Trip to Italy, suggestions?

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conundrum
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Trip to Italy, suggestions?

Post by conundrum » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:48 pm

The family and I are headed to Italy for a couple of weeks this summer. We are going to Rome , Florence, Venice. Any must sees, great places to eat or other suggestions?

Thanks

Drum

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Petrocelli
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Post by Petrocelli » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:59 pm

Drum:

I am leaving for Rome, Florence and Venice on June 24.

Great minds think alike.
Petrocelli (not the real Rico, but just a fan)

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gatorman
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Re: Trip to Italy, suggestions?

Post by gatorman » Wed Jun 03, 2009 6:30 pm

conundrum wrote:The family and I are headed to Italy for a couple of weeks this summer. We are going to Rome , Florence, Venice. Any must sees, great places to eat or other suggestions?

Thanks

Drum
Venice is a great place. you can go to St. Marks and see lots of stuff the Venetians looted from Byzantium, very cool and quite historical. I was there so long ago I couldn't give you a reliable recommendation on a hotel or restaurants, but Rick Steves did a series on Venice not too long ago and I think it would be worth buying. IIRC, he had some out of the way restaurants that looked very good.
Have fun!
gatorman
Last edited by gatorman on Thu Jun 04, 2009 4:59 pm, edited 1 time in total.

conundrum
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Post by conundrum » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:36 pm

gatorman

We just got the Rick Steves series, are looking forward to watching it.

Thanks

Drum

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oneleaf
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Post by oneleaf » Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:52 pm

Getting lost in Venice and eating gelato is the best thing to do in Venice, imo. In Florence, the Uffuzi and Academia are must-sees... better to get a reservation at both before you go.

Also in Florence, the Duomo is awesome... climb up to the dome and get a good look at the almost comically violent final judgement painting.

In Rome, St. Peter's Basilica is one of the most amazing things i've ever seen, and definitely climb to the top and get a good look at the mosaics. Amazing work.

The Vatican museum and Sistine Chapel is great too, though your neck will hurt after 20 minutes of gazing up at the ceiling surrounded by a sea of people.

If you are in Rome long enough, take a trip down to Naples and eat the best pizza in the world, and see the amazing archaelogical museum... take the Circumvesuviano out to Sorrento and Pompeii.

Have fun!

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Steelersfan
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Post by Steelersfan » Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:41 pm

This is an excellent site full of informed opionions on travel all over the world. I selected Italy for you, but you can pick other countries and areas if you want. It's open for all to read, but you have to register (free) to post to ask questions.

http://www.fodors.com/community/europe/italy/

IL Int Med
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Post by IL Int Med » Wed Jun 03, 2009 9:54 pm

You lucky duck!

Go to Tripadvisor.com - lots of good advice and rating there

You can't really go wrong food-wise. I was in Italy for 10 days 2 years ago. I didn't have a single bad meal. Not cheap though.

You are going during high season, so be sure to try to get tickets to the popular sites, such as the Vatican museum, ahead of time. Or you won't get in. We went in March and the line to the Vatican museum was 2 hours long. We wouldn't have gotten in except we had a baby and they let us cut to the front of the line.

Florence is awesome - you can spend a whole week there. Again, get tickets ahead of time during high season.

Eat gelato every day! You can't seem to get the same quality gelato here.

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bearwolf
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Re: Trip to Italy, suggestions?

Post by bearwolf » Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:14 pm

conundrum wrote:The family and I are headed to Italy for a couple of weeks this summer. We are going to Rome , Florence, Venice. Any must sees, great places to eat or other suggestions?

Thanks

Drum
In Rome you will want to see the Vatican, the Coliseum, the Forum, and the Pantheon. There are also tons of other churches, statues, obelisks, fountains, and piazzas to see. We took the bus everywhere, be sure to get a multi-day pass.

BearWolf

biasion
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Post by biasion » Wed Jun 03, 2009 10:27 pm

Veteran Italian here, know my old homeland like the back of my hand north of Rome.

I would say avoid the Roma, Firenze, Venezia schtick. You'll get stuck in the tourist traps. Lots of nice things to see, but very overwhelming and there is a chance of many tourist traps vs taking the countryside route of the little village(s) and being guaranteed to find none. If you've made plans alredy that's one thing, but Italy is so pretty because you can literally sack out anywhere, and something amazingly historical is usually a stone's throw (I mean literally the distance you'd cover hurling a rock with your naked arm from the doorway where you are sleeping, no help from a wrist rocket) away.

