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Another first timer

Minnesota
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Another first timer

I too am going to Italy for the first time with my sweetheart of 27 years. While I love going to Mexico and planning everything on our own, it seems like it's a bit more of an undertaking planning Italy. Our plan is 10 days give or take and not trying to cram the whole country into one trip. Rome, Florence and Venice are of course the first places that everyone thinks of. The thing that worries me is getting to Rome for 3 days and standing on the corner like an idiot because we can't converse and don't have a clue as to what we're doing ( basicly looking like a dumb tourist!). Any thoughts?

Hagerstown, Maryland
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1. Re: Another first timer

Welcome minnekid.

Do you have a guidebook for Rome and the other cities? If not, get some. I would also recommend a decent street map of Rome's city center, such as the one by Streetwise (you can find at big bookstores like Barnes & Noble or order one through Amazon).

Any guidebook will have a page or two of some basic Italian phrases and greetings - learn them, as they'll come in handy and some Italians will be nicer to you that way. But you really have nothing to worry about, as many people in each of those cities speak English - especially those who interact with tourists...which probably accounts for half the population! You'll find that tourism is a HUGE industry in Italy.

You've made a wise decision to go to Italy. I've only been to Rome so far, and it is a most beautiful and fascinating place.

Good luck, and ask all the questions you want. There's a large number of Rome lovers who hang out here.

Port Washington...
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2. Re: Another first timer

Italy is a most user friendly country for tourists. Buy a decent basic guide book like fodor, frommer, steve and do a little homework. Visiting the big three over 10 days is close to perfect as long as your last night is in the city you are leaving from, presumably Rome. Downloading a map of each city or studying your book will give you a familiarity with the layout and make your trip much easier. If you can plan Mexico, Italy should be Noooooo problem.

Stavanger, Norway
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3. Re: Another first timer

Hi

Well, I don't think there will be much time for standing around in Rome as there is lots to see and do :-) Sure, it is always great if you can speak the language but it is possible to get by even if you can't talk to the locals in their own language. And is it so bad looking like a dumb tourist? :-)

I have made an interactive Rome Google map on this page: http://gardkarlsen.com/rome_italy_map.htm . It shows some of the attractions of Rome and some of the restaurants that I have been to. Maybe you can find some useful info there :-)

Regards

Gard

Minnesota
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4. Re: Another first timer

Thanks everyone for the replies. I'll be more specific with questions as we get closer. Such as.... Is it possible to do the big three with no rental car, just trains keeping in mind my wife is NOT a light packer?

coxs creek, kentucky
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5. Re: Another first timer

Minnekid,welcome to the forum !! First thing you need to do is RELAX!!! It really isn't as hard as it seems ! We have found little need for learning the language if you stay in the bigger cities. I encourage you to learn a little(a few words?) if time permits. I just think it is the polite thing to do when visiting someone's country. At least please and thank you--per favore and grazie---you're welcome-prego. Not so hard at all !! You will love Italy !!! I notice you say that "everyone" thinks of Rome, Florence and Venice first. But is that what YOU want to see?? Or maybe it is even possible to be happy to see just one or two cities? Rome is WONDERFUL !!!! I could easily spend all my time there. On the other hand I LOVE Florence and would be quite happy to spend all my time there too !! Except there are so MANY wonderful cities in Italy !! If you can plan for more than 10 days, it will be well worth it!!! Hey, the biggest single expense could be the airline tickets so you may as well spend as much time there as possible ! We spent 10 days(our first trip to Italy) in March and just divided the time between Rome and Florence. I still didn't get to see even a fraction of what I wanted to see! We went back in November for two weeks and went back to Florence and Rome-added Assisi(OMG, a wonderful little gem!!) and made a daytrip to Siena from Florence. I am still not done with any of these cities!! But I have not been to Venice yet, so my next trip is definitely going to include Venice-hopefully 2007!!!

You can do all three in 10 days--or you may want to read and research and come up with your own agenda. All three cities are wonderful---but Italy is a virtual smorgasbord of enchanting cities, both large and small. And the people are like icing on the cake !! My biggest surprise of both trips was how much I came to love those people !!!!!!!!! Everywhere I went, the people were so warm and friendly and funny and helpful !! Oh--can you tell that I am more than ready to go back ???? Any questions you have--feel free to ask. We have some really wonderful people on these forums too !!!

BTW, we lived in Burnsville, Mn. for thirteen years--moved here two years ago. What part of MN are you in ???

coxs creek, kentucky
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6. Re: Another first timer

Minnekid--sorry I was posting when you wrote the last question !

Yes, trains are very easy to use in Italy !!! Especially for travelling between the normal destinations like Rome-Florence-Venice !! The eurostar trains are fast and comfortable. You can buy tickets while you are there or you can buy them online. I prefer to get them there. You can also drive, but for a short time focussing on the "big three" I don't see why you would need to drive.When are you planning on going?????

I do also highly recommend buying a guide book--Rick Steves or Frommers or Fodors or any others that are available. I would imagine that Rick Steves is the most sold book, but again it is all about opinions.

Hagerstown, Maryland
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7. Re: Another first timer

Yes, train travel is very convenient and inexpensive in Italy. I think Florence is about 2 hours from Rome by train. Venice is about 5 hours away.

Houston
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8. Re: Another first timer

The most valuable advise I have received on this (or any other site) I will share with you:

"It is called LUGgage for a reason!"

Continually repeat this in your wife's presence, much like a mantra. You have my sympathy. I travel with my adult daughter who feels she must be prepared for any situation when she travels...state funeral to birthday party for 2 year old. Remind your wife, LUGgage space on trains is very limited.

Brooklyn, New York
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9. Re: Another first timer

I agree with MeMe - although train travel in Italy is frequent and frequently easy - lugging big bags around and up and onto a train is no small feat. The floor of the train is well above platform level - so you have to really struggle to get a big bag up onto the train. Also storing the big bag isn't always easy - space fills up quickly.

My best advice is to travel light - w small carry-on size wheeled bag and a shoulder bag tops. Anything else is major schlep!

An incredible number of Italians speak English, in all 3 cities yo mention, and especially if you make whatever attempt to say something first in Italian. Rick Steves has a small phrase book that has served me well on numerous trips to Italy.

My wife and I just returned from 6 nights in Rome, our first trip to this magnificent city. Make sure you take time to see the city at night, when it's historical sites are brilliantly illuminated. Also, do not miss the Borghese gallery.

We have also spent 5 nights in Venice previously and have spent time in Florence. If I had only 10 days on a first trip I would be tempted to spend most of that time in Venice and Rome and think about doing a day trip to Florence from Rome. And remember to book reservations at the Uffizi before you depart on your trip. You can get more info on the Florence forum.

My wife and I always plan and execute our own trips - booking directly with hotels, airlines, restaurants, etc. What it takes is lots of planning, use of the Internet and good guide books and maps. After all it's the journey as well as the destination that's fun!

Have a great trip!

Kolkata (Calcutta...
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for Kolkata (Calcutta), Darjeeling, India
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10. Re: Another first timer

Heavy luggage on trains, even on Eurostars will be a big problem. In Rome and Venice, you can get to the station early, get into the car ahead of others and fit your suitcase in the luggage. But in Florence the train either comes from Rome or Venice, depends on which way you are going. Then there are passengers in the car already and the luggage rack is filled up. We had big problems going to Venice from Florence, and had to manage with our suitcases scattered about the car.

Best to carry one suitcase and smaller carry ons which you can store in the overhead racks.

Keep in mind that there are no trolleys in the railway stations (at least I didnt see any). And in Venice you will most probably have to carry your luggage over bridges.