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Trip Report Trip Report:Rome, Florence, Tuscany in December

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First of all, I would like to thank all fodors members who helped me make this trip a success. It was certainly a great, and I loved Italy so much,I could go again several times. Here's my report of my 10 day trip:

My blog link with pictures: https://ashwinbahulkar.wordpress.com/my-travels-2/italy-rome-florence-tuscany/

Highlights:

Sistine Chapel, Raphael rooms and St.Peter’s in Rome. Pretty much all of Vatican.
The Duomo at Florence, especially views from over the Bell Tower, the Vecchio tower and Piazza Michaelangelo.
Views from Castel Angelo.
Siena, literally all of it! The duomo, the towers, the piazza, the town.
The food, well ofcourse.
Tuscan countryside.
Views from the top of domes and towers all over, the St.Peter’s, the Giotto Bell Tower in Florence, the one in Siena.

My 10 day itinerary:

Day 0 to Day 3: Rome

Day 4 and 5: Florence

Day 6: Siena as a day trip from Florence

Day 7: Pisa day trip from Florence

Day 8: San Gimignano day trip from Florence.

Day 9: Half day trip to Montefioralle in Chianti, train to Bologna,an hour in Bologna followed by a flight to Geneva

Some Tips:
Accommodation:

So after every trip I decide I’m done with staying in hostels, but then prices for a single room always so expensive and hostels so cheap, I just end up staying in a dorm.

Rome: Alessandro Downtown Hostel, superclose to Termiini was a vey convenient location to get into and out of the town. Though not the best area to walk back after a long, tiring day( taking a bus is easy though). Was a steal for 15 EUR a night, pretty good dorms and service.

Florence: Veneto Residence, not far from the duomo, was a great location, good dorms, again a steal for 14 EUR a night.

Also stayed at Hotel Montreal for a couple of nights with a friend, which too was a great place for 45 EUR a night for a double room, very close to the station and good service.

Food: This is THE thing to do in Italy, I believe I spent 4 times more on food than I did on accommodation in Italy(which does not mean food is expensive, it means I ate more). I usually found places to eat on Telp, looking for restaurants in the “EE” category. Eating was fantastic, when eating alone I would usually have 2 main courses and a desert, when there were 2 of us, we would have 3 main courses and 2 deserts on an average. We are vegetarians, we ate very well, breakfast too was usually pretty good, eating at local pasticceria’s. And there was atleast one gelato break a day. Plus there were cantuccini’s and biscotti’s to be had on the way. And the oranges, persimmons were great too. So here’s a list of mmy favorite restaurants:

Rome:

Alfredo E Ado Ristorante, San Clementine Ristorante, Ponti(?) for Tiramisu.

Florence:

I Buongustai
La Cantinetta in Borgo
Gusta Pizza
Ristorante Caffagi
Ristorante Zaza
Siene: Osteria Al Grattacielo

Transport:

I pre-booked a Rome- Florence ticket for around 20 EUR for the fat train, it seems there are plenty of sites, some charge a fee, some don’t, some have cheap tickets, some don’t, so one needs to really look before booking. We traveled to all other places around Florence by bus, except Pisa where we took a regional train.

Getting a Sim card: was very easy, went to a stall which said “sim card” at the Termini, got a 20 EUR 5 GB data plan which got activated within 20 minutes or so. All you need is your passport. Connection was pretty neat and fast everywhere I went.

Getting an Italian visa in the United States: well that’s a big hassle, you need loads of documents,(make sure you don’t miss anything!). My trip ended in Geneva where I was visiting a friend , so they wanted me to have an Italy – Geneva ticket while applying for a visa, I got an Easyjet one (and cancelled it immediately, since our plans weren’t finalized in November,you can cancel an Easyjet ticket within 24 hours). So make sure you have tickets if you have plan to go to other countries after Italy. And also have a prepaid USPS envelope if you want your visa delivered to your home.

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