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Mad Cow's Italy trip discussion thread


Where should we go for our trip?  

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On 10/5/2019 at 6:21 PM, bcat01 said:

I've been following this thread and taking notes.  Wife really wants to see Venice and I do too.  Have heard people say you have to see it and others say skip.  We can check it off the list and not go back if we would ever get back too Italy.

We did three nights and loved every bit of it. It does seem to be a love/hate place. We were prepared for the mass of people, enjoyed the evenings when the tour boats left, and got far enough away that the crowds thinned out.

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1 hour ago, ex-ghost said:

We did three nights and loved every bit of it. It does seem to be a love/hate place. We were prepared for the mass of people, enjoyed the evenings when the tour boats left, and got far enough away that the crowds thinned out.

Looking on travel forums it is definitely a place that people either love or hate.

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On 10/2/2019 at 9:47 PM, Chemical X said:

solo trip?

yes on the metro to the duomo.  yellow line towards san donato, 4 stops.  hit a tabaccheria and buy some 75 minute BIT tickets, they come in handy.  Remember, when you use public transportation, validate your ticket in one of those yellow machines.  don’t buy tickets in advance, but do consider a tour like this;

https://www.toursbylocals.com/MilanHighlightsPrivateTour

some other things to consider are the Last Supper, La Scala Theater (i saw an opera there) and a soccer match.  people flip for AC Milan.  eataly milan could be fun.  for kicks, the starbucks reserve roasters is there and has gotten some rave reviews;

https://www.starbucksreserve.com/en-us/locations/milano

Thanks, CX.  

It's the first stop of our honeymoon before moving on to Venice, Florence, Siena, Amalfi Coast, and Rome over 12 nights.  

That takes me to our next stop:  Two nights in Venice.  We'll arrive late from Milan and will likely just sleep the first night.  The next morning we intend to take the Valparetto on the Grand Canal to St Mark's Square to see the Basilica, Bell Tower, and Doge's Palace.  I've read to take pay tours of the basilica and Doge's Palace and that we'll need tickets to climb the bell tower.  Then lunch at Osteria a la Campana (not sure why the Mrs. has that picked out already) before checking out the Underwater Library, Rialto Bridge, and a gondola ride before dinner. 

The next day is a trip to see Burano and Murano before taking the high speed train to Florence.  

Does that all sound alright? 

I'm working up our Florence itinerary and I'm sure will have questions once I'm done.  Thanks again. 

 

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1 hour ago, gianmarco said:

Venice, while frequently poopoo'd, is still worth a visit if you've never been, IMO. Yes, it's filled with tourists, but it's very unique and there are some beautiful spots.

 

Exactly. It's like no other place in the world and should be seen while in Italy, even for just a day or two.

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1 hour ago, Captain Cranks said:

Thanks, CX.  

It's the first stop of our honeymoon before moving on to Venice, Florence, Siena, Amalfi Coast, and Rome over 12 nights.  

That takes me to our next stop:  Two nights in Venice.  We'll arrive late from Milan and will likely just sleep the first night.  The next morning we intend to take the Valparetto on the Grand Canal to St Mark's Square to see the Basilica, Bell Tower, and Doge's Palace.  I've read to take pay tours of the basilica and Doge's Palace and that we'll need tickets to climb the bell tower.  Then lunch at Osteria a la Campana (not sure why the Mrs. has that picked out already) before checking out the Underwater Library, Rialto Bridge, and a gondola ride before dinner. 

The next day is a trip to see Burano and Murano before taking the high speed train to Florence.  

Does that all sound alright? 

I'm working up our Florence itinerary and I'm sure will have questions once I'm done.  Thanks again. 

 

i recommend highly osteria ae sconte for dinner....venice.

Edited by Chemical X
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10 hours ago, Captain Cranks said:

That's coincidental.  We'll be arriving the 15th and staying until the 18th.  Have you been there before?

