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Ger’s Italian Trip Report: Padua, Ferrara, Siena, Perugia and Florence


Oct 3rd, 2017, 09:31 AM
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Ger’s Italian Trip Report: Padua, Ferrara, Siena, Perugia and Florence


I returned on Sunday from Italy. This holiday was probably the best ever. I travelled alone, so it was a completely self-centred experience: I enjoy the freedom of not having to pander to anyone else’s requirements, doing exactly what I want, at my own pace. My own pace tends to be warp-speed, which is why most people would not be interested in travelling with me anyway.

I thought 17 days would be enough to satiate my desires, but it has not, and I am experiencing the usual melancholy that we all encounter on return to normal life after an exciting trip to a place we dearly love.

I thought I should start my trip report, so I can live through it all again while the memory is fresh in my mind, which might help me get over my melancholy.

The Itinerary

Thank you to everyone that contributed to my planning. My itinerary was revised many, many times: The more I read, the more I wanted to see. I finally ended up with the following itinerary:

Fri 15th Sept: Fly from London City Airport to Venice. Explore Padua. Stay Padua
Sat 16th Sept: Explore Padua. Stay Padua
Sun 17th Sept: Day trip to Vicenza. Stay Padua
Mon 18th Sept: Explore Padua. Stay Padua
Tues 19th Sept: Day out with a guide to visit Palladio villas (Villa Emo, Villa Barbaro, Villa Foscari). Stay Padua
Wed 20th Sept: Morning exploring Vicenza. Afternoon exploring Padua. Train to Ferrara in the evening. Stay Ferrara
Thurs 21st Sept: Explore Ferrara. Stay Ferrara
Fri 22nd Sept: Explore Ferrara. Two trains to Siena in the evening. Stay Siena
Sat 23rd Sept: Explore Siena. Stay Siena
Sun 24th Sept: Explore Siena. Bus to Perugia in the evening. Stay Perugia
Mon 25th Sept: Explore Perugia. Stay Perugia
Tues 26th Sept: Day trip by bus to Gubbio. Stay Perugia
Wed 27th Sept: Day trip by bus to Assisi. Stay Perugia
Thurs 28th Sept: Day trip by bus to Todi. Stay Perugia
Fri 29th Sept: Day trip by train to Spello. Train to Florence in the evening. Stay Florence
Sat 30th Sept: Explore Florence. Stay Florence
Sun 1st Oct: Explore Florence. Late afternoon flight from Florence to London City Airport

The Technology

A bit of advice on Technology:

A Smart-Phone is your best travelling companion: I used to say that the only traveling companions I really needed was a passport and a credit card. Now, I will add a Smart-Phone (iPhone in my case) to that list. I used it for navigation from A to B, as I explored the towns (absolutely vital for me, who cannot read a map to save my life); to find and book restaurants when I was on the go; to check train times; to check opening times of attractions; to download and read information on-line on towns, museums and galleries. I foresee a time, in the very near future, when I completely ditch bringing guide books with me, and rely totally on my iPhone. In addition, I download my Audible books and Netflix movies to my phone to listen and watch when on trains and in restaurants. I also use my phone to take pictures in churches and museums.

Portable Power Bank: An absolute necessity if you use your Smart Phone as much as I do during the day. Very cheap and worth the investment. I brought two with me, just in case.

Multiple USB Charger: I bought one in TKMAXX for about £12 – charges 5 devices and weights almost nothing. It was so useful. In the first hotel, there was only ONE Power outlet, so I would have been in trouble had I not had it. I was able to plug in my iPhone, iPad, camera, two power banks each night.

Next: The Hotels

Best regards … Ger
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Oct 3rd, 2017, 10:13 AM
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>>>I bought one in TKMAXX for about £12 <<<

Is there really a TKMAXX? I knew that was in a clip with Jennifer Saunders from the last AbFab movie, but I thought she was just changing the name slightly from the American store T J Maxx.
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Oct 3rd, 2017, 10:14 AM
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I'm looking forward to this!
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Oct 3rd, 2017, 10:26 AM
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Same chain. I used to buy in TJ Maxx when I lived in Canada.

