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All Roads Lead to Rome, an Italy Trip Report

All Roads Lead to Rome, an Italy Trip Report

Jun 21st, 2002, 08:24 PM
  #1  
Terry
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All Roads Lead to Rome, an Italy Trip Report

Returned last week, from a three week trip to London and Italy. Trip had been in the research and planning (i.e.: dream) stages for 18 months. Final travel date was determined by my daughter’s acceptance into a 5 week study abroad program of Renaissance Art in Florence and Rome, beginning on June 1st. Decided to travel together for 10 days prior to start of her program.

Actually started making plane, hotel, and museum reservations about four months in advance. Kept waiting for a lower fare to Rome, but that never happened. Booked a round trip flight from Denver to London on United.com for $658.00, departing May 22nd. Then booked a round trip flight from London to Rome on Alitalia through europebyair.com for $194.00, plus $15.00 FedEx delivery fee. (Fee only charged once for multiple tickets.)

Fodors Forum was such a great source of information. Also used Rick Steves Italy 2002, and Eyewitness Italy. In advance, read In the Footsteps of Popes, by Enrico Bruschini, Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes and As the Romans Do, by Alan Epstein.

Its a long report, but it is my hope that others might pick up some valuable tips and updated information.

 
Jun 21st, 2002, 08:27 PM
  #2  
Terry
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We built a two night stay in London into our trip, prior to our flight to Rome.

Hotel:
County Hall Travel Inn, Belvedere Rd. Had stayed here twice before. Had room #616. No unpleasant surprises. Improvements this time included new duvets and curtains, some fresh paint and decorative touches in the rooms. Hotel now provides printed info. about their services, phone use, what to do in an emergency, etc., which had been lacking on our previous stays. Rate about 77 GBP per night.

The area:
Several new restaurants to choose from in the building across the street from the Travel Inn. Yo! Sushi (with their moving food lines), Bagel Street Deli (good for breakfast of bagel sandwiches for lunch), Ned’s Noodle Box, Fish!, and Pizza Express. McDonalds and Shino’s Italian are still around corner at the front of the County Hall Bldg.

We found a good Internet place called Enternetshop, 31 York Rd., across from the Shell Center, near Waterloo Station. About a 5 minute walk from front doors of hotel. Two GBP for 40 min. use.

Sights:
The Millennium Bridge. Had waited two years to experience this. Had planned our 2000 London trip to coinside with the opening of this bridge. As hard as we tried, we never got to walk the bridge before it was closed two days later, due to design errors that allowed too much movement and tossed people around. Hence, its nickname – The Woobley Bridge. I am happy to report that there is now very little movement of the bridge. This is such an improvement to the corridor between St. Paul’s and The Tate Modern. It was much needed and is now in great use.
The Tate Modern. Had reserved tickets through Ticketmaster UK, for the Matisse Picasso Exhibit (on display through Aug. 18th ) . This is a wonderful collection, displayed as a comparative study between the two artists. More similarities than differences, which I wouldn’t have expected. This exhibit will be coming to New York.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 08:34 PM
  #3  
Terry
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Sights continued - The V & A. Our first visit to this great museum. Only scratched the surface of what this museum has to offer. Especially enjoyed the Catherine Walker Exhibit in the Dress Collection room. You may remember her as one of Princess Di’s favorite designers. The exhibit included four or five of Di’s dresses, which I recognized from her photos. Photos were allowed. Also viewed the Tiaras Special Exhibit (5GBP) which included many from royalty, including the late Queen Mum, Princess Diana, Princess Ann and Queen Elizabeth.
Restaurants: The Anchor Bankside looked very charming, but with Fish and Chips at over 12GBP, we opted not to dine there. Very few pubs were serving food at the time we wanted to eat – 4PM – so our options were few. We stumbled upon the Fuller Ale & Pie House-Borrow Boy and Banker, located at 6-8 Borough High St. They serve meals from 11 AM to 8 PM. Nicely decorated and sunlit. Not dark and smoke-filled as other pubs we had seen. Ordered their Fish and Chips with mushy peas. Huge servings. Even the mushy peas were good! Cost 7.50 GBP.
Wagamama, 4a Streatham St., Bloomsbury. Both my daughter and I caught colds, either on the flight over or in the rainy, windy weather in London, so this was just the place we needed to dine. Think chicken noodle soup. Ordered the Absolute Wagamama meal. Included huge bowl of chicken ramen, three gyoza (dumplings) with dipping sauce, and choice of juice. Fun place to dine. Cost under 10 GBP.
Observations: Security at Heathrow seemed tighter than in 2000. More questions asked of us at immigrations. There were noticeably fewer tourists in London this visit. Such is the advantage of traveling before June 1st. When asking for directions, the locals were friendly and helpful. Used the tube exclusively for transportation around town. Clean and efficient. Cost effective when using a Day Travel card. Look forward to my next visit.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 08:51 PM
  #4  
Terry
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On to Italy:

