bobthenavigator on Jun 26, 12 at 2:21pm
Hello Amy,
You never call or write---are you well?

This should go in the book too

Or am I the only one to see the irony?
Dayenu is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 04:07 PM
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What should I see in ........?
catcrazyaf is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 04:43 PM
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We want to see Venice, Florence, the Cinque Terre, Rome, the Amalfi coast, and Sicily. We only have 7 days. How do we get around?

We want to see Como and the Cinque Terre. We're flying in and out of Rome. How do we get to Como? First question: do you mean Como town or Lake Como?

We want to do a driving trip of Italy, with stays in Venice, Florence, the Cinque Terre, and Capri. What's the best route?
Mimar is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 07:11 PM
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bobthenavigator and Dukey1 have nailed it, I think.

Although there's also "I want to see Italy. Where should I go there and what is there to see?". Of course, you want to say, "Why do you want to go if you don't know where or what? Read a guidebook first!
charnees is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 09:57 PM
Join Date: Mar 2012
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Don't think anyone has covered this one:

Is it safe to drive in Italy?
sundriedpachino is offline  
Jun 26th, 2012, 10:22 PM
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Posts: 1,386
my best travel tip-- if you want free water, rather than bottled, and don't want to feel "less than"-- just hold up an open hand with pills in it(vitamins ok) and ask for water (not in english, of course! they generally run to get you water.

hubbie's best travel tip-- never be afraid to use the italian G.P.S. which he says stands for Gentile Persone in la Strada.
just ask, listen politely to the long answer... follow the first part of the instructions, then ask again!

most frequent question for me in a city is always the same-- what's the Cheapest Hotel in the Most Central and high-end possible location?
kawh is offline  

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