Travel Tips

These are comments from travelers collected from online forums containing specific advice on how to safely travel around France and Italy.

Paris, France
  • Be careful with those scenic bikes guys. I went to Paris with my girlfriend last year and they tell you a fix price to go somewhere. I think it was €20. When the trip was over and I give him 20€, the dude points to me a note on his bike that says the fare is per person. So he asked me for 40€. Too bad for him, I grew up in Paris. Just threaten to call the cops and they'll back down. Don't be intimidated, they know they are in the wrong and the cops in Paris know it too.
  • What not to do in Paris
  • Don't make eye contact with the gypsies asking you for money and Africans selling you stuff. Just walk past them and they'll go away.
  • Learn at least one phrase: "Excusez moi, parlez vous anglais?"
  • Cheapest mobile network for international calling in France:  Lebara
  • Eiffel Tower Tickets:  You can try to give away / sell here
  • Don't take taxis, they're expensive and mostly rude. Even for Parisian standard. Walk and take the metro everywhere. Paris is not a big city and its best experienced by walking. If it's late at night, order an Uber, DON'T take the Noctambus/Noctilien (late night bus). You'll regret that.
  • DON’T take the bikes as transportation, use the metro
  • Info about the 3rd arrondissement
    Florence, Italy
    • General tips for traveling Italy
    • How to skip lines in Italy
    • Here is super great tip for the Duomo. Look up how long the Duomo and Giotto bell tower is good for. I did not keep track when I was there, but someone told me that the tickets are good for 3 days. Purchase your tickets, then the next morning, wake up and go stand in line at 8:00a or earlier. The doors open at 9:00 AM and being first in line is definitely worth it. You will experience the top with few people there. Plus, you can be the first down and you can check out the art inside the Duomo on the way down.
    • I second this. My friend and I rented a car in Milan and spent two weeks driving from there to Venice, then to Florence, then all the way down to the Amalfi Coast, and then back up to Rome. With the exception of the Amalfi Coast (tiny, winding streets and steep inclines), the roads everywhere else were easy to navigate and GPS took us everywhere we needed to go.
    • Reasons to purchase a Firenze card?  It's super useful if you're going to museums. You'll get priority access to both the Uffizi and the Accademia so you don't have to book a time before visiting.
    • Reasons NOT to purchase of Firenze Card
    • At a pedestrian crossing in Italy if you approach cautiously and hesitate waiting for cars to slow down for you, you'll get nowhere, you have to just walk out there like you own it and then they stop, the scooters just drive around you. The locals know this and barely even look before crossing but it's scary as shit for tourists.
    • Buy your tickets for the Vatican Museum ahead of time online.
    • The price for a cup of coffee is different if you sit at a table instead of standing or sitting at the bar.
    • “Coperto" is another word for service charge or tip included.
    • You can stay in Florence and take day trips to Siena, a Tuscan Villa, the beach, Pisa (Pisa is really an afternoon trip, really short).
    • Don't overpack. Be prepared for cobblestones, nonexistent sidewalks, and hotels that lack elevators or have very tiny ones. Italy is not designed well for rolling suitcases. You should absolutely be able to lift and easily carry any luggage that you bring.
    • Cover up (ie, no tank tops/short shorts or skirts) when visiting the cathedrals - i think you're not even allowed in the vatican if you are wearing a sleeveless top/shorts.
    • My two tips would be don't point at the "street art" for sale by street merchants. My wife pointed at a ton of them and apparently that means you will buy them. I had street merchants cussing me out because I did not buy them.
    • The museums can have a really long line ups. I waited 2 hours in the line for the Uffizi Gallery. I waited 1 hour to see Michelangelos David. Eat at Gustapizza - god I love Florence.
    Rome, Italy
    • For a bit of a different view on the Colosseum and Vatican Museums, visit them during their night openings (though note the Colosseum is only accessible to official tours at night). I joined the official night tour of the Colosseum, in addition to the daytime "underground" tour, and did a self-guided night tour of the Vatican Museums; there was the option of adding an aperitivo ticket to the Vatican Museums admission, so now I can say I've done happy hour at the Vatican! Both very highly recommended; the Colosseum in particular is eerie and awe-inspiring once night has completely fallen.
    • As many have said, don't miss the Galleria Borghese -- and book ahead!
    • Be sure to book reservations at restaurants, especially if you have some in mind that you know you'd like to visit. I really wanted to eat at L'Asino d'Oro, but didn't get my act together in time to score a table there. A couple other restaurant tips: I ate a revelatory pasta carbonara at Salumeria Roscioli, and I still dream about their prosciutto focaccia, which is also sold at their bakery, Antico Forno Roscioli. I also had one of the most delicious meals of my entire trip at Armando al Pantheon, which is literally steps away from the Pantheon and is actually a local favorite (despite its touristy location!).
    • Explore Trastevere and Testaccio, probably the two best neighborhoods for excellent local food. I went on the Eating Italy twilight walking tour of Trastevere, and at each of several stops on the tour (a good mix of bakeries, wine bars, snack bars, restaurants, and delis) we tasted one or two of that establishment's best offerings. I thought it was a good way to sample the gastronomical culture of the neighborhood in a limited amount of time. Elizabeth Minchilli and Katie Parla also lead well-known and well-reviewed food tours of Rome.
    • I didn't have a bad or even mediocre gelato the entire time I was there. But my favorite gelateria by far was Gelateria dei Gracchi, which is about a 10-minute walk from St. Peter's Square. If they have the ricotta-and-pear flavor while you're there, GET IT.
    • There are so many wonderful artisans in Rome! I made sure to stop by the workshop of Armando Rioda on one of my first days in Rome, and asked Mr. Rioda to replicate the cute-but-less-than-durable miniature doctor's bag I was carrying in gray Italian leather. The result was exquisite! The workshop was at Via Belsiana 90, but I believe they were in the process of moving when I visited; let me know if you'd like their email address.
    • To go to Rome from Celle it will take a little bit more than 2 hours. Consider that in Rome the traffic is terrific and you have to find a parking (not easy!). Florence - Rome there are fast trains (1:35 hours) very confortable. You drive to Florence Santa Maria Novella Rw station, there is a big parking under the station. Here are the websites for trains.
    • 1 day trip, arriving to Rome at 9:30 and leaving at 7 pm could be enough to visit the most important monuments, but 2 days are recommended.

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