Italia in l'autunno... A trip report...

Nov 27th, 2000, 05:37 AM
  #1  
Debbie Lee
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Italia in l'autunno... A trip report...

Good evening Fodorites... My husband and I returned from our 15th year 'luna di miele' (honeymoon!!) last week and if there are any that are interested, I'd like to share some of the highlights. I know that I would often scout the forum looking for news from those that had just returned, so now it's my turn!! Firstly, a very big THANK YOU to all those wonderful folks that shared their experiences and journeys that made our trip that much more enjoyable and 'user friendly'. I asked all kinds of questions from what kind of footwear to wear, to the best place to stay in our budget in Venice, and most questions were helpfully and happily answered.... So again, thank you so very much!!

We left Australia on the 16th October,leaving our four children with my step mum, and were gone for 28 days. My husband is of Italian heritage and this 'dream' of going to Italia is something we have spoken about for many, many years. His parents live on the other side of Australia and this was our first opportunity to meet many of the rest of the relatives, who live in Rome.

Rome was absolutely amazing!! I am from a relatively small city in the country (25,000 pop) so was a bit worried that I wouldn't like Rome at all. It was NOTHING like a expected!! It had rained heavilly for a couple of days before we arrived, so everything smelled so fresh and sweet! I couldn't believe it!! Our first walk from our cousins home down to the San Giovanni in Laterano (sp?) was wonderful! Everything is so full, and vibrant and colourful!! The people were wonderful, also full, vibrant and colourful!! My first view of the Fontana di Trevi, was totally breathtaking... I litterally almost cried!! It was so beautiful and not like what I thought! I was thinking more like a pond, with waterfalls, I think... not this huge, awesome wall of incredible architecture with a beautiful serene pool in the front... It was my favourite spot in Rome... that I am sure I shared with a few thousand others!!
 
Nov 27th, 2000, 05:56 AM
  #2  
Debbie Lee
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Part Two...

We were in Rome for 5 days, staying with the relatives there. It was a constant merry-go-round of visiting just about everything that could be visited! From the Ancient City to the cemetaries (an incredible experience in itself!)and all of the assorted churches etc.. in between. I must say (and it's often said here!) that my most memorable moments in Italia are mostly just the wandering around and 'discovering' little piazza's, or fountains, or a little cafe bar... all those little things that make up the 'feel' of Italia... It was hard to try and explain that to our relly's, as they didn't want us to miss out on a thing! - but, we knew our time was coming. They are a wonderful gracious people, and were so 'thrilled' to share their very own "Vittoria Emmanuel Monument", or the Pantheon, or the Governemnt Houses with us. We were very blessed with them.

So, our part commenced on the first Sunday morning when we left to go to a church in Frosinone, about an hour by train from Rome. We had a 'Kilometrico' pass, which was 3000 kms, and we could both use it. All up, our total training costs (inc the 3 day Vaporetta ticket in Venice)was $500 Aud (approx 600,000 Lit) We thought that was excellent, considering we went all around Italy with a minimum of fuss. We had a couple of Eurostar supplements in there, and one point to point from Venice back to Rome by Eurostar. There were also luggage collecting bays where for a small amount (3000 Lit) the train station kept your baggage whilst exploring Pompeii, Pisa etc. The trains were great to travel in, so long as you look at it as 'what an adventure'!! Just be careful of too much baggage... there are LOTS and LOTS of stairs in Italy!!
 
Nov 27th, 2000, 06:24 AM
  #3  
Debbie Lee
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Part Three....

Frosinone was a 'suburban' style town... We didn't go for the tour, just the people... and it was great.

