Travel Tips in Italy - Weekly Updated
A tip for any readers who are heading to Rome (why wouldn't you?) and want to wander the coliseum. Avoid the long wait in the cue to buy tickets to enter the coliseum by heading to the Roman forum first. There is usually little of no line here, and you use the same ticket to enter the colliseum, walking straight past the hundreds of people lining up straight to the gates to scan your ticket and you are free to wander at your whim.
Jason Gill, Switzerland (Oct 06)
Thefts should be reported to the Main Police Station at Via S. Vitale and NOT at the Ufficio Straniero as listed in your book. (The reporting procedure is simple and efficient and forms are in Italian and English). The latter has been renamed Ufficio Immigrazione and deals mainly with visa & immigration formalities. It has moved to Via Teofilo Patini snc (angolo via Salviati) zone 'Tor Cervara'. (Metro line B to Rebibbia and then autobus No. 447). Tel: 0646863109 & 0646863098.
To avoid the horrendous queues for the Vatican Museum, go to the entrance from which the queue starts. To the right are revolving doors for the exit from the Museum. Just inside is the informazioni counter. There is no indication on the outside.. There you can book an excellent guided tour for 21.50 which includes the entry price of 12.50. They leave at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. & 4 p.m. You can book in advance, or on the spot 15 mins before, providing there is room on the tour and that way avoid the long queues. For both St. Peter's and the Vatican Museum the queues in the morning are just impossible. But if you go around 3 pm. you can almost walk straight in. No queues!
Florence. Just a quick note to let you know of the way we discovered to visit the Uffizi & Gallery Academic bypassing the queues (I believe this new system is the reason for the difficulty in getting reservations to those museums now and the consequently very long queues):
The Bank Toscana has an arrangement with the museums whereby you can purchase a 50 debit card (for 55) from the bank, which gives you a voucher for each of the above named 2 galleries, allowing you to purchase 2 entry tickets from each of those galleries (using the debit card) without incurring a reservation charge (eg 6.50 for admission to uffizzi instead of 6.5 + 3) AND allows you to enter immediately so effectively skipping the large queues. The 5 extra cost of purchasing the debit card goes to the banks' administration AND some gets to the Gallery Academica for restoration/maintenance of Michelangelo's David.
As the purchase of 2 tickets for entry to each of the Uffizzi and the Gallery Academica only amounts to about 26, there is some surplus cash left on the debit card. The rest of this cash on the debit card can be used to purchase souvenirs from the gift shops associated with the museums, and I think can also be used for purchasing tickets to the other Florence museums. The purpose and use of the card was being misunderstood particularly by non-italian speakers, who thought that the 55 was for entry to the 2 museums only (and therefore was more than a doubling of the normal cost).
If you are going up north in summer definitely take some strong insect repellant with you, and some stuff for the bites afterwards. The chemist will give you a cream for them but in some towns they close for a period in summer and the only one left open can be up to an hour away.
One of main attractions in Rome. The Holy See (Vatican City). If intending to visit during summer months (May - Sept), make sure you carry a lite t-shirt and pair of track pants or lite trousers in backpack so you can pull over shorts or vest before entering. Vests and shorts aren't considered appropriate attire for entering The Vatican.
If you're not worried about getting a little lost, walk around Rome as much as you can instead of taking public transport. Around any corner could be a Roman site found whilst developers were trying to build new buildings. Although they may not be fully excavated, they are great to look at.
In Rome I found the bus service excellent. I found it opened up the whole city to me, and I also found that I was beginning to know my way around the city and where the main points of interest were located as opposed to running around tunnels in the dark. The only thing the metro has over the bus is the speed but on any other criterion it simply does not compare. Presently the A metro line (Battistini/Anagnina) is undergoing renovations/upgrading and will shut down at 2100 hrs for the next 3 years at least.
Having just returned from Venice I wish to pass on some information with regards to getting from the Treviso airport to Piazzale Roma (Venice). Ryan air provided a bus at a cost of 4.50 for a single trip and 8 for a return ticket, this is excellent value for money as the buses connects with all Ryanair flights.
Just back from Italy. Please WARN women solo travellers against taking the overnight trains, specifically on the Naples/Genoa route. I am not easily frightened but I was on the overnight train from Naples to Nice. Very seedy elements on board, I thought I would be raped, unable to sleep the entire time out of fear.
