Comparing the 10-day Venice, Florence, Rome tour and the 17-day Best of Italy tour: How to choose

I am divided between doing the Venice, Florence, Rome in 10 days and the 17-day Best of Italy tours. I am wondering how exhausting it would be to be on a bus for so many days but whether being able to see much more of the countryside in Tuscany/Umbria plus Lake Como makes up for that. On the other hand, Venice/Florence/Rome in 10 days might seem a bit rushed (and I'd miss Assisi, Sienna, Pisa, Verona, Cinq Terre).

Any one have any ideas (or who does both and can, thus, compare the two)?

Posted by Jean
Mill Creek, WA, USA
560 posts

Hi, the exhausting part of the 17-day Italy trip isn't being on the bus, it's all of the hiking and walking you'll be doing because there are so many fantastic locations on that trip!

When you think about what you like to do & see is it what you find in cities, the country scenery of lakes/mountains/villages, or a mix? Or maybe I should ask, if you didn't go into any small villages in Italy, would you feel that you missed out? Luckily for you, there is no wrong answer! Either choice is a great vacation!

Posted by Ron
Alma, AR, USA
44 posts

If you have the time to do the longer 17 day Best of Italy, it is the one I would recommend. My wife and I did it last year. We loved the big 3 cities, and you will never "see everything" in any of them on either tour. But to have the chance to see more of the country is an opportunity we are glad we did not miss. Beautiful Lake Como, hiking in the Dolomites, exploring the towns of the Cinque Terra, learning about the Palio race in Sienna while sharing a meal in a contrada ( neighborhood) community center, exploring the hill town of Orvieto...there is so much more to Italy! The bus rides were never longer than 2 hours before a stop for a meal or a site visit would occur, so we did not find the travel to be unbearable. And bus time was a great time to interact with new friends / travel companions. We certainly know we want to go back to see more areas of Italy!

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Thanks Ron and Jean for your thoughtful replies. I signed up for the 10-day two days ago but I understand the deposit is refundable within a two-week period, so I am considering seeing if I could apply it to the longer trip, which would entail asking my neighbor to take care of my two cats for a longer period than I have asked him before to look in on them, in the past, that is.

In answer to Jean's question, it would be both, a mix of both country and city. I would especially like to see medieval Siena with its campo as well as its cathedral. Lake Como would be the one place I probably could do without (living in Washington state, with all its lakes and other bodies of water).

I wonder what the longest period of time spent on a bus within a single day was for Ron. It must not be a super-large bus if the maximum number of people is around 24.

What makes me reconsider my original plans is that I simply don't know if I would ever have the time and the relatively clean bill of health to make a return trip to Italy, especially as I am usually a solo traveler, and I think Italy would really present challenges for me, more than the U.K., Switzerland, Austria, or France.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21417 posts

chiuz,

It must not be a super-large bus if the maximum number of people is around 24.

RS tours always use a full sized Coach, often supplied by Heidebloem for many of the tours. As the maximum group size is about 28, there's lots of room and everyone has their own seat (if they wish). The Buses are very comfortable!

As you've just booked the tour, you shouldn't have any difficulty changing to the 17-day Italy tour. Call or send an E-mail to the tour department to enquire. My suggestion would be to take the 17-day tour as you'll see a lot more of the variety of Italy from large cities to smaller towns and some very unique areas such as the Cinque Terre.

I suspect you'll find the ambience of Lago di Como slightly different than Washington state. I've lived in the Pacific Northwest for many years (albeit not on the coast at the moment), but I certainly find the Italian lakes to be different.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Thanks again Ken for sharing your thoughts. I feel that the 17 day might be a fuller, richer experience for me and will call RS tomorrow. The other thing I wonder about if the single supplement, as I'm a solo traveler. I hardly think that anyone our age will be "raising hell," especially as all the people I saw the one RS event I attended seemed to be educated/mature/truly interested in experiencing a different culture on a deeper level than the average American tourist (looking for a fun-filled vacation, primarily).

Denny

Posted by stan
Kansas City
727 posts

chiuz your other option would be to do the V-F-R tour, then add on extra days at beginning and end on your own, to see a couple more places. We did the V-F-R tour, for example, and flew into Milan a few days early and went to Lake Como on our own. Worked out great. No bad options here.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Thanks, Stan, for your wise advice. This is all overwhelming for me, as I decided I really needed to make some headway on this, as I've been postponing this for a while. I decided to go with the 17-day Best of Italy. I'm still wondering whether I should actually fly into Milan a day or two early. I've heard Milan is not the prettiest of cities, a big industrial city.

Posted by Laura
Rick Steves' Europe
7968 posts

I'm glad you chose the 17-day version! Your experience of Italy will be much better rounded with additional regions and towns of different sizes, which can be more relaxing than the biggest cities. Milan is a big city, but not without pretty spots; I would stay a night there at least to see the Last Supper (reserve ahead) and go up on the roof of the flamboyant Gothic Duomo. Also check out the classy groceries at Peck.

Posted by Jean
Mill Creek, WA, USA
560 posts

Hi,

For your few days ahead of the tour, I highly recommend Verona. We went there 3 days ahead of our tour, and really enjoyed it. (Stopped there for a day on another vacation to Italy, too.) It's a lovely town to explore, and they have a Verona Card to see the main sites, etc. Verona is used to tourists, so it's an easy location to get acclimated to Italy and get over jetlag. Your RS tour will stop there for lunch and a short time - too short! : )

For your question regarding the solo traveler, the RS tours rotate the solo travelers, so you will have a different roommate at each new hotel, depending on how many total.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21417 posts

I also travel solo, and have been paying the single supplement for most of the tours I've taken. If you're comfortable rooming with others, you could avoid paying the SS but that's always a bit of a "gamble". On some of my past tours, some of the roommates got along well and they became friends. However, in a few cases there were some "issues" between roommates which caused problems.

As the previous reply mentioned, if there are several single travellers on a particular tour, the Guide will rotate them. However, if there's only one other single, you'll probably be stuck with them for the duration of the tour.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

I'm just wondering what the odds are of being "hit on" by an unscrupulous local in Milan, Italy's second largest city. It's been almost 25 years since I travelled outside of the U.S./Canada and I'm not very savy about traveling, even within the U.S.! The idea of having to book a hotel on my own, as well as find it, as well as train tickets, is daunting, which is why I have been thinking that to arrive with as little lag time as possible between when I arrive in Milan and when the members of the group actually meet in Verona would be the wisest bet. From the people I've spoken with, pickpockets are rife in Italy (my mother was pickpocketed on a train near Florence 20-25 years ago, for instance), wherever there are a crowd of people, especially foreign tourists in a city.

Posted by Sherry
San Jose, CA
1733 posts

Arriving with little to no lag time can be a problem if your flight is delayed, for example.

if you're worried about booking hotel and train reservations by yourself, there are still travel agents that will do that for you for a fee, although they'll tend book you in higher-end hotels. Another option would be to book a few days in advance in the first hotel the RS tour will use.

Regarding your worry about locating the hotel on your own – when I arrive in a new city I always spring for a taxi to get me to my hotel the first time. I find it's a good investment for stress management and peace of mind.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

I haven't flown to Europe in decades. How much lag time do you think would be a good bet if I didn't arrive a day or two early--8 or 10 hours, for instance? I don't really mind not taking in extra sights. On the other hand, if jet lag is going to be a serious problem or if flights delays are not unusual or even common, then arriving the day before would make sense. (Also, for me, a 17-day trip is already pushing the envelope for me in terms of being away from home).

