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DESTINATION ITALY

ROME

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

If you have not booked a private transfer with us then the fastest and easiest option is the Leonardo Express train. There’s a train station on the second floor of the airport. To get into the city, follow the signs marked TRENI for the 30 minute shuttle to Rome’s main station, Stazione Termini. The shuttle operates from 6:36am to 11:36pm and costs approximately 9.50€ one-way. There is a machine to purchase tickets or you can buy them in person near the tracks if you don’t have small bills on you. Before getting on the train you must validate your ticket by inserting it in the validation machine found in the station or on the platform.

Stazione Termini is the train, bus, and subway transportation hub for all of Rome. When you arrive at Termini, we suggest you get off the train quickly and grab a baggage cart. It’s a long walk from the track to the exit (or to the other train connections) and baggage carts can be scarce. After your arrival at Termini station you can proceed to your hotel on foot, by bus, taxi or metro. If you’re taking the Metropolitana (subway), follow the illuminated red and white M signs. To catch a bus, go straight through the outer hall to the large bus lot in Piazza dei Cinquecento. You’ll also find taxis there.

Alternately, a taxi from Leonardo da Vinci airport to the city costs approximately 45€ and up for the 1 hour trip, depending on traffic. The expense might be worth it if you have a lot of luggage or just don’t want to bother taking a train.

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

You can use the bus service or the metro. Buses run 24 hours a day and cover the entire city. The metro runs approximately every 7-10 minutes, from 5:30am until 11:30pm every day (until 12:30am on Saturdays). Bus tickets and subway metro tickets are interchangeable within the time validity of the ticket. Validation begins by punching them into the ticket counter found on both the bus or subway. Keep the ticket with you at all times during your trip because if there should be a check by the controller, you could get a fine ranging from €40 to €70.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at newsstands, tobacconists (easily found by the blue sign with a capital T outlined in white found throughout the city) and from vending machines at both the train and metro stations.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

Taxis cannot be hailed on the street. You must either go to the closest taxi stand where available taxis are usually waiting or call one of the main taxi companies in town. Look for orange signs with ‘TAXI’ written in black. You can also have your hotel concierge call a taxi for you. Be aware when calling a taxi that the meter will start running from the time of the call.

If you need a taxi for a wheelchair please call the following number 06 6988 4857.

I will have a car in Rome, where can I park?

We don’t recommend driving a car in Rome due to the heavy traffic and convenience of public transportation. Also, most vehicles are not allowed to enter the historic center during the day. If you must have a car while you are in the city then there is a large garage by Termini Station or ParkSi garage by the Villa Borghese. Additionally your hotel may offer a car park (for a fee).

If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

Is Rome a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Italy has a very low violent crime rate. Petty crime, on the other hand, is a problem. As you may have guessed, pickpockets are quite common. In order to keep yourself and your wallet safe you should always maintain your personal space. Do not let a stranger come into close personal contact with you if possible. Also watch out for any beggars with newspapers or pieces of cardboard. They use these devices to cover their operations. Lastly, do not pull out large amounts of money while shopping or using public transportation. The subway and buses can literally be the thieves’ den. Pickpockets generally prey on slower or distracted people. Families with children, confused tourists or older people are popular targets. Be alert, look confident and keep your valuables well hidden.

Are there special rules or restrictions for visiting the Vatican?

We receive many questions about what visitors can and cannot do and/or bring into the Vatican. Please visit our dedicated page on the Vatican for more information.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Italy is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Italy by clicking

I don’t speak Italian. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Italian guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

When are the Roman mealtimes and when are restaurants usually open?

Romans usually eat lunch between 12 – 2pm and dinner between 8 – 10pm. Most restaurants are open at those times, closed between meals, and rarely open throughout the day. Sundays and Mondays are the most common days for restaurant closings.

Can I drink the water from the fountains?

Yes. The water flowing from Rome’s many fountains comes directly from mountain springs and is definitely drinkable. During the summer months you can carry an empty water bottle and use the fountains to stay hydrated.

Where can I buy necessities like bottled water and toiletries?

Pharmacies carry toiletries, but they tend to be expensive. Try the small supermarkets for shampoo, soap, razors, batteries, water and snacks. Stores called ‘profumerie’ will also stock toiletries, hair dryers, etc.

What are the best areas for shopping?

Interesting boutiques and shops can be found all over the city, but certain neighborhoods cater better to different types of shoppers. The area immediately surrounding via Condotti and via del Babuino, just off the Spanish Steps, is for luxurious major labels like Gucci, Prada and Fendi while via dei Coronari is for antiques and furnishings. Via del Corso is for popular, chain labels like Benetton and Zara and the Monti area is for up and coming designers and fashion – forward atelies.

What should I do if I need medical assistance or need to go to the hospital?

If you need emergency medical assistance you should call 118, which is the main ambulance hotline. Otherwise, the Regina Margherita hospital in Trastevere has a special reception area for tourists (Viale Trastevere 72).

Where can I find a wheelchair in Rome?

We advise clients to bring their own wheelchairs, as renting one is a challenge .

The following companies in Rome rent wheelchairs:

AB Sanitaria (address 4204 Via Arenula, 14) requires a deposit of €120. The cost for one day is €20.

