Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy

Online Users: 1,307 guest(s), 2 user(s). Replies: 15


CaribbeanBride08 Posts : 1,474 Registered: 6/13/07
Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 17, 2008 5:53 PM

I am thinking about taking my husband to Italy for his 50th birthday. This means I have three years to agressively save up for it. My question is where, how much should I expect it to cost (not including airfare) and what time of year is the best time to go? His b-day is in December but if that's not a good time to go, then we could just go later or earlier. I'd like to hear from folks who have been there and can recommend a good place(s). My husband was stationed in Naples for four years while in the Navy and I know he would love to go back. I just don't know if I we should go where he's already been. I've never been anywhere other than a few Caribbean islands so this is foreign to me (pun was actually intended! lol)

Does anyone have suggestions? Or should I just work with a TA?

 

 

Tobi & Brian - April 21, 2008

Photobucket

Sandals Grande Spa & Beach Resort, St. Lucia

Reply


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 17, 2008 11:02 PM Go to message in response to: CaribbeanBride08

Dear Tobi,

I've been to Rome, twice (and had a great time), not to any other part of Italy.

I think December would be a great time to go. My second trip to Rome was in December, and it was great. Rome has weather much like So Calif, which is very hot in the summer, but nice in the winter. I found Rome to be delightful around Christmastime.

My best suggestion is to start figuring out a budget. Your budget consists of:

1. Air fare across the ocean.
2. Hotel & meal costs in Italy.
3. Any transport from one city to another. (Say if you wanted to spend a few days in Rome, then Naples.)
4. Shopping, souvenirs, museum admission, etc.

You can research air fares fairly easily. Just go to Travelocity or Expedia and put in some sample dates.

Hotels: Be prepared for sticker shock. The dollar is weak, these days, against the euro. Besides that, you will find that in terms of hotel rooms in Europe, you generally get less than what you would expect in a similarly-priced US room. You might see rates like €200/night for a two single beds or one "matrimonial" bed in a moderate hotel. You are well advised to go to a LOT of websites and look around. (When you make reservations, specify the one matrimonial bed.)

In Rome, you'll probably want to use the Metro to get around. Look carefully at the Metro map and check out where candidate hotels are in relation to the Metro. You don't want a long walk from the Metro stop to your hotel at the end of a day of sightseeing. When I was there the second time, we stayed near the Spanish Steps, and that worked out great.

Food is a big cost. Usually breakfast is served buffet-style in the hotel. Typically there are no other alteratives; no IHOP in Europe. Sometimes hotels include the buffet breakfast as part of the room cost, sometimes they don't. Look carefully, as that can make a big difference. Unless you are seriously a breakfast-hater, I recommend you figure on the hotel breakfast every morning.

I usually eat a pretty good sized breakfast, then a late lunch/dinner. ("Dinch") That means I pay for only one meal a day, which is good for the budget and the calorie count. I usually get some kind of snack, such as fruit juice and granola bars, for just before bed. That holds me until breakfast the next morning. The plan of a large-ish breakfast and Dinch plus bedtime snack works for me; might work for you.

Inter-city transport is best done on the train, unless you are going from one end of Europe to another. Within Italy, I would take the train. European middle class people take the train. They are dependable, reliable and safe. Besides, you get the pleasure of watching the countryside slip by from the train window.

Finally, for your shopping budget the sky's the limit! Museum admissions are usually in the €10-20 range, so budget for one or two of those a day.

Reply


PharmToxGirl Posts : 5,446 Registered: 8/30/07
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 17, 2008 11:41 PM Go to message in response to: CaribbeanBride08

I would suggest working with a TA. My co-worker went recently, but she was visiting her family who is still there and they stayed in their village at a villa they rented. So they saved money that way, but that worked because they still had family there.

Are you looking to hit the cities or an area in particular?

Reply


lmc07 Posts : 271 Registered: 1/4/07
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 4:34 AM Go to message in response to: CaribbeanBride08

What a great b-day present you are planning for your hubby!!
I mostly agree with what AOTB has written already. I am from Austria and my country has border with Italy. It takes me less than an hour to be there ;)

We often book through www.booking.com, it’s a good site to see how much a hotel room will cost you. Please look very carefully what is included and what not!!
I am not sure whether December is a good month to go – Rome currently 41 °F, Naples 48 °F. Maybe June or September would be better – those are not high seasons and the temperatures are moderate - around 80 °F.

