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Finally...our 19 day glorious October 2007 (very long detailed) trip report to Italy!

Finally...our 19 day glorious October 2007 (very long detailed) trip report to Italy!

Old Mar 22nd, 2008, 10:33 PM
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lanaimike...

You are our kindred soul. We, too, have great memories of Burgus cafe and bar.

Could you believe the moon there? I swear one night we looked out of our stone window and saw this large crescent shaped moon so large that we felt we could reach out and touch it. I took a photo, but alas doesn't do it justice.

Maybe I should hush and we can keep La Mala all to ourselves.

Vernazza has a permanent stamp on our hearts....forever.

P.S. Small world...Aloha! I'm actually from Hawaii (originally). We're leaving in 3 days for the Big Island and Oahu.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2008, 06:28 AM
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FLORENCE RECAP

Ooops, I got carried away and kept on going to CT without recapping Florence.

So here it goes….

Our Florence Photo Album: http://flickr.com/photos/debandstan/...10375794/show/

NOTE: we have one more day in Florence before we leave (10/28). Stay tuned…..we do the Duomo, climb to the top, visit the Museo Duomo, eat the best gelato in our entire stay and go to Piazzale Michelangelo to say goodbye.

Wish we did (for the next trip): Fiesole, Science Museum, Oltarno (artisan workshops and cool boutiques), rent bikes, shop more, Cooking class with Faith Willinger, walking history tour with Artviva tours, Fra Angelico at the San Marco, Pitti Palace and the Boboli gardens (our list is so long, we have to go back and stay longer!)

Glad we did: museum reservations in advance (a must!...glide right by the lines), dinner reservations in advance, climb to the top of the duomo, Piazzale Michelangelo, dine at La Giostra, and Il Guscio.

Just a note about hotels: we wanted to stay at Tourist House Ghiberti or Alloro B & B. Both were already booked. We chose our inn based on location which being smack in the heart of the city proved to be the perfect choice for us. Our last night in Florence, we stayed at Il Residenzia Villino. This place is a gem. We highly recommend it. Owner Sergio goes over and beyond to make sure your stay is fabulous. Reasonable prices too. http://www.ilvillino.it/home.cfm

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Old Mar 23rd, 2008, 07:03 PM
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Bookmarking!

Thank you!!!

8-)
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Old Mar 24th, 2008, 06:45 PM
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Thanks for the tunes recommendations. Can't wait for the next report on the CT, (which I think will be one of my favorite destinations of our 3 week adventure).
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Old Mar 24th, 2008, 07:06 PM
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bookmarking
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 07:56 AM
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CINQUE TERRE-PART 2

….Vernazza….a slice of heaven on earth!


Our Cinque Terre Photo Album: http://flickr.com/photos/debandstan/...32316280/show/

OUR FAVE HIGHLIGHTS

*Our new (best) friends from Canada…they became our partners in adventure and crime!

*Hiking, Hiking, Hiking

*Getting lost in the Italian Pine Forest

*The charming picturesque town of Vernazza

*Da Piva’s Trattoria: the food, the music, the locals…a MUST!

*The regional food: mouthwatering focaccia, pesto to die for, seafood

*CT’s white wine and limoncino (their version of limoncello)

*La Mala Inn….the perfect inn in a perfect town

*Burgus café and bar….a great place with it all: vibe, art, tunes and local flavor.

*excellent shopping…I picked up fabulous gifts from here!

*and last, but certainly not least….Antonio the town fixture and Casanova!

DAY 7 (October 17, 2007 Wednesday

We walk in……

IDYLLIC LA MALA INN
La Mala Inn……We’re blown away. A contemporary, sparkling clean gem of an inn with great attention to detail located in this charming town of Vernazza. All this wrapped up in a traditional Ligurian house with a gorgeous stone terrace looking out to the sea.

This place rocks. As we walk in, we are greeted with a gallery on the wall of black and white arty photos of Vernazza.

When viewing the website, it was the stone terrace (shared by all guests) that sold me. I could envision spending a lot of time here winding down after a long hike, a place to have a sunset drink and a place to reflect.

We walked in and I’m giddy. Our room is #26 (which can accommodate 3 people). The all white room and modern bathroom were both very spacious which gave a nice backdrop to the azure sea and sky.

The main room had 3 x-large windows with crisp white roman shades that flooded the room with sunlight. We could crawl out the windows (which we did) onto the terrace. We loved our room....completely private with no adjoining walls (to the other rooms) only a room upstairs which we didn’t hear a peep out of during our entire stay.

We had a bonus room downstairs complete with daybed closet, fridge (with complimentary gift of a couple beers and waters) and window cut out in the stone wall that overlooked the sea. This worked out perfectly for us....we set up our luggage and clothing in this bonus room which kept our main room uncluttered.