I'vw been to Italy a few times before, but never any of the cities we hit this time (Milan, Florence, Parma)

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16 hours ago, Captain Cranks said:

Thanks, CX.  

It's the first stop of our honeymoon before moving on to Venice, Florence, Siena, Amalfi Coast, and Rome over 12 nights.  

That takes me to our next stop:  Two nights in Venice.  We'll arrive late from Milan and will likely just sleep the first night.  The next morning we intend to take the Valparetto on the Grand Canal to St Mark's Square to see the Basilica, Bell Tower, and Doge's Palace.  I've read to take pay tours of the basilica and Doge's Palace and that we'll need tickets to climb the bell tower.  Then lunch at Osteria a la Campana (not sure why the Mrs. has that picked out already) before checking out the Underwater Library, Rialto Bridge, and a gondola ride before dinner. 

The next day is a trip to see Burano and Murano before taking the high speed train to Florence.  

Does that all sound alright? 

I'm working up our Florence itinerary and I'm sure will have questions once I'm done.  Thanks again. 

 

You're in Venice, so you're going to do St. Mark's, but we actually preferred Frari.  One of our favorite stops on our trip, probably right up there with Santa Croce in Florence.  Absolutely stunning imo.

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17 hours ago, Captain Cranks said:

Thanks, CX.  

It's the first stop of our honeymoon before moving on to Venice, Florence, Siena, Amalfi Coast, and Rome over 12 nights.  

That takes me to our next stop:  Two nights in Venice.  We'll arrive late from Milan and will likely just sleep the first night.  The next morning we intend to take the Valparetto on the Grand Canal to St Mark's Square to see the Basilica, Bell Tower, and Doge's Palace.  I've read to take pay tours of the basilica and Doge's Palace and that we'll need tickets to climb the bell tower.  Then lunch at Osteria a la Campana (not sure why the Mrs. has that picked out already) before checking out the Underwater Library, Rialto Bridge, and a gondola ride before dinner. 

The next day is a trip to see Burano and Murano before taking the high speed train to Florence.  

Does that all sound alright? 

I'm working up our Florence itinerary and I'm sure will have questions once I'm done.  Thanks again. 

 

All I say is don't be too aggressive by packing days to the brim.  Make sure any tour is 2-2.5 hours max.  You want time to wander, sit, explore, take in the sites.  Burano and Murano, to me, were nothing more than tourist traps.  Most, if not all, items are too expensive to consider buying.  If you're not buying they don't want you there and all you do is take a boat ride and watch some dude blow glass.  I'd rather you go buy a mask and ship it home.  Heck, take a cooking class.  Remember, besides Trenitalia, Italo also offers high speed trains, usually nicer and cheaper.

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19 minutes ago, Chemical X said:

All I say is don't be too aggressive by packing days to the brim.  Make sure any tour is 2-2.5 hours max.  You want time to wander, sit, explore, take in the sites.  Burano and Murano, to me, were nothing more than tourist traps.  Most, if not all, items are too expensive to consider buying.  If you're not buying they don't want you there and all you do is take a boat ride and watch some dude blow glass.  I'd rather you go buy a mask and ship it home.  Heck, take a cooking class.  Remember, besides Trenitalia, Italo also offers high speed trains, usually nicer and cheaper.

Trust me, I'm all for erring on the side of taking it slow.  It's my better half you need to be talking to.  I'll let her know of your feedback though. Maybe it will help.   

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55 minutes ago, Chemical X said:

All I say is don't be too aggressive by packing days to the brim.  Make sure any tour is 2-2.5 hours max.  You want time to wander, sit, explore, take in the sites.  Burano and Murano, to me, were nothing more than tourist traps.  Most, if not all, items are too expensive to consider buying.  If you're not buying they don't want you there and all you do is take a boat ride and watch some dude blow glass.  I'd rather you go buy a mask and ship it home.  Heck, take a cooking class.  Remember, besides Trenitalia, Italo also offers high speed trains, usually nicer and cheaper.

