How to start and what to see

Have you ever dreamed of sitting with your loved one, sitting in a gondola in Venice, Italy and gazing into each other’s eyes? I have always dreamed of going to Italy, but to be honest I never knew where to start. Where do I go, what should I see, and can I afford it? There is so much to know when planning a trip, especially when going abroad! Planning a trip doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are four basic tips that will get you started on planning a smooth trip to Italy.

Tips to plan a smooth trip-

  • What to know

First things first. Before booking a flight, it is important to know what to expect. First, make sure you have an up to date passport. If not, then you will need to get one. The cost of a U.S. passport is $145 for an adult and you may purchase one at your local post office. Second, you will need Euros for spending in Italy. As I write this one Euro is about $1.12.  You can get Euros at your local bank before you go, however, it isn’t absolutely necessary because most places accept VISA or MasterCard. 

Last, consider the date you go. If you want a smooth trip, then it is best to know the exact dates you are wanting to go. Planning a last-minute trip can be spontaneous and exciting. However, if you are like me and prefer a smooth sailing vacation then you’ll want to plan ahead. Try to avoid going in July or August, not only is it a crowded tourist season but it gets rather hot. Spring, Autumn, and Winter seasons tend to be less busy but you have to adjust for the variety of weather conditions. The best deals are in winter, but it’s usually very cold.  You have to decide if the money you save is worth enduring the cold. I suggest just the early fall or late spring. You are likely to save money and miss the heavy crowds of summer. 

  • What to see

Ahhh what to see!? There is so much to do in Italy. I’ll keep it simple for now and talk about the three locations that I would like to visit while in Italy. The three locations I’d love to go to are Cinque Terre, Rome, and Florence.  I heard about Cinque Terre from a friend, he says it is a must see. Cinque Terre is located along the coastline in the northwestern region of Italy. 

Rome is the capital of Italy and two thousand years ago was the capital of the world, so going here is definitely a must. While in Rome you may want to check out the Colosseum which a lot of famous events of that age, including gladiators fighting wild animals to gain their freedom.  The Colosseum is just one of the many famous landmarks you will want to see in Rome. You might be tempted to spend your whole vacation in Rome, but don’t forget the beautiful Tuscany countryside just three hours north by train. Florence, the chief city of Tuscany, is best known for the art. While in Florence, you may want to check out the Uffizi Gallery, an art museum with a collection of Primitive and Renaissance paintings! Choosing where to go and what to see can get a bit overwhelming. This is where google search comes in handy. Type in “things to do Rome, Italy” on google search. The results will show a variety of top “things to do.” Narrowing it down and creating an itinerary can keep your future trip running smoothly. 

Finally, as I mentioned before, a trip to Italy wouldn’t be complete without a day or two exploring the beautiful seaside villages of Cinque Terre.  I’m certain you will want to take The Sentiero Azzurro, the footpath that connects the five villages of the Cinque Terre. 

I hope I’ve given you a very general idea of what to see in Italy, you may want to ask friends who’ve already been there and ask what their favorites were.  Have a general idea of what you want to do each day and write it out. Additionally, be sure you know which cities you want to go to before booking your trip and keep it at a minimum. Moving from hotel to hotel could get exhausting. You certainly don’t want it to feel like a “chore” when vacationing in Italy. 

  • Where do I go from here? 

If you are on a budget, check out www.livingsocial.com and www.groupon.com. The always are offering multiple vacation package deals. There are a few catches though, such as the date you can take the trip and where you can stay, so be sure to read the details. The price will fluctuate depending on the time you go. If you decide to snag these deals, you may even be able to plan a trip for less than expected. 

For example, I did more research and found a deal on Living Social for a 9-day trip in Italy. The cost was $1,299 per person! This included airfare, three different hotels in three cities, food, an English-speaking tour guide, and excursions with an itinerary. Talk about a steal! These deals come and go, so be sure to check them out often. If you are looking for more flexibility check out www.expedia.com. There are a variety of hotels and flights to choose from on Expedia. You can’t really go wrong when booking a hotel in Italy, because there are a variety of options that maintain that “Italian charm.” Keep in mind that hotels aren’t the only option here. You can also check out VRBO and Airbnb. I have a friend who found a home on VRBO that was located right by the train in Rome and he said it was a wonderful experience because he could explore Rome on foot or local bus and then take the train to Florence and do the same. 

When visiting Italy, it is also important to know your means of transportation. Most people will use the public transportation. You may want to use the train when visiting multiple cities. Uber is a great option when you need a quick ride while in Rome when you aren’t willing to walk.  I did find out that Uber is only available in Rome and Milan. You can rent a car while in Italy, but I wouldn’t recommend it. This can get costly and it can be hectic driving in Rome. Buses are always available. There are so many options to choose from, so be sure to explore all of them! 

  • The Funds

Now that you know what to expect, make sure you have the funds. I did some digging around and found the cost for one round trip ticket to Italy during October came to $1,230.  Keep in mind that this price doesn’t include the hotel, cost of transportation, shopping, food or sight-seeing. A trip to Italy can get costly depending on what you are wanting to do and see. Be prepared to spend between $4,000-10,000 US when planning a trip to Italy for two.  Of course, it can go even higher than this amount, especially if you are looking to plan a family vacation. The cost will depend on your budget, the amount of time you want to spend there, and the experiences you are wanting to have. If you don’t have the funds, are you willing to save? Remember that there are great deals on livingsocial.com and groupon.com. Be sure to check these out first.

Now that you know how to get started, you can begin planning. I found that there is so much to do in Italy! It’s not possible to see and do everything in one trip, but with this guide I am sure you will have an experience you have always dreamed of. Planning a trip can definitely get overwhelming, but don’t let it be! Use these tips to plan a smooth trip to Italy, I know I will be. See you there! Ciao! 

 

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