March Travel -Rome/Florence: First time

Feb 3rd, 2007, 07:44 PM
  #1  
miz
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 161
March Travel -Rome/Florence: First time

Need Florence info:
Travelling to Rome the second week of March. I will be first taking the train to Florence for 3 days then returning to Rome to meet friends. Need some good advice from you. Trying to think of some things I may need to know while I am alone in Florence:

-single female travelling from Rome to Florence advice on safe, nice and central place to stay for 3 days (Fri-Mon). I want to stay somewhere that has me in the "heart" of things. I do not plan to have a car.

-I did get some good info on the train travel/getting tickets/ from Rome airport to Florence here on this message board but what about the return? Should I buy my return ticket (Florence to Rome)in advance or just get it at the other end.

-securing my luggage on the train

-best places to see and things to do and best places to eat during my 3 days in Florence

-shopping? galleries? historical?

-areas to stay away from in Florence

-trying now to learn some Italian,how much of a problem will I have if I only know the basic words?

-what about being out & having to use public restrooms..is it an issue?

-tipping? eating alone? polite customs?

-being out at night?

-anything else I should know

Thanks for your help. I am very excited about this trip. Your advice helped me so much when I travelled to Paris & London. It helped to make my trip a success.
miz is offline  
Feb 3rd, 2007, 07:53 PM
  #2  
miz
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Posts: 161
Adding to my post:
Someone told me about
Residenza Castiglioni
Via del Giglio, 8 - Florence Italy

what is your opinion on this place/location?
miz is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 03:35 AM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
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I have travelled solo to Italy since the late 70s and never had a problem.

Stay in the center away from the station for ambiance and security. You do not mention your budget for hotels? I personally prefer a 3-4 star hotel over a B&B when travelling alone as I like some amenities and opportunities to socialize. It might not matter to you.

If B&Bs are ok, try the Daphne properties in Rome; in Florence the Relais Calvacanti is very well located and very nice. The Tourist House Ghilberti and Il Villino are as well.

In Florence, there are lots of hotels with single rooms. Yes, they are very small but I prefer a small room in a nicer hotel than a large room in a lesser place when I am solo. Octopustravel.com has been a source of single rooms at great prices for me.

The only time your luggage is perfectly safe on a train is when you are looking at it. While I have never had a problem and have used the trains for years, I either store it overhead or sit near the rack at the end of the car so I can keep an eye on it.

In Rome, I like the area very near the Pantheon but is quite pricey. The Albergo Cesari is a reasonable and nice 3 star in that location.

When walking at night use the same precautions you would anywhere else. Be alert and aware. Do not carry too much cash or all of your credit cards. You can have any restaurant call a taxi for you after dinner as they have a very organized system there and will give you a paper receipt in most places with the number of your taxi indicated.

I stick to small local enotecas and trattorias when travelling solo. Many have a nice bar where you can be social (or not as you choose) and many Italians dine on their own. I was never uncomfortable and have met many nice people in my travels.

Happy travels!

kfusto is offline  
Feb 4th, 2007, 06:44 AM
  #4  
dgg
 
Join Date: Jan 2007
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I've traveled to Italy alone and enjoyed it very much. I always carried a book with me to occupy me instead of looking out into space while waiting for table service. Every time I stopped for a meal or a drink, I had people strike up a conversation, especially in the tourist areas. I never had any trouble, but didn't stay out late by myself.

Last May, a girlfriend and I stayed at the Plaza Hotel Lucchesi in Florence. It's right on the river near Santa Croce. The price was reasonable and we had a large room with a view of the river. I liked the concierge there and he was very pleasant to offer advice.

I cannot stress lightweight packing enough. Take one rolling bag, the size that fits in the airline overhead. I also take a soft carry on bag that can fit my purse, cosmetics, books, etc. I just hang it on my rolling bag and that makes it easier to get around.
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Feb 4th, 2007, 06:56 AM
  #5  
ira
 
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Hi M,

You might find this helpful:
Helpful Information: Italy 2
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34568596

Re train tickets: you can buy your ticket back to Rome when you buy your ticket to Florence.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 06:42 PM
  #6  
miz
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Posts: 161
What will the weather be like there March 8-18th.

What type of clothing should I bring and what to pack and what not to pack?
What is acceptable and what is not?
thanks
miz is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 08:44 PM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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here is a pleasant place for a single woman to stay in Florence:
http://www.hotel-nuovaitalia.com/history.html

It is family owned, one of the owners is from NYC, the staff are very friendly and speak English.

I always buy my return train tickets when I am in Florence at a travel agency. That way I can be more flexible and just decide the day before I want to leave, what time, etc. train.

