How to plan an Italian trip

How to plan an Italian trip

Planning an Italian trip was more difficult than any of my other trips and much worse than I expected. And although I don’t normally use travel agents, this was one occasion where I thought that it would have saved me a lot of stress to use one. I had to draw up a to-do list, divide it into sub-lists and then work on the details. To be honest, it began feeling more like a chore and at some point I even wondered if it was worth the hassle.

1.Decide on the dates.

We were going on a Mediterranean cruise leaving from Venice. These dates were fixed therefore the rest of the itinerary had to fit around that – and my children’s school holidays.

2. Book flights

This was the easy part. Once we had decided on our dates, I did a search on Travelstart and found that Emirates had the best deal as they were having a sale. We then proceeded to book the flights although we did have to adjust the return date by a day or two in order to get a better deal.

3. Work out a broad itinerary

Italy has tons to offer and with the limited number of days we had available, we had to decide which cities we would be including in our trip. We decided to stay in Rome, Venice and Florence and included Pisa as a day trip from Florence.

How to plan an Italian trip

Pisa

4. Book hotels in each city

This was the worst part because I had to take several factors into account such as child-friendliness, proximity to transport hubs and attractions, price, cancellation options as well as TripAdvisor reviews. My timing appeared to coincide with a busy tourist season as the weather was great, so availability was limited especially in Venice and Florence. The hotels my friends recommended were full.

Booking.com kept on sending me messages to say that the cities I was travelling to were 60% (increased to 70% then 80%) booked on my dates. While there were still hotels to choose from, when you have to multiply the Euro prices by 15 and still find something decent, it doesn’t leave one with that many options. And although I normally prefer 4 or 5 stars, the prices were around R3000 a night for a 3-star hotel in Italy. In South Africa, comparable hotels would be around R1200. In the end, I had to make some decisions. I booked a night at the Rome Airport Hilton and the rest on Booking.com and Hotels.com - and they didn’t turn out too bad.

5. Apply for Schengen visas

One would think that it would make more sense to have ones visas approved then book accommodation but in order to apply for a Schengen visa, one had to have confirmed accommodation first. At least our travel insurance was covered by this. Read about the convoluted Schengen visa process here.

6. Plan travel between cities

Ascertain the best way to travel between the cities and book the transport connections. We decided to book the first two legs then buy the rest of the train tickets at the railway stations on the day we were travelling – as we wouldn’t have saved by buying them earlier.

plan an Italian trip

Florence

7. Plan your itinerary

Work out the finer details of the itinerary. I used TripAdvisor to research the top activities and attractions in each city as well as the best method of booking for them. Then I had to book the ones that were necessary to book beforehand – such as Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence and the Vatican.

Other things I had to do

  • Inform the bank that we would be travelling and using our bank cards overseas so that they didn’t suspect fraud and put a stop on them.
  • Change the contact numbers on my home security company’s account.
  • Pack for 4 people for 3 weeks in the smallest amount of luggage possible.

So, planning my Italian trip was a long and time-consuming process but in retrospect it was worth it as we came back with a treasure trove of memories. Although, it would have been wonderful to have a little more free time to unwind in between a jam-packed schedule. Then, we wouldn’t have been so exhausted by the end of our trip.

Read about our experiences in Venice, Florence, Rome and Pisa.

Do you have any tips on how to plan an Italian trip ?

For cheap flights to Italy, click here.

How to plan an Italian trip

How to plan an Italian trip 1

9 comments on “How to plan an Italian trip”

  1. Slmz, hope you're well.

    My husband and I have booked to go to Italy in March, and since I'm not a well travelled person, I don't know where to start planning. We aren't doing it through an agent either. Would it be possible for you to send me some rough guidelines of your itinerary, as we are doing Rome, Florence,Pisa & Venice? Thank you

  2. We leaving for Italy on Friday,thanks to your articles I feel a bit at ease especially with traveling with a 7 year old and 3 year old.

    1. I'm glad you find them helpful Sumayyah. Let me know if you need any information that I haven't covered. And have a wonderful holiday!

  3. I read this before I started making arrangements for my trip later this year in shaa Allah. I really appreciated the advice.

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