Thanks!

Posted by stan
Kansas City
727 posts

chiuz, Milan is not scary. Lots to see, but since your tour starts in Varenna, you might as well go directly there. But it is still worth going at least a day early to help get over jet lag. If you arrive in Varenna on the day of tour, you will be exhausted at the welcome orientation. The RS folks will give you the info on the hotel at which you will start and end, and you can contact the hotel to arrange for an extra day.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

I have a near infallible way of getting lost--even in my hometown! But you've convinced me to arrive a day early and go on directly to Varene and the hotel, with an early-day-arrival reservation at the latter.

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21417 posts

chiuz,

when I arrive in Milan and when the members of the group actually meet in Verona

Just to clarify, you will be meeting your group and starting the tour in VARENNA. If you land in Milan and book tickets to Verona, you'll be in for a rude awakening.

I haven't flown to Europe in decades. How much lag time do you think would be a good bet if I didn't arrive a day or two early--8 or 10 hours, for instance?

I'd suggest arriving at least one and preferably two days prior to the start of your tour. Not only will this allow you to get over jet lag, but will also provide some time to get some light touring done on your own. Although it will be a bit of an effort, I'd suggest going straight from the airport in Milan to Varenna on arrival day, as that's an awesome location to get up to speed in Italy. Being a smaller town, it won't be as intimidating as a large city. Try to book the same hotel used by the tour, but if they have no vacancies you'll have to use another (book the hotel early though).

The idea of having to book a hotel on my own, as well as find it, as well as train tickets, is daunting, which is why I have been thinking that to arrive with as little lag time as possible

I'm sure the group here will be able to provide lots of good information that will help you in organizing travel arrangements, including hotels. With good information on hand from the Forum and Guidebooks, you'll probably find that everything falls into place quite nicely.

From the people I've spoken with, pickpockets are rife in Italy (my mother was pickpocketed on a train near Florence 20-25 years ago, for instance), wherever there are a crowd of people, especially foreign tourists in a city.

There likely will be pickpockets at many of the locations you'll be travelling to. However, the risk should be minimal especially when you're with the group. If you take precautions such as wearing a Moneybelt, you should also be fine when you're on your own. You'll need to exercise some caution in Milano Centrale and watch your luggage, as it has a bit of a reputation.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Whoooo--
I am in the midst of finalizing my air flight plans. I went for arriving in Milan at around 11:00 am the day day before the tour starts. Thanks for the correction, Varenna would be the ultimate destination, not Verona. This still is pretty overwhelming for me (I lost or misplaced my old passport...). This forum is great for asking questions and getting one's bearings.

Posted by lee.anderson
1 posts

Just got back a week ago from the 17 day best of Italy tour. Loved the entire 3 weeks of the tour that gave us plenty of time time to see the most of Italy. We enjoyed Milan for a few days before the tour before getting into Varenna. The last supper and the duomo where the highlights. We used it more for getting over the jet lag. This made Lake Como even more enjoyable. Lake Como was special for many reasons besides getting engaged there. Our group was fantastic and that amount of time we interacted with everyone on the tour. A truly awesome and memorable trip.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Thanks for the enthusiastic endorsement. I would love to see the Last Supper and the Duomo but I have to admit that I have anxiety about being alone in Italy and trying to find my way around. I haven't been to Europe since 1974!

Posted by Larry
Carmel, CA, USA
639 posts

I agree with you Denny, if you arrive in Milano by air at 11:00 am, even with no detours it will mean a couple of transportation changes and will probably be late afternoon before you arrive in Varenna. Given you will probably be tired and maybe somewhat jet lagged, I think you should just use the evening and the next day to relax, wander around Varenna a little, and have a couple good meals. There are two good gelato places near each other on the small and leisurely main street of shops, or better main path of shops, so you can try them both and compare! I suggest that as soon as The RS staff advises you about that first hotel in Varenna, you contact the hotel about getting a room for that first extra night, saving you any need to switch hotels. When you make that reservation, be sure the hotel knows you will be staying more nights as part of the RS tour, and that you hope you can stay in the same room for all your nights in the hotel. That will make your stay smoother and your life easier. Travel well and enjoy it all!
By the way, when you have a block of free time in a Varenna, I highly recommend taking the ferry over to Bellagio, and while you're there take a couple hours to stroll through the beautiful gardens of the Villa Melzi, just a few minutes walk from the dock and the main part of town. This is a large estate that belonged to the former VP of Italy, during the Napoleonic years. There are beautiful gardens and small forest along the lake side, with a small museum, chapel, etc. on the grounds. Very lovely and very relaxing, I think entry is 6.50 euros or so for as long as you want to stay. It was the single thing I remember most about visiting Lake Como.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Does anyone know the best way to pay for things in Italy: (1) in Euros, from an ATM machine; (2) a credit card; (3) Other

Also, how much walking/hiking is required, especially in the Lake Como region, etc.? I have had chronic pain in my left ankle which I always attributed to age-related ligament or tendon problems but now I want to get my ankle (and feet) checked out with x-rays, etc. I had at least a couple of fractures from falls over 10 years ago, ones that healed but required a boot and/or crutches for weeks. I think I may have re-injured or stressed the parts impacted by the fall(s) during a yoga class over the past year.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
1739 posts

Most people get Euro from ATMs on their debit cards. There is always a discussion here on whether to take some Euro with you (poorer exchange rate from your home bank) or just go to an ATM when you get there. As a novice traveler, I go for getting some Euro from my bank so I have money for my first transportation expenses (taxi, train, etc) and meals my first day. It just gives me a comfort level and I don't care if I get a not-too-favorable exchange rate on a couple hundred dollars. That is nothing compared to giving me a comfort level and also nothing compared to the amount of money I am paying for the whole trip!

Have you read Rick's Europe Thru the Back Door? It's an excellent guide for a novice traveler.

Posted by Larry
Carmel, CA, USA
639 posts

About money: Be sure to get your euros with a debit card (accessing your own money) and NOT a credit card (borrowing the bank's money, with fees). You might get 100 euros from your bank for traveling, just in case you have trouble getting to an ATM upon arrival in Italy. Although you should be able to find an ATM easily at either Malpensa airport in Milano, or Milano Centrale RR station. Be sure to use bank-affiliated ATMs, not those of currency exchange firms. You can use credit cards for purchases although there may be a small foreign transaction fee on each purchase, (unless you have a card free from these) and you may have trouble using your credit card in automated machines, such as RR ticket machines. Be sure to contact the bank of each of your debit and credit cards to inform them of when and where you will be overseas, and ask them about the fees involved in using your cards for cash or purchases.
About walking: two qualifiers for RS tours, clearly stated in advance, are: (1) travelers need to like to walk and be able to walk. The Best of Italy itinerary indicates light to moderate walking each day up til Rome, then strenuous walking during tours in Rome. Of course when you have a free day or part-day, what you do is up to you, sitting still at a cafe or beach on one extreme, up to serious hiking or climbing bell towers at the other. (2) each traveler must be able to handle their own baggage, usually either a rolling carry-on or a backpack, so definitely travel light. Sometimes RS tours stay in central locations in old sections of cities where buses cannot get to hotels, so there may be up to several blocks when you have to walk with your baggage from bus to hotel, and back. Also, not every hotel may have elevators from street level to every floor, and you will need to handle your own bags.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Thanks Pam and Larry: I hadn't any idea about how to do this before your postings.