Florence is wonderful at night, the only area that may have odd characters would be down by the river and by the train station late at night.
SeaUrchin is offline  
Feb 12th, 2007, 09:10 PM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
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Hi

I can't really comment on Florence as I haven't had the pleasure of going there yet. But my wife and I went to Rome in in July a couple of years back and I have posted a trip report with pictures and links on my homepage http://gardkarlsen.com/rome_italy.htm . Maybe you can find some useful information there

Regards
Gard
http://gardkarlsen.com - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 06:24 AM
  #9  
 
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During your time in Florence the weather could be warm or cold--it is still technically winter but spring is on the way. I was in Florence and Rome at the same time last year--days were warmer, evenings cooler. I wore a light leather jacket most of the time, but always pack gloves which I find a good solution if it gets cooler. Wear whatever you like but do bring layers so you can add or subtract clothing as the temperatures vary. Watch the forecasts at weather websites before you depart.

If your luggage is manageable, you can keep it with you on the train, placing it on the overhead rack or between the seats. Larger pieces go in the racks at the end of the car.

"Public" restrooms are few and far between. Travelers in Italy learn to never leave a restaurant without using the restroom. My mantra: If it's there, use it.

Also, you can use the restroom at any coffee bar. It is polite to order a beverage if you do so. If you don't sit down, your beverage will be much cheaper as the price is double or more for table service. Many bars and gelateria require that you pay the cashier first, then present your receipt at the counter where you place your order.

My last source for public restrooms is a large department store, like Rinascente or Coin. They do have restrooms, though not nearly as large as in the US--they also seem to be well hidden.

Tipping is not expected or required in Italy--service is included in the bill. However, most Italians would leave the change--a euro or two.

The streets in Rome and Florence are pretty safe--just use your usual big-city radar. However, streets can be darker and seem more foreboding than you might be used to, simply because Italians close their window shutters at night, causing less light to spill out into the street.

Hope this helps.
ellenem is online now  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:12 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2005
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I will just address two issues that you raised:

1. You will have no problem if you do not speak Italian; anyone connected with tourism will either speak some English or direct you to a co-worker who does. Italian helps with menu translation if you plan to eat at places away from the beaten path and even then, there is often English speaking waitstaff.

2. You can buy your ticket in Florence once you know when you plan your return to Rome. Either at a travel agent, as suggested above, or at the station on the day of travel. I would opt for buying a day ahead at a travel agent; I often use Ameerican Express which is centrally located but there are many agents who will write train tickets. The surcharge for buying this way is very small and worth the time savings.

What is your hotel budget?

ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 13th, 2007, 07:36 AM
  #11  
 
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Florence is wonderful. Ive been there twice and went solo in January 05. I walked around late at night and felt perfectly safe. Davanzati is a lovely hotel, http://www.hoteldavanzati.it/
vjpblovesitaly is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 05:48 AM
  #12  
miz
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Travel March 8-18/07
Ok things are falling into place. I have booked my room at Davanzati based on lots of advice and the reviews. trip Advisor has it in the #1 spot. So I am happy I got it.

Trying to knock off the "things to do list" as tome is quickly passing for me. I am so excited.

Some info needed:

1. Is there anything else I should be doing now that you can tell me?

2. Another note: I need to order a money belt from Magallans. I know many have posted they use them. Which model did you find worked best? (I did not find that specific info).

3. Hotel Davanzati: is breakfast complimentary?

4. How much Euros should I have with me before I go for my arrival (will purchase train travel in Rome to Florence)

5. Should I walk to the hotel or take a taxi?

6. What type of luggage is best?

Thanks for your help.


miz is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 08:22 AM
  #13  
 
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1. Have you got reservations for the Uffizi and the Accademia?

2. Get a silk around-the-waist money belt. Silk is lightweight, not so bulky, and cool; you may not need that in March, but next time....

4. You can use a credit card to buy your train tickets. And you can get euros at an ATM in the Rome airport. Bring a few if you feel you need to.

5. Look up the walking distance to your hotel on www.mappy.com.

6. Bring a 21-21 inch rolling suitcase. Pick one that's lightweight (for the train).

Buon viaggio!
Mimar is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 08:36 AM
  #14  
 
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Hi, Miz,

travelling alone [or with others for that matter] I always use a cab to get from the airport/station to my hotel. Every time I've tried not to do this, it's gone horribly wrong, including spending 2 hours on the wrong platform at Berlin airport trying to get the train into town - and that's with good german!

So treat yourself to a cab at least when you get there.

In Florence, the taxis are just outside the station, on your left if the platforms are behind you. I always have a luggage label marked with my hotel's name and address ttacvhed to every bit of luggage so that I can point to it for the taxi-driver, if he can't understand me.

You can always walk back to the station at the end of your stay, as you'll have your bearings by then.

In Rome, can't help with the taxi-rank from the termini station as we got a cab from the airport, but I'm sure that al lot of OPs can. The usual tip is sure to apply - go to the official rank, and don't use taxi touts that approach you as you get off teh train.

AS a single traveller, i would also try to arrive in day-light - it's much safer.

