Suggestions for Italy

Nov 13th, 2005, 01:45 PM
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Suggestions for Italy

Planning a trip to Italy in Fall 2006. Starting to think about itinerary. Think we will fly into Milan or Venice, spend 3 days Venice, 2 days Milan, 4 days Florence (side trips to Sienna and San Gimignano), and 5 days Rome. Looking for train, hotel, and sightseeing information. This will be our 1st trip to Italy. Trying to stay in reasonable budget, but would like to stay in center of action. Looking to spend around $150/night for hotel. Can we do $150/day for decent meals, looking for equivalent to bistro meals, not 5 star? Is it worthwhile buying a railpass? Will we be able to use express/high speed trains with railpass? Any ideas on how to save money on sightseeing? Looking for good value tour suggestions. Thanks Fodorites!
aliska is offline  
Nov 13th, 2005, 02:27 PM
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Check out Hotel Teatro di Pompeo in Rome. It is a terrific small hotel 1 minute from Campo di Fiori and within walking distance of all the sights - we only used a bus once, to get to the Vatican. We paid 140 Euros in August and that included our breakfast. Two can certainly eat well in Rome on $150 a day in small restaurants.
SusanMargaret is offline  
Nov 13th, 2005, 02:45 PM
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Thanks Susan! Will check out hotel. Any suggestions on small restaurants? Tour suggestions? Appreciate your help!
aliska is offline  
Nov 14th, 2005, 11:41 AM
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All restaurants posted menus ourside and we went into ones that we liked the look of and didn't have a bad meal. We did not take any guided tours. Day 1 we spent at St. Peter's (took the audio tour and went up the dome) and Sistine Chapel, etc. Day 2 we did our own walking tour (amending one we found in a guide book, I think Frommers). The tour took about 7 hours including lunch and included the Victor Emmanuel monument, Spanish Steps, Pantheon, Trevi Fountain, etc., etc. (about 24 things were on the list!), Day 3 we saw ancient Rome, the Colosseum, forums, etc. Day 4 we went back to some of the places that we had really enjoyed (especially the Pantheon).
SusanMargaret is offline  
Nov 14th, 2005, 11:59 AM
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A food budget of $150 (roughly 120 euro) per day for two is easy/adequate.

Whether you buy a pass or separate tickets is probably a close call (there is a website with a calculator for this. I don't rememeber the name.)

I think high speed trains require a reservation. Reservation costs are usually additional outlay with a rail pass. (so on a pendolino you pay some even if you have a 1st class pass. That small $ did not bother me, the train went 120 mph )

There are lots of tour options, from cattle car style to custom, $50 per hour tours. You might look at Viators website (inexpensive, 1/2 and full day tours. we like the one that we took.)
Nov 14th, 2005, 06:53 PM
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Your trip sounds wonderful. I've been lucky enough to visit each of the cities you mentioned and they are all marvelous in very different ways. I'm sure you will get a number of recommendations for Venice and Rome, so let me give a couple in Florence and Milan.
In Florence, you should look into the Hotel Casci, Via Cavour, 13. It is centrally located, clean, friendly, and well within your budget. We haven't stayed there since 2000, but I did a quick check on Tripadvisor and the recent reviews are right in line with our experience. A very nice hotel for the money.
In Milan, I don't have a hotel recommendation, but we did have a splendid meal at da Puccini, Via S. Giovanni sul Muro, 5. The food, service and wine list were all excellent. Also in Milan, you should visit the Duomo (among the most beautiful gothic cathedrales in Europe), the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, Rinascente, and La Scala (all right near each other), as well as the Brera Gallery, Santa Maria delle Grazie (The Last Supper) and Castello Sforzesco.
rbrazill is offline  
Nov 14th, 2005, 07:10 PM
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Eating on $150/day is very easy in Italy. You can certainly spend more, but you don't need to in order to eat wonderful food. We've never spent that much and have never felt slighted.

I would not buy a railpass. I would simply buy point-to-point tickets. The Eurostar is very fast, comfortable, and the seats are reserved in both classes. We have traveled in both classes but have never seen a real advantage to 1st class. The pass requires that you pay a supplement on the Eurostar.

You don't have to take tours in order to enjoy sightseeing. If you do your research, take some good guidbooks, you can see most sites and enjoy them without a tour. For us, that's part of the fun.
Enjoy your trip.
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2Italy is offline  
Nov 14th, 2005, 10:25 PM
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We stayed at the Hotel Casci in Florence, as well. It was very basic, clean, and very friendly. We paid 225E for a quad in June 2004 (high season). You should get a better price for a double in fall, I believe. The location is perfect.
dina4 is offline  
Nov 15th, 2005, 07:40 AM
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Hi A

> Can we do $150/day for decent meals, looking for equivalent to bistro meals,

You can do very well on 125E pd. Bkfst at hotel. Lunch about 10-20E pp. Dinner anywhere from 30-50E pp.

Is it worthwhile buying a railpass?

Probably not. Enter your itinerary at

>Will we be able to use express/high speed trains with railpass?

Yes, but you must buy a seat reservation in advance. For other trains, reservations are optional.

>Any ideas on how to save money on sightseeing? Looking for good value tour suggestions.

Don't pay money for tours.

Uffizi and Academia Museum Reservations

The easiest and cheapest way is to call Florence 011 (U.S. international access code) 39 (Italy's country code) then 055-294-883 8:30-18:30 M-F and 8:30-12:00 Sat. Florence time. You will get an English speaking operator and in 2-3 minutes YOU CAN RESERVE FOR BOTH. This is through the reservation service at the Uffizi and costs beyond the normal entry fee only about 3 euro for the service. This is MUCH cheaper than the commercial booking services.
You will not be charged for the reservations unless you use them.

Enjoy your visit.

ira is online now  
Nov 15th, 2005, 07:47 AM
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Agree with others on meals--$150 a day for two people is more than you'll need for decent, enjoyable meals--not gourmet, Michelin-starred places, but eating well.

I'd cut a day from Milan and add it to Venice. Nothing particularly wrong with Milan, but Venice is a unique world treasure.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 12:32 PM
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re: small restaurants. We stayed at Teatro di Pompeo 2 years ago and really liked it. The desk clerk (only person who spoke English) recommended several small restaurants near by. They were reasonably priced, had excellent local dishes and in fact catered almost totally to locals who were very outgoing and friendly. I would give you the names if I could remember them.
Beechtree is offline  
Nov 22nd, 2005, 01:12 PM
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I agree about Teatro di Pompeo. We stayed there this past June. Its concierge, Tonino, is a gem. He recommended Pietro Valentini mear the Pantheon for my wife's birthday, a great, fun , reasonable restaurant.

In general you can eat in pizzeria-type restaurants in Rome where pasta and pizzas are excellent. Go to Piazza Navona or Campo di Fiori for many such near Teatro Hotel.

If you speak with Tonino say hello from Anthony and Carole Spinelli from NYC
Powell is offline  

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