A short guide about Organized tours, Do it on your own ,What to be careful about, When to go, Where to go, What to wear, currency.


For a safe and sound trip to Italy


You are thinking of visiting Italy and no idea where to begin.
On this page, i will give some information you can start with. First, you should ask yourself what you are interested in, and considering your age and travel style to begin with. However, whatever you decide think to plan your trip carefully.

The very first big question to ask yourself is if you want to travel on your own or be with an organized tour. I list here some pro and contra.


Organized tours Advantages

         You buy a package and so you get really a big discount. Sometimes, only the full price of the hotels you will stay is more than the tour price itself. It is also true that often you will get the less nicest rooms of the hotel.

         If you like company organized tours are a great way for new friendships

         You can choose the theme of the tour. There are cultural tours, wine tours, and religious tours and so on. This is a good way being with others that have similar interests




         Saves you a lot of time as you donít have to plan every detail

         Saves you money as you are sure on what you will be spending

         The tour guide can be of great help in different occasions as he or she speaks the language and knows a lot about the country. Try to travel with companies that use guides born in the country or guides that have been living there for a long time.

         For me especially if you are older in age it is the best way for a first time in Italy. You will get a concentrated view of many of the highlights of the country



         You have to respect the tour schedule. Arriving late will make other tour members unhappy

         Some of the packages have a very poor restaurant selection. Be careful, as when the drinks are not included, this is often the way the restaurant makes the profit. Some restaurants refuse to put tub water on the table. I have also seen places charging more than six dollars for a can of soda

         Too often, the itineraries are the same, which for a first tour to Italy might be Ok. At least try to find a tour that beside Rome Venice and Florence offers a minimum of one day on the countryside or on one of the many beautiful lakes. For me very beautiful are the small villages and towns.

If you have chosen to travel with a tour, check the hotel locations and the services offered. Be careful on the cancellation policies and check for a travel insurance or look if any is offered with the tour.


Do it on your own 

         First think to do is to go to the local library and start to read books about travelling to Italy

         To have a good time you have to plan everything carefully trying also to budget all the expenses.

         When you plan focus on your interests, but also think of leaving some time free. This free time you will be able to use for things that you might discover there or if you need relax.

         Decide what kind of transportation to use. Remember that renting a car can be expensive. Gasoline, highways, parking add to the costs not to mention traffic and difficulty of driving in the cities.

         Probably the less you move the more money you will save. Doing for example, 7 days in the same city and using public means of transportation will make your stay much cheaper.



What to be careful about

Especially big cities have a known problem of pick pocketing. Store your money in difficult to reach places. While working in Italy i had more wallets on me. The one that was easy to reach had only some cash for immediate needs. Keep your eyes always open. For the same reason, do not leave your belongings around. Chances are that what you leave unattended might quickly disappear.

As an experienced traveler i have been  always watching my clothing and accessories carefully. Never wear something that can attract the attention on you. Walking certain areas with a rolex watch on you, it is not a good idea.


When to go

All periods are good but by going during high season, which goes from June to September is more expensive. This is also the period, when you enjoy the best weather and long daylight days.

A good opportunity to save money is to travel during the slowest months. Organized or not your trip would cost much less. Especially if you want to visit the famous art museums, you would be able to enjoy them with much less visitors and often with almost no lines or need of bookings. This is especially valid for the month of February, but keep in mind that the daylight is short and that it can be something cold.


Where to go

For sure if it is your first time in Italy, certain cities like Florence Rome and Venice are like a must. In my opinion, it is not in these cities that you see the real beauty of the country. On the other side it is in this cities that you have the most famous artworks in the world.


What to wear

Wear comfortable shoes, as you will probably have to walk a lot. Take also something to keep at hand protecting you from the rain. One of this emergency plastic raincoats that fit in a small bag can be very useful. Especially in the summer, do not forget a protective sun lotion. Make up your mind where you want to lodge and eat. Dress code in Europe is still followed and you do not want other people stare at you with disgust for your appearance in a pair of shorts and sneakers at an elegant restaurant. Remember also that for visiting churches very often knees and shoulders have to be covered. Before living check, the average temperatures of the places you visit. Climate in Italy is very different from place to place.


What to eat: About Restaurants

Italian cuisine varies a lot from place to place. There are many different kinds of restaurants and also the prices varies a lot. To orientate yourself and get the best food, do some research already before leaving. Always check for prices displayed at the entrance. Remember also that the majority of the places will have a fixed charge per person called coperto, which can start from 2 Euros and go over 10. This does not include the tipping. I always suggest a tip of 10 per cent of the total bill.


After the lira, we switched to the Euro. It is a good idea to change a small amount already from home. You can easily cash money at atm machines, which you will find at the airport and outside official banks. Do not expect atm machines to be in other places like in the States. Sometimes it will happen but it is more an exception.  About credit cards, keep always in mind that not always they are as welcomed as in the States. Before leaving, it can be a good idea to notify your credit card company about your trip, especially if you think that you will spend more than usual. I have seen clients having their card blocked, because of precautions by the credit card company. It can take time before you can unblock it again, and the chance of buying something you like gone.

Save money before leaving

Buy enough products like razor blades, batteries, memory cards, beauty products in general and more as with the low dollar almost everything is more expensive.

This page will be often updated with more advice.

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