When you are out shopping don’t forget to ask for the tax free sheet. You get one everytime you purchase something over € 75,- $ 108,-You will get the taxes back when you leave the European Union. BUT I would not ask for it, if you bought more than you allowed to bring back to the U.S. without paying duty customs ;)

Daisypath Anniversary Years Ticker

Reply


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 9:55 AM Go to message in response to: lmc07

Dear IMC,

"I am not sure whether December is a good month to go - Rome currently 41 °F, Naples 48 °F. Maybe June or September would be better - those are not high seasons and the temperatures are moderate - around 80 °F."

Good point. In 2002, I was in Rome in December, so can only address that particular time. I'm a bit weird, in that I LIKE to go to Europe in the winter.

I was in Vienna in winter, too, some years back. It was wonderful. I saw the giant Advent wreath just outside St Stephen's Cathedral.

Reply


lmc07 Posts : 271 Registered: 1/4/07
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 12:32 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Dear AOTB,

I am sure that Rome in December is wonderful! AND you are definitely not being weird! I am just one of those, who freeze easily, that's why I mentioned the temperatures.

Yes, Vienna is so beautiful during December, but I am maybe biased on that, because I was born there. ;) Have you also seen the "Christkindlmarkt" in front of the City hall?


Daisypath Anniversary Years Ticker

 


Reply


CaribbeanBride08 Posts : 1,474 Registered: 6/13/07
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 12:36 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Thank you all for your great advice. I ended up asking my husband a hypothetical (little does he know it really wasn't hypothetical) question last night "If you were awarded a free vacation to anywhere in the world, where would you want to go?" and I asked him to give his top 3. His first was Tahita/Bora Bora, second was Lake Como, Italy, and third was Cooperstown, NY where the baseball hall of fame is (he's such a guy!!).

So I think I'll shoot for Lake Como, Italy in the fall of 2011. Starting in January, I'm planning on putting aside $150 per paycheck which would be about ten grand in three years. Totally do-able but I sure hope that will be enough!! I would love to be able to afford first class airfare but I certainly won't get my hopes up. I just can't imagine flying in cramped coach seating for that long.

 

 

Tobi & Brian - April 21, 2008

Photobucket

Sandals Grande Spa & Beach Resort, St. Lucia

Reply


MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 12:43 PM Go to message in response to: CaribbeanBride08

CB,

I spent a summer in Italy in college. During that time I stayed in Rome, but I also took trips to Florence, Venice, Capri and, my favorite, Ponza. Ponza is a tiny island that doesn't attract tons of tourists (unlike Capri) and it is absolutely beautiful.

AOTB has more to say about sticker shock, but I got by during that time on public transportation (especially the buses) and by dining on pizza by the lb. Don't know if they still have this, but I frequently ate at shops that had different types of pizza (which was very different from American-style pizza and very good) that they would slice off and then weigh. It was often my favorite meal.

Rome is beautiful, but don't count out Florence. After all, that is where Michaelangelo's David is. . . .

__________________________________________
My new favorite website: www.poptimal.com

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

Reply


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 1:28 PM Go to message in response to: CaribbeanBride08

Dear CB,

"I just can't imagine flying in cramped coach seating for that long. "

Well, I do, every trip every time.

It's a heck of a lot easier since I got my iPod. Instead of lugging two books and multiple magazines on board, I just get out my iPod. Music, podcasts, audio books.... Ahhh.....

Reply


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 1:32 PM Go to message in response to: lmc07

Dear LMC,

"Have you also seen the "Christkindlmarkt" in front of the City hall? "

Oh, yes, that was lovely. I love going to the German and Austrian Christmas markets in December. Lots of great stuff, plus an interesting food booth about every four or five booths.

Dampfnudlen!!! YUM!

Reply


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 1:42 PM Go to message in response to: MsDenuninani

Dear Ms D,

"Don't know if they still have this, but I frequently ate at shops that had different types of pizza (which was very different from American-style pizza and very good) that they would slice off and then weigh."

I guess you'd call this "Pizza Shock"!

