Arrivederci A2Kers

Reply Sat 30 May, 2009 10:08 pm
Well, not just yet. But soon!

I'm leaving Friday for a 12 day trip to Italy. I'm going with my oldest friend. We're both turning 50 this summer, and started talking about going on a big trip to celebrate about three years ago.

So we're going to Rome, Florence, & Venice. I know that some of you have travelled to Italy. Any favorite memories/museums/restaurants to tell me about? We're in the final stages of planning, but I'd love to hear about anyone's experiences and what to be sure to see or to avoid.
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Type: Discussion • Score: 20 • Views: 7,372 • Replies: 85
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Reply Sat 30 May, 2009 10:58 pm
no help here, but have fun, and be safe...
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Reply Sat 30 May, 2009 11:04 pm
Ossobuco, eat your heart out!
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Reply Sat 30 May, 2009 11:46 pm
wow, I've been talking about going with my best friend for about a decade. I just turned 50 also.

Time to turn up the fire.

I'm jealous mac, take lots of pictures.
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 01:43 am
What a wonderful way for you & your friend to celebrate your birthdays, mac!

Have a wonderful time. Enjoy yourselves!

It's been a while since I've been to Italy, but I really loved Florence. My favourite Italian city. Nothing in particular to suggest (apart from all the art galleries!), just hoping you love the place as much as I did.
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 03:10 am
mac, Happy birthday.

I was in Rome and Florence many years ago. What memories linger?

The traffic in Rome makes the traffic in NY look like the open highway.
Italian Italian food is different from American Italian food.
The David. That Michelangelo guy could sculpt. I waited until the coast was clear. Then I touched the base of the statue. I wanted to touch what Mike had touched. (Never said I wasn't weird.)
The Sistine Chapel. He could also paint.
The Uffizi.
The Prisoners. These are also sculptures by Mike. They made a lasting impression. They're unfinished, so the figures are not only prisoners in the artist's vision, but they're also prisoners of the stone. You can see chisel marks on these. Tres wonderful. I think they're at the same location as the David.
There are nine zillion (give or take) fake statues of the David around Florence. Accept no substitutes.
The Ponte Vecchio. Do some shopping. I bought some coral beads. Also some mosaic beads and earrings.

Enjoy yourself, kiddo!
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 07:37 am
Wonderful news! I'm glad your plans all came together.

Have a great time, mac.
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 07:41 am
Get to Pompeii for an outing if you can. We went when I was, what, 6 years old. Still makes an impression over 40 years later.
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 08:30 am
What a great way to celebrate, mac! What I love most about Italy is the way of life there. Pre-dinner drinks, espresso, pizza, enjoying being alive, watching the people, the sun...

Oh, yes, Pompeji impressed me very much, too. Rome - I love Rome...

Enjoy it! Cool
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 09:21 am
We've been there when I turned 60 in February.

Well, if you need a rather good, not too expensive and fast meal(actually it is kind of fast food) the restaurant in the Central Station isn't that bad.

I highly recommend the bookshop in the middle in station, especially if you want to get some special books of certain things ... in English (a large English section.

Since you are quite an adventure type: go for meal in the evenings in the San Lorenzo district (buses/trams numbers 3, 19, 71). It's the student district with a couple of really nice restaurants - a few upscale, most 'normal', but all at about half the price you pay in the historic city.

I really recommend doing a sight seeing by the (red, normal) bus line number 110: you even get a reduction on the ticket with the 'Roma Pass' (which I 'highest' recommend as well, since you have not only two free museum tickets included, reductions to other museums etc, free transport on busses, trams but you avoid long queues at museums since there's a special entrance for card holders only at most).

Go to the Vatican Museum in the early morning (and that is meant literally).

When you're in front of St. Per's, turn to the left, pass the car entrance to Vatican City (which gives you an view only few tourist see), and go DOWN in the garage/car park next to Vatican Railway Station: there's a bus stop of some of those small buses you've perhaps by that time already noticed in the historic city. [They might have changed that again by now: then, leave through the exit towards the children hospital, the bus stop is exactly outside. Take a bus up to the top of that hill, which is called Janiculum (Gianicolo in Italian). You can either walk down (which I suggest to do in the dawn!) and/or visit the Orto Botanico dell'Università di Roma "La Sapienza" (which is located there, too) or go/take the bus towards Trastevere (I would go there on a different day - it's really worth seeing, if you want to get an idea about "non-touristic" Rome/Italy).

This webside has some good infos.
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 09:38 am
I have been to Tuscany. Go to some smaller towns in the countryside like San Giminano, Barga. And see some historic cities which have remained 'old' like Sienna, Asissi, Lucca. Perhaps visit a fatoria - a working farm. It will not be what you expect!

What have you planned so far?
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 09:40 am
Buon viaggio, m'amica. Of course I envy you two - on the other hand, I really enjoy hearing about other people's travels.

I don't have many warnings, but I'll try to post right now on them. On what I liked or loved, I'll try to be spare, which will be a challenge. Will post the greats on another post, or maybe more than one.

