Helpful Information: Italy

Old Sep 16th, 2003, 07:13 AM
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This one is a bit dated but still good to plan your budget:

Q. I have 2 weeks to see Italy-- how much should I budget for the trip

A. It depends on you, but here is a good start.
ITALY TRAVEL BUDGET

Independent travel to Europe continues to become even more popular with American tourists, and it seems that Italia has become everyone's favorite destination. This phenomenon is certainly not difficult to understand for those of us who have learned to savor "la dolce vita".
During the past four years I have been fortunate to have planned more than eighty personalized itineraries for independent travelers to southern Europe----most of them to Italy.
Understandably, one of the first questions I get from a prospective client is about the projected costs. My quick answer is the obvious one----" that depends on you and your preferred travel style". As we delve deeper it becomes clear that the style choices of would-be independents can vary widely-----from youth hostel backpackers to luxury five star jet-setters. We will ignore these extremes for now and concentrate on the more mainstream middle ranges. Here are some assumptions for our hypothetical itinerary:

A. This is a 14 day [13 night] itinerary to Italy for a couple during the shoulder season months of April, May, Sept. and Oct. These are the best months for travel to Italy.
B. Flying into Milan or Venice and out of Rome, or vice versa, with the purchase of tourist class tickets well in advance, or from a consolidator.
C. The 2-star budget assumes rail travel. The rental car options include all insurance and unlimited mileage. Car choices are compact/manual [3-star] and mid-size/auto [4-star].

Now that we have our parameters set let's go ahead and plan our budget. Remember, this is for planning purposes only and is really controlled by you. You may decide to blow the budget on Murano glass, leather in Florence, or silk in Bellagio. But, I do feel this to be a realistic estimate of expenses for this itinerary, based upon an exchange rate 2200L/$.
TRAVEL EXPENSE ITEM: 2 STAR 3 STAR 4 STAR ================================================== ==========
AIRFARE--2 PEOPLE 1600 1600 1600
RAIL TICKETS--2 PEOPLE 500 N/A N/A
CAR RENTAL--ALL INCL. N/A 550 900
* PETROL N/A 200 250
* TOLLS N/A 50 50
TOTAL TRANSPORT $ 2100 $ 2400 $ 2800
HOTELS & INNS--13 NITES 900 1500 2200
FOOD & DRINK 600 900 1200
TOURISM COSTS 300 300 500
GELATO & CAPPUCCINO 150 150 200
MISC. EXTRAS 150 150 200

LIVING & TOURISM $ 2100 $ 3000 $ 4300
================================================== =============
TOTAL TRIP COSTS: $ 4200 $ 5400 $ 7100 BUON VIAGGIO !







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Old Sep 16th, 2003, 07:15 AM
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Oops ! Sorry about the tabs.
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Old Sep 16th, 2003, 12:20 PM
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What is the weather likely to be during my trip?

weather web sites--compare the forecasts and historical info, sometimes they differ remarkably, I usually take an average:

www.wunderground.com On the home page you can click on the Europe map, and on the next screen click on your country. Then you get a list of cities to click on.
When you do that, you get a screen with the forecast on the right side, but on the left side, under Conditions, there is a submenu offering for historical weather info.

www.worldclimate.com/

www.washingtonpost.com weather section also has historical data

www.nytimes.com/

www.weather.com/

www.cnn.com/WEATHER/

www.usatoday.com/weather/

www.rainorshine.com/

www.timeout.com click on your city, then on weather

www.bbc.co.uk/weather
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Old Sep 16th, 2003, 12:31 PM
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What kind of clothes should I wear/is there a dress code/what shall I pack?

how to pack and travel light: http://www.oratory.com/onebag/home.html

for suggestions on how to dress: www.twenj.net (a wonderful website anyway)

these are my opinions:

In the large European cities you will see plenty of people in shorts or jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers. Most of them will be visitors, from whatever places (including towns in that same country), unless they are also under 25 in which case they could be just local students.

