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Old 07-24-06, 08:02 PM   #1
spinnaker
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Italy - Accommodations, buy guide book or wing it?

What is the best way to pick accommodations in Italy (hotels, pensiones, hostels etc.) ? Is it better to carry guidebooks (could prove to be a heavy annoyance) or use Internet connections along the way for pre-planning and tourist information offices for on the spot choices?
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Old 07-24-06, 08:10 PM   #2
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Get a hold of Koffee, I recall she has toured Italy extensively.
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Old 07-24-06, 08:15 PM   #3
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Get a hold of Koffee, I recall she has toured Italy extensively.
Yep I kind of expected her to chime in. She has been very helpful in previous questions.
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Old 07-24-06, 08:33 PM   #4
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Oops sorry to start another thread. Koffee already answered me a long time ago here

I knew I asked a similar question but I thought it was specific to Milan. Basically she says do not worry.
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Old 07-24-06, 08:43 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spinnaker
What is the best way to pick accommodations in Italy (hotels, pensiones, hostels etc.) ? Is it better to carry guidebooks (could prove to be a heavy annoyance) or use Internet connections along the way for pre-planning and tourist information offices for on the spot choices?
During my two weeks in Tuscany & Umbria last May I found just about all my accommodation on the Internet. I had accommodations for the night of my arrival and the night before my departure booked and paid for before I left the US, just because cheap accommodation can be hard to find in Florence. Many campgrounds have websites, and most hostels are listed on the various hostel websites. Many hotels either have a website or have a listing on the website of the local tourist office. Googling for "hotel", "hostel" or "camping" together with the name of the town you're planning to stay in will give you a good picture of what's available.

I did bring two guide books and a phrase book (Rough Guides for Tuscany/Umbria and Florence/Siena, and the Rick Steves phrase book) but I never used them for accommodation, just to see what there was to see in a given town.

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Old 07-25-06, 01:13 AM   #6
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I have been to Italy a few times and have used the Let's Go guide and have found it to be very useful. Although a couple of times the accommodations were a bit dubious most of the time they has been great. I was told to get the guide by an older woman who has been to Italy a lot and has used the guide as her 'Bible'.
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Old 07-25-06, 03:03 AM   #7
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I've been there several times. "Let's Go" was somewhat helpful for getting oriented, but I was winging it most of the time. Everything worked out fine.
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Old 07-25-06, 12:06 PM   #8
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I agree that accommodation shouldn't be a problem. I used the Michelin guide last year to find some recommended hotels in the areas I went to -- very handy. There was lots of accommodation on offer, but the guide helped me quickly find what suited my budget and my route.

Remind me where you are headed.
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Old 07-25-06, 07:11 PM   #9
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Where I am headed? I am leaving Milan then....... That is about all I know for sure, I definitely do not want to pre-book before leaving home. I am not that organized, besides I want to be able to travel as I please and not worry about making a set destination. If I find a place I like I might decide to stay over an extra day. Or if I get to an intended destination and still have ride lest in me, I want to be able to keep on pedaling.

This is why I am considering a guide book to haul along or maybe just rely on tourist info and internet cafes.
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Old 07-26-06, 03:23 PM   #10
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I found the Michelin Guide for Italy was brilliant. The descriptions of the attractions and each town. . . very helpful. Helped me make the most of my trips last year. I think it would be worth the weight.
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Old 07-26-06, 06:06 PM   #11
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I NEVER travel anywhere without my trusty Lonely Planet guidebook. Lonely Planet is chock full of descriptions and prices of accommodations (and anything else you would want to know) in each town. I rarely make reservations in advance when touring Europe, but the guide helps me know where to look when I'm passing through a place.
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Old 07-26-06, 07:31 PM   #12
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I NEVER travel anywhere without my trusty Lonely Planet guidebook. Lonely Planet is chock full of descriptions and prices of accommodations (and anything else you would want to know) in each town. I rarely make reservations in advance when touring Europe, but the guide helps me know where to look when I'm passing through a place.
I have the Lonely Planet Bicycling Italy guide and I am not very happy with it. It is set up in the form of loops and 1 to 2 day rides. It does not cover all of the towns. The guide would be much more useful if it included a snapshot of each town.

