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How to Tour Italy Without Overspending

Tour Italy Without Overspending

In today’s tough economic climate on both sides of the Atlantic, making sure you get the most out of your travel dollars is a must. Knowing exactly how much to spend and where to spend it in Italy can spell the difference between realizing the vacation of your dreams and going home worrying about your next credit card statement

If you’re planning an Italy tour on a strict budget, you’ve got to pick your spots carefully due to the sheer number of places where you can sink your funds. This post shares several key tips on how you can be a judicious traveller while still enjoying much of what Italy has to offer.

When to Go

Planning your trip to Italy in the off season means your accommodation will be less expensive and many of the most popular attractions will be less crowded. In early Autumn you will find the Italians are back at school and work, the oppressive heat has passed but the sunny summer weather often continues well into October. Another wonderful time to visit Italy is during the weeks after Christmas and before Easter. The streets and museums are quiet and you can get very lucky with cold, clear, sunny skies.

Book Ahead

Reserve at least a month in advance. and train tickets between major Italian cities can be discounted by as much as 70%  You have two options if you wish to travel by train.  Choose between the state-run, Trenitalia which has the most extensive network and options and the snazzy new Italo which was founded by the chairman of Ferrari. Italo  sports the best of Italian design and it’s regularly adding new cities to its network.

Eating and Drinking

A great way to practice your Italian, eat like the locals and relax in a pretty, green space is to shop for picnic supplies. 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 shops selling pizza a taglia, pizza by the slice or bars that will have a choice of tramazzini, filled triangle shaped sandwiches.

Plan for your big restaurant meals to be at lunch, which is often less expensive than dinner. 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 evening meal.  They are also usually open slightly earlier than a restaurant so are a good option for hungry children and tired travelers. In Venice, look for Baccari which serve cichetti, a kind of Venetian version of tapas.

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

Treasure Hunt

Some of the most famous sites are free all over culturally rich Italy.

For the art lover, some of the best art is housed in churches with no entrance fees. In Rome seek out works by Caravaggio and Michelangelo. In Florence, Tuscany and Umbria,  Brunelleschi architecture and Giotto frescoes are plentiful. In Venice hunt for Titian and Tintoretto. In Rome, the Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps are free of charge and open 24 hours a day. Make sure you throw your coins in the fountain to ensure your return to the eternal city Take a break and sit on the Spanish steps to 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 domed Basilica, the Doges palace, the clock tower and bell tower. For a place to sit, look for one of the marble benches in front of the Gondola launch docks. In Florence sit in the shady, sculpture filled, Loggia della Signoria in the Piazza della Signoria. A copy of Michelangelo’s famous David stands just in front of the Palazzo Vecchio in the same piazza.

Combined Tickets

A terrific way to save money if you are planning on visiting many sites and museums in a short period of time is to purchase discount passes and combined tickets.

Rome offers the RomaPass. The RomaPass includes two visits to a museum or archaeological site and all public transportation for the period the pass is valid.  Additional museum and site tickets are then at a reduced price.  Another benefit is the dedicated entrance to the coliseum for RomaPass holders.

For visiting many sites in and near Naples, including 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.

Stand Up

Sometimes a having a glass of wine or a cappuccino while sitting in one of Italy’s most famous and beautiful 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.


Saldi is the Italian word for sale. Stores in Italy only have sales in the months of July and January.  During these sale periods you will find drastically marked down items of even the most high-end designer names.

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.

In today’s tough economic climate on both sides of the Atlantic, making sure you get the most out of your travel dollars is a must. Knowing exactly how much to spend and where to spend it in Italy can spell the difference between realizing the vacation of your dreams and going home worrying about your next credit card statement.

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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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