Italy without Reservations???

Mar 21st, 2001, 01:49 PM
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Italy without Reservations???

My husband and I are planning to travel in Italy from the middle of May until middle of June. We had hoped to travel without making too many hotel reservations. We are travelling to Positano, Cinque Terre, hillside villages e.g Siena etc, Portofino, Milan and Florence. We will book for the main cities and Positano but had hoped to keep the rest relatively free.

Has anyone travelled without reservations at this time of the year? We are not used to travelling in May/June and just wonder how busy it will be.

I would appreciate any advice.


Mar 21st, 2001, 03:40 PM
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You're dead in May/June if you turn up on the Cinque Terre w/out a reservation. You'll wind up staying in lovely downtown Spezia...

The more you can book your places, the better off you'll be.
Mar 21st, 2001, 08:59 PM
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I have to agree with Spoo, and not just because Spoo has a great name. I was in Italy late October-early November, which I believe is a lower season than Spring, and reservations were essential in Siena and Florence -- unless you don't mind winging it and sleeping wherever the tourist office can find you a bed. That can be a great way to go since it gives you more flexibility; just don't set your heart on snagging a room in those special charming inns touted in all the tour books. Who knows, you might discover your own charming inn...
Mar 22nd, 2001, 09:07 AM
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I understand the romance of flexibility but I can't imagine wasting a single Italy hour tramping around dragging luggage looking for lodging. Book ahead as much as you can and look for charming surprises in restaurants, shops, tiny museums and the like.
Mar 22nd, 2001, 10:34 AM
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Judy, having done it both ways here are the pros and cons:
1) No Reservations: Pro, you can decide to stay in one place for 5 nights and not stay at all in another place, you can check out different hotels that suit you or move if the one you've booked is noisey or whatever.
Con, if you are on a limited budget fuggetabout it!!! If you are travelling during a holiday you may not know about (like say, Ochi Day in Greece) fuggetabout it! Every hotel will be booked MONTHS in advance. Likewise if you like a centrally located hotel you may have to take what you can get regardless of where it is. Another con.. and to me this is a biggy, is the 20 minutes to 2 hours you will have to spend upon arrival in say, Florence trying to find a place to stay. When I get to a town I want to hop off the train, get to the hotel throw my bags down and hit the sights or shower if I am tired.
Bottom line, you are travelling during THE most busy time of year,to THE busiest places in Italy, if location, price, amenities and time are important to you then you need to book ahead, (My favorite Florence hotel for example next the Duomo for under $100.00 per night is booked up at least 3 months in advance) if you have a lot of money and don't mind struggling to find a place that may be in the center of town or may not be then you can afford not to book. One side note, after doing it both ways we ALWAYS prebook now and several times have wanted to make last minute itinerary changes, we have been able to do this with now problem whatso ever.
Have a great time!
Mar 22nd, 2001, 11:00 AM
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You definitely need to have reservations for the Cinque Terre for that time of year. You can probably wing it for some of the rest, as long as you're flexible.

Several years ago, we visited much of the same area in mid-May, and while we had reservations in Florence & the Cinque Terre, we were able to find accomodations in Cortona and S. Gimignano with no problem.

One way to handle the issues of flexibility vs. hotel rooms is to book a room for the next place early that day, from your original location. I.e., from Cortona, we asked the hotel people to call a hotel we'd selected in S. Gimignano to see if there was a room available. There wasn't at that hotel, but the S. Gimignano hotel gave us the name and number of another nearby hotel that did have a room. (Of course, you need something like the Michelin red guide to know what hotels are in the next town you plan to visit.)
Mar 27th, 2001, 11:19 AM
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Thanks to everyone for your valuable advice. I now realise that I have to plan this trip a lot more than I have for past holidays (in France).

I had really better get working on this as we are going in May! We do however have reservations for Positano, Florence and Portofino. The Cinque Terre worries me a little now though!

Thanks once again.


Mar 27th, 2001, 01:25 PM
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I've been planning our big May Italy trip for months, although, like you, we wanted to leave some sort of room for flexibility. In October/November we booked for the biggies, Venice, Florence and Rome. Then we found a great sounding place on the Amalfi Coast. Since then, I noticed most of our un-booked nights were on weekends. Hmm. probably not a good idea. Last week I filled in those weekends as well. 16 of the 19 nights are now booked, and of those left open, they are mid-week and when we'll be traveling -- one from Tuscany/Umbria to the Veneto, and the other from Chianti to Amalfi (with a stop at FCO to pick up my sister!). We like to drive, but plan to spend two or three nights at a time in each place. (Three in Venice, Rome and Amalfi.) E-mail me if you want some notes on places I've found in Tuscany (both near Umbria and further north in the Chianti area.) We were looking for places under 200,000 Lira per night and found enough that it became a really tough decision! I expect we'll know enough after this trip to feel more comfortable about committing to someplace for a week at a time.
Mar 27th, 2001, 02:05 PM
Roger & Amy
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Traveling Italy in November/December without reservations is easy, however, don't even think about it during May and June. You may be able to change your reservations while there by calling ahead, but have some place to stay in case everything is booked. Also, it may help to have your host call ahead for you if they are so inclined to help. You will find many of the Inn owners willing to help you find lodging in another town. Also, while in Florence, we recommend you stay at least three or four days. Florence is our favorite city of all of Italy. Next would be Venice if you have the time.

Roger and Amy

Roger and Amy

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