Jeans are much too hot in warm weather in my experience, and you can't wash them out and have them dry inside of a week. If you are wearing shorts/mini skirts and sleeveless tops,you can't go into most churches, especially women. Men sometimes get by with walking shorts for some reason.

Does everyone in Europe dress well? No.

Do the big cities? business areas seem to have more people who dress chic-ly than in the average small town in America, or the average small town in Europe for that matter? Yes.

The question of what to wear has a lot more to do with what image you like projecting in your dress, rather than the bare minimum (pun intended) of what you can get by with. Middle and upper-class city-dwellers in cities, going about their grown-up business lives, will be mostly well-dressed.

Visitors are more concerned with walking miles every day and being comfortable. Someone once used the phrase "smart casual" which I think is a great compromise between backyard casual and business attire. Polo shirts and sport shirts or blouses, cardigans and blazers rather than sweatshirts, non-logo tee shirts, cotton or wool pants or skirts rather than shorts and jeans, etc.

It's not a matter of pretending to not be a tourist, it's a choice, assuming you care, to not look like you're going to a barbecue, "not that there's anything wrong with that" Of course either way people will still know that you are a tourist, but perhaps you?ll avoid looking like an unsophisticated or vulnerable tourist.Sometimes this topic degenerates to "slobbery" vs "snobbery". Either way, you won't be deported.

One thing I will strongly suggest, don't compromise on comfort when it comes to shoes. You will be miserable in shoes that don't help your feet, even if the shoes or sandals look a little clunky. Bring one sleeker pair for evenings if you like. Some people don't want to invest in an alternative pair of walking shoes, but sneakers are heavy to pack in a suitcase, and they are heavy to wear on a plane for hours at a time, and they don't look so good on those occasions when you do want to dress up a little. I'd rather pack or wear another pair of shoes that are more adaptable.

Many hotels, even small ones, can direct you to same-day or next day dry cleaning or laundry service. They may provide it as a service by sending it out for you. It?s a wonderful extra to pay for if you are going on to another location, or if you didn?t bring much with you and want your clothes to be fresh. Major cities always have coin-operated laundries in residential neighborhoods.

The best approach in terms of coping with temperatures that vary except in the heat of summer, is layering, and by all means take an umbrella in any season.
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 12:15 AM
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ira
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Thanks, Bob and Elaine
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 06:59 AM
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To keep this thread active.

Q. I am a new traveler to Europe and Italy. How do I get started?

A. Set your macro criteria first:
I get inquiries virtually every day requesting my help in developing a well conceived TRIP PLAN for independent travel in Europe. I am always willing to offer the benefit of my experience , but some requests can be a real challenge. Here is a recent example:

? Dear Bob, I have seen your frequent comments on the Fodors forum and would like your help in planning our family trip to Europe. We are a family of four and will be traveling in August to these places we have always dreamed about---the Cote d? Azur, Lake Como, Venice, Florence, Rome and the Amalfi coast. Can you please tell us where to stay and what to see? Oh yes, we only will have ten days and we will be on a tight budget.

The challenge is to inject a dose of realism without completely dousing the dream. Not an easy task. But, after having planned dozens of customized itineraries for others, I have learned that the most successful trips are invariably those that are conceived by considering the macro criteria first. You must start with the ? biggies ? in your planning phase and then the rest will fall into place. Anything less will seriously compromise the eventual trip success.
The above scenario is a textbook example of poor planning. It fails to consider these criteria:
WHEN ? Pick your destinations based upon optimal seasonal considerations. Avoid most of southern Europe in the hot summer months. Visit Iberia or Italy in April, May and October and save the Alpine venues, Ireland,and Scotland for June , July, and August.
HOW MUCH ? Your budget will often dictate which destinations are feasible. Set a realistic budget and then plan accordingly. Avoid the upscale coastal resorts during high season if you are budget sensitive.
ENOUGH TIME ? Trying to do too much is the most common planning error. A twelve day itinerary calls for a MAX of four destinations, and three is better. And, try to plan your route for less than four hours of travel time to the next destination--- by car or train.
RAILS OR RENTAL CAR ? Your mode of transport will determine trip timing and choice of destinations. Train travel can be efficient but is very limiting for off-the-path locations.
EXPERIENCE LEVEL ? Trip stress is directly related to your travel experience in Europe. So, plan your initial trip to minimize the stress factors. Above all, do not bite off too much !


