Curious Traveler: December

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Passport’s Forum for Letters, Comments, Information, and Anecdotes

-Andrew Werner

ITALY BY TRAIN?

[M]y friends and I are traveling all around Italy this fall, and we are going to try and cover all the main cities such as Rome, Naples, and Venice and not spend too much money. What would you recommend is the best way to get around Italy on a budget?
—Korey, Columbus, OH

Trains have become a very inexpensive and straightforward way to travel within Italy, especially since the introduction of high-speed trains. Italy has two high-speed train lines from Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.com) called Alta Velocità that connect most of the country’s major cities. Depending on the amount of traveling that you’re planning to do in Italy, you can either buy a City-to-City pass or the Country pass. The Frecciarossa is the fastest train at 211 mph, and it connects Turin, Milan, Bologna, Rome, Naples, and Salerno. On the other hand, the Frecciargento connects Rome to cities such as Venice, Verona, Bari, Lecce, Lamezia Terme, and Reggio Calabria. There is also the regular state-operated train that runs across the country, covering large cities and smaller towns. Furthermore, many lines have been approved or are in the process of construction. These up-and-coming projects will replace slower means of travel in order to facilitate and quicken domestic and eventually international rail travel. To find out more about cost and availability, go to www.trenitalia.com.

GAY MARRIAGE = MONEY

My partner and I own and operate a floral shop in Chicago, Illinois. We recently heard about the wonderful impact that legalizing same-sex marriage has had on New York’s economy. Can you provide more information about this?
—Chris, Chicago, IL

New York City recently celebrated the first anniversary of marriage equality. During this short 12-month span, more than 7,000 same-sex couples were issued marriage licenses and 5,000 of those marriages were held in New York’s very own city clerk’s office. As a result of the overwhelming amount of celebrations, same-sex marriages across the city generated $259 million in economic stimuli. This includes everything from the major details like the catering hall, hotel bookings, and traveling fees to the smaller details like floral arrangements, wedding invitations, and gift purchases. Statistics also show that half of the couples included at least one man or woman from out of state. This brought in over 296,000 guest attendees, 200,000 of whom traveled from outside of the city. Is it any wonder why New York City was able to achieve such economic success in such a short period of time? Being that Chicago is a thriving city that supports its LGBT community, we don’t see why it could not reach the same financial success when marriage equality is recognized in the state of Illinois.

CAR RENTAL DILEMMA

It’s been a lifelong dream (literally, we’re nearing 80) for my friend I to go on a European adventure this fall. We have been planning this trip for a long, long time, but seem to have forgotten one minor detail. We are hoping to rent a car in some countries we visit. However, we’re worried about age limits that some countries implement. For senior citizens, what are the general age restrictions for car rental in Europe?
—Janet, Boston, MA

Although it is normal to have a minimum age limit for those who want to rent a car abroad, what some people are unaware of is that there’s maximum age limits in certain countries too. For instance, if you’re planning a trip to Malta, Ireland, or Cyprus in the near future, the maximum age limit is 70 years old. If you are older than 70, what we suggest is getting a letter from a doctor advising the car rental service that you are indeed safe to drive. However, we also recommend that you talk to the car agency before any rental plans are made, just in case there are no exceptions to be made. Expect to show proof of age as well once you go to pick up a car from the agency. Most countries accept a valid passport as a proper form of identification. You will also need your driver license and an International Driving Permit. The American Automobile Association or The National Auto Club makes it easy to obtain an International Driving Permit. Allow a time frame of at least six weeks before heading abroad to get the permit. Different rental car agencies in the US also have varied restrictions for senior citizens. The age cutoff is usually around 70-75 years old. In these circumstances, if you are older than the expected age, we recommend that you shop around at a few different agencies, provide proper insurance that will cover you and the car, and if need be, have your doctor write a letter that ensures the agency that you are a safe and capable driver.

READERS’ REPLY

Michael S. from Charlotte, North Carolina points out yet another amazing resource for any traveler planning a trip to The Queen City.

Because of the Democratic National Convention, all eyes have been on Charlotte as one of the hot new destinations of the south. As you can imagine, I was so thrilled to see you cover my city. Though, I was shocked when there was no mention of Visit Gay Charlotte! In my experience, it’s the go-to online resource with curated tips on dining, nightlife, and special events, as well as newsworthy features about Charlotte’s gay community. www.visitgaycharlotte.com.

If you have a question regarding travel, or would like to share one of your experiences with our readers, please write to us at curious@passportmagazine.net

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