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Honeymoon trip report - Rome, Siena, Florence Venice

Honeymoon trip report - Rome, Siena, Florence Venice

Aug 31st, 2003, 02:25 PM
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Honeymoon trip report - Rome, Siena, Florence Venice

Trip Report

Honeymoon
10 days in Rome/Siena/Florence/Venice ? arrived 7/29, departed 8/8

I spent countless hours on this site and want to thank my fellow posters and travelers for their candid opinions and advice. After 8 months of planning this trip (and a destination wedding!), our 3-week trip (which included 1 week in Palm Beach where we got married) was perfect. Did we see as much as we wanted to? No, but I don?t think you ever do. We had the unbelievable heat wave to contend with, especially in Florence where it was over 100 everyday. It was the trip of a lifetime and was the perfect honeymoon for us. We look forward to going back, especially to Venice, sooner rather than later.
Overall advice on flights and hotels - Flew Delta direct from JFK-Rome in business elite class on FF miles. Hint ? we booked ours 10 months in advance and got the date and flights that we wanted with ease. Accommodations ? except for our one night in Siena, we stayed at all Starwood properties. Excelsior (Rome), Grand (Florence) and Regina Europa (Venice); our room rate at all 3 properties was E295 and except for Rome, that rate included tax and ?American Breakfast?, which is your basic bfast buffet (Eggs, sausage, bacon, breads, pastries, juice, etc?) and by the way, the hotels charge E47 pp for this bfast if it?s not included (a mistake we made in Rome!) We had king size beds, air conditioning (thank goodness b/c we were there during the heat wave), amazing amenities (the Heavenly Bed is heavenly), beautiful appointments in the rooms and contrary to what many people on this board post ? the Starwood properties in Italy do not look like your average American hotel ? they are very European with grand opulence and the most amazing fabrics used in the décor of the rooms ? each room we stayed in felt like a room in a royal palace (well, that?s b/c most of the hotels were palaces at some point in the past). Anyway, the point being is that I kept checking the starwood site EVERY month for rates and from Oct ?02 when I started planning to Apr ?03 when I was done, I saved us over $1000 by canceling and re-booking the same rooms at lesser rates. I used the Internet extensively while planning this trip ? links and description will follow at the end. Another bit of advice, there are great books sold on the street (in each city) that show the ?ruins? as they are now with plastic overlays showing what the same ruin or building looked like in its heyday ? one of our guides from Scala Real actually introduced us to these books. They charge about E11 for them, but you can haggle them down to E9. They are published by Editrice Millenium (even the Vatican Museum sold them). We had one for Florence that included Fiesole. The Rome one is great too.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:25 PM
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Day #1
Arrived in Rome Tuesday morning very early w/ no euros and b/c our flight arrived so early, we had to wait for the ?change? kiosk to open as the ATM machine in the terminal was not cooperating. ADVICE ? GET SOME EUROS BEFORE YOU GO (we were just a bit lazy.) Took a taxi to our hotel, after a transcontinental flight and with the heat, the E50 was worth it. As luck would have it, our room was ready when we arrived so we were able to quickly shower, regroup and then head on out. Our hotel was on the Via Veneto so we were very close to the Borghese Gardens, which are just lovely and we just sort of got lost in there; we unfortunately did not have reservations at the museum (for our next trip). Our goal for Tues was to just get to know the city and relax. Made it to the Spanish Steps (no flowers!) but the heat was pretty terrible and my husband begged for a reprieve, so went back to the hotel and basically waited until the heat subsided.
Had our Scala Real night tour of Rome at 8pm (departs from Piazza Navona) so we went to the Piazza a bit early to have dinner before the tour. We ate at one of the café?s on the square ? great pizza (but very expensive diet cokes, which became a theme of the trip.) The Scala Real tour was amazing ? if you are on the fence trying to decide whether or not to spend the money/time ? you are missing out on a great experience if you let this one go by. Scala Real lived up to all the rave reviews on this site. And the welcome packet the have waiting for you at your hotel is full of useful information, including a calendar of events that are going on in Rome while you?re there. Tour ended at 11pm at the Spanish Steps. Our tour guide was Atta ? a Fulbright AND Mellon scholar studying in Rome from UC Berkeley. He was great.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:26 PM
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Day #2