Our flight on Alitalia went smoothly. The flight was on time. The staff was pleasant. There was no smoking. The food was okay. Our plane was an older MD80, but we were fortunate enough to get two larger, business class seats with plenty of room. Lovely view of the snow-capped Alps during the flight.

Transportation into Rome: Used the Hotel Reservation shuttle service at FCO. Phone #06/65958684. They use an 8 passenger van. Clean and well kept. Felt very comfortable with the driving. Had pleasant conversations with the other passengers from Israel and the Philippines. Driven directly to our hotel. I suggest you book in advance. Cost 10,50 Euro/person to Historic Center, 12,50 to other locations in Rome.

Hotel: Hotel Spring House, Via Mocenigo,7, Rome www.hotelspringhouse.com This is a very nice 3 star hotel, now part of the Best Western chain. Had all the features and services we needed, including elevator, a/c, TV, frigo bar and Internet. Had room #22. Room was smallish, but efficiently laid out. Queen size bed and chair that folded out to a single bed. Firm mattresses. Marble bathroom. Lots of hot water and good water pressure at all times. Rate was 180 Euro, for a triple (my sister was joining us the following day), including the best breakfast of our whole trip. Breakfast included eggs, bacon, sausage, cold cuts, large selection of breads, juices, yogurts, cereals, and danish and tortes. Yum!

The area: Hotel is a five minute walk to the Vatican Museums. Chose this location because we planned to spend two of our four days in Rome at the Vatican. Via Moceniga is a relatively quiet street for Rome. Not quite in the tourist area, so the shops catered to the locals. You can find all that you may need nearby.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 08:57 PM
  #5  
Terry
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Sights: The Vatican. An experience of a lifetime! Spent one full day and two half days here. The Basilica is immense and beautiful! Tour group after tour group file into the church and yet it never seemed full. Touch St. Peter’s toes. Peer into St. Peter’s tomb under the alter. Gaze at the Pieta. Look up into Michelangelo’s dome. Feel shivers run through your body.

Scavi Tour was great. Highly recommend it. Cost 9 Euro/person. Reservations made at [email protected] . Tips: Remember to first go through security on the right side as you face the front of the Basilica. This will save you a lot a backtracking steps as we had to do. After you go through security, you must leave all your personal belongings in Baggage Deposit, also on the right. No charge. Then walk up the stairs and across the front of the Basilica. Walk down the stairs on the left and turn right into the Excavations Office area. A Swiss guard will stop you. Have your reservation in hand and he will direct you in. If you are prone to allergies or asthma, take your medications before the tour.

Papal Audience. Again, an experience of a lifetime! Arrive early for good seating. We arrived by 9 AM, for the 10:30 audience. Lasted a good 1-1/2 hours. Pope looked very frail and could only speak for about two minutes at a time. He still made time to individually bless all the newlyweds and all special guests. Tips: Wear sun protection. Bring plenty of water to drink. If you desire an unobstructed view of the pope as he passes, sit next to the fence either at the cross aisle or at the center aisle.

