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ITALY REVIEW! Hotels, Florence, Positano, Venice, Renato Cuomo and more....

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Just returned from a 2-week trip for our wedding and honeymoon in Italy. Could not wait to share all (the good and the bad) with the Fodorites!! I broke it down into topics so you can just skim the parts you are interested in. Here we go:

>> FLORENCE WEDDING
With our families in tow, we were married at the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence on September 16. A truly unique experience.. we were married by one of the Vice-Mayors of Florence in the Sala Rossa: a gorgeous, red, tapestry-filled room. W were greeted by shouts of "Buona Fortuna!" and "Bellissima!" as we walked through Piazza della Signoria to take photos. Our reception lunch was at Villa La Massa, a premier hotel which is about a 15 minute drive outside the city. Simply breathtaking with wonderful, friendly service and fantastic food. Our wedding planner was Ben Singleton of Italywddings.com and I highly recommend his services. It is NOT difficult to get married in italy -- just hire a planner. :-)

>> FLORENCE WEATHER
Cool in the mornings/evenings, humid during the day. It was a bit rainy each day, but nothing that hindered our sightseeing. One night there were *torrential* downpours and we experienced a rare blackout!! But, in 20 minutes the lights went back on. A memorable experience for sure.

>> FLORENCE RESTAURANT - 13 GOBBI
We had a pre-wedding dinner here... FANTASTIC. Great decor, awesome food (order the rigatoni!!!) and wonderful service. A lot of locals still go here. Make reservations.

>> FLORENCE HOTEL - RESIDENZA IL VILLINO
What a gem. Sergio and Elizabeth were like our family away from home!! We rented out almost the whole place for us and our families. On my wedding day, Sergio and Elizabeth gave me a gorgeous bouquet of flowers with pepperoncini for good luck. Their warmth and hospitality was overwhelming. Our rooms were immaculate and a great size. A/C worked very well. Breakfast in the courtyard was a highlight!! HIGHLY recommend.

>> RAVELLO - PALAZZO SASSO
Palazzo Sasso is heaven on earth... everything was perfetto!!! Not at all pretentious, but extremey luxurious. It deserves any and every award it has received.

>> POSITANO HOTEL - VILLA ROSA
OK. I might get flamed for this, but here goes. I know this is an online favorite and yes the room service for breakfast is great (the waiter is also quick and nice), and yes the view is outstanding, but I do not think I would stay here again. The terrace outside our 3rd floor room was not "private" -- it is a big terrace divided by bamboo "walls" and we could see and hear our neighbors quite clearly. This was also a security issue for us because anyone could just walk over the bamboo to get to our room. The bathroom was not in great condition (there was masking tape holding together the shower curtain rod). Every time we went downstairs, there was someone new at the front desk, some of which were not very helpful. Overall a good value for dollar, but we won't stay here again.

>> DRIVER - RENATO CUOMO
I do NOT recommend him!!!!!!!!! One of his drivers, Giovanni, picked us up at the Naples train station to take us to Ravello no problem. But a few days later, we were left STRANDED at 6:30 AM in Positano when Renato failed to show up to take us to the Naples Airport for our flight to Venice. I confirmed TWICE via email before our trip, and when we tried to call him for a half an hour in Italy to ask where he was, there was no answer. And, it is VERY HARD to find another car in Positano at 7:00 AM!! And Villa Rosa was no help at all, the guy at the desk barely spoke english and did not seem to care we were going to miss our plane. Lucikly, we ran across to Le Sirenuse and the front desk people were so nice. They called a Positano-based company to come to our rescue and gave us a WILD, FAST, WHITE-KUCKLED RIDE to Naples and we made our flight with only 5 minutes to spare. Bottom line is: do not use Renato Cuomo!

>> VENICE HOTEL - LOCANDA ORSEOLO
Magnificent! Fantastic! A gem!! Our room was like an apartment, with a TV-sitting room on one side and a bedroom on the other. Barbara and Matteo are a class act, they are so warm, kind and genuine and we felt like we left good friends behind. We were greeted by name every day!! After having Matteo's delicious choocolate crepes, my new husband wants to send me to cooking school LOL!! We have nothing but the highest of compliments for Locanda Orseolo. We miss it so much already!!!

>> VENICE WINE BAR - BANCOGIRO
We ate here for 2 out of our 3 nights in Venice. Had a fantastic time... carpaccio was to die for, and we also had a zucchini flan that was phenomenal and a fresh fig dessert that was delicious! Tables are outside overlooking the Grand Canal and there is nothing around it, its the only restauarant in the area. Very secluded and romantic, but we saw many groups eating here too. It is located between the fishmarket and the Rialto Bridge. Many locals go here.

These are just some highlights, I wanted to thank all the Fodorites for answering my questions during the planning process. Our trip was magical and very special. This was my third time to Italy, and I cannot wait to return. If anyone has questions or would like to hear more, please let me know!!

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