Travel to Italy

Jan 22nd, 2010, 05:26 AM
Original Poster
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Travel to Italy

A group of 4 couples are planning a trip to Italy, Venice and Rome for 10 days. What is the best time to go? Would it better to fly to Italy, get on a cruise ship to tour the various cities or hook up with travel tour guide? We have a budget of $5,000/per person. We think if we cruise we can eat and slept for a reasonable price and how many old brickes can you see. Shopping is a big plus for us. Any suggestions and advice would be greatly appreciated.
flashback is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 05:37 AM
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First, yes, it is much easier to fly to Italy than it is to drive (assume you are in North America?). Sorry, just couldn't pass that up.

2nd, I would not do a cruise. You will see MUCH less that way.

3rd, I would either do a tour, or do independent. I am good with either choice. For a tour, I really like Insight Vacations:

Insight is a sister company to Trafalgar, but is more upscale and the hotels are generally more central. If you like to be active, a tour is a good way of seeing a lot in a limited amount of time. For any tour that goes to Venice, make sure the hotel is IN Venice, not Mestre (the mainland) and not Lido, etc.
Infotrack is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 05:52 AM
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Venice and Rome are on opposite coasts, so you'd have to cruise all the way around the boot to get from one to the other. I'd definitely travel by land rather than spend most of the time on the water.

Train travel is very easy and convenient, if you don't want the stress of driving. And since you only have two destinations, you don't have much travelling to do anyway. You could arrive at a city, hire a walking-tour guide for the first day, and then have fun choosing what you really want to see and do.

An all-inclusive tour service, for example, might be more likely to show you the old bricks than to let you free to shop.

You could stay for, say, 6 nights in Rome and get apartments (maybe 2x2 couples) instead of hotel rooms, and save lots of money both on lodging and food, since you could make some meals (maybe lunch and breakfast) on your own.

Then 4 nights in Venice. (Or some people prefer to switch the order because flying out of venice usually means leaving at dawn and a change in another city in Europe.)
capxxx is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 06:01 AM
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Flash - Italy is a very easy country to plan and go independently. That way you can travel and sightsee at your pace rather than the tour companies. I think you are wise to limit yourself to two cities in the time frame you have as well.

Train connections between Rome and Venice are frequent and quick about 3.5 hours on a Eurostar. I'd suggest flying into Venice, getting over jet lag there and then fly home from Rome.

We have always enjoyed renting apartments rather than staying in hotels. With your larger group, you may need two instead of one large one. I have seem properties avaiable where they were a floor in a large palazzo normally divided into two or three spaces, but with the ability to interconnect for larger groups. something you might want to consider.

In each city, you could book a private overview sort of tour on arrival for a day or half day and then venture out on your own.

Here are some rental agencies in Venice:
notbob is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 07:08 AM
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If shopping is a big plus for you, consider how you plan to lug home the stuff you buy. Do you know much about Rome and Venice and what you want to buy in each city? You might arrange your trip so that your last stop is the place where you are likely to do most of your shopping.

Also, be aware that much of what you can buy in Italy is available on line.
stepsbeyond is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 07:20 AM
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Whether cruise or not depends on your objectives.

If your objectives is lower the amount of money spent per day then cruise might fit the bill.

However, if you want to maximize the Italian experience per money spent, cruise is usually a poor value.

You can find out just how much time you have on Italian soil with the cruise and compare it with ground based trips including ground transportation, restaurants, and hotel/apartment costs.

Surprisingly quite many acquaintances do cruise of Italy. I would not do a cruise for this type of trip. With 4 couples, it can be a tough decision. I know many whose sole criterion for choosing a trip is the cost.
greg is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 09:53 AM
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The trouble with cruising around Italy is that, with the exception of Venice, the cruise port are NOT near the cities- they may be 1 to 1.5 to even 2 hours away - so you waste a lot of time trekking back and forth. Also, the boats typically keep moving - thye don;t spend multiple nights in one port - soyou get ony about 1/2 day in ech city - IMHO not enough to see much.