We have to go to Burano to take pictures.  She's an amateur photographer, so that spot is a must.  However, I think I can convince her to skip Murano.  What's your take on La Fenice?

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10 minutes ago, Captain Cranks said:

We have to go to Burano to take pictures.  She's an amateur photographer, so that spot is a must.  However, I think I can convince her to skip Murano.  What's your take on La Fenice?

La Fenice to visit or to see an actual opera?  I've not been, but I would put it on my list.  If you are truly major art lovers, there is a Guggenheim museum there that is well stocked and supposedly very nice.  I think its near S Marco.  Also, do not eat or drink anything near any tourist site.  They try to rip off tourists big time.

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7 minutes ago, Chemical X said:

La Fenice to visit or to see an actual opera?  I've not been, but I would put it on my list.  If you are truly major art lovers, there is a Guggenheim museum there that is well stocked and supposedly very nice.  I think its near S Marco.  Also, do not eat or drink anything near any tourist site.  They try to rip off tourists big time.

It would just be to take a tour of the opera house.  I'm hoping to avoid any art spots until we get to Florence where I imagine we'll be getting our fill.  

Thanks for the tip on the eating.  It confirms what I"ve read at other sites that suggest to venture away from the main tourist spots to find better restaurants. 

I was reading through the beginning of this thread last night and found your restaurant suggestion for Rome (Spaghetteria L' Archetto).  Do you have a favorite spot in Venice?  

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6 minutes ago, Captain Cranks said:

It would just be to take a tour of the opera house.  I'm hoping to avoid any art spots until we get to Florence where I imagine we'll be getting our fill.  

Thanks for the tip on the eating.  It confirms what I"ve read at other sites that suggest to venture away from the main tourist spots to find better restaurants. 

I was reading through the beginning of this thread last night and found your restaurant suggestion for Rome (Spaghetteria L' Archetto).  Do you have a favorite spot in Venice?  

You really can't go wrong with a meal in Italy, but Ae Sconte is a favorite of ours.  If you want to go over the top, outlandishly fancy, I would suggest The Met Restaurant in The Metropole Hotel.  They are totally different experiences.  One is an Osteria, the other a hyper fancy, technical Michelin starred restaurant.  But the Met brought out items and techniques we flipped for.  Opulence.  Depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  In Rome, we love L'Archetto, but we've found some more recent highlights, especially in Trastevere.  L'Archetto is great to visit the Trevi late and sneak over for a simple meal.  La Fraschetta Di Castel Sant' Angelo is a new haunt of ours.  Down home, comfortable, unpretentious.  I would also venture to Trastevere and if you want a burger, find a Fonzie the Burger's house.  We hit the one in the Ghetto.  Its Kosher, so no cheese and closed for the Sabbath, but damn, it was so hole in the wall awesome.  They spoke English and have fries, onion rings, schnitzel, vegan and vegetarian options for an easy breezy meal.  Remember, Italians eat late.  They tend to arrive after 9p for meals, so if you want Pizza or a Burger your sweet spot may be 7-8p. 

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21 hours ago, Chemical X said:

You really can't go wrong with a meal in Italy, but Ae Sconte is a favorite of ours.  If you want to go over the top, outlandishly fancy, I would suggest The Met Restaurant in The Metropole Hotel.  They are totally different experiences.  One is an Osteria, the other a hyper fancy, technical Michelin starred restaurant.  But the Met brought out items and techniques we flipped for.  Opulence.  Depends on what you are trying to accomplish.  In Rome, we love L'Archetto, but we've found some more recent highlights, especially in Trastevere.  L'Archetto is great to visit the Trevi late and sneak over for a simple meal.  La Fraschetta Di Castel Sant' Angelo is a new haunt of ours.  Down home, comfortable, unpretentious.  I would also venture to Trastevere and if you want a burger, find a Fonzie the Burger's house.  We hit the one in the Ghetto.  Its Kosher, so no cheese and closed for the Sabbath, but damn, it was so hole in the wall awesome.  They spoke English and have fries, onion rings, schnitzel, vegan and vegetarian options for an easy breezy meal.  Remember, Italians eat late.  They tend to arrive after 9p for meals, so if you want Pizza or a Burger your sweet spot may be 7-8p. 

