Trip of a Lifetime
Bon Giorno, Italia! This is the trip of a lifetime to Italy, financed by a $50,000.00 inheritance from a nonexistent relative. The trip is for two people, including Yours Truly and a good friend who shall be known as “Zippy.” Money is fortunately no object, as most researched financial aspects of this trip are stunningly high. Unfortunately, our time is limited to a two-week period, which is not long enough.
Below is a map including our destinations of Milan, Venice, San Marino, Rome, Naples, and Florence:
We will take a one-way flight from LAX in Los Angeles to Milan, Italy’s Linate Airport on May 1, 2012 on KLM Airlines at a cost of $6,586.04USD, arriving shortly after Noon on May 2, 2012 (KLM Royal Dutch Airlines). Fortunately, KLM does not charge extra for 1 piece of luggage and 1 carry-on, and we both anticipate carrying no more luggage than that on our flight to Italy.
b. Within Italy
i. Between Cities
We want some “wind in our hair” freedom, so we will rent a Peuguot Cabrio 308 convertible or similar to drive from City to City, picked up at Milan’s Linate airport on May 2, 2012, and dropped off on May 15, 2012 at Florence’s Peretola Airport before our return flight, at a cost of $2,208.77 USD (Auto Europe). We anticipate driving a minimum of 1683 km: 280 km from Milan to Venice on May 4, 2012; 288 km from Venice to San Marino on May 6, 2012; 416 km from San Marino to Rome on May 7, 2012; 226 km from Rome to Naples on May 11, 2012; 473 km from Naples to Florence on May 13, 2012 (Google Earth). The current average price of gas in Italy is 2 Euros/litre (Larouchepac.com) and the Peugeot averages 9.4 — 9.7 L/100km (Fuelly.com), so we anticipate a minimum of 347 Euros ($462.71 USD) for gas.
ii. Within Cities
Rather than driving within the Cities and getting repeatedly lost, we will park our car at the hotel and use taxis and hotel transportation. According to relatives who have visited Italy, taxis started at 3 — 5 Euros/ride but actually never cost less than 10 Euros, no matter how short the drive. Fortunately, tipping is at a minimum in Italy (Pasini), so we will plan on seeing all five tourist sites within each City, equaling 10 taxi trips per City x 10 Euros per trip. Consequently, we should plan on a minimum of 100 Euros per City for taxis x six cities, for a total of 600 Euros ($800.08 USD).
c. From Italy
We will take a one-way flight from Florence’s Peretola Airport to LAX on May 15, 2012, at a cost of $5,129.04;
Italy uses the Euro, and 1 U.S. Dollar is worth 0.752219 Euro (ExchangeRate.com).
b. Amount to Exchange and Carry
Though banks such as Citibank are willing to change U.S. Dollars to Euros for a fee, veteran travelers suggest exchanging very little money here in the U.S., taking an ATM card that will be honored at Italian ATMS and taking a major credit card in case there is a problem with an ATM (Imboden and Imboden, ATMs and Currency Exchange Machines); consequently, we will change $500 USD each at Citibank in order to have “walking around money” for our arrival in Milan and will rely on ATMs for the lion’s share of our disposable income while in Italy.
Veteran travelers suggest using a neck wallet or money belt (Imboden and Imboden, ATMs and Currency Exchange Machines). In addition, to avoid a devastating theft from all our bank accounts through use of my ATM card, the $50,000.00 will be deposited in a special checking account for all expenses of the trip and we will each have an ATM card with access to those funds while in Italy.
5. Documentation to Carry
We will need our Passports, of course; however, Italy does not require a Visa for visitors staying in the country fewer than 90 days, so we do not need Visas (Lonely Planet.com). In addition to our passports, we will carry our drivers’ licenses and certified copies of our birth certificates. Finally, in case of medical emergencies, we will purchase medical travel insurance, estimated to cost 4% – 6% of the total trip cost and will carry insurance cards (Travel Insurance Review.net)
6. Wardrobe and Packing
a. Appropriate Clothing for Climate and Season
“The Northern part of Italy has hot summers and cold winter, although the temperature rarely drops below freezing during the daytime. The South enjoys mild winters and long, dry, hot Summers. Mountain areas such as the Alps and the Apennines have long, cold winters long and short, cool summers” (Eurolearn.org). We will be traveling in both northern and southern Italy in the Spring, so we looked at average temperatures for each of our destinations at this time. According to Weather.com, on April 30th, the average temperatures of our destinations are:
i. Milan: High 67; Low 48;
ii. Venice: High 65; Low 50; iii. San Marino: High 68; Low 49;
iv. Rome: High 70; Low 47;
v. Naples: High 68; Low 50;
vi. Florence: High 70; Low 49 (Weather.com).
