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Et Tu, Tom? The Maitais Take a Stab At Rome For Christmas

Et Tu, Tom? The Maitais Take a Stab At Rome For Christmas

Old Aug 24th, 2009, 01:48 PM
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Tom,

We stayed at the San Francesco in '05; it was really nice. One of the highlights was the roof bar, but not sure about December. Another was the breakfast, overlooking the monastery garden. I think you will like it very much. Just took a peak at the website, think the guy behind the front desk was there then, too .

We also had dinner at L'Spirito Divino, one of our best meals in Rome, or anywhere - the wine cellar dates to very ancient times, our waiter took us down to see it, and then because I asked him for the cork from the bottle, he actually filled a wine bottle holder full of their corks and gave it to me - it is still propped up in our kitchen, great memory.

I think your idea for a day trip to Orvieto is a good one.

Have a great trip,

Marcia
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 03:18 PM
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Orvieto is an overwhelming yes. Charming, wonderful cathedral, pottery that can make your day, didn't buy a painting there and still kicking myself to this day.

In any event, SO looking forward to your trip report. You are the King of Reports, hear, hear.
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 03:51 PM
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rn, looking forward to the Orvieto day trip.

socal, I didn't know you stayed there. Glad it gets a thumbs up. I did it on a whim when someone posted a few months back that they were going to stay there, so I went to the website and Trip Advisor and pulled the trigger.


((HH))
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Old Aug 24th, 2009, 04:20 PM
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Santa Francesca Romana Convent (mentioned above) also has rooms available. No curfew.
http://www.sfromana.it/english.html
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Old Sep 1st, 2009, 08:33 AM
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Enjoying this thread as we'll be at Hotel della Torre Argentina 12/22-12/29 including our 14 and 15 yr old granddaughters - we were there 2006 same time and loved it! We had nice weather in 2006 chilly but sunny! Hope to do more planning this visit and you are all so helpful with your info- thanks - we loved Trastevere area. Trip to Orvieto looks wonderful. Nervous about taking train but plenty of time to get over that with your help.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 11:08 AM
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Warn the Pope! We got our flight. Now, more questions, if I may.

Since there seems to be a number of attractions not open on Monday in Rome, that seems like a good day for the Orvieto day trip. Duomo, Etruscan Underground Tour and St. Patrick's Well are on my radar. Any other gems that people recommend? I don't know if the well will be that interesting, but we need to get our 1,000 stairs a day in, whether we need them or not.

Looks like I can get a train that arrives a little before ten and then take a train back a little after four. Does this give us enough time to see those three sights and wander around Orvieto?

I'm sure I will have more questions. Your answers are appreciated. I can taste the vino already!!!!!!

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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Hi MaiTai...

I just got back 2 weeks ago from a week in Rome and we did a day trip to Orvieto on a Tuesday. We got a 10:45am (fast) train and were in Orvieto just before 12noon. We left on a 6pm train and were back in Rome just after 7pm...just in time for aperitivo! ;-)

I began my trip report yesterday, and will talk about my Orvieto day there but to answer your question, I think you will have plenty of time there based on the train times you listed. We did not do St. Patrick's well, but we did do Pozzo della Cava which is another well, that was interesting, but not "earth shattering". The family that owns the trattoria that is built on the well site found the well when they wanted to expand the trattoria. It's 3Euro to go in and there were some mildly interesting artifacts.

The rest of our time in Orvieto was spent checking out the Duomo, poking in the little shops and having lunch at a neat little enoteca called Il VinCaffe (I highly recommend it). I don't have their website or address with me now, but it will be in my trip report.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 01:02 PM
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See if you can get a tour of the Duomo, it makes it much more interesting. There are so many little known facts that guide books don't mention and we would never know or figure out on our own. My tour of it was fascinating but I can't remember how we contacted the rep, maybe someone else will know.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 03:40 PM
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I'm jealous -

Another vote for Orvieto. Have you been to Siena... it's interesting to compare the duomos.
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 05:43 PM
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I didn't care much for St. Patrick's well. How long can you stare at a well? You will get some steps in though.

