Traveling to Italy need help - so lost

Nov 29th, 2010, 10:57 PM
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Traveling to Italy need help - so lost

I am recent college graduate and am planning on traveling to italy for the first time and am planning an 11 day trip. I would love some tips on itinerary, best places to go, and how long to stay each place. The plan is to fly in one city and out of another but am completely lost as to where to start.

I enjoy great food, beautiful scenery, rich cultural history, but also the college tendencies of shopping and a good glass of wine. If that helps for narrowing itinerary.


Any place I should avoid given I am traveling alone? Are hostels ok to stay?
jekpeter is offline  
Nov 29th, 2010, 11:08 PM
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Hostels are OK, but the hostel in Venice is poorly reviewed. I'd avoid it.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Nov 29th, 2010, 11:35 PM
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You can look up reviews of hostels once you figure out your itinerary. Many of them get very good reviews, others not. Often b*bs in some times can be very cheap.

I'm assuming you want o travel by train, but you don't say what time of year you are traveling, which does make a difference. Also, do you have 11 full days of travel, or are some of those days arrival into Italy or departure days.

I'm going to encourage you to spend at least a few days out of the mega-tourist destinations. Eleven days is not a long trip, though, so your best bet might be to pick either Rome, Florence or Venice for rich cultural history, and really dig in, don't just fly through, but combine it with one other non-touristy city that has great food, rich culture, shopping and good wine.

Some choices that jump out are Bologna, Arezzo or Verona, all without mega-mobs of tourists (except Verona in July and August) but all with great food, good wine, outstanding shopping and easy to get to by train. You can also take day trips from all these places to scenic and fascinating places.

Another possibility is Salerno, which gives you easy access to the Amalfi coast but also Paestum and Pompei, and the small city is historic in its own right. It has great food and good wine that hasn't been altered by foreign tourism.

So think about pairing one of the "big 3" with one much less touristed place to give yourself a chance to experience foreign travel and some real flavors of today's Italy, not just a tourist itinerary. In all the less touristed places I mentioned, you'll have no trouble finding cheap but safe and clean accommodations, and plenty of English spoken.

Have a great trip. People put up posts about Italy yelling "Help!" and "I'm lost!" and "I'm overwhelmed" -- and what they often get back (especially if they are young) is lot of overparenting! Italy is a first world place loaded with inexpensive accommodations, and rich history, great food and wine and shopping at every step. Plus its a pretty country as a whole. Pick a few places that appeal to you, and don't overplan. Go to explore. You can't get lost.

Again, have a great time!
zeppole is offline  
Nov 30th, 2010, 12:43 AM
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jekpeeter, are you travelling solo?
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Nov 30th, 2010, 04:00 AM
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OP wrote: "Any place I should avoid given I am traveling alone? Are hostels ok to stay?"
norrisken is offline  
Nov 30th, 2010, 06:35 AM
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>>>Hostels are OK, but the hostel in Venice is poorly reviewed. I'd avoid it.<<<

There's more than one hostel and not all are poorly reviewed. Which one are you talking about Peter?
kybourbon is online now  
Nov 30th, 2010, 06:53 AM
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I'm talking about the YHA on the Guidecca. It's also difficult to get to late at night.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Nov 30th, 2010, 09:19 AM
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Zeppole’s advice to do “one big place plus one smaller one plus maybe a day trip” is good – with eleven or so days, that would give you say five days in a big place, three in a smaller place and the day trips. You’d have a good chance of experiencing a little of what Italy’s about.

Hostels are good for younger solo travellers – travelling solo can be daunting, as you don’t have people to bounce ideas off, or have a glass of wine with. Staying in hostels gives you a good chance of hooking up with like minded travellers, benefiting from their ideas, and sharing your own.

Italy is safe. Maybe the back streets of some places might be a bit uncomfortable, and there are a few areas to be avoided. This a bit of a generalisation, but I think you are no more likely to be mugged in Verona than say, Vermont, and certainly less likely in Venice.

You talk about “beautiful scenery” which can mean almost anything. Alpine scenery is spectacular, and the view through the window into a gondola workshop can be pretty special. And there’s only one place on the planet where you can see it.

The “Big Three”
Rome – history and bustle, the Vatican
Florence – art and elegance.
Venice – the whole insanity of building a city on a bunch of mud banks.

I don’t know the smaller places much, but Zepp’s advice about Verona is good – we’ve spent a couple of nights there, and liked the intimacy and very human scale of Verona. The amphitheatre there, while smaller than Rome’s, is special, and worth the trip to Verona in itself.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Nov 30th, 2010, 11:20 AM
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Hi J,

Try the Thorn Tree Forum at

They have many more folks your age there.

Italy is quite easy to visit.

Enjoy your trip.

ira is offline  
Nov 30th, 2010, 05:37 PM
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If you are traveling in summer you might be interested in staying at a campground. Many have bungalows or house tents (lockable) at very good prices and are on bus routes.

Campground Michelangelo is within walking distance of Florence.

Camping Spartacus is within walking distance of Pompeii.

It's also possible to stay in convents and monasteries. Some have curfews, but many don't. For Venice, you might try Foresteria Valdese.
kybourbon is online now  
Dec 1st, 2010, 05:22 PM
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Thanks for all the great advice, I am traveling solo and over xmas break dec23-jan4 i accounted about 11 days to just see the country and left a little wiggle room for travel time and jet-lag recovery.
jekpeter is offline  
Dec 1st, 2010, 06:29 PM
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Hostels vary tremendously - some are great and some are dens of iniquity (drugs and more). Just like hotels you need to do your research and make reservations at the good ones in advance.

Don;t know where you are from but unless you have lived in major city you may not be aware of all of the usual precautions that you have to take. Make sure your belongings are ALWAYS secure - and that the hostel has secure lockboxes for each guest.

If you're hesitant - but are willing to deal with possible curfews - you might consider looking into staying at convents. Possibly more secure than a hostel if you're traveling alone and also a good bargain.
nytraveler is offline  
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