Italy for Idiots--Basic Help pls.

Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 05:00 PM
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Italy for Idiots--Basic Help pls.

Hi- I am not a veteran traveler.In fact, the last time I went I was 10 and now I am 50. My husband has never been-nor has our 14 yr old. So--oo.

Our plan: To go to Rome or to Venice (and rturn from the other) and do Florence in the middle-about 8 days.

Our questions:
1. Any comments on which to go to first?

2. We have time Dec 26-Jan 3--we do not celebrate Christmas. I am curious-is enough open? Can weather be ok?

3. We are walkers/museum people-live in Manhattan. Loved London.

4. Now basic - what does a Euro equal in
dollars US right now?

5. We need no documents other than our Passports, right?

6. I plan to arrange trip cancellation insurance, reserve nonstop flights, reserve Uffizi gallery, reserve one hotel in each city all from here. Any other things to reserve? request?

7. Anyone use a guide and driver anywhere? thinking of one between Venice-Florence and Florence-Rome to see little sites and learn something. Any recommendations? Any cost estimates?

8. Any museums (little) we might miss? I like off the tourist track stuff and I hear the science museum in Florence is great.

9. Any hotel recommendations in Venice/Rome? We like location, location, location-where one can walk about at night etc. We do not need big, most impressive, most fancy.

10. Any good restaurant guide-have not found Zagat's for any of these cities. London one was quite useful.

11. I wouldn't miss Venice- one of a kind. I'm not as interested in Rome-but husband is. Florence seems to disappoint some. How many nights would you advise in each. Hey thanks.
NYCMOM50 is offline  
Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 05:18 PM
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1. I would fly into Venice and out of Rome. Rome can be overwhelming if you are jet lagged.
2. Yes, plenty will be open. Some stores will be closed the day after Christmas and New Year's day, but these are all large cities and you won't have a problem finding open restaurants (maybe not your first choice) and activities.
3. Good, all three are full of wonderful museums that are world famous and should not be missed.
4. Not sure exactly. 1 dollar will cost slightly more to purchase than 1 euro.
5. Passports only.
6. You might want to get advance reservations for the Secret Itinerary tour at the Doge's Palace in Venice and the Accademia museum in Florence and the Borghese Gallery in Rome. But you might be able to get reservations for all these upon arrival in each city.
7. Best to travel these distances by train. A private driver will be very expensive going from one city to another. Trains are very economical and fast and will get you to Florence and then Rome quickly since you only have a limited time anyway.
8. Yes, Science museum and La Specola in Florence. Also the Opera d'Doumo museum in Florence. I describe some smaller museums my two daughters enjoyed in my trip report, "Rome with Kids" that you can find by doing a search under Grinisa.
9. In Rome, I love the hotel Del Senato. Great rooms and service, moderately priced and right on the Piazza della Rotunda. The most central location you could find.
10. The Gambero Rosso Guide to Italy has restaurants for all three cities listed as well as the Red Michelin guide to Italy. My trip report lists many restaurants and gelaterie.
11. Florence would only disappoint people not interested in world class museums, jaw dropping churches and spectacular vistas. My preference is Rome over Venice so I would say 2 days in Venice, two days in Florence and 4 days in Rome.
Have a great time!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 05:41 PM
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This site will convert any currency to any other for you with the current days exchange rate.
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 07:44 PM
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1. I agree, do Venice, Florence then Rome.
2. Not sure
3. You will love Florence if you are a museum person
4. Think the US dollar is below the Euro
5. Passports only
6. Cant think of any that havnt been mentioned...maybe the scavi tour at teh Vatican in Rome
7. Train travel is simple in Italy and very your tickets when you arrive
8. Not sure
9. Hotel Galleria is right off the Accademia bridge and between Rialto bridge and San Marco square. do a search for Rome Hotels or Venice hotels above and you will get a ton of ideas!
10. Nor sure, but a search above would do the trick.
11. I think if you are an art love you will love Florence. Rome is wonderful for their ancient ruins, Venice is amazing!
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 10:01 PM
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I can't really answer a lot of your questions. But my wife and I went to Milan and Venice in June and I have posted a trip report and many pictures from our trip on my homepage Maybe you can get some useful information there