You may not always be able to control these variables, but you do need to develop your trip strategy considering their eventual impact---it will make all the difference. The worst mistake is to start with the single criteria of ? WHERE? and then try to force feed the practical logistics .

My best advise is to start your plan with the assumption that you will be returning to Europe for subsequent trips. Get a good map and perceive Europe as geographic regions. Then, plan perhaps as many as three desired itineraries in advance. You will very likely return. Good luck!











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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 09:14 AM
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great stuff, bobthe
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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 09:26 AM
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Some info on Milan


The following info is from www.hellomilano.com
If you want to see da Vinci's Last Supper in Milan, a reservation is required. Groups are admitted at 15-minute intervals.. To book, phone 02.8942.1146: the number answers Mon-Fri 9.00 to 18.00, Sat 9.00-14.00. Operators speak English. (From abroad, phone +39.02.8942.1146). The operator will give you a code number and the time of the visit: you actually collect and pay for tickets on
the day of your visit, at least half an hour before scheduled time. You can hire an audio cassette guide (recommended here on Fodor?s forum) at the ticket desk. If you don't prebook a slot, you can try joining the queue in Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, for places made available by people who don't turn up.


Website for Milan (Malpensa) airport: http://www.seaaeroportimilano.it/Eng/

www.malpensa.it airport info, including lodgings

The Malpensa Express TRAIN from the airport stops ONLY at Milan?s Cadorna (Stazione Nord) train station (near the Duomo).

http://www.ferrovienord.it/webmxp/in...rvizio-ing.htm

To get to Milan's Centrale Station from Stazione Nord, you would need to take a subway or taxi.

On the other hand, the BUS from the airport goes directly to Centrale Station. Travel time varies from 45-90 minutes, depending on traffic.

If you have a reserved seat on a particular train, get to the train station early and consult someone at the tourist information office in the train station. Most TI offices have at least one person who speaks English. They can advise you the correct location on the track (binario) where you should stand to board your train, and your particular car if you have a reserved seat. If you board the correct car in the first place, you will easily find your seat if you have reserved one, and avoid dragging your luggage up and down the train aisles.

You must stamp your ticket in one of the little stamping machines that you must pass by before entering the binario (track) areas. An unstamped ticket is invalid, and is subject to large penalties

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Old Sep 18th, 2003, 03:47 PM
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Grazie Elaine, I am your biggest fan !
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Old Sep 20th, 2003, 10:07 AM
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Topping for Ira !
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Old Sep 21st, 2003, 10:29 PM
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Thanks for keeping the thread going.
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Old Sep 24th, 2003, 04:46 AM
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Topping at Ira's request.
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Old Sep 24th, 2003, 03:19 PM
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Here is another one that seems to occur every week.
Q. I want to rent a villa in Tuscany. Where do I start?

A. Before you try to screen properties, set you criteria for location and price. Then, go to slowtrav.com and look at both agencies to use and reviews of specific properties. It is a great resource for novice renters.
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Old Sep 25th, 2003, 07:13 AM
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so bob-t-n

You said you've planned lots of trips to Europe. Do you do that for hire or for your friends or what?

I hate to plan trips and don't really want to go on an organized tour and I do want to go to Italy.

You interested in planning my trip?
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Old Sep 25th, 2003, 07:55 AM
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Send me an email at: [email protected]
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Old Sep 25th, 2003, 12:45 PM
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What are some good daytrips from Rome?