The underground tour only had one English tour when I was there and it was at 11 am. You might want to check with the ticket office as soon as you arrive (across from the Duomo on the left if your back is to the Duomo). You will want pigeon for dinner after your tour.

It's too bad you won't have enough time to wander the paths around Orvieto as there are tombs, etc.

Civita di Bagnoregio is nearby, but on a day trip you won't have time for that either unless you make it a priority and catch the bus (in front of the train station) upon arrival. If you do, make sure you also buy your return ticket at the same time.

Are you sure you can't spend a night or two in Orvieto?
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Old Oct 29th, 2009, 07:35 PM
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Tom- I spent a week in Rome in 2008 and another week at the beginning of this month.
We did a day trip to Orveito on our 2008 trip and trekked to the bottom of the San Patrizio well, all 248 steps down and then back up. You can see photos of it on my web site if you want:
http://www.wired2theworld.com/ROME2008Day4.html
I think your plan only gives you about 5 hours in Orvieto so I'm not sure if you can "do it all" but probably. Make sure you leave time to have a good lunch too though.
I've also started my trip report for the October trip here on Fodor's and on my site.
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 05:49 AM
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Hi Tracy and Tom-DH and I met you at the DC GTG. Glad this popped up again as I missed it first time.

Another vote for Orvieto. We did an underground tour and liked it but enjoyed walking around the town even more. Duomo is gawdgeous.

We passed St. Paul outside the wall on our way home last time and wondered how we could have missed such a beautiful church. Guess I'm in the minority but Ostio Antica left me cold after seeing Pompeii.

If you like Bernini, go to Santa Maria della Vittoria church. A replica of the main statue was made for the Dan Brown movie BTW. The church is exquisitely rococo (sp?). Another fave is St. Ignazio near Pantheon. St. John Lateran has incredible ceilings. Doria Pamphilj gallery is amazing-check for open days-Versailles in Rome IMHO. I'm sighing for Rome and Paris all the time. With you both in spirit(s)!
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 07:39 AM
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I see no one has mentioned midnight mass at Santa Maria d'Aracoeli. This is the basilica on the Capitoline Hill, to the left of the stairway as you are looking up. Inside the church was a carving of the baby Jesus supposedly made from an olive tree from Gethsemane. It was said to be responsible for many miracle cures . . .

But what you want to see is the ceremony in which the figure is taken from its place at the altar and brought to a creche. It is a mob scene -- there will be television cameras, crowds surging to touch the sculpture, Shepherds playing pipes, glaring lights -- it's pagan, and might remind you of the scene in La Dolce Vita where the crowds have gathered to see the girls who claim to have seen the Virgin Mary.

Coincidently, the church was built on the site where Augustus is said to have had a vision of Mary ascending to heaven (or, alternatively, where the Sybil foretold to Augustus the coming of Christ).

The statue was stolen in the Nineties and they now use a copy. I am not sure if it inspires the same frenzy. However, the church is worth a visit regardless, and if things do take off, you will have an amazing experience. I saw it over twenty years ago and still can't get it out of my head.
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 07:49 AM
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Thanks everyone! Lots of good ideas about both Orvieto and Rome.

TDudette, I didn't drink that much at the GTG (did I) that I would forget you guys. BTW, I will have a new website up next week that includes my reports, pictures, videos, etc., and the DC Trip report and all the pics from that infamous evening will be there for all to see. Stay tuned.

I will look into the Orvieto Duomo tour, because, like wine, you can never get enough Duomos. I do love the Siena Duomo, Gwen.

For those of you going to Rome this Christmas, I contacted my hotel on Christmas Eve restaurant places, and they said last year many did not announce whether they would be open until the week before Christmas.

They said they would contact me with any info, so for people interested, I will post if I hear anything.

Back to roamin' through Rome options. More questions later. Thanks!!

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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 11:43 AM
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Hi MTT - We stayed at the Hotel San Francesco, AKA B&B San Francesco last January. I copied some parts of our trip report that you may find of use and interest and did some editing to highlight some things that would be important to you.

....The hotel is located next to the San Francesco Church and Convent, right over the bridge near the Porta Portese.

