Friday, May 3, 2013

Italy Travel and Tourism Updates

Same day tickets for the Vatican Museum.... ones that will let you skip the line.. are available from the tourist information office in St. Peter's Square. The price is the same you would pay if you reserved them online.

Massive crowds line up to see Florences's cathedral, the Duomo, which is free to enter. Here is how to skip to the front of the line, if you are already planning to visit the cathedral-related sites such as the Duomo Museum, Baptistery and Campanile. These require a combination ticket and the trick is to buy the ticket first at the less-crowded museum. You're allowed to use your ticket to enter the cathedral through its exit, bypassing the long lines at the front door.

Florence's Uffizi Gallery is still undergoing renovation but many new rooms are now available to the public. Also in Florence, Lorenzo Ghiberti's Renaissance-era Baptistery doors have been newly restored and are now back on display at the Duomo Museum.

The best late evening hours sightseeing, from April till September, is at the Palazzo Vecchio. The Medicis ruled from this fortified palace. The site typically stays open until 12 midnight plus the tower has been reopened, allowing visitors a great view of the cityscape.

In Venice, the downside of visiting the Accademia is that it is still going through a renovation and major expansion that has been going on for years. Things are still in disarray but the advantage is that there are no longer crowds and long lines and it is not necessary anymore to buy a ticket in advance.

If you are visiting Naples, you no longer need to make an appointment to visit the Secret Room at the Archeological Museum. The Secret Room houses erotic pottery, frescoes and statues that were once used to decorate brothels and bedrooms in Herculaneum and Pompeii.

Be prepared for hotel accommodations to cost more. With the economic uncertainty, highly visited cities such as Florence, Venice, Rome and Padua, are charging an additional tax on hotel rooms. The tax must be paid in cash at checkout and varies from one Euro to five Euros per person, per night and is based on the number of stars assigned to the hotel under the government rating system.

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