What makes ReidsItaly.com different

The ReidsItaly difference:
Focus on experiences
One voice
• Professional quality
• Expert opinions
• Detailed itineraries
• Alternative lodgings
• Beyond "top 10"
• Interactive maps
• Truly helpful tips
• Trip-planning advice
• I work for you
There are loads of Italy travel sites out there, so why should you bother with this one? Here are ten of the features that help set ReidsItaly.com apart.

1) Experiences, not just sightseeing

ReidsItaly.com focuses on the great experiences of an Italian vacation. Sure, all the sights are described in detail, but most people don't come home from a trip raving about the paintings and churches 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, hiek the Cinque Terre, attend the opera in an ancient amphitheater, take the best guided walking tours, head to a soccer math, or even just indulge in the Italian four-hour dinner. » more

2) One voice

Reid BramblettThis 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 Italy experience. » more

3) Professional advice

Some of Reid Bramblett's Italy guidebooksReid 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 travel in Italy for 17 years. Reid has written eight guidebooks covering Italy for Frommer's and DK/Eyewitness, and has contributed Italy coverage to a dozen other guides. He has served as an editor and a writer for major travel guidebooks, websites, and magazines—including, for seven years running, writing the Italy cover story for Budget Travel magazine's double-sized summer issue. » more

4) Expert opinions

The author hard at work at the ruins of Agrigento, SicilyWriting about travel is my day job, not my hobby. Unlike the typical TripadvisorTripAdvisor 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 important, how that hotel compares to the one down the street (I can even tell you whether there's a B&B in between that's 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 hundreds of hotels, and spent years carefully researching such things with a critical eye and a notebook in hand. Same goes for sights, restaurants, and the practical details of travel—and, of course, for Florence, Venice, and the rest of Italy.

5) Detailed itineraries

Italy itinerariesMost Italy itineraries out there are vague lists of places to visit each day. ReidsItaly.com itineraries 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), the riposo midday shutdown, and Mondays (when many museums and sights are closed).

I have extensive experience at this. In addition to planning dozens of research trips of my own, I have helped plan Italy trips for everyone from families to scout troops to individual travelers—among them a member of the Italian National Tourist Board and Arthur Frommer himself. » more

6) Lodging alternatives

Lodging optionsI have nothing against hotels. They are reliable, widespread throughout Italy, 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 more than two dozen alternatives to traditional hotels: Agriturismi (farm stays),
Alberghi diffusi (diffuse hotels), Apartments, B&Bs, Camping, Castles, Chains, Convents, CouchSurfing, Crewing a boat, Sleep for free, Historic inns, Home swapping, Hospitality exchange, Hostels, Monasteries, Motels, Rifugi (mountain huts), Overnight trains, Affittacamere (rental rooms), Residences, RVing, Sleeping in airports, University dorms, and Villa rentals. » more

7) Beyond the "Top 10"

Reid's Lists for VeniceReid's List: Rome
Reid's List: Florence
Reid's List: Venice
Reid's offbeat Italy activities
Kurt Vonnegut wrote that "Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God." Break away from the ordinary! Iconic Italy—the Colosseum, Da Vinci's Last Supper, Leaning Tower of Pisa—is 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.coms 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 an Italy 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

8) Interactive maps

ReidsItaly.com interactive mapsEvery major city and region 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. Built on the popular Google maps platform, the maps allow you to zoom in and out and view things in either map or satellite form.

You can also read about every sight, hotel, restaurant, information point, train station, parking lot, and other useful information by clicking on the 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

TipsPlenty 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 how to avoid traffic tickets in Florence to finding the cheapest airfare; 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 haggle in the markets to how you can eat 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 some 1,700 pages in the "Destinations" section (all the sights, hotels, restaurants, and practical info on the major cities, towns, and regions of Italy). 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, phrase books 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. » more

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This article was written by Reid Bramblett and was last updated in January 2011. All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 2008–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett