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Italy Tour This Spring

Old Oct 4th, 2006, 01:43 PM
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Italy Tour This Spring

Taking a trip to Italy this end of March/early April.

We decided to prob. end up with a tour. It's our first time there- we are in our late 20's. I am totally confused between the 2 tours.... any suggestions or comments would be greatly appreciated.

We are between two companies:
Trafalgar and Globus

From what I see the pros and cons are:
-Trafalgar doesnt stay in Venice-Globus does
-Globus is in Capri- Trafalgar is Almafi
-Globus 1 night in Assisi
-1 extra night in Rome for Traf- no assisi
-Looks like Traf. is more leisurely
-Globus stays in Tuscany, Traf. in Florence

Trafalgar:
Real Italy Tour
10 Breakfasts, 6 dinners
Day 1- Depart
Day 2- Rome
Day 3-Rome
Day 4- Rome, Assisi, Stay in Venice (Mastre)
Day 5- Venice- Stay in mestre
Day 6- Visit Verone, Stay in Florence
Day 7- Florence
Day 8- Stay in Almafi
Day 9- Excursion to Capri- Stay in Almafi
Day 10- Rome
Day 11- We would extend another night in Rome
Day 12- Home

Globus:
THe Best of Italy Tour-12 days
10 Breakfasts, 6 dinners
Day 1- Board Plane
Day 2- Rome
Day 3- Leave Rome- Visit Pompeii, Visit Sorrento, Stay in Capri
Day 4- Stay in Capri
Day 5- Naples, Stay in Assisi
Day 6- Assisi, Ravenna , Stay in Venice
Day 7- Venice
Day 8- Pisa, Stay in Tuscany
Day 9- Stay in Tuscany, Excursion to Florence
Day 10- Tuscany- Siennce, Stay in Rome
Day 11- Rome
Day 12- Home
VitaAnn is offline  
Old Oct 4th, 2006, 03:24 PM
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These itineraries....ummmmmmm....leave a lot to be desired. I understand that they are both tours, but all you are going to be doing for 12 days is moving. 2 of those days will be cooped up on an airplane, and a third day (your first day in Rome) will really be spent recuperating from jet lag. So functionally you will only have 9 days in Italy. At most you have 2 nights in any one place. It will be entirely too tiring and the primary thing you will end up seeing is not the Vatican, not the Uffizi, not San Marco's, but rather the Autostrada.

I'm not saying not to take a tour, just not these tours. Take Trafalgar, for example:

Rome-Assisi is about 2 hours. Assisi-Venice is about 4 hours. Not including time it takes to load and unload the bus, stop at the Autogrill for food and restroom breaks, and traffic, it will be 6 hours on a bus traveling between Rome and Venice. How much sightseeing of Assisi do you think you'll be able to do, if a full 6-7 hours is taken up traveling? Then Trafalgar wants you to go from Venice to Florence via Verona -- another 4-5 hours plus stops. Similar logic applies to Globus.

If you absolutely have to take one of these two tours, I'd go with the Trafalgar since it gives you more time in Rome. Most Fodorites would say that you reasonably could see one-third of the number of destinations that each tour company is proposing to take you to in 10 days. These tours are neither the Real Italy nor the Best of Italy. They're The Autostrada's Greatest Hits. If there is some way to chose another tour, one that has fewer destinations, you will most likely enjoy your trip more.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 04:16 PM
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I'd have to say that in your 20s it might be real adventure to try it on your own, you definitely have the time to plan it... If I had to pick one of the tours, I would pick Globus, put that is merely on destination. I like the fact that you stay in venice and you go to tuscany. I also like Capri more than Amalfi. Again this is based on where you are going and not the travel company.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 04:24 PM
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My friend and I just got back from a tour we planned ourselves through Ireland and Scotland. We started in March and planned it out step by step. We just got back two weeks ago and we had a blast. We rented cars in both countries, and we did what we wanted on our routes. We did move around a lot but we also saw a lot on the routes we took. We were able to stop whenever we wanted (he does photography) and ate when we wanted, where we wanted, and didn't have to "be" somewhere unless it was planned by us to do so and get there at a certain time. We were usually at the Bed and Breakfasts by the times we told them, usually checked in at 6 pm and then we were off to discover the area we were staying in.

Do your own homework, buy a road map of Italy at one of the bookstores (Borders is really good) and plan your routes. Stay at B&B's and you should do very well.

We had a blast.
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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 04:35 PM
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Italy is not difficult!

You can do it on your own, much more cheaply.

Everywhere you go in Venice or Verona or Florence or Amalfi you find English speakers. If you feel you would like a guided tour, you can sign up for walking tours at the tourist office or go for museum tours. But you also might want to sleep in and wander around on your own!

Who wants to stay in Mestre if you go to Venice? You will miss a lot of the magic that comes when the daytrippers (which could be you!) leave and Venice reverts to being a place of mystery, water, mist, and silent alleys by canals.

Why do you want a tour that races you through Verona or Firenze -- to rush you to the beach in March?

Rome wasn't built in a day and it can't be seen in two days, either.