I wonder how much in Euros it would be wise to take out, probably from my bank here, for the first day. Aside from that, I am assuming it's wise to have money to cover meals not covered by the tour as well as to have "pocket money" (although I don't plan to buy any souvenir stuff).

Have you read Rick's Europe Thru the Back Door? It's an excellent
guide for a novice traveler.

I haven't even looked at RS's Europe Through the Back Door; I will definitely check it out.

Be sure to use bank-affiliated ATMs, not those of currency exchange
firms.

YES! Very helpful, which I will keep in mind. I should write it down, of course.

(2) each traveler must be able to handle their own baggage, usually
either a rolling carry-on or a backpack, so definitely travel light.

This is something I'm working on, as the daypack that I have is very small. I'm going to go to REI or Northface (or whatever it's called) to buy a more suitable daypack/luggage combo, one that I'll be able to store in the overhead bin. By the way, do most people travel lightly enough so that they don't even have to check in luggage?

The Best of Italy itinerary indicates light to moderate walking each
day up til Rome, then strenuous walking during tours in Rome.

I'm even in pretty good aerobic shape (swim three times a week); it's just that my feet and knees and ankles aren't in the greatest shape--I have chronic pain, but applying a menthol- or camphor-based topical helps. I didn't realize Rome would be a lot of walking. (By the way I just saw Woody Allen's "To Rome with Love." I loved the DVD-set of "Treasures of Sacred Art: Tuscan Journeys").

Denny

Posted by Larry
Carmel, CA, USA
639 posts

Glad this is all helpful to you Denny. I'm so glad that I have traveled to Italy with RS tours recently, so I can pass along some useful information to you. Here's a little more, in response to your most recent comments. By the way, I don't think you have mentioned how many weeks or months it is until you travel, or just where you are traveling from. About reading up with RS books, soon after signing up for your tour, which you've done recently I understand, you will receive a box from the RS office. It should include two or probably three books for you, those being Europe By The Back Door and the most current RS Italy book, also a small language book, plus a money belt, etc. They will be excellent reading for you. In addition to a lot of practical information about cities and towns in Italy, the Italy book will give you a lot of general information about being and traveling in Italy, such as foods and beverages, currency, history, and on and on. About money again, I suggest getting about 100 euro before you travel, just in case you have any difficulty using the ATMs in Milano. That would get you to Varenna if need be. For your budget, the tour cost will include breakfasts in the hotels and about half your other meals. So, you will need to pay for the other meals, any snacks including lots of gelato probably, and beverages like wine, beer, coffee drinks, often bottled water, etc. Of course your budget will depend on how much you consume, and whether your tastes are very inexpensive or very expensive. Italian food and drink is truly wonderful, so while there is no need to really pig out or spend a lot on that, I also would'nt skimp in that area. You will also need to pay for any travel, day tours or admission tickets for things you do during your free days or part-days, plus any day(s) before or after your RS tour. While it doesn't sound like shopping is high on your agenda, it's hard to imagine you won't find a few little remembrances or gifts along the way. Try not to buy heavy or fragile things if you can, until your last stop (Rome) since then you won't be carrying things around any more, and may choose to check a bag on the trip home. Finally, about baggage: Ideally you should travel with just a rolling carry-on plus a day pack or tote bag. Look at the RS online store. The 20-inch rolling bag and Civita day pack (to carry with you most of the time with camera, snacks, water, jacket, book, etc. etc.) are both well-made, very popular with RS travelers, and affordable. There are a variety of other helpful travel accessories there that can help you streamline your packing too. One thing I have found very helpful are special ziplock type bags where you put a few clothing items in them, then roll the bag so all the air is forced out, which makes them much smaller than you can imagine, not lighter but certainly smaller. I got mine at a Samsonite luggage outlet store. I also took along a very lightweight folding duffle bag that I used in the final stages of my trip and to check on the way home, since I am a shopper and had accumulated some books, ceramics, a great mask from Venice (Burano actually), some food and beverage products, etc. There you go Denny, Buon Viaggio!

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
1739 posts

Just wanted to add something about the information and guide books you will get from the RS office for your tour. Mine have never included a copy of Europe Thru the Back Door, but only the country specific guidebooks as well as a phrase book and of course the money belt and ear plugs.

There is a ton of walking in Rome. However, you will have some free time as well and if you don't feel like walking you can sit in a sidewalk cafe or something else. I did, however, wind up walking more on the days I was with my nephews than on the RS tour days. The guys walked my feet off. Doing the museum shuffle is also taxing...standing on hard floors, walk a few feet, stand some more, walk a little more, repeat. It is sometimes easier to stride out and cover some ground rather than shuffling along.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

"Does anyone know the best way to pay for things in Italy: (1) in Euros, from an ATM machine; (2) a credit card; (3) Other
Also, how much walking/hiking is required, especially in the Lake Como region, etc.? I have had chronic pain in my left ankle which I always attributed to age-related ligament or tendon problems but now I want to get my ankle (and feet) checked out with x-rays, etc. I had at least a couple of fractures from falls over 10 years ago, ones that healed but required a boot and/or crutches for weeks. I think I may have re-injured or stressed the parts impacted by the fall(s) during a yoga class over the past year."

Chiuzhongliang, It is suggested by many that you take a mix of currency and debit/credit cards. As far as Euros, try to get denominations no more than a "20" - a mix of smaller bills. If you do get a "50" or two, some merchants may not accept the large amount. More likely hotels or even the fancier restaurants accept the larger bills. Guessing.

You will get the Euro coins in Europe after you purchase something - $1 & $2 dollar Euro coins can be mistaken for other coins, so please get very familiar with your Euro money. https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images;_ylt=A0LEVy09Os1TW0AAUCFXNyoA;_ylu=X3oDMTB0M24zbGd2BHNlYwNzYwRjb2xvA2JmMQR2dGlkA1ZJUDQ0M18x?_adv_prop=image&fr=moz35&va=euros

See if you have credit cards that have a low or no foreign transaction fee to keep costs down. May I suggest you do a "intra-forum search" on suggestions, ideas, what worked (or not) for travelers. Find a secure way to protect your passport, extra money and "safety net" card(s) on your person; unless you feel comfortable locking those up in a hotel room or hotel desk safe

Making lists of everything helps - "to see it in black and white" so to speak. Packing light has been the constant. Many who have been newbies or have not traveled in ages, learned the hard way about taking too much stuff.

As far as your potential immobility if your ankle acts up, take a roll of sports bandage to wrap your ankle if need be or, if you are inclined, take a foldable, metal walking cane (it comes in its own clear, snap lock package - can be found at Walmart for around $18-19.) May be worth a peace of mind despite the added weight, in case you need it. And it does not go against your carry-on limit.

Wear good, solid walking shoes (with a very light sock - ankle/tennis sock type to avoid any type of friction if you do not want to wear a longer sock.) Any type of sandal or flop is not good support in case you hit a pebble or stub your foot.

Also, since you are going on the RS tour, and the group is no more than 28 peeps max, you will probably have the availability to elevate your leg in the seat next to you on the bus when you are traveling between destinations. As a suggestion, maybe? take along some cooling therapeutic OTC pain relief. Some swear by Icy Hot or the generic (16% menthol) or Bio Freeze. A lot of these come in individual travel packs or roll on type. The travel packs are good if you are doing a carry on only even though the roll on is within the liquid limit. EDIT: TSA (on a bad day, may not accept the roll on version even if it is less than 3 oz. Either pack it in a checked or bring along the foil packs if you can get them.)