Dome of St. Peter’s. Climb to the dome for unsurpassed views of all of Rome and into the papal gardens. Take the elevator half way up and then climb approximately another 150 steps to the top of the dome. Costs 4 Euro to take the 300 steps, but only 5 euro to take the elevator half way up for you. I think that is a great deal! I am claustrophobic and have a fear of heights, but I had one climb in me this trip and the Vatican Dome was my choice. Tip: Try not to look at yet how far you have to climb. I kept my eye on just a few steps ahead of me and was able to overcome my fears.

Vatican Museum. My daughter and I got up early to be at the museum by 7:15AM, 1-1/2 hours before opening. We wanted to get in line early because this was the last Sunday of the month and entry was free to all. We were not the first, but were within 50 feet of the entrance. Interesting crowd dynamics. A near revolt was started when several tour groups decided that they could just walk to the head of the line, despite all of us who had been waiting for over an hour. Police were summoned and welcomed with a round of applause. I started the applause and the locals gladly joined in. Well the police didn’t help much as it was every man for himself as the doors opened. Nearly took out a Nun, who was part of that obnoxious tour group that refused to go to the end of the line, in the crush to enter. Our one goal was to go directly to the Sistine Chapel. This was all we planned to see in this visit to the museum. We were the third and forth people to enter the chapel that day. For 50 minutes we sat and studied all the frescoes from floor to ceiling. The Creation of the Sun and Moon, the Creation of Adam, Original Sin, the Last Judgment where what I chose to study in detail, in hopes of capturing their beauty to memory. (As a backup, just in case the memory fails, I bought lots of postcards.) Even as we left, the room was only about half full.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:18 PM
  #6  
Terry
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Sights in Rome cont'd:
The Colosseum. We were contacted by a tour group outside the entrance to the Colosseum and asked if we would like to join their small group (15 total). Unfortunately I don’t remember the name of the group. For the cost of only 15 Euro, we got immediate entrance to the site and a comprehensive tour give by a handsome guide who spoke English very well . This was the only time I felt inclined to join a group, as I usually like to tour independently. I learned much more information than any of my guide books had to offer. Had free time to continue exploring the Colosseum after the tour.

The Forum. This surprised me. I thought I would only want to take a quick walk-thru, but ended up spending hours here. Loved composing my photos and watching the ongoing excavation of the site.

Our own walking tour. Started by taking the metro from Cipro to the Spanish Steps. Surprised to see that the flower boxes were not lining the Spanish Steps as I had seen in all the photos. Work was being done on the Keats-Shelley House. I love how in Rome the construction is draped and the image of the building is put on the draping, so you could still “see” it. Walked on to the Trevi Fountain where we tossed our coins. Walked towards the Pantheon where we rested on the steps of Sant’ Ignazio di Loyola. Enjoyed listening to a spontaneous acappella concert in the great acoustics of the Pantheon. On to Santa Maria sopra Minerva. Down to Gesu church. On our way to the Piazza Navona, we stumbled upon the Largo Argentina site without planning to. Found the feral cats to be more friendly than my own house cat. One cat even climbed into my daughter’s lap and took a nap! Had dinner on Piazza Navona. I am sure we were ripped off by its cost, but hey, at least the scenery was beautiful. Continued walking north to the Tiber. Crossed at the beautiful Ponte Sant’Angelo, in front of Castel Sant‘Angelo. Walked up Via dei Conciliazione (a bland street) to Saint Peter’s and then back to our hotel We took our time doing this tour and spread it over 6-8 hours.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:23 PM
  #7  
Terry
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Restaurants (all north of Vatican):
Antonio’s Hostaria dei Bastioni, via Leone IV, 29 at corner of Viale Vaticano. Had lunch here. We had al fresco seating. Friendly host spoke English.. Service was quick and food was hot. I had Spaghetti all’Amatriciana (tomato and bacon) with Insaluta mista for 10 euro. My sister and daughter each had Peperoni Arrosto and Penne all’Arrabbiata for 8,50 euro.