Sanco (telephone number is 06.55.94.526) charges clients for a minimum of 10 days at €2.50/day, totaling €25. They request an official document, like a passport, but they do not require a deposit. They will deliver the chair for an additional fee of €15.

Unitalsi (telephone number is 06.55.90.858 after 9am) asks for a reimbursable deposit of €50-100 for renting the wheel chair. There is no other charge. They are not able to deliver, so clients must pick up and deliver the wheel chair to their address at Via G. Mengarini, 107, Roma. This is located near the Stazione di Trastevere and Piazzale della Radio. They may require a copy of an official document for their records.

Majorana Medical Service (telephone number is 06.55.73.879) charges €50 for a month rental, plus an additional €100 as a reimbursable deposit. They will deliver at no additional cost. No document required.

FLORENCE

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

If you have not booked a private transfer with us then the cheapest and easiest option is the bus. The regularly scheduled city bus no. 62 connects the Amerigo Vespucci Airport, also called Peretola, with Piazza della Stazione downtown. The journey takes about 30 minutes and costs approximately 1€. A bit more expensive at 4€, but without all the local stops, is the SITA bus, departing every half hour, to and from downtown’s bus station at Via Santa Caterina 15r, behind the train station.

Alternately, metered taxis line up outside the airport’s arrival terminal and charge an official flat rate of 15€ to the city center.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Florence is Tuscany’s rail hub, with connections to all the region’s major cities – Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Prato and Bologna. Most trains arrive at the Stazione Santa Maria Novella (abbreviated SMN).

Exit the station to the left and you’ll find many bus lines as well as stairs down to the pedestrian underpass leading directly to Piazza dell’Unità Italiana, which saves you from the traffic of the station’s piazza. If you prefer to take a taxi then the taxi queue is located in the front of the station in the Piazza della Stazione.

Note that some trains stop at the outlying Stazione Campo di Marte or Stazione Rifredi, both of which should be avoided if possible. Although there’s 24 hour bus service between these stations and SMN, departures aren’t always frequent and taxi service is unreliable and expensive.

Can I walk to most places in the city? Or do I need to rely on public transportation?

Florence is a wonderful city for walking. Within the historical center, no two sights are more than a 20 minute walk from each other. You can leisurely stroll between the two main sights, the Duomo and the Uffizi, in approximately 5 minutes. In fact, the best way to experience Florence is on foot, as it allows you to fully experience and enjoy the culture and daily life of Florentines.

The streets and sidewalks in Florence are mainly cobbled or flagstone and can be hard on feet and joints after a while. A sensible pair of walking shoes or sneakers is highly recommended.

Although efficient, you’ll rarely need to use Florence’s ATAF bus system because the city is so compact. And taxis aren’t cheap. Since the one-way road system forces drivers to take lengthy, out-of-the-way routes, they aren’t an economical way to get around town. Taxis are most useful to get you and your bags between the train station and your hotel in the centro storico.

I am staying in a villa outside of Florence. Where can I park my car for the day?

The closest and most convenient parking lot is located underneath the Santa Maria Novella train station. Hourly rates are approximately 2 euros and daily rates are around 18 euros. However, we recommend parking at the nearest local train station and taking the train into Florence.

I will have a car in Florence, where can I park?

We don’t recommend driving a car in Florence. Traffic can be hectic during the morning and afternoon rush hours. Moreover, trying to drive in the centro storico is an exercise in futility as special permits are usually required and unauthorized traffic is not allowed past signs marked ‘TZL’.

If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

If you must have a car while in the city then your hotel may offer a car park (for a fee), but your best bet is one of the public garages, which are also less expensive. The parking lot under Santa Maria Novella (2€ per hour) is closer to the city center, however the best deal is at the Parterre parking lot under Piazza Libertà, north of Fortezza del Basso. If you’re staying at least one night at a hotel in Florence, you can park here, are welcome to a free bike, and on presentation of your hotel receipt as you leave or the hotel’s stamp on your parking receipt, pay only 10€ per night.

Warning: Don’t park your car overnight on the streets in Florence. If it’s towed it will cost you a small fortune and the headache to retrieve it will undoubtedly ruin your vacation.

Is Florence a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Italy has a very low violent crime rate. Petty crime, on the other hand, is a problem. As you may have guessed, pickpockets are quite common. In Florence you’ll find light-fingered children (especially around the train station). In order to keep yourself and your wallet safe you should always maintain your personal space. Do not let a stranger come into close personal contact with you if possible. Also watch out for any beggars with newspapers or pieces of cardboard. They use these devices to cover their operations. Lastly, do not pull out large amounts of money while shopping or using public transportation. Pickpockets generally prey on slower or distracted people. Families with children, confused tourists or older people are popular targets. Be alert, look confident and keep your valuables well hidden.

Where can I store my luggage in Florence?

The Santa Maria Novella train station has a luggage storage room near track 16, open daily from 6am to 10pm (subject to change). Rates are 3€ per piece for 12 hours and a photo ID is required.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Italy is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Italy by clicking here.

I don’t speak Italian. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Italian dictionary and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

When are the Florentine mealtimes and when are restaurants usually open?