I am sure your tour guides can be very helpful offering alternate suggestions (if any), if you feel you are not able to hike a long time. It seems there is a lot of walking involved.

As you browse the forum/threads, you will find a plethora of ideas for a lot of things. Good luck. And I hope your planning and your "new" trip abroad goes well. I am sure you are excited about this new journey since it has been some time for you.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

The 20-inch rolling bag and Civita day pack (to carry with you most of
the time with camera, snacks, water, jacket, book, etc. etc.) are both
well-made, very popular with RS travelers, and affordable.

Larry,
Would you suggest BOTH the rolling back AND the Civita day pack as a "combo" for the 17-day Best of Italy tour?
I'm still trying to digest and catch up on all the great suggestions from fellow RS travellers...so my replies will come in dribbles and spurts.
Thanks,
Denny

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

As far as your potential immobility if your ankle acts up, take a roll
of sports bandage to wrap your ankle

Marie,
I saw a doctor today and he doesn't think it's an ankle fracture; probably plantar fasciatis (sp?). I've been rubbing mentholatum on it. He is recommending treating it with heel cup, naproxen, etc. but does not think it will get worse. He said that if I can cope with it now, I should be able to on a vacation tour with lots of walking/standing. A sports bandage might be something I could buy there. Or take with me.
I feel I got at least half a bill of good health today.
Denny

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Wear good, solid walking shoes (with a very light sock - ankle/tennis
sock type to avoid any type of friction if you do not want to wear a
longer sock.) Any type of sandal or flop is not good support in case
you hit a pebble or stub your foot.

Marie,
I forgot to respond to the advice you gave on footwear. I have been Chacos sandals now for over seven years now, not shoes, because of the terrible athletes foot I would get because my feet sweat so much when not well ventilated. I have stubbed my foot before and had pebbles fall into my sandals. I would prefer to continue to wear the Chacos, with good socks (suggestions?) on the days when the terrain is rocky. I am not terribly bothered by the weather even when it is cold/windy/rainy unless the temperature falls below, let's say, 40 degrees...
Denny

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4721 posts

"A sports bandage might be something I could buy there. Or take with me."

Definitely take it with you! You do not want to hunting around a strange city trying to find the specific kind of bandage or support you need.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

"Marie,
I forgot to respond to the advice you gave on footwear. I have been Chacos sandals now for over seven years now, not shoes, because of the terrible athletes foot I would get because my feet sweat so much when not well ventilated. I have stubbed my foot before and had pebbles fall into my sandals. I would prefer to continue to wear the Chacos, with good socks (suggestions?) on the days when the terrain is rocky. I am not terribly bothered by the weather even when it is cold/windy/rainy unless the temperature falls below, let's say, 40 degrees..."

Hi chiuz,

It is good news that your ankle is not fractured.

Ok, I understand about your having to wear sandals. Comfort is key when you have a condition. If you choose to wear socks, perhaps all cotton, 'low-cut' (just about comes to the ankle) may be okay.

Also, pharmacies sell gel inserts to put into shoes but not sure how they would hold up in sandals; probably not - they would be sliding all over without the support of a closed shoe. So, nix that idea for sandals.

Suggestion: Dr. Scholl's Orthotic Heel Pain Relief - check out your local Walmart store or your fav pharmacy. Maybe your doc can suggest something besides the heel cup? Would that hold in your sandal?

I looked it up online; they also sell Orthotic supports (more like a bandage wrap) that may be wearable with your sandal. If you go that route, you can always remove it if it is too hot and fold it up in your bag when you need it. Or, maybe that Sports bandage will do the trick if wrapped properly. I definitely encourage your (anyone) bringing a roll of sports bandage. It can be invaluable for a quick emergency to stabilize pain or a sprain. Sure, it can be found abroad, but, when you are in pain, who wants to hunt for bandages?

**Hopefully, before your trip abroad, perhaps you can "strengthen" the area around your plantar? I am sure it is painful; but maybe if you can build up some endurance surrounding the affected tissue, do some stretching; it may help??

Just some helpful suggestions I found online: Obviously, your doctor is the qualified one to advise treatment.

http://www.ehow.com/how_4491524_relieve-pain-plantar-fasciitis.html
http://ask.healthline.com/health/plantar-fasciitis#Treatments**

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
1739 posts

OK, here is my story about getting rid of the plantar fasciitis pain.

It started as I was coming back from UK last Sept when I wore my least supportive shoes on the trip home (really, why did I think I would not walk much in MSP??? I'd been thru there before!). It got a little better with custom orthotics and Altra zero drop shoes (recommended by the orthotist) but was still painful. After a lot of research online I came across the MELT Method.com and ordered the hand and foot self-treatment kit which contains 2 of each of 3 sizes of rubber balls and a DVD showing the pressure points and order in which to proceed. In THREE treatments my pain was alleviated. Gone. Time passed and this spring I got up to 10-mile walks preparing for a trip to Ireland. I would do the treatment (takes about 10 minutes once you get the hang of it) the evening after my long walk and the pain remained gone. Her explanation of why it works does not make much sense to me (it hydrates your fascia she says) but by gum it works so I don't really care how! I also took the balls with me to Ireland and used them every few nights. Walking over the rough sidewalks and ground caused some slight tenderness in my lower ankle which was gone by the next AM after the treatments.

BTW, I have no relationship with this company other than being a very satisfied, pain-free customer! The set is going with me on my 21 day Best of Europe this Fall!

Posted by Larry
Carmel, CA, USA
639 posts

Since you specifically asked me Denny, yes I think the RS rolling carry-on and the Civita daypack make a great combo. That is what I have traveled with on my RS tours. Actually I have also taken a cordura tote bag as my "personal item" on planes, and packed my daypack empty during the flights. I found when walking with my baggage, my tote bag fit nicely on the top of my carry-on, and I could hold on to the handles of both together in one hand. But during my days of touring, I would carry just the daypack on my shoulder. I don't know how much time you have before your trip, but if you have plenty of time, you might wait and see if the RS store has a sale on bags in the interim, as they periodically do.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Larry,
Just clarification: So the daypack would fit into the rolling carry-on (for overhead bin storage)? And then one could also have another smaller bag that could fit under the airplane seat?
Sorry for being a little dense...
Denny

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Larry,
Just clarification: So the daypack would fit into the rolling carry-on (for overhead bin storage)? And then one could also have another smaller bag that could fit under the airplane seat?
Sorry for being a little dense...
Denny

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

You probably know this, but please do not put your (extra) monetary
valuables and passport in your day pack

Marie,
Thanks for the reminder. I'm going to have to find a money belt. But I still wonder about when one has to take out some cash and/or a card. Does one have to unbutton one's shirt (or pants) to reach in for the money belt or does one stash some money--or one's wallet--in one's front pockets? I'm assuming that in crowds or even in non-crowded areas, it's easy for "professional" or "semi-professional" pickpockets to reach in to one's daypack and pull something out.
Denny