Rustichella, via Angelo Emo, 1, at Piazza S. M. delle Grazie. Pleasantly decorated restaurant with only indoor seating. Large antipasto bar. I had that along with veal in white wine sauce. The best part of the evening was meeting the family from California (Mom, Dad, daughter around 15, son around 8) who were on a six month trip around the world. What fun! Unbelievably, my daughter ran into them again outside the Accademia , in Florence, a week or so later. Would love to hear from them again.

Ristorante dal Toscano, via Germanico, 58/60 www.ristorantedaltoscano.it Our best meal while in Rome! Specializes in Tuscan style cooking. Opens at 8 PM. Large amount of al fresco seating. Great professional service from our waiter, Piero.

Gelato. Enjoyed the della Palma, via della Maddalena, 20 near Piazza della Rotonda. Busy all the time, but must offer 100 different flavors! Pay in advance and take you ticket to the person scooping. But if you want the biggest bang for the buck (or should I say euro) go to the Old Bridge Gelato at Via dei Bastioni de Michelangelo, 5, near the Vatican. Filled with locals (where we first learned the Italian meaning of queing) and get the equivalent of three scoops for the price of one anywhere else. At least 24 flavors to choose from here. I especially enjoyed fragola and limone!

Impressions of Rome:
I was prepared to be aggressively pursued by pickpockets and beggars, from what I had read on this forum. Not so on this visit. Most beggars were quietly seated next to a church or place of significance. No in- your-face encounters. The most memorable was on Via Condotti. The best way to describe this beggar was that his knees were on backwards. He moved on his knuckles and knees, with his legs and feet pointed in front of him. I was not prepared to see this disfigurement.

Metro system was dismal in appearance and we only used it three times. Reasonably priced at .77 euro, per ticket. Walked most everywhere. Got more comfortable with crossing the streets as the days passed. Motorbikes, by law, do not have to stop. Keep alert!

Four days, five nights felt like just the right amount of time in Rome for us. There will still be plenty of sights to visit on our next trip!
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:26 PM
  #8  
Terry
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On to the Pompeii, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast:

Took the Eurostar from Rome Termini to Naples Central Station. Purchased tickets day before at travel agency near Vatican. Cost 22,21 euro/person, second class. Naples Central made us feel very uncomfortable. Con-artist taxi drivers and unsavory beggars approached us repeatedly. We did what the Italians chose to do – we ignored them. This seemed to work. Transferred to the Circumvesuviana train going south along the coast.

Pompeii: Short walk from the Pompeii Scavi station to the excavation entrance across the street. Here you will find rest rooms, book shop, audio guides, and phones along with the ticket office. Pick up free map of excavations when you purchase your tickets (10 euro/person). Stored our luggage in the little room to the right as you enter the ticket area. This was manned and free of charge. Purchased the new, updated 2002 Pompeii-Past and Present book , with overlays (11 euro) at the book shop. They had to take it out of the box, as their shipment had just arrived. We were very fortunate the temperature on this day was only in the mid-seventies. We completed Itinerary #1 in just over four hours. Never got to Itinerary 2 or 3. Site is just so large, and growing every day. Pompeii was even better than I had expected. Such an advanced, complex society just wiped off the face of the earth for centuries.

