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A month in northern Italy: Mountains, Lakes and Castles

A month in northern Italy: Mountains, Lakes and Castles

Old Oct 9th, 2015, 10:20 AM
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Monday, July 27, 2015 - 32C - Asolo and San Marino.

We drove to <b>Asolo</b> from Bassano, about a half hour, easy, well signed drive. Obvious parking garage just before the ZTL sign. Very high tech – a camera snaps your license plate as you drive in and times it, then when you go to leave it tells you how much you owe, you pay the machine and get a receipt but all you do is drive out, the camera knows you paid.

Five minute walk to the town gate. Nice town for sure, but not all that special. Certainly worth the hour round trip detour if you are already in Bassano and have a car, but I don’t think it would really be worth trying to get there by public transportation from say Padua. You can take a train from Padua to Bassano (about hourly, takes an hour – so Bassano would definitely worth it) but then you’d have to connect to a bus to Asolo, and then reverse for the return. Asolo isn’t that wonderful.

But the town certainly is pretty, with a slightly different sort of run-down-yet-still-prosperous charm. You can walk the main streets in half an hour. The smaller castle just past the main piazza was closed. There is another castle much further up a hill that we didn’t attempt to get to. Spent a total of about 1½ hours there, but we walked up and down the same street a few times.

From Asolo we drove to our next destination, San Marino. Since we didn’t WANT to get to San Marino until at least 5pm (when hopefully some of the day trippers would have left) we planned to stop in the little town of Brisighella. It certainly looked easy on the map, we took what I’m sure is the correct exit off the autostrada, but never found signs for it and eventually gave up. It was here that we discovered that we had apparently run out of data on our SIM card. Perhaps with GPS we might have found it. But it was getting late enough so we just pushed on to San Marino.

<b>Hotel Rosa, San Marino</b> – Really nice little hotel in an excellent location, with parking, once you know where it is. Google maps and reviews on line were partly helpful. Here’s the drill. Drive up to San Marino center till you get to parking lot 6. This is smack outside the main town gate. Don’t plan to arrive till at least 3-4pm or it will be full and you really want to park in this lot. Once you get a space you need to pay at the meter for about an hour’s worth. Then walk through the gate and past a few stores and turn right at the first possible ‘street’ (via Lapicidi Marni), follow the sign to the Museo delle Cere (torture/wax museum) around the corner and you’ll see it. When you check in they will give you (for 4.50€, half the regular price) a card to stick in your windshield that will be good till the following day at noon. (You’ll need another one for each additional 24 hours you stay). The hotel has a few spaces to park right next to it but you can’t drive to the hotel until after 7pm and need to be back out before 10am, and there’s really no need to.

The hotel itself is very nice, fairly large rooms, modern inside, nice bathroom, great wi-fi, lift, TV, breakfast was pretty dismal, there was some fresh fruit and the usual yogurt, juice, cereal, the cappuccino was quite good, but the bread/pastry selection was terrible.

They hotel gave us a ‘discount’ card that is quite valuable. It gets you into both the Towers, the Pallazo Publica, and a couple museums for a total of 7.50€ where as they are individually €4.50. It saved us over €10 each and we didn’t even do the museums. It also gives you 10% or more discount in stores. Unfortunately the man at check in didn’t speak any English so while he gave us the cards and indicated they were for ‘discounts’ he really didn’t explain where or how much. Once we found out it was a great deal.

<b>San Marino</b> – Fantastic! This is right up there with the Blue Grotto in Capri as places I loved but almost didn’t go to because people said they were just tourist traps. This is a <b>UNESCO World Heritage site</b> and it’s worth it. The fact that it’s an independent republic and has a lot of history is just icing on the cake, not the reason you go, but a fun bit of trivia. The reasons you go are: 1) It’s a beautiful little city with beautiful, historic buildings and very interesting tower/castles, and 2) it has a drop dead gorgeous setting with views out to the Adriatic (even across to Croatia on a clear day) and back into the Apennine mountains. 360 degree views, really breath taking. Yes, it has a busloads of tourists between about 11 am and 6 pm, so it’s not very pleasant then.

The best way to do a trip to San Marino is to schedule two days at a hotel within the historic center, arrive after 4pm the first. See it then and the following morning till about 11. Then do a day trip (San Leo is great) and get back around 4pm. Leave the following morning before 11am. It’s much nicer in the evening and early morning.

