My husband and I are backpackers. Or should I say flashpackers – backpackers with a higher level of comfort. Having travelled to Indonesia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Nepal on a budget, we wanted to see if we could do that in Italy also. Of course there’s nothing to beat the cheap prices of SE Asia. But was Italy really as expensive as everyone says it is?
Long story short – We explored Val d’Orcia, Montepulciano and Florence in Tuscany, Alberobello and Polignano a mare in Puglia and Rome and Vatican City over 10 days for about 2 lakh INR (1 lakh per person). This included our flights, visas, stay, transportation, food, shopping and just about everything. Holiday packages charge about 6 lakhs for the same (that too excluding food and shopping). And THEY select what YOU want to see. Moreover they probably cover 5 countries in 10 days – that is defined as touching a country, not exploring what it truly is.
With a little planning, Italy can easily be visited on a budget.
How to select what you want to see?
Google the regions of the country and then Google them one by one and go to Google Images and see what you like there. Search “10 things to see and do in < >”. Use the website Rome2Rio to learn how to get from one place to another. We selected this route: Rome-Val D’Orcia-Florence-Alberobello-Polignano A Mare-Rome.
I had booked all long distance trains before reaching Italy using this guide – Italy train guide
Flight from India to Italy
Air India now flies to Rome and Milan almost every day and their rates are the cheapest we found. I use skyscanner to get cheap flights.
Booking your stay in Italy
I booked homestays wherever possible. I hate the feel of a hotel. Google “Homestays in < >” or “Where to stay in < >”. Get their e mail ids and shoot them mails with your tentative dates and budget. You can move forward from there based on their replies. After narrowing down a few stays, check their tripadvisor ratings and reviews and distance from important sights before confirming. I have mentioned where we stayed in the individual travel posts.
How to apply for Schengen Tourist Visa
Getting the visa was a bit of an ordeal for us.
We applied for the Schengen Visa (Type C Tourist Visa) at the Mumbai Italian Consulate and booked an appointment with the Bangalore VFS office to provide biometrics – Website. A travel agent can no longer arrange a Schengen tourist visa for you because biometrics are now mandatory.
Make sure that your documents are clear and proper. Maintain sufficient funds in your bank account. Refer this. Carry more documents than they have asked for to make you case stronger.
The VFS works only on weekdays. We submitted our fingerprints and Passports at the Bangalore VFS office and paid around 5000 INR per person (Visa fee + service fee). 1 week later we got a call that we had to attend a personal interview at the Consulate office in Mumbai the following week. At Mumbai, we were asked about the itinerary and how we were going to meet the expenses etc. The following week, we received our visas in courier 🙂
Rough expenses –
Flight tickets 2 way per person – 36000 INR
Airport shuttle (per ticket) – 4 €
A cup of gelato – 2 €
One meal (a plate of pasta or a pizza) – 8 to 15 €
We didn’t need to buy too many bottles of water because water from taps is safe to drink in Italy. Except in trains and other water sources that are clearly marked with a red cross.
I have included the rough expenses of each place in their respective posts. Here are the detailed posts on each of the places we travelled to :-
As soon as my husband and I decided to travel to Italy, experiencing the Italian countryside was on top of my list of things to do. I figured Tuscany was the perfect place for that. Within Tuscany, my choices were Chianti (the wine heaven) and Val d’Orcia. After weighing the pros and cons, Val d’Orcia won. Continue Reading . . .
I must admit, I am not a big fan of arts, paintings and museums. And so I was not drawn into what tourists really flock into Florence for, like Uffizi Gallery and Palazzo Pitti. The only thing that drew me to Florence was Piazza Duomo and the Florence Cathedral. And so we stayed here for just a day. Continue Reading . . .
A few years ago, when I was randomly googling places that I would want to visit in Italy someday, I came across this gem – with its dwarf houses (Trulli) that look like they are part of a fairytale movie set, it took my breath away. And this year when Italy finally happened, I didn’t have any doubt about the first place that I was going to have in my itinerary – Alberobello! Continue Reading . . .
Polignano a Mare wasn’t really planned when we left for Italy. But on reaching Alberobello, we wanted to visit a beach town because Puglia was known for its beaches. So we decided to do a day trip to Polignano a Mare. And it turned out to be one of my most favourite parts of Italy! Continue Reading . . .
When we were planning our Italy trip, I didn’t really want to spend too much time in Rome. We decided to spend 2 days here nevertheless because we would be landing and taking off from Rome. I just wanted to scratch the surface – the Colosseum, St. Peter’s Basilica and some good food. I really am not a fan of museums and long queues at sites. Continue Reading . . .
I hope this guide helps you create a budget itinerary for Italy 🙂 Happy traveling!