Up bright and early for our second SR tour ? Ancient Rome ? in the morning. Met our SR guide, Laura, at the Coliseum and as luck would have it, we were the only customers for the day so we basically had a private tour. We are huge history buffs and b/c it was just us, Laura really tailored the tour towards our interests. We spent at least 2 hours just in the Coliseum area and we learned so much. Laura would quote passages from various ancient historians and then explain how modern day archeology can now interpret their meanings ? amazing. Laura actually starts the tour outside of the Coliseum at a smaller amphitheater ruin across the street (Ludicous Maximum) and explains that it was a gladiator training arena - w/o her explanation, you would just walk by the ?ruin? and say to yourself ?oh look, another ruin.? She also points to the hill that Nero supposedly was fiddling when Rome was burning, which she quickly discounts b/c besides the fact that history tells us Nero probably wasn?t even in Rome, but that he couldn?t have fiddled b/c the fiddle hadn?t been invented yet! After the Coliseum we headed to the Forum and spent another 2 hours in the Forum ruins. Laura then escorted us to the Pantheon as well (a bonus) and we said our good-byes at close to 2pm. We were starving at this point ? we had been on the go for over 5 hours and had lunch at a sidewalk café on the way back to the hotel for an afternoon siesta. Wed night we had tickets to ?La Traviata? in the courtyard of Basilica San Clemente (part of the New Rome Opera Festival.) We headed back out around 6:30 and had dinner at a café across the street from the church (pretty cheap and decent) and then attended the performance, which was wonderful. Afterwards, we headed back to Piazza Navona for decaf cappuccino and gelato before heading back to the hotel.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:27 PM
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Thursday
Up bright and early again (Steve nicknamed the Roman part of the trip our ?military honeymoon?) for our 9:15am Scavi Tour at the Vatican. None of the ticket machines in the subway station worked (And no toll booth operator) so we had to go back upstairs and luckily one ?Tabachi? shop was open that sold tickets. We were surprised by the subways themselves ? lots of graffiti ? actually we saw more graffiti in Rome than we do in Manhattan. Arrived at the Vatican with time to spare (the metro stop is about a 10 min walk to the Vatican). The Scavi Tour was another highlight of the trip and we highly recommend it (although if you?re claustrophobic, this is NOT the tour for you.) We stood in 2000 year old family tombs and walked on original pathways that have certainly stood the test of time. The excavations are truly amazing and it is awe-inspiring when later on you?re back up in St. Peter?s by the papal canopy and realize that just a little while ago you were standing beneath St. Peter?s directly beneath the canopy. It was very hot and very crowded at the Vatican so we didn?t wait in the line to go to the top of the basilica and unfortunately the Vatican Museum was also very very crowded (and hot). I forgot the directions on how to go out the back of St. Peters which takes you on a shortcut to the Vatican Museum ? I highly recommend bringing those directions with you as it will save you 15-20 minutes. Our one regret visiting the Vatican is that we should have booked the SR Vatican tour b/c after having such in-depth tours for the last 2 days; we were sort of at a loss at the Vatican. Take the advice of other posters on this forum and go to the Vatican very early if you want to see the Sistine Chapel in peace. Thurs afternoon I spent walking around the Veneto area and sat at a café and wrote postcards back home. Thurs night we headed back out at 6:00 and went to Café Greco for a coffee (as Steve said, ?if it was good enough for Keats and Byron, it?s good enough for me.?) It was wonderful and I recommend stopping in there to rest your weary sightseeing feet. Afterwards we sat at another outdoor café for pre-dinner drinks and got serenaded by an 8-yrd old accordion-playing Louis Armstrong impersonator. We then headed off to Tullio?s for our 8pm dinner reservation. Tullio?s had been recommended to us by family friends, and they did not steer up wrong. It?s located in the Veneto area off the Piazza Barberini. It?s a ?local? restaurant but is becoming more popular with tourists. We had a 4 course meal with a great bottle of Chianti for about US$140. Food was above average, service was good and ambiance was average. Afterwards, we took the advice of concierge.com and headed to Gusto?s for after dinner cocktails and jazz. Gusto?s (see concierge.com ofr address) is also a restaurant, and had we known, we probably would have had dinner there as well. There is a bar/lounge in the back of the restaurant where a live jazz band performs ? we had a great time (and the drinks were surprisingly inexpensive.)
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:28 PM
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Friday
Heading to Siena today via our Hertz rental car (automatic with a/c), which I reserved in advance on hertz.com. Picked up the car from the train station (which is a 10 minute walk from the Excelsior). Drove back to the hotel to pick up our luggage and off we went. Driving in Rome is not as scary as it seems as long as you stay out of the city center. Once you?re on the autostrada, it?s no different than being on any other major highway ? it?s actually easier b/c you don?t have all the behemoth SUV?s that you have to share the road with in the states ? it was actually refreshing. If you are not a fast driver, stay in the right lane. The road signs are everywhere, almost every 1-2 km the signs tell you how far you are from Florence. We decided to take the Autostrada right to Siena, rather than take the scenic route as we were looking forward to spending an afternoon relaxing by the pool at Certosa di Maggiano (www.certosadimaggiano.com) where we were spending our one night in Siena. We were on our way by 11am and arrived at Certosa di Maggiano by 1:30 (we had a hard time finding it once we got off