First Trip To ITALY!!

Nov 11th, 2010, 03:58 PM
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First Trip To ITALY!!

My boyfriend and I are going to Italy in March whether we are ready or not! This will be our first trip to Europe and we want to see it all and spend as little as possible. I am a special ed teacher and have a very limited budget. We want to go for 10 days I know that I want to see the main attractions and we had talked about spending time in Florence, Orvieto, and Venice. I need help!!

What's the best way to get from place to place, rent a car, train, taxi?

What are the secret little towns that people have found and fell in love with?

What are the MUSTs for Italy?

Any help you could offer would be amazing. I can't wait to hear about your experiences and suggestions.
Melissa_R is offline  
Nov 11th, 2010, 04:19 PM
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What are your arriving and departing airports?

If Florence, Orvieto and Venice are your priorities, then just travel by train. If you only have 10 days (and especially if you arrive and depart from the same airport), I wouldn't think beyond those three destinations.

How much is your "very limited budget"? How much do you want to spend each night on your hotel? Or do you have an overall budget in mind for the entire 10 days?
Jean is online now  
Nov 11th, 2010, 04:36 PM
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You sound a bit giddy, and that's understandable, but you need to calm down a bit, get a good map, get some guidebooks, and think logically about where you want to go and why, exactly what your budget is, and what your preferred itinerary is.

Me telling you what secret little towns I've discovered over 30+ years of traveling numerous times to Italy isn't realistically going to help you. It took me years, and miles and miles of driving all over the country, to discover little places I loved - it's your first time; you have 10 days; you can either hit a very few "big" spots, or you can rent a car and just go exploring and see what happens.

As Jean says, if those three places are your preferred destinations, go by train. No need for a car, especially in Florence and Venice. But if you want to travel to "secret towns" you'll need a car. But with only 10 days and a desire to see Florence, Orvieto, an Venice, I trust you can see that there won't be time to find secret towns anyway.

And yes, we do need to know what your definition of "very limited budget" is. It might be very different from someone else's definition.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 11th, 2010, 04:58 PM
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Besides having an idea of your budget we need to have an idea of what type of lodging you are looking for.

At a very low price point you are talking about a B&B or pension with shared bath and stairs instead of elevator - and possibly not in the cneter of town. Also - hotels in Europe tend to be in old buildings - where everything is different from room to room, all rooms are small, and furniture may be very quaint. (There are a couple of equivalents to our super budget out on the highway hotel chains - but they don't have the same amenities as in the US - and you don;t want to be staying 40 minutes from the sights you want to see.)

Agree you need to get some guidebooks, check out what you really want to see and look at a
site like to get an idea of what hotel prices and location/amenities are like.

Also agree that in 10 days seeing the places you listed will keep you very busy - trekking around to a lot of smaller cut towns won;t really fit in the time you have.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 11th, 2010, 06:07 PM
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Wow!! Thanks for all the advice so far. I agree I need to calm down a little.... we have just talked about it so long and then this week just decided to make it happen. We are looking to stay around 6000 total. So I was budgeting about 400 a day with our room included. I started looking at B and B's and it looks like that will be our best bet. StCirq, thanks for the tip. I guess I was dreaming to big for ten days. I mean really its Italy, I'm sure I will have a great time even doing the first timer thing! Mytraveler I love the site thanks! Jean, where would you suggest flying into? We are coming from Arizona... so either way its a lot of travel time.
Melissa_R is offline  
Nov 11th, 2010, 06:19 PM
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You have very good advice above from some real veterans---take heed. I always advice to pre-plan 3 trips to Italy in advance since you will return. We are going back for our 16th in May. The key factor in this trip is March---that rules out several destinations. I would consider Rome and the Amalfi caost as one trip option, or perhaps Rome, Florence and day trips into Tuscany from Florence as a 2nd option. Read a good guide book, but March will still be chilly and somewhat rainy.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 11th, 2010, 07:02 PM
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Coming from Arizona means at least two flights in each direction, so I would definitely stick to your three priority destinations and leave the exploring of small towns for another trip (perhaps in a warmer month with longer days).