If you buy anything in a tabacchi or other little stores and bars, you should check the total and the change immediately and accurately. Within a few days we would have lost about 20 at four shops. At a tabacchi, they gave us bus tickets in a paper bag, so we were not able to see the price printed on the tickets. The total was nearly twice as high as it should have been.
Have just got back from an amazing trip round Italy. Something to look out for as Mum ended up in a Police Station in Rome is a single man waiting outside Metro stops at night pretending to be lost and thrusting a map in your face. As you stop to help, two other official looking men turn up flashing mock police badges at you demanding your bank cards and passport saying the man you are helping is very dangerous. They take your cards, all the time you believing that they are Police, and demand very aggressively for your PIN numbers for your card. Throughout this interrogation, they have scanned all your card details into a small device and also given your details down the phone to someone. Mum didn't give out her PIN and went straight to the Police station, where they informed her this was a growing problem. The Italian Police were very helpful and assisted her in canceling all her cards over the phone, which when checked with the Bank in England had been done legit. It all happens very quickly and your natural reaction is to stop and help someone lost who looks like a fellow tourist, I guess just keep your wits about you after dark.
This year I spent some time in Sicily, about 2 months, which was very nice. It occured to me that your "Sicily" book does not even make mention of a wonderful little town named Novara di Sicilia. This very interesting, wonderfull, untouched one-of-a-kind historic medieval town lies in the Nebrodi and Peloritani mountains, not far from the cities of Messina, Barcelona, and Milazzo. It exists as a medieval urban site since the 12th century and historians and legends alike have spoken of its existance as a settlement since ancient times. Novara did/does lie on the ancient route which carried greeks and others from Tyndaris to Naxos in ancient times. Novara is also surrounded by lush mountain terrain and agriculture and has a priceless view on the Aolian Islands only a few miles away.
In the Liguria region there are plenty of "sagre", similar to the Spanish fiestas. The best ones, and more suitable for the backpacker crowd, are those in the hillside towns and villages. They always have some kind of religious origin, and they start with processions and masses and all that, but usually at night they develop in big parties packed with young people coming from all the villages and towns around, with open air DJ sessions, cheap good food (the sagra usually is named after the local gastronomic specialty), cheap booze, bars open till late at night, etc. It can be a lot of fun for people on their 20-30's.If you want to go for the most unique atmosphere, always choose the sagre in the little hillside towns, because those on the coast are usually more family oriented. Hillside villages are usually easy to reach by local bus lines (unless you feel like going on foot or hitch-hiking). All these sagre are widely advertised locally by street posters and billboards.
My wife and I recently spent a fabulous week in the medieval town of Oria, a little village in the Apulia province of Italy (south). It is an extremely interesting area, with the Trulli house (Alberobello) nearby, the cave formations at Castella Grotte, terrific Byzantine and other buildings at Lecce , the warm sea at Campamorale. The area has a mixed history which has left a fascinating variety of castles, cathedrals, Moorish, Byzantine and Greek locations. The local people were very friendly and they are rightly proud of their food and wine which we found to be cheap and enjoyable.There are several economical restaurants in Oria, all serving excellent food.We highly recommend this experience to other travellers who like getting away from the tourist rush and feeling southern Italian life.
We stayed in Trestina situated between Cittα di Castello and Umbertide and visited the nearby village Montone. Although we couldn't find it being mentioned in any guide, it was recommended by the owner of the house that we rented. And it was indeed a true pearl!
Brixen-Bressanone is a charming city. It was the diocesan town for the main part of Tyrol until South Tyrol became part of Italy in 1918. There is the episcopal castle with a museum (representative rooms, models of nativity scenes and crucifixion scenes) and several paintings of famous Tyrolean artists of the 19th century) and the beautiful cathedral with a gothic cloister (with frescos). About 15 km south of Brixen is the small town Klausen-Chiusa, which was very popular for artists in the 19th and early 20th century, they liked it for the still medieval and romantic look, and it has kept much of it until today. On a hill looking over the city is a convent (Kloster Sδben) which was the residence of the bishop in the medieval age. It looks more like a castle, and it was built to protect the citizens of the town and the villages around. Today there are still some Benedictine nuns living there. You can walk up the hill (about 20 minutes), visit the churches and enjoy the view.
