The Italian capital has always been particularly famous for being an expensive city, but if you like Italian culture then you can enjoy the best that Rome has to offer for next to nothing. The city houses countless churches (the Piazza Santa Maria), monuments and galleries (Piazza dell'Accademia di San Luca) that are available to visit for free, and if you feel you have exhausted those, then step just outside the city center and take a relaxing walk through the luscious greens of the Villa Ada.
Various; Rome City Centre
This tour will take you down paths less trodden and provide you with a different outlook on Rome and its superb landmarks. The tour is taken at night and, as mystery and your imagination take over, the guide will provide an entertaining side to the capital that you are not likely to get during the day. Particular landmarks explored include the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II and the beautiful Campo de Fiori. This is a really cool way to explore this magnificent city, especially if you have children.
Sant'Andrea Della Valle Church - Corso Vittorio Emanuele II
If a few days in the capital city start to take their toll, then escape to the beach and rest your tired feet. Ostia beach is situated around 30-40 minutes outside of Rome and gives you the opportunity to wind down with a cold drink or ice cream while you laze on the beach and soak up the sun.
A great benefit of this beach is that you have the chance to buy your souvenirs and gifts while you relax, as the majority of vendors will approach you and offer their goods without you having to move an inch. If this doesn’t sound like your idea of relaxation then there are also quieter sections of the beach.
Lido di Ostia, Rome, Italy
Google map: bit.ly/nUl0Vi
If you want to visit Rome and indulge in superb accommodation for the price of a hostel, then you should certainly stay at the Auditorium Di Mecenate. A modern hotel that has fantastic styling in both its bedrooms and bathrooms, you almost feel like the owners have misunderstood the exchange rate and will come bounding into your room asking for more money.
The private bedrooms have elegant high ceilings and long glass windows and drapes and the bathrooms are decked out in very modern black tiles and white units. The staff are always very helpful and the location is convenient, being close enough to the city center and just around the corner from the main train station. It’s a brilliant place to stay when trying to save money on your trip.
Auditorium Di Mecenate, Via dello Statuto 44, Rome, 00185, Italy.
A good value, solid two star hotel in a good location with the nearest metro station only 10 mins walk away. Cheap and easy.
Address: Via Tiburtina 30
Area: city centre
Nearest station: Termini station
Rome was our final stop on a three-week trip to Italy. Here we received all the information we wanted and a map of the city. Paola explained where to go, what to buy, how to avoid crowds... all the useful tips. They showed us the best restaurants we've ever eaten in – and they weren’t even expensive. The location is great, around the corner from Navona Square. Bring your walking shoes and you can reach everything by foot.
In the Heart of Rome - Navona Square
Le Pietre is a small, but perfectly formed, B&B and apartment set deep in the countryside of Northern Lazio just a few minutes drive from Lake Bolsena.
We stayed in the apartment and when not out and about visiting the local towns and villages, we happily whiled away the hours by the pool - very relaxing. The hosts were great; welcoming and informal, there when you needed them but otherwise allowing us the privacy to enjoy the place as if it were our own.
We found ourselves here more by accident than design, just passing through and decided to stop here for a few days. I'm not sure whether this is true or not, but we did wonder if the area maybe relatively unknown to UK travellers - at least when compared to its neighbour, Tuscany. But there were many interesting places from attractive fishing towns, Etruscan archaeological sites, natural hot-springs (also very relaxing) and some great vineyards. Getting to places slightly further a field was also easy - the religiously-significant, and beautiful, town of Orvieto and the Maremma area of southern Tuscany both within an hour's drive.
Getting there was easy too - from Rome less than two hours by car.
Le Pietre, Strada Campo Delle Rose 2
(Near Marta) Viterbo 01100, Italy
If you join Friends of the Uffizi you get access to all state run museums in Florence and can go to the top of any queue. Museums include the Uffizi, Accademia, Bargello and San Marco but there is a longer list.
You can join in advance but it is easy to do when you arrive. Membership is for the calendar year and not for 12 months from payment but it is still value for money and encourages you to go to museums 'little and often'. Varied costs but it is 100 Euros for a family.
The office is opposite the main Uffizi entrance in the old post office building.
Podere La Serra is a really special villa in Northern Tuscany, I stayed there last year and had the most fantastic break. The house sleeps 10-12 people and we had a family get together there - it is absolutely wonderful and I will certainly be going back. The house is beautifully decorated with handmade furniture, it's really well set up for big groups with two kitchens and two living rooms. The interior is stunning - traditional stone walls, huge chestnut beams, vaulted archways and a wonderful log fire in the living room. We loved the infinity pool, which is filled with natural spring water from the villa's well. The whole place is fantastically high spec and we couldn't fault it at all, the owners are English and live just 10 minutes drive away, they were on hand to sort out a jazz band for us on the terrace and pizza chefs - all sorts! We visited Pisa (1 hr), Lucca (45 mins) and the Cinque Terre (45 mins) and we're thinking of returning for the ski season as Cereto is only 45 minutes away. The real knock out thing about this gorgeous place is the view of the Apuane mountains, which is just spectacular. The villa has unbelievable panoramic views and we were happy just sitting out on the terrace with a glass of wine gazing at the tuscan hills. We also found a really excellent local restaurant called 'Malliano's', just 30 minutes stroll round the corner through the sweet little villages. Altogether a wonderful place.
