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Old 24th July 2013, 13:05   #1
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Default Photologue - Italy

The plan to travel to Italy was frozen in 2012 and i always wanted to go there with family. So post China trip i decided to inquire about Italy travel and places to see in Italy. Being usual European country the travel and living expenses seem to be on the higher side but by then i had already decided to take the plunge looking at pictures of Venice and Florence

Visa Processing
Italy requires Schengen visa, and my agent told me getting Schengen through Italy is a pain, and recommended they i either go Belgium way or some other country and then get into Italy. I researched it for sometime it seems to avoid trouble, one should process visa for a country were one intends to stay the longest, and a city in that country is the port of entry. So getting visa from some other country other than Italy was ruled out as i wanted to land directly in Italy and there were no plans to visit other countries. So there was no other option for me, other than apply for Senchen visa in Italy.

The problem started on the very first day.
  • Italy requires you to have Travel Insurance, my corporate insurance which is valid internationally does not work, If one is traveling with kids it needs authorization from the other parent. Fortunately all of us were traveling so this was not a concern. Otherwise you need to get signature from Family and Welfare department of the State (Which have their office in Vidhan Soudha, and they take about 25 days to get your papers signed). Horrible i must say.
  • I had take the travel Insurance for 50K USD and post submitting the papers i was asked to provide Travel insurance for additional 10 days, god knows why.
  • There after i was asked to provide leave approval on a company letter head, earlier i had provided the print out of the leave application tool.
  • The misery did not end here, i was again asked to provide a written letter from my daughters school confirming that she was a student of the school and was allowed to take leave of absence from her class.
Some words of Advise

Credit Card
Make sure you setup PIN for your credit card, occasionally you will come across places were you need to punch the Credit Card PIN to get the transaction done. I faced this while booking train tickets. One can buy tickets at the kiosk by inserting the card and giving PIN. Otherwise you have to stand in the long queue.

Train Travel in Italy
Across Italy train is the best means of transport, you can book train tickets at http://www.trenitalia.com. The train options are Frecciarossa or Frecciargento. The other option is to travel by Italo (http://www.italotreno.it).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nuovo_T...to_Viaggiatori

Nuovo Trasporto Viaggiatori is an Italian company which is Europe's first private open access operator of 300 km/h (190 mph) high-speed trains. NTV was created by four Italian businessmen (among them Luca Cordero di Montezemolo) to compete with Trenitalia.

Luca Cordero di Montezemolo is an Italian businessman and Chairman of Ferrari. This is the reason Italo is called the Ferrari train, and is red in color.



Cabs in Milan
Across Italy cabs are very expensive, i made a mistake to take a cab from Milan Malpensa Airport to City center to my hotel and ended up paying 100 Euros. Milan has two airports Malpensa and Linate Airport. Malpensa is away from the city and hence getting into Milan downtown is more expensive. If you are traveling into Milan and landing at Malpensa, do make sure you are landing in daytime and from outside the airport take Malpensa bus to Milano Centrale railway station. This would cost you about 10 Euros and then from the Railway station take a cab will cost about 10 Euros more.

Moving Around in Milan
In Milan there is a good public transport. You can take Tram, Bus, or the Metro. A 1.5 Euro ticket lasts for 90 mins (after you first swipe) and you can take any means of transport in those 90 mins). The 4.5 Euro ticket is valid for 24 hours (after you first swipe) and can be used in Bus/Matro/Tram.

One thing you need to remember is you can buy tickets in coffee shops, and the countdown of time only starts after you first insert the ticket on a machine placed inside the Tram/Bus/Metro Station.

To go out of Milan there are two Train stations Milano Centrale railway station and Milano Porta Garibaldi railway station, both are quiet close to each other and are in center of the city. Although Milano Centrale railway station is better in terms of options Milano Porta Garibaldi railway station is were some of the train connections operate from (Specifically Italo). Do prior research and then pick up either of these two stations for your travel.

Venice (Venezia)
The only way to get around in Venice is by Boats, or walking. If you are traveling into Venice by train take a ticket upto Venezia Santa Lucia railway station. This station is right in the center of Venice and book a hotel which is walkable distance from the Railway station, so as you can walk unto the Hotel.

There are lot of stairs in Venice and to carry heavy luggage around is a problem. The options are expensive porter service, or expensive boat Taxi, or cheaper walk . If you are bringing in heavy luggage you could deposit the heavier luggage at the railway station and only take the necessary ones to the Hotel.

Hotels are situated around the canal in Venice, choose one which is closer to the station.

I will be adding more along with pictures, do ask me if there is something that you have specifically in mind.

