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Two Weeks in Italy: Most important things I learned while there and from this forum. Thank you!

Four of us just completed our first trip to Italy. We are very grateful for the help and information received from Rick Steves and the Travel Forum. We couldn’t have done it without you.

I’m going to share with you what I thought was the most valuable information I received from the forum and learned while in Italy. We are all in our early 60’s and in reasonably good shape. We spent fourteen days in country arriving September 27th and leaving on October 11th. We flew into Venice and departed from Rome. We stayed in Venice three nights, Florence four nights, Sorrento four nights, and Rome for three nights utilizing apartments in Venice, Florence, and Sorrento , with a hotel in Rome.

Security: We had no problems although we did encounter a gentleman on the Circuvesuviana that had had his wallet lifted. We stayed in apartments with no access to a safe so securing personal items and documents was paramount for us. We used money belt, neck wallets, and travel bags. The money belt lasted three days, I couldn’t stand it so I trusted my valuables and documents to a small Travelpro travel-bag which doubled as a camera bag. This worked fine until the zipper on the travel bag broke in Rome. I then reverted to using a neck wallet which I wore lowered through my shirt and into my trousers giving me access to it at my waist - this was the best and most comfortable option for me and the one I will use again.

Venice: The advice I received from Roberto “to stay outside and travel to the islands when you arrive in Venice to help counter jet lag and avoiding the daytime crowds in St Mark’s Square”, was spot on. Upon arrival we travelled to Murano and spent most of the day there before returning to Venice.
Staying in Santa Croce, Canneregio or near the train station a Vaporetto pass is essential. They are crowded and fun. Getting luggage onto them is easy at originating points i.e. Piazalle Roma, but challenging at intermediate points.

Mondo Tours: We booked two Mondo Tours, Amalfi Coast and Pompeii. They are excellent and well worth it - highly recommend.

Clothes: Wear what’s comfortable. I purchased some travel clothes before the trip, Eddie Bauer pullover, Izod Traveler shirts, and a pair of Columbia Travel pants. Liked the Eddie Bauer - hated the rest! I had Izod and Columbia blends so they contained some cotton - but they still don’t breath - when the temperature hit 70F it was like walking in a sauna. Take and wear whatever you would wear at home. Khaki blends worked well, even my Costco Urban Star jeans worked well. Wear whatever shoes you are comfortable in, I had Sketchers and Keens…yes there are jeans, shorts, white sneakers and baseball hats in Italy.

Lodging: Apartments will save you money. They are comfortable. Groceries, wine, beer, etc are inexpensive in Italy. The first thing I missed when I returned home - Italian grocery stores. Stay in a neighborhood. Book a room with a view. I cannot tell you how incredible morning coffee overlooking a canal in Venice or cocktails overlooking the Bay of Naples with Mt Vesuvius in the background is, it’s something you need to experience for yourself.

Crowds: Italy is like Disney for adults. I was amazed at the throngs of people everywhere we went. Heed the advice to book and reserve major attractions ahead of time so you can skip the line or visit off peak.

Transportation: Trains, Trains Trains! There is no better way to travel in Italy. Public transportation is great…don’t be afraid of buses or the Metro in Rome, just travel smart. Taxi’s are not that expensive…and we did get taken by a gypsy cab in Rome…hailed it in a rainstorm paying $10 for what should have been a $5 fare.

I could write more but I won’t, because I personally found the amount of travel information available overwhelming.
One last thing…you don’t need to pack what everyone else packs. Pack what you’ll need.

Thank you again for you advice. I hope this helps someone else.

Posted by
4617 posts

Great advice and glad you enjoyed your adventures!

I agree with the travel clothes comment - I pack more cotton materials each year because the synthetics feel "muggy" in Rome, Venice, etc. when we're walking all day.

Posted by
504 posts

I have a friend who visited Italy in late August and she said it was "hotter than Hades." So I imagine linen and cotton would be the most comfortable fabrics.

Thanks for sharing the info re: the money belt. I've always wondered if the neck pouch was comfortable as I hate having anything around my waist and have not worn "real" belts in ages.

Posted by
21865 posts

...hailed it in a rainstorm paying $10 for what should have been a $5 fare......

Uber calls that congestion pricing. Would you have preferred to stood in the rain longer waiting for a cheaper cab? If that is the worse that happen to you, then you had a good trip.

Posted by
608 posts

Thanks for the tips! I was wondering how the weather was for you. That is exactly the time of year we are planning on going next year.

Posted by
1 posts

Silk clothing, if possible, is the best to wear. I learnt this many years ago. Is light weight so does not take up much room. It keeps you warm when the weather is cooler and when it is warm and hot the silk will keep you cool. I appreciate that silk clothing is probably easier to purchase for females though. Good Luck.

Posted by
20 posts

Tamara, The weather was excellent. Most days the temperature was in the 70's and the lows at night were in the mid 50' was very humid as well. Sunscreen is a must for fair skin. It rained intermittently over a two day period while we were in Florence and Tuscany but it was manageable using umbrellas and light rain jackets.
It rained steadily all day our last day in Rome, it was also cool that day. We had scheduled a 3 1/2 hour tour of the Colosseum and Ancient Rome that morning and it was not pleasant, we were soaked but it was still fun.
FYI, I checked the forecast before I left home and it indicated cooler temperatures than we experienced. I didn't pack enough clothes for warmer weather and had to buy a couple of shirts...nice souvenirs!

Posted by
608 posts

Thank you so much! The weather sounds perfect. I know I will enjoy walking around more if it's cooler. I'll be sure to pack a variety though.