As far as clothing, and packing in general, we're going to be over there for two weeks.  I'm thinking about packing just 4 or 5 outfits and hoping we can find a way to wash our clothes over there.  I don't want to be hauling a #### ton of stuff all around the country.  Is this the right way to do it?

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23 minutes ago, Captain Cranks said:

As far as clothing, and packing in general, we're going to be over there for two weeks.  I'm thinking about packing just 4 or 5 outfits and hoping we can find a way to wash our clothes over there.  I don't want to be hauling a #### ton of stuff all around the country.  Is this the right way to do it?

I did the same, but made sure that our airbnbs had a washing machine.

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1 hour ago, Captain Cranks said:

As far as clothing, and packing in general, we're going to be over there for two weeks.  I'm thinking about packing just 4 or 5 outfits and hoping we can find a way to wash our clothes over there.  I don't want to be hauling a #### ton of stuff all around the country.  Is this the right way to do it?

So, it depends on your goal with baggage.  Our situation is different since we have clothing there, but, whenever we travel, we now bring carryon only.  Helps us avoid potential lost baggage and waits at the baggage carousel.  Time is time is money IMO.  You can get away with limited pants options and rotate tops.  Even if your BnB doesn't have laundry, many hotels will.  Also, you can find a local lavanderia to wash if need be.  I highly recommend the pack light option if you can pull it off.

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I've laid the groundwork for packing only carry-ons.  I was packing my carry-on and she says, "that's all we're packing?!"  I said, "that's all I'm packing. It would be great if you tried to do the same. I'm hearing horror stories about people not getting their luggage."  

Separate questions. I just called Chase bank and told them I'll be in Italy for a couple of weeks. Before I hung up they said there would be foreign transaction fees on money taken out that's not U.S. dollars.  What's the most economical way to get Euros?

Also, we decided to skip an overnight in Amalfi and instead stay another day in Tuscany.  Right now we're scheduled to be in Florence for 3 nights and then Siena for 2 nights.  What's a nice, easy to travel to by train town in wine country we could hit after Siena?

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Captain Cranks said:

I've laid the groundwork for packing only carry-ons.  I was packing my carry-on and she says, "that's all we're packing?!"  I said, "that's all I'm packing. It would be great if you tried to do the same. I'm hearing horror stories about people not getting their luggage."  

Separate questions. I just called Chase bank and told them I'll be in Italy for a couple of weeks. Before I hung up they said there would be foreign transaction fees on money taken out that's not U.S. dollars.  What's the most economical way to get Euros?

Also, we decided to skip an overnight in Amalfi and instead stay another day in Tuscany.  Right now we're scheduled to be in Florence for 3 nights and then Siena for 2 nights.  What's a nice, easy to travel to by train town in wine country we could hit after Siena?

 

 

 

after siena, where are you headed?  which direction would be helpful.....

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The restaurants near the main tourist sites in Venice do over-charge, but do you.  I probably paid 50 Euros between wine and coffee at Cafe Florian in St. Mark’s Square one night, but I’ve certainly spent that much in USD equivalent on much less memorable things than drinking wine while listening to dueling orchestras playing Vivaldi, or something similar, in the moonlight of a mostly empty, picturesque square on what may or may not be a once-in-a-lifetime trip.

(Could just stand in the square and listen the orchestras without ordering drinks at the restaurant if you don’t want to pay, but being able to sit and sip wine added to the experience for me.)

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20 minutes ago, Captain Cranks said:

Headed to Rome from Siena.  

