Surprise Italy trip for my wife

Jul 15th, 2014, 07:02 AM
  #1  
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Surprise Italy trip for my wife

My wife is graduating from graduate school in March 2015 and I want to surprise her with a trip to Italy in April 2015. She is the one who always plans our vacations and she always does such a great job so I want to do a great job planning this one (even though I am at a complete loss, this will be our first trip to Europe). We will have three weeks to travel and I would prefer to keep the trip under $7,000 (NOT including airfare). The only place I know for sure we want to go is Rome and we would be interested in pompeii. We love history, museums, hiking/outdoor activities, tours, and trying local cuisine. We aren't really big into art but I know there are some great pieces to see in Italy and we would like to see some of it. My wife also loves castles and we enjoy seeing and doing things off the beaten path.

I have been reading a lot of the forums on here and I know you guys can help me plan an amazing trip for my wife to celebrate her accomplishment. Where to go, what to see, tours to take, hotels to stay in, places to eat, tips for getting around, itineraries or advice on how long to stay in each location

Also, neither of us speak a word of Italian, any advice on that front?
Gawainator is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 07:21 AM
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Speaking as the planner in our family, surprise your wife with the trip and let her do the planning -- if she has enough free time during the push to her degree. She's good at planning, she likes to do it.

Don't worry about not speaking Italian. Almost all people you encounter as a tourist can speak English. And, even if they can't speak English, Italians are very helpful and good at conveying information.
Mimar is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 07:24 AM
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Buy the Michelin Green guide for Italy and hide it with your "men's magazines" so your wife does not see it. It will give you an excellent explanation of the sights major and minor.

I am hopeful the women will chime in, but I think you need to tell your wife that she will going away for three weeks and what the weather will be generally, so she can prepare clothes, etc.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 07:29 AM
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I agree with the advice to tell your wife the surprise, but I know plenty of women who go to Italy and all of them like to do different things, including seeing castles, as yours does, which supposedly is for men.

I won't even comment on the assumption that you have "men's magazines" but might clue you in on why you want your wife's help planning her trip, not strange people you and she don't know on the internet.
sandralist is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 07:33 AM
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If your wife is a planner, I would suggest surprising her with the gift of the trip well in advance, and thus let her have the fun of planning it with you, and doing the shopping and packing most people like to do. A surprise weekend is one thing, 3 weeks in Italy is another.

And congrats to her for finishing her graduate studies. Kudos to you for wanting to give her this trip.
socaltraveler is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 07:37 AM
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All you really need to do is pick a few places, buy airfare, and book accommodations. With your budget, I suggest looking for an apartment rental for Rome, and anywhere else you decide to stay for more than a few days.
Plenty of people go to Italy not knowing one word of Italian. I like to learn a few polite phrases at the very least.
yorkshire is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 07:51 AM
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I am the planner in our family. Others are giving you good advice. Trip planners often do not like surprise plans. We always know what we want to do. She may be busy and need your help, so you can research, but do let the final plan be up to her.
Sassafrass is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 07:59 AM
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I agree that it would be wise to let your wife in on the surprise so she can help plan and prepare. Wrap a Michelin Green Guide to Italy and give it to her on a special occasion (anniversary, birthday, etc.) well before the trip. Based on what you enjoy doing and on the time of year you plan to travel, I would start with Venice, Florence and Rome and add another area, perhaps Naples ro Sorrento so you can easily visit Pompeii.

