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Mad Cow's Italy trip discussion thread


Where should we go for our trip?  

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2 minutes ago, Chemical X said:

I highly recommend guided tours, but peoples' budgets vary.  we used to do group tours, but we have since moved to tours by locals for a private experience.  I am not walking in a group of 25 with my guide carrying a red umbrella....a little more personal is worth the $$ IMO. 

lol I feel ya. I think the max is 15 people for the linked tour and if I recall we had like 8 in ours.

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7 minutes ago, Rick James said:

lol I feel ya. I think the max is 15 people for the linked tour and if I recall we had like 8 in ours.

8 is fine.....I am not poo pooing the group experience, done many of those, but for some extra scrilla we now like to set our time and schedule.  i.e., we have been setting most tours for 11a so we can enjoy breakfast and the morning rather than rushing for a 9.15a experience.  I have been trying to keep my tours to about 3 hours and 200-250USD, preferably less.  They will negotiate price with you a bit. 

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upgraded my vatican trip to breakfast in the belvedere court.  but more importantly, we get in at 8:00.  gonna bolt to the sistine chapel first and work our way backwards.  hopefully it'll be slightly less of a crush of humanity with the head start.  all ducks are in a row!  now, we just need to eat!  anyone have restaurant recommendations for rome?  it'll be our anniversary while we're there.  

 

 

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2 hours ago, DA RAIDERS said:

upgraded my vatican trip to breakfast in the belvedere court.  but more importantly, we get in at 8:00.  gonna bolt to the sistine chapel first and work our way backwards.  hopefully it'll be slightly less of a crush of humanity with the head start.  all ducks are in a row!  now, we just need to eat!  anyone have restaurant recommendations for rome?  it'll be our anniversary while we're there.  

 

 

now, i am no eggspurt, but i dont like the plan.  it takes aboot 1/2 hoor to walk thru the museum to get to the sistine and i am not so sure once you get there that you can reverse, even if you can you will add at least an hoor to your visit.  also, do you have a st peters access?  you can access SP directly from sistine via the hidden door, though you miss the famous staircase.....my .02.

literally a zillion restaurants, but rather than recommend, i can say avoid eating on Main drags, near tourist spots and at places with tourist or prix fixe menus.

our favorites are il giardino romano, la fraschetta di castel san angelo, da enzo 39 and that spaghetteria near the trevi...i need to find the name.

spaghetteria l'archetto-grumpy, a bit rude, credit machine randomly broken, but the menu is crazy with over 100 dishes and finger foods.

tip-be careful if you want to eat outside, smoking allowed outside and you can wind up feeling like you are in an ash tray.

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4 hours ago, Chemical X said:

now, i am no eggspurt, but i dont like the plan.  it takes aboot 1/2 hoor to walk thru the museum to get to the sistine and i am not so sure once you get there that you can reverse, even if you can you will add at least an hoor to your visit.  also, do you have a st peters access?  you can access SP directly from sistine via the hidden door, though you miss the famous staircase.....my .02.

literally a zillion restaurants, but rather than recommend, i can say avoid eating on Main drags, near tourist spots and at places with tourist or prix fixe menus.

our favorites are il giardino romano, la fraschetta di castel san angelo, da enzo 39 and that spaghetteria near the trevi...i need to find the name.

spaghetteria l'archetto-grumpy, a bit rude, credit machine randomly broken, but the menu is crazy with over 100 dishes and finger foods.

tip-be careful if you want to eat outside, smoking allowed outside and you can wind up feeling like you are in an ash tray.

i can definitely reverse my field, i made sure of it.(or more correctly, start over). The main crush of people will not even start to go inside until 9. we go in at 7:15, with the museum opening to us at 8-8:15  i realize i will be doubling back in order to head into st peter's through the SC but am totally fine with that if i get 45 min/an hour with way less people inside.  isn't the staircase to the right when you enter?

 

thx on the restaurants.  i don't mind a good local spot that has prix fixe menu.  the place i recommended to you in paris has one.  you can go ala carte but the prix fixe is a better deal.

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any of guys that included Milan in your recent trips... curious what you thought of it as a destination for tourism? spent a few months there years ago- loved it to live in, but always wondered whether it was worth visiting.