Have a wonderful time,

Ann
annhig is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 08:40 AM
  #15  
 
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Miz..Good choice on the Davanzati. I have not stayed there but looked at the public rooms..excellent. Great location, too. The area is very safe with lots of high-end shopping right outside your door.

I would guess that breakfast is included; it usually is based on my experiences in Florentine hotels but check with them to be sure. Walking distance to the train station would be about 15 minutes, tops but with bags you might want to take a taxi. If you decide to walk, it will be easy to make your way to the hotel.

One eating tip I will give you now is not far from your hotel on Via delle Belle Donna, 16r. This is a small and lively rustic place frequented by many locals and open for lunch and dinner. They do not take reservations so get there early, especially at lunch time. They may not have a menu in English but you will be well fed with any of their daily specials; the focus is on regional Tuscan cuisine. This is a no-frills place but very atmospheric with ropes of garlic hanging from the ceilings and brightly painted walls. Prices are moderate.
Closed Saturday night and Sunday.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 08:13 PM
  #16  
miz
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Ok the answer is YES they told me the breakfast is complimentary.

They said it is a 10-15 min walk from the train to the hotel but..Ok I will take a cab to the hotel.

Reservations for the Uffizi and the Accademia..I do not have any reservations for anywhere . The hotel emailed me and said let them know what I want to reserve tickets for & they will do it for me. So I'd better do that.

My flight is scheduled to arrive in Rome at 8:30am. How much time can I expect to spend getting through the airport, getting my luggage, clearing customs and and getting to the point to where I can buy a ticket and catch my train to Florence? Too many variables to know that I guess.

Better yet what will be the exact procedure once I land?

I am just wondering what time I could possibly look at actually boarding the train. I know sometimes these things are unpredictible.

Also my time in Florence will be Fri, Sat, Sun. Monday I will return to Rome to meet friends arriving from the USA. They arrive at 12:30 noon.

Are most places open on weekends? Since I have just a short time in Florence I want to make sure I can make the most of it. What time do shops/market places and museums open/close usually?
miz is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 10:48 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Hi Miz

I traveled alone to Florence in late March of last year and I had a wonderful time. I stayed in a single room at the Davanzati and while I have stayed in much more elegant and expensive hotels, the Davanzati is one of my favorite hotels because Fabrizio and his family really make the guest feel at home. In addition to the museum reservations, they can also make train and restaurant reservations for you.

Getting to Florence from Rome is very easy and does not need to be planned out. I had 3 airline connections last year before I arrived in FCO and I felt there was the possibility that one of my flights might not be on time, so I did not make train reservations in advance. Once on the ground, I followed the well marked signs to the Leonardo Express. Along the way I easily found an ATM and withdrew some euros. You do not need to purchase euros before you leave the United States. Once in the central train station, I bought a ticket on the Eurostar to Florence. If I remember correctly, there is a Eurostar from Rome to Florence every 30 minutes. It was really easy.

As many people on this board have advised, the smaller the luggage the more enjoyable train travel is. I traveled with a 21 rolling bag and a tote bag. My luggage went in the overhead rack and my tote went on my lap.

Once in Florence I took a cab from the train station to the Davanzati. It was about a 10 minute ride. I found Florence to be a very safe city and I never felt uneasy walking around during the day or night.

In addition to the Uffizi and the Accademia, I would also say that the Duomo and the Battistero, Santa Maria Novella, Santa Croce, the Bargello, the Ponte Vecchio and the church of San Miniato are must sees. I loved shopping for leather goods, shoes and scarves.

I spent 9 days in Florence so I was there over 2 weekends. I remember that some museums and sights were closed on one or both days of the weekend but I always was able to see something. I would research the days and times of the places you would like to see beforehand and plan your days.

Relax, it is much easier than you think it will be. Have a wonderful time.
roadlesstraveled is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 11:01 PM
  #18  
 
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I think most sights are open during the weekend, but the hours at some museums may be limited on Sundays. You'll probably want an up to date guidebook to double check the hours (or peek at one in a bookstore.)

Have a great trip!
KathrynT is offline  
Feb 18th, 2007, 03:39 AM
  #19  
 
Join Date: May 2003
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Hi miz, you might like to know that currently sponsored by the Firenze Tourist Office there is an offer valid till May 20, 4 you, that means pay for three nights and get a forth free plus other freebes. Good luck. All kind of accomodations have joined the program
Graziella5b is offline  
Feb 18th, 2007, 06:53 AM
  #20  
miz
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Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 161
roadlesstraveled...thanks for your info. Tell me how did you spend your evenings/nights where were you able to go & what did you do?

Graziella5b.... thanks for that "free offer" info but I can only stay 3 nights(Fri, Sat, Sun)not four as I am heading back to Rome Mon to meet up with friends at the airport who are arriving Mon from the USA.
miz is offline  

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