There are loads of travel sites out there, so why should you bother with this one? Here are 11 of the features that help set ReidsItaly.com apart.
1) Experiences, not just sightseeing
ReidsItaly.com focuses on the great experiences of an Italy vacation. Sure, all the sights are described in detail, but most people don't come home from a trip raving about the paintings and cathedrals they saw, or sharing hilarious tales about the monuments in front of which they posed. It's what you do on vacation that sticks, not simply what you see.
To that end, ReidsItaly.com is set up to emphasize the kinds of travel experiences that will become the stories you share for the rest of your life: how to stay on a working farm, haggle in the street markets, find a one-day cooking class, hike the Alps, tour the vineyards, take the best guided walking tours, head to a soccer match, or indulge in a three-hour dinner. » more
2) One voice
This site is not an anonymously crowdsourced wiki, a compilation of reviews by amateurs, or a sales pitch from some tourism bureau. It wasn't cobbled together from licensed content and freesourced text, nor stitched together from tourist board pamphlets and stale guidebook coverage.
ReidsItaly.com is a one-man show: written, designed, coded, and published entirely by Reid Bramblett for the express purpose of providing informed travel advice, expert opinion, and thoroughly researched reviews.
So what? There are plenty of solo blogs and websites out there. The difference is that ReidsItaly.com is written by a seasoned travel professional with more than a quarter century of travel writing experience and more than 35 years of visiting Italy. » more
3) Professional advice
Reid is a full-time professional travel writer who has lived in Italy off and on since the age of 11 and has specialized in writing about European travel for more than 20 years.
Reid has covered Italy in guidebooks for Frommer's, the Idiots Guides, and the For Dummies series. He has also served as an editor and a writer for major travel guidebooks, websites, and magazines. » more
4) Expert opinions
Writing about travel is my day job, not my hobby. Unlike the typical Tripadvisor reviewer—who can recite a litany of observations about room 105 in Rome's "Hotel X" based on a single visit—I can tell you how that room compares to others in the same hotel—and, more importantly, how that hotel compares to the hotel down the street (I can even tell you whether there's a B&B in between those two hotels that's actually a far a better deal, or how you can rent an apartment around the corner for even less).
This is because I have been to Rome dozens of times, toured hondreds of its hotels, and spent years carefully researching such things with a critical eye and a notebook in my hand. Same goes for sights, restaurants, and the practical details of travel. » more
Most suggested travel itineraries out there are vague lists of places to visit each day. ReidsItaly.com take into account the details of an actual trip: things like how long you should spend at each sight, admissions you need to reserve in advance, travel time from place to place (sometimes right down to which train you should catch), and how to handle days when things are closed.
I have extensive experience at this. In addition to planning dozens of research trips of my own, I have helped plan trips for everyone from families to scout troops to individual travelers. » more
I have nothing against hotels. They are reliable, widespread throughout Europe, and you know what you're going to get. However, hotels aren't the be-all, end-all of lodging options in Italy. Non-hotel lodging options are not only usually cheaper than hotels, they also usually offer a far more interesting experience, a chance to get closer to the local people and culture.
This site describes many alternatives to traditional hotels: Apartments, B&Bs, Camping, Castles, Cottage and house rentals, CouchSurfing, Farm stays, Sleeping for free, Home swapping, Hospitality clubs, Hostels, House sitting, Monasteries, Mountain huts, Overnight trains, Residence hotels, RVing, University dorms, and Work exchanges. » more
7) Beyond the "Top 10"
Kurt Vonnegut wrote that "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." Break away from the ordinary! Iconic Italy—St. Peter's and the Vatican, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Grand Canal in Venice, the Colosseum, the David, etc. etc.—is well worth the time, but don't let your vacation become just a litany of postcard attractions.
Sure, this site helps first-timers plan by listing all the un-missables. However, ReidsItaly.com delves deeper to showcase less famous, unusual, and offbeat sights and experiences.
Whether you've been to Italy before and are ready to move beyond the "Top 10," or simply want a travel experience that differs from the typical highlights trip, ReidsItaly.com can help. Each major destination features a Reid's List of lesser-known sights, activities, and experiences. These may not be the marquee sights, but they could very well end up being the highlights of your trip. » more
Every city on the site has an interactive map, and most pages have a detail of that map inset into the upper part of the right-hand column—either showing you the location of the particular point of interest you are reading about, or a link to the larger map for that city, region, or town.
You can also read about every sight, hotel, restaurant, information point, train station, parking lot, and other useful information by clicking on the larger map's colored icons (plotted not by some GPS automaton—which often places things in the radically wrong spot—but by the author, who has personally visited each one and knows precisely where it belongs). » more
9) Truly helpful tips
Plenty of sites (and traditional guidebooks) tell you all about the masterpieces in the museum or history of the castle—but few travel guides bother telling you what you really need to know: how long you should spend at the sight, how to get to it, how to circumvent the hour-long lines, on what day admission is free, whether there's a dress code to get in, where you can leave the backpack they don't allow inside, when admission is covered by a sightseeing pass, how to book a tour, and whether the gift shop closes early.
ReidsItaly.com does. It provides all the helpful hints and tips to get the most out of your vacation—and not just on visiting the sights, but on every aspect of trip planning: from finding the cheapest airfare to finding the perfect restaurant; from when a bus makes more sense than a train to when taking a day tour makes more sense than getting a rental car; from how to use your cellphone abroad to how you can sleep for free.
10) Extensive trip-planning advice
This website has more than 300 pages devoted solely to helping you plan your italy trip—and those are just the general trip-planning advice and information pages. I'm not counting any of the pages in the "Places" section (all the sights, hotels, restaurants, and practical info).
There are sections dedicated to every aspect of planning a trip to Italy: airfares and accommodations, rail passes and rental cars, packing and passports, tours and travel insurance, cruises and cell phones, pharmacies and pickpockets, shopping and Skyping, safety and sightseeing, money matters and maps and meals and more—each section packed with practical advice, insider tips, and the resources you need to get the most bang for your vacation buck. » more
11) I work for you
I have no hidden agenda. I'm not trying to sell you anything. I'm in the business of providing travel advice, not spreading a thin layer of descriptive text over a retail site in hopes of keeping your interest long enough that you'll buy something. Oh, sure, I'd love it if you click on the Google ads or purchase your tours, hotels, luggage, etc. through one of my partners—that's how this site earns its keep—but my primary goal is to offer the best unfiltered advice possible.
I pick my partners carefully, but alongside them I also recommend any rivals that offer just as good a product or service (but, alas, no affiliate program). To me, that's just good journalism.
It's also better business: Unless I provide sterling, rigorously unbiased travel information, you probably won't use this site or recommend it to your friends—and I really, really want you to recommend it.
My job is to help you plan and enjoy the Italy vacation of your dreams.