The streets are lined with shops, mostly selling jewelry, watches, sunglasses, handbags, perfume and guns. This is a two edged sword. On the one hand they certainly do detract from the ambiance there would be without them. On the other hand, if you are in the market for any of those things, the prices are great – at least 25% or more below elsewhere in Italy.
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Old Oct 9th, 2015, 11:57 AM
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Isabel, we've just caught your report, as we're catching up our journal from our own recent trip to Central Europe.
Your report is so descriptive, making it very interesting. We love the areas you visited. We need to re-visit the Valle d'Aosta, as we had very inclement weather there a few years back. But just last year we spent almost a month in the Alps, and loved the Dolomites. Your TR brings back such great memories. Thanks for posting!
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Old Oct 9th, 2015, 08:19 PM
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Hi Isabel,

Enjoyed reading about your day in Bassano del Grappa! Thanks for the detailed account. It sounds like my husband & I have chosen the right town as our home base in the Veneto.

We are booked at the Hotel Brennero. Private parking and easy access in & out of town are pluses for us. As well, it is nice to have the option of taking the car or train out on day trips.

We look forward to trying a few sips of grappa, too!
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Old Oct 11th, 2015, 04:39 AM
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I think you will like Bassano, I'll probably go back and use it as a base. It just has a very nice 'feel' to it that's hard to describe. And while I didn't visit any of the Veneto on this trip, it is one of my favorite parts of Italy, I've done several trips to the region and will certainly do more.

tom - I do love that Trip Reports help bring back good travel memories - for both the writer and the reader.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015 - 35C <b>San Marino continuted</b>

We went out right after breakfast. Virtually no tourists. At the Palazzo Publicia we discovered the San Marino pass and got it. The Palazzo has a beautiful entry area with an impressive stone staircase. Upstairs is a large room where the San Marino government meets, great wall fresco. I’m not sure it would be worth the individual fee of €4.5 since that is all there is, but as part of the pass it was worth the few minutes it takes to see it.

The First Tower (La Rocca Guaita, or Rocca Maggiore) is the largest and the best. It’s not huge as castles go but it has a wall enclosing a large courtyard where costumed interpreters are going about their medieval business, grinding grain, making cooking fires, etc. A couple of guys were demonstrating sword fighting and other forms of medieval weaponry. There’s a small chapel in the courtyard, and then access to the main tower. Inside are prisons, upstairs are several rooms, again with costumed interpreters in both a dining room and a ‘ladies’ bed chamber. It was explained that all the things that medieval women did were on display – sewing/embroidery, make-up table, prayer area (they prayed several times a day), a cradle for the baby, and chests to hold clothing, and the bed. The bed is shorter than today’s beds, not just because people were smaller then, but because they slept partially sitting up since laying flat is the position of death and therefore you didn’t sleep that way. Then there’s the smaller, yet higher, tower.

On the ground floor was a guy with chain mail and breast plates, etc. We had a nice discussion about how windy it was in San Marino. There was a ladder like staircase up to the tower. It started with fairly wide wood steps but the top three rungs were thin metal bars and were at least 18” apart. But what a view. And my god it was so windy I was almost scared I’d blow off. Overall, one of the ‘best’ castle experiences I’ve had (and I’ve had a lot). The Second Tower (La Cesta) is not quite as interesting but the views, especially of the first tower, are just fabulous. The interior is a museum of weaponry. The path between the two towers has incredible views of both towers and the countryside out to the Adriatic. There is a third tower, quite a bit further down a path, but it is not open to the public.

We left San Marino around 11am, just as the hoards of day trippers were arriving, for our day trip to San Leo.
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Old Oct 11th, 2015, 04:41 AM
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<b>San Leo</b> is an easy half hour drive, very well sign-posted all the way. A map or gps would just be confusing, just follow the signs. Slightly unusual for an Italian hill town is the fact that you do drive through the main gate and part of the historic center to the parking lot (all well signed). Parking meter, pay for as long as you think you’ll need. The setting of San Leo is almost as good as San Marino, high on a hilltop with views of San Marino and the countryside and distant mountains.