Florentines usually eat lunch between 12 – 2pm and dinner between 8 – 10pm. Most restaurants are open at those times, closed between meals, and rarely open throughout the day. Sundays and Mondays are the most common days for restaurant closings.

Where can I buy necessities like bottled water and toiletries?

Pharmacies carry toiletries, but they tend to be expensive. Try the small supermarkets for shampoo, soap, razors, batteries, water and snacks. Stores called ‘profumerie’ will also stock toiletries, hair dryers, etc.

What are the best areas for shopping?

Florentines are slaves to style! Italy’s leather capital is bursting at the seams with handmade gloves, belts, bags and shoes in artisan workshops. To splurge on designer wear from Italian fashion houses, the glamorous Via Tornabuoni and Via della Vigna Nuova are best. For handmade goods, cross over the river to the Oltrarno and explore Borgo San Jacopo. On the other end of the shopping spectrum is the San Lorenzo Market where haggling is half the fun! You can find Renaissance scents from convent-turned-perfumery Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella while goldsmiths and silversmiths crowd Ponte Vecchio.

Where is the best place to purchase leather goods?

Florence’s Santa Croce neighborhood is world renowned for leather goods. Unfortunately, mass-produced jackets and purses tend to be stocked more often than locally produced items. We recommend the Scuola di Cuoio, located behind the cloister of Santa Croce basilica, for handmade bags, luggage, and apparel.

Where can I rent a bicycle or scooter in Florence?

Most of the bike rental shops in town are located just north of Piazza San Marco. Alinari, Via San Zanobi 38r (tel. 055-280-500), rents bikes for approximately 2.50€ per hour or 12€ per day and mountain bikes for 3€ per hour or 18€ per day. It also rents 50cc and 100cc scooters for about 15€ per hour or 55€ per day. Florence by Bike, Via San Zanobi 120-122r (tel. 055-488-992) is another option with the same average prices.

Please note that illegally parked bicycles and scooters have become such a problem in Florence that authorities have begun impounding them. Make sure to park your scooter in a marked spot or your bike at a rack where it won’t interfere with pedestrian traffic.

VENICE

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Venice is serviced by two airports: Venice Marco Polo Airport and Treviso Airport (used by budget airlines).

If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you have a few options. From Marco Polo, you can take an Alilaguna airport boat to almost any neighborhood in the city. ATVO and ACTV airport buses are quick and cheap, but like land taxis they will only take you as far as Piazzale Roma (the last stop for motorized traffic from the mainland). From Piazzale Roma you would then need to walk, take the vaporetto or hire a water taxi.

If you’re staying in Mestre, on the mainland, you can take the Mestre airport bus from Marco Polo Airport.

Finally, if you’re arriving in Treviso you can take the Treviso Airport bus to Mestre or Piazzale Roma.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Venice has two railroad stations. Venezia Santa Lucia is the main station on the island at the edge of the historic center. If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you can walk, take a water bus (vaporetto) or hire a water taxi.

Venezia Mestre, on the mainland, is both a commuter station for locals and a ‘through station’ for express trains. There is frequent, inexpensive service from Mestre to Santa Lucia.

Can I take a taxi directly to my hotel?

Yes, if you’re staying in Mestre or one of the hotels in the Piazzale Roma. Otherwise, the answer is no, unless you are hiring a water taxi.

Water taxis, although fast and convenient, are very expensive (at least 110€ from the airport). And since most hotels don’t have private boat landings and many canals aren’t navigable by water taxis, you may have to walk quite a distance from the landing pier (fondamenta) to your hotel. Furthermore, water taxis can be difficult to board/disembark if the water level is too high or too low, and you will need to haul your own luggage on and off the boat as the water taxi pilot is not allowed to leave his craft.

What’s the best way to get around the city?

Venice is a compact city, which is designed for pedestrians. Unless you have mobility problems, you can save time and money by getting around on foot. Venice’s historic center is free of cars, and with the exception of the 400 plus foot bridges, the pavement is mostly smooth and level.

What about public transportation?

The vaporetto can be a great way to get from place to place during your stay in Venice. However, a single fare ticket (good for 60 minutes) costs €6.50, so if you?ll be making more than one trip a day on the vaporetto it makes sense to buy a pass. Before buying a transit pass, think about how you want to use it and plan your sightseeing to make the most efficient use of the time you’re paying for.

An important note, before boarding a vaporetto or other water bus, be sure to validate your ticket at the grey and white machine (ignore the green one). Traveling without a valid ticket can result in a heavy fine.

Lastly, you’re allowed one bag with a combined length, width, and depth of 59 inches. According to ACTV, Venice’s transit agency, if you go over that limit, your suitcase can be charged a full adult fare.

What about baggage?

Pack light! It may sound cliché, but it’s good advice when you’re traveling to Venice. Luggage can be a nuisance anywhere, but in Venice, it’s nothing short of a burden. Hauling heavy suitcases over bridges and down narrow, crowded passages isn’t how you want to spend your vacation.

We suggest you consolidate everything before you arrive. Limit your luggage to one small suitcase of carry-on size (preferably upright on wheels) plus a lightweight backpack or tote and store your larger suitcase at the main train station (Venice Santa Lucia), Marco Polo airport, Piazzale Roma or the cruise port. On average, left luggage should cost about 5 euro per day per piece.

