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Best things to eat, see, do in Italy

Old May 27th, 2015, 03:58 AM
  #1  
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Best things to eat, see, do in Italy

Hello!

I'm looking for personal recommendations of the best places to eat, things to do, and places to see in Venice, Florence (and surrounding area), and Rome.

I've finally booked all the travel accommodations and I'm ready to start planning some of the details, or at least make a list of options of things to do. We will be traveling in September/October for our honeymoon.

I would love recommendations for restaurants, markets, and things to do. Of course I know about the most famous museums, churches, etc. Really I'm open to any recommendations of must do/see places.

We will be spending 5 nights in each place. Staying in apartments in Venice and Florence and at the St. Regis in Rome.

I'd love for us to do a cooking class, and possibly hire a private guide during our time in Florence to explore outside of Florence a bit.

Thank you!
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Old May 27th, 2015, 05:41 AM
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Since your question is pretty broad, I'll give some random thoughts.

VENICE
At least one night, sit at a table in San Marco, have a drink (and maybe an hors d'oevres platter) and listen to the music. If that doesn't put you in honeymoon mood, nothing will.

Venice isn't known for its food, but we like a little place called Trattoria da Fiore, not to be confused with the much more expensive Osteria da Fiore. On Giudecca, La Palanca serves authentic Venetian seafood. You can sit outside and have a view of the water and the city.

Some of the swanky hotels on the Grand Canal have waterfront bars where you can get a drink and a snack for a reasonable price and take in the traffic on the water. Similarly, some have rooftop bars.

FLORENCE

Luca at hillsandroads.com is a good guide for day trips outside of Florence. Many people here, including me, have used and recommended him.

Suggest you head up to Piazzale Michelangelo, have a glass of wine, and watch the sun set over the city.

One restaurant we liked is a little place called Zio Gigi, near the Duomo. Lots of locals, reasonable prices. For something a little more upscale, try Buca dell'Orafo, near the river a little west of the Ponte Vecchio. The atmosphere is so-so, but the food was good.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 06:02 AM
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Thank you so much
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Old May 27th, 2015, 06:27 AM
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Here are some ideas for Venice:


What to do with only TWO days in Venice

I could easily spend a month in Venice and still not get bored. Actually, I guess we have spent about that much time during our 5 visits together, including a week each in two apartment stays. But, if you have less time, here are the suggested experiences to best enjoy Venice.

• TAKING THE #1 VAPORETTO THE LENGTH OF THE GRAND CANAL

This is like taking a city bus tour to become acclimated in a new city. It is best done with a guide book that explains the marvelous historic buildings that you are passing [Rick Steves has a good one]. Try to do it both directions if you can since your views will be different depending on where you sit.

• SEE SAN MARCO SQUARE BOTH EARLY AND LATE IN THE DAY

It is magnificent when you have the time to enjoy it without the tourist hordes.
See it in the early morning light [take your camera] and again late in the evening after dinner to enjoy the wonderful dueling bands.

• GET LOST IN VENICE, PREFERABLY IN DORSODURO & SAN POLO

Take your map, just in case, but the point is to wander the small back streets and Campos away from the tourist path. I prefer starting at the early produce market near Rialto and wandering inland from there. Another landmark to watch for is the Frari church at Campo San Rocco. Campo San Polo is a good place for cappuccino.

• VISIT SAN MARCO BASILICA—SEE DOGE’S PALACE---ASCEND CAMPANILE

I know I said to avoid it during mid-day, but these are too important not to include.
Try to be there by 0900 to avoid the bigger crowds, and you may get lucky with smaller lines after 1600 at the Palace. The views from the Campanile are superb.

That is a full 2 days for you, so plan well. Many first time visitors are frustrated by the hordes of day trippers that clog the primary attractions. So, plan your time well between 1000 and 1600 to minimize the impact. Have fun!
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Old May 27th, 2015, 06:33 AM
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Thanks so much bobthenavigator,

We are staying in Dorsoduro, and will have 5 days there
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Old May 27th, 2015, 07:35 AM
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Another exuberant vote for Luca of www.hillsandroads.com for your guide in Tuscany. He now does both private tours and small group tours. Take a look at his web site to get ideas and prices, etc. We really enjoyed the two days we had with him about 8 years ago.

As for best places to eat, we recently were in Rome for a long weekend. Check my screen name for my latest Rome trip report, there are plenty of nice places we ate.

