Seth Kugel of the New York Times is posing a challenge to his readers: Plan a fun-filled, smartly-themed, low-budget 5-day trip to somewhere on the Italian coast. This challenge is part of his larger The Mediterranean on a Budget, his 10 week sojourn at the height of tourist season.
While he admits there really are no 'prizes', he offers the winner: "your name in the column and lunch on me whenever our geographic paths next cross".
Basically, whether or not you've ever been to Italy, live there or have just dreamed of it, he's looking for an itinerary that is replicable by other travelers and you can use any tools at your disposal, including the vast wealth of the Internet.
Here are his guidelines:
I'm not going to set an exact limit, but needless to say, the cheaper the better. Meals over 15 euros ($21) and lodging over 70 euros ($100) a night are strongly discouraged; anything much, much cheaper is strongly encouraged. A rental car is acceptable only if getting around by bus or train or bike or foot is utterly unfeasible.
The trip must start in Naples on a Wednesday, run through Sunday and end somewhere with public transportation. The format is flexible, but should have an introduction, and a day-by-day outline with details on transportation, meals, lodging and activities/attractions whenever possible. Please give pricing details wherever you can, and include Web links and/or phone numbers wherever possible. Also, estimate the total cost of the trip.
Your itinerary can be sent in the body of an e-mail or as a Word attachment -- with links to relevant Web sites wherever possible but NO PHOTOS -- to firstname.lastname@example.org by noon eastern time on Friday, June 3, 2011. Please include "Frugal Italy" in the subject line.
If you have a commercial or financial interest in any of the places you are recommending, let me know.
1) I eat anything and sleep anywhere, as long as it is not hazardous to my short-term health. (Occasional dangers to long-term health, like eating fried food and incurring a sleep deficit by being awakened by roosters at 5 a.m., are permissible.) Like any sane person over the age of 25, however, I prefer private rooms to shared dorms, when possible.
2) Not all specifics need to be spelled out for each day. For example "choose one of the low-budget restaurants around xxxx church" is just fine.
3) Off the beaten path is great, but alternative ways to experience mainstream destinations on a limited budget can be just as good.
4) Have fun, and have me have fun.
To read the whole piece, check out Seth's May 17 column.