Obviously, Italy is neither very cold nor very hot during this season, so we will skip the Capris pants and pack: long pants; long-sleeve tops; short-sleeve tops; light jacket; walking shoes; evening shoes; evening clothes; underwear; socks; pajamas; swimsuits; flip-flops.
b. Grooming Items
We will take average grooming items, such as: comb; brush; toothbrush; very small toothpaste; shoe horn; lint brush; fingernail clippers and nail file; toenail clippers; safety razor with extra blades; tweezers; small scissors. We will skip all liquids and just “buy Italian” to sidestep those annoying regulations about flying with liquids in a suitcase.
c. Items other than wardrobe or grooming items
In addition to wardrobe and grooming items, we will each need to bring: sunglasses; sunblock; a small emergency kit; reading glasses; digital camera; extra discs for camera; extra battery pack for camera; binoculars; mini-flashlight; cell phone and charger; travel alarm; converters and cables for electrical devices; mini-umbrella; wristwatch.
7. Anticipating Duty on Goods Brought Back into the U.S.
We anticipate each buying a suitcase in Italy and packing it with our Italian purchases, so we must be mindful of duty. “Duty” is “a tax on goods sold by merchants within their country” (Duty Free.com). A number of merchants sell duty-free and we’ll concentrate on those. Then we will have to worry about America at the LAX point of entry upon our return. We will have to pay duty on purchases over $800.00, as “American citizens reentering the U.S. after purchasing products in most countries may only bring in $800 of duty-free merchandise” (Duty Free.com). As Duty Free.com states, the regulations on duty are like an unabridged dictionary and we are fortunately not souvenir hounds, so each of us will limit purchases to $800.00 total.
a. Milan – May 2, 2012 — May 4, 2012:
1. Why visit Milan?
Milan has: extensive shopping, with many designer outlets for such designers as Gucci, Prada, and Dolce & Gabbana, well as jewelry; beautiful architecture; famous Art, such as Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”; and entertainment, such as La Scala Theatre (Letsgo2). Hotel:
Research shows that we prefer a single, luxurious room/suite for 2 adults. We will stay at a Junior Suite in the Four Seasons Milan Hotel from May 2, 2012 through May 4, 2012, at a cost of 2,046 Euros ($2,728.27 USD) (Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts).
The hotel includes breakfast. Lunch will be eaten as we see the sites. Based on research and recommendations, we will eat our two dinners in Milan at: Al Pont de Ferr; Antica Trattoria della Pesa.
Reserving our right to laziness, we may visit the following sites: Castello Sforzesco; La Scala, probably involving a performance; Museo Poldi-Pezzoli; Pinacoteca Ambrosiana; and Chiesa Santa Maria Presso di San Satiro (New York Times). Sightseeing is very difficult to price. We are not supposed to guess; however, after a point, guessing is necessary. We will budget for a single site in each City. We found that tickets to Tosca at La Scala on May 2nd will cost 250 Euros each for 3rd row boxes, so that alone will cost 500 Euros ($666.73 USD) (Euroteam.info ).
b. Venice — May 4, 2012 — May 6, 2012:
1. Why Visit Venice?
Venice is one of Italy’s top tourist destinations, with 117 bodies of land connected by 400+ bridges spanning 150 canals. Its streets are small and free of motorized vehicles, so it is excellent for walking. (Bakerjian).
After considerable research, we will stay in a Junior Suite at the Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa at a cost of $1,322.64 USD (Bauer Palladio Hotel & Spa, Venice).
Breakfast is included at the hotel. We plan to eat our main meals for these two days at Lineadombra and Trattoria Altanella (Bakerjian).
Though we are reserving our right to laziness, we intend to use: Walks of Italy, which the one we will likely visit and provides a private boat for a tour of Venice for 484 Euros ($645.40 USD) (Walks of Italy); Chiesa Santa Maria dei Miracoli; Collezione Peggy Guggenheim; Galleria dell’Accademia; Isola San Michele; The Fenice.
c. San Marino — May 6, 2012 — May 7, 2012:
1. Why Visit San Marino?
A relative visited San Marino and said that the Castel, the Historical Center and the Museum are “must sees.” The relative also said that the views are breathtaking in San Marino, which is devoted to tourists yet is considerably quieter than the other major cities we will visit.