Hello bvlenci
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Oct 3rd, 2017, 11:52 AM
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The Hotels

All hotels were booked on Hotels.Com, and I took advantage of ‘free rooms’ I had earned from previous vacation and business trips. This saved me about £200 on hotels. I downloaded the APP to my iPhone, and had all the booking details available. Highly recommend this site. I have used the site for two years, multiple hotels, and have never had a problem. Before booking the hotels on Hotels.com, I checked out the hotels own websites, and other sites, and confirmed I was getting a good deal on Hotels.com. I did not contact the hotels directly to asked for a better deal than Hotels.com.

Padua: Methis Hotel and Spa



Hotel is not in the historic centre, but just a 10 minute walk to the historic centre. Room was large, very clean, quiet and very comfortable. Staff are extremely friendly and helpful. TV had about 10 English speaking news channels, including BBC and CNN. I got hooked on the Japanese and Korean channels, which had excellent documentaries. Breakfast was European – meats, cheeses, cereals, yogurt etc. I recommend this hotel. Good value for money. Within 4 minutes’ walk, there is a really good pizza restaurant, frequented by the locals.

Ferrara: Hotel Corte Estense



You could not get a better location than this hotel – only a 2 minute stroll to the main square. Stay here just for this convenience. The decor is old-fashioned, but the room was large, and absolutely spotlessly clean. It’s a family-run hotel, so the service is friendly and helpful. It offers and excellent breakfast. I recommend this hotel. Good value for money, with an excellent location.

Siena: Hotel Palazzetto Rosso



This was the very best hotel of the trip – just beautiful! It is just off the main street, about 10 minutes’ walk to the Campo. Originally, it was a hostel for pilgrims on their way to Rome. Recently, it was converted to a hotel, with a focus on eclectic, quirky décor. My room was very large and gorgeous, looking onto the street. The bed was extremely comfortable, with four perfect pillows – I got the best sleep. Fabulous bathroom. Stellar service. I HIGHLY recommend this hotel. It is a three star hotel, but I would give it at least five stars.

Perugia: Sina Brufani



I paid 108 Euros per night for a FIVE star hotel, including breakfast. What is NOT to like about this? It’s a typical 5-Star hotel, and everything was perfect. The room was large and comfortable, lovely bathroom, great bed and pillows. The breakfast was exhaustive. The location is excellent, right at the top of the town, 5 minutes’ walk to the main square, and within 15 minutes access to the bus station, where I took the buses to Gubbio, Todi and Assisi. I HIGHLY recommend this hotel.

Florence: Room Mate Luca



I did minimal research on hotels in Florence for this trip. Hotels in Florence have become so very expensive! Luckily, I have earned a free night on Hotels.com, so I got a discount, but it still worked out at £170 per night. Its another quirky design hotel, so I liked the décor of my room. Service was very friendly and helpful. Breakfast was excellent. Location was great – just 20 minutes’ walk to the Duomo. However, it caters to the bus-loads of travellers: Day one it was the Spanish, day two it was the Americans. I would stay here again, based on the friendly service, but if I stay in Florence again, I’d probably try to find an hotel in Oltrano.

Next: The Restaurants
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Oct 3rd, 2017, 12:43 PM
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Oct 3rd, 2017, 04:49 PM
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So agree about the technology and so sorry I talked my husband out of buying 2 power packs for $25 at Costco before we left for France. What was I thinking?

Looking forward to the restaurants Ger.
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Oct 4th, 2017, 08:16 AM
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Thanks, Ger. Very useful information. You chose well. Nice and reasonably priced hotels. Looking forward to your restaurant recommendations.
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Oct 4th, 2017, 11:27 AM
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Me too!
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Oct 4th, 2017, 04:11 PM
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Very informative, looking forward to more.
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Oct 5th, 2017, 12:50 PM
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I have a power pack with me constantly now - so useful.

They look like great hotels, Ger - if I may say so, as I get older I become less tolerant of grotty places. Life is too short to waste time being unhappy and uncomfortable.
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Oct 5th, 2017, 03:41 PM
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Ger, we always have a power pack with us these days, can't travel without one.
You went tomany places I haven't visited for years and am now pining to return to. We're going to Lago Maggiore and Milano for 15 days in November but would love to revisit the places you've been, and will, hopefully soon.