How about instead going to Venice, Verona and Firenze for 10 days on your own! The spring should be lovely.

Sometimes I have stayed in hotels where there were tour groups. When I went out for cocktails and dinner, the members of the tour group (usually all retirees and some unhappy looking young couples) were stuck eating at the hotel because they'd already paid for it. The hotel food didn't give them any choices. Everybody had to have the same thing. When I would come back from dinner, having had an wonderful meal for not much money -- sometimes just across the street -- they were all still sitting in the lobby, boring each other to death.

Why spend all that money just to be around your fellow countrymen?

Honestly, if you tell Fodorites what YOU want out of a trip to Italy, they'll help you book every hotel or b&b, make every train, eat brilliantly for whatever your budget is, and remind you to make museum reservations -- and give you lots of special tips.

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Old Oct 4th, 2006, 04:56 PM
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If I HAD to chose one of these as the only way to get there, I would pick the Globus. I don't know either company but I would like their itinerary the best. But that would be a last resort. If you must take a tour, given your ages, you might like the Rick Steves tours.

BUT, a much better choice would be to do the homework, invest the time, and do your own tour. The posters above are right - you can do this. If you do, I think that you will be much more satisfied with your trip, and more than likely, you'll want to do many more.

There are many resources available to help you with a trip to Italy. It is probably the most frequently chosen one of all. If you get stuck, the Fodorites will help you, and at the end, they'll want to hear how it all worked out.

Whatever you decide, Italy is a wonderful destination. You are going to love it.
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Old Oct 22nd, 2006, 08:36 PM
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Hi from Canada VitaAnn,
As a baby boomer who loves to travel, I totally agree with those folks who said NOT to take a tour. When I hitchhiked around Europe in 1970, I always watched the bus loads of folks being herded in and out wherever I went and vowed that would never be me.
Well I still travel in Europe, 6 weeks last year, and 6 weeks next year, and I would never recommend a tour especially to such young folks. I of course graduating from sticking out my thumb (although turning 23 in Casablanca was pretty unforgetful), to trains - they are fabulous in Europe, to leasing cars. I'm working on 3 weeks of driving in southern Germany, Switzerland, ending up in wonderful Venice next year and then leaving from there to turn 60 in the Greek Isles/Turkey . Trust me, having returned to Paris for my 40th birthday, and Florence for my 50th, it doesn't get any better than Europe no matter what the ocassion.
The only tour we ever took was a Trafalgar trip to Egypt in 2000. It was the first and definitely the last. We were so disappointed in the quality of the boat and hotels with them. Paid advertised 5 star money, but got 2 star instead, and that's being generous.
With Fodorites help, you can do any travel nowadays loaded with so much information. Also, look at tripadvisor.com for the ranking of hotels in each location and compare them with advice from Fodors. Never been disappointed and always leave home armed with so much info about sights, restaurants, etc.
I first used Fodors for a trip to Austria, Prague, and 3 weeks in Italy in 1997, and I never leave home without it, even if just travelling in the US. At your age, you should be able to get a cheap Eurail pass and even a youth hostel membership. I met the most amazing folks in hostels way back in 1970. You can absolutely do this trip on your own. Go for it!!!
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Old Oct 23rd, 2006, 04:06 AM
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I agree with those who suggest trying it on your own. But many people find a tour isn't necessarily an unpleasant experience - there are advantages as well as drawbacks.

The major drawback I see to your choices is, however, a big one - you have only 10 nights on the ground, but the attempt is being made to see both north of Rome and south of it. This simply means too much commuting - the stretch from Florence to {amalfi? ) is Loooooong, as is the stretch from Capri to Assisi, etc. etc.

If you're determined to do a tour, and still have at least the option of a zip down south of Rome, I'd do Globus "Italian treasures" and then add nights on to the end to suit:
Night 0 - leave/on plane
Night 1,2 - Rome
Night 3 - Pisa with a drive via Siena to
Night 4,5 - Florence
Night 6,7 - Venice
Night 8 - Assisi
Night 9 - Rome
Night 10, which you add on your own, you use for more time in Rome (you need at least 2 full days, even on a whirlwind trip) and to rest before flying home.

With 2 more nights, making it 12 nights on the ground, you could zip down on your own to Sorrento via Pompeii for Nights 10 and night 11, with perhaps a day trip to Positano from Sorrento. Night 12, you return to Rome. This, I assure you, is quite a fast trip, but it is more feasible than covering the same territory in only 10 nights, as per your current itineraries. It also gives you the chance to 'stretch your wings' and do a little touring on your own.

Okay, having done my duty and considered your tour choices, I still hope you'll reconsider both how much territory you are trying to cover (even with 12 nights, both north and south of Rome is a big chunk of real estate) and doing a tour as opposed to on your own.

