Travel to Italy has become much more costly in recent years. Here are some tips for enjoying an Italian holiday with the best food and hospitality on a tight budget.
Vacations in Italy used to be a bargain, but with the introduction of the Euro and drop in the US dollar, Italian holidays have become prohibitively expensive. Costs of hotels, shops and restaurants have become especially high in the more frequented cities such as Rome, Florence and Venice where tourism is a main source of revenue.
As a result, many visitors from abroad return home having spent much more than they had intended to, and feeling ‘ripped off’ by shops, hotels and restaurants. But travel to this remarkable country need not be such a drain on one’s resources. There are a few important rules to follow in order to enjoy Italy on the cheap.
Getting the Best Exchange Rate
To get the best possible rate of currency exchange, avoid the money changers scattered throughout major cities – in Italy, these ‘cambio’ booths charge hefty fees, and do not offer the best exchange rates. Banks offer better rates, and it’s easier and safer to withdraw cash from an ATM (Bancomat) when you need it – ATM fees are much lower than those of cambio booths.
In addition, while many shops and restaurants in Italy are still ‘cash only’, a growing number of businesses take credit cards (including the toll booths on Italian highways). Credit card companies do bulk currency exchange for the best possible rate, so for the greatest value on your dollar, use credit cards whenever possible (Visa is the most widely accepted; Discover is not accepted in Italy).
Vacation Rentals are Better than Hotels
Instead of pricey hotels where services are not up to the standards many tourists expect, apartment rentals cost the same – or less – per night as hotel rooms, but can accommodate more people. Apartment rentals also include kitchens, so visitors can ‘cook in’, which saves a lot of money as restaurants in Italian cities can be expensive. There are many websites dedicated to finding – and reserving apartment rentals all over Italy.
Saving Money while Eating Out
Avoid restaurants near busy areas or tourist sites (such as Saint Peter’s in Rome or Saint Mark’s in Venice). Many add on hefty service and ‘bread’ charges, and the food is often not as good as in small, out-of-the-way places. Look for places in quiet back streets where locals are eating, and avoid places with fixed-price ‘tourist menus’ – you will likely spend less by eating à la carte. It is not necessary to order ‘first’, ‘second’ courses and so on. A light meal consisting of an antipasto and a contorno, or vegetable dish, not only gives you a break from pasta, but also leaves room for gelato or tiramisu afterward.
Finding the Undiscovered Italy
Instead of hitting the big-three tourist cities, spend time in less-frequented areas or smaller cities. Italy is a large country with a rich and diverse cultural heritage; there is a lot more to it than Rome, Florence and Venice.
Once outside these overcrowded cities, prices are lower and food and hospitality better. Abruzzo, Puglia and Basilicata are only some of the nearly untouched regions that offer great deals, stunning scenery and amazing food. Visits to Sicily and Sardinia can also be inexpensive holidays to remember.
Travel to Italy has become more expensive in recent years, but it can still be enjoyed on a budget. And while mass tourism has literally transformed some of Italy’s major cities into ‘tourist traps’, the country’s best food, wine, art and culture are outside the main squares and crowded thoroughfares of the big cities. Cheap Italy can be found in the back streets and small villages, waiting to be explored and welcoming to visitors.
Check Out Travel Comparison Sites
If you have checked out the lesser known vacation spots in Italy, but are still looking for holidays in Rome Florence or Vienna, then it’s worth checking out the travel deals websites, and comparison sites, they will offer you the best deals available for the place you wish to visit and could ensure you get a great money saving option, the only downside is that it will take a little time to find the right deal for you.
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