Is Italy worth the hassle?

Jun 7th, 2005, 06:08 PM
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Is Italy worth the hassle?

For a long, long time, I've been longing to see Italy. I've been studying the Italian language and researching all the web sites for accommodations that will fit our budget. Needless to say, my entire family was really looking forward to a trip to beautiful Italy. Now I'm beginning to wonder: Because of the prevalence of strikes and also due to budget issues, we decided to limit ourselves to Rome instead of the more wide ranging trip we originally planned. (Some disappointment at not seeing Tuscany, Cinque Terre or Venice). All the talk of currency conversion scams, pickpockets and the like have been discouraging too. I don't relish having to be on guard 100% of the time! Add to that the fact that we'd have to travel during the most uncomfortable part of the year (July or August,due to the school schedule), and I'm wondering whether we should just choose another location in Europe where we haven't yet been. I know the food is wonderful and the historical/religious sites will be awesome, but is Italy worth it??
victoria_reynolds is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:14 PM
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Jocelyn_P is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:17 PM
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iloveitaly is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:18 PM
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<<All the talk of currency conversion scams, pickpockets and the like have been discouraging too. I don't relish having to be on guard 100% of the time!>>

If those are your concerns, it doesn't make sense to limit yourself to Rome, where you probably have the greatest odds of experiencing these problems.

I think Italy is always worth it, but summer is the most difficult time to travel. However, going in summer is better than not going at all. I used to travel in summer over 30 years ago when I was a teacher, and the only place in Italy where I had some problems with scams, harassment, etc., was in Rome.
cmt is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:25 PM
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It is actually very easy to travel within Italy as most people tend to stay within the Venice to Florence/Tuscany, Rome and Amalfi corridor. If you are planning a trip to Europe in the summer a major part of your cost will be airfare and your within Italy travel costs will be quite moderate. Venice is certainly quite expensive but otherwise I do not see much overall reduction of costs if you go elsewhere within Europe during the summer unless you head to eastern europe in which case you will likely have higher airfares to compensate for. Italy is worth the trip.
mjs is online now  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:29 PM
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Travel is cumbersome. No doubt. Take the precautions and then relax. Don't expect to do everything. Expect some mishaps and try to enjoy them: I found a rude taxi driver in Naples who wanted to charge me too much. I ignored him and found another and when the first guy yelled, I laughed! Oh the joy of a yelling Italian. Such passion! I found a polite taxi driver who knew what the fare should be. We couldn't find our train in the train station and no one could help us. But then a man came along and did. I was happy to tip him. But oh! The memories of the mishaps and the glory of the history and art live on! Have some wine! Now and on your trip!!
annealex is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:32 PM
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I agree that spending all your time in Rome may not be the best solution, given your specific concerns. Since you'll be there at the hottest and busiest time of the year, have you considered staying out of the big cities altogether? There are some beautiful, cool, inexpensive destinations in the Veneto region, the Dolomites, and around the lakes. You would miss the "major sights" but could still have a marvelously Italian experience without constantly worrying about who's trying to snatch your purse. Just plant yourself in a villa out in the country and daytrip to the local towns to practice your Italian and enjoy the food.
Jocelyn_P is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:33 PM
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I had my expensive camera and favorite cds stolen. Yes, it's worth it.
theilian is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:37 PM
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I don;t think Italy is any more "hassle" than any place else. Don;t be intimidated by reports of a few random problems - 95% of the people who travel with no problems don't write reports.

On the other hand if you think there is anywhere in the world - except your own backyard - where you don;t have to be on guard (or alert) 100% of the time you are very naive - and living very dangerously.

Life requires (and has always required) that everyone keep their wits about them at all times. Thats why we have wits - otherwise we would still be gorillas. Or - as my father says - your head isn't just a hat rack.

nytraveler is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:42 PM
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Ohhh DEFINITELY worth it! The positives FAR outweigh the negatives. Just do your homework on this site and you will be rewarded with a wonderful trip. I returned from three weeks in Italy about a month ago and would jump at the chance to return in an instant. Just wave an airline ticket (preferably first class) in front of me. Stay as long as you possibly can manage and post a trip report when you return.
Betsy is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:43 PM
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having just returned from an unforgettable two week trip to Italy, I say yes, yes its worth it. I think about the experiences I had there day and night. Trust me you wont remember the minor inconveniences but you'll never forget Bella Italia!
kemarshall64 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 06:52 PM
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Let me give you my impression of Italy after a recent (March 2005) visit, having lived there in the 70s.

Italy seems far less....ITALIAN nowadays.

The clothes are less stunning. The people less effusive. Everything is less exotic.

Or maybe it is just me -- more cosmopolitan but more jaded.

Urban problems are urban problems. Not very different from home.

tedgale is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 07:20 PM
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Yes, it's worth it.

Don't let worry-warts and naysayers keep you from living your dream. As the other posters have already stated, simply take reasonable precautions, use common sense, and be aware of your surroundings -- just like you do at home. With this posting, I simply am just adding my vote of confidence to the others.

My pocket was picked on my 2nd trip to Italy. Last month, I returned from my 10th. And I will return again this fall. And again after that.