the Autostrada ? their directions were ?less than perfect? and after about 30 minutes driving around trying to find it, Steve said, ?5 more minutes and were just going straight to Florence,? when all of a sudden I saw a sign with the hotel name and an arrow.) Certosa di Maggiano lives up to the rave reviews on this site, and if your budget allows, it is absolutely magical. The grounds are superb and the service is stellar. When we were shown to our room, a bottle of chilled wine and basket of fruit were already waiting for us. We quickly put on our bathing suits and headed down to the pool for our afternoon of relaxation ? just what 2 weary travelers needed. The pool is on a grass lawn surrounded by a vineyard, fruit trees and beautiful flowers. There is small altar on the grounds that has no ceiling, just walls ? a perfect spot to spend a moment alone, or together.
We headed into Siena around 6:30 (via taxi ? 5 min ride) and walked around visiting the sights and eventually returned to ?Il Campo? for a drink. The city so inspired us that we bought a watercolor painting of Il Campo. We returned back to the hotel as we decided to have dinner there. The restaurant serves haute cuisine and is more French than Italian ? we felt it was the ?Jean Jeorges? of Siena. The service was divine and the food was spectacular but very small portions. We walked about the grounds in the moonlight a bit and then retired to the drawing room for champagne and a cigar for Steve. Everyone else had gone to bed already so we basically had the place to ourselves.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:29 PM
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Thank you for sharing.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:29 PM
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Saturday
I spent to morning reading by the pool, writing postcards and catching up on my journal entries. We left Certosa around noon were planning on making the drive north to Florence via S222 through the Chianti region. The manager had called ahead to a vineyard (Castello d?Albola, [email protected]) and made a reservation for us at 2pm for a tasting/tour. Unfortunately, many of the larger Brunello vineyards were closed until September. The vineyard was a bit past Radda, where we stopped and picked up some bottles of water and soda (with all the curvy uphill/downhill hairpin turns ? I needed a little soda to ward off the motion-sickness!) After 5 minutes, I was fine and we were really able to enjoy the beauty of Radda. The views in Radda and all the scenic vistas on S222 are just breathtaking. In the beginning we were stopping every 6 minutes to take pictures and finally we made a pact that we had to stop, otherwise we?d never make it to Florence in one day. Our little Ford Opel was more like the ?little engine that could? and many times we had the accelerator floored and we were still rolling backwards! It was pretty amusing. We pulled into Castello d?Albola in time for our appointment and enjoyed a lovely hour learning about the process of their wine-making and touring the facilities. We bought a ? case of their Chianti Classico (100% sangiovese grape ? yummm) and ? case of their olive oil to give as gifts when we get home. The vineyard does not ship so we took the 2 boxes with us. The woman at the vineyard gave us a ?shortcut? to Greve and told us to turn off the main road and follow the signs to Greve Saturday
I spent to morning reading by the pool, writing postcards and catching up on my journal entries. We left Certosa around noon were planning on making the drive north to Florence via S222 through the Chianti region. The manager had called ahead to a vineyard (Castello d?Albola, [email protected]) and made a reservation for us at 2pm for a tasting/tour. Unfortunately, many of the larger Brunello vineyards were closed until September. The vineyard was a bit past Radda, where we stopped and picked up some bottles of water and soda (with all the curvy uphill/downhill hairpin turns ? I needed a little soda to ward off the motion-sickness!) After 5 minutes, I was fine and we were really able to enjoy the beauty of Radda. The views in Radda and all the scenic vistas on S222 are just breathtaking. In the beginning we were stopping every 6 minutes to take pictures and finally we made a pact that we had to stop, otherwise we?d never make it to Florence in one day. Our little Ford Opel was more like the ?little engine that could? and many times we had the accelerator floored and we were still rolling backwards! It was pretty amusing. We pulled into Castello d?Albola in time for our appointment and enjoyed a lovely hour learning about the process of their wine-making and touring the facilities. We bought a ? case of their Chianti Classico (100% sangiovese grape ? yummm) and ? case of their olive oil to give as gifts when we get home. The vineyard does not ship so we took the 2 boxes with us. The woman at the vineyard gave us a ?shortcut? to Greve and told us to turn off the main road and follow the signs to Greve Saturday
