Un viaggio... in Italia!

Join us here for some fun chit chat, or share your opinions on rumours and gossip in the news. Beginners and advanced Italian speakers are all welcome!
dpc
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:24 am

Un viaggio... in Italia!

Post by dpc »

Buongiorno!

My girlfriend and I have been throwing around the idea of going to Italy this summer. The only problem is, we are both fairly young, and as most Americans, we have never been anywhere.

Neither of us are very adventurous or outgoing, so a trip to Italy would be near heart attack worthy :). I love Italian history and culture and asked her if she would want to go and she said yeah. I was thinking of maybe going for 10-14 days, Roma and Firenze. I don't want to have to involve to many trains, just for the fact that I feel more can go wrong when we are trying to travel.

I'm not completely sure what I am wanting to ask. I guess I'm more looking for reassurance. Both of us are fairly shy and not outgoing, but we really want to go. She speaks no Italian at all, and I speak a little, probably enough to get by. But the thought of her and I going to another country, in Europe, just the two of us, is a bit frightening. Anyone have any tips on lodging or anything like that? Basically, anything at all.

Grazie,
Dylan
User avatar
umberto
Posts: 443
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:39 pm
Location: Italy

Post by umberto »

Ciao Dylan,

I understand your fear; nevertheless, if I were you, I wouldn't think twice and would leave taking it easy! I did the same when I was younger. I went to Greece by myself. Of course I was a bit frightned, but I really wished to go through this experience on my own... and I didn't regret because it was great! As for the language, in Italy English is the most and best studied language (in Italy as in the rest of the world!!!), so don't worry!

This is the home page of Trenitalia (the Italian rail network): it’s useful to check travelling times:

http://www.trenitalia.com/

If you have particular questions, feel free to ask!
:D
dpc
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:24 am

Post by dpc »

Thanks a lot Umberto, I suppose I am most nervous about transportation and buses and getting around cities. The idea of getting lost in a new city in Europe does not sound all that exciting :)
Geoff
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:55 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Geoff »

Dylan,

Train travel in Italy is not too difficult even if you lack Italian language skills. You don't have to deal with ticket office personnel if you don't want to (and, given that queues are usually long and the clerks tired and frustrated, you probably won't) as every station has ticket machines where you can buy a ticket from that station to anywhere in Italy using your credit card. The dialogue with the machine is in English if you select the right menu option at the beginning. If purchasing your tickets a day or two or more in advance, the machine may offer you "promotional" tickets on the major routes such as between Rome and Florence. These are heavily discounted and you should take them as long as you are certain as to which train you are going to catch. If you miss the train, you may not get your money back whereas with full price tickets you will.

If standing with a doubtful look on your face in front of a ticket machine at the main station in Rome (Termini), you may be approached by a tout offering to show you how to use the machine. You can let them show you if you like, for which service they will expect a modest tip, but under no circumstances hand them your credit card to complete the transaction.

Your idea of concentrating on Rome and Florence is a good one (but beware that Rome is incredibly hectic and you may suffer from a touch of culture shock for a day or two). However, you should consider taking a couple of day trips to nearby smaller cities from Florence. Lucca, Siena and Arezzo are all delightful places and are all easily, and quite cheaply, accessible by train from Florence. With Siena I would recommend taking the bus though, as the Siena train station is about a mile out of town whereas its bus station is centrally situated. The Florence inter-city bus station is next door to the train station and the ticket office staff speak English, or the ones I dealt with did anyway. Your only likely difficulty is working out where to stand to catch the return bus to Florence (there are several bus departure points in Siena's Piazza Gramsci and it is not overly obvious which bus goes where). Pisa is also an easy day trip from Florence and there is plenty more to see there than just the leaning tower. You could do Pisa and Lucca in one day as they are not far apart.

Book accommodation online. I use booking.com for hotels but there are loads of other agencies, such as venere.com. Make sure to read other travellers' reviews - some of the hotels, especially in Rome, are pretty dire. If staying for three or more days in a city, you might consider renting an apartment instead of a hotel room. It is likely to be cheaper and you will certainly have lots more space. waytostay.com and bbplanet.com are just two of the many apartment booking sites that handle Rome and Florence. There are some issues with apartments though:
. you will have to pay a hefty deposit up front and will lose some or all of it if you cancel
. you will probably have to pay in cash, so will have to walk around for a bit with a huge wad of cash in your wallet, and
. it is quite likely that the owner will not speak English.[/list]

Finally, be very, very careful of pick pockets in the big cities; wear a money belt.
dpc
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:24 am

Post by dpc »

The planning for this trip is still in the very infant stages, and its not even for sure we are going. I was thinking of going to other cities/towns, I am just most nervous about traveling then anything else for some reason.

Thank you so much for your message Geoff. I'm sure it seems silly that I'm so nervous about going to Italy, but when you have never really traveled anywhere without some sort of authority figure, its kind of nerve racking.

