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Travel to Italy Tip #3 | Find a home base

Candle light dinner in Tuscany

Now that you have Committed to Travel (if you missed that post, read about it here) and have looked into the benefits of Off-Season Travel (read post here) its time to start talking about the logistics of your itinerary.  About 90% of people who hire me to help plan their trips to Italy have a To Do List a mile long.  Very rarely do people plan to stay more than 2 or 3 nights in one location.  I understand.  On my first trip to Italy I bounced around the country like a little kid set loose in a candy store.  I wasn’t sure when I would ever get back and I wanted to see everything.  Most travelers have that same urgency.  I spend much of my time helping people to slow down and prioritize their itinerary.  This is my next huge and most important travel tip.

3. Find a Home Base

Most travelers spend two weeks in Italy.   I recommend no more than three stops, staying one week in one place.  Gasp!  I said it.  Now like me explain why this works so well.

  • You will find better rates for week long stays.
  • If you book somewhere with a kitchen, you will save money by cooking and eating in several times during your stay.
  • Unique places often only accept week long reservations.  Dreaming of a stay in a villa or farmhouse?  You won’t be able to for just a night or two.
  • Being in one location, you become a temporary resident and truly begin to get the feel of Italy.  You get to experience a place, not just see it.
  • You save time and money by not constantly travelling to a new location.
  • You save time by skipping the checking in-checking out process.

Time is also as valuable on a vacation as money.  The process of changing locations is very time consuming and depending on the distance can take an entire day.  Italy may be small on the map, but nothing here happens quickly or easily.  If taking public transportation you are at the mercy of the train/bus schedules (or lack there of).

Also, the value of an experience is priceless and should be taken into great consideration during planning.  I would rather miss a few items on my to do list in order to have a higher quality trip with more touching memories.

My favorite little grandma

The two biggest arguments I hear about this style of travel are the following:  1.  There will not be enough to see or do in one area for a week and 2.  I need to see everything because I will not ever be back to Italy.  I assure you, one week will never be enough time to see and experience one place in Italy.  Never.  I have stayed many days in places that have absolutely no blockbuster attractions yet found myself wishing for more time.  The beauty in Italy is found in the nooks and crannys.  The tourist destinations are breathtaking and I am not saying you should forgo these places, but your memories that will be the most significant and lasting will be the unexpected ones.  These are best found and made when traveling slowly.  And the best way to travel slowly is by sticking to a home base.  Now I can’t promise that everyone will be able to return to Italy, life gets complicated.  You may never have the chance again, but that should not be your reason for rushing your trip.  Make your to do list as long as you like, then look it over and pick only your absolute favorites.  Put the rest on the back burner and tell yourself you will be back.  Try and remember that quality is far better than quantity in this situation.  Now close your eyes and imagine your ideal day.  Is it savoring a meal or experiencing mass?  Maybe actually sitting down next to those little old ladies on the bench instead of just furtively snapping pictures.  Put whatever you dream about next to the Sistine Chapel and Michelangelo’s David.  Now that’s a list worth following!

I love feedback, so leave me comments!

Apartment with kitchen and fireplace

It's a long story and a favorite memory

copyright 2012  Andi Brown, Once in a Lifetime Travel

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