Monday, August 30, 2010

Budget tips for Rome

1. If you can handle the heat (33 degrees C) go to Rome in August when it is holiday time for Italians, there are less people and all of the sights are still open. Take it from me the heat is not that bad especially when you can go out in the morning, have siesta during the hottest part of the day, then go out again in the evening.
2. If you are staying more than 3 nights look for a central apartment. This way you can cook some of your meals and save on take out and restaurant meals.
3. Carry a bottle with you, you can fill it up with cold natural spring water at many fountains and taps around the city.
4. Don’t buy food / gelati / drinks from cafes, bars on the main streets or in front of places of interest, go one street back and find everything cheaper. Even better buy cold drinks at the supermarket, there are many SPARS scattered around the city.
5. If you see a church that is open go inside and take photo’s(if allowed) this is FREE. They are all amazing and ornate.
6. Buy bus tickets at the Tabaccheri , these look like newsagencies with a sign out front with a big T on it. They are everywhere.
7. Musei Vatican: line up before 830am, buy a ticket for entrance 15 euro, then go in and purchase an AUDIOGUIDE (map and headset) 7 euros. It will cost at least 40 euro for an English speaking guide and it will take at least 3.5 hours to go through with the guide. With the audio guide you can go at your own pace and when you see something that interests you press the number into the headset and it gives you the information. (more info on this in the blog). St Peter’s Basilica is FREE, the tombs below are also FREE. Do not be conned by people outside the Vatican walls selling inclusive tickets and skip the line tickets.
8. During Summer there are stalls and restaurants set up along the River Tevere between the Ponte Garibaldi and Ponte Palatino. I recommend going for a walk along the river at least once, its FREE too.
9. There are FREE walking tours around Rome, take advantage of this. They are ENGLISH only and take about 1.5 - 2 hours.
10. There are many FREE sights to see in Rome. For example you can see the outside of the Colosseum and walk all the way around it to take photo’s. Unless you really want to know the ins and outs of the Colosseum don’t worry about paying for the entrance. There are many ruins around the city for great photo’s too. (I will make a list of the FREE places of interest).

Monday, August 16, 2010

Venice budget blow out...nah it was alright

The budget for Venice was blown out a bit due to all the souvenirs we collected. But we have not done too badly up until this point and we haven’t really purchased souvenirs yet except for post cards here and there.

So here goes (don’t be too shocked)

The apartment cost us 255euros for 2 nights
The train 155euros (all 4 of us return)
48 hour boat/bus ticket 112euros
All sightseeing 60euros
Souvenirs 225euros (Venetian glass and masks and lace)
Food 100euros (this was indulgent pastries, coffee, gelati etc…)

So just over 900euros for the whole trip including transport there and back. I don’t think that was too bad for 4 people in a very popular city. It was definitely worth it. We all loved Venice and hope to go back some day.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Everyday living in Italy

So far we have worked out that we use about 500euros a week on food, transport, internet, dvds, postcards/stamps, tours/tickets to see things and the all important rent.
On a good week we only spend 300euros (after paying for our rent). A good week consists of:
  • Groceries
  • Transport (bus/train)
  • A visit to a church or 2 or 3 (some a free :-)
  • Postcards (11 for 3euro)
  • Stamps (1euro each postcard)
  • Gelati and Cafe visits twice a week

So a good week doesn't mean no FUN!!! Just taking advantage of all the free activities you can do around Italy.

If we go to another city during the week and spend 3-5 days there we generally try to get an apartment with a kitchen so that we can buy groceries there and cook dinner and have breakfast in the apartment. In saying that we then spend on pastries anc lunch, for instance today in Venice we went to Lido an island with beaches and had calamari and chips (it was gross :-( ) then we went to an art gallery (modern and a bit R rated for the kids):

  • lunch 11 euro
  • gallery 30euro (2 tickets) kids free
  • 3 cappuccino, a slice of yummy cake and a choc croissant 9.50euros (CHEAP) in the gallery
  • we pick up some very nice sandwiches with fluffy white (glue)bread 1.50euro each
  • Iain and I climbed the Bell Tower in St Marks Square 16euros

So today we spent 70euros, not too bad I think for a family of 4 in Venice.