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Arrivederci A2Kers

 
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 01:28 pm

Osso is right, the pickpockets are the best, and very skilful at diverting your attention for that fateful second.
Be aware, take precautions.

Having said that, I'm envious! And I wish I was going. Have a great time!
0 Replies
 
Eva
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 01:50 pm
Oh wow, mac! What a great idea! I am so envious!

Are you going with a tour group, or will you be on your own? (Tour groups have some real advantages.)

If you'll be on your own, I second what littlek said. Some of the smaller towns are must-sees: Siena, Pisa and Ravenna spring to mind immediately, but there are many others as well. Siena is very close to Florence, and Pisa isn't far from there, either. Ravenna (if you want to see unbelievable mosaics) is on the way to Venice.

Rome has so many wonderful sights, you couldn't see them all if you spent a month there. But definitely don't miss St. Peter's, the Vatican Museums (incl. Sistine Chapel...say hello to your former avatar!), the Pantheon and the Forum. Throw a coin (or two or three) in the Trevi Fountain. Visit one of the catacomb sites if you have time...extremely interesting.

Florence has wonderful churches, including the red-brick-domed Cathedral, the famous Baptistry (and its doors), and don't miss Santa Croce (Giotto frescos, tombs of Michelangelo, Galileo, etc.) Buy leather, stationery & gold jewelry in Florence. The Accademia and the Uffizi (say hello to my avatar, first yours) are don't-miss museums.

Venice (sigh!)...sit in the outdoor seating at Caffe Florian in St. Mark's Square, order a glass of Pinot Grigio, and enjoy the incomparable sights. Listen to the sounds of a city without traffic. It's the only place in the world you can do that. Visit the cathedral, the Doge's Palace, splurge on a gondola ride up the Grand Canal. Buy affordable and exquisite handmade books on the Rialto Bridge at a tiny shop (Rivoaltus) that has been there forever. Buy Murano glass and Burano lace.

Food? It's all wonderful. Eat al fresco whenever you can. Pizzas are thin-crust and individually sized. Gelato is everywhere. Pasta is almost always handmade. They serve Coke with a slice of lemon. Beware of the coffee...it's extremely strong. Eat a small breakfast...a big, late lunch (it will have to hold you a long time...take a nap in the afternoon (the shops close then anyway)...then a verrrrrrry long, late dinner with several courses.

Oh...and the last tip?

Let someone else do the driving. Shocked
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 03:14 pm
@Eva,
I'm supposed to be gardening, but..


My favorites (I won't list my skips, we're all different with places we most appreciated, and that's a sign of the richness..)

I can't remember if you're been to Italy before, Mac - I'm thinking so but not sure.

Anyway - Rome:

* Four churches - out of many -
Sant'Andrea del Quirinale - by Bernini
San Carlo Borromeo - by Borromini
They're adjacent, with S. Carlo being at the intersection of via Quattro Fontane and via del Quirinale - not far from Piazza Barberini, walking.
Two jewel boxes of distinguished architecture. Be aware churches are often closed at siesta time, and open after it.

Santa Maria del Populo - with a Rafael chapel and a Caravaggio, a loved old church on the pz del Populo. Might be a miss, since it is recently part of the Dan Brown da Vinci code hoohah. I'd substitute then some of the other churches with Caravaggios.

One that was hard for me to get into, only open at some odd times - Sant' Ivo by Borromini. Totally elegant..

Oh, wait, a fifth, the church built over a church over a mithras temple, San Clemente;

And, oh, sixth, I enjoyed the church right by the Pantheon, Santa Maria della sopra Minerva (built over temple to Isis).


*Favorite building/favorite spiritual place - the Pantheon/the Pantheon in the rain

*Favorite gallery by far - Galleria Doria Pamphilj - best to go at earlyish morning, it closes (chiuso! chiuso!!) at 1 pm. I doubt it's open after siesta, not sure

* Favorite pizza - at a place called La Focaccia very near the entry to Sta. Maria della Pace.

* Favorite gelato/pastry/coffee place - Giolitti, on via di Uffizi Vicario. Tucked in a small street by pz. Montecitorio, follow the people coming at you with ice cream cones. The street is on some but not all maps. ( the big expensive more finely tuned ones.
Many other gelato places.. The Frugal Travel has a favorite, back with a link on that later.

* Favorite piazza - Piazza dei Mattei, in the ghetto area, great to find it by surprise, has a splendid fountain featuring turtles..
Well, that vies with Campo dei Fiori.. and I guess C. dei Fiori wins. Go in the early or mid morning..
* next favorite - Pz. Navona, early morning..
* next favorite - Piazza San Pietro, by Bernini, in front of St. Peter's. I strongly favor seeing it for the first time NOT by walking down via Conciliazione, where you face it head on for some blocks, but from the side streets, where the place is a "surprise" after walking through the great columns. This is easily done if one takes the metro and gets off at the Ottaviano station.

