Wife and I are going to Italy


#1

We are going for about ten days in october. I have some questions.

What are the cannot miss places?
What is the cheapest way to travel from town to town?
What are some affordable places to stay?
When is the best time to buy airfare? We live in the western US.
Is there any type of Church related help wiht advice and travel? Like someone to actually call and talk to that will help you?


#2

Buy a good Italy travel guide. I like Rick Steeves, mostly because I like his philosophy.

Where in Italy are you going? We've rented apartments in Rome twice and would do it again. rentalinrome.com/

Trains are a great way to get from place to place in Italy. Trenitalia can get you to lots of cities.

In Rome, we usually buy a week long pass that allows us to use the buses and subway. I prefer to walk the city, but it's nice to have a pass if you get tired or need to be someplace at a specific time. rometoolkit.com/transport/rome_bus.htm

If you're going to Rome, try to do the Scavi tour. You have to book early, so get on that now if you want to go. There is an e-mail address at the end of the website below:

vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connected/uffscavi/documents/rc_ic_uffscavi_doc_gen-information_20040112_en.html

Start looking at airfare now. I went last summer and booked flights the December before!

I love Rome! I have been 4 times and would go again in a heartbeat! :thumbsup:


#3

[quote="Catholicpotato, post:1, topic:246864"]
We are going for about ten days in october. I have some questions.

[/quote]

Pack umbrellas and rainwear, October can be a bit monsoon-like at times.

What is the cheapest way to travel from town to town?

Hm, coaches would be but they can be a bit of a mystery. Italian railways are pretty cheap.

What are some affordable places to stay?

The best bet would be to try the hotel comparison sites - some people like the monastery and convent stays, by the way.


#4

[quote="Catholicpotato, post:1, topic:246864"]
We are going for about ten days in october. I have some questions.
What are the cannot miss places?
What is the cheapest way to travel from town to town?
What are some affordable places to stay?
When is the best time to buy airfare? We live in the western US.
Is there any type of Church related help wiht advice and travel? Like someone to actually call and talk to that will help you?

[/quote]

St.Peters Basilica would be a must see for me and also if you get the chance try to see the Pope give a speech :)


#5

What are the cannot miss places?
[LIST]
*]Would definitely do Rome!!! If you want to see the Vatican, do the research on getting the tour. They only allow so many per day for the catacombs.
*]If you have time, definitely see Pompeii. It was not a place I would have ever thought I'd be interested in -- we were on a cruise and my friend's husband was stationed there. So she picked us up at the cruise terminal and took us out there. Fascinating place. Also see Herculaneum (sp?) We missed it because we didn't have enough time, but I've heard it's amazing. If you have time, do a drive on the Amalfi Coast!!! Beautiful.
*]Venice was neat. The cathedral there is where St. Mark is buried.
[/LIST]
Regardless of where you go, I would pick a region and then just do the things that are an easy day trip. Otherwise you're going to spend all your time traveling and not seeing much.
What is the cheapest way to travel from town to town?I usually vote train travel -- but I've heard that train travel can be tricky in that the workers are known to go on strike and then you're stuck. I would definitely stick with some kind of public transportation. I can tell you that in Naples they drive NUTS. And rental cars are targets -- especially Americans!!! Also, be aware that if there is a wreck with a motorcycle, it is the car's fault regardless of what the motorcycle did. So just be careful.
What are some affordable places to stay?I agree with renting an apartment/condo. Another website that I can recommend is vrbo.com. We rented our apartment when we were in Venice, and it worked well. Just beware that MOST of those are privately owned and you have to pay in cash (euros) when you get there. They aren't like hotels that will accept credit cards. Also a lot of the smaller hotels/B&Bs won't accept credit cards either (at least in Spain -- so I'm not sure how wide-spread in Europe that is)
When is the best time to buy airfare? We live in the western US.Check the travel books for when it is off season and go then -- you'll get better rates on everything -- lodging, air, et cetera. FYI a lot of places shut down in the summer months -- I think it was July (maybe August) that everyone packs up and leaves. That could change what museums/sites are open and their admission hours.


#6

Italy is a big place. And, what to see and do depends upon you and your family's tastes and interests. You won't run out of Churches to see. There are plenty of natural sites to see and historical sites as well.

With ten days in Italy, you can reasonably see the highlights in two or three cities and their surroundings. Of course, you could spend 10 days just in Rome and not see it all.

Get a couple of reliable guide books such as Frommers, Michelin, Rick Steves and read through them. They will give you a good overview, some sample itineraries, and lots of tips.

