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First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

Ohio
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First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

My husband and I are from the US are trying to plan a 10-14 summer / fall trip to a few cities in Italy combined with another country. We are in our late 20s / early 30s.As this wil be our first time to Europe we would like to book with a tour company to arrange logistics and activities on same days. We are having difficulty recommended tour group companies and are looking for suggestions of companies other people have used sucessfully. We do not want to sit on a bus and be driven around all day.

Thanks for your suggestions!

San Francisco...
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1. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

Well Ohio S, I'm not quite sure what type of 'Tour Group' your seeking? Do you want someone like a travel agent to make hotel, transportation, site, and dining arrangements for you so you'll be traveling on your own...and not 'sitting on a tour bus and being driven around all day. Or are you looking for a tour group that does all of the above...including the bus that gets you around. Just remember...you will get what you pay for. If you want to travel in vans instead of buses with 12 people max and be pampered, you will have to pay for the service. If you hook up with the usual large group tours, you get the buses...but you pay less. Totally up to you! But as I said...'I'm not quite sure what you want?' Could you clarify a bit?

Ohio
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2. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

We are still trying to decide between having someone schedule most things and travel on our own vs. going with a group. We are not as concerned with group size as we are with just spending most of our days in a vehicle vs. having time to actually experience the sites and explore. So we thought maybe a tour group that gives you some days on your own? We have also heard that tour groups tend to be an older crowd, but we would prefer a group more in our age range. I have always done all our vacation planning ourselves, but that always been around the US, Caribbean or Australia. Planning a 2 week trip to Europe on my own seems a little overwhelming. Suggestions on where to begin would be appreciated

Cincinnati, Ohio
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3. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

If you've planned a trip to Australia, you can plan a trip to Italy. We visited Venice, Sorrento and Rome on our own with no problems. We did sightseeing on our own but also went on some group tours and used a private driver for one leg of the trip. Language was never a problem.

If you are leery of traveling on your own, choose hotels that have good concierage/front desk service to help with local tours and problem solving.

Nancy in Cincinnati

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for Naples
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4. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

First, zero in on two or three places that you really want to see and plan around them. Once you've got the "must see" stops identified, you can plan your flights and look at transit between them. At that point you'll be able to see if there's enough time to add any other stops, or if the two or three will sufficiently fill up your time.

Ocean City, MD
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5. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

If you are planning 14 days, your arrival day will be .5 day (probably with jetlag) and the last is your departure, so you'll actually have 13 full days.

If you are going to try for 2 countries, you should book your US flight 'open jaw' and then use the European airlines for the flight in between, such as EasyJet,& Vueling for example. www.skyscanner.com Be watchful of their luggage fees and carry-on limits.

Keep in mind you'll lose almost a full day of your valuable vacation time in transit to/in/from airports and getting to your hotel.

Train travel between most of Italy's major cities is economical and convenient. www.trenitalia.com will give you an idea of the schedules. For example, without taking advantage of discount fares, the walk up fares for Rome to Florence is 43 Euro and takes 1.5 hrs.

www.venere.com and www.booking.com for accommodations, both sites allow you to look by price, location and amenities - read the reviews! The star system is different in Italy, i.e. a star for having an elevator or 24 hr reception. I've stayed in some very nice 2 and 3 star hotels.

IMO, with only 13 days I would spend it in Italy visiting the 3 major cities, i.e. Rome, Florence & Venice.

Visit a bookstore and browse their travel/guidebooks and to determine your interests so you can make the most of your 13 days.

Once you determine your locations, the rest of the planning will fall into place.

You've posted in the Italy Forum, go to the individual Forums for say Rome and look to the right for Top Questions/FAQ's.

Happy planning, for me it's quite enjoyable.

Medford, New Jersey
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6. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

We have used Insight twice and have had great experiences with them. This year we are doing Italy with GET Tours, owned by the same parent company.

A caution tho, is that our tours were predominantly retirees. If that doesn't bother you, then it will be fine. Some companies also arrange independent travelling where they set up your hotels and air, but you go where you want.

Since you want to see most of Italy plus another country, you will be in busses periodically. Your best bet may be on a 7-8 day tour and adding days at the beginning and end. If you do book the hotel yourself - it will be less - just find out which ones they use.

Also your second country should probably be Switzerland or Austria.

Good luck

Edited: 05 March 2014, 16:06
San Francisco...
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7. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

Mostly good advice above. Traveling in Italy (and let's say France...if that's the other country you might be visiting) is a bit more daunting because everything you will see or read is in Italian or French! It can be quite unnerving. Menu's of course will be in English in most restaurants. If you visited Rome, Florence, and Venice and spent 3 days/nights in each city you would just be scratching the surface of seeing these cities...but you would go home knowing you saw the tops sites, walked the streets, tried different restaurants, shopped in a few different neighborhoods, and maybe took a day trip from each one to a nearby hilltown, or site. And that is what I would recommend...keep it simple. You cannot see it all...and if you try you will end up on trains and buses for hours at a time...probably day after day. And if you try a tour group...you will get only what they "feed" you, at a pace that may be annoying, and you might come home still hungry for the real Italy. Like nancycinti said, language should not be a problem in Italy...most everyone in the touristy areas speaks English. Also...lean on your hotel/b&b desk to help arrange tours, drivers, reservations, etc. if needed...they speak Italian, and they have inside information...and they want to take care of you 'their customer'! Keep asking TA questions.

Seattle, Washington
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8. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

I have quite a few friends who have gone on Rick Steves Tours and really enjoyed them. They enjoy traveling with the same group of people and making friends with them. And apparently the RS tours are smaller groups than a lot of the tours. I'm a DIY-er so can't speak from personal experience. (For me, half the fun is in the planning.)

Cortland, New York
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9. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

We traveled with a company called Queenslander. I would say the people were older than you are, but we did have some people in our group in their 30's.

The group size in 16 tops-which was really nice. We did not sit in a bus and ride around all day. Generally "tours" if you chose to attend (included in price) were 8AM-noon. Rest of the day was on your own until dinner.

Here is a link to the review of the trip. Not completely convinced it is what you are looking for-but it will be something for you to look at and consider.

tripadvisor.com/…56446045

Bergamo, Lombardia...
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10. Re: First Trip to Italy - Tour Group Suggestions

You can visit www.vitor.it. This is a tour operator and you can find some itinerary's description and suggestions.

There are 5 days tour, 8 days tours and 10 days tours.

There are also lodging indications.

Best Regards.