Posted by Larry
Carmel, CA, USA
639 posts

Hi again Denny,
First on the RS Civita daypack: it is made of some lightweight cloth or microfiber material, and when empty you can bunch it up like a thin sweater, and pack it away. So yes, I had it empty, bunched up and packed when flying, and over my shoulder and with minimal stuff when I was "out and about". My tote bag was my "personal item" for under the plane seat.
Second, on a money belt: the RS staff has included a money belt in the box of goodies they sent me upon registering for a tour. Although, I did not use it. I chose a neck bag that I have used for many many years for valuables when traveling overseas, which I would wear around my neck and under my shirt when I used it. I believe mine is Eagle Creek. For minimal cash for minor purchases, bus tickets, and perhaps one credit card, various people will suggest various ways to carry those easily accessible, which you can read on previous posts on this forum. I would either keep these in a front pocket (with my hand in my pocket in very crowded places), or buried in my daypack. I would caution: do not carry an ordinary wallet, as you might in the US, or keep these items in your back pocket where they are easy picking for a good pickpocket. My own habit has become to generally leave my valuables in my locked suitcase in my hotel room during the day, although other people will offer their own preferred suggestions.
I said earlier that I got a copy of "Europe Through the Back Door" in my box from RS. I think that only happened for my Sicily Tour, when there was not another RS travel book for them to send. They also included a Lonely Planet Sicily Book. I suppose you could call the RS staff and ask when you will get your box and what will be in it. Hope that all helps.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

"Marie,
Thanks for the reminder. I'm going to have to find a money belt. But I still wonder about when one has to take out some cash and/or a card. Does one have to unbutton one's shirt (or pants) to reach in for the money belt or does one stash some money--or one's wallet--in one's front pockets? I'm assuming that in crowds or even in non-crowded areas, it's easy for "professional" or "semi-professional" pickpockets to reach in to one's daypack and pull something out.
Denny"

Hi Denny,

Addressing your question to me personally :) Here are my suggestions.

This is what you should receive shortly from the Rick Steves group before your tour. - "What's Included" http://www.ricksteves.com/tours/italy/best-italy

With regard to pickpockets, they are around. They can work alone or in teams - a watcher, a distractor, a grabber or a picker - adults (young & old) & children (all ages.) Do not sign anything they throw your way. You must be firm in your stance. Just say, "No," & move on. If they ask you if you speak English, say, "No." They will probably know you are on to them. Do not fall for any found ring or leather jacket scam either. Walk on.

Personally, on the positive side, I had no trouble whatsoever. But, "they are out there," so just be aware of your surroundings & be street smart as much as possible. It is sad that we need to worry about all this on holiday. They look for targets; they prey on the tired, confused & distracted traveler. They watch for those who fumble with maps, cameras, bags, etc.

I know you mentioned you are traveling solo, but perhaps you may make a friend or two on the tour - sort of like a buddy system. Not to say you must hang with them 24/7 or vice versa.

Please read the thread of tourist scams to give you an idea of what goes on in the more populated attractions and transportation. http://www.ricksteves.com/travel-tips/theft-scams

For your "day" money and credit or debit card, there are a few ways you can carry them. I am not sure if you decided to carry a day pack, but if not, some men carry a cross body messenger bag so their daily valuables are accessible and protected in front of them. I do not think it is a good idea for anyone to put money in any pants pocket; even if it is 20 Euro. A day pack can be picked, so don't put valuables in it. A good thing about a messenger bag is that you do not need to remove if from your person when you sit or stand anywhere; more protected on your person.

Also, there is this: http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=product&theParentId=124&id=377
or this: http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=product&theParentId=124&id=157

If you are unsure about a money belt, maybe you can go to your local Super Walmart - check out their luggage section. They sell money belts there, not expensive. You can see if you would like it before you buy Rick's or anyone else's.

http://travelstore.ricksteves.com/catalog/index.cfm?fuseaction=product&theParentId=124&id=377

The neck pouch or other money belt can be for all your other monetary valuables. If you go that route, get some little sandwich baggies and put your money and card(s), passport in each one, to keep it dry in your money belt. Some like the belt loop pouch because you can put your day money/cards in there and flip it inside your pants. Paying for a little something, it is not disrobing, lol, or provocative to pull out that pouch and then flip it back in.

When you need to access your day money, I presume you won't be in the middle of a plaza taking out euro, you will most likely be in a cafe, store or larger restaurant to be more discreet. But again, be aware who is watching you. And, as I mentioned another time, get familiar with the Euro dollar and Euro coin. If you will pay for most things in Euro, don't worry about rushing to pay a merchant.

Posted by Claire
Sacramento, CA - Calif, United States
246 posts

Just my advice on plantar fasciitis. I have been dealing with it (this time, had it 7 years ago) since November. If you have time before your trip, perhaps try some physical therapy. They will look at how you walk, give you exercises to strengthen your arches and advise you how to treat it. I have had it before and this was the thing that worked the best. Frozen plastic water bottles to roll with your feet and ice in general helps a lot with the pain. And have fun on your trip. We are going to Italy, including Sicily, for a month in September and October and I am really looking forward to it.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Marie,
Thanks! You know your stuff. I'm still kind of confused about where one would put a few Euros for pocket change, as one wouldn't want to have to pull out one's money belt in public, either. I know a wallet even in the front pocket would be a dead give away.
All of this is rather overwhelming, although the people I've spoken to (in Seattle) think I should relax and not get into "negative thinking." I think one has to be very prudent, especially as I'm the sort of person who loses things, is half organized, half disorganized.

By the way, I'm shocked the multicity air ticket (SEA - MIL, and ROME - SEA) jumped $3,000 over the weekend. I had no idea that it is advised (cheaptickets.com, I think) to buy around 151 days in advance (I am on the list for mid October).

Does anyone know if a two-stop flight to Italy is arduous (with about 90 minutes between each change of plane)?
Changing planes (finding the right gate in a large, crowded airport!) is not fun...especially is your own flight is late. What then?? Maybe this is what makes things dicey, getting butterflies in my stomach whenever I travel...

I guess my eyes are really being opened.

Denny

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Dr. Scholl's Orthotic Heel Pain Relief

Marie,
I'm still reading your previous posts and thinking about what you wrote. I found the Orthotic Heel Pain Relief on amazon.com; from the picture, it seems like it would fall out of a sandal, there being no way I can think of at least right now to secure it to the back of one's foot.
There's a spur on my foot as well...I still haven't picked up the naproxen. And I do have fallen arches--I did find the $40 Superfeet insole that I had used a few years back. There are exercises one can do to strengthen the arches. It does sound like a combination of things are needed to cope with plantar fasciatis, foot spurs, and fallen arches.
Maybe I should see a physical therapist (?) so that I can get help doing the exercises, which are hard to describe in words alone.
Denny

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

My pleasure, Denny. I like to help if I can.

It is natural to get a bit nervous of the "unknown" especially if you have not traveled abroad in a long time. Do not worry, you will do fine :)

To touch on the "where to put your day money," I did write a few suggestions. Take your time to read through everyone's suggestions; take a bit here and there and "make it your own" - what is in your comfort zone. I do encourage the messenger bag for your ease and hands free. For your small money, I did link you the pants, flip wallet sold "here" - a neck wallet and money belt were also suggested too; although those are mostly for your deep storage of larger monies and credit cards, passport.

Ninety minutes for an International? Hmmm. Seems tight. Before I traveled and chose my airline, I called a few, chatted with CS. All said to allow at least 2.5 to 3.0 hours between flights just in case. I fly out of Boston for anywhere. And I understand some cities/airports are not like Boston-Logan as far as choices and diversity.

