Italy.....First time HELP....

Aug 1st, 2001, 07:41 PM
  #1  
Barbara
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Italy.....First time HELP....

We are planning our first trip to Italy in Spring 2002. We have looked into several tour companies and are undecided...has anyone used the so called "luxury "companies such as Abercrombie and Kent or Travcoa??? Are they worth the extra money(ie7500+ per person) or are the less expensive packages just as good. We want a great vacation (we don't take that many) but don't want to be suckers. All comments are greatly appreciated. Thanks
 
Aug 1st, 2001, 08:00 PM
  #2  
StCirq
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Jeez! $7,500?? Would you consider hiring me to take you on a private tour?For that money, you could plan a totally EXTRAVAGANT tour on your own - are you looking to throw money away? How long is this tour? For that kind of money, I'd hope at least a month. Please write back and tell us. particulars so we can help you save molto dinero.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 01:59 AM
  #3  
Philip
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One of the great things about holidays is the actual planning isn't it? And via this wonderful machine you can have the most amazing fun doing just that.......first off you really do need to decide where and which part.....if, for instance, you were thinking about coming to Tuscany [I mean, Darling, where else in Italy would one want to go? !] you could start at my site(www.mulinodellopera.com) and go to "Useful Links", whereby you should be able to cybertravel virtually all of the Stato di Toscana.........you could also just look at the 200 or so photos there are up there and drool and dream!
Many Americans in particular swear by tour companies; personally I would have thought by using one's head and good"Travel" rather than "Guide" books - eg: H V Morton's excellent "Traveller in Italy" published in 1963(but still very uptodate, or moreso Henry James's "Italian Hours"(now available from Amazon)....if I may advise, I would eschew "Under the Tuscan Sun" as a 'good travel book'! - your winter's evenings this year will be blessed with vicarious Italian Summer sun!
Other parts such as the Lakes and of course the Bay of Naples and Venezia have their supporters whilst the mighty City of Milano is of singular importance.......speaking personally, apart from the Vatican itself Rome leaves me totally cold - mucky place...but each to his/her own.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 07:21 AM
  #4  
Americanhere
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I would never go on a tour unless you are elderly. Phillip's assumption is over the top and again what you can expect from Europeans that only travel in Europe. Every day I walk to work and see loads of European tour buses in NYC.

I think perhaps Phillip does not use contemporary guidebooks because he is never actually going anywhere. Using a guidebook is using your head. I suggest you get one history, one art history, one social comentary book. Having a cross section of reading to prepare you for your trip will enhance your experience. It will put all that is in front of you into context.

A guide book for sight seeing, hotels and dining is very necessary. I would sit down in Barnes and Nobel or Borders and scan different books to find one that caters to your needs. Zagat's now has an international hotel guide.

Unless you are staying at the Four Season you very well may be disappointed with European hotels coming from U.S. I love hotels I have stayed in, in Europe but you just cannot expect the quality you find in the U.S. I say this because your tour might be promising you luxury but not by American standards.

I would also focus on small towns, they carry much more charm than the larger cities. You just get to see much more of the culture in places like Siena, Asisi (sp). Good luck let us know what you decide, Darling...just kidding.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 08:46 AM
  #5  
Enough!
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Phillip: Whatttttttttt? Once again, the question is not being addressed. Who the hell cares if someone wants to take a tour? Although Barbara, $7,500 per person seems a tad steep. If you want luxury, book it yourself and your hotel concierge can arrange what you need, it sounds like you can afford it. If you want a tour that has a good track record, uses 4 and 5 star hotels and restaurants, look into Tauck. They are often recomended on the board. If you want to take a tour, go ahead. Not everyone plans trips as a hobby.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 09:28 AM
  #6  
Karen
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Barbara don't feel that you have to take a tour. Europe is very safe, quite manageable and your money may be well served making your own arrangements. Tours frequently suck up all your time and don't offer you opportunities to meander and mingle in local culture. I am an experienced traveler that is all that is being said on this thread. I think it important to hear this rather than finding disappointment on your travels.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 01:27 PM
  #7  
Dave
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We just returned from two weeks in Italy. We planned a week on a tour of Rome, then went another week on our own. We used Trafalgar and everything was wonderful (just under $2,000 per person for 8 day tour).