Monday morning we left for Sorrento.. Something that we discovered along the way, is that it takes so long to get anywhere... You find yourself waiting for trains quite a bit... one of the benefits of having a car... but then again, if you had one there, you'd probably have to DRIVE it, and that would be scary.... especially in Rome... VERY SCARY!! So, we reached Sorrento about 3:30pm, and found the hotel by about 4:30pm... We were told the wrong way, and had to walk all back the way we'd come (with too much luggage!!) to the hotel. Not a great hotel, and the only one that I couldn't find anyone on this site who had actually stayed there!! The Hotel Leone it was called... The brochure said 'a beautiful view'... but it was a view of the hotel/apartment block next door!! No ocean views at all!! Disappointing, but then all the school kids from England arrived to fill up the hotel... no view, and noisy!! Oh well, you get that!! It kind of soured my view of Sorrento, BUT, the next morning we took the bus to Amalfi, and that was absolutely BEAUTIFUL!! Much more what I thought it would be... and after a few hours, we took the boat to Positano, which was just lovely... so relaxing... When we arrived, we strolled up to the main piazza where they have a wonderful array of artists with watercolours, oils, sketches... beautiful reminders of the Amalfi coast... if you can afford it... We just looked... We also came across the 'La Syrenuse' that was featured in the movie "Only You", and that was just gorgeous too... Just thinking of it makes me smile!!

The next day we were heading up to Florence, and visited Pompeii on the way. This was really a very easy thing to do, as the luggage collection holds worked very well. We arrived in Florence for our 5 day sojourn there in the late afternoon. We stayed at a wonderful little pensione called 'Il Bargellino' for 120,000 Lit per night, very clean, fluffy thick white towels, hot water, a room with French doors connecting to the Terrace outside... and wonderful, friendly hosts. The lady's name is Carmel, an American who has lived there for about 20 years, married to an Italian. They were so hospitable, and I really can't say enough good things about them. The hotel was fully booked all the time we were there (end of October) so book ahead if you want to stay there. (I booked 7 - 8 months in advance)

Florence... the land of dreams! Again, for us just strolling through the streets, looking and enjoying... We caught the bus up to Piazzale Michelangelo and walked back... Another time, we walked over the Oltrano side and up to the Boboli Gardens, past the Pitti Palace... The Ponte Vecchio where my beloved bought me an 'eternity ring' (- now he really is stuck with me!!)and just wandering around... We did go to the Uffizzi (booked over the internet) but to be honest, we saw so many churches etc in Rome with the relly's, we were very happy just to enjoy and people watch... For those on a budget, we ate well, (a pizza/panini lunch or dinner, and the other a light meal)didn't go to that many places where you had to pay, but had the most wonderful holiday... on not a whole lot of money! You Americans are very lucky with your dollar right now, almost double what the Ozzie dollar was... But we still had fun!!
 
Nov 27th, 2000, 06:48 AM
  #4  
Debbie Lee
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Part Four...

Hope you all don't mind me writing as much as I can do tonight... I can't seem to get to the computer till very late at night these days, so I'll try and get it all down tonight!!

We also took a day trip to San Gimignano and Sienna by bus. I just loved San Gimi... so quaint, and the Piazza della Cisterna had the most amazing creeper in reds, golds and oranges going down a wall... I can still see it in my minds eye!! The view from the top, where the walled parts and the towers are was wonderful, too. Such a peaceful vista... fields, flowers, crumbling buildings...so old.. but with such a story to tell... truly, if the walls could speak! I wasn't that excited about Sienna (sorry - I know it's a favourite of many... Maybe I was too tired to really appreciate it... We walked for probably 6 - 8 hours every day... but San Gimi was one of my favourite spots in Italia...

When we left on the Monday, we dropped into Pisa for a couple of hours, doing the same luggage thing... very easy to do. That was definitely worth seeing, and it is a pretty little town to look at on the way to the Tower. And be warned, it is quite a long walk from the train station to the tower, so allow plenty of time.