Based on numerous recommendations and visitor reviews, we will stay in a deluxe room with view at the Hotel Cesare for $185.70USD (Hotels.com)
Breakfast is included with our room. Based on reviews and recommendations, we will have our main meals at Cantina di Bacco and Ritrovo dei Lavoratori (Trip Advisor)
We reserve our right to laziness. However, based on recommendations from a relative and from Trip Advisor, we plan to see: Guaita; Cesta Tower; State Museum of San Marino; Tannino Wine Bar; Palazzo Pubblico (Trip Advisor.com). We will probably visit the State Museum of San Marino, at a cost of 9 Euros ($12.00 USD) admission for both of us (Museidistato.sm).
d. Rome — May 7, 2012 — May 11, 2012:
1. Why Visit Rome?
Rome is “The Eternal City,” historically, artistically, architecturally and culturally; therefore, we reserved 4 days for Rome.
Though there are many beautiful, highly-recommended hotels in Rome, we opted for nearly-insane luxury in arguably the World’s most famous City, and will stay at a Junior Suite in the Hotel de Russie for a whopping 5,764 Euros ($7,686.08 USD) (Roccofortehotels.com).
The hotel includes breakfast. Based on numerous recommendations and reviews, we plan to eat our main meals at: Agata e Romeo; Antico Forno Roscioli; Casa Bleve; Da I 2 Ciccioni (New York Times).
Even foregoing our right to laziness, 4 days are far too little for Rome, so we will attempt to satisfy ourselves with: Walks of Italy — “Eternity in a Day – Vatican, Colosseum & Historic Center” at a cost of 693 Euros (Walks of Italy); the 6 Caravaggios; Rome Limousine Tour by Fattori Car Services, Rome at a cost of 300 Euros (Fattori Car Services Rome); a One-Day Cooking Class by Convivio Rome at a cost of 258 Euros (Convivio Rome); Maxxi Museum: FREE?! We will probably use the Walks of Italy for 693 Euros ($924.09 USD).
e. Naples: May 11, 2012 — May 13, 2012
1. Why Visit Naples?
The often-quoted expression about Rome was originally “See Naples and Die” because Naples reportedly has everything one could want in life, from great food, to treasures from Pompeii, to an underground city, to three castles, to Michelangelo and Raphael, to beautiful sculpture, to Amalfi Coast access, to Sorrento Coast access.
Research showed several five-star hotels but we eventually settled on a deluxe room with sea view at Hotel Excelsior for 610 euros ($813.41 USD) (Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide, Inc.)
Breakfast is provided by the hotel. Based on numerous recommendations and reviews, we will eat our main meals at Dora and Hosteria Toledo (Santopietro).
Reverting to our right to laziness, we looked for packages online but either did not like them or found that they are e-day-minimum packages; consequently, we’ll use our hotel concierge to hook us up for trips to: Museo Nazionale Archeologico di Napoli; Pompeii; Vesuvius; Caserta; the Amalfi Coast; the Sorrento Coast. (Portanapoli.com). We will most likely visit the Museo Nazionale Archeologico di Napoli, at a cost of 18 Euros total ($24.00 USD) (Museoarcheologiconazionale).
f. Florence — May 13, 2012 — May 15, 2012:
1. Why Visit Florence?
Florence is known as the “Birthplace of the Renaissance” and boasts some of the most famous artistic masterpieces in history by Rubens, Rembrandt, Botticelli and, of course, Michelangelo’s “David.”
Our final 2 days in Italy will be spent back in the lap of luxury, in a Junior Suite at the Four Seasons Firenze, costing 2,187 Euros ($2,916.28 USD) (Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts)
Breakfast is included at our hotel. Based on recommendations and reviews, we plan to eat our main meals at: La Giostra and Trattoria Ponte Vecchio;
Still reserving our right to laziness, particularly because we are about to fly home to America, we will definitely visit the Uffizi Accademia Gallery and Ponte Vecchio, and may also visit: Piazza della Signoria; Il Duomo; The Baptistery; and Campanile — Bell Tower (About.com). We will most likely visit the Uffizi Accademia Gallery at a total cost of 20 Euros ($26.67 USD) (Florenceart).
Our “Budget,” using the term loosely and calculated in U.S. Dollars, follows:
This is an initially fun but eventually sobering exercise. Beginning with $50,000.00 USD and believing that we could live like Italian Kings for two weeks, we planned a visit to some of the most famous cities on Earth, including Milan, Venice, San Marino, Rome, Naples, and Florence. Unfortunately, the research forced an increasingly timid assessment of our ability to enjoy the trip of a lifetime in Italy. Even with a budget of $41,337.05, we did not calculate the costs of visiting every listed tourist attraction. Consequently, unless a $100,000.00 inheritance is forthcoming, we will have to say “Ciao, Italia!”
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Imboden, Durant and Cheryl Imboden. “ATMs and Currency Exchange Machines.” 2012. Europeforvisitors.com Web site. Web. 26 March 2012.
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— . “Rome Restaurants – Review and Ratings.” 2012. Travel.nytimes.com Web site. Web. 26 March 2012.
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