By Ilona Kauremszky

Q: I am a single parent and would like to spend a few weeks travelling to Italy with my 14 year old son in late August. Any suggestions on how to do this on a modest budget?

A: Ah la dolce vita! While Italy can be pricey for most, if you’re willing to try a local pensione you will certainly be able to save quite a bit as these small often family run establishments are traditionally cheaper than regular hotels. Pensiones run the gamut and can be a room in a home to a small apartment to a room in a quaint intimate building and often appear as one or two star hotels if you’re looking at accommodation ratings.

Sometimes you might have to share a bathroom or a kitchenette is missing. Whenever I travel to Rome I always seek out these places. You can even book them on the day of your arrival as there is a hotel reservation centre located right at the Rome International Airport. Last time we were there, we had a modest room in a three storey walk-up building near the Vatican within easy walking distance.

Another great resource not widely known is a service called “Hotel Reservation” which lets you book the hotel you want, where you want and at the most convenient price. Billed as Rome’s number one Internet site, is a free service available seven days a week including Sundays and holidays and also includes hotel bookings for Florence, Venice, Naples, Milan and Siena.

Another great resource is available when visiting the Italian Tourism Office at their virtual office. You’ll see complete listings for pensione or bed and breakfast venues at . “From the home page you link onto the database then click “Hotel in Italy” and you will find all the different regions in Italy along with all the provinces,” says Sabrina Moras from the Italian Government Tourist Board and adds, “When you click onto the provinces they show each individual municipality, the B&B, the pensione which are listed as 1 and 2 star hotels.”

For a list of tour operators in Canada, you can also obtain this when you visit the Italian Tourism Office online. For fun things to do while on a budget be sure to try these favourites: Pitch a coin in the Trevi Fountain while in Rome. Hike up to Piazzale Michelangelo, home to one of the repros of Michelangelo’s David, for the best view of Florence. Buy a gelato in any of your favourite cities and enjoy it at a piazza. Mine is the Piazza Della Signoria in Florence.

When in the Eternal City (Rome) or the Birthplace of the Renaissance (Florence) wander by public sculptures and fountains made by the Great Masters like Bernini, Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. Scale the Spanish Steps and wander around Saint Peter’s Square in which enormous columns dwarf all who walk by them.


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