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HELP -- need advice on trip planning to Florence & Venice

HELP -- need advice on trip planning to Florence & Venice

Old Jan 27th, 2001, 05:49 AM
Emily Fitton
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HELP -- need advice on trip planning to Florence & Venice

Hello all you experience travellers to Italy. I'm planning a trip with my parents for 10 days in Florence and Venice -- probably an even split between the 2 locations -- for the first week in May 2001.

Here are my issues:
1. I know there are a lot of internet resources, but I don't have time to search and handle all the bookings myself, plus I'm afraid I wouldn't get a good deal if I did it myself. But, none of the places recommended to me by friends are on the tour packager's lists (italiatours and american express), and the hotels they have are expensive. My price range is $100-$125 per room per night. I feel like I'm in a catch 22. In your experience, which is the best way to go?

2. Does anyone have experience with any of these accomodations:
Florence: Adriatico (a Best Western; not my idea of a truly Italian experience), Croce di Malta, Fenice Palace, Kraft, Pitti Palace, Residence Palazzo Ricosoli. This last one is intriguing, because it's actually 2-3 bdrm apartments, which would be nice to share with my parents, but I can't figure out the location, and maybe we'd miss out on having someone to help us arrange for tours, tickets, etc. As for location, I know I don't want to be too close to the train station, as I've been told it's kind of seedy there. Otherwise, another hotel, the Porta Faenza, which was highly recommended by a friend but is close to the station, seems nice (she said the accomodations were great and the family who runs it was very helpful).
Another huge consideration for me with a hotel is noise -- I need it to be quiet. But of course, we want the location to be not too out of the way from the major sites in the center of town.

Venice: does anyone have experience with the Bonvecchiati -- I've heard it's good, but the rate, even through amex is really high -- over $200 per nite. A friend recommended the Pensione Bucintoro, but again, it's not on any of the tour packagers lists. It's near the Arsenale, so it's close to San Marco, but not in it, so it will be quieter. I also know that in Venice, I don't want to stay in the Santa Croce area, or on Lido, as they are both too far out of the way.

And, I haven't even started with air travel...

Your expert comments, tips, etc. would be most deeply appreciated.
regards, emily

Old Jan 27th, 2001, 07:43 AM
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I can tell you what I do-first start with air and then you know what time you will be arriving and what time you need to be out for your departure. If you can book your tickets to go into Venice and out of Florence you will save travel time back to the original city. If you can leave at night so you sleep on the plane you also will have less trouble with jet lag. I would probably reccommend an extra day or two in Florence because there is more to do and see there. Besides all that Florence itself has there are many side trips into Tuscany that you might enjoy as day trips. I love Venice but I think three or four days is enough.

It really is quite easy to book your own hotel and usually less expensive. Go to www.venere.it and there are maps to show you where things are located and pictures of the hotels along with costs. Are you looking for one single room and one double? You will be fine with your budget in Florence but Venice can be expensive. Select one or two, send an e-mail asking about availability and confirming costs, then fax or e-mail your reservation and be sure to get confirmation that you can print out and take with you(just in case) You are pretty much doing the same thing right now with your choices from the travel companies. I would start now in getting all your reservations.
I would not stay close to the train station in Florence but Florence is a very compact city and it is a short walk anywhere. In early May it won't be too busy in Florence but I would still advise getting your tickets for the Uffizi ahead of time over the internet so you don't wait in line for two hours. I no longer have the internet address but do a search on this forum for Uffizi and you should find it.

