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Leaving for Rome friday, last minute Questions...

Leaving for Rome friday, last minute Questions...

Sep 6th, 2005, 06:44 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 25
Leaving for Rome friday, last minute Questions...

Hello, i leave this friday for rome and positano, just a few last minute questions:

1) How much money should i change at the airport? In other words, what is the least amount of Euros i should have in my pocket to get from FCO to my hotel near Termini. If there are ATMs at the airport, should i just wait til then?

2) How much cash should i exchange once i am there? I was Thinking about ~$500 and then charge the rest on out credit cards for a better exchange rate. (we will probably do pizza for lunches and affordable to moderate priced dinner spots) Do most place take American express/ mastercard?

3) I may be paranoid, but i feel like the ATMs may act up on me over there and i won't know what to do. In Rick steve's it said, some ATM's may take your card, what of my pin doesn't work. Does this happen, or have most of you had no problems?

4) Is it too late to Reserve for the Borghese galleries? It seems to be MUST SEE but i haven't really researched why. Anyone have a link to where i can try to reserve a spot.

Thanks so much, this board has been soooo helpful!!
tccgirl is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 07:01 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,515
1) I have never changed any money at the airport any time I've gone to Rome. I do, however, get about 150 Euros here before leaving. If your local bank or travel agency is unable to serve you on this, try OANDA. They'll deliver overnight or 2d Day Air.

2 & 3) 0 dollars. This has to be the biggest rip-off of all time! Use your ATM card and credit cards for the best rate. Try to use your ATM card when banks are open; if the card is "swallowed" you can go into the bank, and someone there may be able to retrieve it for you. As a back-up strategy, you can always take a cash advance off a credit card until you can get things straightened out with your bank!

To see if you can reserve a ticket for Galleria Borghese, try this site:


I would NOT recommend going to The Galleria without having a reservation; tour groups are numerous and the wait will seem like an eternity!

Buon Viaggio,
bookchick is online now  
Sep 6th, 2005, 07:10 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,154
You can also try contacting your hotel in Rome and ask them to reserve at the Borghese for you.

I buy 100 euros stateside jsut to ease arrival. Once in Italy, I usually get 300 euros and see how long it lasts, using credit cards wheenever possible. Then I'll got more or less euros based on my spedning patterns.
ellenem is online now  
Sep 6th, 2005, 08:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 255
There is no shortage of ATM machines in Italy. The airport has many. If you want some small money on hand when you land, get 50-100 euros. A cab ride from FCO into Rome center city ran around 50 euros in July.
If you are concerned about having trouble with your ATM card in Italy, check with your company or online to make sure your carrier is common in Italy.

I don't agree with the suggestion to get cash advances with a credit card. This topic has been discussed on this forum, but briefly, you are paying a transaction and a conversion fee with all credit card purchases, including getting cash. Very expensive.

Our ATM card is with a credit union. We pay a 75 cent fee for each transaction. Period.

Carol L
carolll is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 08:32 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,336
Hi tccgirl,
We always carry two ATM cards - one we hide away, just in case we have a problem. But in over 25 trips out of the country we have never had a problem.
Also we carry one credit card to use in emergency. We've never *had* to use it.
We always hit the ATM's as soon as we get into a place (airport is the earliest) and get the local currency.
We always pay in local currency - never credit card.
We do have to get money in advance because there is a daily limit to how much you can withdraw.
We find this is much cheaper than using the credit card because of the exchange rate and extra percentage added on by the cc companies.

Hope it all works out for you and your trip is wonderful! We leave 4 weeks from yesterday!

Brahmama is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 08:46 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 7,134
I wait until I arrive and use an airport ATM. While traveling, I use ATMs and a Visa card. Both of these are from a credit union; there is no ATM surcharge and the exchange rate is very good. The Visa card has the standard 1% charge, no more.

We get small amounts of cash on an almost daily basis. Not having to carry large amounts of cash is one of the advantages of ATM cards. Never had a machine keep our card--but we do have two of them.

Getting cash from a credit card is expensive, because interest starts immediately. We save that option for emergencies.
Mimar is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 09:22 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 13,515
The credit card for use in the event that the ATM card is "swallowed" and not retrievalbe was exactly my suggestion, carolll and Mimar---not something for regular or every day use!

bookchick is online now  
Sep 6th, 2005, 09:38 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 6,005
I agree with the others; I never use a currency exchange booth, especially not at the airport! We always get money out at ATM's and have never had a problem. Your PIN should work fine at the ATM's. The airport has many ATM's so you shouldn't have any problems getting money once you arrive. We usually withdraw a certain amount each day (usually about 100 Euros or enough to get us through the day) as opposed to exchanging large amounts of money at one time.

Have a wonderful trip!
tcreath is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 09:39 AM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 1,190
I, too, was worried about the ATM situation in Italy. They are everywhere! We didn't exchange until we got to the baggage claim area at FCO and took out about $500 worth - charging wherever possible. (MasterCard) My husband & I both had ATM cards which came in handy because I found an antique offering box from a church that was discounted if we paid in cash - so we reached our limit on one card that day and needed the other one. In addition, take 2 credit cards as we also reached our limit one day when my husband bought pens in Rome (he collects) and needed the other card on that day as well. We reserved the Borghese gallery at the last minute by calling from the states & it worked out well - loved it! Try calling and keep your fingers crossed. Happy travels!
dorkforcemom is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 09:53 AM
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 15
Dear tccgirl,
This subject may have been brought up before but a last reminder. Please make sure that your "PIN" is only 4 digits in length. I had heard that the ATM's can't accept a PIN that is longer than 4 digits. Have a great trip.
rgando is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,655
-Make sure you have a 4 digit pin, European banks don't use more numbers.

-Get cash from an ATM at the airport. I am sure if they are not working you can go to one of the exchanges and get cash from your credit card.

-Remember the old saying, carry only as much cash as you can afford to lose. Remember the pickpockets are watching for you when you arrive.
richardab is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 11:10 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 662
In addition to the other good feedback, you may want to call your credit card companies and the issuing bank(s) for your ATM cards to let them know that you'll be traveling to Italy. Some banks will freeze cards if they see international charges as a precaution. And, you definitely need a 4-digit PIN. Take more than 1 ATM cards (having had my only one swalled before boarding a ferry to Mykonos, I can vouch for being prepared in this case).

Have a wonderful trip!
Chicago_Heather is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 11:20 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 378
During many international trips over the years, we have neve had a problem with our ATM card. However, last year in London after 5 or 6 days in Paris and London, an ATM at a bank "ate"
our ATM card. The bank manager said they had no way to retrieve our card and basically said "Sorry". Our bank in the US had virtually canceled our card. Luckily, we had another bank card and I am really glad we did. When we got gome, I went to my bank and they said there was so much activity on my bank card (too many cash withdrawls) they assumed it was fraud and basically denied me the use of my card. The lesson to be learned is to always have backup to access cash while on holiday. I now have an American Express card and another bank card that I use primarily.
glsebs is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 11:37 AM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 5
Speaking from many years of traveling with the US Navy, and then as a tourist, use that ATM card to your advantage. I've yet to EVER purchase any form of foreign currency prior to reaching my destination. I've always used the local ATM's with no problems. I'd double check that your ATM card uses the double circles, plus, or star system - but I'm pretty sure they all do unless you bank with some small town bank. Anyhow, I think you'll have no trouble. Stick to Visa & ATM's and you'll be good to go!
alaska_hiker is offline  
Sep 6th, 2005, 11:43 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 1,655
Calling your credit card and atm companies is a good idea when you travel since they register it to prevent fraud.
richardab is offline  

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