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Information & Opinions Please

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Calgary, Canada
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Information & Opinions Please

Hi Everyone, I have been intensely reading this forum for the past month and I have to say this has got to be one of the most friendliest and informative forums that I have encountered on TA. Ok enough of that here is my reason for asking for help. My wife and I are taking our 3 grown children to Italy June 09 for 10 days. I have discovered that what I thought might be an affordable trip is fast becoming to much $$$. We want to spent at least 4 days in Rome and I am thinking an apartment in Rome is a good idea (thanks to all the great info here) versus a hotel. The kids must do list for the rest of Italy is Florence, Venice, Pisa (quick stop) and Pompei. Originally I was just going to book with GOBUS but it would cost at least $12,000 euros for all of us, I would like to do the whole thing for 1/2 of that. Any helpful opinion would be great.

1. Any idea of how we can accomplish this intenerary for less money (other than the obvious).

2. I have decided I like rentalinrome for our apartment, how much time in advance should I book.

3. Romecabs is defintley going to do our Rome airport transportation.

4. None of us speak italian but we are learning the basics but would rail travel be the best or would it be to confusing.

5. How you lay out your itenerary for visting each city, Rome first or last?

5. And finally did I pick a good time of the year to go? Thanks for any help.

Springfield...
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1. Re: Information & Opinions Please

There is so much to do and see in Italy so your itinerary should be customized to your specific tastes. Of course I'm dying to see the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo's David but, beyond that, visiting a lot of museums wouldn't really appeal to me as much as it would to others on the forum.

Your best bet is to start with a guide book so you can get an idea of what sites and activities are most important to you and your family. I started out with Eyewitness Travel's Italy guidebook but found Rick Steves' books on specific cities (Rome, Florence & Tuscany, and Venice) to be much more helpful. Once you've figured out the things that are must see, if we have time, maybe, and no you can use this forum to get specific details and suggestions.

I've yet to make it to Italy (less than two months to go) but I'll answer your questions based off of what I've learned while planning my trip.

1. Planning ahead is going to be the best way to save money. I too started out researching guided tours of Italy before I realized I could save money and have a better trip if I did my homework and planned everything on my own. In the past, people had to rely on travel agencies because they didn't have access to the information needed to make all of the arrangments for a trip overseas. With all of the resources available now you can easily plan the perfect vacation and save money in the process because you're customizing everything and no time or expense is wasted on things that are part of the "package."

2. I quickly learned that I'd rather save the money a hotel charges to have a front desk and housekeeping staff by booking an apartment. I ended up booking through Rental in Rome and got more space, in a better location, for less money. I understand that there are some risks involved with booking an apartment but my fiance' and I are willing to roll the dice because we think it will end up being more than worth it. I booked our apartment just over three months in advance which was actually our second choice, our first pick had already been reserved. I'd say book it just as soon as your plans are concrete (flight's been booked).

3. I've heard wonderful things about Romecabs so I'm sure you'll be happy with your transfer to your apartment. I think I'm going to use a different service that is less expensive. As long as they are on time and get me from point A to point B in one piece I'll be happy.

4. There are a lot of books that can help you learn Italian. I picked up Italian for Dummies and unfortunately haven't been able to dedicate as much time to it as I'd like. Hopefully I won't wait until the flight over to learn the standard words and phrases because I'm sure Italians appreciate it when tourists make the effort to speak their language. But it sounds like a lot of people speak English in the larger cities so I can probably still survive even if the only Italian I know is what I've picked up ordering at Starkbucks and Olive Garden.