Summer in Rome, fabulous, amazing... hot and crowded. Think about staying outside the city, I recommend Terracina, (famous for the white wine of the region)in the hills overlooking Rome. Its a charming little place with Roman fountains, Roman temple ruins. The day time heat & crowds are killers, and Rome by moonlight (and the specially amber coloured streetlights) is unimaginably gorgeous.
Some of the Best Touristic Itineraries
San Felice Circeo -Sabaudia - National Park of Circeo
S. Felice Circeo - Sea-bathing resort among the most wellknown and preferred, San Felice combines the charm of an ancient settlement perched on the western slopes of the mythical promontory with first class touristc attractions. SABAUDIA - The elegance of this new town, founded only half-a-century ago, is due to the regular urban planning and to the splendid natural setting of sea and coastal lake of the same name. NATIONAL PARK OF CIRCEO - Constituted in 1934 to safeguard the marvellous natural endownments of the area, the Park extends over 8,300 hectares one-third of which consists of uncontaminated state-owned forests where wild-life and vegetation are rigorously protected.
Abbey of Fossanova - Sezze - Sermoneta - Ninfa
Abbey of Fossanova - The Abbey of Fossanova is the first Italian example of Cistercense gothic construction. Built in the 9th century, the church was consecrated in 1208 by Pope Innocent III. The interior, with three aisles, is without either painting or sculpure and the local live stone accentuates the volumetric character of the building. The most beautiful cloister should also be visited as well as the chapter hall, the refectory and the recently restored infirmary. SEZZE- This is the most important and representative centre of Monti Lepini. The cathedral is very interesting. On Good Friday, the streets of this little town is the scene of a charming, moving re-evocation of the Passion of Christ. SERMONETA - The medieval stamp of this town is most evident in its urban structure and in its monuments, the most important of which is the Castle, excellently preserved and seat of numerous cultural displays. NINFA - A medieval town, completely abandoned in the 18th century due to malaria, it has been defined by the historian Gregorovius as the "Pompei of the Middle Ages". Today, it is a pictoresque ruin inserted in a verdant and natural botanic garden dominated by the tower ot the Caetani Castle.
Fondi - Grottos of Pastena - Abbey of Montecassino
Fondi - Situated on a lake of the same name, the sea and the slopes of the Aurunci mountains, the plane of Fondi is one of the most renowned agricultural areas in Latium. In the inhabited centre, there is the Cathedral of San Pietro, the barional Castle and the Palace of the Prince. GROTTOS OF PASTENA - Very vast spelaeological complex, among the most important in Italy, rich in stalactites and stalagmites in fantastic forms, the grottos of of pastenas may be visited along a stretch of approximately 2.5 kilometers, composed of lighted paths which enable one to enjoy the horrid beauty of the interior. ABBEY OF MONTECASSINO - founded in 529 by Benedict of Norcia, this most famous abbey became very soon the most enlightened centre of western civilization. This is rather surprising if one considers the various occurrences of the complex, several times destroyed and each time arising agin as a symbol of civilization and peace.
Sperlonga - Gaeta - Formia - Minturno
SPERLONGA - The most ancient nucleus of the town, dating back to the Middle Ages, is grouped together on a peak on the mountain jutting out towards the sea and it has the typical appearance of a Mediterranean seaside resort. The climate and scenery were renown and appreciated even in Roman times. (Grotto of Tiberius and surrounding areas). Gaeta - From Sperlonga to Gaeta the coast winds in an intricate and stupendous arabesque of promontories and bays up to the characteristic natural port which was one of the attractions of the ancient city of the Aurunci. The medieval district of St. Erasmus with its cathedral and Angevin-Aragonese Castle is an authentic jewel. FORMIA - the healthy climate and the seacoast rich in fish-life rendered it a renown holiday resort even in Roman times. Cicero had a splendid villa in Formia and here he was killed by assassins sent by Antonio in 43 A.D. Local tradition has idenified in a tomb of the 1st century situated at 139,5 kms on the Via Appia, the sepulchre of the great orator. The charecteristic agglomerate in the high part of the city is interesting with the Torre of Mola and the church of St. Erasmus. MINTURNO - A large town with a medieval aspect, Minturno rises on the terrace dominating the sea. Particularly interesting are the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Minturanae with its Theatre of the 1st century A.D. excellently preserved and the seat of summer theatrical activity.
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