Subject: Italy cost comparisons
Frances, I have always found Rome hotels to be pricey. Nevertheless, I stayed in the Senato on the piazza by the Pantheon several years ago and it was reasonable. Now we stay next door at the Sole al Pantheon and it is more expensive, but cheaper than near the Spanish Steps. There is also a hotel at the top of the Spanish Steps called Scalinata di Spagna. Fifteen years ago I thought it was inexpensive, but who knows now. I think many others on this list can guide you to reasonably priced Rome hotels. We took a half day tour of the city with American Express in order to orient ourselves. Again, not expensive and very convenient. It is located near the Spanish Steps. You can walk to see many, many sights and taxis are cheap (unlike Kansas City).

The train is inexpensive and a nice way to see the countryside.

Florence seems to be less expensive. Again, I have seen lots of postings here recommending reasonable hotels. You can walk everywhere in the city. We had a good guidebook that had detailed descriptions of each place we had gone to see.

If you are going to leave the cities and go to a small town, one day tours will be much more reasonable than renting a car. We have always paid a lot to rent cars in Italy and gas is expensive.

Italy is not as inexpensive as going to Mexico or South America, but once you find reasonable airfare, the rest of the trip can be done within a budget and it will be much more enjoyable than going on a large tour. If you want to skip the Map Room at the Vatican and spend 3 hours at the Sistine Chapel you can do that. If you want to visit the Vatican mosaic studio, you can do so, which most tours do not even know about. One year we were able to get tickets to see the Pope say New Years Day mass at St. Peters. It will take some research, both on the Net and the old-fashioned kind, but we like that part of the vacation too.

My opinion only and I am sure you will find many people with differing thoughts. Ed in KC (for now)