5. I planned for us to visit Rome first because I figured that is when we will need the most energy. From there we will go to Florence and then Venice. I know we will be doing a lot of walking everywhere we go but we have so many things we specifically want to see in Rome. With Florence we have a few "must-sees" and left a lot of time open to be spontaneous. In Venice we plan to take it easy, see the major sites and allow ourselves to recover and enjoy the actual honeymoon part of our trip. ;-)

6. I've read that summers in Italy can be intense. Most things I've read suggest aiming for late spring and early fall because the weather is mild then. It sounds like you'll definitely be dealing with a lot of heat while you're there but I'm sure you will still have a good time. I'm sure someone else on here can go into more detail about all of this but I've read that a lot of restaurants and stores close for the entire month of August because the heat is unbearable. If you're worried about the heat you might want to consider moving things around a little if you have that option.

I hope your planning goes well!

Dave

Calgary, Canada
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2. Re: Information & Opinions Please

BigDave

Thank you for the quick response and information. We went to Greece last year in July so the heat thing is ok. We have booked our flights and arrive in Rome June 8th and leave June 19th. I am thinking 2 or 3 days in Rome and then heading back for 1 or 2 days in Rome at the end. My son is really interested in the history of Rome and less keen on museums and fine art. I will really be looking forward to your TR and opinions expecially how the transportation worked and how easy the train system is when you return from Italy. I don't want to get into a situation where I'm stressed out and not enjoying my family fully. Oh and I almost forgot we are all foodies big time.

United States
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3. Re: Information & Opinions Please

Some of my views on your questions.

1. I have never been able to have slim budget. Sorry.

2. I have decided I like rentalinrome for our apartment, how much time in advance should I book.

Same answer as poster above, June is a busy tourist time and as soon as your lock in your travel dates, start looking for apartments. Be aware that things can change when you book out so far in advance and apartments may change availability closer to your date. There are several posts about rentalinrome specifically switching apartments at the last minute. Have a backup plan.

3. Romecabs is defintley going to do our Rome airport transportation.

Yup, they are great but your level of service will depend on the driver. I have not had the earth shaking experiences that some report but the transfers have always been on time and valuable.

4. None of us speak italian but we are learning the basics but would rail travel be the best or would it be to confusing.

Once you have a few train trips under your belt it will be easy. The major stations are well sign posted. The schedules are posted in several locations, most ticket agents speak some English. Look up trains and print out schedules that you might need before you go so you can show the ticket agent what you want. I have had several times when the printed schedule did not match the actual trains but the agent was very helpful.

Polite phrases are always appreciated and don't assume that everyone will speak English. I've had two strange times when I started out with a polite Buon Giorno and a Parla inglese? and been shot down in rapid irate Italian. I still don't know what I said that set it off but they really didn't want to deal with an English speaker. It was a rare response though.

5. How you lay out your itenerary for visting each city, Rome first or last?

I base my trips on where the airfare is the best, usually in one city and out another to save on backtracking. I usually add an extra day to the first city to allow for jet lag/ travel fatigue.

5. And finally did I pick a good time of the year to go?

Who knows? June 07 was beautiful and June 08 was rainy. There will still be plenty of tourists during the summer months. In early June, you may avoid the massive herds.

TAB

New York City, New...
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4. Re: Information & Opinions Please

12,000eu???

i don't see how a 10 day vacation could possibly cost that much!! i am going for 3 weeks and i am bringing $3,000 for a family of 3!

what is GOBUS?

St Paul, MN
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5. Re: Information & Opinions Please

I travel on a budget all the time to Italy, but I go in the off-season and I stay for 8-12 days in one city and this saves a lot on travel costs. I am afraid that for 2 people in the Feb 2008 for 12 days in Rome, I spent $3100 just for my airplane tickets and my lodging. My apt was 90 euros per night and our plane tickets were about $700 apiece.

I am assuming that the $12,000 included the plane tickets and lodging for 4 people.

Winnipeg
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6. Re: Information & Opinions Please

$3000.00 for a family of 3! Good luck to you. My wife and myself will be in Italy for 2 weeks in Sept and our budget is $12000.00 Cdn. And trust me, we will not be living it up at with that budget.

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: Information & Opinions Please

penny07

My spelling mistake it is GLOBUS I forgot the L. $2,099 for 10 days each. Check out there website.