 

been jonesing bad to go back to italy. can't make it happen any time soon, unfortunately.

was looking at a map of tunisia and malta recently and noticed for the first time the islands of Pantelleria, Linosa and Lampedusa, between Sicily and Tunisia. look stunning and makes me jones even more to head that way. I've never been to the amalfi coast- would love to do that and include a trip out to one or some of those islands.

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16 minutes ago, El Floppo said:

any of guys that included Milan in your recent trips... curious what you thought of it as a destination for tourism? spent a few months there years ago- loved it to live in, but always wondered whether it was worth visiting.

I think Milan is way underrated. It's especially a great city to use as a hub. We stayed there and did day trips to Lake Como, Turin and Verona.

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3 hours ago, El Floppo said:

any of guys that included Milan in your recent trips... curious what you thought of it as a destination for tourism? spent a few months there years ago- loved it to live in, but always wondered whether it was worth visiting.

 

been jonesing bad to go back to italy. can't make it happen any time soon, unfortunately.

was looking at a map of tunisia and malta recently and noticed for the first time the islands of Pantelleria, Linosa and Lampedusa, between Sicily and Tunisia. look stunning and makes me jones even more to head that way. I've never been to the amalfi coast- would love to do that and include a trip out to one or some of those islands.

we used Milan as a base for Lake Como...........we went to La Scala and saw the last supper.  they have a nice duomo, but its the financial capital and didn't strike me as having anything significant, though the expo was held there 2 years ago.  from Milan you can take a high speed overnight train directly into paris. 

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2 hours ago, Chemical X said:

we used Milan as a base for Lake Como...........we went to La Scala and saw the last supper.  they have a nice duomo, but its the financial capital and didn't strike me as having anything significant, though the expo was held there 2 years ago.  from Milan you can take a high speed overnight train directly into paris. 

living there, it seemed like the Duomo, the Castello (right up the street from the duomo, and surrounded by a park) and the Galleria were all nice to see- and could be done in half a day... throw in the last supper and it's a day's worth. la scala is awesome... I guess could be done that night to keep it all a 1 day trip. fwiw- one of my top ever meals was at la scala restaurant.

other thing, IMO... and caveat- I lived there 30 years ago (JFC).- there is some great shopping there (fashion and design) that could be done in another day or jammed into the 1 day for full exhaustion. 

and yeah- easy to get to Como and points north. used to go to como almost every weekend when the weather got warm.

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On June 22, 2017 at 10:27 AM, DA RAIDERS said:

i can definitely reverse my field, i made sure of it.(or more correctly, start over). The main crush of people will not even start to go inside until 9. we go in at 7:15, with the museum opening to us at 8-8:15  i realize i will be doubling back in order to head into st peter's through the SC but am totally fine with that if i get 45 min/an hour with way less people inside.  isn't the staircase to the right when you enter?

 

thx on the restaurants.  i don't mind a good local spot that has prix fixe menu.  the place i recommended to you in paris has one.  you can go ala carte but the prix fixe is a better deal.

reminder, no shorts at the vatican or other churches......Also, covered shoulders.

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Or skirts that are too short. My wife wasn't allowed in the Basilica in Assisi because her skirt was too short. She even was scolded by an old creepy woman in Rome, who hauntingly pointed at her skirt while saying "Tooooo shooooort" I still say that to her from time to time, even though it clearly annoys her. And they're not really that short but for the churches, they can be strict.

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I may have an early out from this country, getting me to Italy full time faster.  My wife works for a large global company that provides services to other companies.  Her company's contract is up for renewal at the end of 2018 and she has become quite the VIP on the account.  The firm she works for has essentially told her they will be renewing, since they can't afford to start anew or jeopardize losing her services.  She put a bug in their ear that if/when the contract is renewed (usually for 3 years) the only way she stays on is by relocating to Italy.  The firm's contact didn't blink an eye, only saying she'd need to fly in once quarterly.  They are also a global company and have an area that handles Visas.  Perhaps a mid 2019 move is in the cards, but everything changes if we bring her compensation.  Fingers crossed here as I count down to my Paris death march.

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On 6/26/2017 at 0:33 PM, jamny said:

Or skirts that are too short. My wife wasn't allowed in the Basilica in Assisi because her skirt was too short. She even was scolded by an old creepy woman in Rome, who hauntingly pointed at her skirt while saying "Tooooo shooooort" I still say that to her from time to time, even though it clearly annoys her. And they're not really that short but for the churches, they can be strict.