Where can I park my rental car while visiting Venice?

We don’t recommend keeping a car in Venice due to the cost and inconvenience. Piazzale Roma is the last stop for motorized traffic as cars are not allowed in the city.

If you must have a car while you are visiting Venice then the Tronchetto parking island next to the historic center and the Piazzale Roma are the main parking areas, but prices can be high during the busy season. A less expensive option is parking in Mestre, on the mainland. The Garage Europa, San Giuliano and Fusina, all have bus or water bus service to Venice.

If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

I don’t have/want a rental car but would like to travel around the Veneto. How do I do this?

The Veneto is well connected by train and many towns are closely located, making it easy to travel from one city to the next. Tickets are very affordable, running between 2 and 12 euro depending on the type of train you decide to take.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Italy is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Italy by clicking here.

I don’t speak Italian. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Italian guidebook and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

Should I be worried about ‘acqua alta’ during my stay?

The most common months for acqua alta (high water) are October through March. If you are visiting during that time then you should pack good rubber soled shoes and boots. The high waters are tidal, often occuring first thing in the morning or late in the evening, but rarely throughout the whole day. The flooding is also not uniform and certain areas remain largely unaffected by the phenomena.

The city is well equipped to deal with the water and you will find planks set up as pedestrian pathways in areas of water. If you do encounter acqua alta during your trip, it shouldn’t prevent you from enjoying your stay. If anything, it gives you a true Venetian experience!

I am interested in buying Murano glass. Where can I find the best deals?

When it comes to Murano, our best advice is that you don’t need to go there in order to get good quality glass. The glass blowing demonstrations can be fun, but are usually followed by a high pressure sales pitch. We also suggest avoiding the glass shops on the Fondamenta dei Vetri, which is the main drag. Unfortunately a lot of the cheap glass these days is actually made in China. The best way to ensure that you are buying genuine Murano glass is to look for the Vetro Artistico Murano trademark.

Is Venice wheelchair accessible? Are water buses wheelchair accessible?

Visiting Venice in a wheelchair requires patience and advance planning, but it can be done. The most convenient boats for wheelchair users are flat-decked, single level vaporetti, but motoscafi (which have passenger cabins inside the hull) have mostly been rebuilt to accommodate wheelchairs at deck level. If you’re in a wheelchair, you’ll qualify for a special fare (about one-fifth of the usual ticket price), and you can bring one companion free of charge.

MILAN

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Milan is serviced by two airports: Milan Malpensa Airport and Milan Linate Airport (used for European and domestic flights).

If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you have a few options. From Malpensa, you can take the Malpensa Express train (€11) for the 40 minute journey to Cadorna station. Buses run every 20 minutes from Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 at Malpensa Airport to Milan’s Central Station. Fare is €7.50 one way or €12 roundtrip with a journey time of approximately 50 minutes. By taxi, the trip can cost a staggering €75, but it’s the best choice when you are running late or it’s after midnight.

If you’re arriving in Linate you can take a bus. Starfly runs from Linate to Stazione Centrale every 30 minutes from 6am to 10pm with a journey time of 30 minutes. Tickets are €4.50 on the bus. You can also take city bus no. 73 (€1) to Piazza San Babila, a few blocks east of the Duomo. The trip from Linate by taxi costs about €18 to €20.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Stazione Centrale in Milan is one of Europe’s busiest rail hubs, with connections to all major cities on the Continent, and throughout the region to Como, Bergamo, Brescia, Sirmione, Pavia, Cremona, and Mantua. As Italy’s version of Grand Central Station, its size requires considerable walking and patience. If you have not booked a private transfer with us then you will find it is well connected by Metro, tram and bus.

Most trains will arrive at Stazione Centrale, but some trains serve Milan’s other stations: Cadorna (with service to and from Malpensa airport), Stazione Lambrate and Porta Garibaldi. Conveniently, all train stations in Milan are on the same Metro line: Linea 2, the green line.

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

Milan’s extensive subway system (Metropolitana Milanese), trams and buses make it very easy to move around the city. The Metro closes at midnight (1am on Saturdays); buses and trams run all night. Tickets cost 1€ for one Metro ride (or 1 hour and 15 minutes of tram/bus transportation). You can also purchase a ticket for unlimited travel for 1 day (3€) or 2 days (5.50€). Tickets are available at Metro stations and at newsstands.

Word of warning! Stamp your ticket when you board a bus or tram. You can be charged an expensive fine if you don’t.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

To get a taxi in Milan, you must walk to the nearest taxi stand, usually located near major piazze and major Metro stops. In the city center, there are taxi stands at Piazza Duomo and Piazza della Scala. Cab meters start at 3.10€ with a nighttime surcharge of 3.10€ and a Sunday surcharge of 1.55€.

I will have a car in Milan, where can I park?

We don’t recommend driving a car in Milan due to heavy traffic and the convenience of public transportation. Also, there are heavy fines for driving in restricted traffic zones and special permits are required for street parking.

If you must have a car while in the city then your hotel may offer a car park (for a fee), but the best bet is to park your car at Cascina Gobba, South Milan metro station (green line) or at Sesto San Giovanni, North Milan metro station (red line) where there are large parking lots (parking garages can be recognized by a square blue sign with a white P), then take the metro into the center.

