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Okay, my wife and I are about to celebrate our 5th year anniversary (July) and we were thinking about going to Italy. Only problem is we are STUPID when it comes to travel. I would love to hear some ideas as to what we <U>need</U> to do and what to avoid if we head to Italy. Normally we are the vacation at the beach type. (We just like to chill out all day at the beach, go out to eat in the evening and then have a few drinks at night.) Another problem is that my wife is a school teacher, so vacation occurs during peak vacation times (read $$$). So if everyone could provide me with some insight and knowledge I would be in debt. Even if you could point me in the direction of a web site that might help me out, I would appreciate it. F.Y.I. we have never gotten pass ports befor
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Dutch900)

In one word: AMALFI!!
Don't miss it!!
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Dutch900)

heres my 2 cents.
youve got to weigh pros and cons of package tour or diy driving tour and decide.

package tour...pros: get to see more, avoid some lineups at popular places like vatican where its entirely possible to wait 3 hrs to get in, good historical info from guide, maybe cheaper if they can get group rates at hotels as such, meet a bunch of nice people, force you on a schedule which reduces arguing with wife since there is no choice. I chose this route so i could shut my brain off and just let everyone else do the work.

tour Cons...very little flexibility, military like promptness( up at 6am, on bus at 645am, 42.5 minutes to tour florence)..its like go,go, go!!all the time...
no chance to stop and do your own thing.

DIY tour pros;obviously flexibility to do what you want, when you want.
take as long as you want at the ducati and ferrari factory.

DIY tour cons; probably more stress being lost, catching trains or dealing with rental cars. probably see less.

i only been to italy on a package tour by trafalgar.
we flew out of NYC Kennedy to Rome.
The package tour involved all bus travel...rome, venice, florence, lake Maggiore near the swiss border(there is an island there isla bella which is spectacular).

as is known, in month of august, most italians are in the country and on the highways and cities are full of tourists so its a good time to visit the cities since overall less crowds (but still crowded)
the temps are brutal . over 100F in Venice and Rome sometimes in August.

on our tour even the italian americans were being ripped off by venders and one guy was having a beer at a bar and someone stole his backback at his feet containing digital cam, video cam AND his wallet! so tourists are def. targets.
gypsy kids are a non issue but beware of pickpockets.

venice is absolutely incredible but the main island hotel rates are astronomical.
if you diy venice you can save some bucks staying off the main island and on the mainland.

whatever you do..you will have lots and lots of fun. Italy is great.

oh yeah one more thing....if you want to take your lady to a really nice place...you will need long dress pants even tho its over 100F. i tried to get into Harry's bar in Venice but they wouldnt let me in since i was sweaty and was wearing shorts...you got to be really dressed up to get into the nice places.
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (autostrada1)

Passports are pretty simple to get. Just don't wait too much longer before you get them, or you may be stressing whether they will come in time for the trip. (I know this first hand
)

It is all preference really when it comes down to guided tours or do it yourself stuff. I personally hate the whole "Tourist Trap" stuff. I like to actually "experience" the local culture as it is experienced by the locals. Yes that means getting completely lost in a land that you know nothing about and saying to yourself
are we doing? Where are we? I have been there. I actually travelled to England a little over a year ago. It was my first time over the pond, and I did it solo. I had a complete blast. Got lost as hell in the countryside and had a blast doing it.

Alot depends on how much time you plan on spending there. I would probably opt for half the time being guided (The first half of your trip), then be on your own the last half. That way you could always go back to places you wanted to see more of, or experience something new. I hate being rushed on vacation and having an itinerary that must be abided by. To me that just isn't vacation.

Best case scenario is to have a friend who lives there meet up with you. Maybe meet someone online you feel comfortable with? Someone from this board? That way they can show you how their locals REALLY live and you get the full experience.
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Dutch900)

Venice.
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Shazaam!)

We stayed in Nice, France. Took the train to Monaco for new years, then we were off to Milan, then to Bologna and Maranello to visit the Ducati and Ferrari factories. If I could do it again I'd go in the spring or summer so that I could really enjoy the country side


Tifosi
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Tifosi)

I rented a Ducati Monster 900 in Milan. DAy 1 to La Spezia after going through Genoa. Day two through Pisa, Florence and then to Bologna. Day 3 at the Ducati and Ferrari Factories. Day 4 up to San Marino and then back to Milan over the next two days. Try Biancoblu motorcycle rentals, about $100 a day, well will the Euro the way it is, maybe a bit more

D
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Dazza)

Well I could definetely assist here. I lived there for three years from 1997 to 2000 and been up and down the boot several times by car, train and motorcycle. It all depends on how much time you got. I would think you would get the most bang for you buck flying into Rome and travelling by train to wherever you want to go. Florerence, Venice, Pisa are all must see stops that are within a couple of hour train ride from Rome. I would suggest avoiding the tours because its not that hard to get around. I would plan a couple of days for Rome, one for Pisa, two for venice and 1 or 2 for Florence. You will fill your days sightseeing. If you want some beach time there are lots of hidden beaches on the Tuscan west coast. The trains are really easy to take and when it towns rent vespa's or take taxi's. Its really easy to get around without a car. It would be really easy to set up your own trip travelling around easily if you travel light. You will have a lot of fun and venice is great for couple. Anytime in the summer is great but in August the trains get busy and flying is difficult because most of the country takes the month off. If you haven't seen it rent a movie called under the Tuscan sun which was filmed in Tuscany. Thats one of my wife's favorite movies and shows Tuscany a bit. Your going to have a great time. I miss living there. Ciao!
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Dutch900)

Thanks for the info everyone!! (Every little bit helps.) I guess to get the most bang for the buck we are looking at a min. of 14 days!!
 