I spent to morning reading by the pool, writing postcards and catching up on my journal entries. We left Certosa around noon were planning on making the drive north to Florence via S222 through the Chianti region. The manager had called ahead to a vineyard (Castello d?Albola, [email protected]) and made a reservation for us at 2pm for a tasting/tour. Unfortunately, many of the larger Brunello vineyards were closed until September. The vineyard was a bit past Radda, where we stopped and picked up some bottles of water and soda (with all the curvy uphill/downhill hairpin turns ? I needed a little soda to ward off the motion-sickness!) After 5 minutes, I was fine and we were really able to enjoy the beauty of Radda. The views in Radda and all the scenic vistas on S222 are just breathtaking. In the beginning we were stopping every 6 minutes to take pictures and finally we made a pact that we had to stop, otherwise we?d never make it to Florence in one day. Our little Ford Opel was more like the ?little engine that could? and many times we had the accelerator floored and we were still rolling backwards! It was pretty amusing. We pulled into Castello d?Albola in time for our appointment and enjoyed a lovely hour learning about the process of their wine-making and touring the facilities. We bought a ? case of their Chianti Classico (100% sangiovese grape ? yummm) and ? case of their olive oil to give as gifts when we get home. The vineyard does not ship so we took the 2 boxes with us. The woman at the vineyard gave us a ?shortcut? to Greve and told us to turn off the main road and follow the signs to Greve rather than Florence ? the turn off was something out of that old folk song about Tipperary and we were certainly about to embark on the ?high road?, literally and figuratively. The turn-off was at least at a 60 degree incline and I was hesitant but Steve was the drive, so up we went. This ?road? was in white on my map, which indicated it was a country road ? it made 222 seem like the Long Island Expressway at rush hour! After about 5 minutes, the road went from pavement to GRAVEL ? and we were still going upwards. Not another car in sight, no houses, nothing. We figured that instead of going somewhat around the mountain on the lower roads, we were actually going up and over what we think was Mt. Domini according to our map. Needless to say, it was gorgeous and we were certainly encouraged when the ?road? began its downward sweep. After about 25 minutes, the gravel disappeared and the pavement began again (applause in the car) and we started to see some houses and the road signs began again (they were no road signs once we were up the mountain ? which was odd b/c everywhere else the roads are covered with them). It really only took us about 40 minutes or so to make our way from Castello d?Albola to Greve ? which is such a charming town. We parked, walked around, grabbed a late lunch (And some gelato) in the main piazza and did a little shopping ? and off we were to Florence. Took 222 into Florence and needed to find the airport. Unfortunately, the highways around Florence are under construction and they forgot to finish putting up the detour signs for northbound travelers. We got off and came back around going south and all the detour signs were visible. Got to the airport, dropped off the car, grabbed a cab and checked into the Grand. B/c it was our honeymoon, they gave us a room on the top floor with a balcony overlooking the Arno (And sent us a bottle of champagne!) Another stellar Starwood property. We got cleaned up (it was already after 7pm) and headed out to explore the city, which we were a bit disappointed in that first night. We ate in a mediocre restaurant in the Piazza Republica and then went for a stroll across the river to the Oltarno section (which became my favorite area). We walked along Borgo San Jacopo (which become Via d. Santo Spirito walking west), which is one block in from the Arno when you cross the Ponte Vecchio. We found a coupe of restaurants to eat in the next few nights and then made our way to La Dolce Vita (a bar) that we had read about in Fodors. It was more South Beach than Italy, but the drinks were good and we enjoyed ourselves. Florence was looking a little better to us now.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:30 PM
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Sunday
Woke up and it was 100+ degrees, blew off our reservation at the Accademia (some of you may consider that blasphemy!) but it seriously was too hot. Besides, there are numerous replicas of the David around Florence that we were bound to see anyway. I also failed to see the David when I visited Florence while I was in high school, so I figured that I am just not destined to see it. We did however go to our 3:45 reservation at the Uffuzi (after a late lunch and some limited shopping as most stores are closed on Sunday). The reservations are a must ? we avoided a pretty huge line and went right to the front of the security line. We did the audio tour and enjoyed it ? it put many things in perspective that we were looking at and enhanced the experience. The building itself it quite remarkable and I would have enjoyed a tour on the building itself ? maybe next time. Got our afternoon gelato along the Arno, right by the exit of the Uffizi (it was yummy) and walked back to the hotel in the sweltering heat ? let me put it in perspective, it was so hot that the soles of Steve?s shoes actually split from the heat of the pavement! We had 8pm dinner reservations at a restaurant in the Oltarno section that was located on the Jacopo/San Spirito street ? I can?t find the card from the restaurant anywhere ? if has ?Cinghalle? (not sure of spelling but I believe it?s pig or boar in Italian) in its name ? and they?re open Sunday and Monday, which is a rarity in Florence, especially in August). it has a glass storefront and brick inside, with about 10 tables in the front and then there?s another room in the back with about 8 more tables. This was my FAVORITE restaurant
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:31 PM
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oops, Sunday continued...
