Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Questions on how we spend our money and our time - consumer goods and services, home and vehicle, leisure and recreational activities
Post Reply
nikfleisch
Posts: 25
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 3:07 pm

Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by nikfleisch » Mon Jul 24, 2017 7:51 am

My Wife and I will be traveling for 10 days in Italy this coming August. Unfortunately with both of our schedules (wife is a teacher), and being busy most of the summer August was the only time of the summer we could travel. please no comments about how busy it will be, we are aware. The plan is outlined below. I am not a big 'sightseeing guy'. Meaning, I would prefer to live like a local, and enjoy a dinner at a hole in the wall place, and drinks at the local bar over a crowded art exhibit. We will be moving from city to city on the high speed rail. Thanks for your help in advance!

Rome (Hotel Giuliana) - 3 Nights
Probably spend a 1/2 day to see the Vatican City
Not sure about coliseum yet. Is it worth it?

Florence (Hotel Globus) - 4 Nights
(Only thing planned here so far is a half day winery excursion)

Venice (A La Locanda di Orsaria) - 2 Nights

1. What would you recommend we see in these 3 cities?
2. Any good restaurants you would recommend?
3. What should we plan for budget wise a day? Is $100/day for 2 people reasonable for food?
4. Any other general recommendations?

Thanks!

MondayMorningQB
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun May 15, 2016 7:04 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by MondayMorningQB » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:12 am

Rick Steve's app. He has a free app that has walking tours of all 3 places. It is fantastic. You'll want to go ahead and download the app and the walking tours of all 3 places preferably before you leave. There is wifi in Italy (obviously) but it is SLOW and may take a long time to download when you get there. If there's any place that you want to see that requires a ticket, make sure to check and see if you can buy a ticket online. It will save you hours of waiting in line. Also, you can download maps of the specific cities on your phone from google maps before you start out each day. That's a must.

If you're in Rome you must do the coliseum and forum. You might as well pick another country to visit if you don't care to see those two. In Florence, the best view of the city is from Piazzale Michelangelo. Beautiful! If you're interested in hole in the wall restaurants then you will find plenty in Venice. I advise you to check the google and tripadvisor reviews of all restaurants before going. The only bad meal I had in Italy was in Rome due to me not checking reviews. It was just a tourist trap restaurant.

As far as a budget - that's totally dependent on what you do. I would plan $100 a day for food, drinks, and gelato. If you do any tours or museums then add $40-50 more. I view it like this - you're going for 10 days to Italy. If you spend $50 more a day to do everything that you want to do - or to have a glass of wine at beautiful locations - that's only $500 more over the course of 10 days of a trip that already costs several thousand. 2 years after your trip you'll remember what you did and you won't miss the $500.

Enjoy your trip!

Grt2bOutdoors
Posts: 17138
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 8:20 pm
Location: New York

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Grt2bOutdoors » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:20 am

I will comment on this since you did not mention it - it will be hotter than hades in Rome and Florence. Wear light, loose clothing, keep hydrated.

Rome - Il Trevi Fountains
Colosseum
Perhaps the Villa Borghese museum if you and wife are into art. Purchase tickets in advance online.

Florence - Galleria dell Accademia - Statue of David
Walk the Ponte Vecchio Bridge
Purchase tickets in advance for Uffizi Gallery - you can spend more than a day in this place, it's wall to wall paintings
Take a day bus tour to a tuscan winery

Have fun.
"One should invest based on their need, ability and willingness to take risk - Larry Swedroe" Asking Portfolio Questions

BogleAlltheWay
Posts: 307
Joined: Mon May 15, 2017 5:25 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by BogleAlltheWay » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:38 am

There is also the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
In Venice they have glass blowing and several mask shops.

bluebolt
Posts: 553
Joined: Sat Jan 14, 2017 9:01 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by bluebolt » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:47 am

Definitely see the Vatican Museum and buy tickets in advance online. Print your tickets out as last time I was there, they had a problem with me just showing it on my phone (this may have changed in the last few years).

TripAdvisor is an excellent source for restaurants. Search reviews for "authentic," "local," "off-the-beaten-path," etc to try and find hidden gems.

Get a local SIM card (make sure you have an unlocked phone). I find it invaluable to be able to text, call & use maps/TripAdvisor wherever I am on my trip.

I don't know if the other poster was referring to Rick Steves' audio tours, but those are great. Also worth downloading Rick Steves' Italy book on Kindle, so it's always with you.

In Rome, make sure you set aside time to walk around Trastevere in addition to the major sites.

User avatar
Watty
Posts: 11567
Joined: Wed Oct 10, 2007 3:55 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Watty » Mon Jul 24, 2017 8:50 am

We really liked Venice but a lot of people don't because the main tourist areas like Piazza San Marco are absolutely packed with tourists. In addition to all the normal tourists a few years ago they started to let large cruise ships stop at Venice and there are often several cruise ships there are at the same time and combined they can literally dump off ten thousand people there.

The main thing to do would be to avoid the main tourist areas and just wander across other areas. Once you get about fifteen minutes away from the tourist areas it will often be almost deserted.

