Travel Tips: How to save money on an Italian vacation


Italy is an enduring popular vacation destination. But if you’re looking for a luxurious getaway, it can also be pricey, according to Andrea Grisdale, the owner of IC Bellagio, a Lake Como-based travel company that sells trips to Italy. “Five-star hotels aren’t cheap,” Grisdale said. “And meals can also cost a lot.” 

But wallet watchers dreaming of an upscale Italian holiday can have it, she said. Her tips are below.  

Skip Peak Season: Italy’s high tourist season — when hotels are the most expensive — runs from mid-May through mid-September. In the spring and the fall, however, hotel rooms are about 30 percent cheaper. Even better deals await those who visit between mid-November and early March. While many beachside hotels are closed, city properties offer attractively priced extras like room upgrades and food and beverage credits.  

Hit Lesser-Known Regions: Sure, there’s Tuscany, Rome and Capri. But Italy has plenty of other stunning regions that are not as well-known and more affordable. The Gargano region in Puglia, for instance, has a coastline that rivals the Amalfi Coast, and Bergamo, a city north of Milan, has a thriving culture scene. “When you visit unknown parts of Italy, luxury hotels, generally, cost 30 percent less than they do in more touristy regions, and the restaurants are more reasonably priced,” Grisdale said.  

Hire a Guide Who’s Also a Driver: Luxury seekers often rely on a private driver and a guide. But paying for both is unnecessary, according to Grisdale. “Few travelers know that they can cut their cost in half by hiring one person, commonly referred to as a tour manager, who is a guide and a driver,” she said. Companies like IC Bellagio and Abercrombie & Kent can connect travelers with these tour managers. Your hotel can also help.  

For Groups, Rent a Villa: It may sound out of reach, but if you’re going on a country or beachside vacation and traveling in a group of six or more, renting a luxury villa is far cheaper than booking several rooms at an upscale hotel. “You can stay at a villa with the works, including a pool and a staff, for almost half the price of what you would pay at a hotel,” Grisdale said. And, since you’ll be able to buy groceries to keep in the villa’s kitchen, you’ll save on food costs, too, even if a cook is preparing your meals.  

Eat and Drink Like the Locals: Italians, said Grisdale, dine in Italy’s many Michelin-starred restaurants only on rare occasions. When eating out, they head to understated and inexpensive osterias and trattorias. Ask your cabdriver, hotel staff and others where they go to eat, and head there for authentic, wallet-friendly meals. And, stick to drinking local wine; you can enjoy delicious varieties for as little as 2 euros a glass.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Travel

Intrepidly, the Florida Keys are returning to life
Intrepidly, the Florida Keys are returning to life

A month after Hurricane Irma whipped its ferocious winds across the Florida Keys, a pearl-like strand of subtropical islands with an ecosystem unique in North America, much of the once pristine landscape remains littered with the wreckage the storm left behind.  Tourism, normally a $1.6 billion-a-year industry that employs about half the Keys&rsquo...
In Wisconsin, visitors can literally dip their toes into the cranberry harvest
In Wisconsin, visitors can literally dip their toes into the cranberry harvest

It's gray and raining and about 65 degrees, but more than 70 people are lined up in a field in central Wisconsin, undeterred by the gloom - or the wait. Their eyes are fixed on a lagoon that's pink with thousands of floating baubles: cranberries.  In the Badger State, late September to late October is cranberry season, and hundreds of devotees...
Romantic Sorrento and the Isle of Capri
Romantic Sorrento and the Isle of Capri

Serene Sorrento, wedged on a ledge under the mountains and over the sea, is a great springboard for sightseeing along Italy’s Amalfi Coast. Just an hour south of wild and crazy Naples, calm and genteel Sorrento makes an ideal home base for day-tripping around the region (Pompeii, Positano and Capri are well within reach). And every night, you...
Love festivals? Consider Alabama
Love festivals? Consider Alabama

A merry few thousand of us at last fall’s Oyster Cook Off and Craft Beer Weekend were, appropriately enough, drinking beer and eating oysters. Nobody got unruly, music emanated from a stage, and the sun was shining in a harmless, 80-degree way. As an Austinite from the land of festivals, I was pleased to find here, on the white-sand Gulf of Mexico...
In Belize, scuba diving with sharks and a whole lot more
In Belize, scuba diving with sharks and a whole lot more

What kind of Year of Adventure doesn’t include swimming with sharks? Not mine, that’s for sure. At the moment, I’m kicking along a reef at Half Moon Caye off the coast of Belize. Our small group of scuba divers has caught the attention of two or three blacktip reef sharks that are making close passes, 5- or 6-foot “men in gray...
More Stories