So, Siena’s train station doesn’t really do much.  I suggest you go back to S Maria Novella Stazione in Florence and take the train to either Montepulciano  or Orvieto.  If you go to Montepulciano, tell your wife you can have a fantastic tour and amazing lunch at Avignonesi Winery!  

https://www.avignonesi.it/grand-experience/

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16 hours ago, Captain Cranks said:

I've laid the groundwork for packing only carry-ons.  I was packing my carry-on and she says, "that's all we're packing?!"  I said, "that's all I'm packing. It would be great if you tried to do the same. I'm hearing horror stories about people not getting their luggage."  

Separate questions. I just called Chase bank and told them I'll be in Italy for a couple of weeks. Before I hung up they said there would be foreign transaction fees on money taken out that's not U.S. dollars.  What's the most economical way to get Euros?

Also, we decided to skip an overnight in Amalfi and instead stay another day in Tuscany.  Right now we're scheduled to be in Florence for 3 nights and then Siena for 2 nights.  What's a nice, easy to travel to by train town in wine country we could hit after Siena?

 

 

 

As far as foreign currency goes, you should acquire a CC that offers no foreign transaction fees.  They are plentiful.  You could then use the card to find a local, in network ATM in Italy to withdraw cash.  If you don't mind paying the vig, I order euros from Bank of America before I go.  The mark it usually .06 per dollar, but with the exchange rate around 1.09 now, they'll charge you 1.15/1 likely, its not significant enough to make you sad IMO.  That said, go get a card or check your current cards for no foreign transaction fees.

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12 hours ago, Chemical X said:

So, Siena’s train station doesn’t really do much.  I suggest you go back to S Maria Novella Stazione in Florence and take the train to either Montepulciano  or Orvieto.  If you go to Montepulciano, tell your wife you can have a fantastic tour and amazing lunch at Avignonesi Winery!  

https://www.avignonesi.it/grand-experience/

What's your take on San Gimignano?  It looks like it could just be a bus trip from the Siena train station.

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On 9/13/2019 at 2:54 PM, PlayaHata said:

My wife turns 50 in April and it looks like an Italy trip is in the works.  A very tentative itinerary at this point is 3 nights in Venice followed by 4-5 nights in Rome.  My wife is in the travel industry so we'll be using hotel points (likely Marriott) for most all of our stays.  So if you have any Marriott hotels to suggest, please throw them out there.

We have both been to Italy twice, but both times single day stops on Mediterranean cruises (Rome x2, Florence x2, Amalfi Coast x2).  We've at least hit most of the main touristy things in those places.  This trip we're looking to slow it down a little and take our time exploring sans kids.  We will definitely be doing the Vatican Necropolis though because my wife hasn't done it yet and I think it's a must.  Beyond that, we're pretty open at this point.

Based on the past 8-10 pages, it sounds like Trastevere is a good area to stay in Rome?  The food tour that's been mentioned a few times seems right up our alley, so I'll probably book that.

Venice doesn't seem to get much hype here either, so maybe I can try to convince the wife to only do 1-2 days there and then consider somewhere else (Florence or Tuscany or Positano or Cinque Terre?) for a few days as 3rd stop.  We'll likely be taking the train in between places rather than renting a car if that matters at all.  I haven't even looked at a map yet to see how far apart these are.  It's not unthinkable that we might be able to expand out to maybe 10-12 nights in Italy either so I'm open to suggestions with regards to itinerary.

I'll definitely read through more of the older posts this weekend.  Love the thread so far!

 

 

Fwiw - stayed at hotel “47” across river from Trastevere. Was reasonable -  Not sure of hotel affiliation, if any.  Marriott does have some Euro brands like Le Meridien. Was able to walk to pantheon, Spanish steps, coliseum, even Vatican, and obviously Trastevere. Easy to grab taxi if you need.Enjoy!!!