Have a great time and congratulations.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 08:32 AM
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We spent two weeks in Venice and did the Doge's Palace/St Mark's tour with Luisella Romeo (and we had lunch with her in the Ghetto later in our stay). She is charming, lovely, funny, speaks idiomatic English, a native Venetian and is passionate about her city and guiding.

http://www.seevenice.it/seevenice/to...in_Venice.html
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Old May 27th, 2015, 08:33 AM
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Restaurants
Venice: Canareggio- Vini da Gigio, Anice Stellato
Dorsoduro:the restaurant on the Zattere, waterfront, in front of Hotel Calcina.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 08:37 AM
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Buy a Chorus Pass that gives you entry to 15 of Venice's art filled churches. It forces you into the various neighborhoods to find these churches making a nice way to explore the city out of the more touristed areas.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 09:34 AM
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In Venice I would definitely make a trip out to Torcello. This is the island that the venetians hid on when the barbarians came pouring over the mountains. It has a lovely church with a lot of original byzantine tile work and is well worth exploring.

Burano is also cute and worth some time. IMHO Murano is a waste of time unless you are determined to buy some overpriced glass.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 12:17 PM
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Best things to eat are the regional foods. They're no more uniform than the regional foods of the US.

Ditto NYTrav on Murano.

If your surrounding area for Florence includes Siena, go there. Still say it's the best Duomo in the country.
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Old May 27th, 2015, 02:02 PM
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In Venice, eat a good fish soup. It's called "brodetto" where I live, but I think they call it "broeto" up there. Maybe they just call it fish soup (zuppa di pesce).

In Florence, have a ribollita, a bean soup.

In Rome, have pasta all'amatriciana.
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Old May 31st, 2015, 07:14 PM
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Thank you for all the suggestions
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 12:06 AM
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In Rome have cacio e pepe at Maccheroni (Piazza delle Coppelle) and gelato from Grom (several outlets but I like the one on Via dei Giubbonari)
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 12:22 AM
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In Florence go further up the hill than Piazzale Michelangelo to the lovely church San Miniato al Monte - crowds will be thinner, the view will be even more stunning. You can then walk down to Piazzale Michelangelo for that glass of wine.

We loved our meals at Pesceria San Pietro, just outside the historic centre and close to the main train station.

Do have lunch at the Central Market.

For an amazing albeit hugely expensive meal - it is your honeymoon though - take a look at Enoteca Pinchiorri.

Do have gelato but only if it is 'artigianale'
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 05:06 AM
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In Venice, have dinner at Alle Testiere. It is small and has only two seaatings per evening so reserve will in advance.

In Florence, in addition to the Uffizi and the Accademia, visit lesser known museums such as San Marco (open only in the morning), the chapel at the Medici-Riccardi, and the Museum del Opera del Duomo (it is currently under renovation so not sure if it is closed), Don't miss Santa Croce. Take a bus from Piazza San Marco to Fiesole, a small town overlooking Florence, and have lunch or drinks and watch the sunset.

In all three cities, have gelato every day!
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 09:07 AM
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Uma
 
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Would second Alle Testiere in Venice -- great food. Take a vaporetto to the island of San Giorgio Maggiore and ride the elevator up to the bell tower for stunning views. We took an evening food tour in Rome with Bruno as our guide and really enjoyed that -- www.foodtoursofrome.com. If you are art lovers, don't miss the Borghese Galleries in Rome -- you need to get timed tickets ahead of time.
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 09:32 AM
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Thanks Uma, I think the tours look great. That's definitely something we would enjoy
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 09:55 AM
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I must have been the only client disappointed with Luca/ Hills and Roads.

I contacted him months in advance. Made it clear I wanted HIM to give us the tour. "Yes, yes" he promised. I used a referral from a friend who had used him several times. " Yes, a lovely woman"

When we got picked up, it was not Luca but someone else. And he had someone with him that he was training.

Long story short - he didn't take us to the places Luca and I planned out and he spent most the tour talking in Italian to the trainee.

We paid a decent amount for this private tour and sadly, we were disappointed. A private tour is not something we normally do, but this seemed wise.

And it's not that we are fussy or unreasonable. We did another tour of Amalfi Coast that same trip with Francesco Marrapese and he was excellent.
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Old Jun 1st, 2015, 11:04 AM
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Any recommendations in or around Florence for a cooking class?
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