European pizza is quite different than what we have here. Order a pizza in a restaurant, and you'll get a small, one-person portion, unsliced. What's cool is to get a four-cheese pizza where the cheese is "segregated" in different quadrants of the pizza, not spread around evenly. That means you get a different taste in different parts. A friend's daughter in Paris likes to get a fried egg on the top of her pizza.

Oh, and unless you just buy a portion from a street vendor, eat your pizza with a knife and fork. A lot of Europeans think it's gross to eat pizza with the fingers.

****

When I was in Rome, the last time, was in December just before the new Euro currency became available. The bank and post office sold Euro Sample Kits of coins in mid-December, so everyone could see them and start getting used to them. We stood in a long line* to get our Euro Sample Kits at a post office in Rome, then later went to a pizza place for lunch.

We took out our new Euro coins and started looking at them. The waitstaff of the restaurant, plus several customers, all crowded around to see them!


*Line? More like an unruly mob. Italians are not famous for neat, orderly queues.

Reply


myra Posts : 5,550 Registered: 3/28/06
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 1:50 PM Go to message in response to: CaribbeanBride08

I have been to Italy a few times, including December. Although Rome usually is around 50 degrees at that time, our luck, it was freezing when we were there (the kids were ice skating on the frozen water from the fountains in Vatican Square!) One negative about going near the holidays is that Italy is a very Catholic country and everything is closed for days around the holidays. Summer is very hot and humid, especially in the south, and air conditioning is not always what you expect to get here in the States. Fall is a wonderful time to go. The weather is ideal, the tourists have gone home, the locals have taken back the country, prices are down, opera and theater are in full swing, the food is the best, etc. As for what the dollar will be worth when you go, who knows?! Actually, it's in better shape now than a couple of years ago, the last time I went. Most people that I know do not plan on doing much shopping in Europe these days--there are NO bargains to be had anymore. Air fares also are rather unpredictable--in fact, in this economy, everything is. Hope this helps.
myra at www.classysassyweddings.com

Reply


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 3:14 PM Go to message in response to: myra

Dear Myra,

"Most people that I know do not plan on doing much shopping in Europe these days--there are NO bargains to be had anymore. "

You've got that right. My customs declaration, on return from Europe, usually lists a couple of magazines, a calendar, and a baby toy. Twenty bucks, max.

*****

On the other hand, I have a good male friend in Germany with a very nice sister, also a friend. The sister likes a particular brand of bra that is no longer available in Germany. It can be purchased here, on line. It's a lot cheaper, too, with the weak dollar. So... you see where this is going. I order 8 or 10 bras for her, getting them delivered to my house. My friend comes over here for a visit, then packs them up to take back.

We are waiting for the day when German Customs officials opens his suitcase. "Those black lace bras? They are for my sister.".

Reply

mrsj2011 Posts : 31 Registered: 10/21/08
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 4:01 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

Ive been to Italy before. I enjoyed Rome and Venice the best. I went during mid December it wasnt to cold then enough to want a light jacket some days it was a little cooler also. Like someone has said before get a hotel by the metro system its easy to get around using and wont have to be walking far back to a hotel. Watch out for people who say they are taxi drivers, a lot of people kept telling us they were especially later at night and they had no signs or anything hinting they were. There are plently of different food places that are great and reasonably priced. I went during a college break with my roommate so we were tight on money and were able to mange. Venice is just so pretty and just a different type of place to be and it did not smell fishy like I thought it would, it could be from the weather being cooler. Hope this helps

Reply

Mrslinnben Posts : 2,285 Registered: 6/4/07
Re: Question to AOTB or anyone who's been to Italy
Posted: Dec 18, 2008 5:39 PM Go to message in response to: CaribbeanBride08

Cooperstown, NY? Baseball Hall of fame is fantastic! I live about 45 min away from there. It's very a very pretty little town, not to far away is Glimmerglass Lake (and they have an opera festival every summer). The town is nestled in the mountains.

Never been to Italy or Bora Bora......

Now you got me thinking of doing something extra special for my DH's 50th in January! I was just going to take him out for swanky dinner....but.....Thanks!


Reply
RSS

Thank You
for Signing Up!

Check your e-mail inbox for the latest updates from brides.com

Give a Subscription to Brides Magazine as a Gift
Subscribe to Brides magazine