Italy for the 1st time

Jun 16th, 2010, 11:02 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2010
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Italy for the 1st time

Hello everyone. Ok Next August I will turn 50 and my husband and I want to go to Italy to celebrate. (Yes, I know it is hot but I can't think think of any place I would want to be on my 50th. ) Basically, I am overwhelmed looking through guide books, web sites etc. and need some advise on a tour package that is reasonable in price yet safe. memorable. My husband is a little nervous since he has never been out of the counrty so I want to take that into consideration Rome and Florence are definite places I want to spend time at and I am open to other sugguestions. I REALLY thank you for some thoughts. I would like to book in Jan or Feb
AnneAnderson is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 11:08 AM
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Can you go in September instead? August is a huge tourist month, and very hot. It will be a mob scene.

How much time do you have? What is your budget?
MFNYC is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 11:27 AM
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First of all, although your birthday is in August, you don't really have to be in Italy one that day. Wait till school starts in September, so there will be fewer tourists and it will be cooler.

Why don't you just do Venice, Florence, and Rome for this trip, and do it yourself? There is so much English spoken in those cities it's east to get around. But even so, get an audio Italian language course. my favorite for the new traveler is my Daily Phrase Italian which is a series of free podcasts that starts you off with the basic greetings (Buon giurno, or hello) and builds from there.

If you stay in a B&B or small hotel, you can get advice and directions from the staff. Look for recommendations on Stay at least 4 nights in each place so you have time to get comfortable with the city.

Start in Venice, which is all walking or taking the vaporetto, which is easy. If you get lost in the back streets, there is so much English spoken you don't have to worry.

Then take the train to Florence (a couple of hours), to the Santa Maria Novella (SMN) station, which is downtown in Florence. You can buy your ticket on the day you go, either from a ticket window or a machine like an ATM that uses your credit card. The historic center of Florence is also small and easily walkable, although there is lots of traffic.

Then take the train to Rome, to Stazione Termini, or just Termini for short. Rome is huge and busy and a little crazy but by now you have been in Italy for 8 or more days, and it will be easier to manage. Get a Roma pass at the nearest museum so you can ride the buses free for 3 days without having to worry about paying fares.

Be sure to pay the €40 for a car to the airport the morning you leave. it is well worth the money and avoids confusion and worry over taxi rates. You can find recommendations for those here or on

This way, you don't have to drive in Italy, you can see things at your own pace, and you will have time to just hang out and have a coffee or a drink and observe the scene, which is one of the most fun things about Italy. It's not that hard to do.

Just stop obsessing about all the other places you might go and concentrate on finding lodging. September (or August) is not far away, and you need to get busy, to find good places to stay.
charnees is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 11:41 AM
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CHARNEES: What perfect thoughts for the OP. I've been to Italy nineteen times in the last dozen years and couldn't improve on your excellent post.
DRJ is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 11:50 AM
Join Date: Oct 2006
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I abslutely agree with the advice to do Venice, Florence and Rome only. We did 18 days in Italy in March. Those were the first 3 cities we were in and i would love to go back to all 3. We had 4 days in Venice, 3 in Florence (not nearly enough) and 4 in Rome. All 3 places were spectacular and worth every moment.
lrock is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 03:41 PM
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Yes, Charnees. That is exactly the advice I would give the OP although I wouldn't be nearly as eloquent. Fly into Venice, train to Florence and then to Rome. Fly out of Rome. And, if at all possible, go in September.
mamcalice is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 05:04 PM
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I've only been to Venice. But I've been twice, both times happened to be in August. I loved it and would highly recommend you include it in your trip.
suze is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 05:37 PM
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We took a trip in late December / January. Venice – 6 nights, Verona 2 nights, Como 2 nights, Florence 4 nights, Assisi 3 nights, and Rome 4 nights. We flew into Venice, out from Rome. It worked well for us, although I’d not visit Como at that time of year again – it seemed a bit flat in Winter, and one less destination would have been a better plan.
We had hotels in Venice and Verona booked when we left Aus, and then just made it up as we went along, booking via It was all pretty easy, and we had almost no Italian language skills at all. We travelled by train everywhere.
While you are planning on August, you might have a better time going a bit later in the year – October maybe. At times, our December / January trip was a bit of hard work because of the cold, particularly in Venice and Verona, but Florence, Assisi and Rome were warm enough to not be a problem.
Consider a longer stay somewhere – say half a dozen nights in Venice, Florence or Rome, and hiring an apartment. It gives a very different travel experience, and in a small way allows you to engage with the community. I’d particularly recommend this for Venice if you are staying there more than two or three nights. Cooking the local food is fun. So is buying it, pointing and saying “Si, si”.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 06:47 PM
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I'm assuming Anne means August of 2011. I agree with the Venice to Florence to Rome itinerary. How long in each place would depend on how many days you have to work with. Since your husband is a little nervous about the whole thing, I wouldn't necessarily recommend an apartment. I always stay in an apartment in Rome, but for a first-time trip with inexperienced travelers, a hotel can be better so that you have a concierge or desk clerk to help you with restaurant reservations, bus routes, etc.
SusanP is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 06:48 PM
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And yes, if you can go in Sept instead of Aug, that would be better.
If Aug is the only time you can go, Aug in Italy is better than no Italy!
SusanP is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 07:48 PM
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WOW !!!!! Thank you for all of the good thoughts and hints. I really like the idea of starting in a smaller city and ending in Rome,,,easing into the trip if you will. I never thought of that. You are all the best, I am definitely a Rookie when it comes to Europe. I have been to London but stayed with family so I really did not have to plan or book anything. I will keep you posted because I know I will need advise again.
AnneAnderson is offline  
Jun 16th, 2010, 08:18 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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In August if you stay in the cities as mentioned above it works really well. The beaches are really packed but the cities are considered off season. Hotels are cheaper. I have to tell you that we spent a month in Florence in August one year and I lost 12 pounds from the heat. Not a bad thing at all but it was around 95 every day. Go out in the morning and evening and do as the Italians do and eat your main meal in the afternoon and then rest, you're then ready to go out again in the evening.
Ann1 is offline  

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