The elements used in this inn spared no expense. The x-large casement windows closed airtight for privacy and opened 2 ways (swung open and cracked open at the top) so you can hear the ocean at night. The bathroom fixtures and water pressure were excellent.

I could stay here forever. Does this place really exist? Forget about the outdoors, I could stay here indoors and be perfectly happy…except I may sneak out onto the terrace from time to time. If the forecast calls for rain…it’s quite alright.

La Mala isn't the cheapest place in Cinque Terre (our room: 150E a night during low season…there are 2 rooms that are smaller and less expensive), but you'll get your money's worth and more!

Next….Incredible Sunset (the first of 3) in Vernazza and mouthwatering Pesto Lasagna at Saldarno’s.
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 09:30 AM
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adventureseeker,

Is there a website for La Mala Inn? It looks wonderful!

And I'm still loving your trip report!
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 09:45 AM
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Samsaf,

Grazie!

Ooops...here it is:

LA MALA INN
http://www.lamala.it/en/index.html

I almost hate to give it out and keep it all to myself.

Check out tripadvisor.com for some great reviews.

Ciao...for now!
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 01:06 PM
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Thanks very much for the website. I've saved it to my "favorites" for 2010.
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Old Mar 25th, 2008, 08:53 PM
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CINQUE TERRE-PART 3

DAY 7 (October 17, 2007 Wednesday)

PICTURESQUE VERNAZZA
We unpack a bit and are looking forward to our upcoming 3 nights at this inn. We checked out the terrace which had a front row seat to the sea. Time to explore this picturesque town!

We walked down the 83 steps that spills right onto the heart of town. We love this place. I knew it was going to be fabulous, but wow!

WHAT'S NEW PUSSYCAT?
At the bottom stairs is a trio of cats. There is a rug which they lay on. This trio is the most pampered and photographed residents of all Vernazza (which I’ll refer to as V throughout the rest of this report).

We see so many gato (cat) throughout CT that I dedicated a whole photo gallery just to them!

CT Cat Photo Gallery: http://flickr.com/photos/debandstan/...7604120829119/

It’s late afternoon and by now, the daytrippers have gone and the town has thinned out. I spy a couple boutiques and enotecas that I can't wait to check out, but the sunset is calling us.

We take a short walk to V’s charming harbor. People are gathered at cafes sitting at tables w/ umbrellas. Others have found their place on the rocks to watch the sun go down.

We spy a café/bar spills right onto the harbor. People are gathered outside chatting away. We recognize the name of this place: Burgus Café’and Bar. This is where La Mala has given us coupons for breakfast in the morning. DH and I are in need of a glass of wine to toast our first V sunset. We mosey on in.

Burgus is very small and narrow with seating for about 6. Most folks just go in, order and bring their drinks outside. It's a very social kinda place with excellent design elements: a mix of teak, glass and stone. It also has great vibe, tunes and art. I can already tell I’m going to love breakfasts here.

The place is busy and the counter is lined with wines to order by the glass. We both choose CT’s very own white wine. It’s actually quite good and a bargain at 3E a glass.

CINQUE TERRE SUNSET
We walk closer to the water and find a rock to sit on. A nearby fisherman is catching his dinner. Colorful boats are bobbing. The sea is blue-green crystal clear. In shallow areas you can see the pebbles on the bottom. We look back at the town of Vernazza with its buildings all awash in corals, gold, greens and ochre.

The sky turns a brilliant orangey pink. It’s a gorgeous sunset in CT. A very nice welcome indeed.
DH goes back for a second round of vino. We chat w/ a local (he’s a National Park shuttle driver during the day and Burgus regular by night) and ask for recommendations for dinner. He tells us the best food is closest to the train station (after 3 dinners in this area, we’re happy to report…he’s right on!).

We see Gamba and his entourage of strapping Italian lads decked out in fashion labels are here with a pack of cute Italian gals. He recognizes us and gives us a nod. Indeed, a tough life in a fishing village!

PESTO LASAGNA...TO DIE FOR!
We’re past hungry. We follow the local’s advice and head away from the harbor for dinner. We decide on a ristorante called Da Sandro and grab a table outside. We’re greeted with an extremely pleasant server.

We order up some of the regions prized offerings: anchovies, sautéed spinach w/ garlic, grilled local fish, pasta with calamari, a bottle of CT white vino, and the top dog….mouthwatering pesto lasagna. We could’ve eaten a couple more plates of the lasagna…it was that incredible (the next night we hoped to dine there once again w/ friends, but alas…they were out of pesto lasagna). Total: 65E


THE MOON...THAT'S AMORE'!
We head up the 83 stairs to our inn. Once in, we go to our bonus room downstairs and open the window in the stone wall and sit on the daybed listening to the ocean below. It’s soothing and peaceful. Out on the ocean we see the most amazing moon….it looks like an almond with an eerie glow. We could almost reach out and touch it.

