Conference 2018: Hotel and Transportation

See below also for: Conference Travel FAQ’s

HOTEL FOR THE CORPS DE BALLET INTERNATIONAL 2018 CONFERENCE
FLORENCE, ITALY

Grand Hotel Baglioni

Rates:  Single Occupancy:  153 euro + Tax and City Tax   
Double Occupancy:  173 Euro + Tax & City Tax

To reserve your room/rooms please use the Hotel Website and book under EUROPAVITA for the nights reserved from the July 17th – July 21st (check out on the 22nd)         hotelbaglioni.it

 

If you would like to reserve extra nights to arrive early or leave later, you will need to email the hotel directly because the site will tell them it is not available.            meeting@hotelbaglioni.it

Directions to Florence:

Which Airport should I fly into?

Florence

Typically you will find better rates flying into other airports, but you should always check the rates.

Arriving to the Hotel from this airport:

1)      Taxi – approx. 25 euro

2)      Shuttle leaves every 30 minutes, 6 euro, takes you directly to the Santa Maria Novella Station.  The Hotel is across the street.

Pisa

This is an international Airport and many flights come in through Pisa.  It is very simple and inexpensive to arrive to Florence from Pisa.  The regional train takes 1 hour, costs 8,60 euro and arrives directly at the Santa Maria Novella Station.  Hotel is across the street.  You DO NOT need to purchase this train ticket in advanced.  It is like a bus with no assigned seats or limit of passengers.

Milan

You will need to take a shuttle from the airport to the Main Station (approx. 15 euro), then transfer to a fast train directly to Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station, Hotel is across the street.  You must purchase these tickets ahead of time for best rates.  2.5 hours. Approx 35-65 euro  * See below for details

Rome

Most commonly you will find good rates coming into Rome.  

Arriving to the Hotel from this airport:

1)      There is a fast train that comes to Florence directly from the Airport.  2.5 hours.  Approx.  50-65 euro

2)      Take the Leonardo Express train from the Airport to the main Rome Termini Station.  12 euro (express ticket does not need to be purchased ahead of time). Take fast train to Firenze Santa Maria Novella station.  1 hour 20 minutes.  Approx 25-50 euro.  

Purchase either of these tickets in advanced!  *

Bologna

Only option is with a fast train to Firenze Santa Maria Novella station.  40 minutes.  Approx 25-35 euro

Venice

Only option is with a fast train to Firenze Santa Maria Novella Station.  2.5 hours.  Approx 27-65 euro

Train Tickets *

Price check both of these sites because they are competitors, so you want to find the best rate for that day and time.  For your Florence location you want to book your arrival and departure to the Firenze Santa Maria Novella (SMN) station.  Typically you cannot purchase any sooner than 6 months prior to the travel date.

http://www.trenitalia.com/

This site will show you all of the train times for the fast train (Frecciarossa) and all of the regional trains.  It is not so easy to book the tickets online, but they have many more times on the schedule.

http://www.italotreno.it

This is a new train line.  They are much easier to book the tickets online, but they don’t have as many options on the schedule.

When booking the fast train, you can get all different classes and quality/luxury.  All of the seats on the fast trains are nice, so upgrading is just adding luxury and space.  But they are all nice.  You will  have wifi and air conditioning.

Leonardo Express in Rome

https://www.raileurope.com/european-trains/leonardo-express/how-to-book.html

Train directly from Rome Fiumicino Airport to Firenze

https://www.trainline.eu/train-times/fiumicino-aeroporto-to-firenze-santa-maria-novella?gclid=EAIaIQobChMI176T-bPw1QIVRrobCh0UIgSfEAAYASAAEgIREfD_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds&dclid=CJu7wP2z8NUCFWuoUQodQcoD6w

