Reading about luxury hotels in the Venice lagoon, a Michelin star restaurant in Modena or the season fashion week in Milan can be both inspirational and misleading at the same time, as you start wishing for a week of 'Dolce Vita' and wonder if you can experience it on a budget.
We think it is possible to enjoy the best Italy has to offer irrespectively of the amount of money you can spend for your holiday to the Bel Paese. Once you decide how much you can budget for your trip, you can start planning your unforgettable Viaggio!
We hope these tips can offer you good pointers while planning and booking your next trip to Italy.
1. Choose off-the-beaten track areas. From the Casentino Valley in Tuscany to the Valsugana in Trentino, from the Salento area in Apulia to Western Sicily, there is just so much more to Italy than Rome, Florence, Venice and Amalfi. So many wonderful locations which have been overlooked by the tourism industry for years and are ready to be explored.
2.Take your holiday during low season. Especially, if you do not want to miss out on the major tourist destinations such as Florence, Rome, Venice, Amalfi etc, keep in mind that hotels offer relatively more affordable prices during the low season. High season usually includes: Easter week during the spring, Christmas and New Year's Eve, and other Italian national holidays like the 25th of April, 1st of May, 15th of August. Hotels and agriturismi will be less amenable to offering discounts as they know they will get an influx of Italian customers. Also restaurants will be more crowded.
3. Agriturismi and B&Bs offer great value for money. Today, many Agriturismi and B&Bs offer superb facilities, gourmet food, delightful bedrooms, en-suite bathrooms and the advantage to be officially registered with the local tourist board, which means they have to maintain certain standards and prices.
4. Save on entrance fees to museums by visiting on days where free entrance is offered, for example every first Sunday of the month. Moreover, each year the Ministero dei Beni Culturali organises the "Settimana della Cultura", you can also enjoy "La Notte dei Musei" (Night of Museums) the European Night of Museums and the many events organised by individual cities known as Notte Bianca, all offering free entrance to museums and archeological sites. We usually remind our audience about it with a dedicated article.
5. Look out for 'tourist cards', often wrongly spelled as 'touristic card', that offer access to public services at reduced prices.
6. Try self-services, rosticcerie (where you can buy freshly made local specialties or homy food to takeaway), pizzerie, piadinerie and trattorie for great value. For dinner go for an "aperitivo rinforzato" to enjoy both drinks and food. Talk to the locals and find out which resturant they prefer when they go out for a meal.
7. Book with independent tour operators. Try organised tours for small groups – Italy offers a wide variety of organised tours with or without activities such as cookery, language lessons or walking. Prices are all inclusive and the quality of what is on offer is great. It allows you to discover a place with costs clearly defined by the tour package value.
8. Get as much information about the place you are visiting beforehand and, even if you are not going on an organised tour, try to define an itinerary for you. Good planning and information will ensure that you better enjoy your holidays and avoid expensive costs such as having to spend the night at the first hotel you find because you did not book in advance or expensive taxi trips because you got lost!
9. Look for self-catering accommodation. You'd be surprised at the number of hotels/agriturismo that also offer self-catering studio apartments or rooms for even just a couple of nights. This allows you to save on restaurant costs - and Italian supermarkets and food stores offer fantastic value for money with fresh produce that does not need any preparation. What can beat a mozzarella and fresh tomato salad with a rich collection of prosciutti, salami and cheeses on the side. You can also try one of our recipes.
10. Join our Question & Answer section and ask before you travel – there are many knowledgeable members that can help either by virtue of actually living in Italy full time or visiting there very often.
Do you have any tips for a great Italian holiday on a budget?