Get very good directions to your hotel. We had a hard time finding ours since is was down a small alley. When you get there buy a good map that will cost in the ballpark of $5. In addition to helping you find your way it will also show you all sorts of small side streets and plazas that you might otherwise miss.

For a great view of Venice go to the top of the bell tower at San Giorgio Maggiore. It was one of the highlights of our stay there.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_ ... eneto.html

It is across the channel from San Marco but when we were there it was not at all crowded. Be sure to check of the times and how to get there since as I recall figuring out which water bus to take was not intuitive since in that area they go in one way loops.

+1 on using the Rick Steves book. He had a number of free audible tours that you can download.

If you have not already bought your tickets for the Vatican on line it is likely too late to buy them yourself so you will need to start looking for a tour group that you can use. If there happens to be something special going at at the Vatican when you are in Rome then it might be difficult to get into it.

In Florence one of my favorite sites was the Museo Galileo which is a museum of antique scientific stuff including things like a telescope made by Galileo.

http://www.museogalileo.it/en/visit.html
Last edited by Watty on Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

aristotelian
Posts: 3017
Joined: Wed Jan 11, 2017 8:05 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by aristotelian » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:03 am

Our Italy trip was about the same length but we just took a slower approach with a couple days in Florence and then centered the rest of the trip in the countryside around Umbria (based in Assisi, daytrips to Orvieto, Gubbio, Spoleto, Bevagna, etc). You could also do a similar itinerary around Tuscany. To me the countryside is the heart and soul of Italy--there was some cool stuff to Florence but the sights and the people were more memorable in the countryside. I would encourage you to consider slowing it down and pick one or two regions to focus on. You will almost certainly fall in love with the country and then you can go back and focus on another region and so on.

bubbadog
Posts: 372
Joined: Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:17 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by bubbadog » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:27 am

We just got back from a 2 week Europe trip (Paris, Switzerland, Italy, and London). We all agreed that one full day in Venice was enough for us.

Iliketoridemybike
Posts: 335
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:03 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Iliketoridemybike » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:31 am

Rome in August is going to be a tourist hell so be prepared.
The Colosseum is a must. Try and get into one of group tours that can skip ahead of the line. The "sales people" for these tours have clip boards and create an ad hoc "group" so they can enter under the group rules. There are English speaking tours available. Then once you're done there, go across the street and walk the forum. Those two are easily worth a whole day. See the Pantheon as well.

$100 a day in Rome might be tough unless your are willing to eat a lot of pizza, which is good, but please reach out and try and have some local "Roman" recipe foods. You won't regret it.

Florence, go see the Tuscan hill towns. Well worth the effort.
Venice for us was a meh. Sort of like going to Disneyland. Not really worth the crowds, bad food, etc.

Italy is awesome, but August is the height of the tourist season so keep an open mind about timing, crowds, etc.

carolinaman
Posts: 2628
Joined: Wed Dec 28, 2011 9:56 am
Location: North Carolina

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by carolinaman » Mon Jul 24, 2017 10:32 am

While in Florence take time to visit some of the hill towns and other sites in Tuscany. It is a beautiful area but will require a car to get around. Siena and San Gimignano are good to see and there are many others.

barreg
Posts: 48
Joined: Wed Feb 27, 2013 1:49 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by barreg » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:11 pm

Book as many sightseeing reservations/tours in advance as you can and try for the earliest available times. Temperatures aren't too bad early in the AM, but by 11am, it will be baking hot in Rome and Tuscany.

We did the Colosseum Underground and 3rd Ring tour (buy from official Coop Culture website) at the earliest available time. The Colosseum was packed, but the behind the scenes access afforded to the tour made it seem uncrowded and enjoyable. We had hoped to walk through the Forum afterwards, but it was just too hot and there was a 1/2 hour wait to get in, so we just looked at it from the street as we walked by.

My family really enjoyed the tour at Palazzo Valentini in Rome as well. Very interesting/informative tour and it's below ground, so two hours of air conditioning.

The main thing I would have changed from our trip to Italy last summer would have looked at whether or not restaurants had air conditioning when looking at reviews. It's not that Italy in the summer is hotter than many North American cities in the summer, it's that there are many fewer places with decent air conditioning, so it gets hard to escape the heat.

SaveStrong
Posts: 17
Joined: Sun Jan 15, 2012 5:11 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by SaveStrong » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:14 pm

If you book advance you can now tour the "basement" of the colesseum which has been closed for some time. Probably worth it if works with your schedule.

In Venice you won't go wrong just strolling around and avoiding the crowds. When the cruise crowds go left, you go right. Often you'll find those quiet bars and cafes you are looking for.

Florence is beautiful and a lot to see. Even though touristy would recommend picking a cafe and just sitting to take in the doumo - awe inspiring structure

straws46
Posts: 72
Joined: Fri Jul 03, 2015 11:12 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by straws46 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:37 pm

Do not spend a fortune for a Bellini at Harry's bar in Venice, no matter how many famous people have been there. And don't buy a chandelier unless you check internet prices first. The Doges Palace tour is worth seeing. In Rome go to a local coffee shop and pay the extra price to have your drink at a table; then watch the locals stop in for breakfast (usually a Marlboro and an espresso standing up).