Santa Maria church in Florence (Duomo) was not allowing people in today showing knees and shoulders, but right next to the guy not allowing people in were three dudes selling shawls for 5 euros. Nice system. 

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4 minutes ago, Chemical X said:

those are the 4 brothers across the arno?

Across the Arno, yes. 4 brothers not so sure. Line out the door every time we walked by. 

Took our pizza and ate at the Piazza Santo Spirito. 

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5 hours ago, Judge Smails said:

Gusta pizza is awesome.  Please get the butter chicken at Trattoria Sostanza

Could not get a reservation there, booked for three days. We are off to see Pisa for a couple of hours and then a quick two night stay in Lucca. 

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6 hours ago, ex-ghost said:

Could not get a reservation there, booked for three days. We are off to see Pisa for a couple of hours and then a quick two night stay in Lucca. 

rent bikes.....also, Lucca lives on the 2nd Floor.

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Pisa was a zoo. Climbed the Tower and took the obligatory holding the Tower up picture.  Bussed in and walked back. Pisa is a nice little place. On to Lucca. Will ride bikes, maybe even geek tandem with the wife. Kids will cringe. 

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Wow, Rome sure is a change of pace from Lucca. Hotter, louder, smellier, faster. So much to see and do, but we find ourselves needing to take longer breaks. As we finish up 2 weeks the kids tolerance for sightseeing gets shorter. 94 degrees does not help, either. 

Saw Sistine Chapel and St Peters this morning. So beautiful. It is really hard to take it all in, still feels like a dreamscape. 

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On 7/1/2017 at 2:25 PM, Chemical X said:

rent bikes.....also, Lucca lives on the 2nd Floor.

Rented bikes for a couple of hours. Nice to do a few laps around Lucca and dip into the city for gelato. Will definitely need to come back and spend more than 2 nights.

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2 hours ago, ex-ghost said:

Rented bikes for a couple of hours. Nice to do a few laps around Lucca and dip into the city for gelato. Will definitely need to come back and spend more than 2 nights.

i am flying tomorrow.....weekend temps may be 99.....thank god my bedroom has an AC.

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We leave next weekend!  Starting to get super stoked!  The hotel offered a car service from fiumincino, so we're doing that.  Everything that we want/need to plan is set up.  Very glad I booked our Vatican/colosseum stuff for the early mornings since it's hot as hades.

 

Now just to pack and buy a few last minute things. :excited:  

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Here's a good list of phrases I put together for my wife. She never learns them but swears she will every time we go.

 

Come sta - How are you

Buongiorno - day time

Buono sera -after 5pm

Buono note - good night

Grazie - thank you

Bene- good

Molto Bene - Very good

Benissimo

Arrivederci - Goodbye

Ciao - Hi or bye

Si - yes

No - no

Prego - you're welcome

Mi scusi - excuse me

Mi dispiace - I'm sorry

Parla inglese - Do you speak English?

Capisce - do you understand? Ka-PEE-sheh

Non capisco - I don't understand

Avanti - come in

Andiamo - let's go

E tutto - That's all

Dove la toeletta - where is the restroom

Per donne - for ladies

Per signori - for men

Quanto costa - how much is it?

Quanto - how much

Quanti - how many

Giorno - day

Settimane - weeks

Un momento, per piacere - one moment, please

Grazie di tutto - thank you for everything

Grazie tante - thanks a lot

Colazione - breakfast (lunch?)

Pranzo - dinner

Grande - large

Piccola - small

Bottiglia - bottle

D'acqua - water

Succo d'arancia - orange juice

Caffe con latte - coffee with milk

Il Conto - bill, check

Il menu - menu - meh-noo

Molto importante - very important

Cose questo - what is this.

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On 6/27/2017 at 1:57 PM, Chemical X said:

I may have an early out from this country, getting me to Italy full time faster.  My wife works for a large global company that provides services to other companies.  Her company's contract is up for renewal at the end of 2018 and she has become quite the VIP on the account.  The firm she works for has essentially told her they will be renewing, since they can't afford to start anew or jeopardize losing her services.  She put a bug in their ear that if/when the contract is renewed (usually for 3 years) the only way she stays on is by relocating to Italy.  The firm's contact didn't blink an eye, only saying she'd need to fly in once quarterly.  They are also a global company and have an area that handles Visas.  Perhaps a mid 2019 move is in the cards, but everything changes if we bring her compensation.  Fingers crossed here as I count down to my Paris death march.