If you are renting a car we suggest you pick it up as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

I am staying in the lake district. Where can I park my car for the day?

The most convenient parking lot is the Lampugnano multi-story parking lot in the city outskirts. You can park your car there and take the metro into the city. However, we recommend parking at the nearest local train station and taking the train into Milan.

Is Milan a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Milan is generally safe, with some exceptions (especially at night), including the public gardens, Parco Sempione and the area to the west of Stazione Centrale. For police emergencies, dial 113 (a free call) or you can reach the English-speaking staff of the tourist police at tel. 02-863-701. There is a police station in Stazione Centrale.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The currency of Italy is the Euro. US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for euros upon arrival. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. Currency exchange desks can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city. For more detailed information, consult our guide to tipping in Italy by clicking here.

I don’t speak Italian. Will many people speak English?

English may be spoken at your hotel and in the tourist areas, but not everywhere. We suggest you get a good English-Italian dictionary and familiarize yourself with common phrases such as hello, goodbye, excuse me and numbers 1-10.

Where can I store my luggage in Milan?

The luggage storage office in Stazione Centrale is open daily from 6am to 11:50pm. The fee is 4€ per piece for the first 5 hours with an additional .60€ per hour for the next 6 hours and then an additional .20€ per hour after that.

What are the best areas for shopping?

Milan is one of the world’s fashion capitals and home to the flagship stores of numerous designers: Armani, Versace, Ermenegildo Zegna, Missoni, and Moschino to name a few. The best shopping is along four adjoining streets north of the Duomo known as the Quadrilatero d’Oro (Golden Quadrilateral): Via Montenapoleone, Della Spiga, Via Borgospesso and Via Sant’Andrea, which are lined with Milan’s most expensive high-fashion boutiques.

For more Milanese shopping, stroll Corso Buenos Aires. As it crosses Piazza Oberdan/Piazza Venezia heading south, it becomes Corso Venezia and the stores move up the scale very quickly.

Where can I rent a bicycle in Milan?

Milan has a bike-sharing program that provides an excellent way for tourists to see the city. For 2.50€ a day or 6€ a week, you can buy a pass that gives you unlimited use of the bikes for 30-minute increments. You pick up a bike in one of the many racks around town and leave it at another. Passes are available for purchase at the ATM offices at the Duomo Metro stop or at Stazione Centrale and Stazione Cadorna train stations.

PRIVATE TRANSFERS

There is nothing as nice as arriving in a foreign city, after an overnight flight and knowing that there is someone waiting for you that will take you directly to your hotel. No need to have to worry with figuring out signs in a foreign language or getting oriented while in the midst of jet lag. Thus we strongly suggest that you consider purchasing arrival transfers, at least in your first city.

We highly recommend a private transfer for your own security and peace of mind. No waiting in line for a taxi, no concern about a language barrier or being ripped off by a dishonest taxi driver. Your private driver will also help you load and unload your luggage (a tip is usually not required, but certainly appreciated). In addition, your private driver will be advised ahead of time of the address of your hotel so the transfer will be fast and efficient, leaving you more time for your vacation.

Shuttle Service

Although shuttle service is usually offered as a transfer option, we neither recommend nor sell this type of service. Wasting your precious vacation time waiting at the airport for the shuttle to fill as well as the additional time spent making multiple hotel stops is not how most of our clients want to begin their trip.

Taxi Service

While taxi service is an option from all major airports, it is recommended that you advise the driver of your destination and negotiate the price of the service PRIOR to entering the vehicle. Taxi fares can vary greatly from city to city and even from driver to driver within the same city. It’s worth noting that for an extra 25% – 35% you can book a private transfer that will eliminate these hassles and allow you to relax and enjoy your vacation.

Meeting Points

When arriving at your destination you will need to go through immigration. Remember it can take some time to get through the lines of people arriving on different flights. It’s important you are aware of the signs in the airport that direct you to the exit where you can find your driver waiting for you.

Delays

It is important to remember that driver’s are sent to the airport based on the scheduled arrival time of your flight into their city and will wait for one hour for you to arrive. If you are aware of a delay ahead of time, we ask you contact us or the emergency number listed on the vouchers immediately. That way we can arrange for another pick up if possible. If for some reason we are not able to schedule a new pick up transfer for you, then please go ahead and take a taxi/train and keep the receipt for review when returning from your vacation. You may submit this claim to us upon your return.

Hotel Pick Up

Make sure to be at the lobby of the hotel at the specified time for pick up. If for some reason you are late please contact the emergency number located on the voucher.

Train Station Pick Up

Location is very important when getting picked up from a train station. Please check to make sure you are at the correct platform if this is the meeting point mentioned on the voucher.

ATTRACTIONS

It is our goal to be able to provide all the flexibility that we can so that you may create the trip of your dreams. Some of you may want to go with the flow and figure what you want to do at the spur of a moment; some of you may want to have a fully scheduled vacation in order to make sure that you do not miss a single thing. We give you the option to select exactly what you want to do within our booking process.

