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Old 03-26-2005, 05:22 PM   #1
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I'm thinking of going to Italy for 2 weeks in August. This is my first solo/backpack trip and my first time to Europe. I want to keep it pretty loose as far as itinerary so that I can stay longer in one place if I like it and not be tied to a schedule. I want to see Rome, Venice, Amalfi and the Herculeneum. Here's my questions:

Do I fly in to Rome and stay there as my base, taking the trains to Venice and Amalfi/Herc?
Or should I fly into Venice then travel down and end in Rome?

I've never stayed in a hostel and have more than a few reservations about doing so. It's not that I'm anti-social. I just like my privacy, perfer my own bathroom/shower and would like a place to leave the bulk of my stuff safely while I go exploring. Besides, aren't there age restrictions for staying in hostels? I'll be 40 by August. Are there affordable 1 person rooms to be had in the hotels? I was thinking of staying at the convents. Anyone have any experience staying in them? How strict are the curfews? I'll be packing pretty light and can carry everything with me as I explore I guess; I'm just used to carrying only an atm card, some cash and my digital camera.

Should I get a Eurail pass before I go or is it better to buy a one way ticket when I'm ready to go to the next city?

I understand that Venice and Rome get a bit crowded in August. I was hoping to just book a room for my first few nights then find places to stay as I go along. Am I being foolish thinking this way?

When visiting the Herc I was hoping to stay in Amalfi a night or 2, see the Herculeneum in a day then go back to Rome. Is this possible?

Any suggestions on things to do and see along my route would be greatly appreciated.

Thanx. I'm looking forward to learning from you all. This place is very informative.
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Old 03-26-2005, 07:07 PM   #2
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Do I fly in to Rome and stay there as my base, taking the trains to Venice and Amalfi/Herc?
Or should I fly into Venice then travel down and end in Rome?
I'd say fly into where ever you can get the cheapest flight to. You will save a bit train wise by starting in Venice as you will only go one way in between Venice and Rome, but a flight to Rome might be cheaper than one to venice and if you fly into Venice and head south you'll either have to train back to venice, which makes it no cheaper, or fly out from another city, which is sometimes more expensive.

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Besides, aren't there age restrictions for staying in hostels?
Only at HI hostels in one country. Most independant hostels don't have restictions on ages.


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Should I get a Eurail pass before I go or is it better to buy a one way ticket when I'm ready to go to the next city?
I wouldn't get a eurail pass for Italy. The tickets are really easy to buy in the station and can usually be bought right up to the last minute. (Don't do this for overnight or eurostar trains because they need reservations and will sell out.)

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When visiting the Herc I was hoping to stay in Amalfi a night or 2, see the Herculeneum in a day then go back to Rome. Is this possible?
Herculaneum (or/and pompei depending on how much time you want to spend at them) can be done as a day trip from Rome. It means an early start but doable. I did this in winter when closing times are much earlier than in summer. So yes, you could leave Almafi (Sorrento is a good base I've been told), see erc and then arrive in Rome that night.

Sorry I can't help to much with the hostel/hotel thing. Some hostels do have single rooms but your own bathroom is a rarity as far as I've seen. Hotels might be your best bet for an ensuite but will be a bit more expensive. Try doing a search of the tpunk hostels. Sometime the places are a bit more hotel-ish and have single rooms.
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Old 03-27-2005, 12:51 AM   #3
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Yea, I'd fly into which ever is cheapest. There is so much to see and do in Italy you just have to decide what to see and do.

I suggest the smaller cities/towns...Sienna, Assisi, Perugia, etc.

You won't have your own bathroom in a hostel for sure. Convents can be really nice. I've done that several times. You'll have to check each one as far as curfew. I also found that you can often find small, cheap, bed & breakfastes in the small towns...basicly people renting out there extra rooms.

Instead of an ATM card I would use a credit card and use the ATM card as back up. You pay fees up the cazoo for taking out cash at ATMs and the exchange rate is usually better on credit cards.

Its late and I'm all over the place...but anyhow, Happy Trails and Welcome to Tpunk
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Old 03-27-2005, 04:16 AM   #4
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I used Sorrento as my base for seeing Amalfi/Pompeii/Herculanaeum. Great little town with trains to and from the Pompeii/Herculanaeum. Much nicer than Naples, and it'll save you time/money over basing yourself out of Rome to see them. Not only is Rome much more expensive to stay in, you'll save on daily train tickets and such. The Circumvesuvia line from Sorrento to the antiquities sites is a cheap, local train. Stay in Rome when seeing Rome, and Sorrento when seeing Amalfi et al.

And I'm with everyone on airfare...fly into wherever is cheapest.

As for hotel rooms, you want a "3 Star" hotel if you want your own bathroom and shower. That's what I normally do. I've kind of outgrown the youth hostel thing, for the most part (although I did stay in a hostel in Barcelona...I'm 42). I would say you probably want to make reservations for Venice in August. Not only will you likely find it the most expensive place you stay in Italy, it'll also be the hardest to find a room.

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Old 03-27-2005, 08:28 AM   #5
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Instead of an ATM card I would use a credit card and use the ATM card as back up. You pay fees up the cazoo for taking out cash at ATMs and the exchange rate is usually better on credit cards.
This isn't always true so check with your individual bank and credit card to find out.

For my debit card I only pay 3.00 CAD to take out cash but my credit card to take out cash is 5.00 USD plus 2.9% of what I take out and I get harged a higher interest rate than standard credit card purchases. The exchange rates have tended to be about the same.
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Old 03-29-2005, 12:57 PM   #6
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Usually if someone tells me they are going to Europe I dont like to tell them where to go (unless they ask real nice) because everyone has there own taste and winging it is half the fun. However, Italy has one of the most beautiful and amazing places I have ever had the privelege of visiting. Cinque Terra. It means five villages (I think). They are Riomaggiore, Vernazza, and three others I cant think of. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND THAT YOU GO THERE!!!!!!!!!!!! Do a google search for Cinque Terra Pictures and be amazed. Then do some reading about the place and you will kill to go. If you want to know more about them, I can't tell you quite a bit from my personal experience, but the internet can definitely tell you more.
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Old 03-29-2005, 03:14 PM   #7
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Originally posted by starpiste@Mar 27 2005, 09:27 AM
For my debit card I only pay 3.00 CAD to take out cash* but my credit card to take out cash is 5.00 USD plus 2.9% of what I take out* and I get harged a higher interest rate than standard credit card purchases. The exchange rates have tended to be about the same.
I didn't mean to take cash out with the credit card, but to use it for any purchase you can. That way there is no fee at all. Sorry for the miscommunication
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