Accommodation € 65.61
Food € 30.78
Water € 3.13
Local Transportation1 € 10.78
Entertainment1 € 14.72
Communication € 5.66
Tips and Handouts € 6.90
Intercity Transportation € 27.16
Souvenirs € 17.95
Scams, Robberies, and Mishaps € 50.63
Alcohol € 10.99
Because Italy is such a popular destination, travel costs can be high. It's possible to find cheaper meal options and if you're on a particularly tight budget. Most restaurants charge a sitting fee if you dine inside... this is even true when you stop at a bar and just want to have a couple of cool drinks and sit in their cafe outside. They'll charge you several Euro for the table. Instead, get your drinks and find a bench or a sitting wall under the shade of some trees.
Hotels are usually high quality but the rooms are smaller than when traveling in the United States. Choose a hotel based on location, not size, and you won't be disappointed. Consider renting an apartment if you're staying in one location longer than 2 nights. This will save money, give you a place to have a rest during the middle of the day (just like the Italians do with their Riposa) and give a place to try cooking in once in a while.
Traveling in the off season or shoulder season can also save you lots of money (although the "shoulder" season is getting narrower and narrower). This will also help you avoid the crowds which can be overwhelming during the summer months. If you can visit the area during the later fall (mid-October or later) or early spring (early April or earlier), then this is ideal, as the weather is pleasant, the crowds are less, and prices remain low. Winter can be cold (but never as cold as most northern Americans are used to), but is also a fun time to visit. Traveling to Italy during the winter months helps you see a whole different side to this normally touristy country.
- Some consider train travel to be expensive in Italy, but we thought it was affordable. It does add considerable time to your traveling... consider it will take a half day to get from one part of the country to the other. Costs are generally comparable to what you will find elsewhere in Europe. You'll usually get the best prices if you book your tickets in advance. High speed trains and faster and more comfortable than the Regional trains, but they do cost more and only go between more major cities. There are discount passes available, but these passes usually come with limitations and requirements.
- Southern Italy is less expensive than northern Italy. It's also less touristy. Consider the natural beauty of mountainous Basilicata, rugged and wild Calabria or the beauty and the sea down in Puglia. If you're looking to save some money and get off the beaten path, head to the south where your money will go farther and you'll see a whole different side to the country. It was our favorite part of Italy!
- You'll save money on food if you have a filling lunch in a restaurant (before 12pm unless in Rome... otherwise, they close up for Riposa) and then prepare a picnic for dinner. There are many great markets where you can pick up Italian cheeses and breads as well as regional wine for a good price... alimentari (local grocery stores) are affordable and offer great, affordable local wines. Even if you don't have access to a kitchen, you can turn these items into and excellent meal. They have a lot of ready to eat items, just like American delis.
- Most people visit Florence, Rome and Venice during their trip to Italy. Pick at least one small town to visit that is off the beaten path. Spend a day or two exploring its streets and neighborhoods and you'll leave with a whole new perspective on this country. You'll probably enjoy the time spent in the small towns better or as much as the time spent in the crowded big tourist cities.
- Avoid doing a tour. Italy is easily visited independently. Transportation is excellent and the tourist infrastructure is well established. There is really no need to visit this country as part of a package tour. I strongly suggest renting a car and following your nose. Although gas is expensive in Italy, cars are very efficient offsetting the costs.
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