Sorrento:
Stayed at the Hotel Villa Maria, Via Capo, 8, at the west end of town. www.hotelvillamaria.it This is a 3 star hotel. Upon arrival, we walked from the train station to our hotel. It is a good 25 minute walk with luggage and pedestrian traffic. Our room was #404, with a great view of Mt. Vesuvia and a small balcony. Had firm mattresses, Sat. TV, frigo bar, a/c, elevator, beautiful pool and observation deck. Staff was friendly. Pretty tiled bathroom.. Rate was 165 euro for a triple room, with buffet breakfast included. Stayed two nights. Had a little trouble with the bathroom when the girls finished hand washing their laundry. When draining both the bidet and the sink at the same time, the floor drain gurgled and up came the water and stinky pipe grunge. Had to call maintenance at 11:30 PM and they finished the clean up by 12:15 AM. Opted for a taxi from the hotel to the station on our departure. This was the only time I felt we had been taken by a taxi driver. Drive was less than a mile and rate was 13,95 euro. Hotel had said it should cost only 10 euro. Rationalized this by concluding his tip was “factored in.”
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:29 PM
  #9  
Terry
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Day trip to Amalfi Coast:
Caught a SITA bus at the train station by 10 AM. Nice modern bus with comfy seats. It’s an hour and 30 minute ride to Amalfi, through Positano. Fantastic scenery from the right side of the bus. Lovely town. Purchased lemon candies, and limoncello dish towel as souvenirs. Just little reminders of my visit. Caught the 1:30 bus for a 45 minute ride back to Positano. Another lovely town, but more difficult to navigate. Barely touched the surface of these towns, but our goal on this visit was the bus ride itself and to check out the area for future visits. Ride the left side of the bus for the return trip to Sorrento. Tip: If prone to motion sickness, take a medication that works for you prior to the bus ride. My poor daughter missed almost the entire view, as she lay in her seat trying to combat her nausea.

Restaurants: The Minervettta, Via Capo, 25, Sorrento. 10 min. gradual walk up Via Capo from our hotel. Ate on their terrace and had a wonderful view of Sorrento and the bay as dusk fell. I chose their Scialtielli (local pasta of Sorrento) with shrimp. Very good.

Pizzeria Aurora on Piazza Tasso, Sorrento. Delicious wood-fired pizzas. I had Pizza Margarita w/aubergines. Yum! On several occasions the waiter directed us to more expensive wines and entrees, but we knew what we wanted and our dinner was reasonably priced. Large pizza was 9,50 euro.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:34 PM
  #10  
Terry
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On to Florence:

Transportation:
Took the Circumvesuviana train back to Naples Centrale and caught the 11:30 Eurostar to Florence, with only one 15 minute stop at Rome Termini. Trip time was 3-1/2 hours. Bought ticket the day before at a travel agent on Corso Italia, in Sorrento. Because this was for weekend travel, I should have purchased farther in advance. Only smoking car seats were available. Just about unbearable for non-smokers. Cost 42,35 euro/person, second class.

Hotel:
Residenza dei Pucci, Via dei Pucci, 9. www.venere.com/firenze/residenzadeipucci. This is a charming B and B, one block north of the Duomo. Perfect location. Large room with 15’ ceiling, nicely decorated and furnished in antique reproductions. Firm mattress. Large bathroom with tub/shower. Only detractions I found were that there is no elevator and no phones in the rooms. 55 steps up to the 2nd floor (third level). Good cardiovascular exercise. I would opt for a room on the 1st floor the next time. Rate was 125 euro for a double, used as a single. My daughter had now joined her Study Abroad program, and my brother-in-law had joined my sister, so they had their own room. My room was #21. It had a partial view of the Duomo. My sister’s room was #24. It was even larger, but only had a shower. Looked into #22 during a cleaning, and it had a four poster bed.

Sights: The Duomo and Baptistry. The exterior beauty of this church is breathtaking. Loved hearing the bells ring, starting at 7AM. Vasari’s Last Judgement in the Dome is newly restored and beautiful. Saw Brunelleschi’s tomb in Grotto/Bookshop area. My daughter climbed both the Dome and the Campanile on the same day. Ah, youth!