You know I always hang on every word of your trip reports. Thank you.
And when are you coming to visit us, eh?
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Oct 5th, 2017, 06:52 PM
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I am so excited to read this, Ger -- We just stayed at Sina Brufani and DH loved it (I had stayed there before and already loved it!) Hotel Fortuna has been a Fodors fave but I MUCH prefer Brufani.

A friend and I are staying at the same hotel in Ferrara next March!

Check out Hotel David next Florence visit -- we are staying there on the March trip so I will report on it then.

Looking forward to more! Could you share what model Iphone you have and how much memory?
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Oct 5th, 2017, 06:59 PM
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And when are you coming to visit us, eh?

St Cirq are you Canadian?
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Oct 5th, 2017, 09:17 PM
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Grazie mille Ger. This is such useful and practical information! I take Italian language classes in my home country and am planning an immersion course in Northern Italy sometime in the Spring.
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Oct 6th, 2017, 01:42 AM
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buona fortuna, Elisabeth. Where are you thinking of going? My friends just went to Bologna to a language school there and I was originally going to go with them but life intervened, sadly. They said it was excellent. I've been to 4 all told and they were all good in their own different ways - it depends what you want really. Happy to discuss further if you would like.
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Oct 6th, 2017, 03:59 AM
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Hi there:

thanks for your feedback, it encourages me to continue .

Glad you guys have discovered the power banks. I use my phone so much during the day, I am usually out of juice within 3 hours, and I am useless without it!

Also want to remind you guys travelling from UK that with Vodafone (for example on our company plane) I had a 5GB limit for text etc. This is a LOT. However, I used it up a few days by the end of my vacation, as I had to check-in on Facebook every day to put my sisters' minds at ease (otherwise, they would not let me travel ) and I usually uploaded a picture of where I was, and also, I used the navigator app extensively, as I am a complete incompetent reading a map. I use a company phone, so I had to get our admin to increase the limit (I pay them when the bill comes in), so spent about 36 hours getting hopelessly lost in Umbrian hill towns.

The multiple device charger should also be considered - in one hotel there was only ONE power outlet. Two people traveling with phones and cameras - it would be difficult to get everything charged.

Sundried: I have an iPhone 6S from work that is now 3 years old, so I am due an upgrade. I will admit that before I had an iPhone (or any of these device types), I could not understand why people bothered. After three years using it, I can't fathom how I managed without it. Just for the ability to find my way from A to B, I may have saving about an hour a day of frustration. Great for booking restaurants - find the reviews, make a booking and find the restaurant!

More to come
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Oct 6th, 2017, 06:17 AM
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LOL, Sundried!
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Oct 6th, 2017, 06:27 AM
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Ann: I left grotty ages ago. I generally spend my evenings in the hotel, so I want something that is a least clean, and has a bit of character.

Annw: I only stay at a 5-star hotels when the price is right, even if travelling on business. I was shocked at how cheap the Sina Brufani was at 108 per night. Clientele was predominantly well-heeled Japanese in small tour groups, and a handful of Americans. Also, I need to limit your expectations about the hotel in Ferrara - it is NOT anything like the Sina Brufina. It is old-fashioned, and not at all grand. The decor : Its a bit like going to stay with your Great-Aunt Matilda. But the location is perfect, it is spotlessly clean and my bathroom was very modern. I would highly recommend it, but don't expect the same ambiance as Sina Brufini .

Mellen: You KNOW I want to visit! I am having the same struggle as you - there are so many places to see and so little time. I had already planned a whole trip to Madrid and Andalusia for September, and then discovered that it was going to be in the 80s/90s, which I could not endure. Hence I put this trip to Italy together instead. So, that Spain trip is now going to be in Spring. I am thinking maybe September next year. OR, I need a long weekend in Paris sometime in November this year, so maybe we can meet up then?
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Oct 6th, 2017, 07:51 AM
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Well, I'm still kicking myself a bit that we had to change our England plans to eliminate London, as we were looking forward to seeing you there.

November in Paris probably won't work for us, as we have an Italy trip planned November 2-14, but maybe you could swing by on your way to Spain next spring? September is also quite lovely here. We'll work something out, I'm sure.

Anyway, onward with the trip report, which of course I'm enjoying immensely.
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