If you've never traveled overseas before, make sure your passports are in order, check with your bank to make sure you ATM card works overseas, and order some Euro from your bank before you go so you will have cash upon arrival.

The internet makes it easy to compare airfare and hotels. Italy has tourist websites in English giving information on their cities, tourist sites, etc.

Train is the easiest way to go between major cities, and pretty cheap as well. However, if you want to go off the beaten path, renting a car can be a good way. Definitely more expensive to rent a car. But, trains don't always go where you want to go. Don't attempt to drive in any major cities, such as Rome or Naples. But in the country, we had no problem.

The Vatican website has information on obtaining tickets to the Scavi tour, Vatican museum, etc. Obtaining those ahead of time will save you time, and is a must for the Scavi.

You are not really going to have anyone you call call to help you, except perhaps a travel agent or booking agent for tours.

The English speaking parish in Rome, St. Susanna, has a pretty comprehensive website and tries to help out visitors. You can write to them.

santasusanna.org/


#7

[quote="Catholicpotato, post:1, topic:246864"]
We are going for about ten days in october.

[/quote]

Great weather to be there in October! Still warm enough (though mornings and evenings can be tricky) but not hot enough to evaporate like in summer.

What are the cannot miss places?

I could name a lot in Rome (poke me if you want them, I could fill you a fortnight) but little elsewhere other than second-hand knowledge (according to which Assissi, Peruggia and Siena are must-sees, and maybe Lucca, apart from the more obvious towns and cities).

What is the cheapest way to travel from town to town?

Not sure but fast train is expensive and slow train can shave a lot of time off a sightseeing day.

What are some affordable places to stay?

I'd go for B&Bs or hostels and B&Bs with very nice conditions can be had for hostel price if you're lucky. When in Rome, I've stayed here twice but there are other ones too. Booking.com has some nice options if you look well. That's how I'd look for lodging anywhere by default.

Unfortunately, can't help you with the last two questions.


#8

[quote="Catholicpotato, post:1, topic:246864"]
We are going for about ten days in october. I have some questions.

What are the cannot miss places?
What is the cheapest way to travel from town to town?
What are some affordable places to stay?
When is the best time to buy airfare? We live in the western US.
Is there any type of Church related help wiht advice and travel? Like someone to actually call and talk to that will help you?

[/quote]

The way this is worded makes it sound like you don't have a definite itinerary yet.

If so, there are a few places that are musts.

1) Rome / Vatican City. You will need a few days here. It is ironic that if one was gifted with unlimited time, that it might take weeks to see everything in the smallest country in the world. Here are some things to see in the Vatican:

St. Peter's Basilica
Climb to the top of the Dome of St. Peter's
Sistine Chapel
Audience with the Pope (These are held Wednesdays - look online to find out how to get tickets. I believe there's a parish in Rome that assists Americans in getting them.)
The Scavi Tour (The underground excavations below St. Peter's, and the Tomb of St. Peter himself.
The Vatican Museums (There are several world-class museums at the Vatican, plus the Papal palaces. EACH of the museums can take half a day to a full day all by themselves. They include exhibits with Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and Etruscan artifacts, Renaissance art, sculpture galleries, and modern art.)
The Vatican Gardens tour (This is one of the least-known tours, but gives you a glimpse at some of the much less visited areas of the Vatican.)

Within Rome, there are numerous things you shouldn't miss:
The Coliseum of Rome
The Forum
The Appian Way
The Pantheon
The Trevi Fountain (there are many other beautiful fountains as well)
The Spanish Steps
The Catacombs
The Major Basilicas of Rome (St. John Lateran, St. Paul outside the Walls, St. Mary Major)
There are also many other outstanding churches that you may want to put on your itinerary.

If you have time, Pompeii is certainly worth a visit. It is about 3 hours south of Rome by train. Pompeii, of course, is quite probably the greatest ancient ruin ever discovered, and for that reason alone, is worth your time. As mentioned above, nearby Herculaneum is also worth a visit. If you're going all that way, the beautiful resort island of Capri is nearby, as is the major city of Naples, where the antiquities museum is that contains many of the more delicate Pompeii finds.

Venice is one of the most beautiful cities in the world, and also one of the most expensive. That said, if you were ever going to splurge for a once-in-a-lifetime location, this would be it. Plan accordingly and you won't be disappointed. Gondola rides are always popular. If you need to conserve your money, consider staying in the suburbs and commuting into the historic part of the city.