If your basic interst is shopping - and not a lot of old bricks (and I think the Romans used - perhaps - marble) then why go to Italy at all? Just stay home and shop - it will be cheaper here.
nytraveler is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:33 AM
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flashback, I think I saw on another thread you were looking at Spain and a cruise. We have friends that cruised the Mediterranean; some of the ports were Barcelona, Nice, Amalfi Coast etc. They had a great time. I'm sure there was plenty of time for shopping and they could see some "old bricks" as well Deborah
DeborahAnn is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 11:56 AM
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A cruise is lovely, but it's not the same as a 10-day trip to Venice and Rome. Cruising is primarily being on a ship, with some limited time onshore for abbreviated, and usually group, sightseeing. The advantage is having to unpack and pack just once, and having everything planned and directed for you, including meals onboard.
To me that's a disadvantage in Italy, but not to everyone.

For $10000 per couple over 10 days, you can have a luxurious cruise, but you could also have a very lavish land visit to those two cities, with either trains or planes to get you from one to the other, excellent hotels, and fine dining.
Using a cruise to, say, island-hop, or get a few hours in a few places, is one thing, but imo you don't take a cruise in order to visit Italy, especially since you'll be outside the cities to begin with. To stay only on a ship is no way to experience Venice or Rome, in my book. If you want a Mediterranean cruise with short stops, perhaps Greek islands with a start or end in Venice, would be more up your alley.

I can appreciate the fun of shopping, but you can do that on any kind of trip. They'll be more than eager for your money. In fact, do some research so that you're not buying things you can just as easily pay less for at home, or buy online. If you are using a currency like US dollars, you won't be finding many bargains except perhaps at flea markets.

There are many fans of both cities on this forum, and plenty of sightseeing and logistics advice is available.
However, your comment "how many old brickes can you see" leads me to think that perhaps a cruise would give you as much sightseeing as you are interested in.
elaine is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 12:43 PM
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I'd skip the cruise. Just fly into Venice, and out of Rome. Stay 5 days each place. Take the train in between. $500 per day per person is a very generous budget, you can stay and eat nicely for that amount.
suze is online now  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 02:02 PM
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I agree with suze.
zoecat is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 07:45 PM
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flashback, you don't say how old you all are. Are you limited in any physical way? Because both Venice and Rome are "walking" cities. Certainly, there is public transportation in both places. But you can certainly see more on foot.

Venice, especially, is not so terribly big. One of the best parts of going to Venice (as you will see posted here often) is "getting lost".

For my money, if you are "shopping", I'd make sure you had a couple days in Florence. They are well known for their gold and leather items. I bought a great (and inexpensive) purse there 2-1/2 years ago and I still use it every day. Not only does it look good and is so well-made, but it reminds me of lovely Italy!

If your wives are fashion hounds, Milan is a good shopping venue. But I think Rome also has much to offer in the fashion arena. Especially shoes.

My vote would be to fly into Venice. Spend 3 days. Train to Florence. Spend 2 nights. Train to Rome. Spend 5-6 days and fly home from Rome.

It might be beneficial for you to do some more research and there is plenty to find right here at Fodors. You also might be wise to head over to Barnes and Noble or Borders and browse through the travel guide section on Italy. You can look through all kinds of guides and find the one that best suits you. (I prefer DK Eyewitness Travel guides, but others love Fodors, Frommer's, Rick Steves, etc.)

If you plan right, this could be a very memorable trip for all of you!

Good luck!
sarge56 is offline  
Jan 22nd, 2010, 07:48 PM
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PS Flashback. I realize nobody answered your question about the best time to go.

I have been in late October and it was lovely. Far fewer crowds. I am going again this April. Again, best weather and fewer crowds. You have to remember that Europeans are also on vacation in June/July/August and Italy is a popular destination. The crowds are plentiful and the weather quite hot during July/August.

SO, my suggestion is any time other than summer! Fall was lovely and is my favorite time of year, no matter where I am. So, I vote for October.
sarge56 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 11:48 AM
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Flashback. I would definitely save the cruise for another time and see Italy by land. We took the train from Venice to Florence and then to Rome - what a fantastic way to travel! We visited these 3 cities in April and the weather was very nice.
suz1672 is offline  
Jan 23rd, 2010, 02:03 PM
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Flashback: If you have flexibility, spring and fall are definitely best. If you will be in Rome more than three nights, look into apartments. We've been happy with the selection and service at Four couples is a tall order for one apartment, but they might have two in the same building or block.
Eurocentric is offline  
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