Letters: Bus ride to a costly surprise

My husband and I recently undertook a tour of Italy. We booked the first-class premium tour and prepaid the gratuities.

The brochures we had been sent initially outlined all that we would see and do on the trip and nominated the meals that were included. There was no mention of extra charges. We received our travel documents on the Friday before our Monday departure, and discovered that the "all we would see and do" component of the trip was nothing more than a bus ride past the said attraction and a substantial extra cost if we wanted to actually visit that site.

How much did the extra charges add to our trip? About $2000. Our fellow travellers from various parts of Australia and the US were also caught. There was little point in complaining to the tour guide, as it wasn't his doing. He became very upset when most of us refused to pay the exorbitant extra charges to attend the tour attractions he had organised. I contacted our travel agent on our return and was advised to send my letter of complaint to her and she would follow it up with the tour company. I am yet to receive a reply.

- Glenda Fisher

Manhattan options

I use airbnb.com to find accommodation in New York City (Traveller Letters, February 25-26). On the airbnb website, be sure to check the reviews of the advertiser; that may reassure you of its legitimacy. Plus, airbnb holds your payment in escrow until your stay is complete.

- Mona Meighan

Ten days well spent

I stayed in an apartment on East 51st street for 10 days, having booked with nyhabitat.com. The company has a great catalogue of apartments, and stays are cheaper than a hotel room of comparable quality.

- Trish Smith

Good enough for friends

We have rented apartments in NYC several times using AtHomeUs and have been very happy. We referred friends to this company and they were also very satisfied. The company promptly responds to queries and will give you a number of suggestions if you tell them what you are looking for. I will use them every time I go to New York.

- Jane Copeland

Monsters on the line

The "monster" fish that Jeremy Wade describes (Traveller, February 18-19) are magnificent creatures that have evolved to survive and thrive in their natural environment. That's in contrast to human monsters who invade others' territories to pursue "an eccentric pastime", willingly drawn by "their sport's appeal".

- Paul Mahony

Aeolian summers

I laughed with delight when I saw the article on the Aeolian island of Filicudi (Traveller, February 18-19). I never thought many tourists would venture to this tiny island, unless they were a descendant of someone who had emigrated from there. I am a descendant, have spent many summers on Filicudi and the story as published was perfect.

In the late 1980s, Filicudi's Saloon bar was owned by an elderly gentleman called Triolo. He never wore shoes, had teeth like the 10 commandments - all broken - and everything cost 1000 lire, no matter what it was you purchased. We would sit out front of the bar, play cards, people-watch and swear regularly at each other in the dialect.

I was there when the island got the power connected, in 1989. Until then living there was a primitive existence, albeit one with gorgeous waters for swimming and mesmerising views. The island is best explored by foot.

PS: Mythology has it that witches were banished to Filicudi, way up in the hills.

- Robert Ficarra

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