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When I lived and traveled to Italy, I lived in Florence and traveled
throughout Italy on the weekends. I learned Italian phrases and basic
questions so I could experience life outside of the typical tourist (a
lot less expensive too). I learned that a bus left for Vinci every
morning from the P. Signorita and bought a ticket one Saturday. I had a
book that had a map to Leonardo's home, so I walked the 2 kilometers up
the hill to his birth home called Anchiano). For awhile, I was the only
one on the hill outside of his house. Soon someone came and opened up
the house to me.
I also was able to get past the red tape to see the charcoal drawings by
Michelangelo in the basement of the S. Croce by asking in Italian, "i
graffiti di Michelangelo, per favore". They charge me a few thousand
lire and they let me downstairs. I was the only one down there. It
seemed as if Michelangelo had drawn them yesterday. If you put in your
reservation 2 weeks early, you can actually handle drawings by Leonardo.
The train is very cheap in Italy. I would suggest buying a ticket to any
town and then wandering through its streets. Every town in Italy has
famous art of some sort. History is everywhere. Eat authentic parmigian
cheese from Parma- sample Roman bread from Rome, and by all means DON'T
pay for a slice of pizza that has been sitting in their many windows!
You will pay a fortune and its not fresh. Go to a pizzeria on a side
street and order a pizza fresh. You will pay only a third of what you
would in the US. I loved the Italian ice cream called, "gelato". I
haven't found anything like it in this country.
If you get off the beaten path, you can find cheap motels and hostels.
Remember that you have to pay extra for a shower. You won't find much in
the way of toilet paper either. That's extra in many places too.
If you visit Venice, don't pay $40 + for a gondolla ride. I found one
off the beaten path for only 100 lire (about 7¢) Of course you don't get
the singing man, but its sure cheaper.
Finally, remember that money really talks in Italy. If you go to a musem
and find a section closed off, give the guard a 5,000 or 10,000 lire
note and he'll let your whole group in that section. If they tell you no
to anything, reach for your wallet. I found that nothing was witheld
from me this way.
Have fun! I envy you all!
Date: Fri, 21 May 1999 15:52:02 EDT
Subject: Re: Rome/Florence & Philosophers Walk
In one week 30 teachers from our school will converge on Florence &
are in search of our own Renaissance. Any words of wisdom or advise
experienced travelers to Italy?
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