We’ve all dreamt of sipping wine in Tuscany, eating pizza in Napoli and walking through the Roman ruins, but most of us cringe at the paycheck we go out to eat, let alone buy a plane ticket across the Atlantic. Traveling the world may seem daunting – there’s a lot to plan and even more to pay for, but with these tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be on a plane in no time.
Italy is one of the most popular countries to visit in the world, and rightfully so. With its easy-going, slow-down atmosphere, world-famous wine, and immeasurable history, the country is perfect for those hoping to relax and take in the view or those looking to learn the culture as well as the Italian art and history. And despite what you might think (what, with all the wine, pizza, pasta and prosciutto) you might even lose weight with all the walking you’ll do.
Alright, you’re convinced you want to go to Italy, so do it. This trip will cost under $600 including flight tickets, travel to and from the airport, and lodging. The prices for this are estimated for a week-long trip to Rome in the off-season: October – November and January – March. If you go during peak season you’ll get a different result, but we can stand a little chillier weather if it means we’re eating pizza in Italy. This price is estimated per person for a two-person trip, so the lodging costs are cut in half (bring more friends and you’ll pay even less).
How To Book Travel ($500):
I use SkyScanner to find great deals on flights around the world. You can search travel anywhere and search for the cheapest months. During the off-season, flights from any major U.S. hub (NYC, Orlando, San Francisco, Boston, etc.) to Rome are roughly $420 to $500 round-trip.
The train to/from the airport to Rome’s central train station (Roma Termini) is about $17. Your lodging will most likely be within walking distance from there, but if it isn’t, a metro ticket costs only $1.70.
Where to Stay ($90):
You can find some pretty reasonably priced hotels in Rome by searching on SkyScanner, Kayak and other travel sites, but the lowest you’ll get is about $65 a night, so you’re still going to be paying a pretty penny for your stay. A better option is to look at Airbnb. You can get private rooms in apartments that are in prime locations for as low as $24 a night — split between two people for seven nights equals out to just $84.
Now that you’re going to be in Italy…
What to Try:
Italian food is well-known and wide-spread, but nothing you’ve ever had in the states will compare to the taste you’ll find in the heart of Italy. The traditional dish in Rome is cacio e pepe, which is pasta with cheese and pepper. It’s simple, but delicious, like everything else you’ll find: Pizza margherita, pasta with any number of sauces (pear or walnut are my favorite), cured meats and of course: gelato. There are many renowned restaurants in Rome, but as long as you stay away from busy piazzas and tourist attractions you’re sure to land yourself a reasonably-priced, bellissimo meal. Bon Appétit!
What to See:
Rome: Rome is a big city, so be sure to plan your sightseeing spots before you go out. While you can walk almost anywhere, don’t be afraid to take the metro. The big sights include the Pantheon, the Roman Forum, the Colosseum, the Vatican, the Trevi Fountain, the Spanish Steps, Capitoline Hill and more. While many of these are free, some are worth the price. After you’ve seen them during the day, be sure the wander the streets at night for an entirely different view.
Florence (+$36): Florence is one of the most beautiful and friendly cities in Italy. Unlike Rome, even the main streets are small and often filled with pedestrians. Take an inexpensive two-hour train ride up from Rome, then walk around the city to see the Ponte Vecchio Bridge and market, the Duomo, Piazza Signoria and the replica of the David, Sante Croce and the Uffizi. After a day of walking, grab a bottle of wine and catch the sunset across the river at Piazzale Michelangelo before catching the train back to Rome.
Pisa (+$24): Pisa is one of the most famous sites in Italy, and for a cheap train ticket and a two-hour ride, you can take that holding-the-leaning-tower-up picture you’ve always dreamed of. Not only is the tower beautiful, the town is a great place to grab lunch, take a stroll and shop a little. Spend the whole day here, or just the afternoon to make it back to Rome for dinner.
Of course, there’s a ton of other places to see and things to do while in Italy, but no matter how long you spend there, or how much money you have, it’s impossible to see all the hidden gems this country has to offer. So start saving, jet off to Italy and spend a week seeing all you can (and eating all you can) without hurting your budget. Be sure to look for student discounts or free days at museums, and always trust your feet to take you where you need to go; no need to grab a taxi when you’ve got your trusty Birks and a bottle of Chianti with your name on it.