We stayed at the Hotel Cicerone, a wonderful, clean, 4 star hotel with all the conveniences, about a 10 minute walk from the Vatican. The buses used on the tour were modern and comfortable. It was also helpful having a tour director who could help us figure things out for the following week.

The tour helped us to get acclamated, and we went to Florence and Venice on our own with confidence and success.

I'm glad we split our time between the tour and being on our own because you do get tired of hurrying to get up and onto the bus every morning.

Just do it!
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 03:19 PM
  #8  
Lexma90
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I have never used a tour, and doubt I would (except for maybe a visit to China or something), but for a differing view, my parents (older but certainly not elderly) have taken several luxury tours offered through the university from which my father graduated. They are led by professors who are experts in the history and/or art of the place they've traveled to. The groups have been very small (12-15 people), so they get to go to and stay at places the larger tour groups are not welcome, such as Michelin-rated restaurants and small luxury hotels. They have learned a lot about the subjects of the tours that they wouldn't have learned otherwise.

The tours are worth the money for them because they are very sociable and have a hard time learning even a few phrases in another language (I've tried to teach them, believe me!). They get to socialize with the people in their group, eat at very up-scale places they appreciate, get taken care of by the tour group leaders, and get a great educational experience. It's not for me, and the money wouldn't be worth it to me (if I could afford it, that is) but they've had a great time.

You can easily have a great vacation without paying those prices and without taking a tour, but independent travel, I recognize, is not for everyone.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 04:18 PM
  #9  
Deb
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While I can say I prefer to set my own pace and not take a rigid tour, other people swear by them. If you can afford the amount that Abercrombie and Kent charge, then go for it. They are an absolutely wonderful company and will really pamper you to the max! Believe me I know as I am in the Business..............
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 05:47 PM
  #10  
Frank Mancini
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You have not given us enough information to truly be of assistance. How long do you intend to be in Italy.
What cities, towns or areas are you interested in? Are you willing to drive your own car? I have never taken a tour but I do believe they are for certain people. If you are willing to share more information, I would be more than happy to assist or give you the benefit of my experiences. Last year I spent 5 weeks in Italy. This year I will be there for 2 weeks. I am a senior citizen and first visited Italy while in the service. I tell you this because I want you to know that I do know the territory and am sincere about sharing my knowledge.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 08:13 PM
  #11  
Sheila
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I am going to Europe for the 5th time this Oct. I have taken a tour every time.
I've never been on one that costly, so I am not sure if it is worth the difference or not, but the last company I used was Globus. I can tell you this. I was dissappointed in the location of the hotels. They were sometimes 20-30 minutes out of town. For instance, we stayed 20 minutes away from the canals of Venice. We were 20 min outside of Rome. If you want to step outside your hotel and be able to walk around and shop or see the sights, you will have to pay more. For anyone who cannot afford the luxury, it's fine, but if you can afford it, you can do better than Globus, or Brandon tours. I will be traveling with 3 other ladies this fall and we are taking a Trafalgar tour. This will be my first time to use them. I'm sure which ever way you chose, you'll have a great time. Italy is wonderful.
 
