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Old 08-31-2016, 08:43 PM   #21
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Piazza San Marco in Venice is the home of the $20 coffee if you sit at a table when the bands are playing.


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Old 08-31-2016, 10:19 PM   #22
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In Rome, about a mile south west of the Colosseum is the Pyramid of Cestius. It is a big pyramid built in about 15BC and is surrounded by the Cemetery for Non Catholics of Rome, a beautiful place and home to many famous graves.

Agree about getting lost in Venice-- at some point, be sure to note the remarkable absence of car sounds.

Florence- sunset at Piazza Michelangelo overlooking the city is cliche, but a beautiful cliche. Also the Boboli gardens are great there.


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Old 09-01-2016, 08:45 AM   #23
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By all means bring a money belt or similar item to protect yourself from pick pockets and thieves. I use a zippered 'pouch' that my belt loops through and it slips down my side under my pants. When I want some cash or a CC, I just pull it up. Money belts that require one to dig down towards into your groin area can be embarrassing.

I estimate how much cash I need for the day and keep than in a pants pocket. Therefore I can never lose enough money at once to ruin the trip.

On a trip to Florence, a woman in our group hung her purse from the top of the chair where it swung about behind her. While we were eating an Italian coupole approached our server and asked for directions, in a minute they somehow got into a huge argument with the server. When the show was over and the rude Italian couple left, the woman's purse was gone. It was all a clever diversion so they could steal her purse. She had everything in the purse, money, credit cards, ATM cards, and her passport. Quite a haul for the crooks.

The restaurant owner came out and was very embarrassed that this happened at his place and gave the lady a free dessert at the end of the meal and free espresso for the rest of us.
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Old 09-01-2016, 08:47 AM   #24
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Oh, I tend to pay cash for everything except the hotel bill. Small Italian businesses don't make much profit on an individual meal (for example). Then the CC charges eat into their profits. They really appreciate cash. I would rather give the money to the the small business person than the banks. And, often if you go back the next night you get remembered and treated even better.
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Old 09-01-2016, 09:00 AM   #25
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I spent a week in Naples on business a couple of years ago. Most small restaurants took cash only. As others have said, the house wine is usually cheap and very good. If you like to use washcloths when you shower, like many Americans do, be aware you might not find any in the hotel.

Check out the forums over at the Rick Steves website.
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Old 09-01-2016, 11:42 AM   #26
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I use credit card whenever I can.

At most have 60-80 Euros on me.
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Old 09-01-2016, 12:02 PM   #27
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I still remember driving in Rome . Never again.
Cash is great to have if you're planning to go a farmer's market. Awesome meats and cheeses! Don't touch food/veggies/fruit unless there's a plate of samples to try, but vendors pick and bag for you at the markets and stores. Italy is awesome for long vacation!!
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:17 AM   #28
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Oh, I tend to pay cash for everything except the hotel bill. Small Italian businesses don't make much profit on an individual meal (for example). Then the CC charges eat into their profits. They really appreciate cash. I would rather give the money to the the small business person than the banks. And, often if you go back the next night you get remembered and treated even better.
I have checked the fees for my CC and ATM. The CC fees are 3% and the ATM fees are around 2% to 3% plus the local fee. Is there a downside to having cash (let's say $1000) and bring a certain amount with you each day and store the remainder in the Hotel safe?
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Old 09-02-2016, 10:48 AM   #29
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I wouldn't assume every hotel room will have a safe.

And really, the commissions on exchanging the cash at various bureaus will be higher than that.

Can't you open a credit union account or a Schwab Investor checking account?

On the credit card side, Bank of America Travel Rewards Visa has no annual fee or FTF. And you get 1.5% on each transaction.
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Old 09-02-2016, 02:16 PM   #30
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Thanks all. I just ordered a Credit Card and ATM card with no international fees.

Also, if you need to make a phone call do you just use your cell phone or do you purchase a calling card?
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Old 09-02-2016, 02:34 PM   #31
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Check your carrier for international rates. You can purchase a plan in advance in many instances. I was in Italy for 12 days and did not use my cell phone to talk to anyone. However, wherever I had wi-fi, texting was free. As I travelled without family, that was very helpful.

It was good not to be tied to my phone.

European wi-fi tends to be very good.


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Old 09-02-2016, 02:42 PM   #32
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Yeah don't expect roaming from Europe to be cheap unless you have T-Mobile Simple Choice monthly plan, which costs 20 cents a minute for calls and free texts and free low-speed data.

Also, make sure your phone doesn't have data roaming turned on unless you have a T-Mobile Simple Choice plan.

When I used to be on AT&T, you could pay $5 one time to turn on a special international roaming price of 99 cents a minute. That's why I'm no longer on AT&T.

And if you find good wifi, which you often won't in Italy, you would be able to use Skype to call people on computers or smart phones for free, wherever they are in the world. Or FaceTime if you and the recipient have Apple devices.
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Old 09-02-2016, 03:12 PM   #33
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Thanks all. I just ordered a Credit Card and ATM card with no international fees.

Also, if you need to make a phone call do you just use your cell phone or do you purchase a calling card?
The no fee cards are the way to go. No cost to you, but a big benefit in fees and exchange rate.

For phone we brought along an old unlocked iPhone and I bought a SIM card there. The card was free with a $20 prepaid, of which I used half.