User avatar
Nearing_Destination
Posts: 688
Joined: Wed Aug 05, 2009 1:26 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Nearing_Destination » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:46 pm

Minor points--

Beware of pickpockets- especially around tourist areas
( outside Vatican there are roving groups, in Venice they will be less noticeable but still there, etc) so use a money belt for passport and money.

Venice doesn't have the cruise ships go down the grand canal anymore-- they have to either use the water taxi or get bused to a drop off point. But you will notice when they are there :shock: there are nice shops in out of the way areas-- and be sure to haggle :moneybag

Definitely get advanced reservations for most activities-- the Vatican lines can be hours otherwise (we'd gotten a tour with an employee/curator that got us in quickly and had back areas to avoid the mobs-- well worth it)

Florence is mostly walking-- so be prepared; limited vehicles in the old city. As with other venues, long lines should be expected

Bring comfortable shoes, refillable water containers, MAPS (either on the phone or hard copy)--- and of course a sense of adventure

langleybc
Posts: 16
Joined: Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:40 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by langleybc » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:48 pm

Visit small islands when you are in Venice, like Murano, Burano. Buy a water bus day pass, 20 euros a day, otherwise it's like 8 euros one ride.

rjbraun
Posts: 983
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by rjbraun » Mon Jul 24, 2017 1:11 pm

Have been to all three cities and really liked them all. Our last visit to Rome and Florence was last January for a week each. Have been to Venice a couple of times in the past few years. Once was in November where we experienced "acqua alta" and then more recently in late June/early July. Both visits were special in their own way. The variation in light makes a difference, and I would encourage anyone interested and with the ability to visit more than once to do so. As to the crowds, I recall our last trip walking near St Mark's Square, teeming with tourists. We only had to walk the equivalent of one city block (not even) to find a peaceful area with, seemingly, a few locals minding their young children as they played. We approached Venice from the water on the summer visit, having taken a barge cruise from Padua. Venice was absolutely dwarfed by the all the gigantic docked cruise ships (if I could figure out how to upload the picture, I would). While unsightly, one benefit is that late evening and early morning hours are more peaceful, as presumably the cruise ships have departed and / or haven't yet arrived for the day. Take advantage of that to stroll the paths early or late in the day, ideally both.

Rome:

We enjoyed the Vatican Gardens tour. Even though we went in January, we still found the tour very worthwhile. The gardens should be glorious this time of year. Your gardens ticket will allow ("free") access to the museums and you can also avoid the museum line, a nice benefit.

https://biglietteriamusei.vatican.va/mu ... a=4&step=1

If you visit Trastevere, as another poster suggested, this is a good restaurant, though I found the hours erratic:

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_ ... Lazio.html

Cheap pasta, if you will be near the Spanish Steps, but you will basically need to stand and eat. We would just bring the pasta back to the apartment we rented, but your hotel is probably located too far for that.

http://www.spottedbylocals.com/rome/pastificio-guerra/

Florence:

Restaurants we enjoyed:

http://www.zebgastronomia.com/1148-2/

Pepo, Via Rosina -- delicious spaghetti with tomato sauce

http://www.fishinglab.it/en/
Be sure to check out the amazing ~13th-century friezes in the dining room. Looks like there's also a Rome location

Vini e Sapori, near piazza del Signoria. Popular, try to reserve (we lucked out as walk-ins for lunch, but there was a wait otherwise)

Robiglia, coffee bar founded 1928. Had freshly-made bomboloni (we lucked out, don't think they are made continuously throughout the day)

Mercato Centrale -- big food market with shops and lots of places to eat (kind of like a food hall / court).

Have a wonderful visit!

Edit: Definitely consider buying a vaporetto pass for your stay in Venice. Pays for itself if you ride the "waterbus" a few times and so much fun. Consider riding at night as well, I think Rick Steves may have an audio tour that points out the various buildings. Personally, I would avoid the gondola rides, though I realize they are popular with tourists.

jebmke
Posts: 6862
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by jebmke » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:26 pm

Iliketoridemybike wrote:Rome in August is going to be a tourist hell so be prepared.
Europe in general. Many countries take off in August. Southern Europe is also incredibly hot this time of year and many places are not air conditioned.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

mscout
Posts: 11
Joined: Sun Sep 28, 2014 12:14 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by mscout » Mon Jul 24, 2017 2:54 pm

DH and I visited Florence in early June 2017. It was the first visit for DH and second visit for me. We really enjoyed The Original Florence walk w/ Artviva (our guide, Tatiana, was excellent). I recommend booking guided tours online in advance of your popular trips fill quickly. We also did the Masterpieces of the Uffizi tour with the same company. It was great to bypass the lines upon entry and view the major artwork, but I didn't enjoy this tour as much.

If you have/use a smartphone, I highly recommend downloading the offline Google Maps for each of the cities you're visiting. By downloading the maps before your trip, you can use them for navigation even in airplane mode and/or without a local sim card. The only caveat is the offline maps only provide driving directions which still work well in most instances.

If you shop at the market stalls (leather goods, scarves), the vendors are willing to bargain (they are also happy to sell to you at their first quoted price).