Edited by Phil Elliott
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On 9/9/2019 at 7:10 PM, Chemical X said:

sorry i missed this.  there are so many places to stay in that area, even florence, pienza and montepulciano are close.  i can only say i’ve stayed at castello di spaltenna.  to us, it was pretty awesome.  isolated, but within walking distance of a small village called gaiole in chianti.  highly recommend a lunch at bar ucci in volpaia if you can get there.  if you go to siena, we’ve become great friends with a restaurant owner and i would highly recommend sotto le fonti, outside the walls, for an awesome evening.  that area also has the overhyped cecchini in panzano.  recommend his butcher shop, but the dinner experience is pretty meh.

So the Castello di Spaltenna looks beautiful, recommended by both @Chemical X and @Phil Elliott ... thanks!  Their family suite would work great for our group of 4.

Our current itinerary has us arriving Rome FCO @ 7am on Sunday.  It sounds nice to go to start off with a relaxing stay in the countryside (Spaltenna) for a couple of nights, making easy day trips to places like Avignonesi and Siena, etc. before we tackle the larger cities (Florence & Rome) later in the trip.

My question - if staying @ Spaltenna, is it easy to get a car to/from Florence or to/from Siena?  What about getting back to Spaltenna after a dinner @ Sotto le Fonti in Siena?  If Spaltenna is too rural to find transportation, we either need to think about renting a car or just staying somewhere a little closer to Siena.

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11 hours ago, Boulder Toads said:

So the Castello di Spaltenna looks beautiful, recommended by both @Chemical X and @Phil Elliott ... thanks!  Their family suite would work great for our group of 4.

Our current itinerary has us arriving Rome FCO @ 7am on Sunday.  It sounds nice to go to start off with a relaxing stay in the countryside (Spaltenna) for a couple of nights, making easy day trips to places like Avignonesi and Siena, etc. before we tackle the larger cities (Florence & Rome) later in the trip.

My question - if staying @ Spaltenna, is it easy to get a car to/from Florence or to/from Siena?  What about getting back to Spaltenna after a dinner @ Sotto le Fonti in Siena?  If Spaltenna is too rural to find transportation, we either need to think about renting a car or just staying somewhere a little closer to Siena.

Rent a car. We drove from Florence. Had no problem making day trips to various places in Tuscany, including Sienna and driving back in the evening. Very little traffic on roads and we were there in May. They have an excellent breakfast. Can sit outside if weather is nice. Very friendly staff,including the bartender. There is an excellent little cafe in Radda in Chianti,  called Wine Bar La Cantina di Colle Bereto along the main road that we stopped at several days on our day trips. Great inexpensive wine and nice food on outdoor patio. We dropped car off in Arezzo and grabbed train to Rome. Enjoy!

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Wrapping up five lovely days in Florence, heading to Parma tomorrow. we didn't do much, just wandered the streets filled with buildings that were hundreds of years old. Stayed 500m or so from the Duomo in one of them, rented through airbnb. Weather was fab. Just a wonderful time.

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On ‎10‎/‎13‎/‎2019 at 10:27 PM, Boulder Toads said:

So the Castello di Spaltenna looks beautiful, recommended by both @Chemical X and @Phil Elliott ... thanks!  Their family suite would work great for our group of 4.

Our current itinerary has us arriving Rome FCO @ 7am on Sunday.  It sounds nice to go to start off with a relaxing stay in the countryside (Spaltenna) for a couple of nights, making easy day trips to places like Avignonesi and Siena, etc. before we tackle the larger cities (Florence & Rome) later in the trip.

My question - if staying @ Spaltenna, is it easy to get a car to/from Florence or to/from Siena?  What about getting back to Spaltenna after a dinner @ Sotto le Fonti in Siena?  If Spaltenna is too rural to find transportation, we either need to think about renting a car or just staying somewhere a little closer to Siena.