Accademia. Purchased tickets in advance through www.weekendafirenze.com. We arrived by 8:45 and there was really no line at this time. The David was amazing. Spent 45 minutes absorbing every detail of David.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:38 PM
  #11  
Terry
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Sights in Florence cont'd:

Uffizi. Also purchased tickets in advance and these were very much needed. Our entry time was 1 PM. There was still a line to pick up reserved tickets, but much shorter, about 15 minutes. As you walk into the U shaped Uffizi, from Piazza della Signoria, this is located on the left side, before the bookstore. Wonderful museum. Especially liked the Botticelli’s.

Bargello. Visited this museum especially to see the competition panels used to select the artist for the Baptistry doors. My daughter had written a 10 page essay on these as part of her Study Abroad program. Based on the panels, I would have chosen Brunelleschi over Ghiberti, myself. Was pleasantly surprised to find this museum contained more than sculpture. I especially enjoyed the pottery collection, the ivory collection and the weapons and armor collection.

Ponte Vecchio. Romantically beautiful. Like none other.

Boboli Gardens at Pitti Palace. Quite an up-hill hike, but was worth it for the great view overlooking Florence from the Tea Room. Only able to do areas A, B, C, and D in the guide book (6,35 euro) because my sister and I ran out of time and energy. Loved the gardens for their peace and quiet.

Mercato Centrale and the San Lorenzo Street Markets. This is the best food market I have been to in Europe! My brother-in-law (a gourmet, gourmand, epicure) was ecstatic. Also did a bit of shopping in the San Lorenzo street markets. Purchased a leather belt and silk tie for my husband. A leather wallet for my son. A straw hat for myself (to combat the sun and increased temperatures we were having in Florence). My daughter and my sister and her husband each bought leather jackets.

Also visited San Croce Church, the Leather School, the Piazza della Signoria, the Casa Dante Alighieri , and the Farmaceutica Officina Profumo di Santa Maria Novella.

Restaurants:
La Giostra, Borgo Pinti, 10r. Fun place, great food. The owner/chef is a hoot. Greets his guests with a sample antipasto platter and complementary glass of sparkling wine. His handsome twin sons are the waiters. Walls are covered with photos of their favorite customers. We sat at the table under the Ted Danson/Mary Steenburgen photo. Host had great things to say about them. I had the Tagliatelle fatte in Casa con Funghi Porcini and Spinaci alla Tuscana (served hot with a pungent cheese flavor - the best!). My daughter liked her Gnocchettini di Patate con Ricotta Informata Spinaci and the Picorino di Fossa con Pere William-noci-Miele.

Cantinetta dei Verrazzano, Via dei Tavolini, 18/20r, just east of Via dei Calzaiuoli. Open from 8 – 21h. We ate here for lunch, and at our waiter’s suggestion, enjoyed a mixed antipasto platter. This was basically samples of at least four of their entrees, all delicious!

Observations of Florence:
I felt my 4 days were just the right amount of time in Florence for me. Found Florence to be more congested with people than Rome, but felt this was due to its having a more compact historical center. A very easy city to walk.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:48 PM
  #12  
Terry
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On to the Cinque Terre:

Trained from SMN station to Monterossa al Mare, with one transfer in Pisa. Cost only 7,90 Euro. Stayed at Hotel 5 Terre, Via IV Novembre, in the New Town. Had room #309. Rate of 98 Euro for a double, breakfast included. Hotel was okay. Elevator broke during our one night stay. 60 steps to our room. Weather had changed to rain. I was disappointed that we could not take the ferry along the coast, as Capo had suggested. Seas were too rough and no boats were on the water. Trained down to Riomaggiore. Took the elevator(1,03 euro for 3) up to the city. Had a late lunch at La Lantena, Via San Giacomo, 10, Riomaggiore.. Great maitre d’ (Mauro) with his daughter as waitress. Had a wonderful dish called Spaghetti alle acciughe freshe di Monterossa (anchovies, pine nuts, tomatoes , pasta, etc.) Walked the Via dell’Amore to Manarola. Beautiful, despite the rain. Trail was closed from here to Corniglia, so we trained back to Monterossa. Did not attempt the other trails because of the rainy conditions. Enjoyed Monterossa. Not too busy with tourists at this time. Charming Old Town. Best Gelato of the whole trip was at Bar Centrale.