Ok now lets just say I was staying at a hotel. $200 euros each night but I need 2 rooms so thats $400 euros which is $4,000 for 10 nights and we have not even had breakfast yet. You must be staying with friends to get by on $3,000 for 21 days.

Also I said I was trying save money by being smart, an using the tips and advice of the people who know the most I am not looking for a cheap vacation but a frugal one.

New York City, New...
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8. Re: Information & Opinions Please

what does the 2099eu include? i assume that globus is all inclusive. but 400eu/night in a hotel for 5 people is to high. you can rent an entire apartment for @ least 100-150eu/night.

and as far as airfare i was not including that in my $3000 but my tickets were $900 each ( x3 including travel insurance) and that includes flights from NY-dub-rome-dub-ny.

we got a 2 room apartment for 2 weeks which sleeps 4 (not in the most central location in rome but central enough) for 700eu total for 2weeks.

we will be in naples area for a week and our hotel expenses will be about 500eu.

i think if you you planned it all out yourself rather than buy a package from globus, you would come out a lot cheaper.

good luck!

scarpenter4
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9. Re: Information & Opinions Please

It seems that many apartments in Rome are rented through a variety of websites and online agencies.

Ihe website you refer to has in my opinion the best pictures that can be found.

If you're good with "Google" and want to explore, I think you can find some of the same apartments on other sites....sometimes for a lower rate. Especially when you find a website that belongs to the apartment's owner.

Oh and pay attention to the sq meter size they qoute and not the camera's wide angle lens.

Sacramento...
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10. Re: Information & Opinions Please

Moduline:

My first reaction is that you need at least 2 extra days...but I see you've already booked your tickets. My second thought is for a multi city trip like this--a tour company is needed (check out the Web site for the Sacramento Italian Cultural Society and their June tour) But again, you have airline tickets.

If you could dump your airline I could make this easier and cheaper--but...so where to start as your flying into Rome...

Well as soon as you arrive in Rome get your bags and head over to domestic checkin as your flying out again, immediately!!! Start checking Expedia etc to a decent airline out of Rome to Venice. Give yourselves about 3 hrs on the ground before flying out in case your incoming flight is late etc. Fly into Venice--book right side window seats for everyone--Venice looks great from the air. Book 2 nights in Venice..that will give you one full day-use it wisely. Your second day in Venice up early-store your bags and go see some more sights...get back to your hotel about noon and pick up your bags (I can give you referrals to nice Venice hotels if needed). You will take a water bus (cheap) out to the train station--prebuy your train tickets (1st class, reserved seats from Trentaillia (spelling?) -easy to do from overseas via computer. Take an afternoon train down to Florence..its a good 4 hrs.

Arrive in Florence--hotel in the city center (I like the Astoria). 3 nights in Florence--2 full days plus a 3/4 day when you leave. Prebook before you leave a guided tour of the Uffizzi Gallery. You will use the other full day for the Pitti Palace. Last day, checkout early and store the bags at the hotel (they are used to it) and go walk the streets. Take a late (5 pm) train to Rome..again, pre buy your tickets. It is a fairly short trip-under 2 hrs..arrive 7pmish into Rome.

Check in to your hotel/apartment. This will give you 5 nights in Rome- only 4 full days, not enough time but make the most of it. For Pompeii--either take a train down to Naples and then the local train to the site...or sign up a a day tour via bus (again Expeida is a good source)...only gives you 3-4 hrs on site with the ruins but you'll have a guide and you see it without much hassle...

Oh--I skipped Pisa--you have two full days in Florence--you could probably waste one of them seeing Piza and skip the Pitti Palace...in looking back...with such a short time..you will reaize it was the one site you could skip. You mention your son wants history...will...95% of that is in the Museums...for safe keeping. The Museums of Venice, Florence and Rome are out of this world and a must.

Then fly home....and your next trip I suspect will be another 10 days but in Rome only (and after that-you still will not have seen all that one city has to offer).