On to La Spezia, for the train to the Cinque Terra. We were heading for Vernazza for 3 nights.... and it was everything we thought it would be!! Just lovely!! Easy enough to hire a room, but again... those amazing STAIRS!! Please, please pack light!! There are hundreds and hundreds of stairs in Italy!! I actually twisted my ankle on the way down from the cemetary where there was a wonderful view of Vernazza, so had a quiet rest of the day. That was actually fine too, as it became quite stormy and I really needed to have a bit of time out. The next day, it was much better, only tender, so we trained very easily to Montorosso and then down to Manarola - where we had the most delicious lunch right at the water front there. The waves were crashing around, and it did become a little drizzly for a while, but in such beautiful surroundings, the weather is really not that important... well, for us anyway... We really enjoyed the rain..

After that, we headed up to Lake Como to Varenna for 2 nights. It's a very quiet little town and the Albergo Olivedo was a nice little hotel for a good price, BUT, the lady that runs it is ... well... When we left, she charged up the hill in her little car to the train station where we huffing and puffing had just arrived, to accuse us of stealing a teaspoon from the breakfast table!!! We couldn't believe it!! Of course we hadn't, but we were so shocked that she would be so small minded over such a small thing! A doctor and his wife were very kind to take our bags up in their taxi at breakfast time, and I remembered after that I had hunted for a teaspoon and not finding one, used a knife or something, as we were in a big hurry to get to the train station. (She wouldn't open the breakfast room up until just before 8am, and the train was coming at 8:30am) It was only a small thing, but certainly left a bad taste in my mouth about that little hotel. Varenna itself was lovely, and the ferry we took across to Mennagio and Bellagio where wonderful, wonderful little memories, but I'd find it hard to recommend the hotel as I think we were treated very shabbilly... but anyway, as my hubby says... You get that...
 
Nov 27th, 2000, 07:08 AM
  #5  
Debbie Lee
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Part Five....Finale!!

And so, our last stop was the most wonderful of it all.... Of course it was Venice.... Nothing can really prepare you for this magical little city... It's so busy and crowded with people from a hundred different nations, and then you turn a corner and head down a side street, over a calle...a little bridge... and it's so quiet... and peaceful... We had a wonderful magical Sunday, just wandering around, watching, looking, eating..enjoying... and then came upon Florians about 10:30pm, Sunday night... there's a violin, baby grand, cello and piano accordian player.. and you're softly swaying to the music... Your husband buys you a red rose (for the right price, of course!!)the stars are all twinkling just for you...what can you say... It's all so incredibly romantic..."Here, there, wherever you are..."That will always mean Venice to me...And then the very next day, we have this amazing Aqua Alta, that is apparently the worst one in 15 years!! The tide rose to over 160cms, or so we were told! The gang planks that we were supposed to be walking on, were floating!! I said on the video for the kids at San Marco Square.."Yesterday we came for coffee, today we came for a swim!!" A very different view of Venice but we still had fun! When we got back to the Rialto bridge near where our hotel was, it was still very much under water, probably thigh high (I'm 5'2!!)And there was a guy there with a trolley with a couple of vegie crates on top, that asked us if we wanted to go out for dinner. We hadn't eaten at that stage, so said yes! So, this guy hauled us by impromtu 'horse and cart' to the Trattoria della Madonna (?) where we had eaten our first evening... and it was so funny to see some beautifully dressed Venetian folks, all dressed up for dinner, with their Welly's on under the table! Another 'moment' for the journal!! Our hotel in Venice was the Albergo Guerrato, another one highly recommended by Fodorites... Again, very well booked in advance, but a lovely, lovely establishment... Highly recommended!!

After visiting Burano, and a little of Lido we headed back to Rome for our final 3 days with the relly's before heading home to Australia!

For those that are still with me, thanks for taking the time to read this... If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to share anything that I know (which isn't a great deal really!!)ask here, or email me at home... It was the most wonderful journey, and we were just so blessed to have had the opportunity to go....

A dream come true............Ciao....
 