Enjoy your trip!

letsgobobby
Posts: 10614
Joined: Fri Sep 18, 2009 1:10 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by letsgobobby » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:01 pm

We spend 3 days in Florence and a full week in Rome for a slower pace. It was a good choice. Rome's sights are amazing and never-ending. The food in both places is fantastic. I wasn't as interested in seeing Venice, not at the expense of seeing less of Rome, so I didn't.

With the long stretches we used VRBO and in Rome stayed a block off Campo di Fiori. Walking distance to almost everything, or a short taxi ride at most. This way you can 'live like a local' as you suggested. We took the subway or bus out to the catacombs, we did walking tours and explored cafes and fountains, had the time to eat gelato twice a day, etc.

User avatar
Meg77
Posts: 2086
Joined: Fri May 22, 2009 1:09 pm
Location: Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Meg77 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 3:28 pm

I just went to Rome for the first time in April, and it was lovely! I was surprised how many sights are within walking distance from one another. You don't need to set aside a whole day or even a half day to see much unless you want a detailed guided tour. We didn't plan much in advance; my sis who I was with had studied there and my mom has seen the major sites as well, so I didn't want them to have to go on tours to re-see things just for me. I'm glad I didn't try to check off too many sight-seeing items; we had a great time just wandering around.

My favorite afternoon was spent at the park where the Villa Borghese is. We couldn't get tickets inside (buy in advance), but the park where it is located is lovely and wasn't crowded at all (a nice respite from the rest of Rome!). We sat at a café sipping cappuccino among locals; my sister drew in a sketchbook while I wrote in a journal. That was a more authentic and memorable experience than many more touristy things we did (not that those weren't fun too). Allow for those unplanned blocks of time.
"An investment in knowledge pays the best interest." - Benjamin Franklin

rox0825
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Oct 25, 2016 11:39 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by rox0825 » Mon Jul 24, 2017 9:10 pm

For Rome, this post has some good advice on the main things you should see along with some food/gelato recommendations: http://creditcardpediem.com/2017/07/23/ ... itinerary/

In Florence, definitely check out Piazzale Michelangelo for good views of the city. If you want to climb to the top of the duomo, get tix the day you are there b/c you will likely need to book your time a day or two out.

I'd recommend eating at La Prosciutteria in Rome or Florence if you like charcuterie.

For food in Florence, I recommend Osteria Vini e Vecchi Sapori and Osteria alla Staffa in Venice. I was there this summer and made reservations using the Amex concierge.

I think $100/day is reasonable for food especially if your hotel includes breakfast. We spent about 50-70 for dinners (thankfully wine is cheaper than US cities)

Church Lady
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:49 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Church Lady » Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:48 am

Italian churches and the Vatican have a dress code. Exposed knees and arms are an issue in Italy. This applies to men as well as to women. Pack your wardrobe accordingly.

In jeans, I felt distinctly under dressed in Italy, even just walking down the street or getting a gelato. If I went again, I'd leave the jeans at home.

Venice has a lot of churches with breath taking interiors. I'm not talking just Basilica San Marcos, although I enjoyed that one as well. Any good guidebook can give you a selection of church interiors you can tour. Most of them are free. And most tourists don't bother. Their loss! Bring a hand mirror from the dollar store as you will get tired craning your neck to look up.

Basilica San Marcos, campanile, Doges palace are worth seeing, but they will be crowded that time of year. They may not be very accessible, but you should probably take advantage of staying in Venice to try to see these early in the morning, booking in advance if you can. If you get into the Basilica, pay the few extra coins to see the San Marcos treasury. And why? To see the fabulous Four Horses up close!

If all you want to do in Venice is walk the streets, you can frankly do it in a couple of hours. You have to get indoors to appreciate how grand it is.

Both Rome and Florence have a 'dome' tour. The lovely domes atop the big churches have an outer skin and an interior skin. To tour these, you basically climb a narrow path or stair between the skins to the top, where you are rewarded with a view of the city. Of the two, the one in Florence is much more pleasant and better organized. Climb the one in Florence if you are up to it, and skip the one in St Peters. Domes may not be your thing if you are claustrophobic or out of shape.

In Florence, the view from the top of the duomo is nearly identical to the view from the top of that same church's campanile. It's hardly necessary to pay for both if the view is what you're after. :wink: Just saying! The duomo baptistry is stunning and well worth the time. The duomo treasury has many fascinating things to study. The Pitti Palace and grounds are worth the effort of crossing the Arno. It's also worth the effort to tour the Convent of San Marco http://www.museumsinflorence.com/musei/ ... marco.html to see the beautiful Fra Anglico frescoes.

All the Florence museums are great, but it's easy to get museum fatigue. Try to put other activities between the museums so you enjoy them more. Florentine churches have great architectural as well as artistic interest, and can be toured for free. Guidebooks are your friend in choosing churches to tour.