Upon arrival at your first destination, you may exit one gate but for your connecting flight, you may have to walk clear across the airport to catch the connection. Not fun if you are not feeling well or have a long delay.

Suggestion find a CS or Manager's office and ask them if they have assistance to get you to your connecting destination if your gate is a long walk. I noticed British Air (partnered with American) has golf carts that they chauffeur passengers across the airport to their gate if they have mobility issues. They do not go through the airport. They go underground and around and come up and out at the very gate you are connecting to. It is worth an inquiry in case you are not well and in pain.

I prefer a longer layover anyway - freshen up, snack, people watch, window shop, get my bearings for my continuance. With delayed flights, longer security lines, the ever changing rules, etc., it is not worth it to me to run through an airport. But everyone has their preference.

I think one or two others suggested a PT, yes, as well as OTC remedies we suggested combined with what your doctor told you. And yes, those gel or any other inserts, heel cups are not conducive to sandals. But, the foot wrap, (I linked you) would work. And if it got too hot, you could just take it off and put it in your bag.

Posted by Larry
Carmel, CA, USA
639 posts

Denny, sounds like you need a little help researching your air ticket, whether from an experienced friend, a good travel agent, or since you're in or near Seattle, maybe you can go to the RS office and get some assistance. I couldn't imagine how you found that your ticket price had jumped $3000 overnight. We're you looking at business class, or two separate one-way tickets, or what? It sounds like you are planning to travel in Oct 2014. I simply went to Expedia.com to look at flights from Seattle starting on Oct 15, just to pick some date. Many airlines had flights from Seattle to Milano, then returning from Rome to Seattle, at about $1400 round trip. Seattle to Rome round trip was about the same. Seattle to Milano round trip flights were in the $1150 to $1200 range. Total time involved varied from about 12 hours to 16 hours, probably related to the route and the connection time between flights. Don't despair! But do get some help. If you provide the specific dates you plan to leave Seattle, and then arrive Seattle at the end, I imagine various people here could help with some guidance and research.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

I waited too long to book an Alitalia flight that would have allowed four hours at CDG between flights...and I'm turning up a KLM flight with TWO stops to get to Milan, with 90 minutes between flights. This is kind of grueling doing the Kayak search. I guess I'm not up for tonight at least. Now I'm wondering if I ought to maybe wait until April. Does this make sense?? Two-and-a-half months preparation for a 17-day trip may not be enough time, for me, at least...I can't imagine what would happen if the first leg of the flight came out late and how the airline (or me, really) would deal with trying to get to my destination, which is why, as you mentioned, 3-4 hours between connecting flights would be prudent, as if one missed a connecting flight, I can imagine being really set back at least several hours (and probably more) before reaching one's destination. And arriving at late in a big strange city leaves me feeling weird...
Denny

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

Hey Denny,

Sorry you are feeling a bit stressed. You have to do what is right for you. Take care of your health issue right now - work on getting that better. You can still try to plan the trip. Only you can decide if it is better to wait a few months to be enjoyable for you.

The pricing of the tix is high :( Maybe sleep on it. Sometimes, reading too much, getting too many suggestions can be a bit overwhelming despite the sincere intention of us wanting to help. Clear your mind a bit. Think about it with a fresher mind :)

PS. You mentioned you misplaced or lost your passport. It is a good idea to get a new one right away.

PPS. Keep in mind there are two Milan airports - Linate and Malpensa. Linate is closer to the city; Malpensa is further out.

I did not check about the distance/transport from Milan (train) to Varenna. Maybe some who took that trip can best advise. Or call the RS office and talk to one of the staff. They are happy to answer questions.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Larry, Marie,

It has been overwhelming. I've only been looking at one-stop flights SEA - MILAN -ROME - SEA, and the Alitalia flight that offered the best flying times/shortest flying time is now at $3702, using Kayak. Air France has a multi-city flight at $1637 returning through Atlanta, arriving close to midnight, with only two seats available at this price!

https://www.kayak.com/flights/SEA-MIL/2014-10-10/FCO-SEA/2014-10-28-morning

What is also uncertain is that from here on out let's say to early September, a month before the Best of Italy tour, I'm wondering whether the flights will only continue to get more and more expensive, which makes waiting even a few more days uncertain.

I am having a trust pay for the trip and there is always a time lag, as well, between the time I decide and when the reservations actually get made. I wish there were a price tracker, not just a price alert, as you have with "camel came" for amazon.com, for example.

I'm not sure whether it makes still sense to go in mid-October rather than wait until April of next year (as I think I've said before).

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

"It has been overwhelming. I've only been looking at one-stop flights SEA - MILAN -ROME - SEA, and the Alitalia flight that offered the best flying times/shortest flying time is now at $3702, using Kayak. Air France has a multi-city flight at $1637 returning through Atlanta, arriving close to midnight, with only two seats available at this price!"

Morning Denny,

That does seem very high despite being in the height of travel season.

To answer your question, I think, yes, the airline pricing will stay about the same as you have seen or maybe go higher the longer you wait to your departure. And now that the travel world got smart and realized that people traveled in September and October whereas long ago, that was considered past the regular travel season. Airlines, hotels, and the like have kept their pricing just as high. Years ago, you could get a better deal flying in September and October. And then of course, they jack up pricing at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Have you tried to check flights directly on the airline(s) themselves? If you have time and patience to wait on the phone a bit, the airline reservationists can look up flights for you based on what you tell them you want. There are some who will help you find some flights that work within your time frame and budget.

Keep in mind, if you have them make the reservation for you on the phone, there is a charge for that. Sometimes, if they have the time, they can give you a few choices - some will give you the exact flight number and departure times - jot them down, then go to the airline's website and book direct yourself with that information or, as you wrote, have the person in trust do the final booking for you, once you make your choice.

I am sorry you are hitting a snafoo. Make a list - first things first - get your passport right away. Work on getting your health and walking in better condition since a good part of your trip involves a lot of walking. While doing that, work on the flight information. Some people like to or have luck finding deals on the sites like Expedia, Kayak, etc., but when I fly, I go direct to their website, because there are certain carriers I prefer.

Think positive. Maybe start a thread about your asking for help in finding a reasonable flight. That will draw attention to those who are more experienced with International flights from airports such as yours. Some posters won't read through every single post on threads, so to catch someone's eye, make a new thread dedicated to asking for help with your flight reservations and choices from your Hub.

Posted by Harold
New York, NY, USA
4721 posts

For your flights:

1) Sometimes prices that suddenly jump up will just as abruptly jump back down. So, keep looking.

2) Sometimes Kayak has glitches. I just was looking at a flight itinerary that Kayak said was almost $4000. I then looked on United (which actually operated the flights) - and the exact same flights were only $800. So be sure to look directly at Alitalia and Delta as well as Kayak.

Posted by jkc
Massachusetts
381 posts

Denny,

Regarding the money belt and wallet issue. I use a money belt, in the money belt i keep my passport and my debit and credit cards and any Euros I am not carrying in my front pocket of my pants. I usually keep somewhere between 40 - 80 euros in my pants pocket. If I ever have to get access to my money belt i just pull it out. It has never been an issue. Seriously, you just need to be aware, you do not need an armed militia around you whenever you reach into your pocket, or money belt, for money or a card. I keep my wallet/money clip in my front right pocket of my pants. I use a small messenger bag which is over my shoulder and usually on my right hip. It covers my pocket in most instances.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

Denny, I am not sure. Would you fly into Milan, Linate or Milan, Malpensa? Linate is closer to the city while Malpensa is much further out. So, if you are going to take a train to Varenna, that is something to consider. I do not know the logistics of the 17-day tour. Call the RS office (425-771-8303) and ask the staff which airport they suggest flying into for that trip.

