My first visit to Italy

Old Sep 12th, 2008, 11:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 175
My first visit to Italy

I have so many questions..where do i begin. Well, I'll list some of my wuestions and hope for a response.

1) We are landing at the MARCO POLO airport. What is the best way to get to our Hotel in Venice? (Hotel Riva)

2) We are taking a train from venice to Florence. What train to take? do we book it in advance? Any help is appreciated!!

3) Using travelers checks vs credit cards. Any thoughts?
clifbob is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 11:11 AM
Join Date: Aug 2004
Posts: 7,342
1. I don't know but I believe it has been discussed before. It has been discussed quite frequently at TripAdvisor is you can't find out anywhere else. The airport website might have info also. Everybody's idea of best is different. Mine is relatively cheap and with minimum hassle. Someone else's might be the fastest no price too much to pay.

2. check trenitalia's english website. Use the Italian words for the cities. They only give schedules a couple of months in advance but you can look at random dates to get an idea of cost and time schedules. No need to book in advance.

3. Discussed frequently. Use ATM for cash withdrawal and credit cards. Travelers' checks aren't used much anymore. Let your bank(s) know when you will be away.
vjpblovesitaly is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 11:17 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,217
1. I would ask your hotel for the best way. The hotel location is in between San Marco and Rialto. You could take the Alilaguna boat from the airport to one or the other.

2. You can wait till you arrive in Venice to book your train to Florence. Check schedules here:

3. Use your bank ATM card to get cash and credit cards for purchases.

ellenem is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 11:38 AM
Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 180
You will love Italy!

1) You can find some information about boat taxi routes (the vaporetto) here:

2) You can see this video about riding trains in Italy:

3) I prefer cash for all transactions including hotel. I trust no one in Italy with my credit cards. As discussed here, cash may be taken at ATM. Check your bank on fees.

Enjoy this video introduction to Venice and riding the boats:

Whre else will you go? See a little video here about Padua, outside Venice:

WebVisionItaly is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 12:44 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
1, What do you mean by best? Cheapest? Fastest? Best sights?

How many of you are there? How much luggage do you have? Do you prefer low cost or convenince.

(We always take a water taxi in Venice since I'm allergic to hauling luggage on public transit - but it would be over $100 - for a private motor launch.)

2)There is only one train station in Venice. Trains to Florence are very frequent and you an buy tickets when youleave - unless you're traveling on a major holiday. Look at Trenitalia web site for times.

3)Trav checks are dinosaurs - no one wants them. Europe is at least as advanced as we are with electronic banking. Pay for what you can with your CC and pull cash from ATMs with a debit card attached to your CHECKING (not savings) account. This is much more covenient and much cheaper.

nytraveler is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 01:02 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 7,070
Clifbob Fodor's publish some great guide books to Italy and in those you will find a lot of really good information. There are tons of books that will help you as well. Go to a local book store, like Borders or Barnes and Noble, and browse. If you do not want to buy one then go the library and check some out. You will find your answers a lot faster by using the books.

Reisender is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 01:07 PM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 805
Hi clifbob,

You will love Italy.

I think you should take a water taxi to your hotel. It is costly, but it's such a magnificent and efficient way to arrive at your hotel that I think it is worth the added expense.

We took the train from Rome to Venice when we were in Italy in 2004, and I bought my tickets ahead of time on I think when we go back next month I am just going to buy tickets on location.

Travelers Checks are a nightmare. Nobody but a bank will cash them, and they fees are very high. Use a credit card when you can, and use your ATM card for Euros.

No worries, have a great time. Any other questions that might be better taken off the board can be emailed to me at dwzemens AT comcast DOT net.

dwzemens is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 01:18 PM
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 286
There is a link between Marco Polo and Sta. Lucia which is the rail station which is at the heado fthe Grand Canal. From there can either take vaporetto or walk. Stay away from water taxis unless you dont mind very expensive rides.

Trais between Florence & Venice (3 hour trip) run hourly. Buy tix a day or two in advance so you can insure getting time you wish.

I prefer credit card for meals, pruchases as good for record keeping and better exchnage rate. When you get into airport, go to ATM and get Euros for incidentals and transportation, etc.
nygvic is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 01:30 PM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 175
is there a major difference between taking the water taking from the airport versus the Alilaguna speedboat?
clifbob is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 03:39 PM
Join Date: Aug 2007
Posts: 506
clifbob - Some important questions for the Venice arrival part. How many in your party? Hopefully, not a ton of luggage, right? What would your definition of best arrival be? Do you want the cheapest way, the fastest way, the most convenient way?

Several trains depart daily from Venice Santa Lucia station in Venice to Florence. you can in theory buy tickets here online, but many folks have problems with trenitalia site and just get them when they are in Italy.

I think that travelers checks are a waste of time these days. Especially if they are not denominated in Euros. It is getting hareder to find someone to take them or cash them. Most find that a combination of credit card and an ATM card linked to your bank accoutn to get cash is the easiest way to go. Some banks do charge some high fees for trnasaction if you are of network, so you might want research before you leave.

