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Report 620: Spoleto, Siena, Montalcino, Proceno, Rome

By Pat and Henry from Kansas, Spring 2005

Trip Description: 18 March - 9 April 2005, an overview of our trip where we took our nine-year-old granddaughter to Italy to visit Rome, Tuscany and Umbria.

Destinations: Countries - Italy; Regions/Cities - Rome, Tuscany, Umbria

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Art Trip; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 3-4 people; Adults and Young Children

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Page 1 of 6: Arriving in Rome and Getting Euro

Our party consisted of me, Henry, my wife Pat, and our granddaughter Lexi, aged 9. We left on the 16 March 2005. The flight into Rome was uneventful. Our flight was scheduled to arrive at 0845 and we were on time. By 0915 we were through passport control and in the baggage claim area. I went to the ATM (bankomat) and withdrew 500 euro. Picked up our bags, walked through customs, and we were on the street by 0930.

For those of you new to Italy, Italy is still a cash society. Merchants prefer cash and will give a discount for cash payments. Euro are easy to obtain. Bancomats are everywhere. I use an ATM card (no debit function) because I feel it is safer than a debit card. If an ATM card is lost or stolen it is useless without a PIN (my wife carries an ATM card on the same account in case of loss). A debit card can be swiped in a reader with no PIN or can be used by phone or web without a PIN or even the card. Since the limits for purchases are much higher than cash withdrawal (cash withdrawal limit of $300 and purchase limit of $5000 is pretty standard) your account can be wiped out fast if a debit card is lost or the number obtained by various means. I never bother to check what network the bank is on and never had a rejection on this trip. Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena, and Banca di Roma cover all of Italy. I also used Banca Toscana, Banca Intesa, and Banca Livorno. I try to avoid Bankomats in airports (except the baggage claim area since it is restricted) and train stations to avoid problems with pickpockets and scam artists. I am probably just paranoid but I have had no problems in 12 trips to Italy and would like to keep it that way.

Since I bought a cell phone for Italy ($50 on e-bay plus insurance and shipping total$65), I needed to find a TIM store to get a SIM card. After asking several airport workers about the TIM store it appeared that there used to be one at the airport but they closed it. So we walked across the street to the train station and got our tickets to Spoleto. Actually you get tickets for the train to Rome and a separate ticket for the trip to Spoleto. When traveling with a child you need to ask for the family discount (two adults and a child).

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