Hello. I'm Peter and I just booked for the transatlantic voyage on Freedom.
I'm a retired trial lawyer, married, with a wife that doesn't care for long sailings. So, I'll be solo this trip. For many years, I made an annual trip to Italy, during this same period.
The weather should be ok most of the time. There is some rain but I only had one trip where it was continuous. Beware though.... the Italians don't use a lot of heat and your rooms might be chilly at night.... especially in So. Italy, where they might not use heat at all.
Shopping? Get ready for a shock. I was last in Italy BEFORE the rise in the Euro and, even then, I found the prices to be staggering compared to the prices in the US or even what I encountered in Italy in previous trips. In Rome, many of the most expensive shops are near the Spanish Steps. They can be very expensive but the clothing is high-style and high quality.
Franco is correct about pick-pockets, especially in the Italian cities. They will not hurt you but they can be tricky. They will set up some diversion, perhaps a young mother screaming, and then their cohorts will work the crowd. Watch your wallet and be very suspicious if some seeming emergency occurs.
I'll be spending a few days in Rome before boarding the ship. I know a nice hotel in a pleasant neighborhood in Rome. Nothing fancy but it is quiet and lovely. It's about a 20 minute bus ride to "downtown." I find that after a day in Rome, I like to retreat to someplace green and quiet.
Looking forward to meeting you folks....