Best to pick one place, and then do day trips out of the location. The thing is that if you have a base in the countryside, you avoid the clutter of the cities. You also avoid long car trips which are taxing to pack, re-pack etc.

Can you find some kind of villa or agriturismo at which to stay? Stuff in Toscana is great, Umbria, Le Marche. Don't forget northeastern Italy. The countryside north of Venezia (Veneto) as well as Slavic Italy (Friuli and Giulia or Venezia Giulia) are also incredible. Forays into Croatia reveal many tasty truffles and even better prices, but stay on the coast!

The problem with those big cities is that Italy has had a serious congestion problem the last 10, especially 6 or so years. Everyone got rich, everyone bought 3 cars for themselves, but the road net was never designed to support that. Now add all the tourists, and you're choking. Plus, in more than a few cities megalomaniac mayors may have taken about 50 too many bong hits in the name of the green party (nothing wrong with green, but you have to be real), and closed many main arteries for the sake of replacing them with public transportation. But when they found that by closing the main roads, the cost sky rocketed, they can't get enough power, the electric grid isn't big enough for those trams, and now that the 4 lane main throughway of the city is reduced to 1-2... OUCH.

Best time to go is June or September. Still have good weather, tourist amenities open, but not so jam packed, unless you want to go and hit on all the hot 21 year old Swedish chicks that are swarming all over the place.

Me, got friends, family, cousins and people I know with which to stay which keeps costs low, but try to stay out of big dollar hotels or restaurants. They feed us, let us quaff the wine they buy at 100 liter aliquots with those big casks from that local vitner etc. If you can avoid restaurants, buy the local wine, tour the wineries, and get cold-cuts, local cheeses or delicacies at the supermarket to enjoy at home. Experience much better if you are fluent in Italian as always. Something to try is the "trattoria", which is a more mom and pop, wholesome, fixed menu, cheaper, but actually better quality (albeit less "service and fancy" as Americans are used to restaurants).

And avoid gypsies, street vendors and other illegal immigrant types like the plauge! Not to be racist, there are plenty of crooked Italians too (never buy from anyone not in a store if you don't speak fluently and know what you're doing).

Two things not to miss: proper production Gelato (translation of "produzione propria", which means "made in house", IE, they make the Gelato right there in the locale, it's not industrial) and the real Italian pizza, real thin. Take it just "margherita" with tomato and cheese. My wife and I pine away and fantasize the whole year abou those.

Italy is the best place on earth to spend money. If you're rich, you will have a good time. Problem is that 10 years ago if you were poor in the USA, the Lira was so artificially devalued, but local price controls kept the cost of living so low, that you could live like a rich man on 1000 dollars a month. Now with the Euro, it probably saved Italy from more stagflation, but even locally they have seen prices nearly triple in the last 10 years. What used to cost 10.000 Lira became 10 Euro overnight... but wait, it was supposed to be 2.000 Lira to the 1 Euro. Yes, stagflation. 1 dollar goes WAY farther in the USA than even 1 Euro does in Italy, and wages are generally less there (though tax evasion is rampant, so who knows the real figures). Just pay cash for everything (better price for some corrupt merchants, but again, don't buy stuff unless you know what you're doing) and try not to think of the exchange rate which porks you even more.

Beware speed cameras while driving. South or Rome not too bad, but in the North they are everywhere now. Consider GPS with worldwide speed camera database.

Buona fortuna!

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LH
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Post by LH » Wed Jun 03, 2009 11:13 pm

caprice(capri?) isle was beautiful. The blue grotto was very cool, google the videos of it.

We hiked up the dome of the cathedral in florence, which was amazing.

For venice, there is an island about 5 minutes away by waterbus, which is much less expensive, if not too late, stay there instead for venice trip, I forget the name of it, but its where italians go when they goto venice. Much much much cheaper.

happycamper
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Post by happycamper » Thu Jun 04, 2009 1:30 am

My sister and I were in Roma a few years ago and really enjoyed the walking tour by night as described by Rick Steves in his Italy guidebook. The monuments and fountains are lit and are so beautiful...

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legio XX
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Post by legio XX » Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:01 am

biasion wrote:Veteran Italian here, know my old homeland like the back of my hand north of Rome.