On to Siena:

Trained down to La Spezia. Snafu with the rental car. Despite information from Europcar stating their office closed for lunch at 1PM, they closed at 12:30 on this day. We had to wait until 4PM for their return. Luckily, there was a small bar nearby to lunch and wait it out.

This left time for only a short visit to Pisa, to see the Field of Miracles. Rain stopped long enough for us to tour for about 45 minutes. Probably took an hour of wrong turns to find our way out of Pisa, as we tried to get to Siena.

Hotel:
Hotel Minerva, Via Garibaldi, 72/80, Siena. www.albergominerva.it Nice 3 star hotel. Easy to drive to, as it is just inside the city walls. Reserved parking space in advance with the parking garage next door, for 8 Euro/day. Had room #5, a large room with a great patio and view of the city. My sister and brother-in-law’s room #10 was even larger. Had large, modern, tiled bath, A/C, Sat. TV, and more. Staff was friendly and helpful. Rate was 89 Euro, for a double, used as a single, breakfast included.

Sights:
Because we took side trips from Siena during the day, most of what I saw of Siena was during the evenings. Piazza del Campo. My first view of this was at night, under full illumination. Breathtaking! Had dinner at a restaurant on the Campo. Also walked to Piazza del Duomo. Almost as pretty as the Duomo in Florence. Got to San Domenico church after closing, so I didn’t get to see the preserved head of Siena’s patroness, St. Catherine. Casa di Santa Caterina is nearby, but again I was too late for entry.

Side trips:
San Gimignano. Took a scenic drive from Siena to San Gim., via Colle Val d’Elsa. San Gimignano is very charming and medival! Lots of nice shopping. Purchased olivewood serving pieces at Casa & Cose. The shop smelled heavenly of olive oil.

Castellina in Chianti. Drove from San Gimignano, through Poggibonsi, to Castellina on the SS429. Another gorgeous drive! Rolling hills, wooded areas, vineyards and wineries – both large and small. Parked free in a large lot at the edge of town. Experienced a stainless steel, self-sanitizing, public restroom for the first time in this parking lot. Interesting. Ate a late lunch at Restorante Treporte. I ordered the Chianti pizza –thin curst, fresh tomato sauce base, mozz. cheese, Tuscan salami, and basil. Good! My sister thought her Ravioli Primavera was the best! Drove back to Siena on the scenic SS222.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:53 PM
  #13  
Terry
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On to our Tuscany rental:

Rental:
Fattoria dell Colle, www.cinellicolombini.it We had a 2 bedrooms (sleeps 4), one full bath, apartment in the main villa. The third room held the cooking area, dining table and chairs, and a small sitting area. Rate is around 650 euro for a weeks stay. Many other apartments and rooms to choose from. This is a working farm that produces wine and olive oil. My stay here was 3 nights.

The area : Crete Senesi. Very tranquil and beautiful. 2.5 km from Trequanda, 10 km from Sinalunga. Twenty minutes to the A1. There is shopping in the small town of Trequanda, but there is also a large COOP on the east side of Sinalunga.

Activities: Wine tasting, winery tour, cooking classes, mountain biking, swimming, hiking. We had a pinci making lesson from Maria. Pinci is a hand rolled pasta. Our tour of the estate included a wine and cheese tasting at the villa, with owner Donatella and her husband Carlo.

Side Trips:
Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiori. Only a 20 minute, scenic drive from Colle. Isolated and peaceful. Studied the Il Sodoma frescoes and visited the chapel. We ended up coming here twice. On the first visit, the abbey was closed for a wedding. Returned on a Sunday afternoon after 3 PM. Free guided tours were offered that day.