There are a couple of nice old Romanesque churches, one little piazza with a dry fountain, and a couple of streets with just a smattering of restaurants, one gelateria, and a few shops. One of the shops, down near the picturesque town gate (that we drove through) is a ceramics shop. The proprietor, who is the potter, was working in his shop, painting intricate designs on a plate. He spoke very little English but Geo was able to ask him how long it took to paint a plate like that and he said five days. His stuff was gorgeous and incredibly inexpensive. So I left with three nice pieces. He doesn’t take credit cards but there’s a handy bank machine directly across the street. Love the fact that they have an old stone step to get you high enough to reach the modern ATM.

The main event in San Leo is the Fortress. There does seem to be a car access road but it was gated off and we wanted to walk up anyway. Quite steep but it’s shaded and only takes 10-15 minutes. Huge fortress (€9). Just gigantic. More incredible views of San Marino and the countryside. And countless rooms, halls, chambers, dungeons, tower rooms. Some of it is slightly fixed up as it would have been when the dukes of Urbino lived there, most of it was empty, there was a torture exhibit. We spent a couple hours there, it just went on an on and there were terraces with even better views than the one before. Had a picnic lunch up there. Followed by ice cream at a little café.
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Old Oct 15th, 2015, 08:08 AM
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Wednesday, July 29, - 35C We left San Marino and it was an easy 45 minute drive to <b>Gradara</b>, well sign posted including signs directing you to the parking lots. We drove through the town as high as we could go (past numerous empty parking lots -10am on a Wednesday in July, all the other lots were empty) and easily found space in the lot right outside the town wall (1.50€/hour). The walls are pretty impressive from the outside, crenelated with many large square towers.

There is a really nice, tall clock tower which forms the main gate into the walled village (which is very tiny, just one really short street). Then there are more walls and a gate to the castle itself (€5 for both castle and walls). The castle is certainly nice but it’s not really outstanding. It was built in the 12th and 13th centuries but completely remodeled in recent times. It just doesn’t have that ‘something’ that many other medieval castles have. The main courtyard is somewhat picturesque but devoid of anything interesting and not very large. There are numerous rooms, most are furnished, primarily as bedrooms, a few frescoes. But no other areas – no kitchens, castle yards, etc. Many people find the castle interesting because of the legend and literature associated with it. Supposedly this was where, in the 13th century, Francesca da Rimini committed adultery with Paolo da Malatesta, her husband’s brother. The lovers were killed for their transgression and later consigned to hell by Dante – he meets their spirits in Canto V of the Inferno. Inside the castle is a room decked out as the scene of the crime, with a refurbished four poster bed, fake wall hangings and a book stand with two chairs – Francesca tells Dante in hell that it was while reading the story of Lancelot and Guinevere that she and Paolo first succumbed to their passion. It is also here that Lucrezia Borgia bent to the wishes of her scheming father, Pope Alexander VI, only to see her unhappy marriages end in poisonous combinations. Other than this mildly interesting trivia, the castle itself I felt was just kind of ‘lackluster’.

To access the walk along the walls you enter next to the clock tower. It’s not terribly high, has a wood railing, only goes half way around, and while there are nice views of the hills, the views to the Adriatic are of modern sprawl.
I think it was worth the price and the hour or so we spent since we were driving right by it anyway. I’d say it was ‘average’. Maybe I’ve been to too many castles (ABC syndrome – ‘another bloody castle’).

It was another easy 45 minute drive, well sign-posted to <b>Urbino</b>. Except we couldn’t find the hotel. This is where GPS would probably have been very helpful but unfortunately we ran out of data the other day and hadn’t found a TIM store to get more. We had to resort to the old fashioned way and stop at a gas station and ask. Having a pretty detailed google map that I had printed out to show the guy so he could point out where we were helped, and understanding a few Italian words like “keep right” and “follow the signs to the hospital” helped.