It is also a good idea to inform your bank and cc company that you will be overseas, so they will not freeze your accounts for suspect transactions. You may also want to have your daily limit increased with the way the exchange rate has been.
notbob is offline  
Old Sep 12th, 2008, 07:02 PM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 10,217
<<is there a major difference between taking the water taking from the airport versus the Alilaguna speedboat?

Yes, about 80€ difference.

A water taxi is a private speed boat that takes you exactly where you want to go. From the airport, it costs 90€ (for up to 4 people) or more to the San Marco area of Venice. A water taxi might be able to take you all the way to your hotel if it is a a large enough canal. If not, it will drop you at the closest boat landing, which might be the vaporetto stop, and you'll have to walk from there.

The Alilaguna costs about 10€ per person. Because the Alilaguna is a shared boat, it makes a few stops along the way, so it will probably take longer to reach your hotel.

If the "we" you mentioned is a group, the water taxi makes good sense.

The Hotel Riva website recommend the Alilaguna to San Marco:
ellenem is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 02:10 AM
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 2,501

My wife and I went to Florence last year. Maybe you can find some useful info in my trip report with pictures and links . Get in touch if you have any questions.

Gard - trip reports and pictures
gard is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 09:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 897
Hi clifbob.

1) From the airport, you get a bus to Piazzale Roma (remember to validate your bus ticket before you get on board.) From P. Roma you get a vaporetto to the stop noted on your hotel's site, under 'Location'. It has a map showing you to get to it using a vaporetto and then walking - right through San Marco Square - which may be an adventure with a lot of luggage. But if you don't have too many suitcases, you'll bet a first-hand introduction to the busiest place in Venice. The hotel website says you can also get a taxi (very expensive) directly to Ponte dell'Angelo.

2. We booked a 1st class seat in a Eurostar train from Venice to Florence. Very nice, but 2nd class looked good,too. We booked it a day in advance at the American Express Office when we were there cashing our American Express travellers cheques (taken in Euros). All these services are free.

3. We don't use credit cards in Italy, we like to know what have to spend and what we are spending as we go along. We take travellers cheques to cash at American Express offices in Venice, Florence and Rome but nowhere else. We use this money to pay for accommodations, and in paying cash usually get a 10% discount (we stay at smaller hotels or apartments). Then we use the ATM for filling in the blanks.

Have fun.

rickmav is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 10:07 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
I would do exactly the opposite of all of the points made above, unless you are wealthy and do not care about cost.
Forget traveler checks--have been obsolete for years. Use the ATMs for yoru cash needs and charge everything else.

Follow you hotels advise for directions--it varies by hotel location

Buy your train tickets in Venice at least 24 hours before you depart--ask for th Amica fares. You can buy them at any travel agency. You want an ES train with reserved seats but 2nd class is very adequate on these trains.

I will post my 22 tips article on the next post for you.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 10:11 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
Here you go--hope this helps:
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 06:16 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 897
Hi bobthenavigator. I'm assuming it was my points you disagreed with. All of them - or the ones that had to do with travellers cheques? We are absolutely not wealthy so curious how what I said indicated that. Because we buy travellers cheques? We do that because we can control when we buy them, where and for how much. And where we cash them. We also use ATMs. But I know other travellers do it different ways. I'm just saying what works for us. I don't make assumptions about people's wealth because they do it differently. What did I say that elicited your response?
rickmav is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 07:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 16,525
The parts about cashing travelers checks at AMEX at no cost. I suspect there is no FEE but the exchange rate you get is likely to be 8% more than getting your money from an ATM. I would never advise novice European travelers to use traveler checks and not use credit cards. Any time you exchange currency you will get a healthy conversion cost.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 07:27 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 897
I agree that novice travellers should closely examine all the options. But as I said in my post, our American Express travellers cheques were in Euros. There wasn't an exchange rate involved when we cashed them. Nor a FEE.

And the exchange rate when we purchased them was the same as it was for buying some cash (Euros), which at the Royal Bank in Canada may be inflated, but then that would also apply to our ATM conversions. Because of the account we have, we didn't have to pay a FEE when purchasing the travellers cheques.

rickmav is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 07:32 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 897
Sorry, I didn't stipulate we took Euros. I guess that was enough to merit the sarcasm.
rickmav is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2008, 07:45 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,385
rickmav, you admit that the price you paid at your bank in Canada could be inflated. Bob is right, it probably was inflated more than you realize, normally much more than what would happen if you withdrew your money in Italy from an ATM.

I also want to point out that if you take the bus from the airport to Piazzale Roma, you validate the ticket after boarding the bus, not before. Also, if you're going to buy a vaporetto pass, buy it at the airport, as the ACTV orange bus is covered by the pass. (Note that the blue ATVO bus is not covered by the pass. It's the express bus but only saves around 5 minutes.)
SusanP is online now  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Do Not Sell My Personal Information