In Rome, you simply must walk around the outside of the Coliseum and admire that building. Stroll uphill from the main entrance. There's a coffee bar across the street where you can sip a cappuccino or mineral water and gaze at the building, wondering if locals appreciate it the way you do. The Roman forum came alive for me because I had read the Robert Graves books. The forum would be boring and pointless if you did not know Roman history. Of course, you have to see Vatican City, even if only the exteriors. I liked the Vatican museums, but not everyone likes the crowds inside. In the Sistene Chapel, I couldn't decide whether I was being packed into a sardine can or part of a cattle drive. I was disappointed to note the chapel ceiling is painted in Day-glo colors. The Pantheon is well worth your time. St John Lateran will amaze you and worth the effort of seeking it out. I stumbled upon Maria Sopra Minerva, and I'm glad I did. If you go there, be sure to tour under the church as well as the church itself.

The fascinating thing about Rome is that you can stumble into almost any church you see, and see an artistic or architectural or cultural gem. I'd carry Blue Guide at all times to make sure you catch the highlights of wherever you wander.

The best thing I did in Italy was to use good guidebooks. We can tell you what we like, but only you know what you like. Guidebooks will help you find it. Rick Steves is great for organizational tips and thrift tips, but are highly biased to what he likes. Let's Go Italy and Lonely Planet will also help you organize your trip (but I don't see Bogleheads using guides of that nature). Blue Guide and Michelin Guide are better for explaining what you are seeing. Rick Steves says a good guidebook is a $25 investment in a $2000 trip, and he's right.
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:8

SueG5123
Posts: 63
Joined: Fri Jan 01, 2016 8:41 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by SueG5123 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:23 am

Re: seeing the Vatican, your wife being a teacher provides an excellent "rationale" for requesting permission to visit the necropolis and excavations underneath St. Peter's. You must request permission on line from the Vatican Scavi Office, and you will be charged a nominal fee to pay for the tour. Tour groups are very small (10 people or less) and you will go where no one else goes, or knows to go. You will go through a series of airlocks to see early Christian mosaics, ancient mausoleums, the bones of St. Peter, crypts of the popes, and Clementine Chapel, which is covered, ceiling to floor, in gold from the New World. You will pop out steps from St. Peter's Basilica, free to skip the lengthy line of people waiting to get into St. Peter's. It blew our minds.

Capsu78
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed May 18, 2016 10:30 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Capsu78 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 11:34 am

On the topic of pick pockets, I have real experiences having been picked by magic tricks twice last year -Athens (not unexpected) and Tokyo (very unexpected). My best practices now are to leave my regular wallet at home, taking only a couple of strategic cards and spreading them out between my wife and myself. Two major credit cards from different companies, 2 different ATM accounts so that if you lose one, you still have options. Pocket cash in my pocket, more cash in other secure spots. You need to be lightening quick in reporting cards missing...In Greece, I knew I had been picked within 3 minutes, was on the phone within 15 minutes and the loser scoundrels had already attempted to use the card. People have different perspectives on this, but I leave my passport in the hotel safe and carry a color copy of it with me. I also grab a business card from every hotel I stay at and carry it with me knowing that if I was stopped for ID, I could point to my copy of the passport and to the hotel business card and say "It's right here". No need for your Home Depot card or your work ID. Leave them at home.
I will throw in a big shout out to the Duluth Trading Company, whose line of firehouse pants contains very deep, securable pockets, including one inside the pants themselves. They are almost dressy enough for Italy, and at least make you look a bit more presentable than the average (INSERT HOME COUNTRY) slob when paired with decent shoes. YMMV on a hot August day in Italy, but I am very "aware" of where my CC's are and if I am walking into crowds, I now move my wallet to my front Columbia shirt pocket, move my daypack to my shoulder and keep my hand on my slimed down wallet.
Also of concern for the OP is keeping an eye on your luggage during the train stops...We traveled as a group of 8 and there was no way we could keep our bags with us- had to put them up close to the door. I ended up being concerned enough about it, and what a distraction the loss of a piece of luggage would be, I pretty much rode standing up all the way to Venice.
So bottom line is the same as it would be in many places..."situational awareness" trumps selfie set up.

rjbraun
Posts: 983
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by rjbraun » Tue Jul 25, 2017 12:36 pm

Church Lady wrote:<snip>
Both Rome and Florence have a 'dome' tour. The lovely domes atop the big churches have an outer skin and an interior skin. To tour these, you basically climb a narrow path or stair between the skins to the top, where you are rewarded with a view of the city. Of the two, the one in Florence is much more pleasant and better organized. Climb the one in Florence if you are up to it, and skip the one in St Peters. Domes may not be your thing if you are claustrophobic or out of shape.
<snip>
+1. I do not consider myself particularly claustrophobic or out of shape, but having climbed the Duomo in Florence earlier this year, I will think twice (at least) before a similar future undertaking. As you climb to the top, the stair or path obviously narrows, thereby creating a potential bottleneck. In our case, there was apparently a worker or guide who controlled the traffic at the very top of the dome. Perfectly reasonable, of course, but as we were not aware of this (no announcement or anything) one was left to wonder.

Basically, we were stuck in place. That's when my mind started thinking about all the things that could go wrong ... someone with a health emergency, for example. Suffice to say, the pathways are very narrow (and "old", so of course not designed to handle anyone disabled, etc.); it would be very challenging to allow for an ill individual or medical team to pass in such conditions.

