First time Italy trip

Dec 5th, 2006, 07:55 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 34
First time Italy trip

Hello all,
My husband and I are planning on visiting Italy for the first time for our 10 year anniversary. I rely heavily on this forum for all trips we take, but have managed good advice from just reading posts. With a trip as big as Italy I'm nervous and had to ask a few q's of my own:

1. Rome, Florence, and Venice are for sure on the list unless I get a huge response to change my mind. Milan is a for sure "no" at this point. 12-14 days (including travel) is what we plan to spend.

2. Is the very end of October a good time to go? (I see Nov. is suggested a lot but I didn't know if a few weeks early would make that much difference.)

3. Should I (or could I) add in the Italian Lakes?

4. Which city should we end up in on our anniversary?

5. I've heard so many mixed things about Rome. Either it's great spend 3-5 days, or it's dangerous see the main attractions and leave.

6.As far as city to city traveling I've heard small flights can be cheaper than the train. ANY suggestions on inner city travel would be very much appreciated. Also, is it better to book them before or when you get there? I've heard horror stories about buying train tickets there- in short-not so helpful people- only late departures were available- something about people trying to break in and mug people in their cars so they had to wrap a belt on the door to keep people out of their car. I know I sound paranoid but these are people I know that have been to Italy and not posts.

7. Finally, as far as accomadations go: I like convienence (close to attractions), security, nicer 4-5 star hotels as well as boutique or B and B type establishments. In which city's should we splurge and which city's not. Should we book these ahead?

I know I'll have plenty of more questions later- but as this trip is in the early planning phase, these will be wonderful to help prime the pump! Thanks so much in advance!!!
travsgirls is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 08:25 PM
Join Date: May 2005
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Congrats on your first trip to Italy. I'll be taking my third in May.

I'm no expert but;

1) if you have 12 days on the ground I would say Rome, Florence and Venice are doable.

2) I prefer either May or September as I like nice weather. But if October is your only option I would go in October rather than November.

3)You could visit Lake Como Venice and Florence and save Rome for another trip.

4)Venice is my favorite city so I would vote Venice for Romance!!

5)I've been to Rome and never felt in any danger. It is a wonderful city packed with history and good food.
My daughter and I will be spending one week of our one month Italy trip in Rome next May. I think you could spend a month in Rome and still not see it/live it all.

6) I've always used the train in Italy and bought my tickets the same day I needed to travel between cities. Last year I took my 76 year old aunt to Italy for a month and she felt safer in Italy than she does here in the good old USA.. everyone has always been extremely kind to my daughter, my aunt and myself when we've been in Italy.

7) You should book as soon as decide to go. Most popular places books months in advance. I like to stay in apartments. Search here for recommendations.

Good Luck and remember Italians are helpful, friendly people...
susiedq is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 08:35 PM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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I would definately be in the "Rome is Great" category. I've visited numerous times as well as lived and studied there. I would not say that it is dangerous at all. Pickpockets would be your biggest threat.

For your travel between the major cities it would be better to take the trains. It is true that budget flights can be very cheap, but the train stations are right in town. By the time you spend money and time getting to and from the airports, it will not be worth it. Besides, train travel in Italy is very reasonable. You can look at for train schedules. If you do decide to look for budget flights you can check out or

I would imagine that your friend's experience with people bothering them on the train is from an overnight train. You will not have to do this if you are staying in Italy between Rome and Venice. From Rome to Florence is only about an hour and a half on the fast train. Then from Florence on to Venice is about two and a half hours.

As far as purchasing tickets, you can wait until you arrive in Italy. There are self service machines in all the major train stations that operate in English. You can pay by cash or credit card. I've always purchased my tickets either the day before or the day of my travel and never had any problems.

Have a great trip!
capkirk1 is offline  
Dec 5th, 2006, 10:20 PM
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You guys are really fast! Thanks for the really great info so far. I figured as much about Rome- it's one of our most highly anticipated destinations. I can't wait ! Also, in reference to the train story I had, you're right about it being an overnight train.
I do like the idea of Lake Como, I just don't think I can throw Rome out of our first trip. Soo hard to decide!!
Any ideas on hotels? Is a good recource for hotel advice? I don't want to stay in a city's lux. hotel if the city we're in is known for charming B and B's. I was thinking Venice and Rome lux. hotels- Florence - B and B? I also read on a prev. post hotels can be hard to find for first time visitors to Venice. This is where we will most likely end up for our anniversary.I was hoping to pick a very nice hotel, but I don't want to be "wandering around w/ our rolling luggage" as the poster put it.
travsgirls is offline  
Dec 6th, 2006, 08:24 AM
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There is a lot of excellent advice on this board for hotels/B&Bs in all three of those cities. Just put "Rome Hotels", etc. in the search box. I also suggest you go to and check out their hotel reviews. I have always found them to be right on.