I would say avoid the Roma, Firenze, Venezia schtick. You'll get stuck in the tourist traps. Lots of nice things to see, but very overwhelming and there is a chance of many tourist traps vs taking the countryside route of the little village(s) and being guaranteed to find none.
Hey, I don't have biasion's expertise, but I recommend at least considering the advice. Rome was a lot of fun, I saw some of the main sites, a bunch of minor ones that we historians treasure, I wanna go back eventually, but I don't wanna stay there for long. I spent a few weeks up north in march/April, just to avoid tourist season and summer heat, on a research trip. My work involves tootling through the Apennines, but this time I was east of the Adige, near Verona, Vicenza, Padua. I accidentally found the Youth Hostel in Montagnana - clean, comfy, cheap. In the summer, the hostel has space in the castle itself (Rocca degli Alberi), but if you want more conventional digs, there is another location right outside the walls (Citta Murata). And the walls are intact which is the big attraction. Also, a day trip to the larger cities where a decent room can cost 4 x as much. You can probably get away without a car; my work required roaming around fields where things used to be so I needed wheels, but to see the sites of Padua I just hopped the train.

So, if your situation makes this workable, hit the International Youth Hostel site and check this out. A senior membership in the US is only $18 which you can recoup in a single night!

Vic

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Post by drewmo » Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:34 am

Venice is beautiful and must be seen but the crowds are such that it's incredibly tiring to visit. I had a much better time using Verona as my base point and doing day trips to venice, vicenze and the beautiful countryside. You eat incredibly well in Verona - the same cannot be said for Venice - it's one huge, gilded tourist trap.
As a rule of thumb you will always eat better (and pay less)
in the little villages or in the little back streets where no tourists go.
Beware of pickpockets in Rome! I believe it's on weds that the pope does his weekly outdoor sermon in the Vatican. It's somewhat surreal.
If you have time there's also the lakes region in N. Italy - Como being the most well know. It's always good to ask your hotel receptionist for restaurant tips - I've never been steered wrong by them.
Buono viaggio!

dbonnett
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Post by dbonnett » Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:33 am

How are you travelling?
Tour, train or by rent a car?
The 3 cities mentioned are almost impossible with a car unless you are a savy local.
Tour? Learn the bus routes. Buy tickets at a Tabachhi. Almost all eventually go past the train station. Read menus carefully. Rip off restaurants have both service charges and coppereto.
If you travel by train, shop hotels at bookings.com within 200 metres of the train station and take carry on rolling duffles.
Get the Michelin Green Guide. Rick Steves is entertaining but lacks in depth substance.
Last edited by dbonnett on Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:57 am, edited 1 time in total.


conundrum
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Post by conundrum » Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:15 am

Thanks for all the great advice.

We will be taking the train. We appreciate and agree with the thoughts about countryside vs. Rome/Florence/Venice. This is our kids first trip however and they were excited about the traditional, Rome/Florence/Venice trip. Hopefully the Tuscan countryside, etc. next time.

Drum

paulsiu
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Post by paulsiu » Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:43 am

We went to Italy on our Honeymoon for about 3 week, starting out in Venice (the most romantic) and then made our way to Rome. We actually did Venice, Luca, Siena, road trip through Umbria region, and then Rome. We also stopped in Florence and Pisa.

Here's my impression:

Venice
Venice is as lovely as people say. While it is essentially a big tourist trap, it is very nice one. We walked through different parts of Venice, visited tons of museum and ate various food. In my opinion, food in Venice is often overprice and may be OK. This is especially true in restaurant in the Saint Mark square. Gondular rides are very expensive 100+ Euro or even 130. It was worth it on Honeymoon, but I don't think I'll repeat it again.

Venice can be crowded they tend to be concentrated around St. Mark. You will get terribly lost when you walk around. The streets are narrow and twisted and not numbered logically, but it's lovely to walk from place to place.

There are also various island around. One for glass, one for lace, and even a cementary island. If you have a lot of time, they may be worth a visit. If you do not, then don't bother.

During the Oct or later, Venice may also get flooded. This is not a good time to visit.

Florence
We only did a day trip and visited a few musuem. Frankly, Florence is worth visiting more than a few days, but in the summer the heat is bad and the crowd insane, so we decided to save it for another trip. One item to look at is David. If you want to see it, I suggest you get there real early and get in line.

Rome
The most city like of the places we visited. Cars and vespers zooming everywhere. If you can get a hotel, try to get a hotel near the center of rome. It'll cost you. If you do not, then you'll end up with a hotel near the airport and be at the mercy of a shuttle bus then you have to schedule for transport.

Plan your visit around the musuem. They have different closing days. Call also ahead for schedule since they may decide to close at some weird time period. Reserve the Borghese gallery ahead of time, because you will able to get in. The Borghese gallery is worth a visit due to its collection of statue including the super-impressive Bernini's Apollo and Daphne.