I've been riffled by zingari a few times. But I haven't gone at tourist season peaks and, at least on the first two trips, was visibly apparent as a tourist amid non-tourists. I don't know how prevalent such thefts are these days. (In Rome, I've read many times to watch your pockets on Bus Route #64). Anyway, for my first two trips I wore either a waistband type or neck hanging packet to keep my credit cards/i.d. and serious money in (I hated both, the waist band type somewhat less); on my last trip, I wore travel smith clothes that have "secret pockets" with zippers. (Or one can devise one's own secret pockets if handy with needle and thread.) This stupidity turned out to be useful on all three trips. I also carried a purse, but with nothing in it I wouldn't mind losing. I wasn't ever in a tour group, which I suppose is protective - don't know if you two will be.
I wouldn't be afraid re all this - don't have your stuff accessible and then don't worry about it. The only person I know to have been hurt by this is a friend who held on to her purse, and thus had her shoulder wrenched, in Firenze. So, that's another point - if it happens, let the purse go bye bye.

If you buy train tickets for Euro Star (the fast train), make sure to reserve the seats. I didn't have a clue this could matter, that a ticket might not mean "a seat by definition" and we stood from Rome to Bologna. That was in '99, may have changed. This may also relate re other train tickets, but other than that one occasion, I've always gotten a seat with no problem... on many trains.
Someone else on a2k may know more about this reserving/not reserving business.

If you make a trip to Ostia Antica (ruins close to Rome near the sea, in Ostia, and you decide to do an overnight, believe them when they tell you the hotels are in Ostia Lido, the next stop from Antica. We wasted time going back and forth. However, we liked Ostia Antica a lot, and the train trip from Rome is not very long - it's easily a day trip.

Long lines don't always mean slow. The mid-day line for gelato or sorbet at Giolitti in Rome - Giolitti, near piazza Montecitorio, is my favorite gelato/pastry/coffee place, hands down - goes very fast, as lines go. If there is a long line, though, they don't want you to tarry in decision making, and at the height of the day there are about sixty types of gelato or sorbets. So, for my first time there, or any popular gelato place, I'd try to go and check it out at some off hour, just to stare at the possibilities. Or maybe there is a list online - I'll see if I can find one.
As for calories, the dollops you get are smallish, full of flavor, and you can get tiny cups. They don't mind people who tarry re decisions when it isn't crowded, that I ever noticed.

In case you are asked when you don't have your passport with you (which can happen, as you leave it with the hotel desk at the beginning of a stay, and they return it) - keep a photo copy with your stuff.

On getting around - I'm guessing you two are walkers, which I highly recommend if one is able. Or, combining local transport and walking a lot.
However, your feet can start to kill you if you walk up to ten miles a day, as I've done. Thus, if you are walkers, bring really really really comfortable walking shoes/walking sandals.

Which brings up taxis, if you find yourself pooped. In Rome (I don't know the taxi situation in Firenze), there are some taxi stands, but not many. Standing and waving at a taxi is said to do you no good at all - you have to call for one, other than going to the taxi park areas (piazza del Populo is one, and there's one just north of piazza Navona, I've read; must be a list online).
Only time I've taken a taxi in Rome, except for one airport trip, was when I had a lonnnnnng day getting to Rome from Viterbo, and hopped a cab at pz. del Populo. It didn't cost that much (then) to cross town to the Aventine hill area where I was staying. (Prices may vary..)

If you take a cab from your hotel to the airport, have the desk clerk ascertain and set the amount of money for you - these can be higher money and people get overcharged. Same for taxis from Termini - prices may vary. From Termini, I've walked or used the Metro instead.

Luggage - less is more. We learned this the hard way. I would consider including two odd things, depending on your needs - one is a cheapo sort of sports duffle that you can fold up when packing and use for return trip if you buy stuff. You can get those there from street hawkers, but we wasted time looking on our first trip. Another - depends on the places you stay - could be one or two plastic hangers.. if only for washing out things in the shower/bathroom. Or, I suppose, one of those travel clotheslines, which I've had but never used.

Sorry for putting the quandary stuff first. More later on delights/restaurants/museums.

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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 10:01 am
(Taxis have meters in these days, but there are -licenced- non-taxi cars, which are a bit cheaper and must be called by phone; they work on a fixed price, mostly. However, public transport really is quite, cheap, and as fast as any other vehicle.)
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 10:03 am
On train schedules, they sell small but dense train schedule booklets at news stands.. I've found them very useful from time to time. Last trip (13 cities) I learned to get a ticket for the next train on my schedule when I was leaving the station after arrival in a city (but that was a very time oriented trip).
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 10:13 am
@Walter Hinteler,
I remember meters then too.. don't think I ever took an unlicensed taxi.
are you saying licensed taxis can be flagged down now?
I agree re public transportation.
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 10:21 am
Well, you both gave yourself a great gift for your 50s birthday! Congratulations
and happy birthday!
There is no bad advice to give, every place you'll go will be charming and will
have a good restaurant with excellent pasta.

Enjoy your trip!
Ciao bella!

Ps. If you get a chance beforehand, you should rent the move "a month by
the lake" with Vanessa Redgrave spending time in Bellagio, Lake Como.
Superb scenery and a good movie!
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 12:31 pm
The Accadamia Gallery at Florence where the actual Michaelangelo David resides, among other treasures (the one in the street is a casting).

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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 12:34 pm
When we drove from the airport downtown (and vice versa), we paid 32 Euros in an "unmarked" (= no taxi sign on the roof, but registered/licenced for transport, on advance booking) instead of about 45.
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 12:47 pm
Ciao, amica!
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Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 01:02 pm
@Walter Hinteler,
Aha, good to know..
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