Casina di Rosa is a great holiday rental in this tiny village south of Siena. A fantastic base for daytrips to most popular sites. We loved it. Civitella Marittima still retains the true essence of Italy and has not been spoilt by tourism. The people are friendly, from the owners to the shopkeepers and the lady who waved each morning from a nearby window.
Civitella Marittima is also well located for visiting other places in Tuscany. The villa has lovely town and countryside views (particularly from the bedroom window) and the glow of the rising morning sun on the surrounding buildings, with the swallows circling overhead, is not to be missed. The village is very friendly - after a week we almost felt like locals.
Villa consisting of four apartments, family run, with fantastic grounds and own swimming pool.
Very friendly English family who embraced Italy, the culture and language and renovated an old farm house in this small village.
The apartment we stayed in was very spacious and extremely well equipped, everything we needed and more was there. The surrounding grounds were perfect for our children to explore safely. There were hammocks for relaxing quietly while admiring the amazing views across the mountains, and a badminton net (for when you're feeling more energetic) and bikes.
The girls (aged eight, 11 and 12) spent most of holiday in the pool. Our son (aged five) helped Damien the owner pick, plant and water their many vegetables and fruit (hours of entertainment) and they didn't mind the guests helping themselves.
The apartments were full, but not overcrowded and there was a great mix of people. You could take a 10-minute stroll into town from the villa. Walk up into the centro historico for beautiful buildings and views. Stop for a coffee half way up and enjoy the mountain views while soaking up the sun. Take the children to the park, play crazy golf or tennis.
The nearest beach is only 45 minutes away. We had an amazing time and would definitely suggest you check it out.
The Palazzo rooms are spacious - and if you like antique decoration and a welcoming atmosphere, you won't be disappointed. It has high ceilings and all the luxuries you need (TV, minibar, fully equipped bathroom, etc), and you can even play the piano if capable.
You get a feeling of living in an aristocratic duke's house. The breakfast selection was unbelievable (cereals, yoghurt, fruit, bread, sweets and more) and most of all the quality was top-notch. It's in the city centre, and a two-minute walk brings you right to Piazza Navona. The owners are extremely friendly and helpful.
Il Monastero is an apartment in an ancient monastery in a hill top town in Le Marche, a great budget accommodation for a couple wishing to explore the area. Sant'Angelo has two restaurants in the lovely cobbled streets, and amazing views of the Sibillini Mountains.
It's easy to get to the historic towns of art and culture from here - Marche is rich in Benedictine abbeys, well-endowed churches and monasteries and works of art. A particular joy of the area is to be able to look at works of art in churches and galleries in small cities where it is unlikely that there will be any other visitors.
Our friends and family have just enjoyed a weekend of autumn sunshine in this wonderful part of Italy. Halloween was spent dressing up and joining the locals at a disco in the medieval town of Sarnano, Saturday was spent blowing away the cobwebs by hiking along old mule tracks within the awesome Sibillini National Park and on Sunday we all went for lunch at the rifugio or mountain refuge at Monte Amandola.
This is one of a chain of places to eat and stay at high altitude within the park. The food was delicious and included strozzaprete pasta (literally translated as priest strangler pasta) with a truffle and sausage sauce, meats and home made deserts, coffee and wines and all for €13 a head.
We visited La Lucertola during the 2008 Witsun break, in search of a chill-out break in the tranquillity of the Tuscan countryside, but having three grumpy teenagers in tow, it was also important to be close enough to places of interest to keep them amused. What greeted us was an unexpected delight.
Set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, high up on a mountainside amidst an ancient olive grove and with stunning views of the surrounding countryside as far as Pisa and the coast beyond, the two self-contained farmhouses at La Lucertola are perfect – large, comfortable and extremely well-equipped. The setting is exquisite and as a bonus, there is the lovingly nurtured organic garden - the produce is available to pick and use, free of charge, by the guests! This proved a particular favourite with our children, who loved going out to pick the salad and herbs for our meals and we returned home with all good intentions of recreating our own Tuscan vegetable patch!
Being less than a 30 minute drive from Pisa airport and with highly competitive rates available on Ryanair flights from London Stansted, La Lucertola is ideally located as a base from which to explore the delights of Tuscany (if you actually choose to leave the peace and tranquillity of your Tuscan home that is).
Living in their own separate farmhouse on site, Luisa and Coz are the perfect hosts and I would like to thank them for allowing us to spend a little time sharing their little piece of Tuscan heaven, where even the rain storms hold a certain charm; it’s very easy to understand why they chose to swap their hectic London life for this! Check out their excellent website for more details.
Via di Cavina, 14
56017 San Giuliano Terme
Tel: 00 39 050 851405
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