Food around Rome is better than Venice, but not as good as Umbria.

The vatican is definitely worth a day's visit. I suggest getting there early, spend a day there and end at the St. Peter's. St. Peter can get crowded

Avoid crowded buses or you will be pickpocketed.

Stuff to keep in mind:
* Unless you plan to travel from city to city on road trips, avoid getting a car. No cars are allow in Venice, and you'll be nuts to drive in Rome. We took trains except for places in Umbria, Drivers do drive like mad, but are polite compare to the US (they almost always drive on the right and are generally nice about letting you into the lane). This is not true around Rome.
* Most of the B&B we stayed in had no A/C, but the temperature was tolerable even through the hot summer.
* You can get by with english, but keep in mind most people only have 2 years or so of English, so it's enough to buy stuff but may be not enough to have a conversation.
* Prepare to walk a lot. Many of the places have narrow streets and are hilly. Some of the towers have no elevators so you have to walk up 10 flights of stairs.
* You can easily withdraw money from ATM at most places.
* Food tend to be almost always Italian. I was surprise for example to find no Thai place or Chinese in many city. I guess Italians tend not to stray too far from their Cuisine. You can find multiple cuisine in Rome though.
* If you are used to Italian food in American (especially around the east coast), the food you encountered will most likely not be the Italian food you're used to. Majority of our Italian food comes from Naples, which is south of Rome.
* No bare shoulder or midraff at St. Peter and the St. Mark. Bring some coverup if necessary.

dbonnett
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Post by dbonnett » Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:19 am

Unless your children are thrilled by touring old churches and museums and viewing paintings and sculpture expect open revolt.
My children would have stoned me.
Your results may vary
Read hotel reviews on Trip Advisor. Italian air conditioning is not always like ours. Charming hotels in summer can turn into Dante's Inferno.

Disclaimer: I like Italy and the Italians. Within the last year I have made two separate 3-week trips (October & April)
Last edited by dbonnett on Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

calcium
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Post by calcium » Thu Jun 04, 2009 10:52 am

You have a great choice of cities there; I did the same vacation several years back in college and it was amazing, but sadly, I don't remember much.

However, there's a wonderful site that I've used extensively when traveling and that's wikitravel(DOT)org. Sadly, I still can't post links yet, but hope you find it to the site.

Think wikipedia for travelers with recommendations on sleeping accommodations, food, what to see, where to go, trips, transportation, etc. I especially like that they'll tell you what to look out for (scams/thieves) and give you some background on the culture so you know what to expect/how to act.

Have fun!

Valuethinker
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Re: Trip to Italy, suggestions?

Post by Valuethinker » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:16 am

conundrum wrote:The family and I are headed to Italy for a couple of weeks this summer. We are going to Rome , Florence, Venice. Any must sees, great places to eat or other suggestions?

Thanks

Drum
Watch your wallet - pickpockets (often not Italians) especially in crowded places like public transport in Rome (or the Sistine Chapel).

For the Sistine Chapel go way, way early. The queues are insane.

As others have suggested, trying to get out of the big cities is good, as they are all insanely crowded. Don't drive in those cities if you can, as the traffic and the traffic rules are insane. Public transport is a good way to get around (eg for a day trip to Siena, the bus is very good from Florence). we took rail from Venice to Florence which took several hours but was very comfortable.

As others have noted money change places and restaurants can be tricky with extra charges and miscounted change or extra items on the bill-- you do have to watch, any place touristy.

If you like arms and armour, the museo Stibbert in suburban Florence had about the best medieval arms and armour collection I have ever seen (in an old house). Open funny hours, but fantastic.

The most wearing thing about Italy, any place touristy, is the constant crowds. Try to get away from the parish of San Marco in Venice and out towards the Arsenale, take the ferry to some of the smaller islands (Burano the fishing island, not Murano the glass island, Torcello has a lovely church, not much else).

You buy a pass to the water buses, and the cheapest sightseeing in Venice is just to get on the boat, and go round the main island from the train station down to St. Marks, and back. Very beautiful at night.

Florence actually wore me out fast. Yes it's lovely, but 1 million other tourists think so too. Rome is big enough for that many tourists, but Florence is not. You can book tickets for the Uffizi on line though, and you should.

Go early to the big sites, be there when they open, or go late (last hour or two before they close. Most especialy something that is hot and exposed like the Roman Forum and Palapatine Hill.

