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I am traveling to Italy at the end of April/beginning of May and I am traveling alone. I have never been to Europe or traveled anywhere internationally (Canada and Mexico excluded). My flight takes me to Venice from New York (direct) and I will return from Rome to New York (direct). I will stay three nights in Venice, three nights in Florence, and three nights in Rome. I have read advice from many different sites but it appears to be conflicting. I am taking credit and debit cards and plan to pick up some money from an ATM once I get to Venice.

Question: What can I expect going through customs arriving in Venice and what is the best mode of transportation to get from the airport to the Venice Island Piazzale Roma area? Finally, is this area relatively central and safe?

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Welcome to Travel.SE. While your question is very detailed you should break it up because it covers a range of topics which is not really constructive for this site. Please review the FAQ for more guidance on asking good questions. – Karlson Mar 10 '13 at 3:08
    
I apologize for not checking the FAQ first. In the hope of starting on a better track, let's start with Venice and arriving into Italy. – Kristen Mar 10 '13 at 3:25
    
Great. Could you edit your question to narrow down the scope please. :) – Karlson Mar 10 '13 at 3:35
    
Sorry about that - I posted a second question about just Venice to start with. Thanks! – Kristen Mar 10 '13 at 3:42
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for the matter of getting to Venice from the airport, see travel.stackexchange.com/a/3001/46 which lists a number of options – Kate Gregory Mar 10 '13 at 13:45
up vote 10 down vote accepted

I have never been to the USA, so I can't really compare the airport in Venice to any American airport.

The airport in Venice is rather small and organized in a standard way (for Europe and Asia at least). After you arrive, you get to the passport control desk, then you need to find your luggage on the correct conveyor belt. If you have nothing to declare (most probably the case), you can take the green door and arrive in the main hall of the airport (that was customs).

The easiest way to get to Piazzale Roma is by a shuttle bus (20 mins, €6). You can buy tickets inside the terminal (the ticket desk is clearly signposted, if I remember correctly you need to turn left after getting though customs) - they speak English and they do accept credit cards.

If you need money, the only cash machine at the airport I could find is upstairs in the departures area. Note however that it didn't work when I tried it around a month ago. Obviously there are numerous cash machines in Venice itself as well.

Venice is very small, so almost everything seems central in some way. It is very touristy, and feels rather safe. I would guess that pickpockets are the biggest threat, but I didn't have any issues myself.

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There was another cash machine right at the far end of arrivals, instead of turning left to go outside' keep going. This was about 18 months ago though. – dsas Mar 11 '13 at 21:36

I wouldn't worry about airports, since more or less all the ones I've seen (from the smallest to the huge ones) are pretty similar: you get your bags, you go though customs ("nothing to declare" - if you haven't brought a lot of cash / weapons / drugs with you).

I agree that that the easiest way to get to Piazzale Roma is by a shuttle bus. You can find the desks directly in the airport near the exit. You can pay with credit card here, but I wouldn't advice getting money from an ATM: of course if it makes you feel safe not having cash with you at all, this has a meaning, but as I always do when I travel, I bring a couple of hundreds Euro with me (in your case Dollars), and change them in the center of the city I'm visiting (preferring Money-Exchanges without commission and with a good change rate). For bigger expenses I do pay with credit card (the only one not widely accepted in Italy is the American Express).

Thre reason I do not use my country's card to get money from a ATM abroad is that normally you have very high commission costs, plus the change rate is fixed and normally not very good. So if you want to get 100€, you are most probably going to pay 100$ + 6$ commissions + around 5$ bad rate.

Another thing that I normally avoid is changing money directly in the airport: their change rates are the worst and they normally do take commission.

About Venice: it is a quite safe city (I'd say the same about 90% of Italian cities). Of course it is better not to walk around showing to everyone how full your wallet is, but keep your purse closed and don't let it out of your sight. This is just general advice that I would give to anyone going to Venice, Rome, New York, Bangkok and so on... I mean, it is really how you normally protect yourself, even in the safest city.

Piazzale Roma is not quite central, but I agree that almost everything is in reach if you go for a stroll. You can also safely ask for hints on public transportation (even if Venice's is quite expensive) to people there.

About Rome and Florence feel free to tag me in your other questions: I've lived in both cities and can help you a lot.

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I'd argue with you about the cash vs ATM thing. It really does come down to your card and bank. I get a much better rate if I use my card than I will from any tourist money-changers - there's a fixed fee, but that becomes irrelevant if I withdraw a reasonable amount. And if I changed bank accounts I could get an even better deal still. So the advice would be check your bank's rules, rather than anything else. – CMaster Feb 3 at 10:19
    
There is a tremendous variation in bank fees for use of foreign (for me, ex-US) ATMs. It's something I look for closely when deciding where to open accounts. – Andrew Lazarus Feb 3 at 16:17
    
Well with MY card, I can withdraw € without paying a single cent in most countries worldwide... But yeah, it depends always on what card and which bank you have. Mine was a rule of thumb. The OP also stated that she's travelling with credit cards and she wants to pay with them, therefore I expect that she won't be withdrawing a "significant amount"... – Noldor130884 Feb 4 at 7:04

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