Florence and Pisa
To go to Florence get a train ticket to Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station. Pisa is close to Florence and can be covered together with Florence. It takes about an hour from Florence to Pisa. So Pisa can be done in half a day because there is nothing much to see apart from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Last edited by mayankjha1806 : 24th July 2013 at 21:13.
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Old 24th July 2013, 13:07   #2
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

We landed in Milan and had planned to go to Venice next. Milan to Venice is about 3 hours by fast train and its a very comfortable journey. I will cover the train journey specifics in a separate section, but to start this journey can be done comfortably with decent luggage. Its does cost a bit more if you compare with India but its worth it. For the three of us it cost about Euros 120 in a Frecciarossa. In most of the times its alright to get the ticket+reservation done at the train counter, there is no need for prior booking and reservation. As i was traveling with kid i wanted to have the exact time of the train flexible and hence did not book. The frequency of train is quiet high. If i remember correctly there is one train every 30 mins or maybe 60 mins. All this information is available at http://www.trenitalia.com. People are reasonably helpful, but be careful about folks who are ready to pull a fast one on you usually for money.

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Do er really need a fire station in Venice

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Hotel Papadopoli in Venice were we stayed.

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Old 24th July 2013, 13:13   #3
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

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Old 24th July 2013, 17:21   #4
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

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And finally this is the Venezia Santa Lucia railway station. From outside its difficult to make out. See the boat taxies right outside the railway station. Also worth pointing out that most of the tickets for the rides can be bought from here. The one White temporary looking structure on the right end of the picture is one such operator for rides across the town. Although i must add doing the town trip on foot is the best possible thing to do but tiring. So if you are with kids, this is the best that you can get.

Photologue - Italy-venice-31.jpg

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Old 24th July 2013, 21:26   #5
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

Florence (Firenze - Firenze Santa Maria Novella railway station)

From Venice we took Italo to Florence, its close to 2 hours by fast train. Most of the good hotels are walkable distance from the railway station. Also the whole of Florence can be explored on foot. Florence has a rich past and is full of history, culture, art and architecture and monuments.

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Old 25th July 2013, 06:41   #6
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

Thread moved from Assembly Line. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 25th July 2013, 08:57   #7
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

^^Mayank,
Thanks for that detailed info at the start. It's ironical that I had similar plans to visit Italy this year, but changed it later. But I do plan on going there later next year for sure. Could you also share more info on flight options (taken), hotel options with daily rates, and cost of travel for the train journeys?

Helps in gathering info for wannabe travelers like me. And continue with this beautiful thread, my friend.
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Old 25th July 2013, 10:58   #8
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatalli View Post
^^Mayank,
Thanks for that detailed info at the start. Could you also share more info on flight options (taken), hotel options with daily rates, and cost of travel for the train journeys?
Thanks. I will share hotel options, and more specifically train journey in a separate section in detail. It will include cost of travel as well.

I have, since childhood read about Leaning Tower of Pisa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaning_Tower_of_Pisa). If i remember it correctly it used to be one of the Seven Wonders of the World, that list now has mostly lost its relevance as each region has come up with their own Seven Wonders i believe.

Nevertheless Pisa is close to Florence, by train it takes about an hour to get to Pisa, maybe an hour or two to go to the heritage site and roam around, and another hour to come back to Florence. There is nothing else to do in Pisa so we took the morning train to Pisa, and planned to come back to Florence by Lunch time.

The train to Pisa is a local train and hence you do not have to stand in TrainItalia ticket counters to buy tickets. You can buy Tickets to Pisa Centrale railway station on the local book shop at the entrance of the station.

One thing to keep in mind is these tickets are open tickets, i.e. you can travel in any train. All you need to do is punch the ticket before boarding the train. The punching machines are on the platform. Do not forget to punch them as otherwise you could be fined. I learned the hard way by paying fine inspite of having tickets .

Some pictures of Pisa.

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Old 25th July 2013, 13:54   #9
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

Hey, Your Venice pictures took me back to 2004 New year! We were at Venice on 2004 January, braving the cold winds!

We stayed at Villa Edera on Lido Island with a complimentary water taxi at our disposal. We made some trips to Murano, Burano, Torcello by the water taxi. We visited the glass factories, handicraft centres for paintings stitched on clothes, etc.. We still treasure the Last Supper we brought for a fortune from there. Also went to Lido beach, but the cold winds were strong.

Still remember the doves at St, Marks square, the walk along the bridge of sighs, the visit to the prison, Ri Alto brige, the Gondola rides, Grand Canal...that trip was one helluva trip!! And of course all four of us still have the colourful masks we picked up from there!!


We reached Venice after spending our Christmas in Rome, and a few trips to Pisa and Florence. We avoided Sicily then due to some safety concerns. I guess the trip was around two weeks in Italy

Any ways the coin is flipped by all four of us in Fontana de Trevi, let us see which one of us returns to Rome first!


Sorry for the long post ...just ran down the memory lane, its been over 9 years now, but still afresh in memories



Thanks for sharing the pictures
The naked statue without hands seems to be the only change in these years!!

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Old 25th July 2013, 15:32   #10
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

Mayank this is exactly the thread I am looking out for.
I may be traveling to florence in sept end. I know its an off season, but I am going to accompany my wife who will be already there for a business visit.