Arriving at the hotel, the desk was manned by Max, a very pleasant gentleman thus completing our string of outstanding hotel staff for this trip. We were given the key to our room. This room did not meet our expectations, mainly because it was overlooking the street and there was scaffolding on that part of the building right at the window giving Mi Chica visions of early morning workmen peering in our room and bath (as it turned out, the work had already been done and the scaffolding was just waiting to be removed.) Max gave us a different room on the other side of the hotel that overlooks a very lovely garden complete with a Palm tree and an Orange tree, still with fruit. He told us that we would have to vacate that room the next day but our luggage would be moved to another on the same side. That is what happened and the new room was even nicer and larger. [PAY ATTENTION TO THE NEXT MTT]For those who may want to stay at the San Francesco, it is the even numbered rooms that are the nicest and overlook the garden and of those, the ones ending in 6 are the largest and best. It has free internet with a workstation.

The off season rate was only 70 euro/night with a cash discount bringing it down to an incredible 64 euro! That included a most excellent breakfast buffet. The hotels public spaces are very nice and spacious and breakfast area is almost elegant making for a very fine morning experience.

We went up onto the rooftop terrace, that has a bar during the high season, for the view that was spectacular.

The remainder of the day, one that was delightfully warm (well in comparison to where we had been) and sunny just walking around, getting as far as the Foro Romano via walking past the Palatino, but it was already too late to visit it or the Colesseo, so we took a taxi over to Piazza Navona where we hung out for awhile soaking up the ambiance and then walked over the Pantheon getting there a few minutes before closing. From there we walked over to Piazza Argentina to take the #8 tram back to the hotel. The initial walk from the hotel to the Foro Romano area had been a long one, but we later found it would have been much shorter had we simply walked down Via Travestere, crossing the Tiber at the end near Tiber Island (Isola Tiberria).

My cousin had highly recommended a restaurant near our hotel called Ristorante Da Meo Patacca. He said it was a bit touristy but had good music, so we had decided to try it for our first Roman meal. The walk from out hotel was under 10 minutes and the restaurant was located in a small, quaint piazza. Inside the decoration was interesting with old musical instruments and such on the wall. Most tables were set up banquet style, but there were some that were more private. At that time the place was less than half full, most of the patrons being a Japanese tour group of about 20. The musicians, 4 singers, accompanied by accordion were serenading the Japanese party with Japanese songs with the party heartily joining in and showing appreciation. They would circulate from table to table taking requests. We asked for some Andrea Bocelli songs and they really did a good job with them. The group was really impressive. The food, not so much. I ordered a mixed grill; Mi Chica ordered the penne in salmon sauce since she enjoyed that dish so much in Verona. We both had artichoke starters. My mixed grill was fine. Actually, it was generous and done well. Mi Chica's dish was poorly done, she couldn't eat more than a few fork fulls. Al dente is one thing, but this pasta was undercooked. The salmon sauce was devoid of salmon taste and very heavy with too much butter and oil. Rather than send it back, she ordered a mixed vegetable plate that was good, and human garbage can that I am, I finished most of hers. Would I go back? Maybe, it seems that they can do some things well, probably stick with the grilled items and the music really was very nice. We walked back to the hotel taking a different route on the Via Trastevere and a restaurant there caught our eye. It was very, very plain and packed with what seemed to be happy diners. What really caught our eye was that the customers ranged from student types with backpacks and jeans to ladies in furs and men in suits. Intriguing.

…. [At the Hotel San Francesco] Buses are around the corner and trams a block away on the Via Trastevere. The Via Trastevere is a busy boulevard with lots of shops. There is a regular supermarket, a whole foods supermarket and a place to do your laundry all within a few hundred yards of the hotel. There are also many nice, reasonably priced places to eat nearby. This is more of a neighborhood than tourist central.

….Breakfast at the San Francesco was the best of the trip and something to look forward to with a variety of hot and cold choices of quality food at the buffet. The breakfast space could almost be described as elegant.