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It would be best to try not to do all of Italy on this one trip. Pick out the things you really want or must see (Rome) and really do them. There are beaches at Anzio and Nettuno, which are a short train ride from Rome. Personally, I would locate in Rome and just fan out from there by train. There's tons to see there over and above the usual (Vatican, Colesseum, ruins, etc.), the U. S. military cemetary at Nettuno, etc. By no means should a tourist try to drive in Italy, IMHO, but a motorcyclist may fare well as a driver since we're all used to keeping a heads up and constantly looking and reacting.
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Dutch900)

Not very Ducati related but Roma is very impressive. For me that is the most impressive of all and after Venesia. Bologna is a big town with a factory and not much more.

Jocke............
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (vij)

I drove across Italy in Sept 03 - 7 days - flew into venice, down through bologna, ferrara, florence, down the west coast to rome, then over to the east coast and up to venice.. well almost, until a scooter t-boned us 50km outside of venice.. definitely the best two places i found: Ferrara and this other small east coast beachside town with a little bar/restaurant called Turismo where they show nothing but motorcycle racing all day.. cant remember the town name but there's a track not 2 miles from it.. Ferrara I liked b/c it didnt have quite so many tourists and just seemed a lot more real than Rome or Venice.. more of a medium-sized city with a college in it and lots of history.. I think if we went back we'd take a train to Ferrara and just stay there for 7 days..

you can see pics of the trip (and the wreck) on my website below.. they're in order so you can kind of tell by the main tourist sites which city we're in..


as for venice we stayed in the "city" itself for only about 75 euro.. most of the prices are significantly reduced everywhere around the beginning of september as the 'vacation' season has come to a close..
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (matteblackduke)

i would second the recommendation of considering touring by motorcycle. you can rent a ST3 for less than a car, and get better mileage, more flexibility in where you can ride, and really experience italy more, by motorcycle. the downside is packing light, but you learn to ship purchased items directly from the store you buy them in (most stores now offer shipping options).

i disagree that bologna is not much more than factories ... yes, the ducati factory and museum are located there, but so are some of the finest and most reasonable eating places in italy (imho). try la stella, located just down the street from the ducati factory (on Via Marco Emilio Lepido Stella, 49), or Trattoria da Tony (on Via A. Righi, 1/8), located in the old centro district of bologna. the architecture on the centro area is fascinating, and contains some of the best portico architecture in italy. great shopping, great food, great people ... missing bologna would be a sin.

try your best to visit lake como ... north of milano, just in the italian alps. a fairly quick autostrada ride north from milano, and you enter a different world at lake como.

of course, you can try and take in all the world class race tracks in italy ... monza, mugello, santa monica, imola ... they are all pretty much open at most times, and if you plan it right, see the WSB races at monza ... well worth the trip.

back road riding in italy is wonderful ... well maintained road surfaces, stunning vistas, great little hillside villages to stop for food or drink. the only thing you need to be aware of is that folks out in the country tend to not drive as well as their city cousins. folks in the cities drive very aggressivly, but are so focused on what is around them, that i felt more safe on a motorcycle there, than here in the states. and on the autostrada, folks actually move the heck out of your way when you pass them ... no ego trip, just polite road rules. we americans could learn a lot from them.

it's very hard NOT to have a fantastic time in italy ... just depends on what you're looking for.

ciao,
johnc


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ducati MH900evoluzione Owners Club
http://www.ducatiowners.com/mh900e/
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Dutch900)

Pompeii is very cool to see. And you must spend a while in Rome, just doing walking tours.

Watch out for gangs of little kids with newspapers in popular tourist spots, though - they'll come up to you and start babbling and waving newspapers in your face, and then you'll feel fingers in your pocket and your wallet will be gone forever. That was a popular trick when I was there in the late '80s, anyway. I managed to escape only because my wallet was in my front pocket and my shorts were tight.
From that moment on I wore a money belt.
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (JeffKoch)

I've done quite a bit of touring in Italy by motorcycle and by train. I you want to go to Italy to sight see and bum around a number of different cities, the train is the only way to go. They depart frequently, are not that expensive, give you time to sleep, and go just about everywhere you want to go. If you want to get lost in the countryside and get a feel for the "real" italy, bombing around on a bike is great time. Fairly easy to find a place to rent you a duc. I found the roads to be in good shape everywhere outside the big cities.
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (tman)

ducati rome rents bikes.

also, if you get a chance to ride up the adriatic coastline (say, to venice from rome), stop in riccione and stay at the Hotel De Amicis http://www.hoteldeamicis.it/frame_eng.htm. great owners, and really into sportriding. this hotel is very close to santa monica race track, so a good side trip.

ciao,
johnc
 
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Re: Need some opinions on travel to Italy... (Dutch900)

I agree with Kel, the Amalfi Coast is a great place to visit. I highly recommend the city of Sorrento...not far from Napoli, 2 hrs south of Rome, close to Pompeii and the island of Capri (which is also very beautiful)! Sorrento is a small town that hasn't become a tourist trap as much as Rome, Venice, etc. Beautiful views, friendly people, and great food! And it's not too expensive.

Rome is another must! I rented a Vespa for a day in Rome (35-40 euro)...saw all of Rome that day! It was a riot!
and I also recommend Lake Como...There are restaurants that sit high on the mountain sides and overlook the lake... eating there at nite with the moon glistening on the lake, makes for a beautiful view!

I think that the perfect vacation would be to take a tour for 2 weeks or so and see all of the main attractions with a knowledgeable guide, and then after the tour is over, spend an extra week and go to a city like sorrento and relax...and live "italian"! I do recommend the tour for the first time, cause you'll see a lot more. But it is also important for you to arrive home feeling like you were just on vacation and not as if you need a vacation.

Good luck
 
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