I almost think you need to rent a car for at least a portion of the trip, especially if you are staying outside a major city.  Siena, Florence, Rome all obviously have transportation, so no vehicle needed, but if staying at Spaltenna, you need something.  Its about 45 mins from Spaltenna to Siena and over an hour to Florence.  But, the ride from Siena to Spaltenna is one that can make you blow chunks, at night its dark and curvy like crazy.  After dinner at Sotto Le Fonte, Britta has called a cab for friends, so I suspect you can taxi to Spaltenna.  My best advise, if staying at Spaltenna first, is to grab a car at FCO and drive there.  Up the A1 it should be about 2.5 hours I think.  If you arrive at 7a remember, car rentals open at 7a exactly.  So, if you are early, they wont be open.  But arriving at 7a gives you plenty of time to enjoy the ride and maybe make a side trip on the way up.  Orvieto is along the A1 and worthy of time.  Along the route there are numerous AutoChefs and ChefExpresses, basically restaurant/bars within gas stations off the highway as you head outside of Rome going North.  You can stop, go in for a pastry and coffee or two and zip back up.  I always rent from www.autoeuropa.it  Make sure its not .com and not autoeurope.  AutoEuropa has great automatic vehicles and I've never had a rental issue.  Use the car while at Spaltenna then you can drop it off at the Florence airport and take a taxi into Florence.  Then go public in Florence and Rome.  You can drive from Spaltenna to all your hidden destinations, maybe even get Assisi on the menu.  Perugia is nice and has the Perugina chocolate factory there too for tours.  From Spaltenna to Siena, you could hire a tour driver for the day and make sure they drive you to tour Siena and stay the evening while you have dinner.  Just some random ideas.  I like seeing you have Avignonesi on the schedule.  The tour and lunch is amazing.

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On 10/15/2019 at 9:08 AM, msommer said:

Wrapping up five lovely days in Florence, heading to Parma tomorrow. we didn't do much, just wandered the streets filled with buildings that were hundreds of years old. Stayed 500m or so from the Duomo in one of them, rented through airbnb. Weather was fab. Just a wonderful time.

Leaving in two days- excited to wander the city.....

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2 hours ago, 3 hour lunch said:

Leaving in two days- excited to wander the city.....

It's pretty chaotic. The pavements are narrow, people walk and stop randomly, change directions, jump tp avoid being run over by electrical cabs, etc. There are queues for every tourist attraction (except when it rains).

When we left that and came to Parma we all fell in love with that city. Super nice place to change gears again

This not to say Florence is not great. It was. Parma just felt like a place you could stay. My oldest daughter even started researching how she could transfer to study there when we'd walked around downtown for about 45 minutes

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Just got back from about 3 weeks there, 2 week tour and 1 week on our own.

Every stop was great - Milan, Como, Venice, Florence, Amalfi Coast and Rome.

The Amalfi Coast was a pleasant surprise since that was the area where I had done the least research. Beautiful weather only emphasized the stunning scenery there.

Como was as beautiful as I had heard. We took a boat to Bellagio and also took the funicular to the small town Brunate which had great views.

I was amazed how expansive the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill was in Rome. It just goes and goes, with tons of ruins to see and eventually ends up at the Colosseum.

Took a side trip from Milan to the upper part of Bergamo and that was a pretty town with an interesting history. 

Crazy driving there in Rome! I'm glad we took public transportation or cabs.

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10 hours ago, msommer said:

It's pretty chaotic. The pavements are narrow, people walk and stop randomly, change directions, jump tp avoid being run over by electrical cabs, etc. There are queues for every tourist attraction (except when it rains).

When we left that and came to Parma we all fell in love with that city. Super nice place to change gears again

This not to say Florence is not great. It was. Parma just felt like a place you could stay. My oldest daughter even started researching how she could transfer to study there when we'd walked around downtown for about 45 minutes

Thanks for the info. Should be interesting trying to walk the few blocks from the train station to our hotel with our (carry on sized) roller bags. What tourist attractions are you referring to? We are doing a museum tour and have Duomo tickets already so can at least bypass some of that. Although, not sure with the Duomo tickets if we still need to stand in line to get into the whole area.....

Never looked into Parma, maybe next trip!

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1 hour ago, Mr. Mojo said:

Just got back from about 3 weeks there, 2 week tour and 1 week on our own.