Florence and Pisa are near each other, and have many wonderful things to see, such as Pisa Cathedral / Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, Michelangelo's David, and so on.

For something more unique, try the beautiful little ocean village towns of Cinque Terre in the northwest! They are about as scenic as it gets! These quaint towns don't offer the big city attractions, but do offer an amazingly beautiful look at everyday Italian life.


#9

This is awesome advice guys thanks! keep it coming!!!


#10

St Peter's, Vatican Museums, Catacombs, ruins and audience with the Pope are musts. I was in Rome a few years ago - week long stay. Rome isn't an easy city to get around, unless it has changed, and suggest taxis. Taxis didn't seem expensive and were much faster than the buses or getting lost on what was then a small metro system. Florence is a beautiful city that I would highly recommend. Tivoli is a tourist trap. I was on a tour and took bus trips out of town. Stayed in a great little apartment.


#11

I am obsessed with Italy so this will be a long post. You can't hope to see it all in ten days, and traveling between places will take some time, so my advice is to pick two or three places and do them as thoroughly as possible, rather than going a dozen different places for a few hours each. You can definitely do little towns like Assisi in a few hours, though, so taking a train through on the way to somewhere else is a good option.

CANNOT MISS PLACES

Rome, obviously. Do all the touristy things you can, because most of the tourist stuff in Rome is tourist stuff for a good reason- it's all awesome. When you go to the Vatican, check out Old Bridge Gelateria to the east I think, just beyond the Vatican wall, for the best and cheapest gelato in town. Also at the Vatican, go to the roof for a view of the city and a really cool walk around the inside of the dome. And of course the catacombs- I hate being underground, but it was well worth it. There are some off-the-beaten-track things to do as well. If you are both pretty robust people who enjoy the outdoors, walk down the Old Appian Way (Via Appia Antica), it's the original one that was built by the Romans and it is SUCH a cool experience, with many little-known ancient sites along the way! Plus, it's free. It is a very long walk though, so only do it if you're in decent shape. If you're interested in seeing the Pope's summer residence, an observatory, and a stunningly beautiful lake, take a day trip to Castel Gandolfo- take the Metro line A to Anagnina, then board the Cotral bus to Castel Gandolfo. There is also a great karaoke bar in nearby Albano called Saints & Sinners (Santi e Peccatori) where you will hear the best and worst voices in Italy- the best of whom easily put Broadway singers to shame. Also, if you do the Appia Antica, it sort of fizzles out around Frattochie, and you can hop on a bus to Albano or Castel Gandolfo from there.

Then there's Florence; if you're interested in the history of the Medici family, art, and/or quality Italian leather, take a trip there. Again, all of the tourist stuff is worth doing. This is my favorite city for wandering around in; you'll find something interesting on every corner, and there are several great coffee shops to sit in and bask in the Italian-ness of it all. In terms of shopping, keep in mind that most of the leathergoods available on the street are overpriced and not very interestingly designed, so keep a lookout for the good stuff.

Venice! You will never go anywhere like it again in your life, so you must go to Venice if you can go nowhere else! Buy a mask. See a theatrical production. Take a boat to the island of Murano, where you can watch glassblowers at work, and to Burano to see traditional lace being made. Marvel at the Basilica San Marco. Wander the city and see all the shops; you'll find some really unique ones. Don't be surprised if you order fish and get an actual fish on your plate instead of a fillet.

Naples is a unique place. It is very dirty and very sketchy, but has extremely good pizza and breathtaking scenery. I definitely recommend going to Naples in order to visit Pompeii, it is a fascinating piece of history and there is so much information about the place that you just don't get from textbooks or the Internet. The ways it resembles a modern city are really striking and unexpected.

Also worth a visit: Assisi to see Giotto's frescoes and maybe do some wine tasting. Folgaria is great if you want to go skiing in the Italian Alps on the cheap, although it probably won't be open yet in October.

CHEAP TRAVEL

Ryanair is by far the cheapest way to get around, but lower your standards before you get on a Ryanair flight. It's like Southwest minus the customer service. You must be at the gate at the appointed time; they may or may not be running on time, but when they board, they board, and if you miss it that's too bad. It's also a little disconcerting that when you land, everyone applauds the pilot, as in "Hurray! We didn't crash!" Finally, look into the location of the airport relative to the city you're going to, as you may have to take a bus or a cab to get there. On the up side, Ryanair usually operates out of small airports where security is a breeze to get through, the exception being Fiumicino in Rome.

