Italy holds such an important place in my travel history. It was the first trip I took as a full-fledged adult out of college. It was the first international trip I started alone (even though I later met up with a group tour). It was the first place I experienced culture shock. Not many people realize that “Italy” is barely more than 150 years old. Even today, many Italians identify more regionally (e.g. Venetian, Florentine, Sicilian) than nationally. With that kind of history, where ancient regions unite, the result is a rich tapestry of wide variation. I knew on my RTW trip, I had to return to explore the southern parts of the country.

At the time of that first trip, I thought $800 for a 9-day tour was a rock bottom price. See how much I spent in nearly three weeks of independent travel through Italy below.

 pompeii-3s-santuario-di-venere-1b

Transportation: $143.45

Bus from Turin to Florence $9.95
Bus from Florence to Rome $9.95
24 hour metro pass in Rome $7.83
Bus from Rome to Naples $9.95
Circumvesuviana from Naples to Sorrento $3.99
Circumvesuviana round-trip Portici-Naples $3.33
3 metro tickets in Naples $3.33
Circumvesuviana round-trip Portici-Pompeii $3.99
Trenitalia from Portici to Salerno $3.44
Ferry from Salerno to Amalfi $8.87
Ferry from Amalfi to Positano $8.87
Ferry from Positano to Salerno $13.30
Trenitalia round-trip from Salerno to Sorrento via Portici $12.94
Overnight bus from Salerno to Milan $21.78
2 metro tickets in Milan $3.39
Bus from Milan to Venice $10.05
Vaporetto in Venice $8.49

Accommodations: $494.23

1 night in a 6-bed dorm at Bamboo Eco Hostel in Turin $26.86
1 night in a 16-bed dorm at Hostel Santa Monaca in Florence $26.90
1 night in a 4-bed dorm at Lodi Hostel in Rome $30.21
5 nights in a 5-bed dorm at Fabric Hostel in Portici $82.30
9 nights in a private room at an Airbnb in Salerno $290
1 night in a 4-bed dorm at Smartholiday in Venice $37.96

florence-gesto-1a

Gesto in Florence was the perfect place to treat myself to a rare dinner out.

Dining: $122.93

1 day’s worth groceries at Lidl in Turin $2.21
1 week’s worth groceries at supermarket in Portici $11.42
2 week’s worth groceries at Sigma in Salerno $36.63
1 breakfast at Florence train station $3.08
1 breakfast at Fabric Hostel in Portici $3.33
1 lunch at snack bar in Rome $8.87
1 lunch at Pizzeria Starita in Naples $12.19
1 lunch at Autogrill in Pompeii $5.21
1 lunch at Autogrill in Milan $4.98
1 snack at Autogrill in Pompeii $2.55
1 snack at granita stand in Amalfi $2.77
1 dinner at Gesto in Florence $10.63
1 dinner at Da Robertino in Rome $15.10
1 dinner at L’Angolo della Pizza in Venice $3.96

Entertainment: $15.52

Admission to Pompeii $14.41
1 beer at Fabric Hostel in Portici $1.11

Miscellaneous: $65.01

restock toothpaste and tampons at Lidl in Turin $2.77
restock contact solution at pharmacy in Florence $5.48
laundry service at Fabric Hostel in Portici $5.54
10 postcards $9.90
wrong train ticket $8.38
Trenitalia validation fine $5.58
gifts/souvenirs in Sorrento $10.61
cancellation fee at Milan hostel $16.75

positano-1h

Total: $841.14

Average Spent Per Day: $44.27

That’s right. I spent roughly the same amount on 19 days of travel as I did on 9 days with a tour operator! I loved my group tour through Italy, but I’m definitely glad I’m traveling independently now.

How I Saved

  • Staying off the beaten track
    For my two longer stays in Naples and on the Amalfi Coast, I found accommodations in much less touristy areas. Instead of staying in the actual center of gritty Naples, I stayed in one of its suburbs, Portici. The Circumvesuviana train is so inexpensive and convenient, staying outside the city barely affected my budget. Portici is actually about halfway between Naples and Pompeii, so this was a better base for the region anyway. For the Amalfi Coast, instead of staying in one of the fashionable towns like Sorrento or Amalfi itself, I found an Airbnb in Salerno. Again, Salerno is where the region’s main train and bus station is, so this was better for my transportation budget as well. And I absolutely loved staying in Salerno. It was clean, safe, and very authentically Italian. It was a great place to take a break from constant travel and relax.
  • Suffering through larger dorms than usual
    Because I had already been to Florence and Rome before, I elected to only use these major cities as stopovers, to break up my journey overland to the south. In retrospect, I wish I had booked two or three nights in each, but anyway. Because it was just a one-night stay, in Florence, I opted for a much larger hostel dorm than I usually pick. It was one of the worst hostels I’ve ever stayed in, but I didn’t want to blow more than 30 euro on one night.
  • Relying on groceries
    I’m sure I’ve talked about saving money by cooking for myself before, but in Italy it really paid off. Even indulging in more snacks and nicer ingredients at the supermarket in Salerno, I spent less than $2 per meal. When I did buy a meal, it was often from Italy’s fast food chain, Autogrill. The quality varies a bit from place to place, but sandwiches are never more than 5 euro even in pricey cities like Milan or really touristy spots like Pompeii, and it’s better than McDonald’s.
  • Finding walks entertaining
    The only activity I really spent money on was Pompeii. Everywhere else I went from Naples to Amalfi and Positano to Sorrento, I just enjoyed the nice weather and a long walk. 
  • Listening to my body
    I haven’t exactly been sick on my trip, but my fellow female travelers know what a toll travel can take on one’s menstrual cycle. Between a week or so of very fast-paced travel, getting my uterus in the right time zone, and some personal family stuff happening, I felt very lethargic and unmotivated for part of my time in Salerno. I pushed through it to go to Sorrento and came away a bit disappointed. Instead of continuing to push through it to go to Capri as planned, I let myself take some time off. I can always go back to Capri someday. Those few days of doing nothing were what my body and mind needed, and as an added bonus, they saved money.

Are you planning a trip to Italy. Check out my Italy itinerary planner.

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