Anyway, everything turned out fine and the view from the top is glorious. Just be prepared for the conditions. We did the climb in the winter; summer weather will pose its own challenges.

Capsu78
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed May 18, 2016 10:30 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Capsu78 » Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:20 pm

When I climbed St Peters, it was off season (March) with light crowds and temps in the 50's... I wouldn't consider climbing one on a crowded or hot day. There is no turning back.

Sidney
Posts: 6643
Joined: Thu Mar 08, 2007 6:06 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Sidney » Tue Jul 25, 2017 1:24 pm

I had a one-day layover on a flight from Delhi to Rome (and then onward) in August one year. The temperature in Rome was the same as it was in Delhi when I left.
I always wanted to be a procrastinator.

Church Lady
Posts: 294
Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 7:49 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Church Lady » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:59 pm

When I climbed St Peters, it was off season (March) with light crowds and temps in the 50's... I wouldn't consider climbing one on a crowded or hot day. There is no turning back.
I did the St Peters dome in May, on an unseasonably cold day. It was hot, dark, airless, and crowded to the extent the guy behind me kept treading on my heels. That is how tightly they pack you in. I guess they do it to allow as many people as possible to experience it, but oy, that dome climb is a tragedy waiting to happen. If I were fire marshal, I'd shut it down.
He that loveth silver shall not be satisfied with silver; nor he that loveth abundance with increase: this is also vanity. Ecclesiastes 1:8

Theseus
Posts: 236
Joined: Sat Jan 23, 2016 9:40 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Theseus » Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:37 pm

carolinaman wrote:While in Florence take time to visit some of the hill towns and other sites in Tuscany. It is a beautiful area but will require a car to get around. Siena and San Gimignano are good to see and there are many others.
+ 1. And I would add Luca to that list. Each of this town you can easily spend half a day to full day and are SO beautiful.

Also don't forget to eat Gelato at San Gimignano. There is a place that has won the best Gelato Award in Tuscany several years in a row. Lines are long there....so order as much as you can carry otherwise you will regret it...no matter what flavor. :D :D :D

We just came back from there. Spent 4 nights in Rome and 4 nights in Florence. Florence was our favorite. But we felt (not being big history buffs) one day was enough for the Florence itself. Then rest of the time we spent going to Luca, Seina, San Gimignano, Pisa (not worth the time required to go there).

We found Florence to be relatively cheaper than Rome (I would say 20-25%). So if you are going to splurge I suggest Florence would give you bigger bank for the buck.

In Rome, we had a dinner at this restaurant with a view of Colosseum - actually it is right across the street. Amazing view. If the table is booked online you get 50% off (yes it is 50% - I just checked again). And food was really good.

http://www.ristorantecolosseo.it

For tours, we used GetYourGuide.Com (it has an app as well). We bought guided tour through that in Paris, Rome, Florence and Switzerland. Very happy with the process.

Lastly our trip was about 24 days. It came out to $275/per person/per day. This included ALL expenses including airfare, local travel, and shopping. We could have done it at about $250. But we splurged and Switzerland jacked up the average. This is with staying in AirBnb in France and Italy. And hotels in Switzerland.

Ztx
Posts: 7
Joined: Thu Jul 21, 2016 9:54 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Ztx » Wed Jul 26, 2017 10:26 pm

There are many good tips in this thread already, but I'll add my 2 cents:

- +1 for Rick Steves guidebooks. We used them in all the 3 cities you mentioned and they were great

Florence:
- as somebody mentioned , there is a great view of the city from Piazzale Michelangelo, especially at sunset. There are many people waiting for this moment so it will be crowded
- check out this restaurant: laprosciutteria.com (they have one in Rome too, but we liked Florence's one better) Very interesting experience (and very crowded and tiny! Chances are you'll have to stand) Basically they serve various plates with a variety of cheeses and cold meats and people just drink wine and enjoy the food and the company.
- after the dinner we used to grab some gelato and then enjoyed listening to street musicians near Palazzo Vecchio.
- if you have time for a side trip and not afraid of driving in Italy : we rented a car for one day and drove around Tuscany (little villages like Montepulciano and others and then ended up in Siena for dinner - the old part of the city is really nice.) The drive was very scenic too


Rome:
- in addition to all the things to do people mentioned , we also just enjoyed going for strolls in the evening when it cools off
- http://www.viaggioneifori.it/en/ . This is a pretty cool night-tour of the Forum.