Have fun, and let us know what you decide.
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Old Oct 30th, 2006, 10:03 AM
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If you got the cash, go with Rick Steves Tours. You get the best of both worlds, time to be on your own, and no stress from trying to find the hotel, navigating the tiny streets, not speaking the language, buying tickets, etc. Unless you like that sort of thing.
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Old Oct 30th, 2006, 10:11 AM
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A recently widowed friend of ours recently took that Globus tour to Italy with her 25-year old daughter. Mom thought it was just fine. Daughter was bored to bits-she was by far the youngest on the trip and evenings out when she might potentially have mixed with locals/others her own age, were spent in hotels that while nice, were outside the downtown areas. This is not the way to see Italy if you are young and healthy.
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 02:52 PM
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I recently went to Italy with a tour group with a similiar itinerary. I just wanted to reiterate what other posters are saying -- at your age, you can do Italy by yourself. My tour group was mainly folks 50+ and then younger folks traveling with their parents or in my case, grandparents.
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Old Nov 6th, 2006, 03:24 PM
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We booked an independent tour last year and it worked really well. Hotels located near train stations were reserved, coupons for train trips were in our hands before we left and city tours were included. We were able to add a day or two here or there as we wanted. After the 'tour' was over we proceeded on on our own knowing a little more about the cities and how to navigate. We even used the tour companies recommended hotels for our solo treks. We ended up paying a bit more than if you completely go it on your own but the piece of mind that the hotels were ok and walking distance to the train stations meant a lot.
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Old Nov 26th, 2006, 02:27 PM
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I too am planning a trip to Italy at the same time, and was looking at the same two trips from Globus and Trafalgar. Forgive me if I should have started a new thread, but my questions are totally related to VitaAnn's. I'm new at forums, but can certainly surf the web.

I have no flexiblity with dates, other than the length of our stay. I plan to take my 17 yr old daughter on this trip while she is out of school for Spring Break. She can miss a couple of days of school, but we can't leave before the evening of March 28 and we need to be back in the US by April 8 (Easter). We could actually leave 3/29 and return 4/9, but that's about the extent of our options. We will be flying out of Atlanta. After reading some of the posts...I thought duh! I'll spend half our vacation trying to get her out of bed in the morning if we chose one of these tours. The appeal of the tours was the exposure to so many cities, but I didn't realize how much time would be spent on the bus between cities.

I can certainly plan a trip myself, but I've never been to Italy and was relying on information from my well traveled mother who has been to Italy on several occassions. I was in Spain for a summer semester in college about 30 years ago, and planned many excursions from my home base in Madrid using guidebooks, etc. Of course...that was before the everyone and his brother had access to the internet. One difference was that I turned 20 during my trip and was dragging around my 15 year old sister. And...I was almost fluent in Spanish. We stayed in some hostels where we had to go down the hall to use the restroom or take a shower, and...hot water cost extra.

I'm not quite that adventurous anymore, so I would like to stay in decent hotels. I just started my research, so I was thankful that VitaAnn pointed out that the Trafalgar tour did not have accommodations in Venice proper...I had missed that point. I don't need anything fancy, but I definitely want a clean room in a convenient hotel. I also generally avoid hotel food, unless the restaurant is known on its own merits. One of my best stops in Spain was a little town south of Barcelona that some guys on the train recommended. We stayed there for one night and had a wonderful paella dinner. Not that I will be that carefree on a trip with my teenage daughter, but I think part of the fun of travel is eating with the locals.

So with that said...although I hate to leave off the Amalfi coast, that is probably what I would drop first in order to make the trip a little more leisurely. The cities I definitely want to hit are:

Rome - at least two nights
Florence - at least two nights
Venice - at least two nights
Assisi - don't need to stay here, but don't want to rush either
Verona - again...no need to stay, but must see as my daughter is quite fond of Romeo and Juliet

Additional nights (or one in the case of Verona and Assisi) would be fine too, but I would probably like some day excursions in that case. Years ago trains in Spain were quite slow, but they have improved. I'm not sure about rail transportation in Italy. I think that would be preferable to a bus, but I'm not sure what type of cost would be involved.

I'd like to visit Pompeii and Sorrento if possible...maybe day trips out of Rome. I don't know if a drive to those cities is right along the Amalfi Coast.

OK...my dilema is because of all you other Fodorites who told me I could do this. You said you would assist in planning, so here you go. Help me out here...I welcome all suggestions, and I apogize for the length of this post.
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Old Nov 26th, 2006, 02:44 PM
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Deb,

First, yes, you really should start your own post.

With 10 days in Italy, you should not do more than 3 locations. That really is the max and will seem rushed.

Fly into Venice
Venice 3 nights (you could stop at Verona on the way to Florence)
Florence 2 nights
Rome 5 nights

Make advance train reservations as Italy is very busy during spring break. All the European kids are on "field trips".

There you have it! Buon viaggio!
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Old Nov 27th, 2006, 07:59 PM
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At your age...do this trip on your own!!! You'll never regret it. Italy is an easy country to travel in whether you take the trains or rent a car or both. I've done it three times...once with husband and 2 children in tow...once with 3 friends (3 of us are female) and another time with friends and their 3 young children. The only tour I'd ever take is Rick Steves' but even that would be my second choice. My husband and I are going back this coming Spring and we'll be taking trains part of the time and driving the rest. With all the tools online (forums such as these, Rick Steves website, hotel websites with rates and photos...) it's tons of fun to plan.
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