I am not worried; I am simply following the advice of a Roman priest who helped me deal with that long ago police report and gave me advice I follow to this day.

I no longer carry a wallet. I don't carry any more cash than I absolutely have to. And I don't carry it all in one place. (If they can't find it, they can't take it.) I haven't had a problem since.

Compared to Chicago or New York, most petty crime in Italy is non-violent, involving opportunistic thievery or scams. Be alert during potential distractions, and keep your hands free. Watch out for scams -- If it seems too good to be true, it is! Walk away.

Please consider that I am not saying that a trip would be totally risk-free. That wouldn't be realistic. I am simply suggesting that you can manage the risk without getting too paranoid, and have some fun!

I feel safer walking around in Rome late at night, than I do in most large US cities.

Review the other posts on other threads and you will have enough opinions and travel security tips to run a small seminar.

Buon viaggio!
shutterbug is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 07:23 PM
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The short answer -- yes, it's usually worth the hassle.

But I'm with everyone else who's saying not to limit yourself to Rome. First of all, it's the most expensive city I've ever stayed in hotel-wise. I'm a budget traveller who likes to stay in the city center, and finding an inexpensive decent place was almost impossible. I ended up paying more for less...and I did much better in Florence and God help me -- even Venice.

At the very least, stop reading the stuff that's got you wound up about what "might" happen. And whatever you do, head north out of Rome for a few days and see the countryside.

You probably won't get mugged, ripped off, or otherwise robbed while in Italy if you simply pay attention to your surroundings and teach your family how to do it too without being paranoid.

Wear a moneybelt, put your day's cash and a mere COPY of your ID in your purse, and put the rest in the moneybelt. Then if they rip you off, they won't have gotten much.

Also, Rome's a rougher city than Paris or London and other places north. I can't imagine going to just Rome and saying I'd seen Italy. It's like going to New York or Disney World and saying you saw the USA.

And quite frankly, a good railroad strike is just a story waiting to be told on your trip report when you get back.

Good luck,

jules4je7 is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 07:30 PM
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i've been to florence, venice, naples, and rome (also some day trips) and hands down rome is just awesome. venice is grand...albeit tiny. florence is living history. naples is old school. to me, none hold a candle to rome. and plus normally negative voices tend to seem louder and stronger than the positive voices. so the thought of getting pickpocketed or worse always looms larger than it really is. don't worry about the hype...if you've been to la, nyc, wash dc, or the such here in the states then rome is a piece of cake.
ucsun is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 07:31 PM
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You sound just being tired and over-prepared. Take a rest and go, by all means! Budget issues and being on guard - this will await at any tourist location in the world.
FainaAgain is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 07:33 PM
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Victoria, I know lots of people who have had problems traveling one place or another, but I went to Italy (Rome, Florence, and Venice) and had no problems at all. I took the train and metro and managed on my own. Perhaps it goes better in the off-season, and no doubt I had good luck.

If there's a train strike, you can always take a bus (as described on these threads). Or if worst comes to very worst with the transport issue, you might end up having to pay one extra hotel night somewhere because you are stranded in a major city. But it needn't be a huge concern.

But going to "just" Rome is a good idea too. I like longish trips in one city. You might like to check out for more tips from travelers who like that sort of method.
WillTravel is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 08:22 PM
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Oh yes, do go! I returned from my 16th trip to Europe only 48 hours ago. In all these years I've have never had a single problem with pickpockets, anywhere. Just take the ordinary precautions and then relax and enjoy. I love Rome and adore Florence and Venice. The Cinque Terre, while beautiful, deserves only one day, in my opinion, and the southeastern-most of the five villages are the most beautiful and least touristy.
Trains are easy and much more reliable than reputed. A rental car could be an option in case of strikes. The southern Italian drivers (including taxi drivers) are breathtakingly aggressive but quite harmless.
Have you considered Milan? The old town is rich, historical, and refined. You'll love the Galleria, the Duomo, and the surrounding pedestrian zones. The towns on nearby Lake Como, such as Bellagio and Varenna, are heaven on earth. Maybe you could also allow some time for the lovely towns near Venice.
Take some traveler's checks as backup for credit card problems and balky ATM machines.
Buon viaggio!
polyglot is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 10:32 PM
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Yes, Italy is worth it.

Please understand that people post about problems here for several reasons: To warn others, to vent, and (rarely) because the poster likes to scare others or is perpetually scared themselves.

There's an old adage in the news business: "Bridge remains standing for 19,624th day" is never a headline. "Bridge collapses, kills 12" is.

Please read all of the positive trip reports and comments about Italy, too. It's worth it. I think it's not any riskier than going to Chicago or Los Angeles.

Good luck, whatever you decide.

Worktowander is offline  
Jun 7th, 2005, 10:39 PM
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I would say it depends on your attitude. If you need to ask the question then possibly it isn't worth it for you. For me, it would be worth no end of moving about but then, that's just me. Italy is not perfect. But nowhere is. If you are seeking paradise and perfection you might be disappointed. If you are looking for idealised image of picture book Italy you might be disappointed but if you are looking with an open mind to enjoy what you see and take the chance that things will be different from what you are used to, you will have a different experience, but ultimately only you can make that judgement.
vnh is offline  

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