Aug 2nd, 2001, 08:46 PM
  #12  
Diane
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You are certain to find some great suggestions on this site -- My husband and I planned a 3-week Italy trip for our 25th anniversary this past May. We started out looking at a Rick Steve's tour that covered practically the whole country. After reading LOTS of travel guides, visiting several web sites, and corresponding with many folks on this forum, we decided to plan our own trip, renting a car and visiting places we really wanted to see. It worked out fantastically and we did the whole thing for under $7000 -- which included purchases, gifts, excellent dining experiences and developing 34 rolls of film! We stayed in 3-4 star hotels and B&Bs with charm, even a castle in Tuscany for two nights. Our itinerary covered Southern Tuscany, Verona, a ride through the Dolomites, Venice, Florence, Chianti country in Tuscany, Orvieto, Frascati, the Amalfi Coast (with daytrips to Pompeii and Capri), and Rome. Except for Orvieto and Frascati, we stayed 2 or 3 nights in each location. We had a car but left it parked while in Venice & Florence, and turned it in on the way from Amalfi coast to Rome. We signed up for several guided tours (Pompeii, Vatican) or used audio guides for museums and walking tours from several travel guides. Use your library for initial research and enjoy the planning! Of course, if you want to try a tour, it is probably worth going with a high-end operation to guarantee that you are staying in good locations in the cities (that is the knock on inexpensive tours--that they book you into places on the outskirts of town). I build a spreadsheet and calculated what our costs would be versus the tour which covered a similar itinerary, and we spent about 70% of what the tour would have cost. We did cover a lot of ground, but were able to discover places we that we can now plan to go back to and "base" ourselves for a week at a time.
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 02:26 PM
  #13  
barbara
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Thanks, I'm really learning alot... we plan on spending 14-16 days in Italy, the "luxury" tours that I've looked into provide 5 star hotels in the center of all major cities,transfers, and 3 meals a day either with the group or on your own. You can choose any restaurant(or room service) and they will reimburse you the full cost of your meals minus any liquor. We've never been to Italy and feel that some sort of tour would be good. we're not very old but don't want to schlep our luggage on and off trains,planes and buses. We like art(not too much,though) good food, wine and meeting new people. Which tour would you reccommend???
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 02:44 PM
  #14  
sandy
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I would definitely tell u to book an upscale tour co such as tauck...they provide every luxury u could want and probably less expensive than a%k or travcoa......depending on your age 60+,I would try maupintour......the xtra
$ is worth every penny.Great hotels,great locations,excellent service,usualyy travelling with a more
educated group.........always find out how many in the group...I have heard horror stories about booking the cheap tours.....trust me, I am a travel agent.
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 02:55 PM
  #15  
Book Chick
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Hi Barbara!
Congratulations on "taking the plunge" to see Italy. You will never regret it, as its charm, hisory, and beauty are so very memorable.

Tours are for some people, others prefer to do research & make their own plans. I don't subscribe to a point of view that would indicate there's a right or wrong way to see Italy. Whatever your preference in that regard is, you should follow it. Naturally, should you decide to do a tour, get as much info on the tour company as possible. You may want to check into Palladio Tours. (I am in no way affiliated with them, BTW.) They have a web site, www.palladio-tours.com
as well as a toll-free phone number of 877-999-8754. They special in SMALL tour groups of 6-8 people, and all tours are led by Italians who are very fluent in English. They can put together something for you based on the number of days & areas of Italy you prefer to see.
Best Wishes For A Wonderful Trip,
BC
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 02:59 PM
  #16  
Surlok
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Barb,

I recommend you Tauck, as well. The groups are on the small side, the busses are new, the hotels are always well located , what not always happens when you go on a tour. Other tour companies often put their groups at badly located hotels, too distant from the sites, and whenever they want to sight see independently, they 're too far from everything. Tauck will give you a free choice of restaurants, and their itineraries are great.

You can't go wrong with Tauck.

Good luck,

Surlok
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 10:37 PM
  #17  
Carin
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Don't take a tour! We just went to Italy in April - our first trip ever to Europe. I had so much fun planning it with all the great advice from the people on this forum. We had a wonderful time, we felt safe everywhere we went, we ate fantastic food, and it was a never-to-be-forgotten trip. We're not very adventurous people, either. Do it yourself - it's very rewarding and you'll have a good time!
 
Aug 4th, 2001, 10:50 PM
  #18  
Lulu
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My husband and I like to travel with no special destnations because we love the smaller places and meetng the locals, on the other hand my girlfriend and her husband only go on tours where they feel safe and don't have to try to speak a few words of another language. Only you know what is right for you.
 
Aug 12th, 2001, 08:07 PM
  #19  
Karen
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Barbara, My husband and I are also going to Italy for the first time the first two weeks in June 2002. We are looking at Perillo and Globus tours which run around 3600 each. I am also thinking about planning my own trip. My biggest fear with the tour companies is being stuck in a boring hotel with boring hotel food I've already paid for and don't even like. I have just started doing research and would be very interested in sharing ideas and finds with you. We want to spend 3 nights in Rome, 3 in Florence, 3 in Venice, and 3 in the Tuscany region. We would like to really experience the ambience of Italy not just be shuffled along in a crowd. I would love to correspond with you. I would love suggestions from seasoned travelers also.
 
Aug 13th, 2001, 07:02 PM
  #20  
Fred
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You are a sucker if you spend so much. You can stay in 4 star hotels for $200 or less per night. You can take the Eurostar trains between cities. You can take cabs in the towns for less than $10 per trip. You can have a grear meal for 2 for less than $60. You can take walking tours for $30 per person, lasting 3-4 hours
 

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