* Favorite food - the antipasti at many restaurants; carciofi alla romana; carciofi alla giudea, pizza (the one previously mentioned, and another at Pizzeria Archetto called "pizza vesuviana" - arrives at table puffy and steaming, filled with scrambled eggs and (stuff).

Hard to say about restaurants. Being me, I've done scads of research before my trips - and ended up eating at what was nearby when I/we were hungry.
That said, I'd avoid a lot of restaurants near tourist sites with tourist lists of dishes showing in the menus that are usually placed behind glass at the front of restaurants/trattorias. I think it's smart to familiarize yourself with some names, in case you end up nearby one of them when you're hungry.

Consider looking these cities up on Chowhound. Venice, for example, has been famed for not great food, but I've read about some wonderful places there - but don't have the names saved. Wonderful not being the same as expensive, at least necessarily.

Enough for now..

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 03:21 pm
@ossobuco,
Eh, I skipped a lot - back after a while.
edgarblythe
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 03:27 pm
Have a great time. How I envy you.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 03:42 pm

When the moon hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie?

That's amore.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 03:48 pm
I had to add this:
Butrflynet
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 04:10 pm
@ossobuco,
She'll be back from the garden a lot sooner now. We're having a brief rainstorm with lightning and thunder.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 04:14 pm
A little walking music -

0 Replies
 
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 04:15 pm
@Butrflynet,
Hah, I did the dishes instead...

I have to temper my posts, too much to say, trying not to be obnoxious.
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 04:24 pm
@ossobuco,
Have no idea if this is the best version - but I used to play this, in a Dorati cd, I think.

ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 04:29 pm
@ossobuco,
I don't remember where Boccelli is from, but the album is Romanza..
This has many schniffs from people who know excellent opera voices, but is a sentimental favorite of some of the rest of us.




ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 04:37 pm
@ossobuco,
And for general airplane flying over clouds -

a little Bernstein and Mendelssohn, Italian Symphony part 1




ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 04:44 pm
@ossobuco,
On Lucio Dalla -
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lucio_Dalla

Fbaezer added his Caruso to the A2k favorites thread, early on..
0 Replies
 
mac11
 
  1  
Reply Sun 31 May, 2009 11:06 pm
Thank you all for your good advice and well wishes! I'm taking lots of notes.

I have been to Italy before; I was there in 1993 with a tour group. In each of the cities we're going to, I missed one or more major sites so I'm thrilled to be going back. The Uffizi was closed due to a bombing a few months before I was there in '93, so that's top of my list in Florence. I didn't mind missing that or other places because then I knew I had to go back some day.

My friend, S, and I did a lot of research and talked about the kind of trip we wanted to take. We found a compromise between a tour group and being completely on our own. Globus Tours has an "independent tour" program - they arranged our air travel, hotels, travel between cities on the Eurostar train, transfers to and from hotels. There's a "local host" on call, if you need him.There's also a half day city tour in each city which includes:
In Rome - Vatican, Basilica, Forum, Colosseum.
In Florence - Academia for David & Prisoners, Duomo, Signoria Square.
In Venice - Piazzo San Marco, Basilica, Doge's Palace, glass-blowing.

Other than that, we're on our own and we each have lists of must-sees and want-to-sees which we've been winnowing down. We both are art lovers and music lovers and are very interested in shopping.

We are going a day early to be sure to have a time for a day trip to Pompeii out of Rome. It made a big impression on me too, jes.

Eva, I'll be sure to greet both our avatars. My mom always said that I look like the Delphic Sibyl. (Mom was an art teacher and not a bit impartial.) She was absolutely thrilled with our trip plans. I distracted/entertained her many times by giving her updates on our research and planning. She was a veteran traveller - I think she went to Italy 10 or 12 times.

I have a money belt, some euros to get started, and broken-in shoes. My suitcase isn't packed yet, but I'm a thorough list-maker, and will get packing on Wednesday.
margo
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 01:49 am
@mac11,
I went to Italy for my big birthday 2 years ago.

Have a wonderful time. I lovedf Venice - we were there for a week and still didn't see enough.

Waiting on stories when you return.
0 Replies
 
McTag
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 02:06 am
@jespah,

All you Calabrese do the mambo like-a crazy!
0 Replies
 
Roberta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 03:25 am
@mac11,
mac11 wrote:


We are going a day early to be sure to have a time for a day trip to Pompeii out of Rome. It made a big impression on me too, jes.



Me too. A haunting memory.

You are one organized planner, mac. Tres impressive. I wish you a good, safe, fun trip. And I'm looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back.
0 Replies
 
jespah
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 03:44 am
Yay Pompeii! And yay organization (hey, lists make me excited, what can I tell ya?)!

Oh you're going to have a blast. Smile
ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Mon 1 Jun, 2009 11:58 am
@jespah,
Yayy for all your decisions, Mac, they sound quite smart.

I've thought of a few more bits about Rome, and will be back on Florence and Venice later today, probably less of a scattered bath of stuff, or maybe not.

(another list person)
 

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