You'll need to research your flight options, but you could fly into Rome, train to Orvieto, train to Florence, train to Venice and fly home from Venice. For many of us in the western U.S., flight options home from Venice depart at the crack of dawn. If that's what you find and it doesn't appeal, you could reverse the order, fly into Venice and home from Rome.

Find your flights/fares, and then you'll have a better idea of your available budget per day.
Jean is online now  
Nov 11th, 2010, 07:35 PM
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You can easily stay in the center of Orvieto for 60-70€ per night and not have to share a bath.

>>>>We are looking to stay around 6000 total. So I was budgeting about 400<<<

Dollars? Euro? Pounds?
kybourbon is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 02:29 AM
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Hi, I live in Italy, and I still haven't gotten over the excitement. My biggest advice to you is to remember that your trip is what you make of it. You have time to see anything you really want to see. As bobthenavigator will tell you, his first trip to Italy, he didn't go to Rome and he went back EIGHT TIMES to Italy before setting foot in the city. So he knows better than anybody that if you want to see Florence, Venice and Orvieto, you don't have to go to Rome on your first trip.

You can look up StCirq's past posts about Umbria and read about how much she came to like the small untouristy town of Chiusi (Bobthenavigator always tells people to skip it!). It surely didn't take StCirq years of driving all over Italy to discover it. It's a 30-minute train ride from Orvieto. (Well, maybe she was driving in the wrong direction!) Many people go there on their first visit, and you can easily do so yourself.

So you're not just new to Italy, you're new to message boards about it too. Some people tend to talk about their favorite places and urge you to go there -- for instance, the Amalfi coast always comes up, but in March it is a pretty iffy destination weather-wise (too misty and rainy for the views), and there is no reason for you to daytrip into rural Tuscany when what you really want to see is Venice (which is likely to be warmer than Tuscany anyway.

Other posters might feel you should curb your enthusiasm and not try to be adventurous or get off the beaten track for a first trip -- but it is really not hard to do at all. Italy is a first world country, and you needn't worry about not finding accommodations and good hospitality wherever you go.

You could easily spend all 10 days in just Venice, just Florence or just Orvieto and have an absolutely wonderful trip. There are many beautiful small and basically untouristed towns just a bus ride away from Orvieto, or a train ride away from Florence, or a boat ride away from Venice. If you would like to see them, you can. You have 10 days and it's up to you what you want to do with them. Mix and match as your heart calls you. Don't be afraid to spend less time in some famous place than other people do. Don't be afraid to stay longer than other people do. There are people who think everybody should only spend a little time in Florence and then start daytripping. But Florence is a magnificent place to linger if you love art.

There are people who post on the Tripadvisor message board Orvieto who can give you very detailed advice about the town and its easy public transportation connections to sights scenic and artistic or historical nearby.

The only MUST for Italy is not to follow a formula. Anybody's. Italy is a very un-formulaic place in its own heart, making up its own rules. Don't be afraid to do something unusual.

Look up trip reports for Italy on Fodor's from posters Charnees and TaconicTraveler and you'll read about how they decided to do something that might sound a bit unusual to most tourists, but actually they each went just a few kilometers off the beaten track and both came back "giddy" with excitement from what they discovered (and they were hardly first time travelers to Italy). I'm not suggesting you take their trips. I'm suggesting you take your own. But really make it your own.

Buon viaggio -- ane welcome to Italy!
zeppole is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 03:28 AM
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Why Orvieto, if I may ask?

I was there 12 days ago. I enjoyed it very much. But if I were on a first trip to Italy, it would not make my list. I'd go to Rome instead.

BTW, your budget is quite adequate: You can live quite well for that sum, IF you are a savvy shopper for accommodation. You will get lots of accommodation advice here, once you finalize your itinerary.
tedgale is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 03:38 AM
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I would tweak slightly the above advice on weather.

As I mentioned, we were just in Italy (departure Nov. 1) but we normally go in Mid-March.

OK, March this year started out awful. But then we had a week of unbroken sunshine and warmth in Florence and Lucca.

We've gone to Italy 6 Marchs in a row (generally Rome + 1 other central-Italy destination) and I recall only one when the weather was truly disappointing.

I've also come home sunburned, on occasion.