Definitely book ahead, especially if you are looking for a nice place. In Venice I would strongly recommend Locanda Orseolo ( and here are its reviews on Trip Advisor.

Also agree with others - take the train from city to city and skip the hassle of the airport.

Definitely do not skip Rome. We have spent a total of 11 nights there (in 2 trips) with our kids. We never found it scary or dangerous - we LOVE it and there is so much to see and do!
jgg is offline  
Dec 6th, 2006, 12:20 PM
Join Date: Jun 2006
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We used to research our hotel choices and fellow visitors' opinions. The fact that it locates the hotel on a map of the city gives you an idea of the hotel's proximity to the sights you'd like to be closest to.
For us, the best hotel hands down in Rome is Albergo del Senato directly across from the Pantheon - really! At little pricey, but when my husband and I were looking to be more practical on next year's trip back to Rome, all other hotels seemed to pale in comparison! We're going back to del Senato! Yea!!!!!
toni_g_b is offline  
Dec 8th, 2006, 05:16 PM
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Have you considere the Amalfi Coast? Sorry I didn't want to confuse you anymore but it's such a pretty place.
davidcharles_69 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2006, 05:26 PM
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4. VENICE for the anniversary.

6. Definitely use the trains, at least for shorter journeys. For instance, Venice to Milan or Venice to Florence is approx. 3 hours. I have never experienced any of the horrors that you mention. You really know people who belted the door closed on a train??? Sorry, but that sounds just plain weird.

6 con't. The thing about small flights is most often the airport is not in the center of the city on either end (while the train station is). So for a 3-5 hour train ride, you'll spend at least that much time getting to and from the airport.
suze is offline  
Dec 8th, 2006, 06:54 PM
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I was reading your post because we are traveling to Rome for the first time next month and then take an overnight train to Paris for the remaining portion of our vacation. But now I'm worried about what some of you have mentioned about overnight traveling not being safe? is that the case?, have any of you ever had a bad experience?. Should we go for it at all? Thanks
nicky26 is offline  
Dec 8th, 2006, 07:49 PM
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Nicky - I would fly from either Rome Ciampino airport to Paris Orly with Easy Jet (about 35E - flight time 2 hours) or from Rome FCO to Paris CDG with Air Berlin. Orly would be my preference. If you use one of the budget airlines, pay attention to luggage weight restrictions and check in times.
kybourbon is online now  
Dec 9th, 2006, 01:47 AM
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For me the Albergo del Senato is also the best hotel to stay in Rome. I stayed at the St. Regis Grand also and prefer the Del Senato.

I just came back from Florence and stayed at the 4*Superior Bernini Palace Hotel right off the Piazza dela Signoria. It's a great hotel, with awsome rooms, wonderful breakfast, helpful friendly staff and the best location in Florence.
Tere is offline  
Dec 9th, 2006, 10:24 AM
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nicky26-the story about the overnight train did not happen to me- this happened to my sister in law about 4 years ago-it was an overnight train from Paris to Milan (I think)-they ended up in a train car w/ an older gentelman who immediatly acted upset that they had been sold tickets on this particular train and time as it had a bad reputation. They didn't know rather to trust him or just go w/it. They went ahead and stayed in the car w/ him- and he's the one that belted the door shut. According to them- 3 times in the middle of the night the door was shaken pretty hard as if someone was trying to get in.
That's the story as it was told to me. From all the other posts it sounds like this is a very fishy and foreign experience. Maybe the guy was old and overprotective, and the door shaking was just frustrated travelers trying to find an open car. Who knows. The only reason I brought it up was just one story like this deserves other people's thoughts and input to what happened. I'd be a real dunce not to at least check it out.
As far as my decision from the posts I've recieved- I feel perfectly safe travelling on the train- especially w/ my husband. In their case it was 3 young girls and I don't care where you are in the world- you need to be cautious.
travsgirls is offline  
Dec 9th, 2006, 10:47 AM
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I forgot!! To an earlier suggestion about the Amalfi coast- I'd love to go there!
We are choosing not to go there this time because we a travelling in Oct. due to our anniversary. I know the coast would be so much more enjoyable in warmer weather-plus I want to spent time in other cities in that region as well- The Amalfi coast will be our second trip to Italy for sure!! Thanks for the suggestion!

Any more suggestions on hotels for Rome, Venice, and Florence?
I've narrowed it down to at least a smaller group now-
Rome- Either: Grand Hotel de la Minerve, Capo d'Africa, or the Albergo Del Senato.

Venice- Either: Locanda Orselo, Foscari Palace, or The Bauer II Palazzo.

Florence- I've not looked into Florence yet

Any suggestions on splitting up hotels w/ in the same city?
travsgirls is offline  
Dec 9th, 2006, 11:02 AM
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I would definitely NOT recommend staying in different hotels in one city. None of the cities are that large that you would want to stay in two different locations. Why spend time packing, unpacking and moving from one place to another when there is so much to enjoy and experience?

jgg is offline  
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