Ready3Retire
Posts: 61
Joined: Tue Sep 16, 2014 11:15 am
Location: Midwest

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Ready3Retire » Fri Jul 28, 2017 6:07 am

In 2015, I took my wife and 2 teenage boys to Rome (4 days), Tuscan agriturismo (4 days) and Florence (3 days). Everyone loved the trip. Favorites in each city were: ~2 hr bike tour in Rome around coliseum (used Viator), loved driving/biking around Tuscany and living at the working farm (olives, vineyards, bees), and food in Florence.

jebmke
Posts: 6862
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by jebmke » Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:08 am

Be on the alert for water rationing in Rome

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/27/worl ... .html?_r=0
A severe drought and sweltering temperatures have led city officials to consider rationing drinking water for eight hours a day for a million and a half Rome residents.
Rome’s embattled mayor, Virginia Raggi, has vowed to prevent the rationing, even as smaller towns have already resorted to closing some taps.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

rjbraun
Posts: 983
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by rjbraun » Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:10 am

In case folks aren't aware, news reports of Italy's drought this summer have led to talk of possible water rationing in Rome:

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-40733218

nimo956
Posts: 674
Joined: Mon Feb 15, 2010 6:07 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by nimo956 » Fri Jul 28, 2017 10:22 am

I think you should only spend 2-3 nights in Florence and 4-5 nights in Rome. Florence isn't very big, and you can see much of the city in a few days. Rome is enormous by comparison, with lots of different neighborhoods to visit and far more sites to see.

Edit: also beware of taking taxis in Rome, and read up on the 20 euro/5 euro scam.
50% VTI / 50% VXUS

User avatar
samsoes
Posts: 408
Joined: Tue Mar 05, 2013 9:12 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by samsoes » Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:08 am

jebmke wrote:
Iliketoridemybike wrote:Rome in August is going to be a tourist hell so be prepared.
Europe in general. Many countries take off in August. Southern Europe is also incredibly hot this time of year and many places are not air conditioned.
Also be aware that even if a hotel says it's "air conditioned," it's usually just the fan mechanism part of air conditioning ... just blows around the hot air.
"Happiness Is Not My Companion" - Gen. Gouverneur K. Warren. (Avatar is the statue of Gen. Warren at Little Round Top @ Gettysburg National Military Park.)

Capsu78
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed May 18, 2016 10:30 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Capsu78 » Fri Jul 28, 2017 11:57 am

Yes, the air conditioning most Americans consider "standard" is rarely found in Italy and all of Europe based on the comparatively high costs of electricity in the EU...not a complaint, I love Europe, just a fact. You will also not be served much ice in your drinks for the same reason. I have found, however, you can air dry a small load of hand washed laundry successfully in an afternoon if you have packed a little light!

Exit105
Posts: 2
Joined: Tue Apr 04, 2017 3:22 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Exit105 » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:23 pm

Regarding Venice, my experience has been that people either love it or hate it. I loved it. 2 things I would recommend there aside from the expected:
1) get up very early in the AM, 5:30 - 6:00 timeframe and walk the streets. There will be no tourists, St. Mark's square will be empty and the canals will be full of working boats, bringing in supplies, picking up trash, etc. Find a bench and enjoy.
2) You must take the obligatory Gondola ride, but we did it very late in the evening. I believe it was approaching 11-11:30. Peaceful, romantic, and a totally different view of the usually busy canals.
Enjoy.

fasteddie911
Posts: 77
Joined: Fri May 16, 2008 3:13 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by fasteddie911 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:06 am

Agree with a lot of what has already been said, I think your schedule looks fine. 1 day in Venice was enough for me, glad I got to see the city, but not sure I'd go back. We loved Florence, only spent a day there but would love to go back and spend more time there and the surrounding countryside. Rome was great, pretty busy city and more hustle and bustle. Definitely worthwhile to do the Coliseum and pay to go inside, as well as Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. We so happened to randomly walk into Vatican city on a day the Pope was having service in St. Peter's Square which was pretty cool. Tons of good places to eat in any city, you should have no trouble finding a place. Other suggestions would be to be aware of pickpockets (we got a belt wallet), travel light, we did a carry-on backpack style suitcase which worked well, I'd imagine a large and/or rolling suitcase may be more cumbersome. Also, go ahead and "splurge" on first class train tickets (assuming you're doing train between cities), buy directly on trenitalia website, it wasn't much more than coach when we went, they give you free snacks and someone came around pushing an actual espresso machine, which I got a huge kick out of.

jebmke
Posts: 6862
Joined: Thu Apr 05, 2007 2:44 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by jebmke » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:18 am

fasteddie911 wrote: rolling suitcase may be more cumbersome
I found rolling suitcase, even the smaller ones a drawback in much of Europe due to uneven sidewalks, cobblestone roads etc. Overhead racks on trains are often smaller and don't fit normal suitcases. I only used mine for business travel. Used a backpack for personal travel -- forces you to pack light.
When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount.

Iliketoridemybike
Posts: 335
Joined: Wed Jun 28, 2017 11:03 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Iliketoridemybike » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:21 am

jebmke wrote:
fasteddie911 wrote: rolling suitcase may be more cumbersome
I found rolling suitcase, even the smaller ones a drawback in much of Europe due to uneven sidewalks, cobblestone roads etc. Overhead racks on trains are often smaller and don't fit normal suitcases. I only used mine for business travel. Used a backpack for personal travel -- forces you to pack light.
Completely agree. Lighter is way better. Elevators aren't always available either. You'll be happier with less clothing choices too. Just bring some Woolite and do laundry as you travel.

