first time abroad

Feb 9th, 2005, 12:26 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
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first time abroad

My husband, son and I would like to spend 10-18 days in Italy in June. Where do I start after I book my plane tickets? I would like to visit at least Rome, Florence, Sorrento. Where and when do I purchase such things as tickets to museums, churches etc. Thank you for any suggestions or help that you may give me
whiterivers is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 12:32 PM
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First of all make sure all 3 of you have passports valid at least 6 months after you finish your trip. So many posters there realize last minute they need a new passport!
FainaAgain is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 12:36 PM
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This question made me think of a Carnac The Magnificent response.

A: First time abroad
Q: What did Renee Richards say when she woke up from her sex change operation?

Now to the question. There is a big difference between ten days and 18 days (yes, I know all you wise guys, eight days).

With ten days, you can do the big three (Venice, Rome, Florence). Or you could do Florence, Venice and Amalfi Coast.

With 18 days you can add some Tuscany and Amalfi Coast (or Venice) or Cinque terre to the mix.

The first thing you should do is figure out how many days you want to spend, and then we can be more specific on the other stuff.

maitaitom is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 12:36 PM
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You probably need to come up with an exact itinerary first. Once you figure that out, I would start by looking at guidebooks to determine what it is you want to do in each location and how long you would like to stay there. Once you come up with an itinerary that you are satisfied with, then you should probably start looking for hotels soon. June isn't too far away and hotels can fill up fast during the summer months. To find hotels, do searches on this messageboard and on After you get your itinerary and hotels booked you can then start planning tours, museum reservations, tickets, etc.

Congrats on your first trip abroad and have fun planning!

tcreath is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 12:40 PM
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I'm sorry, I forgot to add that investing in a good guidebook will give you details such as when and where to make museum reservations, information on train travel, etc. I personally really like the Rick Steves guidebook on Italy. The book is easy to read and informative, and he gives great tips and recommendations. While I don't follow all of his advice, I found it extremely helpful when planning our first trip to Italy last year.
tcreath is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 12:46 PM
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For starters, you can go to Destinations here at for the areas that interest you. You will find a general overview, practical information, and information about hotels, restaurants and sightseeing.

When you have made up your mind on where you want to go and what you want to see, you can always come back here with specific questions that the people here will be happy to answer.

Generally speaking, advance tickets are not needed for Italian museums. Among the exceptions are the Uffizi and the Accademia in Florence and the Galleria Borghese in Rome, particularly if you are travelling in high season. The only church that I am aware of for which tickets can be purchased in advance is the Basilica of San Marco in Venice. Many churches are, however, closed for a few hours starting at 12:00 noon or 12:30 p.m.
Eloise is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 12:58 PM
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It depends how determined you are to see certain places. Personally I rarely buy anything ahead of time, except airfare and hotel reservations. But then I pretty much play my itinerary by ear, and it wouldn't break my heart it something was sold out or I missed whatever. I'd rather sit in a sidewalk cafe than visit a museum anyway.
suze is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 01:07 PM
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Hi white,

I suggest that you set your itinerary *before* you buy your plane tickets.

See Helpful Information: Italy

ira is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 01:11 PM
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Once you get your plane tickets:
1. Get a good, detailed map of Italy.
2. Get several fairly current guide books. Skim thru them for areas you might be interested in.
3. Lay out a fairly detailed itinerary using your map, guide books and any info you get of Fodors and other sites.
Are you going to drive, or use public transportation?
4. Research accomodations using the same books and this site. Book accomodations on the web, or by phone.
5. Tickets for museums can be purchased on the web or on the phone. Most good guidebooks will tell you how. You'll only need to get them ahead of time for the major (Ufizzi) ones.

Do lots of reading, lots of planning, and enjoy the process. Realize that things will go wrong during the trip, and you may stray from your plan, but that's part of the adventure of travelling!

A few comments - Rome and Florence are great, but don't even think about having a car in the city. However, a car is great for exploring the Italian countryside. Rome is a great city, but for the first time to Europe visitor, it will make your head spin!
zootsi is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 01:15 PM
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I recommend Rome, Florence, and Venice for a first trip, and skip Sorrento. (Sorrento is a good base for seeing the Amalfi coast, but in my opinion Venice is far more unique and unforgettable, whereas Sorrento is forgettable.) You can do Rome, Florence, and Venice in 11 or 12 nights. If you have more time, include a medieval hill-town in Tuscany, such as Siena, which is wonderful and is only 1 1/2 hours from Florence.

You absolutely need to read 1 entire guidebook. It gives you a good base of knowledge, so that you can then use this fodors web-site and use other guidebooks for more opinions and info, and you will have a good base of knowledge from which to evaluate everything. Go to the bookstore and browse. Buy the guidebook that you find the most readable and entertaining. Read the whole thing. I promise, this will clear up that feeling of confusion! Read with a couple of highlighter pens.
Melissa5 is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 03:15 PM
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I'm glad you're getting smoe good answers here. Since it is your first time to post here ever, (how did I know that? click on your own name - - this is a useful and undocumented method fr re-locating your own posts, no matter how old) - - I hope you will be posting more questions as you focus on the trip.

Fodors failed to tell you this when you first registered, but you should read the FAQs (available by clicking the tiny little "HELP" in the upper left corner in red letters), about ways to best use the forum.

I think that the forum is much more orderly if every poster abides by the rule to give information about the destination(s) in the message header. You can read more about others feelings about this at

Best wishes,

rex is offline  
Feb 9th, 2005, 05:01 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Just want to encourage you on this. I started in June planning our first trip abroad, to Italy with our two kids. We leave 4 weeks from Friday - can't wait!! You will find this website as well as extremely helpful in planning your trip. Spend some time reading others questions and trip reports on the two websites to help narrow down your main itinerary. Beware, you may become addicted to the sites - but they are both very informative. Feel free to ask questions. You will get a lot of useful (and not so useful) information!!

It seems a little overwhelming at first, but you will start to build the confidence for planning this trip on your own. Good luck and like another poster said, enjoy the process, this is part of the fun.
jgg is offline  
Feb 10th, 2005, 06:09 AM
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ira is offline  
Feb 10th, 2005, 11:32 AM
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Agree with ira.....rough out an itinerary before you buy your plane tickets. You may find you want to fly open jaw, which you won't be able to do if you've already bought your round trip tickets!
eliztrav is offline  

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