Assisi. About an hour and a half drive from Colle. Parked at the top of the city and strolled down to the Basilica of St. Francis. This gave me a good feel for the city. Enjoyed the narrow, flower draped streets and alleyways. Given a tour of the lower and upper churches of the basilica by Fr. Robert Cameron (Scottish born, American raised, Italian educated). Especially enjoyed his emphasis on the art history. Also went down to the crypt to see the tomb of St. Francis. Very nicely designed crypt area. For those who can’t bear the thought of hiking back up to the parking lot, there are taxis available at the basilica to drive you back to your car. There are several parking lots closer to the basilica, if you don’t plan to see the rest of the city.

Deruta. Stopped here on way back from Assisi. Saw only a handful of other tourists. Perhaps it is just me, but I didn’t really enjoy this style of pottery.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:56 PM
  #14  
Nancy
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Well, Terry, your report is one of the most interesting and informative ones I have seen! Thank you for the details. I have copied some parts for notes for my future trip, thank you!
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 09:58 PM
  #15  
Terry
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The trip home:

My sister and her husband completed their weeks stay at Colle, but it was time for me to go home. Two full days of travel ahead. Driven to the station at Chiusi. Took the 7:14 AM train to Termini in Rome. Rode the Leonardo Express to FCO. Had three hours until my Alitalia flight back to London Gatwick. Took the Gatwick Express into Victoria Station. Tubed to Paddington Station. All by 4 PM.

Stayed overnight at the Royal Eagle Hotel, about 1 and 1/2 blocks from Paddington, on Craven Rd. I would recommend this hotel ONLY to those looking for a cheap room for one night. Had room #303. A tiny 7’ x 9’. Rate of 49GBP for a single. Included a small continental breakfast.
Slipped in a quick visit to London’s Little Venice area. Had Fish and Chips at Pride of Paddington Pub. Bought all the Cadbury chocolates I could carry!

The next morning, I took the Heathrow Express from Paddington Station to LHR. United no longer offers to check your bags at Paddington, due to security issues after Sept 11. Allow yourself two hours at LHR, prior to your flight, to reach your gate. Zone F (United Check-in) was a zoo! Once checked-in, you still have several security checkpoints to go through until you are seated at your gate. Flew from London to Chicago O’Hare. Had to claim my bag and go through immigrations and customs here in Terminal 5. Re-checked my bag and took the people-mover to Terminal 1 for my connecting flight to Denver. The best part - husband and son waiting for me at the airport!

I will be happy to try and help if you have any questions about my trip.

Terry
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 10:01 PM
  #16  
Terry
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Hey Nancy, You snuck in there ! Just posted the last little part. Thanks for the kind words.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 10:08 PM
  #17  
Nancy
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Now I feel like I joined your trip!
Thanks again for the report.
 
Jun 21st, 2002, 11:41 PM
  #18  
fiona
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thanks for taking the time to post your report! I only had one day in Rome and it was torrential rain. We could not have spent hours in the forum as it was flooded and walking up the steps from the forum was like climbing up Dunns River Falls in Jamaica!!! However, I still loved what I saw of Rome- we didn't manage to see the Vatican but my favourites were the Trevi fountain and the Pantheon.I would love to return!
 
Jun 22nd, 2002, 05:48 AM
  #19  
BOB THE NAVIGATOR
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Very complete report Terry. It looks like you did your homework.
 
Jun 22nd, 2002, 05:57 AM
  #20  
Debbie Lee
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Terry,
An excellent trip report... Thank you for taking the time to detail it so well. My husband and I went for 4 weeks in Oct/Nov 2000, and went very similar to yours. I am trying to get back for the winter, Jan 2003, for 5 days each in Rome, Florence and Venice. Just a totally indulgent taste again.... like a rich, Baci chocolate.... I looove Italia!! Thanks again...
 

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