of the whole trip. The service was great ? they remembered us from the evening before. We ordered a carafe of the house red (delicious) and shared a mixed salad, a cheese plate and the most amazing Tuscan bread and tomato soup. Steve had the Osso Bucco, which he raved about and I had the house specialty, pappardele with wild boar ragout ? it was one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had. We also has cappuccinos, shared a tiramisu and they threw in 2 limoncellos ? all for E63! (there was a 10$ discount b/c we paid in cash). It was so good we decided to come back the next night as well (but I think that?s b/c Steve was jealous of my dish!) Because it?s summer, and we love being outdoors, we took the advice of Fodors (and confirmed by our concierge) and went to Vie de Fuga (the fodors book says ?Via?, but it?s really ?Vie.?) See Fodors.com for complete description under Florence/nightlife. The description does not lie ? this place is amazing! The night we were there they were showing Mr. Bean (tv episodes and the movie) on the big screen and there was a DJ. The entire place is covered in beach sand and has outdoor furniture. We stayed for a few hours, met some nice locals, drank and danced. If you are lucky enough to be in Florence when this place is open ? don?t miss it. Afterwards (around 1am) we were feeling adventurous so we decided to make the climb up to Piazzale Michelangelo, which was back on the other side of the Arno. We climbed the steps built into the side of the hill and when we finally emerged at the top, we couldn?t believe how many people were up there at 1:30 in the morning. There are also a few cafes up there that were still serving. The views are spectacular ? we could even see the twinkling lights of Fiesole. We stayed up there for a bit and then headed back down and across the Arno back to our hotel.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:31 PM
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Monday
Another day of oppressive heat. I was overruled on going to spend the afternoon in Fiesole to get out of the city so we did some more shopping, tried to hike up to Ft. Belvedere (we got lost and wound up in some very ritzy residential area that wasn?t even on our map. Hopefully, someone will read this and actually make it to Ft. Belvedere b/c they have great outdoor events as well and have a bar and restaurant up there as well. The view is supposed to be even better than Piazzele Michelangelo. Went back to the same restaurant from last night and it did not disappoint.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:32 PM
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Tuesday
8:35am eurostar train to Venice. I researched the trains on www.trenitalia.it before we left so I told the concierge at the Grand which train I needed tickets for when we had arrived in Florence. We went 1st class and with the surcharge the hotel added for ?delivery?, the tickets were about E40 each. The train station is only a 10 minute walk (w/ 2 large suitcases and 2 carry-on pieces) from the hotel, so we walked ? it wasn?t that bad. We waited for the track to be announced (much like the Long Island Railroad) and also figured out that you need to stamp your tickets before boarding the trains. Look for the orange ?boxes? mounted to the pillars at the beginning of the tracks. You need to ?stamp? your ticket at both ends. The train ride was great ? although it was hard finding a place for our 2 big bags, luckily we were sitting right in front of one of the single seats and the woman behind us was kind enough to let us put our bags next to her seat. We arrived in Venice about 2 hrs 45 minutes later and all I can say is WOW. There is nothing quite like emerging from the artificial light of the train station into the Venice sunshine and seeing the canals before you. It moved both of us to tears. We splurged for a water taxi (E60 for the direct route, E80 for the long way through the grand canal); we opted for the ?long way? and our driver (or do you say ?captain? b/c you are in a boat?) was great. He pointed everything out to us and gave us a brief history lesson of the city. He even took us past our hotel and went out into the lagoon to introduce us to more sights. We went through 1 ? rolls of film! We arrived at the Regina Europa and fell in love. You pull right up to their dock, unlike the Danieli whose dock is part of a ?bus? stop and has a major pedestrian thoroughfare between the hotel and the water. The E/R is much quieter and peaceful. We asked for a room with a balcony if possible, and were told that there are few rooms in the hotel with balconies overlooking the canal (And they?re 3x the rate) so they upgraded us to a jr. suite instead! And sent us a bottle of champagne and a box of chocolates. The hotel is stunning and it was by far my favorite in Italy. By staying at a Westin, you get privileges at the 2 Westin beach resorts on the Lido. Private complimentary launches go back and forth between the E/R and the Lido every hours (and the Danieli as well). You?re given essentially a Westin Club Card which allows you access. We took the 1pm to the Excelsior on the Lido and I can honestly say that this property blew me away ? I have been to the Martinez and the Majestic in Cannes, and this was far better. The pool area is spectacular (as is the beach) and you can charge back to your room at your respective hotel. We spent the afternoon swimming and laying in the sun and went back to Venice around 5pm to shower and explore the city. There are great event publications in Venice (published in English) and