Every stop was great - Milan, Como, Venice, Florence, Amalfi Coast and Rome.

The Amalfi Coast was a pleasant surprise since that was the area where I had done the least research. Beautiful weather only emphasized the stunning scenery there.

Como was as beautiful as I had heard. We took a boat to Bellagio and also took the funicular to the small town Brunate which had great views.

I was amazed how expansive the Roman Forum/Palatine Hill was in Rome. It just goes and goes, with tons of ruins to see and eventually ends up at the Colosseum.

Took a side trip from Milan to the upper part of Bergamo and that was a pretty town with an interesting history. 

Crazy driving there in Rome! I'm glad we took public transportation or cabs.

Would you say the Forum area is must hit? We do have night tour of Colloseum booked. We are doing Amalfi coast too- looks awesome!

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26 minutes ago, 3 hour lunch said:

Would you say the Forum area is must hit? We do have night tour of Colloseum booked. We are doing Amalfi coast too- looks awesome!

Yes, it is a must for Rome, along with Colosseum and Pantheon.

We also saw the San Sebastian catacombs and Castle Santa Angelo, and while both were very interesting, I would rate the Forum/Palatine higher.

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8 hours ago, Mr. Mojo said:

Yes, it is a must for Rome, along with Colosseum and Pantheon.

We also saw the San Sebastian catacombs and Castle Santa Angelo, and while both were very interesting, I would rate the Forum/Palatine higher.

So how walkable is that whole area? Hard to get a sense for how far apart the Trevi fountain, Forum, Pantheon and Vatican are. 

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23 minutes ago, 3 hour lunch said:

So how walkable is that whole area? Hard to get a sense for how far apart the Trevi fountain, Forum, Pantheon and Vatican are. 

Spanish Steps to Trevi to Pantheon to Piazza Navona is a nice walk, with each landmark broken up by a 10 min or so (if not stopping) stretch of seeing other interesting people, places and things. Perfect to do some afternoon at an easy pace, stopping for drinks here and there along the way. From Navona its about a mile to Vatican. Forum/Colosseum are a little bit out of the way relative to all of the others mentioned, but not too far.

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14 hours ago, 3 hour lunch said:

Thanks for the info. Should be interesting trying to walk the few blocks from the train station to our hotel with our (carry on sized) roller bags. What tourist attractions are you referring to? We are doing a museum tour and have Duomo tickets already so can at least bypass some of that. Although, not sure with the Duomo tickets if we still need to stand in line to get into the whole area.....

Never looked into Parma, maybe next trip!

Massive queues at all the Duomo's entrances all days except the rainy one and at the Museum that shows the original "David" that we noticed. Really crowded everywhere close to Ponte Vecchio when we were there just before sunset.

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9 hours ago, Nigel said:

Spanish Steps to Trevi to Pantheon to Piazza Navona is a nice walk, with each landmark broken up by a 10 min or so (if not stopping) stretch of seeing other interesting people, places and things. Perfect to do some afternoon at an easy pace, stopping for drinks here and there along the way. From Navona its about a mile to Vatican. Forum/Colosseum are a little bit out of the way relative to all of the others mentioned, but not too far.

This.

To get an idea, go to Google Maps and add each point with walking directions.  As described it's a nice little circle.

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20 hours ago, Nigel said:

Spanish Steps to Trevi to Pantheon to Piazza Navona is a nice walk, with each landmark broken up by a 10 min or so (if not stopping) stretch of seeing other interesting people, places and things. Perfect to do some afternoon at an easy pace, stopping for drinks here and there along the way. From Navona its about a mile to Vatican. Forum/Colosseum are a little bit out of the way relative to all of the others mentioned, but not too far.

forum and colosseo are on their own mostly.  what we like to do is walk the majors, ending at the spanish steps, from there you can take the metro towards the vatican to either cipro or ottaviano.  the colloseo does have a metro stop.

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