My brother in law was there, he has T-Mobile, and said they had an international package that he thought was a good value.
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Old 09-02-2016, 05:47 PM   #34
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On a trip to Florence, a woman in our group hung her purse from the top of the chair where it swung about behind her. While we were eating an Italian coupole approached our server and asked for directions, in a minute they somehow got into a huge argument with the server. When the show was over and the rude Italian couple left, the woman's purse was gone. It was all a clever diversion so they could steal her purse. She had everything in the purse, money, credit cards, ATM cards, and her passport. Quite a haul for the crooks.
This happened to my Aunt in Las Vegas so it's not an Italian only thing. There are a lot of tourists so there are a lot of targets. Using common sense and you aren't likely to have a problem. We never did but we were always aware of potential issues. We also went in March and it was much less crowded which I think made it less of an issue too
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Old 09-02-2016, 09:06 PM   #35
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When I am in restaurants anywhere I never hang a purse on the back of a chair. I put my leg through the strap and set it on my lap. If anyone ever tried to take it they would also be taking me with it. I don't think distraction will ever work with my method.


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Old 09-02-2016, 10:25 PM   #36
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Take the jet ferry over to Capri. No place quite like it.
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Old 10-04-2016, 09:43 AM   #37
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By all means bring a money belt or similar item to protect yourself from pick pockets and thieves. I use a zippered 'pouch' that my belt loops through and it slips down my side under my pants. When I want some cash or a CC, I just pull it up. Money belts that require one to dig down towards into your groin area can be embarrassing.

I estimate how much cash I need for the day and keep than in a pants pocket. Therefore I can never lose enough money at once to ruin the trip.

On a trip to Florence, a woman in our group hung her purse from the top of the chair where it swung about behind her. While we were eating an Italian coupole approached our server and asked for directions, in a minute they somehow got into a huge argument with the server. When the show was over and the rude Italian couple left, the woman's purse was gone. It was all a clever diversion so they could steal her purse. She had everything in the purse, money, credit cards, ATM cards, and her passport. Quite a haul for the crooks.

The restaurant owner came out and was very embarrassed that this happened at his place and gave the lady a free dessert at the end of the meal and free espresso for the rest of us.
We made it through Nice and Barcelona, and had no trouble. We were also careful in Aix-en-Provence because someone we met in Avignon had her wallet stolen out of her purse there, even though it is not well known as a pick-pocket haven. The local police, however, told her otherwise.

We didn't suffer crowd jostling in and out of buses, trams or metro. We didn't get crowded or pushed at escalators or metro turnstiles. We kept an eye out, but saw no suspicious people following us or watching other people. We had to deal with some annoying and persistent walking beggars in trains stations and on streets - always individuals alone, not carrying anything like a clipboard or jacket draped over arms used to disguise theft, just held out hands. We never saw teams of young people or groups that could be working in concert.

We were well prepared - all items tethered to us on under clothing (including tethers for our phones). I got a PacSafe purse for overbody wearing that had several security features. although most valuables were underclothing or inside and tethered to front pockets in our clothing. One of the PacSafe purse features was the ability to clip the strap through a chair back or table/chair leg, but I just left it on and in front when we ate - or put my leg through it.

When we got to the most notorious areas we would only have the day's cash and one credit and one debit card in outside pockets (in tethered coin purses and wallets - I usually had a few bills in one tethered wallet in my hip pants pockets and the cards with a bit more cash tethered in coin purse in my breast pocket) and backups under clothing, and any excess cash, alternate cards, plus passports locked in luggage in the hotel room. My purse was actually a decoy as I didn't have cash in it, although I did often keep my iPhone (with tether) inside it. Many people were outside walking holding phones - including the locals. My phone case had a wrist strap that I could clip inside my bag or keep around my wrist if holding. I kept it out of sight on in city transportation, however. My watch could display our route (although I needed my glasses to read it!!!)

Anyway - we had quite a pleasant trip, with no unpleasantness or apparent predators (other than beggars). I'm sure being prepared helped. We were expecting to see something - especially at train stations on on the metro - but it was uncrowded and we didn't see any action.
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Old 10-05-2016, 09:59 AM   #38
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We use cash. In hotels and inns (we tend to stay at smaller ones) that do not insist on cash we produce our credit card. Then ask if they have a discount for cash. We often get an addition five or ten percent discount for cash. We withdraw money at the daily FX rate so this works our well for us and well for our hosts.
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Old 10-05-2016, 01:32 PM   #39
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Oh, Italian public bathrooms are the worst. Most don't have seats. And you can forget about a lid.

Also, the showers are small and the handle that controls pressure and temperature sticks out into the middle of the shower. So every time you move the temperature changes and also the water pressure. What fun!


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Old 10-05-2016, 05:54 PM   #40
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I have checked the fees for my CC and ATM. The CC fees are 3% and the ATM fees are around 2% to 3% plus the local fee. Is there a downside to having cash (let's say $1000) and bring a certain amount with you each day and store the remainder in the Hotel safe?
You need to change credit card companies.

Capital One gives you full face value for your charges--and today's exchange rate.

My Wells Fargo ATM charges $5 and 3% discount--highway robbery. I use my credit union ATM accouint for full value and no additional costs.

Nothing of serious worth ever goes into any hotel safe anywhere. I leave home with very little money, and I come home with just a few Euros.
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