My husband and I went Italy for 9 days last August (2012). We visited Rome (4 days), Florence (2) and Venice (2). I learned sooo much from the Traveler's Helpline! All the advice was spot-on! We knew that August is a holiday month (there were more than enough sites/stores open) as well as the hottest month to be in Italy; however, we did great by following tips we learned from this forum. (THANK YOU!). 1) We packed light - in every way. From the weight of our suitcases, fabric and color of our clothes, and amount of clothing....we each had one 22" rollerboard suitcase and a smaller cross-body style bag. Mine was a camera bag with several zippers and compartments for guidebooks and maps. 2) We brought water bottles with a misting trigger and constantly filled them up at the many fountains with Italy's wonderful water! (More in my next post)
One more thing to add....Before our trip, I followed the advice I found here and took my Rick Steve's Guidebook apart! For example, I took the pages about the Vatican and put them in a ziplock bag. The pages for the Coloseum in another ziplock bag and so on. Each day I would take only those pages for the day with me and toss them when we finished going through the tour. This kept me from carrying the entire book around all day, everyday. Worked great! Even when we were in a tour group (not RS) I found the information in Rick Steve's tour a great complement to the Tour guide.
3) Our daily schedule was designed so we stopped around 1300 for lunch - the hottest part of the day - and went to our hotel for a cool nap. Then we were able to enjoy more sightseeing and walkabouts and dinner when it was a bit cooler. Daytime highs last August were 100 - 105 F. I followed someone's advice and bought sandlewood fans for each of us that provided a much needed breeze when there was none. (they were less than $1 each on Amazon!) I forgot to bring it with me to the Vatican tour and really missed it! 4)We traveled by train from Rome to Florence then to Venice and back to Rome. Wonderful way to travel!
5)We had no issues with the language. Everyone spoke or tried to speak English and did not make us feel horrible for not knowing more than a dozen words or phrases. 6) I found that my skirts were cooler than slacks. I kept a scarf handy to cover my shoulders when entering a church. 7) Galleria Borghese is a must see! I fell in love with Bernini and appreciated his work all over Rome - Piazza Navona's fountains, the Turtle Fountain in Piazza Mattei, and his angels on Pont Sant'Angelo bridge. 8) We watched Francesco Da Mosto's Venice before traveling which made Venice come alive for us! So glad we did! If you're going to Italy this August, hopefully these tips will help!
Wanda, thanks for posting a wonderful trip report. I too loved the Borghese gallery. Ciao!
Thanks for posting this! We are traveling to Venice, Florence, and Rome at the end of next month, the end of 3 weeks in Europe. Italy is what I am most excited about but most nervous about!
Mary, you should plan to go to the bandstands in St. Mark's Square one of the evenings you are in Venice. We ate dinner somewhere else and then sat at a table in front of the St. Mark's Square Band and ordered dessert and amaretto. The bands compete! The crowd loves it and you will have a marvelous time taking it all in!
Have a wonderful trip!