How to Plan an Affordable Italy Vacation
There are a few things you can't miss in Italy: art, wine, food, history and shopping. Fortunately, all these things can be enjoyed for cheap or free. You can decide what's most important to you and choose a splurge accordingly.
When to Plan Your Affordable Vacation to Italy
May through August, you'll find hot weather and a lot of tourists in Italy. If you plan a trip in August, you'll hardly even meet any Italians, as most Italians go on vacation that month. One way to save money on a trip to Italy is to go when it's a little cooler -- you'll find deals further north starting in October. If you aren't much of a beach bunny anyhow, this is an obvious way to save some pasta money.
How to Plan Your Affordable Vacation to Italy
Book your hotel and flight together. Even if you're looking last-minute, booking your flight and hotel together on one website will save you money. If you're arriving by train or are reading this because you already found an amazing airfare deal, call hotels directly to haggle your price. Believe it or not, this is the way the pros do it in Italy and the surefire way to get the best deal. Be firm, and keep in mind that you have all the advantages in the haggling situation; there are a lot of hotels in Italy.
Affordable Art in Italy
Be sure and investigate any free cultural institutions in the city you are visiting. Even if there's virtually nothing, you will never want for art in Italy. From artists on the street to magnificent public sculptures, it's hard not to experience great free art in Italy. Ask at your hotel if there's a gallery where local artists sell their work, and bask in the foreign perspective as if you're shopping. Don't feel bad if you can't afford to buy -- and don't pretend you intend to, that's no fun -- the artists are happy to have visitors in their galleries. Free sightseeing like this is a great part of your affordable Italy vacation.
Affordable Wine in Italy
This is so easy. At an eating establishment, ask for the house wine. It's probably a lot better than you think, and will come in a carafe for sharing at an unbelievably low price. Ah, Italy -- this is one of your finest wiles.
Affordable Food in Italy
Italy is home to some of the best eats in the world. Be aware that you can enjoy some of the finest restaurant food at the restaurant's bar for cheaper than a table. Furthermore, if you find yourself a hotel or hostel with a kitchenette, you can make yourself the most divine fresh pastas with unbelievable truffle oil for a steal. If you're looking to save money in Italy, consider replacing or heavily supplementing a lunch here and there with delicious fresh gelato. Furthermore, you'll find a dish of sit-down pasta is cheap here as it's considered an appetizer, and to the American stomach, it can be just as filling as a full meal. The only no-no on your affordable Italy vacation is to visit an in-demand restaurant on a busy night or lunch and not order a several-course meal. If you want to visit a hotspot, be prepared to spend or offend.
Affordable Historical Sights in Italy
You may have to do a little research about your specific location, but there are plenty of historical sites and cultural monuments you can visit for free. The Ponte Vecchio in Florence, for example, is ripe with history and to this day a highly-trafficked bridge -- certainly free to visit. A saunter down almost any street provides an incredible look into Italy's architectural prowess and provides plenty of photographic opportunities for free. Ask your hotel about famous buildings in your area and go explore. You never know what amazing historical gems you may find! The local Tourist Information Office can help, too -- and they can sometimes offer reduced prices on tickets to some of the most popular attractions and museums if you're a senior citizen or traveling student, or intend to buy tickets for several attractions at once.
Affordable Shopping in Italy
Yes, Italy is home to some of the finest design houses in the world. Don't be disheartened by the prices; consider that even the less-expensive designers are forced to compete in Italy's saturated market, so even a lesser designer from Italy can outrank a top designer from your own city by far. You don't need to visit Gucci and Prada, we have those at home. Check out the street sellers and local leather markets for one-of-a-kind pieces and unbelievable deals. Even if something looks mass-produced on the street, it may be a short-run item you'll never see again as long as you live. Don't forget that what is common in Italy is still uncommon at home.
Vacationing in Italy on a Budget
That about wraps it up -- the above tips should help you either spend far less cash on your trip, make your Italy vacation affordable, or help you save your euros for a lavish massage or one extravagant dinner. Have a fabulous time in Italy. If you're headed there, we're already jealous!
Photo by Annie Scott.