Take earplugs, just in case, they were a lifesaver in a couple of places for me. Good luck and have fun in your planning.
Old Jan 27th, 2001, 08:00 AM
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Forgot to add, don't rule out the best western. They aren't like a Best western here and could be an beautiful old property that just happens to be owned by Best Western.
Old Jan 27th, 2001, 08:58 AM
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Emily: If you're going to be in Venice for a week, you might want to think about renting an apartment. A 1-BR with a sleeper sofa in the living room might just be in your price range, and certainly more comfortable than a cramped hotel room. I'm renting an apartment in April through Venice Rentals, which has gotten rave reviews, from what I've read. NO, THIS IS NOT AN ADVERTISEMENT! Their website is http://www.venicerentals.com
Old Jan 27th, 2001, 09:34 AM
wes fowler
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An interesting paradox in your query; you express concern about a Best Western hotel (not your idea of a true Italian experience) but also express concern about hotels recommended to you that are not referred to by tour packagers. You'll be far more likely to find a true Italian experience in an Italian Best Western than in a hotel devoted to packaged tours.
There are a phenomenal number of postings here that detail information on hotels in both cities. Do a text search and you'll find any number of repetitive, positive entries alluding to one or more hotels in either city.
Old Jan 27th, 2001, 11:40 AM
Jeryl P
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I agree with the above posting. Just because a hotel is not part of a tour's package should not scare you away from staying there. In fact, it should encourage you!! I have found that "tour hotels" have less charm, less hospitality and are just interested in "moving bodies". Read up on this web site and you will learn more and get better advice than anywhere else.
Old Jan 28th, 2001, 07:41 AM
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re booking hotels
Browse through guide books in a good bookstore or library, and take notes on what interests you. Buy at least one general guidebook that will be your all-purpose one.
Explore the Fodor's website and do searches for hotels by city in the main section as well as on this forum.
Don't wait any longer to book hotels, many will already be fully reserved.
Have maps of the cities you will be visiting (see above re buying or ordering maps) and locate every hotel that interests you on the city map so you can determine if it has a central and convenient location. As mentioned, some tours use hotels that are on the outskirts, or at the port docks, or next to the train station. If it is in a strictly-business district, the area could be bustling with shopping and restaurants during the day, and deserted at night.
Confirm the details with the hotel. If you must have an elevator, air conditioning, cable television, a phone in the room, wheel-chair accessibility, an iron, a mini bar, etc, confirm that your hotel room will have what you need. Don't assume that any or all credit cards are accepted unless you confirm this.
Ask the hotel if they have any special rates for senior citizens, for students, for auto club members, for whatever category may apply to you.
Don't use American terms with European hotels. Don't say a "double room" and assume that means two beds or one full-size. Never expect a queen-sized bed or larger unless you confirm it is available-those are primarily only in luxury hotels. If two people will be staying in the room, sharing a bed, then ask for "a room for two people with one large bed". If you want separate beds, then ask for "a room for two people with two beds".

If you want a bathroom with a shower, say this. If a bathtub is what you need, say that too. Don't assume that you will necessarily have a tub AND shower; it may be one or the other. Rooms with showers-only are often less-expensive.
Bring your own washcloths and tissues if you want them; many small hotels don't provide them.
Just because a European hotel is a member of a chain like Best Western or Holiday Inn, doesn't mean that it is necessarily a bland cookie-cutter hotel that is often found in the US. Many of these chain participants are individually-owned and operated, and can have as much local charm as any independent hotel.
When you book a hotel, find out what their cancellation policy is, and get it in writing (via fax, or print out the email). If a hotel interests you, book it now. If you wait to call back a week later, the room you wanted may be gone. Reconfirm your booking before you leave on your trip.

Be advised that in some small hotels, night clerks may speak little or no English. When you call a hotel, call them during local daytime hours so that you reach staff that are more likely to speak English and have more authority.

If you will be arriving at an odd hour (after 5pm or before 8am, for example), let the hotel know this before you arrive. You don't want them to give your room away, and you don't want to arrive and find the front door locked and the front desk unstaffed, as once happened to me.

Old Jan 28th, 2001, 11:47 AM
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Hi, Emily,
All great advice from the above posters.
The website I will post here seems to offer much of what you need. You will love Florence, by the way, it's one of my favorite cities. The website is:
It offers hotels, advance tickets to The Academie, Uffizi, (which, as the previous poster indicated is a very good thing to do!), tours in and out of the city.
Florence is a small, charming city with so much to do and nice little bus
(#2 for the ring route) system that will get you anywhere.

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