The actual vacation was only 20 days – but I had 18 months planning and anticipating.
It really, truly was half the fun!!!
Having an itinerary, I proceeded to research accommodations. This was the fun part! I looked up the websites of the B&Bs mentioned in the Rick Steves’ guide and any recommendations I read about on the message boards. I read the reviews on TripAdvisor.com and took note of their rankings. Even though my trip was still a year into the future I emailed the B&Bs with my dates asking for the cash price for a “double room with ensuite bath” and a Rick Steves’ discount! I was budgeting $100 a night.
It was fun, but also stressful having to make the decision and wondering if it was the best choice! If I found something I liked better I wasn’t afraid to cancel one reservation to make a new one. I kept copies of my email confirmations and cancellations. Even though I was going to pay cash, many of the B&Bs asked for a credit card to hold the reservation.
On my daily walks and before I fell asleep each night I reviewed my itinerary in my mind. I knew our itinerary so well that I was afraid the actual trip wouldn’t live up to my expectations. Instead, it really helped! I felt like “I had been there before.”
Rome: B&B Armonia all’Opera (Ranked #56 of 1,679 Rome B&B and Inns)
The only B&B that I used that wasn’t in the Rick Steves guidebook. It was a great choice; convenient to Metro, buses, and walking. 130 euros a night, less 5% cash discount.
Sorrento: Il Roseto B&B (Ranked #8 of 71 Sorrento B&B and Inns)
Loved the breakfasts of soft pastry and fresh squeezed orange juice each morning in the private garden among citrus trees and flowers. The cappuccinos were the best!!! The price was only 70 euros a night. Oh, let’s go back – please!!!
Paestum: Hotel Villa Rita (Ranked #1 of 30 hotels in Paestum)
Can’t say enough good things about this place. Only wish we could’ve stayed longer. 81 euros a night.
Florence: Il Bargello B&B (Ranked #29 of 390 Florence B&B and Inns)
Lovely, excellent location, and 108 euros cash price per night.
Venice: Al Campaniel (Ranked #46 of 367 Venice B&B and Inns)
I was most concerned about this reservation, but it was fantastic too, and only 96 euros a night – in Venice!