Be sure everyone has a hat and sunglasses, bottled water. Italy is just sunny. I was in Rome at Christmas and it was blindingly sunny.

Pantheon in Rome is a must see-- probably the oldest continuously used religious building in the world.

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Post by richard » Thu Jun 04, 2009 11:43 am

For a first trip, I'd do a normal guidebook tour. Fodors or Rick Steves or Frommers or whatever. Wander around, especially in Florence and Venice - there are many beautiful small churches, etc.

Tripadvisor is great for picking hotels.

My main advice would be to go off-season, but I realize that won't help the OP. We were in Rome and Florence in January. It was not crowded and there were no lines. Similarly for Venice in November.

Book the Vatican Museum, Uffizi and anything else you can in advance to avoid lines. There are commercial sites that pretend to be official and charge a large markup, so be careful. Fodors and Rick Steves forums are very helpful.

paulsiu
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Post by paulsiu » Thu Jun 04, 2009 12:39 pm

The trouble with Florence is that unlike Rome, it can't absorb a large number of tourist. With a large crowd, it's unbearable.

Rick Steves suggested that Venice is a great place to take kids because it's like an amusement park. I would think it would depend on the kids. At least in Venice, you won't have to worry about being hit by a car like in Rome, and there's virtually little or no crime except for pickpockets. Most Italians also tend to like Children.

In August, a lot of Italians go on vacation, so crowds may actually decrease. However, many stores and restaurants may be close.

Analystic
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Re Venice - Stay in Chioggia

Post by Analystic » Thu Jun 04, 2009 5:18 pm

Make reservations online at the Hotel Bristol.
Best Western Hotels.

I can't get the link to work.

go to bestwestern.com and search

Best Western Hotel Bristol in Soto Marina, Italy

Chioggia is a beach destination for Italians. Very fun and reasonably priced. Take the ferry to St. Marks Square in about and hour 15. Spend the day.
Take the ferry back.

No parking hassle.

More later.
Last edited by Analystic on Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:17 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Disclaimer: I am making all of this up.

biasion
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Post by biasion » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:12 pm

conundrum wrote:Thanks for all the great advice.

We will be taking the train. We appreciate and agree with the thoughts about countryside vs. Rome/Florence/Venice. This is our kids first trip however and they were excited about the traditional, Rome/Florence/Venice trip. Hopefully the Tuscan countryside, etc. next time.

Drum
If you're taking the train, avoid a car. Take the Eurostar if it is more than 25-30 degrees C on the outside temp gauges. That basically means any day from May to September or so because the Eurostar trains are airconditioned. They are more expensive, but Roma to Firenze is a ~3h train trip and you do not want to arrive baked. Firenze to Venezia involves stopping off at Bologna (which is hotter than hell and humid, Africans complain it is too hot... imagine 100% humidity, smog and 40' Centigrade.... at 8:30pm!!!!) for a while, then taking a connector.

If you must do Venezia, a lot of places are too expensive. I have a few good restaurants lying around, but you will be paying more, and seeing less. I would base my Veneto (as in the region, not the city) trips out of Padova, which is <1 hour from venezia. Then, from there, you can take day rail trips to Verona, Vicenza. Padova itself is quite a jewel, don't miss the botanical gardens! Actually Padova is much less touristy and despite Venezia's uniqueness, I liked it better. Vicenza too. The reason why is that while these are real cities wherereal people work, it is more an Italian way of that kind of thing, so you're still surrounded by drop dead gorgeous art (don't miss the paladian/romaneseque theatre in Vicenza or its city hall), this is where real people live and work. What this means to you is no tourist traps, and lots of food.

If you can, perhaps skip the Firenze thing and stay in Fiesole up in the hills above, less crowded, but granted, less central. It's where all of the "toscani" took their honeymoon before the war.

You will definitely need a car to check this one out, but one of Toscana's most beaituful splendors is the province of Siena due to much of it being a "national park". If feels so pristine, no overbuilt industrial complexes, but full of natural beauty.

As far as Roma goes, try to stay in an area called "Trastevere". It's where real romans dine and eat, and far away from the tourist traps. There are people there who might even want to rent or sublet a room for a week (many students). You will not find a McDonald's there, all restaurants will be for real, and you will see how real life feels like in Rome.

Suggested time of year, especially if you'll be outdoors a lot is basically now (and I am actually leaving for Italy within a day's time, HA HAHA HA!!!! YIPPEEEE!!!!!) or Setpember/october.