100% jealous.  Some day I want to make this happen....

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4 hours ago, DA RAIDERS said:

We leave next weekend!  Starting to get super stoked!  The hotel offered a car service from fiumincino, so we're doing that.  Everything that we want/need to plan is set up.  Very glad I booked our Vatican/colosseum stuff for the early mornings since it's hot as hades.

 

Now just to pack and buy a few last minute things. :excited:  

Did both of those tours. Vatican at 720am, Colosseum at 1020. Colosseum was a ####### zoo. Make sure you get there at least 30 minutes in advance. Security line took some time. 

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On 7/4/2017 at 5:17 PM, Chemical X said:

i am flying tomorrow.....weekend temps may be 99.....thank god my bedroom has an AC.

 

On 7/4/2017 at 5:38 PM, ex-ghost said:

Yep, hotter than Hades here now. 

You poor souls...

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4 hours ago, gianmarco said:

100% jealous.  Some day I want to make this happen....

I'm the only one of six siblings who hasn't been back to see our Abruzzese famiglia...so yeah, let's make this happen.  I'll owe you one...

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27 minutes ago, ex-ghost said:

Did both of those tours. Vatican at 720am, Colosseum at 1020. Colosseum was a ####### zoo. Make sure you get there at least 30 minutes in advance. Security line took some time. 

good to know.  we are doing the 7:15 vatican and 11 at the colosseum.  i'm a soulless ginger and am considering bringing a tiny travel umbrella just for the colosseum day so i don't die.  worth it?  or just wear a hat?

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8 hours ago, DA RAIDERS said:

good to know.  we are doing the 7:15 vatican and 11 at the colosseum.  i'm a soulless ginger and am considering bringing a tiny travel umbrella just for the colosseum day so i don't die.  worth it?  or just wear a hat?

Lots of people with umbrellas. We had 2 in our backpack, but I could not bring myself to use them. Felt kinda wrong, kinda wussy. I wore a hat with sunscreen and always sought out shade. 

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18 hours ago, DA RAIDERS said:

good to know.  we are doing the 7:15 vatican and 11 at the colosseum.  i'm a soulless ginger and am considering bringing a tiny travel umbrella just for the colosseum day so i don't die.  worth it?  or just wear a hat?

have you seen the brush fires north of Rome?  my wife went skydiving near there today.  thank god the A1 was still open, but I drove thru thick black smoke.

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23 hours ago, jamny said:

Here's a good list of phrases I put together for my wife. She never learns them but swears she will every time we go.

 

Come sta - How are you

Buongiorno - day time

Buono sera -after 5pm

Buono note - good night

Grazie - thank you

Bene- good

Molto Bene - Very good

Benissimo

Arrivederci - Goodbye

Ciao - Hi or bye

Si - yes

No - no

Prego - you're welcome

Mi scusi - excuse me

Mi dispiace - I'm sorry

Parla inglese - Do you speak English?

Capisce - do you understand? Ka-PEE-sheh

Non capisco - I don't understand

Avanti - come in

Andiamo - let's go

E tutto - That's all

Dove la toeletta - where is the restroom

Per donne - for ladies

Per signori - for men

Quanto costa - how much is it?

Quanto - how much

Quanti - how many

Giorno - day

Settimane - weeks

Un momento, per piacere - one moment, please

Grazie di tutto - thank you for everything

Grazie tante - thanks a lot

Colazione - breakfast (lunch?)

Pranzo - dinner

Grande - large

Piccola - small

Bottiglia - bottle

D'acqua - water

Succo d'arancia - orange juice

Caffe con latte - coffee with milk

Il Conto - bill, check

Il menu - menu - meh-noo

Molto importante - very important

Cose questo - what is this.

la colazione-breakfast

il pranzo-lunch

la cena-dinner

il bagno or il toilette

bene for a living being

buono(a) for inademate objects, like food.