I assume you are talking about the regular Lonely Planet Guid?
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Old 07-27-06, 12:11 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spinnaker
I have the Lonely Planet Bicycling Italy guide and I am not very happy with it. It is set up in the form of loops and 1 to 2 day rides. It does not cover all of the towns. The guide would be much more useful if it included a snapshot of each town.

I assume you are talking about the regular Lonely Planet Guid?
I left my Lonely Planet Bicycling Italy Guide at home and carried Touring Club Italiano maps. Pick out the smallest roads you can find on the map, look for the ones marked in green for a scenic route, and it's hard to go wrong. Get them from TrekTools (www.trektools.com), and while you're at it get maps of the individual cities you plan on passing through. Finding your way out of a medium size town on cycle friendly roads can be a bit tricky at times.

I know I've gone on quite a bit about TrekTools and Touring Club Italiano quite a bit on this forum, and I apologize if I've already posted the link on one of your threads, but I did find them to be two excellent resources for the touring cyclist.
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Old 07-27-06, 12:19 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PurpleK
I NEVER travel anywhere without my trusty Lonely Planet guidebook. Lonely Planet is chock full of descriptions and prices of accommodations (and anything else you would want to know) in each town. I rarely make reservations in advance when touring Europe, but the guide helps me know where to look when I'm passing through a place.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lolly Pop
I found the Michelin Guide for Italy was brilliant. The descriptions of the attractions and each town. . . very helpful. Helped me make the most of my trips last year. I think it would be worth the weight.
Voices of sanity above. Accommodations aside, it seems ludicrous to head off on a bike in a foreign country without some handy material for making an informed decision about what to see and do, along with detailed maps, also mentioned above. Tourist offices and the internet can supplement these resources, but not fully replace them, particularly on a tour with an unfixed itinerary. And getting your information via the internet as you travel will turn out to be penny wise and pound foolish in an expensive place like Italy. As for accommodations, a good guidebook will have reliable information not just for specific recommendations, but also what part of a town to go looking in, or where to avoid. A good guidebook will pay for itself with just one great accommodations suggestion, or for helping you avoid one awful night. It will also tell you where to find those internet cafes in the first place (as well as the tourist office), street maps for finding them (and everything else), what sort of rates to expect, and the quality of the connection. A good guidebook will tell you many useful tidbits that you never even thought about, especially if it's your first time.
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Old 07-27-06, 02:02 PM   #15
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I carry "The Garden Lovers Guide to Italy". Have used it to find the villa gardens, botanical gardens, etc. all over the country that are rarely visited by most tourists. Some are located outside towns so you & your bike get off the train, find a local map & pedal off into the hills to arrive at Villa Medici di Castello or Villa Gameraia or Villa Bomarzo....spend a few hours in a museum then spend the afternoon in quiet garden with fabulous views.

(the landscape architect's POV)
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Old 07-27-06, 02:49 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spinnaker
I have the Lonely Planet Bicycling Italy guide and I am not very happy with it. It is set up in the form of loops and 1 to 2 day rides. It does not cover all of the towns. The guide would be much more useful if it included a snapshot of each town.