We do recommend, if this is the first time that you are visiting a city, to at least purchase a ‘hop on/hop off’ tour. These are buses that do a circle around the highlights of each given city and make scheduled stops, so you are able to get off where ever you want to explore, then hop back on to continue to your next stop. They are inexpensive and offer you a flexibility which may be worth your while.

Some cities also offer museum passes, which are usually cost effective. And for some activities, it really is important that you purchase the tickets ahead of time, especially in high season as space may be limited.

We suggest you spend some time perusing through our activities page for each city within the booking process.

Departure Times and Location:

Always check where the tour meeting point is before you travel toEurope. This information can be found on your voucher. Only some tourshave pick ups at hotels or near by centrally located hotels. Most toursrequire the traveler to locate the meeting point. Having thisinformation ahead of time will relieve any last minute stress. It’simportant to check the time to make sure you can get there at least 15minutes prior to the tours departure. If you are late, most times thetour will depart without you and you may not get a refund. There is achance to reschedule for the next day if they have availability to doso. Make sure to contact the local emergency number or office locationto coordinate this.

Cancellations:

If the tour has been cancelled and the supplier has notified our company we will submit a refund to the credit card used to purchase the trip. If you cannot make the scheduled tour and cannot reschedule for another day the tour may be non refundable. If you have purchased insurance you may submit a claim when you return from your trip. Otherwise you will not be refunded for a tour that was not taken.

GETTING AROUND

Italy is so vast and treasure-filled that it’s hard to resist the temptation to pack in too much in too short a time. It’s a dauntingly diverse and complex destination, and you can’t even skim the surface in 1 or 2 weeks—so relax, don’t try. If you’re a first-time visitor with little touring time on your hands, we suggest you go just for the classic nuggets: Rome, Florence, and Venice could be packed into 1 very busy week, better yet in 2.

How can you accomplish that? Well, Italy ranks with Germany and France in offering mainland Europe’s best-maintained highways (called autostrade). You’ll pay a toll to drive on them, but it’s much quicker to use them than to trust your limited time to the array of minor roads, which can be much slower going.

The country also boasts one of the fastest and most efficient high-speed rail networks in the world. Rome, Bologna, and Milan are the key hubs of this 21st-century transportation empire—for example, from Rome’s Termini station, Florence can be reached in only 95 minutes. In fact, if you’re city-hopping between Rome, Florence, and Venice, you need never rent a car. Upgrades to the rail network mean that key routes are served by comfortable, fast trains. You’ll only really require a rental car if you plan rural detours.

Let’s be realistic: It’s impossible to see these storied cities properly in a week. However, a fast, efficient rail network along the Rome–Florence–Venice axis makes it’s surprisingly easy to see a handful of the best that these graceful, art-stuffed cities have to offer. This weeklong itinerary treads the familiar highlights—but they are the most visited because they are sure to provide memories that will last a lifetime.

GETTING TO ITALY

Italy is a prime destination for many airlines to provide long-haul service to for people traveling from North America.  The fares tend to be quite strong over the various seasons of the year, and popularity seems to not be as affected by higher fares compared to other European countries.

All of the major international US and Canadian airlines serve some or all of the main hub airports in Italy. The pricing structure is also such that booking to fly into one city and out of another can be done for quite similar fares to flying into and out of the same airport.  (One quick note about airfares – they are always based on availability at a given time. When I mention price structure I am saying in situations where availability is good or there are no other conditions affecting the availability of flights).  Air service does increase in the summer season, which for airlines flying to Europe is usually April through October. The number of flights across the Atlantic to Italy is spread among all of the major carriers.  While major Italian airline Alitalia and its partner airline Delta Air Lines are the market leaders in terms of the number of flights, the other major airlines such as American Airlines, United Airlines, Air Canada, as well as Emirates (who fly JFK to Milan) have a very good spread of flights on offer.  When one-stop options are included, then the European major airlines are very good alternatives as well.  British Airways, Air France, Lufthansa, Iberia and to a lesser extent TAP Air Portugal have very high levels of connectivity into Italy.          

As a destination, Italy is one of the top inbound markets there is. The country’s largest airports for inbound long haul travelers are Milan (chiefly Malpensa Airport but also Linate Airport too when connections are taken) and Rome (primarily Fiumicino Airport).  In addition, there is good service to Venice, Florence, Pisa and Naples. Of those airports, Milan, Rome and Venice have nonstop flights from US and Canada. Florence and Pisa are best served via connection, and the connections are decently numerous, especially from Lufthansa, BA and Air France.  There is nonstop seasonal service from New York JFK to Naples and Palermo with Meridiana, an Italian airline, but since Meridiana doesn’t work with other airlines that much, usability of these flights is primarily for NY based travelers.  Using Alitalia, one connection itineraries are possible to a large number of regional airports in Italy (chiefly places like La Mezia Terme, Catania, etc…)  if one is flying from a US gateway of Alitalia or Delta (such as Boston, New York, Miami, Toronto, Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis, Los Angeles).   