Next….. A day packed full of adventure: Riomaggiore, meeting our new BFF (best friends forever) from Canada, taking an off the beaten path hike where we get lost in the pine forest.

NOTE: I will be on vacation for the next 12 days and will finish my report upon my return…..STAY TUNED!

Ciao...for now!
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 04:08 AM
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Aloha adventureseeker. Enjoy your vacation and get back to us soon with both reports.
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 06:57 AM
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Thank you so much for your trip report thus far. This is one of the best trip reports i have ever had the privileged to read. We did a VERY similar trip 2 years ago and it is bring back so many great memories!!! Cant wait to read the rest of your report.

Thanks again !!!
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 07:33 AM
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Oh no, I have to wait for 12 days!!!

Have a great vacation, but hurry back and finish, OK?
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 09:15 AM
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We leave for Venice, Florence, Rome, Milan in 10 days!!! This is a such a great report - I can't wait to read more.....
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 10:24 AM
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suz1672,

Have a great time on your trip. FYI: we spend our last night in Florence.

Our fave highlight of our entire stay was climbing to the top of the Duomo. It blew our socks off. If you're not claustrophobic and can handle the 470+ steps up in narrow stairs....its so worth it. The views from the interior and of the Florence from above were breathtaking.

Also...find a place on the outskirts of Florence to watch the sunset. (We did the popular Piazzale Michelangelo).

Buon Viaggio!

Ciao...for now!
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 05:50 PM
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"Oh no!" for me too! We leave for Venice, CT, Florence,Tuscany/Umbria, Rome in 12 days! So disappointed we will miss the rest before we leave. Hope you have a GREAT adventure on your vacation--thanks again for your report!
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 06:02 PM
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12 whole days to wait for the next installment!? You're killing me!
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 06:48 PM
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Dear Adventure Seeker,
I can't believe you have left us all in a lurch (tee hee)! I hadn't even realized when i began reading your travelogue today that you were really in the midst of writing it. I have spent the whole afternoon reading EVERY WORD about Venice and CT (and cutting and pasting 90% of it into my own collection of info.)
We are heading to Venice, CT, Paris and Antibes this summer with our two teenage daughters and i am in the midst of collecting LOTS of information.
It really is amazing how informative your travelogue has been. I was telling my family over dinner about all of your insights and can't wait to show them your photos too (which are excellent by the way!)so that they can get excited about our trip.
I look very forward to the rest of your story! I wish i could send you out as a scout for all of my journeys so i would always feel like i new where i was going even before i went!!
MOLTO GRAZIE!
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 06:59 PM
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TO GRACIE04...
I, of course, after reading adventureseeker's travelogue was dying to stay at Locando Orseolo but unfortunately we would need 2 rooms there(we have our 2 teenage daughters traveling with us)and they are each $360/nt.
I saw that you are staying at Cortina Grimani so looked it up and it looks quite nice and the price is better (and the amount of room for all of us too!.)
I have spent days researching places to stay for various locations during our upcoming June trip and would love to just have someone say, "Stay here - look no further - we have done all the research and have read many wonderful reviews - we know you'll love it!!"
I was hoping you would tell me that and i could be done with my search for a Venice hotel.
What do you think??? Can i stop looking?!!
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Old Mar 26th, 2008, 08:35 PM
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adventureseeker-

Thanks so much for the thorough- and thoroughly enjoyable- trip report! I took my 30-yr-old daughter to Venice/Florence/Rome last year and we cried, too, when leaving Venice. We both cannot wait to go back to Italy. She is dying to take her husband! (wonder why-- hahaha)

I love your pictures of the cats of V- I have three of my own lovelies. I love the pic of the four "snugglers". Interesting trivia- did you know that only one in every 3000 Calico cats is a male? True!

And just wanted to put in my 2 cents on something you said--
so we ordered one classic Margharita and salad (to share…which is really a no-no in Italia.) I have to totally disagree with this sentiment. Indeed, we were encouraged by friends that this is quite normal, and even practiced saying, "uno per due". We pretty much ordered four or five dishes and always "uno per due" because we wanted to taste everything! (And we DID!) The wait staff everywhere we went in Italy seemed totally non-plused by our requests. (We, too, tried to speak some Italian wherever we went and practiced mostly at dinner!)

PS We had our best meal in Florence at Semidivino, my favorite being little pasta packages stuffed with gorgonzola and pear and served on a little smear of a balsamic and cream sauce, then sprinkled with toasted pine nuts. OHMYGOSH!!!

Looking forward to your remaining report!!!

Paula
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