<b>Hotel Piero Della Francesca in Urbino</b> was a pleasant surprise. Expectations matter and mine weren’t too high based on the price (€65 double in July) and the reviews. But it’s fine. No charm and it’s not IN the historic center but it’s perfectly functional, clean and spacious if a bit warn around the edges, good AC, good wi-fi, lift, little terrace with lovely view of the hills. Free parking along the street beside it. It is a bit of a walk to the center (2/3 mile, took about 10 minutes to the town gate) but it’s mainly flat and there’s a sidewalk, boring walk but perfectly safe, mostly shaded. Breakfast was just adequate, the croissants, yogurt and cappuccino were all good but that was about it.)
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Old Oct 15th, 2015, 08:13 AM
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<b>Urbino</b> – have to say I’m a bit disappointed. Again, expectations matter and mine were high for this town, I’ve been wanting to go there for years but it never fit in an itinerary. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site and the reviews of it are great. I had read it was the “jewel of Le Marche and one of the best-preserved and most beautiful hill towns in Italy, the ideal Renaissance city”. It may technically be an ideal Renaissance city, but while the view of the town/Ducal Palace from a distance is very striking, the town itself just didn’t do it for me. I’ve been in MANY Italian hill towns and LOTS of Italian cities; small, medium and large, and this is not one of my favorites. Not even in the top 30. For one thing the buildings are mostly brick – a kind of dirty greyish beige brick – and I prefer stone. For another, most of the center allows cars, it’s ZTL, but there are still plenty of cars you have to dodge and walk around as you wander the streets, which are kind of dirty. It certainly doesn’t have the beauty of Florence or Siena or Verona, or the charm of Tuscan and Umbrian hill towns. The main Piazza, “della Repubblica” has a few cafes but just didn’t make me want to sit and linger. Actually, we stopped for gelato at a bar opposite the parking lot/lift outside Porta Valbona at the base of via Mazzini, and it was not only great gelato but a wonderful view of the city and I though was a more pleasant place to spend a while (as long as you looked past the parking lot/bus station)than the main Piazza.

The Ducal Palace was also a disappointment. The view of it from below and afar is wonderful, but up close, from inside the town, it’s just a huge brick building. An “undistinguished face”. The courtyard is Renaissance perfection but the palace itself is just BIG. Massive. Huge. But that’s really the main thing it’s got going for it. There are some nice ceilings and fireplaces but otherwise it’s essentially empty except for room after room of religious art. No furnishings, no sense at all of what it would have been like back in the day. It’s an art gallery. So sure, if you are an Art Historian or love that type of art, it is an important collection. But if you are more interested in the visual aspects of the town/palace, and ambiance, then you’d find it lacking. The most interesting part we thought was the underground areas where there were kitchens (not that you could really tell), medieval laundry, stables, etc. There were bits of exposed plumbing, a huge cistern-like area (where snow was packed each winter), and a giant stable with a clever horse-poop disposal system. But since there was no sign or any indication it was down there, we would have missed it if not for Bvlenci’s advise so we went looking for it, (so thank you Bvlenci). The one other interesting thing was a room with a video showing how paintings are restored. It was in Italian but we were able to make out most of it.

I liked Urbino better in the evening. As the sun was setting it turned the brick buildings a warmer shade of beige, as opposed to the greyish-beige they appeared in the mid day. And after dark it was a bit better. Though there seemed to be more restaurants open for lunch than dinner we picked what turned out to be a good one, Osteria Gula on Corso Garibaldi, about half a block off of Piazza Repubblica. The food was good, waitresses very helpful since we didn’t know what all the items were on the Italian menu even though she didn’t really speak English, there was a bit of a view of the bell tower and tower of Ducal Palace, nice jazz music, beautiful warm breeze. Only negative was a small bus that just barely squeezed by between the tables and the building on the other side of the street – and it came by (empty) three times while we were there!
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Old Oct 15th, 2015, 08:16 AM
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Did you have to take precautions for ticks?
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Old Oct 19th, 2015, 03:56 PM
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Thanks for the report. Especially appreciative of the Bolzano piece since not a place I've considered.
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Old Oct 24th, 2015, 04:04 AM
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Thursday, July 30, 2015 - 38C - <b>Day trip to some Le Marche towns</b>

I want to thank fodorite Bvlechi for suggesting these towns. They were the highlight of our stay in Urbino.

We drove to <b>Mondavio</b>, about an hour from Urbino. Pretty well marked roads except the 2nd half of the drive the roads were in bad shape and under a lot of construction, including one detour that wasn’t marked at all and Geo had to use his Italian to get the construction guys to tell us where to go. But the way to Mondavio from the highway at Fossombrone goes through delightful rolling Le Marche hills. Lots of hills and valleys of fields of sunflowers (just past prime at the end of July) and hay, some vineyards and olive groves, with some larger mountains in the distance.