…. Dinner [on Via Trastevere, about a 7 minute walk from the hotel] was at the place we had noticed the night before, simply named Pizzeria [on the right hand side walking toward the river]. Like the night before, the restaurant was full even though the rain had become fairly steady and heavy. The tables there are banquet style and like the night before, the customers seemed to come from all parts of society. Mi Chica ordered a veggie pizza and I went for the baccala - something I had always wanted to try. The menu, written on a board was actually pretty extensive. Service was quick and efficient and my introduction to baccala successful - it was delicious. Not being a walking around night we sloshed our way back to the hotel to do a little internet surfing before turning in.

The following day, we had better weather and walked to the Jewish Ghetto area and Jewish museum/synagogue. We had an English speaking guide for the museum (included in the admission price) and learned much about the ancient Roman Jewish community that dates back to before the time of Jesus. The synagogue has a square shaped dome to distinguish it from the round domes of churches and of course, it could not be built as high - a concession for allowing it to be built at all. If you go there, be sure to see the film - it is fascinating and shown alternately in Italian and English. [this tour is suitable for Presbytarians as well].

….We were surprised to find extensive excavations behind the museum and even more surprised to find another coliseum that had an apartment building built atop its walls. As might be expected, the Jewish section of Rome has a good number of kosher restaurants of all types.

….The following day was our last and the one where we would meet up with Jack once again. He was at our meeting place at the center fountain in the Piazza Navonna exactly on time and we rushed off for lunch at his favorite lunch place "Enoteca Cul De Sac" located at Piazza Pasquino 73. Jack stressed that we need to get there when they opened if we wanted to get a table and he was right - the place filled up with locals within a few minutes of opening. The food explained why, it was delicious. Jack and I both had a dish called Sicilian pasta and Mi Chica, in keeping with her vegetarian bent ordered something resembling a spinach soufflé which met her full approval. We washed it all down with Prosecco. ." This place is a real find that has made its reputation among locals for good cooking and the quality of its reasonably priced food. As its name would imply, it began as a wine bar and thus it has an outstanding selection of wines for a restaurant of its small size. {MTT – you would like this place!] Many of the wines can be bought by the glass. The decor is as expected- walls lined with bottles of wine. The tables are simple, service excellent and knowledgable and ambiance one of a place filled with happy local diners.

Its location is just steps from the Piazza Navonna, making it an ideal place for visitors to the Piazza and the many fodorites who prefer that area as a place to stay. It is small though and easy to miss. On the outside, it still looks like an Enoteca rather than a restaurant.

….Skipping to our trip back to the States, Max had ordered a car for us (50 Euro) and after breakfast we left for the airport in Mercedes style
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 04:51 PM
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I have just returned from Italy and we spent one night in Orvieto and wish we had more time. The underground tour had two English tours a day, 11am and I believe the 17:15.
http://www.orvietounderground.it/index.php?lang=en
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 05:10 PM
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basingstoke2, Grazie! Grazie! Thanks for all the valuable info. Much appreciated!!!! Enoteca Cul De Sac is now on my list. Be on the lookout for mye website next week with your smiling face from the GTG.

bfrac, thanks for the underground info. Looking forward to it!

After this week at work, I wish I could beam myself to Rome right now! Instead, I will opt for a bottle of red (or two).

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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 07:20 PM
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Anytime, MTT. Odd number rooms all face the street - even numbers the garden - numbers ending in 6 are rear corner rooms. The garden actually belongs to the convent next door. I have pictures of the hotel and room posted on
www.flickr.com/photos/basingstoke2/sets
The room shown is 206 and the garden pictures are taken from the room. The room is larger than it appears in the picture. On the picture of the hotel exterior, room 206 is on the third floor, far right.
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 08:32 PM
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If you go to Ostia Antica, it's worth having a guide. It is not as well pulicised as Pompeii, yet offers so much. I went with a group and had Rossa, an extremely intelligent young man who is obsessed with Ostia Antica. It was a worthwhile day. Oh, and I do love Pompeii, by the way.

Looks like you're going to have to extend your time, to take in all the great suggestions!
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Old Oct 30th, 2009, 08:37 PM
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Uffa!! I forgot to say the tour company is Angel tours.
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