I assume you are talking about the regular Lonely Planet Guid?
You assume correctly. I wouldn't want to limit myself to routes chosen by the bicycle guide's authors and would be inclined to veer from them for a variety of reasons. The regular guidebook covers a lot of information for virtually every town and region, not just the ones on preselected bike routes.
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Old 07-27-06, 07:11 PM   #17
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OK so I decided it is probably a good idea to carry the extra weight. Looks like it is down to the Michelin Guide for Italy and the Lonely Planet Guide. Do each of these have a good list of accommodations and list the cost?
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Old 07-27-06, 07:51 PM   #18
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OK so I decided it is probably a good idea to carry the extra weight. Looks like it is down to the Michelin Guide for Italy and the Lonely Planet Guide. Do each of these have a good list of accommodations and list the cost?
I can't speak for the Michelin Guide. The Lonely Planet has a detailed listing of accommodations broken down into camping, budget, midrange and luxury. They include details of the place, contact information, address, price at time of printing and a sort of brief review of its quality. Each town has a street map which includes locations of accommodations. I've used Lonely Planets on all my European bike tours and train/bus trips and have never had a problem. That's why I keep sticking with them. The Italy guidebook, however, is one of the thickest and heaviest I've seen.
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Old 07-27-06, 08:01 PM   #19
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I assume they list hostels?
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Old 07-27-06, 08:29 PM   #20
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I suggest you go to a good bookstore and look at the various guides to see the differences. For example, you will find that Michelin has "green" guides and "red" guides. The green ones describe attractions and have lots of cultural information, but limited tourist info. The red guides are strictly for hotels and restaurants, and not the cheap ones. They both serve a purpose, but the red guide is unlikely to help you much for this particular trip.

For your purposes, I would suggest you look at Lonely Planet, the Rough Guide, & Lets Go. Also check the copyright date on guidebooks. My own feeling is that LP typically will have more listings for the smaller towns than the other guidebooks, and also has more city maps. It tends to be very good for things like internet cafe addresses, laundromats, and train & bus info. But the quality of any guidebook is closely related to the specific authors. Depending on where I'm going, I sometimes prefer LP, sometimes Rough Guides, sometimes TimeOut (mainly city guidebooks), and occasionally one of the other publishers.

LP & Lets Go will definitely list hostels. I'm not 100% sure about Rough Guides. Michelin, no way.
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Old 07-27-06, 08:36 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by markf
I left my Lonely Planet Bicycling Italy Guide at home and carried Touring Club Italiano maps. Pick out the smallest roads you can find on the map, look for the ones marked in green for a scenic route, and it's hard to go wrong. Get them from TrekTools (www.trektools.com), and while you're at it get maps of the individual cities you plan on passing through. Finding your way out of a medium size town on cycle friendly roads can be a bit tricky at times.

I know I've gone on quite a bit about TrekTools and Touring Club Italiano quite a bit on this forum, and I apologize if I've already posted the link on one of your threads, but I did find them to be two excellent resources for the touring cyclist.
I was hoping to find some used maps on Ebay. Man nothing at all. They have them but new. I might as well buy from trektools.com.
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Old 07-27-06, 09:02 PM   #22
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So should I get the LP Rough Guide or the regular LP? I'm going to try the book store tomorrow to see if they have them.
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Old 07-28-06, 06:39 AM   #23
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LP is shorthand for Lonely Planet. Lonely Planet and Rough Guide are different publishers. Look at all the guidebooks available and get what looks best to you. However, if I had to pick a guidebook for you from what I know of your trip, my first choice would probably be Lonely Planet.
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Old 07-28-06, 03:17 PM   #24
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For Italy I compared Lonely Planet, Rough Guide, and Michelin Green Guide. I bought the Michelin caused it seemed the most comprehensive. I didn't really need the maps of the towns. I just asked people for directions the odd time I needed them. I also liked how they rated the attractions and cities -- two stars, three stars -- helped me decide which towns to spend time in (Ravello, for example) and which ones to skip through.
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Old 07-28-06, 03:25 PM   #25
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+ 1 on Michelin for actual historical information, tiny drawings, floor plans of historic churches, etc. Their restaurant, hotel info can be a bit stodgy but is very 'safe' in terms of no surprises. Michelin sometimes gives out stickers for their suggested hotel/restaurant sites. LP don't give no stickers, mon.

Lonely Planet is an alternative view of the world where, if one wishes to travel 'on the cheap', they'll give suggestions. I don't remember ever seeing stars for any of the accomodations in an LP guidebk since their typical reader won't pay for starred accomodations. LP will also address the seamier side of cities/communities/neighborhoods that Michelin tends to ignore. If I were on a bike, I'd read the LP description for each city to know what I was getting into since bike travel is more physically vulnerable. If I'm in a rented BMW, I'd take the Michelin to direct me to my safe, predictable destinations.
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