Let's say it's unpredictable. Another reason for staying in cities, where there is still lots to do if it rains.
tedgale is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 11:45 AM
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Zeppole is forgetting that what I posted was not a trip report, exactly, but I did post the report that we liked a little town near Orvieto so much we cancelled our reservations in Rome and stayed put in Torre Alfina for the last 5 days of a 3 week trip.

But there really isn't anything going on there. There is an ancient castle dominating the town, but you can't go into it because someone lives there (it's for sale, by the way ). You can hike in the nature reserve nearby and you can visit other small towns and ancient Etruscan burial sites in and around Lake Bolsena, and go to Civita di Bagnoregio which is amazing -- Google it so see what I mean. You need a car to do this, which you can rent in Orvieto.

If your 10 days are on the ground in Italy you could fly into Venice for 3 days, go to Florence for 2 days, and then spend 4 days in and around Orvieto, and then take the train to Rome or Florence on the 10th day and fly home on the 11th.
charnees is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 12:03 PM
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I have to say that much as i like orvieto, for someone young and giddy like Melissa, Rome would hold far more attractions.

Really, IMHO in March it is difficult to better a first trip that combines "the big three" - fly into Venice, stay 4 nights, train to Florence, stay 2, and train to Rome [perhaps stopping off in orvieto] for the rest of the trip.

there are of course a infinite number of other ways of doing it, but i suspect that the OP would feel short-changed if she didn't see at least Venice and Rome on a first visit.
annhig is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 12:39 PM
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I agree that most newcomers to Italy usually want to do the big three cities, but in light of their interet in Orvieto and a small town I thought I would describe what our favorite is like. I also just posted a trip report although I forgot to tag it for Italy. I asked the moderators to tag it, but right now it's only tagged for Europe.
charnees is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 02:51 PM
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I think Florence, Venice,and Orvieto make a nice first trip, especially since that is what the OP wants to do.

My first trip to Italy Included Torino, Padua, Venice, and Florence. I visited Rome on my second trip. More than 20 trips to Italy later, I still think that my first trip was just right for me.
ellenem is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 04:31 PM
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There is no rule about which places you have to see in what order or on what trip. It wasn't until my 3rd trip there that I got to Venice. I wasn;t avoiding it - it just didn't fit with the rest of the trip. And I never go to Italy without Rome (but I am a major history, church and museum fiend) unless it is a business trip with direct 1 or 2 day turnaournd.

What matters is what you want to see.

Presumbly you have devoured a host of guidebooks. If you haven;t do so - and then make a final decision on what YOUR must sees are.
nytraveler is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 04:43 PM
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On my first trip to Italy I spent 8 days in Rome - and it was not enough to see everything, I had to go back for another week! So, my advice is for you to stick to one city and really get the feel of it. Besides, if you decide to stay in one place, you can rent an apartment, it comes out a lot cheaper.
Brazilnut is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 05:00 PM
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I didn't even know Orvieto existed until about my 12th visit to Italy. It's interesting how the internet influences people's decisions about places to go. At any rate, Orvieto has some lovely attractions, but I do question it as a venue for a first trip to that lovely country. I'd rather rent a car and meander around the countryside for a bit. But that's just me...maybe.
StCirq is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 06:13 PM
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I was about to go on about the lovely places we visited from the town near Orvieto, but should not hijack this thread. My report with photos is now tagged for Italy, so you can look at it if you wish.

It's up to the OP to decide whether to see the basic, and wonderful, big sights of Italy this trip, or do something offbeat and only see a couple of big things and then see some smaller, equally wonderful ones.
charnees is offline  
Nov 12th, 2010, 06:21 PM
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I like the idea of renting a car and wandering around, too. I think my best trips were the ones where we pulled over at one of those brown signs on the autostrada that indicate a castle or ruin somewhere in the area. Then we'd head off getting lost trying to get back to the autostrada and find someplace to eat and it was always one of the best or at least one of the most memorable meals of the trip.
Consider 5 days on the road and 7 split between Florence and Venice. Just an idea. I increased your 10 days to 12, in case you didn't notice!
My very first trip was in March, too, though I was in Provence. Have a lovely, wonderful trip!
pdx is offline  

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