(see above for info on daytripping to Pompeii)
This info assumes that you could find info elsewhere on how to get to Florence as a daytrip, if you want to

An excellent book is Steinbicker's "Daytrips Italy" which includes details on transportation , and a map of each daytrip destination city or town.

www.ostia-antica.org.
If your time in Rome is short and you want to see more ruins, save hours of travel and visit Ostia Antica instead of Pompeii. Do take a picnic and eat among the ruins. The only source of food is outside the property.
Closed Mondays.

I got the following narrative from some source, might have been a posting here, don't recall unfortunately:
"?While not as well preserved as Pompeii, if Pompeii?s a 10 on the archaeology scale, Ostia?s an 8 or 9 ...and holds other advantages not held by Pompeii. Pompeii in its day was a summer place of illas cooled by the breezes off the Mediterranean. While it has much of interest it?s far less typical of Roman cities. To the contrary, Ostia was a working city, the port of Rome. With few if any villas, it has instead a wealth of the Roman equivalent of what you?d find in a modern day small city: apartment blocks, taverns, groceries, warehouses, churches, public toilets, civic buildings, theater. Pompeii perished in a relative instant nearly 2000 years ago. Ostia, on the other hand, continued to thrive for another 300 years or so until silting of the Tiber river mouth grew to the point that the city was too far from the water to be a port. This extended life provides more historical depth and added architectural diversity to the site compared to its better-known cousin to the south. It?s quiet, which Pompeii is not; it?s shaded, which Pompeii is not; it?s relatively untouristed, which Pompeii is certainly not. And it?s easy to get to, which Pompeii decidedly is not."

I believe the following instructions are still accurate for getting to Ostia, but check with your hotel in Rome


In Rome, take Metro Line ?B? towards ?Laurentina? and get off at the ?Piramide? stop. Exit metro train and you will see escalator/stairs and a sign ?Ferrovia Roma-Lido?. All of these trains go to Lido and stop at Ostia Antica. Check the displays for which train is next, and it's track number.

Daytrip to Orvieto:
Websites: http://www.eng.uci.edu/~alberto/orvieto.html includes sightseeing, city map
http://www.argoweb.it/orvieto/orvieto.uk.html sightseeing, places to stay, restaurants, shopping
www.umbriaonline.com
http://www.primitaly.it/umbria/orvieto/index.html in Italian

http://www.ku.edu/history/index/euro...ieto/home.html

http://www.emmeti.it/Welcome/Umbria/.../index.uk.html

the Cathedral: http://www.greatbuildings.com/buildi...Cathedral.html

For train schedules http://www.fs-on-line.com/

Trains depart from Rome?s Termini station approx every two hours, during the day, for the 90-minute ride. Return service operates until mid-evening. From the train station in Orvieto, a funicular train will take you into town. From the train station, you can buy a ticket that will include the funicular ride, plus the bus ride from the top of the funicular to the center of town.

Pisa as daytrip
Train ride is about 3.5 hours, so leaving Rome in the morning and returning from Pisa in the late afternoon or early evening would leave about 5 hours to see Pisa
From the New York Times, Sept 01:
Visitors to the Leaning Tower will be admitted for 30-minute tours in guided groups of 30. The admission price will include access to the top level (293 steps) and the second-story outside loggia.
To prebook access, go to www.opapisa.it/boxoffice

For more info on the Duomo: www.duomo.pisa.it , click on "torre" and you will have the option for an English version.

An awesome website, photos of ancient ruins in many locations, including Pompeii,
Herculaneum, and Ostia Antica:
http://wings.buffalo.edu/AandL/Maece...ome_and_sicily
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Old Sep 26th, 2003, 05:07 AM
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topping
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Old Sep 29th, 2003, 11:42 AM
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Lets try this

Helpful informaton italy

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Old Oct 7th, 2003, 10:36 AM
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Thanks to all for keeping the thread going.
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Old Oct 7th, 2003, 12:57 PM
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ira, welcome home,and thanks for starting this thread
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