The airport which have the largest number of seats from the US and Canada are Rome Fiumicino and Milano Malpensa, by far. Those two airports account for the large majority of inbound travelers from the US/CAN entering or leaving Italy when travel is just to Italy (i.e. they are not visiting another European country).  Venice has seasonal flights as well with Delta from New York, United from Newark and Air Canada from Toronto making it the next largest nonstop airport, though a significant number of passengers below the first two cities.  Leisure travelers on these Venice flights tends to have a high percentage of cruise passengers on them since Venice is a major port for European/Med cruising.  There isn’t much business traffic on these routes so the balance of the other travelers tend to be “general” tourists visiting Venice and other parts of the country  

Research shows that April, May and June, and September and October are the two higher season times for US and CAN travelers to Italy, with July and August still popular but just not quite a high of a season. The very hot weather and the really large crowds tends to cause most North American visitors to choose those other months.  The Christmas and Easter holidays tend to be busy as well, thought Easter does tend to fall into the April higher season in many years.   

For the majority of travelers from the US and Canada, making no more than one connection to get to Italy and making one connection to get back home is the norm from what I have found.  Many travelers are able to avail of nonstop flights in one or both directions if they live in proximity to one of the large US and CAN major airports. Since many of the major US and CAN airlines have partnerships with European carriers (such as American Airlines and British Airways; Delta Air Lines and Alitalia) the ability to offer travelers an itinerary which involves connecting via a hub airport in the US or a hub airport in Europe means just most airports can be flown to making just one stop, and in many cases nonstop in at least one direction. Doing an “open jaw” itinerary (basically flying into one airport and out of a different airport) is quite easy to do logistically thanks to these various airline alliances and the common pricing that covers travel on partner airlines.   

The most common itineraries involving open jaws from what I have found tend to be flying into Rome and out of Milan (or vice-versa), into Rome and out of Venice (or v.v.), or into Rome and out of one of the “regional” airports, with the most common being Naples.  Naples does have a lot of popularity with the attraction of visiting Sorrento, Amalfi, Capri and Pompeii being strong, though the flight services into/out of Naples Airport isn’t as numerous as the Northern Italian Airports.  One open jaw pair which surprised me a bit was Rome or Milan combined with Nice in France.  Presumably this is due to those wanting to visit/tour the areas around the Riviera.

Fares tend to lead in at a decent (though not spectacular) level from about 11 months out, then the fares do come down shortly thereafter to what would be their most competitive levels.  Much of the airfares to Italy for the primary tourist season (April through October) tend to be at their best levels from about 9 months out from travel.  Due to the large number of possible options it’s hard to give one figure for air fares.  However they do tend to be very reasonable compared to the fares to other European markets when booked further out.  Close-in bookings can see some very expensive airfares (like most destinations), but decent advance booking windows will keep the fares in a good range.  The fact that fuel prices are still relatively low makes the fares now look better than what they were a few years ago.    

Once the best fares are sold out, the fares move up and generally don’t come back down barring some major change (such as a new airline coming on the route offering more flights).  Italy is a really popular destination in general so there is usually strong demand for air flightsBooking as far in advance works better in Italy compared more so with other popular European destinations such as France or England.  Those countries tend to see much more fluctuations in fares over the course of a year.  Italy sees more visitors and the flights tend to book up quicker.  It is the one country from what I have found where it really does pay to book as far in advance as possible since the airfares generally stay elevated to fly there once booking numbers on the flights pick up.  Especially if the travel is close to a major holiday like Easter, as well as Christmas, the flight availability can get challenging.  However, in the offseason (end of October through the end of March, excepting Christmas and when Easter falls in March) airfares are quite good, and can be comparatively inexpensive.  The number of flights reduces overall, but that is the same as pretty much all destinations in the off season.  Especially when traveling from an airport offering nonstop service to Italy (essentially any one of the large US cities plus Toronto and Montréal) sees this as the case in particular. 

Group travel (10+ passengers) to Italy is hit or miss depending on the exact dates and cities involved. In general it follows the same pattern as individual travel mentioned above, but can be more challenging at peak times.  For groups of 10 or more on the same itinerary for the summer season we would strongly recommend booking as far in advance as possible (that 11 month window beforehand) due to this, especially if everyone needs to be on the same flights.  It is just the best way to ensure getting the best fares possible for the group.

HOTELS

Hotels in the US normally offer big rooms, 2 double beds, a standard bathroom and certain fixed amenities. Hotels in Europe can be very different. In order to help you with your selection, we thought we would mention some important things to remember.

Location

Location is key during your vacation in Europe. As you will be spending a limited time and will have so much to see and do, picking a location that is central to your interests is key. Our booking process provides maps that can help you in making your decision. Check to see what type of public transportation is closest to your hotel selection and how efficient it is. In most countries the metro (subway) system is fairly easy to use with maps provided by most hotels. Some hotels provide transportation or shuttles to and from the airport. Check with the hotels website for this detailed information.

Star Rating

Europe has a ranking system which is extremely consistent and provided by the government in most cases, but the stars have more to do with amenities than the overall glamour or charm. The ranges will overlap, so don’t even look for that much consistency in price; a three star hotel may be more expensive than a four star, even in the same city.

Ambience

Remember that you are traveling to Europe in part to experience its history, and you want to be in the best location to do so. This means that you will likely be staying in hotels that have been placed in older buildings, which will offer a certain charm and character, but also some issues that come with age.

Rooms

Rooms tend to be much smaller than you will be accustomed to.