we inquired as to the 2 classical performances that we saw advertised (both in churches.) The concierge recommended one over the other and said it was not necessary to get tickets in advance so we decided to do that the following evening. That night we wandered, which is what we like to do, and came upon a great outdoor restaurant in a smaller piazza (Acqua Pazza ? sorry, don?t have the address but it?s but 5 minutes walking from San Marco ? there?s another fodorite who found it too who said it was recommended by Marcella Hazan, the Italian cookbook author). Food was WONDERFUL (Second favorite meal of the trip) traditional Venetian pasta/seafood dishes (HUGE PORTIONS ? recommendation ? order 2 appetizers and 1 main course, unless you?re very hungry) and at the end of the meal they bring you 2-3 bottles of homemade liqueurs ? limoncello, meloncello (my favorite) and orangecello. We had 2 apps, 2 main dishes (with lobster), 1 side dish, bottle of wine and the bill was E92. Not sure what the interior of the restaurant is like, but if you?re there during warm weather months ? I highly recommend. Walked through San Marco on the way back, got the obligatory daily gelato, watched the ?dueling orchestras? play a bit (do not sit down at a table unless you?re prepared to pay $$$$.) and then went back to E/R to have after dinner drinks on the floating bar on the grand canal. WE LOVE VENICE.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:33 PM
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WED/THURS
We spent both days at the Excelsior in the Lido and it was a great way to wind down our honeymoon. We didn?t feel pressured into sightseeing and it was nice just to relax and be pampered by a pool. On Wed evening we attended a performance by Interpreti Veneziani at the Chiesa San Videl, part of the ?Violins in Venice? concert series (www.interpretivveneziani.com) Tickets were E18 I think. They were amazing, so amazing in fact that we?re going to get one of their cd?s. We ate a very big lunch at the Excelsior at 3:30 so we skipped dinner and just went for gelato and drinks after the performance. Thursday morning we had reservations for the English-speaking ?Secret Trials of the Doge?s Palace.? Engl. Tours are at 9:55am, 10:45am and 11:35am and are E12.50, which includes regular admission to the Palace itself. The tour is about 90 minutes and it fascinating ? it was one of the highlights of the whole trip. We made our reservations the morning we arrived in Venice. We had dinner at a mediocre restaurant near the Rialto bridge on Thurs. It was so hard to say good-bye to Venice. The hotel arranged for motor launch service for us direct to the airport (E60 for both of us, no extra charge for luggage). We sat up on deck and I couldn?t stop crying ? Steve swore we?d come back someday ? I made him swear it would be in the next 5 years. And by the way, after traveling to the airport like that, I said I will only go to the airport from no on by yacht (is that possible living in Manhattan?)
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:34 PM
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Final thoughts on Venice - Venice is a city full of energy and vitality, more so in my opinion than Rome or Florence. Most of the stores are open until 9pm (and we found many to be open until 11); which made shopping for gifts (and for myself)much easier. People also dressed to the nines in Venice, day and night. Much more designer-ware in Venice than Rome or Florence, which surprised me. We bought beautiful Venetian glass house wares ? we started our wineglass collection here and bought 2, we bought a glass Christmas ornament for Steve?s parents and a Judaic ceremonial glass with inlaid 24k gold for my parents. We did a lot of shopping around before we settled on which store to purchase at ? we chose Murano Export Glass, 2357 San Marco (www.muranoexport.com) and we did haggle a bit. In my opinion, save your money for Venice ? the clothes, jewelry and house wares/gifts blew away what I saw in Rome and Florence.
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Aug 31st, 2003, 02:34 PM
  #14  
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Website I used/found/etc?
http://www.capitolium.org/eng/virtuale/virtuale.htm
http://www.castellobanfi.com/index.html
http://monterinaldi.it/en/ - email them with your address and they?ll send you a GREAT map of Chianti that we used while we were driving through the area. It even has the vineyard we visited on it.
http://www.concierge.com/rome/resources/entertainment/
http://www.eccolacucina.com/onedayclass.html - one day cooking classes in Tuscany!
http://www.vinaio.com/code/introduction.html - one day cooking classes and wine tasting in Florence
http://eat.epicurious.com/restaurant...ome/intro.html
http://www.florentia.org/ - SR-like group in Florence (I regret we didn?t use them)
http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/show..._20844,00.html - $40 a day dining in Rome
http://www.galleriaborghese.it/default-en.htm
http://www.starwooditaly.com/
http://www.florenceby.com/index.html - amazing website for accommodation around Florence (loads of B&B?s, farmhouses, etc?)
http://www.initaly.com/travel/lomax.htm - how to drive in Italy
http://www.montalcinoitaly.com/viseng.htm
http://www.newoperafestivaldiroma.com/eng.htm
http://www.thecatseyes.com ?like a European version of ticketmaster
http://www.relaischateaux.com/site/us/rc_certosa.html
http://www.romajazz.com/
http://www.scalareale.org/
http://www.twenj.com
http://www.theinternationalkitchen.c...on.htm#apicius
http://www.venicescapes.org/introduction.htm