Thanks again you two!
User avatar
umberto
Posts: 443
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:39 pm
Location: Italy

Post by umberto »

dpc wrote:Thanks a lot Umberto, I suppose I am most nervous about transportation and buses and getting around cities. The idea of getting lost in a new city in Europe does not sound all that exciting :)
Florence is quite small: you can visit it all on foot, you just can’t get lost! You need to catch a bus to reach Fiesole (bus n. 7), the Piazzale Michelangelo (bus n. 12) or Cascine Park (bus n. 17 or on foot, not so faraway from the historical centre), all the other interesting places to see are reachable by foot. You only have to get a plan. Remember that buses do not run at night!
dpc
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:24 am

Post by dpc »

Yeah I don't think I'd be relying on buses at night :)

Do you think I should go to Florence, and then Rome, or the other way around. Does it matter?
Geoff
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:55 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Geoff »

Florence and then Rome would be less stressful, since Florence is less hectic and chaotic, but I would personally only do it that way if you can fly direct to Florence. If not, an alternative approach is to do a bit of both: spend a night or two in Rome, take the train to Florence for a week or however long you intend to spend there, then head back to Rome for the last few days of your trip.

You really shouldn't get lost provided you can read a map. Hotels supply maps of the main, tourist part of town and your guidebook, which you should definitely buy, will have them too.
dpc
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:24 am

Post by dpc »

Direct from America? Most flights I see have me flying from North America to somewhere in Europe, and then to Italy.

You don't like the idea of going to Florence/Rome, taking a train to the other, and then flying out of that city? Any reason why?
Geoff
Posts: 251
Joined: Fri Mar 07, 2008 7:55 am
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Post by Geoff »

What I was getting at is that I wouldn't fancy flying into Rome and then trying to make a connecting flight to Florence, especially when tired after a longish international flight. Rome's airport is vast and you are more likely to get lost there than anywhere else in Italy. There are three separate departure areas and it isn't readily apparent which one you have to go to, and when you do find the right one, you then have to determine which of the dozens and dozens of check-in desks is the one for your airline.

Obviously you can do it because lots of people do but my personal preference is to rest up in Rome for a bit and then take the train or bus to wherever my ultimate destination is; that way you get to see some nice scenery too.

However, if you fly to elsewhere in Europe and then to Italy, it would be a different matter as then you can probably go straight to Florence from wherever "elsewhere" is without passing through Rome. If so, I would go to Florence first as it is an easier city to deal with.
Raphael2
Posts: 6
Joined: Sun Jan 08, 2012 2:00 pm
Location: USA

Here's a thought

Post by Raphael2 »

Like you, I wanted to go to Italy but wasn't sure how I would do there. So, instead of hopping on a plane I booked a 2 week cruise and visited Rome, Naples, Sicily spending a few days in each area. It was amazing to say the least and price wise saved me money.
I'll be going back to Italy again this year and cannot wait.
dpc
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:24 am

Post by dpc »

I have a quick question:

Water. I have read that you should only drink bottled water and never drink tap/fountain water. Another source said you should just fill a bottle up with the fountain water. Whats the deal?

Thanks guys(girls)!
User avatar
umberto
Posts: 443
Joined: Tue Jun 17, 2008 9:39 pm
Location: Italy

Post by umberto »

dpc wrote:I have a quick question:

Water. I have read that you should only drink bottled water and never drink tap/fountain water. Another source said you should just fill a bottle up with the fountain water. Whats the deal?

Thanks guys(girls)!
Well, you can drink fountain water only if you read “POTABILE”: this means that the water is safe and drinkable. If you read “NON POTABILE”, do not drink it! If you don't read anything, don't drink it anyway (“fidarsi è bene, non fidarsi è meglio! = to trust is good, not to trust is better!). One suggestion: buy bottles at supermarkes, where they're much cheaper than those same bottles bought in bars or cafés. As for tap water, in Florence it's “potabile”. I've always drunk it: of course mineral water is nicer, but I'm still alive!!
User avatar
-Luca-
Posts: 546
Joined: Thu Oct 07, 2010 3:08 pm
Location: Italia, Abruzzo

Post by -Luca- »

dpc wrote:I have a quick question:

Water. I have read that you should only drink bottled water and never drink tap/fountain water. Another source said you should just fill a bottle up with the fountain water. Whats the deal?

Thanks guys(girls)!
Ehi, italian water is one of the best!!
I can drink tap water in my house. (Abruzzo has an excellent water)
However, if you want to be safe, just drink on fountains where POTABILE is written.
As Umberto says, buy bottles of water at markets : it's much cheaper than bars or cafes.
Italians don't know what Caesar salad is !!
dpc
Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Feb 22, 2010 6:24 am

Post by dpc »

Hello everyone

My girlfriend and I are trying to plan the trip and I have a few questions. We basically need advice on how long we should stay. Money is an issue, and like previously said we plan on going to Florence and Rome. We also think it would be fun to take a few trips to smaller areas around Florence. Nothing is set in stone, but maybe Siena, Pisa, Lucca, or san gimignano.

Does anyone have any tips for how long this trip should be? Maybe exactly what smaller towns we should visit? It's somewhat hard to plan for a trip in a place you don't know too well.

Thanks everyone!
Dylan

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 0 guests