Subject: Re: Re: TOURING VS INDEPENDENT TRAVEL
Two young people going to Italy for 10 days on the ground with a total budget of $4000 is a competitive challenge I just can't pass up.

Taking the airfare first: Noting that you live in Ohio, I checked the round trip fare to Rome from Cleveland which totaled $2000 for two. I assume that you could easily drive to Cleveland in about three hours max from any place in Ohio so getting to airport will be quite inexpensive. It is hard to imagine that you do not have air miles to help offset the price of the ticket or that you can't scrounge miles up from family members (My sons are always using my miles for their gallivanting around the country so I assume that others have miles that are not being used). And, there is always a deal to be found either on the internet or by using a good travel agent.

Where to go in Italy is next: I have already said that spending half the time in Italy in Rome and the other half in Florence using 2d class train fares to travel between the two cities. Enjoy each of these cities in a relaxed manner and since there is so much to see and do, don't worry about the not to be missed sights. But do get good guidebooks (I always recommend the Eyewitness Guides--on for Rome and the other for Florence) and read the excellent travelogues by Ed and Julie and Don and Linda which are easy to find on the net.

Where to stay is another budgetary hurdle. In Rome several have spoken well of the Delle Muse hotel where a double is listed for about $125 a night which includes continental breakfast. It is not in the central part of Rome but in the upscale new area of Rome--Parioli. It is an easy bus ride to central Rome. In Florence, the Hotel David looks like quite a nice place plus the view must be spectacular as it adjacent to the Piazzele Michelangelo. A double here is about $140. Both of these hotel have web sites and I bet if you emailed or faxed them and told them that you are a young couple with a tight budget on their luna di miele, they may be able to find less expensive rooms.

Where are we as to the budget? Rome for five nights is $625 and Florence for four nights is $640. Total is now $1265 plus $2000 for airfare or $3265. Add $150 for train and bus fares but round off the total to $3450. Add another $50 for museum fee which brings the total to $3500. It is not too early to get reservations at these places.

$500 to eat. Well breakfast is covered. Pizza is inexpensive and is outstanding almost anywhere--especially Pizza Re in Rome. Then there are the alimentari (grocery stores) where you can buy outstanding breads, sliced meats, cheese etc. that you can take back to your room and have a feast. Even a good bottle of wine will only cost $5 in an enoteca. Plus there are many open air markets where you can buy wonderful fruit and other goodies. Eating like this will allow you to enjoy a couple of restaurants too. One in Parioli and close to the hotel is Fauro which is a terrific trattoria where you can have an excellent meal for $30 or so for two. The San Lorenzo market in Florence is a sight in itself plus the food you can find there is outstanding. Too, there are stalls where you can get Florentine cuisine.

You will see more, have a more enjoyable trip, eat better, have a great time and for certain the hotels will be better. I have only scratched the surface herein for trip planning. Plus I bet you could shave some money off the amounts above. Others, I am sure, will be able to add their ideas.

Peter