Train is the other way to travel, it's usually more expensive than flying these days and it takes longer, but you aren't strapped into a seat, and it's fun to watch the countryside go by. You'll hear a lot of hype about the Eurail pass, but look into where you want to go and when, because it can either save you a lot of money or waste a lot of money.

However you travel, take food and drinks with you when you go, because they may not be available in transit and if they are they'll be expensive.

GENERAL TIPS

The best places to eat are little hole-in-the-wall family-owned places. Take rain boots; no one ever thinks of them, but if it starts pouring rain (as it may in Rome) or flooding (as it may in Venice) you'll want them. When packing, leave room for souvenirs. Bring any toiletries or hygiene items you'll need; they're expensive in Italy and you won't be able to find products you're used to. Expect to pay for random things like public restrooms and plastic grocery bags. In Rome, the metro is your friend, take it everywhere. Wherever you go, be wary of pickpockets. The little money belt things aren't really necessary; just don't carry all your cash with you, don't put anything in your back pockets, and keep a constant watch on your stuff. A good money strategy is to keep your ATM card with you and make withdrawals as needed, and keep some cash in your luggage at the hotel in case something happens to the ATM card.

Hope this is useful to you!


#12

Your problem, already emerging as you can see, is that there's really too many places to go and you probably don't want to give up too many days on such a short stay to longer-distance travel, getting to and from hotels, checking-in/checking-out and so on (remembering that there's a 9 hour difference between the West Coast of the US and Italy so you have to factor-in a bit of jet-lag for the first day or two as well).

So, I think you need to start soon on making a few basic decisions about two centres for your holiday and planning around them.

I'd suggest that Florence is a kind of 'must' for a few days because it's a wonderful place in itself but also because trips to famous places like Siena (which is a tourist ant heap), Pisa (so you can photograph each other holding up the Tower) and Lucca (a pretty little world of its own) are easy day trips.


#13

Do you want to see city? Rome, Florence etc. Countrside? e.g. Tuscany? Coast? The Amalfi coast? Just came back from Rome recently, if you go to the Vatican I reccomend a tour called the Scavi tour that takes you under the Vatican, in the necropolis and you can see St Peters Bones, it is incredible, and quite cheap, only 12 euros per person. But you have to book quite a long time in advance, so if you plan to go to Rome and know your flight dates contact the Scavi office as soon as possible, info is here: vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connected/uffscavi/documents/rc_ic_uffscavi_doc_gen-information_20040112_en.html

The best way to travel from town to town is by train, there are three types of train: Regionale (these are the slower trains, but they are the cheapest), Intercity (are slightly faster and slightly more expensive) and Eurostar t(hese are the most expensive, but the fastest.) You can book tickets on the Trenatalia website, but you can not book Regionale train on there, only at the station.

Convents and monastries provide good accomidation: monasterystays.com/


#14

Just a couple of thoughts. The regional trains in Italy go almost everywhere and are the least expensive way to travel. They are a little slow but what's the hurry? Looking out of a train window at the country was a great experience and when you arrive you don't have to look for a place to park the car..this is an issue always. Driving in Italy is intimidating ..trust me.

If you don't spend time in St Peter's you waste your trip in my opinion...Catholic or not.
I put Florence at the top below Rome as destinations in Italy and the beach city of Via Reggio is just a short train ride from Florence and I highly recommend it.
Putting your wallet in your front pocket is no safer than in the rear. Put valuable papers and most cash in an around the neck wallet. You can find them in most luggage stores.
When walking in public places with luggage don't take your eyes off your stuff..especially at the termini in Rome.
What a country and people!...enjoy.:thumbsup:


#15

Took my wife...she had never been.....I took her to Rome we had a privet Valet who took her to Spanish Steps and all.....as I have been beforeit's always amazing we were then driven to my beloved Florence! Hotel Grand is near almost anything one can want.....for food...when in Rome:) ask LOCALS where they eat! Sometimes they will look like a hole in the wall...I have NEVER had food sickness do not panic...if you go to these places outside they are a door and a board with name over it! Inside usually rustic (not ratty) Mom and Pop stuff...don't miss em! If you like Ice Cream...well hit the great Gellato stands! Usually in Italy they "mix" 2 or 3! Again ask what they recommend! They are like artists proud of the work...they will not steer ya wrong! YOU WILL LOVE IT!:cool:


