Need Advice: First time to Italy

Mar 4th, 2007, 08:32 AM
  #1  
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Need Advice: First time to Italy

My wife and I are planning our first trip to
Italy...we are planning a 10-12 day trip in
either late October or November.

We found a tour operator ("Italy Car and Tours") that recommended either a formal
package tour or a semi-autonomous tour
in which we decided on dates and cities and
the tour company arranged for hotels/trains/
airfare local tours and guides.

Do you recommend any of the above arrangements or would you go entirely on
your own?

Is it true that our overall travel costs
(esp. hotels) would be 30% cheaper if we
traveled after 11/01?

Assuming that we fly into Venice and make our
way down to Rome/Pompeii by train, aren't
"one way" air fares exorbitant (fly into Venice and Return from Rome)?

Any help would be greatly appreciated!
RichardD is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 08:40 AM
  #2  
 
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What I've always suggested to first time travelers is: If you think you are going to go again, take a fully escorted tour that covers a lot of ground. Next time you'll be a pro and know exactly what you want to do. If you already know your hearts desire, you can easily do everything on your own. With the internet you can book all your hotels, point to point train travel and local excursions. It takes a lot of internet planning time but even that can even be fun.
TravMimi is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 08:52 AM
  #3  
MaureenB
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You can fly 'open jaw' nowadays for about the same as round-trip-- i.e. arrive in one city and depart from another. And it is definitely recommended you do it that way to avoid back-tracking to the arrival city. Many fodorites have posted threads about flying into Venice and home from Rome, or vice versa.

Since you have so much time, and since this forum is a wealth of good first-hand information, I suggest you plan your own trip. It's really not difficlt at all, if you have the time and inclination. Most everyone on this forum plans their own trips, so you can get fantastic advice. I have planned three trips to Europe, including our first time there, using this helpful forum.

It may be cheaper after November, but I'm not sure. The weather may not be attractive, but you can research that, too.

Have fun planning!
>-
 
Mar 4th, 2007, 09:18 AM
  #4  
 
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I prefer to travel independently. I would never take a tour (not in Europe anyway, because it's so easy to plan yourself).

The plane ticket you want, as above, is called "open jaw". It is not two one-way tickets. Rather a round-trip priced into one city, and out of another. It is usually not much more expensive, if at all.
suze is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 09:25 AM
  #5  
ira
 
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Hi R,

Unless you need the fully escorted tour, you can easily plan your own visit to Italy.

www.kayak.com for airfare
www.venere.com for hotels
www.trenitalia.com for trains.
www.autoeurope.com for car rental.

>Is it true that our overall travel costs (esp. hotels) would be 30% cheaper if we traveled after 11/01?

Maybe. Compare prices with last 2 weeks in Oct. I think you will have nicer weather.

An open-jaw into Venice and out of Rome is an excellent idea.

ira is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 09:26 AM
  #6  
ira
 
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PS,

See Helpful Information: Italy 2
http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34568596
ira is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 09:29 AM
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venere.com is very good. also booking.com. Sometimes "booking" has places "venere" doesn't. I've used both with great results.
TravMimi is offline  
Mar 4th, 2007, 09:45 AM
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I would certainly not count on costs being 30% cheaper in November. The only place where you might find a reduction would be in a seasonal resort such as the Amalfi coast. Even then, you need to check the websites of individual hotels in order to see when their rates drop. I doubt if there is much difference in price between the end of October and early November.

In major cities, I doubt if you will find any difference in price but it does not hurt to check.

My own preference would be for early November due to the drop in the amount of fellow tourists but within that time frame, even that will probably not be a discernible difference.

Contrary to what many people believe, the Naples/Amalfi area can be lovely in early November.

The issue of tour vs solo is one that only you can really decide. Will this be your first visit to Europe? Have you done lots of traveling in the past? Are you comfortable in large cities?

I prefer to contact hotels directly rather than rely on booking middlemen. You will have a chance to e-mail back and forth a bit and ahve questions answered by the hotels in question.

I would plan as few overnight stops as possible to minimize checking in and out of hotels and moving around by train/bus.

With 10-12 days, one of many possibilities would be to fly into Venice, spend 4 nights there. Train to Florence and spend 2 nights. Train to Rome and spend 4 nights. Train to Naples/Amalfi coast. Spend remaining nights before flying home from Naples.

Or leave Naples and Amalfi for next time and include day trips from Florence to Tuscan hill towns. That last bit is what I would do....

ekscrunchy is online now  
Mar 4th, 2007, 09:48 AM
  #9  
 
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I find the problem with off season in Italy is they cut down on a lot of service in train, hydrofoil, ferry and such. Where summer might have something every 20 mins, off season might be every hour or 2 or even down to twice a day.
TravMimi is offline  
Mar 5th, 2007, 02:51 AM
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Our friend Misuko always takes tours. We always do things on our own. Last spring Mitsuko and her hubby joined us for a 10 day fling in GB.

When it was all over they both said it was the best trip they ever had because they could see what they wanted and stay as long or as short a time as they wanted. Plus we went to a bunch of off the wall places that few, if any, tour would ever go.

I admit, I spend several months planning each trip, finding the things we want to see, things we'd like to see and things that would be ok to see if we have time. But when we arrive, we always have the option to change. Changing a booked tour can be difficult at best, I think.

dave

dave
daveesl is offline  
Mar 5th, 2007, 04:09 AM
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I found Italy to be a bargain in December, Jan and Feb. It was definitely a hige savings - at least 30% - on hotels.

I will sacrifice great weather for a lack of crowds and better value and have enjoyed my winter trips far more than summer when it is mobbed with tourists.

If I am not too worried about value, fall is my top choice. This year we will be there for the last two weeks in October, and only becuase we are travelling with 3 other couples who want good weather.
kfusto is offline  
Mar 5th, 2007, 05:54 AM
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For feeling confident about arranging the logistics yourself, I recommend you buy a Rick Steve's Italy guide. You may not want to stay in his hotel recommendations or move at his rather frantic pacing, but it gives loads of detail about exactly how to arrange the rest, what to see in the "big 3" (Rome, Florence, Venice), how to use the trains, what buses to take, etc.
lovisa is offline  
Mar 5th, 2007, 10:54 AM
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An "open jaw" ticket--flying into one city and out of another-- is often called a "multi-city" ticket when you are trying to book online.
ellenem is online now  
Mar 5th, 2007, 12:45 PM
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We were going to fly roundtrip from Rome, but it ended up being less expensive flying into Venice - the strange part is that we are switching planes in Rome. So, it was like getting a free trip to Venice - $50! This was on Alitalia are are flying in the summer which is one of the most expensive times to fly there.
Mers is offline  
Mar 8th, 2007, 04:17 AM
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Mar 11th, 2007, 09:55 AM
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bkm
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Mar 11th, 2007, 10:13 AM
  #17  
trsmom
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It is my understanding (from a bored airline person when I was making a late night reservation..best time by the way) is that on a "stopver" you can actually visit the city for I believe up to a week. It is still considered round-trip. i.e. You fly from La to London, via Ny. Spend a week in New york and fly back London to LA. The stop can only be on one leg of the trip. I know someone who went to Australia, spent a week in Hawaii on the way back. Same price as a round-trip ticket. Sometimes it is even cheaper then non-stop round-trip.
 

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