Need some tips on Italy!

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Me and my fiance are trying to plan a vacation for 10 days in Italy this summer (sometime between May-July).

We definitely want to hit up Rome, Florence, and Venice. We don't wanna do one of those tour things, so I was wondering if anyone has been there and could give us tips or point us in the right direction. Anything from hotels to transportation to restaruants would help. Thanks guys!
 
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geauxboy

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Learn as much Italian as you can. The more you atleast try the language the more receptive and better treament they will give you.

JMO, but Rome and Venice can be too far apart depending on your travel medium. 10 days can dwindle down quickly by too much travel time.
 
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Personally I'd fly into Rome, spend a couple of days there then take a train to Naples and spend several days on the Amalfi Coast including a day trip to Capri. Also go to the Grotto Azurro (sp) aka the Blue Lagoon. An evening boat trip with dinner in the Bay of Naples is also a pretty spectacular sight.The pace of life in the south is more laid back and less pretentious than in the north. However, be vigilant when it comes to the little urchins who will wave a newspaper in front of you and have your wallet away before you've even realised what's happening.

Accommodation, as everywhere else, varies greatly in price and service. However, particularly in the summer, it would be wise to have reservations in advance; with a flexible schedule I suggest you overlap bookings as you can always leave a day early or, as long as you notify the hotel, arrive a day late.

English is fairly widely spoken, but certainly try to lear a little Italian before you go - if you already speak Spanish you'll find it pretty easy.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, have a laid back attitude. Rome wasn't built in a day and you'll understand why once you get there.

Have a great trip :)

Geoff.
 

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Take the train from Rome to Florence (about a 3 hour ride but through nice country). Buy the first class ticket, not that much more and you get a compartment to yourself, otherwise, you are sitting greyhound bus style.
Everything in Florence is in walking distance. There is very little car traffic, everyone seems to be on foot or bike. There are tons of little café and bars through all the streets. If you are looking for a good place to eat or drink, just head to one of the plazas, there are always good places to eat and drink around those. One tip is that on the door of bars and restaurants they will have this sticker (not sure if it is for Florence or Italy, but it is their tourist commission) that means that you can go in and use the restroom without having to be a customer, that really comes in handy.
You can spend two days in Florence and pretty much cover all of the ‘must sees’. I personally enjoyed Florence more than Rome. Rome was huge and very busy while Florence was more laid back. There is much, much more site seeing in Rome than in Florence. From Florence, you can take the train to Pisa (about an hour) and spend the day, cool little town too. If you have time, walk the college campus at Pisa, very interesting.
 
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I just did this trip in November. It was Awesome! First thing is to get acquainted with the trains. If you are going between Rome/Florence/Pisa make sure you take the Eurostar and not the cheaper trains. They only cost a few Euros more per person but are faster, smoother and more comfortable. They also seem to have less stops along the way. The other trains rocked back and forth and were usually filled with more locals commuting.

Go buy Rick Steve's guide to Italy. We mainly used it to find restaurants off the beaten path. We were never disappointed with any of them. The restaurants we picked ourselves usually were lower quality and higher priced.

Pay for a tour guide for some of the attractions like Ancient Rome, you will get a lot more out of the trip. You can usually find an expat history buff offering a tour for a reasonable price.

If you go to Florence, make sure to make reservations to eat at il Latini. AWESOME restaurant that does sort of a "feed me" type of dinner. Trust me on this one.

Take a day trip to Pisa if you have 1/2 day in Florence.

Get over the fact that the dollar sucks right now and not do something because of what it will cost in US dollars.
 
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Make sure you have enough time in Rome and bring your hiking shoes. There is so much to see in Rome, and walking is the absolute best way of doing so. Use the public transportation to get back to your hotel when you get tired. Buses are better than taxis - on the other hand the only taxi driver that ever scared me more than the ones I used in Rome, was driving from the airport in New Orleans last year - he had his own very special interpretation of trafic rules:eek:
 

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Take the train from Rome to Florence (about a 3 hour ride but through nice country). Buy the first class ticket, not that much more and you get a compartment to yourself, otherwise, you are sitting greyhound bus style.
Everything in Florence is in walking distance. There is very little car traffic, everyone seems to be on foot or bike. There are tons of little café and bars through all the streets. If you are looking for a good place to eat or drink, just head to one of the plazas, there are always good places to eat and drink around those. One tip is that on the door of bars and restaurants they will have this sticker (not sure if it is for Florence or Italy, but it is their tourist commission) that means that you can go in and use the restroom without having to be a customer, that really comes in handy.
You can spend two days in Florence and pretty much cover all of the ‘must sees’. I personally enjoyed Florence more than Rome. Rome was huge and very busy while Florence was more laid back. There is much, much more site seeing in Rome than in Florence. From Florence, you can take the train to Pisa (about an hour) and spend the day, cool little town too. If you have time, walk the college campus at Pisa, very interesting.
+1 on taking the train to Florence and 2 days there are plenty. My wife and I actually enjoyed Rome more...but Florence was definitely more laid back and relaxing.

I would not attempt to drive there unless you have a death wish. Public transit is easy and I felt safe everywhere we went.

To see everything in Rome you would probably need a month....so plan out everything you really want to see ahead of time.
 
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In Florence, you must see the David at the Acadamia and eat at il Latini. They feed you until you literally can eat no more. Eat prosciutto and gelato often, but not together. Take the trains to look at the scenery and watch the people. Whatever you plan on spending, add another 50%. If you are close to the beach, go and lay out and drink wine all day long at least one full day.
 

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