#16

[quote="ETEXAS, post:15, topic:246864"]
Took my wife...she had never been.....I took her to Rome we had a privet Valet who took her to Spanish Steps and all.....as I have been beforeit's always amazing we were then driven to my beloved Florence! Hotel Grand is near almost anything one can want.....for food...when in Rome:) ask LOCALS where they eat! Sometimes they will look like a hole in the wall...I have NEVER had food sickness do not panic...if you go to these places outside they are a door and a board with name over it! Inside usually rustic (not ratty) Mom and Pop stuff...don't miss em! If you like Ice Cream...well hit the great Gellato stands! Usually in Italy they "mix" 2 or 3! Again ask what they recommend! They are like artists proud of the work...they will not steer ya wrong! YOU WILL LOVE IT!:cool:

[/quote]

If you're there long enough, one of the best ways of eating well and relatively cheaply is to watch where people like office workers head to.


#17

[quote="Catholicpotato, post:1, topic:246864"]
We are going for about ten days in october. I have some questions.

What are the cannot miss places?
What is the cheapest way to travel from town to town?
What are some affordable places to stay?
When is the best time to buy airfare? We live in the western US.
Is there any type of Church related help wiht advice and travel? Like someone to actually call and talk to that will help you?

[/quote]

Hi,

I thought I'd chime in since I actually live in Italy! For long distance travel I recommend using the train. The new fast trains (Frecciarossa) are very comfortable and can get you from the center of Rome to the Center of Milan in under 3hours, without the hassle of checking in baggage and going through security at the airport. Regarding air travel please remember Ryanair travels to secondary airports which (as in the case of "Milan" ) are sometimes quite far away from the town after which they are named. Another low cost airline you can use is Easyjet which tends to use more central airports.

Regarding Churches if you are visiting Milan they actually have Mass in English at the Santa Maria del Carmine church chiesadelcarmine.it/EN/. I really like this Church, I was actually confirmed and married there! There may be similar opportunities in other large cities.

Regarding accommodation in general if you stick with 3 or 4 star hotels you should be fine, although you may find that in the more touristy towns the rooms may be smaller than what you are accustomed to in the USA. As a side note my family owns a hotel near Milan Malpensa airport and I'd be happy to help you out if you happen to need accommodation near the airport.

I won't say what you should see as I don't have the same perspective of a tourist and you'll be getting better advice from fellow travelers. I really hope you enjoy your stay!

Fred


#18

you've got a lot of good advice so I just throw a couple of items at you.

The Borghese Gallery in Rome was hands down my wife and mine favorite art museum. It has a tremondous collection. Make sure you get the audio tour because it will tell you how Cardinal Borghese acquired the pieces.

galleriaborghese.it/borghese/en/edefault.htm

We loved Florence and Sienna. We hated everything about Venice except St. Marks Cathedral which we think was one of the most beautiful churches that we saw. I would recommend a day trip to Venice. Venice is a tourist town that wouldn't exist anymore if it wasn't for tourism.

Here are the places that we stayed that we would recommend.
Hotel Sileo - Rome hotelsileo.com/english/Home.htm
This was a nice place and very cheap. The only problem is that you have to be out of your room by 9am and can't come back until 7pm. they do store your luggage. It is located close to the main train terminal in Rome so getting around Rome is very easy. They rent to train personnel during the day. We didn't have a problem with this since we were out and about all day anyway.

Hotel Il Bargellino - Florence ilbargellino.com/
This small hotel is run by an American woman and her Italian husband. very nice couple. One evening, they had a party on the patio where everyone brought wine, some of their friends were there, and we learned Italian dances. It was like a scene from a movie.

Poste Regie - Sienna posteregie.com/
This is a small BB outside of Sienna. It was nice and secluded. The only problem that we had was it was outside of Sienna and we didn't realize what that meant. We didn't have a car so we relied on public transportation. The bus only runs by the village twice a day. It does go to a nearby town much more often and the BB will pick you up from there. A taxi would probably also take you there. If you have a car, there wouldn't be any problem. But we loved it. It was quite, scenic, and very Italian.


#19

[quote="Catholicpotato, post:1, topic:246864"]
We are going for about ten days in october. I have some questions.

What are the cannot miss places?
What is the cheapest way to travel from town to town?
What are some affordable places to stay?
When is the best time to buy airfare? We live in the western US.
Is there any type of Church related help wiht advice and travel? Like someone to actually call and talk to that will help you?

[/quote]

Hi OP - just wanted to drop in, not with any advice, but with a CONGRATS and HOLY SMOKES I'm jealous :D

Sounds amazing!!! Please tell us all about it when you get back, how exciting. :o


closed #20

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