I need to know few things-
1. In 10 days how many places I can cover. I want quality over quantity. So is it ok if I say I want to see Florence, Venice and Rome?
2. Is it possible to have a short cover of Paris, in that case I can have my return trip from Paris.
3. If I want to drive say I take a car at Florence and leave it at Rome. Are there any option like that with Europcar. How are the car rental charges?

Thanks again.
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Old 25th July 2013, 20:28   #11
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

I am on my way back to Vaasa, Finland from Italy. I was in Trieste,Italy past 2 days.

Earlier this month I finished my 10 day tour of Italy. I drove around. Rented a car from Milan Bergamo. used the website http://www.economycarrentals.com/

got a Alfa Romeo Giuletta diesel for 400 € for 10 days including full insurance and accident insurance.

My trip -> Venice-Florence-Pisa-Cinque Terre- Rome- Capri- Saturnia - Maranello - Milan.

this country is beautiful.

The 10 day trip was only half done.
Italy needs 15-20 days for sure.

Last edited by 14000rpm : 25th July 2013 at 20:30.
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Old 26th July 2013, 13:23   #12
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

Quote:
Originally Posted by laluks View Post
Hey, Your Venice pictures took me back to 2004 New year! We were at Venice on 2004 January, braving the cold winds!
Thank you, more pictures on the way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Speed Pujari View Post
1. In 10 days how many places I can cover. I want quality over quantity. So is it ok if I say I want to see Florence, Venice and Rome?
2. Is it possible to have a short cover of Paris, in that case I can have my return trip from Paris.
3. If I want to drive say I take a car at Florence and leave it at Rome. Are there any option like that with Europcar. How are the car rental charges?
In my view, unless you want to explore the unexplored country side, 10 days is more than enough in covering Rome, Florence, Pisa, and Venice. With Florence Pisa is just a 4 hour affair, so if you wish you can cover Pisa as well.

For taking the car, i don't think you need it, but its up-to you. The train travel is amazing and very comfortable. I am saying this because in my trip i hardly had any buffer to let any contingencies derail my schedule. If you have reasonable buffer you could try driving.

Between cities we traveled on Frecciarossa and Italo. Both are very comfortable and reasonably priced. For my trip from Milan to Venice we paid approx 7K for 2 adults and 1 child, and from Venice to Florence about 10K in Italo. On our return journey i decided to travel first class and hence that was more expensive.

In all stations Italo have their own area were you can buy tickets, explore, inquire and relax/rest.

Both Frecciarossa and Italo can touch maximum speeds upto 300KMPH, on Italo it gets more exciting as the speed is displayed on the front. Under test conditions Alstom has tested speeds up-to 350KMPH.

Some pictures

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First class seating, quiet a fun i must say.

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Doing 280 KMPH

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Finally touching the 300KMPH mark

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Old 27th July 2013, 05:51   #13
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

Milan

Railway Station - Milano Centrale railway station
and Milano Porta Garibaldi railway station

Airport - Malpensa and Linate Airport

Milan has two railway stations Centrale and Porta Garibaldi and both are in the town center, and has two airports Menpansa and Linate. Linate is closer to town center and Melpensa is quiet far.

If you land at the Melpensa and the hotel booking is in the two center, there are three options to get to the town.
  1. Take a Cab to the town, approximately cost would be 100 Euros
  2. Take a Bus to the Centrale Railway station, costs about 10 Euros and from Centrale take a cab to the hotel. Usually ~15 Euros
  3. Take a Metro (Underground) from Airport to the Centrale, costs about 10 Euros
Out of the three i found the bus to be more convenient and easy to get. You get it right outside the exit gate when you exit the airport and it drops you right in front of Centrale from were its easy to get a Cab.

For local Milan roaming around, there are very good options
  1. Tram old style
  2. Tram new style
  3. Metro
  4. Bus
You get tickets for all of these at Book shops and coffee shops. If you are roaming around on Sunday most shops are closed and it would be tough to get tickets so plan accordingly. On weekends you can get tickets at Metro stations which are underground from automated kiosks. These are the pictures of tickets as you see they are either 1.5 Euros or 4.5 Euros. The 1.5 one is valid for 90 mins after you scan the ticket inside the tram, and the 4.5 one is valid for 24 hours after you scan it inside the tram.

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This is one of the new air-conditioned Tram.

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This is one of the operators for City sight seeing tour which lasts about 60 mins and has voice commentary in more than 6 languages.

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Old style non air-conditioned Tram.

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Old 28th July 2013, 10:46   #14
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

More pictures from Milan, This is Duomo di Milano in Milan, which is one of the heritage sites. Being right in the city center it is quiet accessible by any means of transport.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milan_Cathedral

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Old 28th July 2013, 12:46   #15
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Default Re: Photologue - Italy

Thanks for the helpful tips Mayank. Italy is on my wishlist - will bookmark your thread. Look forward to more updates on the rest of your trip
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