July/August is when all of Italy and all of the rest of Europe is more on vacation and literally many of these places are so packed with tourists that you do not have room to move your elbow one inch while traipsing the side walks.

If you can, do you have any friends or family or contacts?

Gotta run, my little one screameth. Have much more info of places to suggest. If you'd like, PM me, I'll send you more palces, gotta run!

dbonnett
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Post by dbonnett » Thu Jun 04, 2009 6:30 pm

http://www.venere.com/bandb/venice/band ... nformation

Stayed here in Venice for 4 days. A local neighborhood. Note the bargain price for Venice.
Last edited by dbonnett on Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:27 pm, edited 2 times in total.

johnjtaylorus
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Post by johnjtaylorus » Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:17 pm

If possible, perhaps reschedule Venice for winter. And stop by Florian. My favorite hotel is Danieli.

dbonnett
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Post by dbonnett » Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:26 pm

http://www.venere.com/bandb/florence/ba ... 2#pictures

and here for 8 days in Florence. Close to train and buses everywhere.
Last edited by dbonnett on Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Paul Puckett
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Re: Trip to Italy, suggestions?

Post by Paul Puckett » Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:36 pm

conundrum wrote:The family and I are headed to Italy for a couple of weeks this summer. We are going to Rome , Florence, Venice. Any must sees, great places to eat or other suggestions?

Thanks

Drum
On the west coast of Italy, near Florence, is the Cinque Terre. When you're ready to tire out the kids, and see a great view all day long, take the train or drive from Florence and hike the Italian coast. You will pass through five towns that have not changed that much in a century. We loved it! Google, Cinque Terre, and I'm sure you'll find it!

Best trip I've ever taken, we stayed in a villa overlooking the Mediterranean in Liquria. Unreal food and the espresso, molto bene!

Ciao, Pauli
Money is not your life. It is simply the means to the life that you want.

dbonnett
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Post by dbonnett » Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:38 pm

http://www.hotelgerberrome.com/

The Hotel Gerber in Rome was nice and within a block of the underground (metro) station. Nice neighborhhood location. Stayed a few weeks here. Next time in Rome I would stay in an apartment.

mvm
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Post by mvm » Thu Jun 04, 2009 7:51 pm

never go to italy in the summer. even italians don't go there. LOL.

it's just too darned hot.

RateRace2
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My ideas

Post by RateRace2 » Thu Jun 04, 2009 8:11 pm

We lived in Naples for a couple years and did several trips to all 3 cities. A lot of good advice above. Obviously you will hit at least the top 3 things in each city, so I'll skip those.

First, eat gelato...a lot!

Rome:
- We liked Hotel Colors and Gulliver's Place to stay. Also, renting an apartment worked well for us a couple times.
- I liked some of the restaurants in the Trastevere neighborhood
- If you need to go a long way across town, take a cab. Not to much, and saves some real time.

Venice
- Get the water taxi for the wholetime you are there. You can see much more.

Florence
- Really liked having a glass of wine at Piazzale Michelangelo and looking over the city at sunset. That is a nice walk, and it might be hot when you are there.
- Sunset at Ponte Vecchio
- Get the tickets now for museums!

Alex Frakt
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Post by Alex Frakt » Fri Jun 05, 2009 10:56 am

I spent several days in Venice and while it may be a tourist trap, I still think it's absolutely worth a few days of your time. I stayed at the Pensione Accademia which I highly recommend, although it's probably already booked for the entire summer.

All you have to do to enjoy the city is to get out of the St. Marks/Rialto axis. The crowds disappear and the eating options get cheaper and better. My guess is that the people who dislike Venice spent no more than a day or two and saw nothing outside the few main tourist attractions. Don't spend more than 1/4 of your time in the museums, the city itself is the real attraction and the best way to see it is to get out and walk the convoluted streets - the little bridges over tiny canals, the unexpected openings into local squares, and the architectural elements all around you provide endless delights. You don't need a destination, my wife and I had a great time taking a vaporetto (the public mini-ferries that take the place of buses), hopping off at a spot that looked interesting and attempting to make our way back to the hotel.

Edit: also see this New York Times article: Frugal Venice, Family Style.

dbonnett
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Post by dbonnett » Fri Jun 05, 2009 3:22 pm

http://www.sbb.ch/en/index.htm

The Swiss site is even better than the Italian site for train schedules.

conundrum
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Joined: Sat May 09, 2009 7:00 pm

Post by conundrum » Mon Jun 29, 2009 5:11 pm

Thanks everybody for all the great advice.

We just got back from our trip and had a great time.

Drum

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