Start there and modify as you go along. Plan to fly "open jaw" - into one city and home from another to avoid backtracking.
mamcalice is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 08:03 AM
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I am with the let her do the planning camp.
If she is experienced, she would know which resources must be aligned property for things to work. Beginners assume that they can arrange different components in piecemeal manner: flight and accommodations, etc., only to find that they need to expense additional days and fund to integrate disjoint components together.
Whether she has to do it her way or that she know the pitfalls of creating itineraries, you might not achieve a win-win outcome if you do the planning.
If she still needs a passport, it is impossible to keep it a complete surprise. You need a couple months lead time to obtain the passport. Also, depending on where you live and what she already has, the wardrobe suitable for Italy for April may only be available in brick and mortar stores, if they are where she goes, in your area right now but not in Feb-March 2015.
greg is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 08:11 AM
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Another vote for "let your wife do the planning." I have been the day trip, long weekend, overseas, local, and everything in between planner for the family for almost 20 years, and DH wouldn't have it any other way. He "surprises" me with, "I have to be in CITY for a meeting. Can you (and the children) come with?" and I love it. As others have written, there is considerably more to travel planning (for most) than you might think; it's best to leave it in an experienced set of hands.
fourfortravel is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 08:12 AM
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I agree completely with the advice to tell her well in advance to preclude the possibility the "surprise" could backfire. Some surprises are better than others and this one could go wrong in a moment, especially as she obviously likes to be the planner (= in charge of things).
MmePerdu is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 08:27 AM
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The reason she likes to do the planning is that planning is half the fun. Do it together.
mamcalice is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 08:47 AM
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What a thoughtful husband you are. A good compromise might be to surprise her with a timeline and air tickets. Since she is a good planner let her fill in the details. Fly into one airport and out of another. Maybe into Naples (see Pompeii and the Almaphi Coast) and out of Rome. Spread out the map and think about what might make a logical route. Also think about what would make YOU happy (a good meal, a particular museum, a beautiful sunset....). Then post here and you will get lots of suggestions.
chelseyd is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 09:08 AM
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I won't even comment on the assumption that you have "men's magazines"
________
It was a joke, that is why you didn't understand.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 09:30 AM
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I say let her plan. My husband planned our first European trip and planned on making it a surprise but the tickets were mailed to the house despite his best efforts to send them to his Mom. He had some ideas and research done but in the end I finished the planning and have been the planner ever since. He tells me what he wants to see and it is a collaboration. So you can have the rough plan of what cities and when so that you can surprise her with the trip. If you are not big Italian art fans, you could skip Florence and put Pompeii in its place, I wish we would have home there on our last trip. It is true that the planning is almost as much fun as the trip itself.
jscarbary is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 10:08 AM
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BTW, I think it is more romantic, not to cram 20 cities into 3 days, but add time for a coffee or a wine at outdoor cafe overlooking a fountain or valley or leisurely breakfast on a terrace.

We now live in a society consumed by the idiotic term metrics. Very rarely does that measure satisfaction and their is no place for intuition.

Figure out how to enjoy your trip as much as what you want to see.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 11:25 AM
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Thanks everyone for your replies. My wife is in Anesthesia school and she spends 60-80 hours a week in the hospital. You are right that she likes to make the plans and be in charge! I just don't want her to feel like she has all this work to do planning a trip on top of her very busy schedule. I will certainly buy the Michelin Green guidebook. I think that will be a great gift to give her as a way of telling her about our trip. I also like the idea of flying open-jaw so we don't have to back track. Someone had mentioned having a rough plan and letting her fill in the details. Any thoughts on that? Like if I had a general itinerary: x-number of days in Rome, x-number of days in Venice and so forth and make arrangements for accommodations and transportation and she got to fill in the "fun stuff"?
Gawainator is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 11:33 AM
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My wife is in Anesthesia school
________
I hope see comes to.
IMDonehere is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 11:46 AM
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I plan all of our trips. If my wife wanted to give me a gift it would be the effort she would put into planning a trip for us. Who cares if she picked the wrong town or museum or restaurant. My return gift to her would be to let her know how much her effort was appreciated.
colduphere is offline  
Jul 15th, 2014, 11:46 AM
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April is not a busy time in general and you could plan to not plan. Buy your tickets, book your first couple of nights' accommodation and play it as it comes. Don't even bother with a a general itinerary. Believe it or not, it's done all the time, and a spontaneous trip can be the greatest!
MmePerdu is offline  

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