For the month of July we were in the beautiful city of Florence, Italy. Italy has been on our must-see list since we started planning our around the world adventure and we were eager to sample the foods and wines of Italy and explore the world famous ruins. But we also knew that it would be a challenge to maintain our budget, especially since we were visiting during high season. So how did we do? Well not so good. Our total expenditures for the month of July was $4,128.28 or $133.17 per day/$44.39 per person per day.
For most of the month of July one euro was averaging around $1.33. I was also gone for the last two weeks of July hiking with my dad around Mt Blanc while Jason and Sydney remained in Florence. The cost for Tour Mt Blanc is not part of the budget as my dad generously paid for everything including equipment and transportation. Thanks dad! It was amazing trip!
Our largest expenditure for the month of July was for lodging, which came to $1801.26. Gasp! This is the most we have spent for lodging so far on our RTW adventure. Our apartment in Florence cost $1684.27. During the month of July, we also spent 2 nights in hotels, one night in Pompeii and another in Rome, for a total cost of $116.99. Unfortunately the cost of lodging was over half our budget and set us back from the beginning. Although our apartment was in great location in the center of Florence, in hindsight we spent way too much money and should have kept on looking for something cheaper and outside the city center. Unfortunately, we panicked and took one of the first apartments that we were able to find due to concerns of it being high season.
Our next biggest expenditure for the month of July was food with a total expenditure of $930.69. Further broken down, we spent $664.05 for groceries and $266.64 for dining out. This is about average for us while we have been in Europe. I must say that Italy has some really good food and amazing markets. We especially loved the gelato and cappuccino and found it hard to resist. Although both the gelato and cappuccino were small expenditures of only 1.50€ to 2€ each, it really added up over the month.
Our transportation costs for the month of July were $459.88. We spent $195.06 for a 3-day car rental to drive down to Pompeii and Rome. Other costs related to the car rental were fuel for a total of $127.07 and tolls for a total of $91.59. One of the reasons we chose Florence was that it was central to many of the other places we had wanted to see in Italy. We wrongly assumed that the train would be a cheap option for transportation. However, after further research we discovered that the train was much more expensive than we anticipated. For example round trip from Florence to Rome would have cost us around $300. Due to this we felt like we could not afford to see several of the places we had originally wanted to and were disappointed.
Our total costs for entertainment were $453.07. I know this was a lot and we definitely splurged in this area. One activity that I have really wanted to do since starting our RTW adventure was to take a cooking class. I had looked at cooking classes while in Paris, but decided that it was just too expensive. So when I came across family cooking classes in Florence, we decided to just go ahead and do it. The class was on the expensive side and unfortunately we did not learn about other possible discounts until after the class. While in Florence Jason also had the opportunity to take a barista class. As we travel Jason has been thinking about what he would like to do once we resettle. One of his ideas is opening up a coffee house, so what better place to learn about the art of coffee than in Italy the birth place of espresso. He really enjoyed the barista class and learned a lot about coffee. Sydney also had the opportunity to take a weeklong art day camp where she got to experiment with several different types of art media and meet other kids. Although these classes added up to a lot, we felt like the splurge was well worth it and would do it again.
Our expenditures in the miscellaneous category were on the high side at $319.68. Miscellaneous expenditures included shipping a box back home of journals and such for a whopping $86.45, purchasing new clothing for Sydney, a new sun hat for me as I had lost mine somewhere in Prague, and haircuts for Jason and I.
Our expenditures for entrance fees were $161.13. This included the entrance fees to Pompeii, Herculaneum, the Duomo, Fiesole Roman Ruins, the Colosseum, and the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum. The only museum that I regretted paying for was the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum in Florence. We had read that it was great for kids, however were sorely disappointed. It was not worth the cost of $24.89.
Our total expenditure for communication was $2.62 for postcards, which were not mailed until August. Costs for stamps will be reflected in our August budget.
- Go to Italy during the off-season as there are fewer crowds, housing is cheaper and it is not as hot. Many of the places in Italy do not have air-conditioning and day after day of 100+ degree weather can be wearing.
- Check transportation costs before deciding on a place as a home base. We had wanted to see several other places in Italy, but found it was just too expensive.
- A budget is just that, a budget. If there is something that is on your must do list then do it and do not miss out on the opportunity.
Overall, we enjoyed our time in Italy. The food and wine was excellent, the people were friendly, and the architecture and history were amazing. However if we had to do this over again, we would not have stayed as long in Florence as we did. After a while, the heat and the hoard of tourists started wearing on us and by the end we were ready to leave.