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How to Tour Italy on a Budget

The colorful Duomo

Even with the Euro crisis, the European currency is strong against the U.S. Dollar.  Here are some of Tour Italy Now’s best tips on how to tour Italy on a budget.

Eating and drinking

Picnics are a great way to practice some Italian, eat like the locals and relax in a pretty, green space. Find a local market, or alimentari – grocery store and stock up on cold meats and cheese sliced to order and fresh bread and local fruits and head to a park for your foraged feast.

Pizza and gelato are both delicious and inexpensive.  A pizza is rarely more than 10 euros a person and even the smallest scoop of gelato is a pretty generous serving size.  During the day look for pizza a taglia, pizza by the slice or tramazzini filled triangle shaped sandwiches.

At restaurants, look for the Menu de Giorno.  This is often a 3 course set menu meal at a very reasonable price.  Make sure to ask if drinks, even water, are included in the price.

Enoteche, wine bars, are great places for an affordable, light meal.  They are also open slightly earlier than a restaurant so a good option for hungry children and tired travelers. In Venice look for chichetti, the Venetian version of tapas.

Bottled Water

Bring your own, reusable, bottle or get one when you arrive and refill it at one of the many fountains.  The water is cold and clean and very safe to drink.

Treasure Hunt

In culturally rich Italy, some of the most famous sites are free.

For the art lover, go to churches. In Rome seek out the Caravaggio’s and Michelangelo’s. In Florence, Tuscany and Umbria,  Brunelleschi architecture and Giotto frescoes are plentiful.  In Venice it’s Titians and an ever changing collection of contemporary art installations.

The Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps are don’t miss spots in Rome.  Throw your coins and ensure your return to the eternal city and take a break sitting on the spanish steps an watch the world go by.

Napoleon declared the Piazza San Marco to be the drawing room of Europe. In St. Mark’s Square you can see the Byzantine basilica, the Doges palace, the clock tower and bell tower.  A coffee at the famous and elegant cafe Florian is worth the splurge.

In Florence sit in the shady, sculpture filled, Loggia della Signoria in the Piazza della Signoria. In the piazza, in front of the Palazzo Vecchio is a copy of Michelangelo’s famous David.

Get Carded

Discount passes and combined tickets area  great way to save money of you are planning on visiting many sites and museums in a short period of time.

In Rome there is the RomaPass which includes 2 museum or archaeological site visits and all public transportation for the period the pass is valid.  Additional museum and site visits are at a reduced price.  There is a dedicated entrance to colosseum for RomaPass holders.

For visiting many sites in and near Naples, like Pompeii, the Campania ArteCard can save you some Euros.  This card includes entrance to two sites and all public transportation and reductions on admission for other sites visited.

In Florence chose the FirenzeCard, which is valid for 72 hours and includes entrance to 2 of 60 museums, villas, churches and historical gardens in Florence and also includes all public transportation. At some sites there are dedicated entrances for cardholders s you can skip long lines.

Around the corner

Sometimes a cold flute of prosecco in one of Italy’s main piazza’s is exactly what you spend your money on. That table real estate comes at a premium price.  Better value for your euro can be found when you walk a few blocks away from the main tourist sites.

Having your coffee or iced tea (the freddo) standing up at the bar is usually half the price as if you sit down.

Book Ahead.  Train tickets between major Italian cities can be discounted as much as 70%  if you book at least a month in advance.  There are now two options if you wish to travel by train.  You choices are the state-run, Trenitalia which has the most extensive network and options and the snazzy new Italo founded by the chairman of Ferrari, which sports the best of Italian design and is regularly adding new cities


July and January is sale season in Italy.  Look for drastically marked down items of even the most glamorous designer names

Go Off Season

Off-season accommodation will be less expensive and attractions less crowded.  The weeks after Christmas and before Easter you can get very lucky with cold, clear sunny skies.  In early Autumn when the Italians are back at school and work, the sunny summer weather usually continues well into October.

One of the best ways to get the most value for money is to book your trip to Italy with us here at Tour Italy Now. We have long, personal relationships with hotels and guides throughout Italy and can guarantee the best prices in the best hotels. We would love to help you plan your dream Italian Vacation. Email, Facebook or Skype with us.

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By Priscila Siano (266 Posts)

Priscila Siano is the Marketing Director of Tour Italy Now, an online tour operator specializing in Italy travel. She's a respected expert on making dream Italy vacations a reality for clients.

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