Here is a SAMPLE flight info:

I went to British Air website; plugged in some dates for October - leaving the 1st and returning on the 18th - I do not know your exact dates. Anyway....this is what they show right now....so a RT trip would average around $1600-1700 for Economy.

BA (partnered with American Airlines) flies to both airports. http://www.britishairways.com/travel/fx/public/en_us?eId=111011&timestamp=0723010700

I did another search starting 10/1....(hypothetically) from SEA to LIN and then FCO to SEA (for the return) I got pricing averaging around $1692 for one Econ flight. Now that same flight is $1688....."changes by the minute."

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21417 posts

A few comments.....

You'll likely find the best flight options to Milan / MXP as Linate tends to be used more by regional flights. MXP provides an easy connection to the train to Varenna.

Regarding the expensive tickets, I wouldn't bother with Kayak and similar websites. Use the airline websites to find the best combination of flights that fit your situation, and then go to a travel agent and have them do the booking for you. If you're in the Seattle area, you might try Elizabeth Holmes Travel. That's the one that is often recommended by ETBD. I find that the travel agent can sometimes find better pricing or better routing (or both).

One other option that's been mentioned here recently, is that if you live in Seattle you may be able to save some money by departing out of Vancouver / YVR. I can't remember the details, but you can do a search to find the relevant posts.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Hello Marie,
I have checked out directly some airline sites themselves. The Air France site yielded the same results/flights as KAYAK. Alitalia, I could not figure whatever I typed, to get a multicity flight (SEA-MILAN, ROME-SEA). Within about 8 hours today, AIR FRANCE jumped $155 for the one flight that I had been seriously considering. It seems as though prices for flights skyrocket within 2-3 months of departure if they are popular enough that they start to near sell out--just my hunch.
That said, now I am seriously considering waiting until April to do the 17-city tour; I am more sober about what I will need to do to book a flight,--the sheer logistics of doing a trip such as this.
(My next post concerning airplane flight tickets may be under a new topic heading, as I have clearly diverged from the content denoted by the original heading).
By the way, maybe I should visit Boston instead this fall! I was there two years ago, the 5-1/2 hour flight nearly killed me coming back (to Seattle), which is why I would take a red-eye, so that everyone would be quiet, hunker down, and the time would be whiled away in peace.
Peace,
Denny

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

I agree with you Denny, if you arrive in Milano by air at 11:00 am,
even with no detours it will mean a couple of transportation changes
and will probably be late afternoon before you arrive in Varenna.
Given you will probably be tired and maybe somewhat jet lagged, I
think you should just use the evening and the next day to relax,
wander around Varenna a little, and have a couple good meals.

Larry,
Thanks for the detailed recommendation re: arriving in Milan. Very useful once I get there. That said, it looks like I won't be going until April.
Denny

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

*

There is a ton of walking in Rome. However, you will have some free
time as well and if you don't feel like walking you can sit in a
sidewalk cafe or something else. I did, however, wind up walking more
on the days I was with my nephews than on the RS tour days. The guys
walked my feet off. Doing the museum shuffle is also taxing...standing
on hard floors, walk a few feet, stand some more, walk a little more,
repeat. It is sometimes easier to stride out and cover some ground
rather than shuffling along.

*

That is unconsciously what I dread as well, all the standing. Hope there are some benches in the museums!

*> After a lot of research online I came across the MELT Method.com and

ordered the hand and foot self-treatment kit which contains 2 of each
of 3 sizes of rubber balls and a DVD showing the pressure points and
order in which to proceed.*

Thanks for your plantar fasciitis story, Pam!

Denny

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

*

Regarding the money belt and wallet issue. I use a money belt, in the
money belt i keep my passport and my debit and credit cards and any
Euros I am not carrying in my front pocket of my pants. I usually keep
somewhere between 40 - 80 euros in my pants pocket. If I ever have to
get access to my money belt i just pull it out. It has never been an
issue. Seriously, you just need to be aware, you do not need an armed
militia around you whenever you reach into your pocket, or money belt,
for money or a card. I keep my wallet/money clip in my front right
pocket of my pants. I use a small messenger bag which is over my
shoulder and usually on my right hip. It covers my pocket in most
instances.

*

Thanks JKC for sharing your thoughts on carrying money in Italy. I am just assuming you don't pull your money belt in a busy airport, on a crowded street, etc., where someone could brush up against you and snatch it out of your hands, etc. I am going to google "messenger bag" and/or look on amazon.com, as it sounds like it could be useful, too.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

*

Regarding the money belt and wallet issue. I use a money belt, in the
money belt i keep my passport and my debit and credit cards and any
Euros I am not carrying in my front pocket of my pants. I usually keep
somewhere between 40 - 80 euros in my pants pocket. If I ever have to
get access to my money belt i just pull it out. It has never been an
issue. Seriously, you just need to be aware, you do not need an armed
militia around you whenever you reach into your pocket, or money belt,
for money or a card. I keep my wallet/money clip in my front right
pocket of my pants. I use a small messenger bag which is over my
shoulder and usually on my right hip. It covers my pocket in most
instances.

*

Thanks JKC for sharing your thoughts on carrying money in Italy. I am just assuming you don't pull your money belt in a busy airport, on a crowded street, etc., where someone could brush up against you and snatch it out of your hands, etc. I am going to google "messenger bag" and/or look on amazon.com, as it sounds like it could be useful, too.

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

Hey Denny,

"By the way, maybe I should visit Boston instead this fall! I was there two years ago, the 5-1/2 hour flight nearly killed me coming back (to Seattle), which is why I would take a red-eye, so that everyone would be quiet, hunker down, and the time would be whiled away in peace."
Peace,
Denny

LoL, you are funny. Autumn is quite lovely and very busy.

Hmmm....well, if you are feeling that planning the 17-day tour is putting a lot of stress on you right now, well, you have to do what is best for you. It is a big investment, and you want to be able to fully enjoy it - especially health wise :)

If you decide to postpone it, then it will give you ample time to befriend peeps here, browse and read the threads, read Rick's book(s) or others too, get familiar with the "new age of traveling."

The money belts, neck pouches & flip wallets are geared more for your deep storage of your Euro, extra credit card & your passport if you carry it around. It is best to leave your home wallet, home...

But, the flip wallet (attaches to a belt loop) & can be for your day money too w/out it being obscene if you take it out at a merchant. RS has them "here." Take a peek. Get an inexpensive flat wallet (maybe canvas) to put your day money in if you prefer to keep it in your day (messenger) bag. Bags have inside zips to keep that secure too. You have lots of choices to see what works best for you.

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Marie,
I just wonder if this is a cop-out, for me to "get out" of the Best of Italy 17-day tour October 12-28, which I have a place on while I can still get my deposit back. I've been feeling very perplexed and even blue just looking at KAYAK, where if you hit the refresh button every day, or even half-day, flights seem to come and go (get booked, I guess) and prices soar. I still can't quite make sense of what is going on: Sometimes it seems like new flights are being added (??), but in general the prices for a one-stop multi-city have gone up by $250-$300 in one week.
I went to school in western Massachusetts; the falls were lovely. But I never learned how to drive, so I've felt disappointment about not being able to visit the Berkshires, etc. Boston is easy enough to get around, of course, on the MTA, and the Gardner, BMFA, Copley Square, Back Bay, etc. are wonderful. I stayed in an Episcopal monastery for a three-day private retreat in April 2013, and the next four days in a Korean Zen center in Cambridge. I've always felt affection and admiration for the architecture and history of Boston. Isabella Gardner and the Boston Brahmin of her time such as Berenson, James, Wharton, etc. had such a connection with Italy...
It looks like I already have a messenger bag: it looks like a book or shoulder bag. I think I would lose it pretty quickly.