Have a great trip to Italy

Stavanger, Norway
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Old Jul 22nd, 2003, 11:19 PM
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Just a reminder that in the winter, Venice tends to flood as in walking along cat walks with high rubber boots on and wading through Pza. San Marco. Even in the rain and during flooding, it is still worth experiencing. The only hotels I have been pleased with were the Gritti Palace, Cipriani and the Danieli all very grand however, might be worth checking out in the off season. One of the best trattorias is called Madonna. Excellent seafood. You are going during a cold time of year, no worse though then what you will be leaving behind. I agree with poster above, take the train from Florence to Rome. Be sure to catch the EuroStar. It should only take about an hour. While I am partial to Florence, It would be such a shame to miss Rome. Your husband is right and I am sure you will not be sorry. For Rome I can highly recommend Hotel Abruzzi across from the Parthanon. It is newly remodeled and v. clean. Excellent location. Rome is full of great restaurants. The city is famouse for pasta carbonara. Be sure to throw a couple of coins in the Trevi fountain as I am sure you will want to go back. Buon Viaggio!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2003, 04:20 AM
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I'm not convinced that Rome is any more "overwhelming" when you're trying to fight jet lag than Venice, especially if you haven't been before..BOTH of them can be "overwhelming" in that regard.
I don't know what your travel budget is or how much you wish to spend but if the airfare is significantly different when you comparing flying into one city or the other I would opt for the cheaper fare or the one which might have more convenient timing.
I do think it can be somewhat easier to reach the Rome airport from the city so to leave from there might be a better idea on that score.
The "flood" issue in Venice. To read the above you might think the city was practically underwater every waking and sleeping minute and that is not necessarily the case. I would be aware that there have been flooding problems in Venice for YEARS and just be prepared for it at that time of year.
If you like museums than Florence and Rome are definitely the right cities. If you'd enjoy seeing all the things the Venetians have STOLEN from everywhere you'll love that too...pretty savvy guys those Venetians and now you get to enjoy all the plunder..
Asking about the value of a Euro now might give you a frame of reference but it will undoubtedly be different by the time you leave.
You do not need any documents other than a CURRENT passport (make sure it isn't going to expire anytime soon...usually you want it to be valid for at least six months after you arrive..some countries actually REQUIRE this for entry..Italy may not be one of those.
Whether or not to reserve museums, etc., in advance will depend on when you are going...others wil undoubtedly comment on this...I would definitely reserve the hotels that you WANT in advance.
I think what "disappoints" some folks in Florence is the number of people who are crowded into the city, particularly in the Summer. It is a city most known for famous art and architecture (the supposed great shopping I sometimes have doubts about when compared to Rome or Milan but that's another conversation) if you aren't interested in those two aspects of things you might be disappointed regardless of when you visit...and might decide to visit other sights in Tuscany such as the smaller towns/cities as opposed to Florence.

I hope you have a wonderful trip.
Old Jul 23rd, 2003, 04:44 AM
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Hi Mom,

I agree with fly into Venice and out of Rome - Save the big city for last.

As of last night the Euro was $1.14. However, it has been slowly sinking.

You will only need your passports. It is a good idea to bring your medical insurance cards and driver's licenses.

You can reserve Uffizi and Accademia museums (you don't want to miss David) by calling 011 39 055-294-883 8:30-18:30 M-F and 8:30-12:00 Sat. Florence time.

You can reserve the Secret Itineraries tour by calling
011 39 041 520 9070

Take the train. Schedules and prices are at Buy your tickets when you arrive in Venice. You might be eligible for the family discount. Do not get a railpass.

As far as dividing your time, make a list of "must sees". I would suggest no less than 2 nights in Venice.

For restaurants, do a text search on "restaurants and xxxx" where xxx is the city.

Enjoy your trip.

ira is offline  
Old Jul 23rd, 2003, 05:08 AM
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Just my personal opinion, but I liked winding down in Venice after a more hectic visit in Florence. Haven't been to Rome, but know it's the most bustling of all. You will love all three cities, however, no matter which order you visit them in.

Venice was more relaxing, whereas we were doing more museum hopping in Florence, and had more anxious energy to tackle it at the beginning of the trip. So, you might want to keep that in mind, but I know everyone travels differently.

I don't really have anything to add to the already good advice given to you herein. I would, however, recommend the Rick Steve's Guide Books for the cities you are visiting. We made very good use of ours and enjoyed having the museum and art explanations, rather than having to rent the audio guides. I also like the organized way his guides are laid out and they are very good for Europe beginners.

We spent each day doing our sites and touring until about 3 p.m. and then used the remainder of the day to just stroll, relax and people watch. We felt that enabled us to have some down time, rather than just go, go, go, as we'd done on our previous trip to France.

Another thing that helped us was to make a list of "must sees" in each city, and then a list of "maybe's." That way, we ensured to see the things that were most important to us, and left the maybe's until last, if we had time.

Good luck in your planning. You will love Italy, I'm sure!
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Old Jul 23rd, 2003, 05:49 AM
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Everyone reacts differently to everything: jet lag (which is lack of sleep more than anything else when taking overseas flights at night), big cities,even Italy itself.
This is what I would do:

You have 8 days for your trip? If I were advising a friend, I'd say keep the trip to two locations, either Venice-Florence, or Rome-Florence. Going from one place to another takes up a lot of time (including prep time), and some of your days trains and such will be on holiday schedules.December 26 a lot of places will be closed, ditto January 1 of course, and possible early closings on Dec 31. January 2 is a Friday; closings might continue among small shops and restaurants to give families a long weekend.

Major tourist sites will be open on non-holidays. Weather can vary. Friends of mine were in Rome late Dec 01, and the weather in Rome was bitterly cold, and very cold in Venice as well. So pack accordingly with layers to put on or take off, and bring rain gear, and waterproof foot gear.

The flooding thing in Venice is occasional, but I'm told only rarely does it last more than a few hours, and it's something to talk about. It occurs primarily in low-lying areas,such as Piazza San Marco.

If you go to Rome, find out about walking tours which help a first-time sightseer tremendously. I recommend Scala Reale, but others are Enjoy Rome, and Through Eternity.

I don't think you will have enough time to leisurely meander between the cities in a car and stop to sightsee.
However, if you find that you've run out of things to do (hard to imagine) then you could daytrip from Florence or from Rome.

I am a fellow New Yorker, and I have files on the three cities you mention; if you'd like to see them, email me at
[email protected]
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