Once at Mondavio it was well signedto the centro and parking on the street right outside the castle was free and easy. VERY impressove ,edoeva; (1490s) castle for such a s mall town in the middle of nowhere. Not on a hill really so no atmospheric 'wow' setting but still really nice. The design is unusual and the castle is remarkable for the fact that it is largely intact in excellent condition.

The ‘Della Rovere Fortress’ , considered a ‘master of Renaissance military architecture’ has a polygonal donjon with ten irregular sides connected to a small flanking tower and to another semi elliptical tower. There’s a bit of castle yard with some really huge medieval wooden weapons. The interior (6€) was way more extensive than it looked from the outside, several floors both up into the towers and down into the underground areas contain many rooms, narrow passageways, steep stairways, massive wooden doors and iron gates. Most of the rooms contain wax figures in period costume doing the things people would have been doing in the castle back in the day: eating a feast in dining room, cooking in a kitchen, working in a stable and a foundry, having a sword duel, being tortured, shooting people outside the castle, that sort of thing. But it was very well done and had nice lighting. The ‘purists’ might say that sort of display detracts from the ‘authenticity’ of the castle but I think it actually helps it come alive and explain things and is more interesting than just reading signs or listening to an audio guide. The views from the tower were wonderful.

The town itself is tiny but nice, just one piazza with a municipo, a church (small cloister), and a bar and a few streets. Local Italians going about their day. There were just two other tourists in the castle when we were there. The town and the castle took no more than an hour (and we were not rushing).
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Old Oct 24th, 2015, 04:06 AM
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On to <b>Corinaldo</b>, only a few kilometers further. Also well signed to a large parking lot right near the main town gate. One of the ‘100 most beautiful villages in Italy’, holder of the 6 Flags Orange Touring Club for environmental quality, chosen in 2008 by the European Commission as a tourist destination of the Eden Project for sustainable tourism. Surrounded by majestic 14th century defense walls acknowledged as being the best preserved, most impressive, best fortified and longest (912 m continuously ) in Le Marches region. The young woman in the TI gave us a town map and showed us where we could walk on the walls and other points of interest. There are several access points and it’s free. The heart of Corinaldo is the Piaggia, which is a stairway of 100 steps from the main piazza at the top of town down to another impressive gate and the walls, halfway down is an interesting old well. The whole town is well kept and very pleasing to wander around. Again, virtually no other tourists.

It was still only a bit past noon at this point (we had gotten a pretty early start, leaving Urbino around 8:15) so we backtracked to Urbino, only taking one short wrong turn, and headed to <b>Urbania</b>. This was supposed to be a ‘lively’ medieval town with the Duke of Urbino’s summer palace and the Chiesa dei Morti as the two main attractions. Well, first, it was very poorly signed as to where to park and where the historic centro was (had to stop and ask directions while driving, then again once we were walking). Second, it was not at all lively (it was siesta/pausa but still you can tell when a town is napping versus when it’s just a quiet town). Third, it was quite run down and neglected, especially compared to the first two towns we’d visited that day. The Summer Ducal Palace was similar to Urbino’s in that from the town side it’s just an ugly rectangle with nothing of interest. Looks like an unused factory building. The ‘outside’ is somewhat more interesting and has a vaguely pleasant setting since a loop of a small river runs in front of it. The main courtyard was boring, there are hundreds of nicer ones all over Italy. The Chiesa dei Morti was of course closed for a four hour siesta (12-16:00) but as Geo said, we’ve seen plenty of Italian mummies, these couldn’t possibly be better than the ones in Sicily which we really liked.

Back in Urbino, after a siesta we went to the fortress (only slightly uphill from the hotel, very uphill from the center of town) and there were the best views of the ‘face’ of the town. We walked down very steep Via Raphael and looked for a restaurant or an interesting area to wander but really didn’t find either. Went to the same place as yesterday, service even better, food not as good – actually tasted like the frozen ravioli and jarred sauce I get at S&S. But the waitress was incredibly sweet again and Geo got to practice his Italian.
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Old Oct 24th, 2015, 04:09 AM
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Friday, July 31, 2015 - 38C - I had booked three nights in Urbino, planning the day trips to the towns we did yesterday would take about half a day for each direction (which they did) and we’d spend the rest of the time slowly exploring and enjoying a beautiful Italian hill town for the end of our trip. But we both just didn’t really like the ‘feel’ of Urbino. I’m not saying I’m not glad that I visited because I am. I’m glad I saw it. And the countryside in the area is very lovely (a lot like where we live actually – well this place puts our sunflowers to shame and we haven’t got any olive groves). But we felt we’d rather be in Rome for our last full day so were able to cancel the last night in Urbino and get an addition night in Rome.