Posted by Pam
Troy, Idaho, USA
1739 posts

Try looking at the Delta website. There is a nice SEA->Amsterdam connection and easy to connect to Milan thru there as well as back home from Rome. Putting in random dates in Oct (10/12 and return 10/31) I get a slew of fares for around $1450 or so, in to Linate and out of FCO in Rome.

I sometimes get cold feet right after I book, but then it passes! However, you have to decide what is right for you and your ankles,lol!

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Marie,
I think I'm actually feeling guilt over wanting to "drop out" (actually wait until April) and I can see where some people would say it's "a cop-out." It's the making the plane reservation that is the ostensible reason for my wanting to wait, but added in the fact that I feel depleted at the moment, with family issues, my foot/ankle...maybe I'd like to spend the rest of the summer not having to plan for a trip in the fall. I have a ton of books on Italian Renaissance and Baroque art and architecture (I have a degree in art history) that I love to read/look at. In some ways, I'm an armchair traveller at heart. My first love is French history/art/literature/music and I am absorbed in learning how the French from the time of Francis I in the 16th century came to see themselves as the leading inheritors of the classical tradition as transmitted through Italy (which is mostly true, in fact)...and Napoleon was Corsican, so that when he crowned his siblings crowned heads of the Italian city-states, I don't think the French were confronted with the resistance (and bloodshed) that occurred, for example, in Spain (think Goya) or Russia (Tolstoy).
Unfortunately, on this website I cannot see at the same time what you just wrote. Oh, about your family. Yes, the North End is wonderful, and walking the Freedom Trail was a dream realized when I visited Boston seven years ago. I've always wanted to be in the Berkshires in the summer (though I know it must be hot), for the Williamstown Theater Festival, Mt. Greylock...there is a bus to Williamstown from Boston (again, 3-4 hours on a bus, doable but not enticing).

I hope you're in touch with your family's Italian heritage. Zefferelli's film of "Pagliacci" and "Cavelleria Rusticana" was revelatory for me...and Puccini, Verdi...

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
21417 posts

I just checked a "sample" return flight with Air Canada from Vancouver to Milan, departing October 9 and returning Oct. 31. The grand total was Cdn$ 1270.96. Of course the total will vary if you're using open-jaw flights, but there are some deals out there!

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

*> Aww, please do not feel that way. I sincerely doubt that anyone would

say you are copping out. You asked for help. We gave it voluntarily.
It is ultimately your choice, your level of comfort, your readiness
(frame of mind, health-wise, etc.) to plan and enjoy this trip. You
know it is a big investment; only you can make that commitment. Do not
feel bad or any other negative thing if you change your mind and put
this trip on hold for now. If you go in April, think Easter, Spring -
Renewal - Sunshine :) All good.*

Marie,
Participating in this forum has been really instructive. I don't like having to make big decisions under pressure, as in booking an international flight without some certainty that I can actually and want to get up really early (in Rome) to take a flight back to the U.S. and arrive at an hour that won't disturb the neighbor who would be looking after my two cats, or that I am booking connecting flights that aren't too closely spaced (in case of a delay). I have an idea of what my limits are--only one-stop, for instance, just by writing my thoughts down. Hopefully, others reading this forum topic/heading will be able to gage the kinds of concerns many might have in planning a trip.

I do feel "let down" because suddenly over the weekend I started to really anticipate the trip, and now feel deflated. It doesn't feel right, and though I hesitated to really move on the Alitalia flight that really had the ideal flying times (and price), that is water under the bridge, of course.

Though I haven't come to a final decision at this point, I am leaning towards going in the spring.
One of my original concerns about the 17-day tour was that I haven't left my two cats behind for that long a period of time (for selfish reasons, I need my cats as much as they need me), so I didn't even consider the tour until after I had placed a deposit on the 10-day Rome, Florence, Venice tour. Plus after a very long gray windy cool/cold combined fall-winter-spring, going to Italy (hopefully avoiding the Easter rush, if possible), it might be the right "reward" or tonic.

In the meantime (that's at least 8 months away!), I can have peace of mind, enjoy the rest of the summer, continue reading up on Italy at my leisure. It just seemed too much of a mad dash last week when I decided to try to pull it together in a few days. One benefits from the hindsight gained by experience, even if disappointed.

I am wondering if anyone reading this thread can speak to the Best of Italy tour in April.

Denny

Posted by MarieB
120 posts

Good Evening Denny,

If I may, I would like to express some thoughts based on your recent posts. Please do not beat yourself over this. Don't worry. When it is right, you will know it and feel it. If you want to delay it until Springtime, as you wrote, it will give you time to ease into the thought process, the airline and packing process, etc.

Or, another thought is to start "small." If you like Rome, there is a week-long trip. It may be easier for you right now.

If you look on the RS tours, they have the 7-, 9-, 10- or 11-day tours. And since you love Art History, Venice, Florence and Rome are ideal for most. http://www.ricksteves.com/tours/italy/sicily < check out that also, lots of history and art too. I know it is an 11-day tour; but thought I would put it out there. Also, the 2015 Spring tours are available too.

Maybe make a list of your likes on a trip, what really drives you; make a list of airlines, possible flights and connections to "play around with." In the meantime; make a list of your clothes, personal necessities, etc and practice packing - don't forget your passport, lol.

Try to attend the travel classes RS puts on to get a gander of what trips are like - the ENERGY :) the spontaneity, etc.

Please watch this at your leisure: Rick gets excited about the trips; is pretty straight forward.

http://www.ricksteves.com/watch-read-listen/video/travel-talks/italy-travel-skills-rick-steves

Check out the "Trip Reports" thread - https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/trip-reports

Some reviews for the "Best of Italy" http://www.ricksteves.com/tours/italy/best-italy - click on Reviews

These are older posts/reviews, but worth a look see: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/general-europe/best-european-city-to-land-in-to-go-to-italy

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/transportation/rs-best-of-italy-17-days-2008

Posted by Denny
Seattle, WA
204 posts

Hello everyone,

I would like to thank everyone for their kindness and generosity in helping me to sort through my questions about RS Italy tours.

Over the weekend I have had more time to reflect on what I need and want from a trip to Italy and how that may or may not dovetail with the several options available from RS tours.

It seems now, at least on Sunday night, that I might seriously consider going to London for ten days in October (or even November) as a first step towards going to the Continent (next spring). There are direct flights from Seattle to London (and back) that take about 9-10 hours!

Same language! Better plane connections! Cultural commonalities. Hopefully, a lot of traditional British civility still remains.

Maybe with such a trip under my belt, I would feel more comfortable doing Italy. (I know I can't wait too long, at my age, either).

I'll have to admit to everyone that I am somewhat agoraphobic, in the first place (although no one's ever suggested to me that I might be).

So everyone's forbearance with a newbie/greenhorn such as myself is sincerely appreciated. You've got a fine group of fellow travellers here!

Denny