just got back - 10 days in Italy

Old Apr 16th, 2001, 08:58 AM
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just got back - 10 days in Italy

Wanted to share some tips from our Italy trip because this site was so helpful to me when planning our trip. Rome was WOW and very expensive. Stayed at Hotel Quiranale - 3 blks from train station and within blocks of ancient Rome - loved the location but staff somewhat unpleasant-breakfast great, rooms large.

Scavi tour was fabulous - in Vatican city all signs lead to the Sistine Chapel -what a glorious site. Took cosmetic mirror 4x5 and it was a great way to view the ceiling.

Gypsies,tramps and thieves - saw 2 tramps driving into Rome, felt perfectly safe everywhere. Spent a lot of money on taxis - from airport should cost no more than 80,000 lire (we were approached and offered ride into city for 180,000 lire - thanks to this site I knew better).

Florence was very crowded. Our hotel Pitti Palace was in great location on other side of Arno River and away from chaos. The city views from the breakfast room were beyond value. We especially loved the Boboli Gardens.

Cars, planes and trains: My husband drove the Autostrade - fun, no problems with tolls, just pressed red button - got ticket and then paid in cash to person, as it is here. We inadvertently got on the Eurostar train from Rome to Florence. Fortunately, they didn't kick us off. I would suggest the extra $$ it costs is well worth riding in style.

Husband drove into central Rome to return our car. What a zoo but he loved the crazy Italians and felt like he was part of the madness. If driving go on Mapquest for exact directions and get a good map.

We stayed in Siena at the Hotel Athena - staff so polite and helpful. Kind of beat interior but large BR, miniscule BA, good location. Eat at Nona Gina's in Sienna.

Try to use Italian in restaurants and be sure if driving to know road signs and Italian for right andleft when you get lost. Roads to small towns in Tuscany and Umbria are well marked. Roads in Rome are not.

Dining: we ate in Trattoria's and Osteria's and had good basic food of the region. Be prepared to pay a cover charge - 3,000 L each diner and pay for water and bread. A lot of our budget was spent on bottled water.

Have a good time, we certainly did! Ciao

Tips: money part is easy, although not exactly accurate, just drop 3 zeros and divide by 2. Take tissue - sometimes the WC is a hole in the floor. You end up paying to use the facilities in the worst facilities. Airport restroom in Rome was as clean as you would fine in a home. Take Visine - the polution got to us in Rome.
Old Apr 16th, 2001, 09:03 AM
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Thanks - Since I'll be in Rome with two folks who wear contacts, that last tip is gold.
Old Apr 16th, 2001, 10:19 AM
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Thanks for your informative report. I liked the details!
Old Apr 16th, 2001, 10:58 AM
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I have never been a big fan of "trip reports" here - - but leaving again in two weeks with some first-time travelers to Italy got me to stop and read yours. And reports like this really ARE part of what make this site great.

"We", the "experienced travelers" may disagree with some of your observations, but they are YOUR observations, and the more that any of "us veterans" travel, the harder it gets - - to avoid seeing places through an ever thicker set of prior experiences, and "knowing what to expect".

Nice post....

and best wishes...

Old Apr 16th, 2001, 11:14 AM
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Came back from Italy yesterday. One advice in Rome: learn not to be afraid of the traffic, or you will never cross a street without a light. Step on the crossing, at least in the beginning, and just walk, DON'T RUN. Believe it or not, but the cars WILL stop, even if an inch from you.
Have to join whoever praised Scala Reale tours in Rome and Firenze Antica in Florence before (found them on this forum). More than excellent guides. Expensive, but worth it.
Biglietto chilometrico is not worth the hassle if you travel ES trains, an ES card makes more sense as the difference is not that big.
Old Apr 16th, 2001, 12:15 PM
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Thanks for the information everyone. I will be leaving on April 27 for a 17 day stay with 5 other Canadians. We have never been and are very very excited. We have rented a villa in Anghiari from a friend of one of the travellers. My sister is a sculptor (she will be going) and two of the others are artists, so we will be heading to Florence. I don't speak ANY Italian, "am I in BIG trouble"
One of us speaks some. I would appreciate any tips. I have had so many horror stories about pickpockets and purse snatchers etc. in Rome. We will only be at the airport. We have rented two cars and will be heading out the first day. Thanks Barb

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