We left Urbino by 8:30 and it was an easy, mostly divided highway, well signed drive to Todi. We really like ,<b>Todi</b>. Just such a different feel from Urbino. About the same size (15,000) and built on very steep hills. But the buildings are mostly stone rather than brick, kind of grey colored but still felt warm. Mixed in are a few stucco buildings in the classic peach, pink, rust, yellow, etc. The main square is gorgeous. In the 1990s a professor of architecture at the University of Kentucky, chose Todi as the model sustainable city, because of its scale and its ability to reinvent itself over time. After that, the Italian press reported on Todi as the world's most livable city. You can really see how this might be true. It has Etruscan and Roman beginnings, but most of the city is medieval. There are still substantial parts of the walls and numerous city gates. The main square, <b>Piazza del Popolo</b> (built atop Roman cisterns and once the site of the Roman forum) is so pretty and medieval looking it has apparently been used numerous times as a movie set. Palazzo del Popolo is one of Italy's oldest public buildings. Tempio di San Fortunato, on piazza Umberto, was built in 1292 on the site of an older church. We climbed the bell tower (150 steps) for nice views of the town, though the view of the really pretty church (Santa Maria della Consolazione ) down below the town, is rather obscured by large trees. We also walked through a park looking for views of that church and while there is a little terrace that looks like it was specifically built to view the church, you still don’t get a great view. They need to do some pruning. We spent about three hours there and just really liked it. Got some gelato and ate it on a bench looking at the gorgeous buildings and people watching in Piazza del Pololo.

The drive from Todi to Rome is all divided highway, well signposted and takes just under 2 hours to Ciampino airport (quite a bit of traffic at the end). Car return swift and painless (helps that we returned the car to the exact same place last year) and there was a TeraVision bus just boarding. The trip to Rome rush hour traffic took about 20 minutes to get to Termini and then another 20 to drive around it to the other side where you get off. Used my handy chip and pin credit card to buy tickets to FCO for Sunday and walked to the Floris.

<b>Floris Hotel, Roma</b>. We stayed here last year and they remembered us!!!! And Veronica, remembered that Geo was trying to learn Italian. And upgraded us to a superior room (although honestly it doesn’t seem any better than the other rooms we’ve stayed in, but I like them all). I love this hotel. It’s a bit further to the ‘heart of Rome’ piazzas than other hotels I’ve stayed in in Rome, but it is handy to the train station for coming and going (less than 10 minutes walk). The hotel only has about 20 rooms, but is beautifully done, very modern, super clean, spacious, comfortable. Great wi-fi, mini bar, free juice and cappuccino all day, absolutely fabulous breakfast. Only negative is that it is on the 4th floor (equivalent of about 8 flights of stairs) of a building that houses several other hotels. There is a lift but it’s tiny and slow. And they need a much better sign outside. Once you know where it is it’s fine, but finding it the first time is not easy.

I asked about the price difference between March and July (€100 in July, €175 in March) and they said that summer is the ‘medium’ season, the high season for Rome is March through May. So now two different hotels in Rome (and one in Venice – over a span of several years) have confirmed that, it’s not some fluke.

And that’s the end of a wonderful 5 weeks. Our last day and two evenings in Rome were just spent wandering our favorite areas, just enjoying being there. I’ve been to Rome quite a bit recently, including several days just this past March, and last July plus several other longer trips in the past few years so there were no ‘destinations’ we really wanted to see. I could just wander around Rome forever it feels like.
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Old Oct 24th, 2015, 02:28 PM
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isabel, your trip reports are a great resource--thank you!
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Old Oct 26th, 2015, 01:33 AM
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Have just enjoyed another walk through the Dolomites via your wonderful photos, thanks for your very detailed TR.
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Old Jan 26th, 2016, 07:50 AM
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Just finding this, Isabel, and it's a GREAT report And photos!
We are planning a trip up near the Dolomites. Staying in Asolo, but maybe taking a day trip or an overnight to drive the Grande Strade delle Dolomiti, now that I've read your review.
The rest of the trip is a stay in Venice, but your report is inspiring!
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