Double Rooms


Are often 1 double bed and twin rooms are mostly 2 single beds. However, if you have a preference we suggest you book how you want to sleep and send us an email if you must have separate beds so we can send a request to the hotel.

Triple Rooms

Can be tricky. If you are reserving a triple it may be set up as 1 double and 1 twin or sometimes even a cot. OR the room may have three single beds. In most cases we have no way of knowing ahead of time as some hotels have different type of triples. Remember that the rooms are small to begin with and a triple makes things even smaller.

Quad Rooms

Are almost impossible to come by.

Single Rooms

If a single accommodation is booked these rooms can be very small. Sometimes you can purchase a double room for just a couple of dollars more; and it may be a good idea for comfort.

Room Only

If you have booked a ‘room only’ hotel reservation then breakfast is NOT included in your stay.

Annex

If you have booked a room that reads ‘annex’, this means that your room may not be in the hotels main building. In Europe the buildings are not always one, but maybe several buildings and may have a good distance between.

Special Requests

If you have any specific requests of the hotel please send these to us prior to arrival so we can send the appropriate notes. Remember that not all requests are guaranteed but we can certainly make them known.

Check In

Check in time is generally 3pm, but most hotels will give you a room if available. Just remember during high season there may be a wait. If that’s the case, then store your luggage and get out and explore.

Amenities

Always review the list of amenities for each hotel you have chosen.These amenities vary from hotel to hotel so it’s very important you check to see that all hotels have what you are looking for. Some of the things most frequently asked for are hairdryers and wifi access; and double check that air conditioning is offered if traveling in the warmer months. Remember that some of these hotels are historic and the elevators can be very small. Make sure you have booked a hotel with a lift if this is something that is key for you. There may be fees to use the Wifi or even sometimes in smaller islands a fee to control your own air conditioning.

Electricity

Lights in the room, in most cases, are controlled by your room key when entering the room. There will be a place to enter the key to turn the lights on. They do this to conserve energy and its a common practice in Europe so do not be surprised if you see this. Remember to bring an adaptor with you for charging your devices.

Luggage Hold

If you are arriving before check in is allowed or departing well afterthe check out time; ask the front desk if they can store your luggagewhile you do some first time exploring or last minute shopping. Thismay cost a few Euros, but will be well worth not having to carry alongany heavy baggage.

GETTING AROUND ITALY

Renting a Car in Italy

One of the biggest questions travellers to Italy have is, “Should I rent a car?”

If you will only be visiting Italian cities (large and small), you simply don’t need to rent a car. Most cities have excellent public transportation, and Italy’s train system will get you between cities. Parking rules in most Italian cities are confusing, and parking at hotels can cost up to 40 euros a night. But if you’re headed to a more rural area such as Tuscany, you will see more if you rent a car. Be sure to bring along (or rent) a good GPS.

You also need to take into account your fear level when renting a car in Italy. Driving here can be a bit more stressful than back home. Fellow drivers are fast and aggressive on the autostrada (highway) and navigating narrow medieval streets can be a challenge. If you are a fearful driver back home, you probably don’t want to drive in Italy.

Italy isn’t the cheapest place to rent a car. Insurance is mandatory and included in the cost of the rental. If you only drive an automatic transmission, you will be paying significantly more than if you are able to rent a manual car, which is far more common here. Gas is also an expense, as it is two to three times the cost of gas in the U.S. But if you’re traveling with multiple people, renting a car in Italy can make economic sense and help you see more of the country than you would otherwise.

If you are stopped by the Italian police while driving, you may be asked to show an International Driving Permit, which you can get through AAA in the U.S. (Be sure to have your regular license with you too). This is a fairly new requirement in the last few years.

TRAIN TRAVEL

There’s no better way to see the great cities of Italy than by train.  The trains link just about every Italian town or city of any significance, centre to centre, with advance-purchase fares from just €9, €19 or €29 upwards.  Driving and parking in Italian cities is a nightmare and the new high-speed train network is now faster, more convenient and more relaxing than flying.  Rome to Florence now takes just 1h32 at up to 186 mph & costs from €19, Rome to Venice 3h45 from €29, Rome to Naples 1h10 from €19, Rome to Milan 2h55 from €29.  Zero check-in, no need to get to and from remote airports, no baggage fees or weight limits.  Journeys to and from Sicily can be made overnight on a time-effective sleeper train or leisurely daytime InterCity train.

The new high-speed network links Naples, Rome, Florence, Milan, Turin & Venice, with trains hourly or better.  Rome-Florence takes 1 hour 32 minutes, Rome-Milan 2 hours 55, Rome-Venice 3 hours 45, Rome-Naples 1 hour 10, Florence-Naples 3 hours.  Faster than flying.

Seven Reasons to choose Exploring Vacations

  • We serve all the Top Destinations in Europe
  • Smaller, luxury coaches for a more personal, less tourist experience
  • Best and most up to date car hire fleet available
  • No compromise accommodation. Your hotels are triple certified for quality.
  • Best rates in the industry for hotel accommodation
  • Best rates for flights from anywhere in the world to any destination in Europe
  • Expert Travel Advisors standing by now to help you create a dream vacation at the very best price.
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