Conference Travel FAQ’s
TOP FAQ FOR TRAVEL IN ITALY/FLORENCE
1.  Should I get Traveler’s Cheques and how does Tipping work?
No, Traveler’s Cheques have been made redundant by BancoMat (ATM) machines.  The exchange rate is the bank rate and the only fees are what your bank charges for using an out of network machine.  Some banks, such as Bank of America, have sister banks in Italy (BNL) and charge no transaction fees.  Be aware that you can only pull out minimum amounts per day so plan ahead.  The lowest rates on exchanges will be from the ATM, so it is best to get cash once you get here.  If you bring other currencies, you will lose a lot on exchanging it.  Please note that Florence exchange kiosks charge the highest exchange rates in Italy and the banks will not do money exchanges.
Most places will only accept cash.  You can use debit cards for groceries and most large purchases, but you will always want to have cash on hand.  Many taxis are equipped to take a credit cards but not all of them. It is important to ask before getting in the car.
2.  Tipping
Italy used to be considered a “No Tipping” country.  Laws and taxes have changed considerably and have decreased the amount that many workers take home.  For example: on a day excursion the amount the guide is making per hour is around 4,50 after paying taxes.  Tips are appreciated and guides share tips with the drivers. 
3.  Check your passport. 
Italian law requires your passport to be valid at least 3 months after your return flight.  I have had a guest get turned away while boarding.
FYI:  The automatic tourist Visa is good for 90 days and does not require an application.  It is simply the stamp in your passport. Unless you are staying in Italy for more than 90 days, you don’t need to apply for a visa with the Italian Embassy before you arrive in Italy.
4.  Should I purchase my Train tickets ahead of time?
Absolutely! You can save up to 50% on your tickets and sometimes you can ride 1st Class for the price of a regular fare.   Make sure to book on www.Italotreno.it or www.trenitalia.com or you may be paying extra. 
5. What if we are a group and/or want to drive?
Driving can be a wonderful experience and allows you to visit tiny villages and really see the beautiful Tuscan countryside.  It can also be economical but you should go to www.viamichelin.com and calculate your route.  It gives you distance, time and costs of toll roads and gas/benzina.
If renting a car in Florence only rent from the airport pick up point if you are flying in and out of the Florence airport.  It will save you from extra cost to come from the airport.  If you arrive by train, it is better to rent downtown on Via Oggnisanti.  If you have questions about your specific route, you can contact our event coordinator: Heather Evertsen hevertsen@europavita.us
6.  Should we arrange same location drop off from A to B?
This depends on your itinerary.  If you want a car for your whole trip then yes, same location is convenient.  But if you want a car for only point A to B the extra fees are not that high in Italy.  Try to book online and in advance to enjoy discounts and peace of mind. During your time in Florence, you do not need a car and the parking fees can be high.
7.  What about public transportation?
For the busses in Florence, it is best to purchase a single ticket for 1,20 or a 10 for 10 euro pass.   Just always be sure on trains, buses and trams that you validate your ticket!  This way you will enjoy traveling around hassle free.   On busses, you validate AFTER you get on.  On trains you validate BEFORE you get on. (if you have an assigned seat, it is not necessary)
8.  What about phones? Should I get a cell phone in Italy or will my phone work there?
Many people use Skype, What’sApp and Magic Jack via wireless to stay in touch with loved ones and to make travel arrangements without extra fees via tablet devices and smartphones. WhatsApp, is the most reliable and simple to use.
For Data, check your local provider what the international rates. You can purchase an Italian SIM for under 30 euro to give you unlimited DATA, SMS and PHONE CALLS during the time that you are here. So if your local provider has higher rates, this would be a good option.
* For the conference, all communication will be passed through WhatsApp. Connect with Heather Evertsen +39.345.849.0030 to be added to the CORPS group.
Tips for setting up WhatsApp: 1) you must set it up before leaving the US. 2) first, put a contact name with the COUNTRY CODE in your phone contacts. 3) then, find that contact in WhatsApp.
9.  What about packing for the weather and other things?
Pack as light as you can!!!  Traveling through Italy and around Europe, you will be very grateful to have less through public transport.   Florence is built on an old marshland and is notorious for humidity in winter cold and summer heat. Bring light layers that can easily be removed and put back on depending on the weather.  Remember it can be rainy in spring and fall so a raincoat or light poncho does the trick if you do not want to bring an umbrella.   It’s a good idea to pack clothes that you aren’t attached to.  Many people either buy new clothes or more souvenirs that they expected and end up parting with extra clothes when packing to return home.   You won’t regret packing too many disposable items such as snacks, toiletries and what not.  Consider that those items are reserving space in your suitcase for items you are bringing back with you.  Very rarely do people have enough room for all of their treasures they have found along the way, and shipping things back home is NOT recommended.    Taking it home with you will be the most secure, cost efficient (even if you pay for an extra check in item), and prompt way to get your things home.   Hand Sanitizer and baby wipes are very handy.  Many public bathrooms don’t have soap or paper supplies.  You will be glad you have these items, especially if you are traveling with children. Be prepared to pay for using the public bathrooms, so keep some change in your pocket. If you go to a bar, buy a drink THEN ask to use the bathroom. Restaurants usually have a clean bathroom.
Bring comfortable shoes!  You will do a lot of walking.  And for kicks, bring a device that will count how many steps you take in a day.  You’d be surprised and also feel good about yourself!  It helps justify having gelato 3 times a day! 😉  It’s nice to measure how much exercise you get.
Tip: Packing a ziplock bag with the laundry detergent tablets are a very simple and an easy thing to pack.  It will be nice to have with you when you find a chance to do a load of wash
10.  Is Florence a safe city?
Yes, Florence is a very safe city.  Of course you should always use common sense.   But, it is a very safe city where you can relax and enjoy your time.  There is a high level of theft so be mindful of your belongings.  It is very unlikely to get mugged in Florence, you will just find things missing from your bag.  Always keep your bags closed and without outside pockets, or turn them towards your body.   Be mindful of your bags when on crowded busses or trains, ticket lines and distractions when shopping.
11. What is available when I arrive?
In the hotel, the restaurant is open from 12:00 – 2 and 7:30-10:00pm. During those hours the bar in the lobby and on the roof top are also open. The menu is online: www.hotelbaglioni.it
Around the center, restaurants open at 7 pm and usually close at 11:30. At the station (across the street) you can find McDonalds, Burger King and cafe’s open during most hours from 6am – 10pm.