jodalahh is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 02:51 PM
  #15  
ira
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 74,145
Wow. Great report. I think that your restaurant in Florence was Osteria del Cinghiale Bianco 43 Borgo San Jacapo.
ira is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 03:19 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 79
Enjoyed your trip report. We leave on Sept. 10 for Venice, Florence/Tuscany and the Cinque Terre. We will have to try some of your restaurant recs in Venice and Florence. If you can find the exact names of the restaurants, please update. I also appreciate the shopping advice. THanks!
tiffpolm is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 03:32 PM
  #17  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 82
Ira - Thanks so much for the restaurant name - that was it.

Tiffpolm - enjoy your trip and now you have the name of the place in Florence.
jodalahh is offline  
Aug 31st, 2003, 04:11 PM
  #18  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,113
Great report, jodalahh! I echo your sentiments regarding Venice.
Statia is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 01:11 PM
  #19  
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 92
jodalahh-- great report!

thank you for all of the info.

i'm really impressed by how you found the hotel prices you indicated at those hotels!

i'm planning my honeymoon for next june and unfortunately, when i look up rates at those hotels, mostly they are in the $500 plus category.

any advice? did they start out that high when you began looking last year?

thx!!
nbs_mjs is offline  
Sep 1st, 2003, 01:14 PM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 1,407
Great detail, helpful links, awesome report! Glad you had a great honeymoon!
BrimhamRocks is offline  

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