i am well-sto bene

it is good- è buono 

questo-this 

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so far so good on my trip.  my place was clean and in great shape.  we went rdu-cdg, then cdg-flr.  cut it close, as only 1 passport guy was open for an entire hall.  at cdg the fun began, like mice we followed the cheese to our gate, sans AC.  then I was forced to check my carryon, which would've fit overhead.  then we took a sweaty bus to the tarmac and sat on a hot plane thru a weather delay.  arrived flr 20 mins late.  then took a bus from the tarmac to the luggage carousel and lost another 30 mins waiting.  then waited for a sweaty bus to get to rental car place, which was from 1937.  instead of a fiat I got a smart car.  mr. smart is not happy with tiny hills or speeds over 80.  some great meals and made it again to the Lamborghini winery, where they have a new restaurant (our first time).  AC in eateries has been poor.  we have sat outside 2 out of 3, but then we deal with bugs and smokers.  Italians love their cigs.

our apt. has an AC in the master bdrm and it has been good, not great daytime; however, at nighttime the temps drop into the 60s and the AC kinda kicks off, so sleeping has been a bit sweaty.  we got a fan and cracked the window and seem to have managed it.  maybe today we hit a small local beach and relax, we have been running around a bit so far.  tomorrow is a wine lunch at avignonesi and then tix to umbria jazz in the evening to see dee dee bridgewater.  have had some great local wines, but last night had a mastroberardino falaghina that was great.  2016.

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23 hours ago, Chemical X said:

was 99 here today, 91 now at 7p....jeebus.  we have a 97 forecast for Rome next Thursday, which is like 117 due to the buildings, pavement and crowds.  

Even the AC has been 90 degrees, thank goodness for the beaches. 

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32 minutes ago, ex-ghost said:

Shout out to the SITA bus drivers on the Amalfi Coast, they have mad skills. Also nerves of steel. 

Excellent. We are spending a week there.  Where are you staying?  We will be in amalfi. We are taking the train to Salerno and then thinking if grabbing the bus to amalfi. Any tips?  Or should we hire a car?  

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24 minutes ago, DA RAIDERS said:

Excellent. We are spending a week there.  Where are you staying?  We will be in amalfi. We are taking the train to Salerno and then thinking if grabbing the bus to amalfi. Any tips?  Or should we hire a car?  

Take the bus, it is no problem. We are staying in Castiglione, about a 25 minute walk to Amalfi. Your bus ride from Salerno ends in Amalfi, probably 75 minutes. We are staying here for a week, too. Leave on Friday. ?

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halfway update, this will be our 7th night at our place with no major issues.  last night went to siena for dinner.  Monday night at umbria jazz was freakin awesome.  first act was an all women all star jazz group.  2 of the names were Allison miller and anet cohen.  not sure of the others right now.  trumpet, bass, piano, drums, clarinet, sax.  they jammed for 2 hours. 

dee dee bridgewater, who I know nothing about played for 2 hours with a Memphis blues band.  some booker t, elvis, al green, Gladys knight, tina turner (I cant stand the rain) covers and her encore was purple rain.  she must be 70 but was as awesome as any act I have ever seen and she had a walking boot on her leg too. 

went to avignosnesi and got 12 more bottles of wine and 6 bottles of balsamic to ship.  found a new winery, brocatelli galli (aka vignablado) and bought 36.  that's enough wine.  our little town has an olive oil cooperative where they press your olives for a fee and sell their own.  we bought 12 one liter cans and shipped those also.  the quality is worth it imo.  wife did some shopping locally.  we have ate outside every night, as the restaurants just don't do AC like we expect.  but its been 70s at night and pleasant to be left alone for 3 hours and enjoy a bottle.

I just made some espresso at home and stuck it in the freezer along with some milk for an afternoon iced Americano.

heading down to rome FCO tomorrow around 11a to ditch car by 1p at airport,  then we do the rome, Florence, paris city hop.  thank god I ditch the car noiw, driving here is hellish sometimes and this smartcar is dumb for a smart car.  also, my gps doesn't stick on the windshield and its been sliding around on me.  not a fan of using the phone, as I need a visual on some of these roads.  I rented with auteuropa and they also rent a wifi key for 9 euros a day.  this has been a highlight, we have had internet at our place and mobile with a great connection on the WIND network.  it is too expensive for me to have permanent internet at my place.  97 tomorrow in rome.  it has been 95+ everyday I have been with.

my new Italian word is SUDATO (sweaty):  Madonna!  Sto molto sudato!  (then make wild hand gestures and fan yourself).

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