Capsu78
Posts: 173
Joined: Wed May 18, 2016 10:30 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by Capsu78 » Sat Jul 29, 2017 8:37 am

Exit105 wrote:Regarding Venice, my experience has been that people either love it or hate it. I loved it. 2 things I would recommend there aside from the expected:
1) get up very early in the AM, 5:30 - 6:00 timeframe and walk the streets. There will be no tourists, St. Mark's square will be empty and the canals will be full of working boats, bringing in supplies, picking up trash, etc. Find a bench and enjoy.
2) You must take the obligatory Gondola ride, but we did it very late in the evening. I believe it was approaching 11-11:30. Peaceful, romantic, and a totally different view of the usually busy canals.
Enjoy.

Agree it's a love it or hate it proposition- We love it and have gone back 4 times now. We are pretty good at avoiding the crowds as for the most part they are all on the pathways from the train station to St Marks. But it is a city that is at sea level so there are musty smells etc. I compare it to New Orleans in many ways- also a love it or hate it proposition for many of the same reasons- crowds, funky smells etc. but still unlike any place else in the world.

rjbraun
Posts: 983
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:22 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by rjbraun » Mon Jul 31, 2017 9:58 am

Iliketoridemybike wrote:
jebmke wrote:
fasteddie911 wrote: rolling suitcase may be more cumbersome
I found rolling suitcase, even the smaller ones a drawback in much of Europe due to uneven sidewalks, cobblestone roads etc. Overhead racks on trains are often smaller and don't fit normal suitcases. I only used mine for business travel. Used a backpack for personal travel -- forces you to pack light.
Completely agree. Lighter is way better. Elevators aren't always available either. You'll be happier with less clothing choices too. Just bring some Woolite and do laundry as you travel.
Another vote for traveling light. Besides, those wheeled suitcases would be a poor choice for Venice. Apart from the uneven paths, in the event of "acqua alta" (high water) rolling luggage isn't even an option. I felt for people trying to carry their wheeled luggage over their heads while also trying to secure their footing as they walked. Don't think I even knew of tidal flooding until we were already in Venice and experienced knee-high water ourselves.

Good to travel with only the essentials and only minimal valuables, if one must

http://europeforvisitors.com/venice/art ... a-alta.htm

User avatar
chickadee
Posts: 152
Joined: Thu Jul 10, 2014 2:13 pm

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by chickadee » Mon Jul 31, 2017 10:06 am

Good responses here. Note that chances of acqua alta in Venice in August are slim. I wouldn't let that dictate my luggage choices. Not everyone has a young(ish), strong back to carry a backpack, and that shouldn't stop anyone from going to Europe.

If you aren't into crowded art exhibits, as your OP stated. I'm going to propose that you skip the Vatican museum. It was a crowded, claustrophobic nightmare when we went in March. Can't even imagine what it would be like in August. You probably won't enjoy it, and it might color your opinion of Rome in general. Sooooo, you could go to a smaller art museum, or explore more churches, or linger at a cafe with a lunch bottle of wine instead. Time is money on a trip, and I'd spend it elsewhere in Rome in August. You'll go back to Italy some day (trust me), hopefully on spring break, and you could put it on your list for that trip.

The Rick Steves Italy guidebook is really good. Download his Audio tours to your cell phone, and use them at the locations. Print out the PDF map you can find online to supplement. We took a Y splitter and long cable so that we stayed together and used one phone. Worked like a charm at the Forum, Colosseum and yes, the Sistine Chapel. Might be hard to pull off in the August crowds. But without a guidebook, audio guide, or human guide at the Forum particularly, you are just looking at piles of rocks without context.

One final thing. It's your trip, and don't let anyone pooh pooh the fact that you are going when it will likely be hot, crowded, etc. I've found that success on a lot of trips are down to attitude. If you decide you are going to have an amazing trip, and sidestep activities that will be a buzz kill for more off the beaten path pursuits, you are going to succeed. If you feel you "have" to do the big name sites, Google up how to "hack" these most effectively (get tickets online, buy Roma pass and Florence pass to skip the line, go 1.5 hours before close, show up right when it opens, etc.) With the right preparation and a good attitude, you'll have a great time!

vasu100
Posts: 36
Joined: Sat Mar 31, 2012 7:46 am

Re: Italy in August Trip (Rome, Florence, Venice)

Post by vasu100 » Mon Jul 31, 2017 2:28 pm

For protection against pickpockets and thiefs: when we traveled a few years ago, we invested in a backpack, purse, and travel walled from PacSafe. It was worth it - several times in crowded areas one of felt people trying to steal from our backpack or purse, only to be foiled by the PacSafe. Also it gave us peace of mind, which was worth it on its own.

For Florence: I got season passes to The Uffizi. Big advantage: you can enter from a special "members only" entrance (no line) - saves standing in a long line to enter. With 4 people, a family membership was actually same price as buying a day ticket.

Download CityMaps2Go - can be used without consuming mobile data. We used this everywhere in Rome & Florence as we were walking around. Very handy.

What I did not do but should have: don't be reluctant to spend a few extra bucks on meals. I needlessly tried to penny pinch, but that detracted from a couple of days on my trip. Leave Bogleheads at home and spend a few extra bucks on meals (and wine) - and enjoy...

Post Reply