Nov 27th, 2000, 08:46 AM
  #6  
Diane
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Wonderful report, Debbie! Sounds like what I used to imagine life would be like as an adult...wonderful travels to places like Rome and Venice. It is so exciting when now - as adults - we actually do get to experience those dreams (although not quite as often as we may have imagined as children!).
 
Nov 27th, 2000, 08:54 AM
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Dona
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Debbie,

Thanks so much for sharing your trip with us! It sounds like you have a wonderful lifelong memory.

Dona
 
Nov 27th, 2000, 09:53 AM
  #8  
howard
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What a great report! Perhaps, the warmest, most personal and heartfelt one I've ever read on the forum! And, it brought back so many memories!
 
Nov 27th, 2000, 11:19 AM
  #9  
Larry
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bravissimo, molte bene and grazie
 
Nov 27th, 2000, 09:02 PM
  #10  
Louise
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Wow! What a perfect trip. Thank you for sharing your memories in such a beautiful way. I'm ready to go back!
 
Nov 28th, 2000, 04:13 AM
  #11  
joni
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Wonderful synopsis of your trip, Debbie. I haven't been to Italy for over 20 years and your report brought back all of those beautiful memories - thank you!!
 
Nov 28th, 2000, 07:02 AM
  #12  
Debbie Lee
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Dear Fodorite Friends...

Thank you all so much for your warm thoughts... It's almost midnight here in Australia, and I have finally found a minute to check the responses. I must admit that I was a bit worried that I may have been too wordy and over the top, but well, that's what my hubby accuses me of being, quite often!! With that very same character comes a whole hearted approach to life, too, I suppose! Anyway... it was a wonderful rememberance for me to, to write it all down and well... savour it all over again... Thanks again, travelling friends.............Debbie Lee....xxx
 
Nov 30th, 2000, 05:26 AM
  #13  
noname
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to the top for Cheryl...
 
Nov 30th, 2000, 05:44 AM
  #14  
Paige
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It was fun to read. Thanks for posting it!
 
Nov 30th, 2000, 09:06 PM
  #15  
Matt
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Thanks for the great report. I'm Italian and I'm happy you loved my country so much. I miss it too! (I live in the US).
 
Dec 1st, 2000, 03:45 PM
  #16  
nancy
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Debbie,
Enjoyable reading posts like yours.
and appreciative that you would take the time to post!
So ,thanks from one "wordy" person to another!
nancy
 
Dec 5th, 2000, 12:36 PM
  #17  
CindyK
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Debbie,

It was nice to read your post.
Can you please let me know how far is far between the train station and the tower in Pisa. We have about a 3 hours to go take a look. Is that too much? Not enough?
Thanks,
Cindy
 
Dec 6th, 2000, 04:51 AM
  #18  
Paulo
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The shortest walking distance (not the more interesting) between Pisa Centrale train station and Campo dei Miracoli is one mile. Owing to your restricted available time, though there's a bus that could take you there, a taxi may be faster and more convenient. If you take a taxi back and forth, you should have about 2 1/2 net hours at the site.

There are quite a few people who swear that this is more than enough ... it in fact is, if one only considers admiring the Campo as a whole, with its four buildings (tower, duomo, battistero and camposanto) forming one of the finest architectural ensembles in the world. The "problem" is that these buildings have much more to them, in terms of details, than their general architectural look.

The duomo has a door (south transept) with very beautiful Romanesque panels, the interior is impressive and boasts a very beautiful pulpit. The interior of the battistero is grand, highlighted by the octogonal front and admirable pulpit. The camposanto is very impressive (for some) if one considers that it has been destroyed by a ww2 bombs. Restauration works can be followed live and the few frescoes that were saved (incredibly restored piece by piece) are outstanding (triumph of death, last judgement and death).

Paulo
 
May 10th, 2001, 08:18 AM
  #19  
Debbie Lee
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To the top for Carol!!! Sorry, it wasn't under 'Italy' in l'autunno, but under 'Italia' in l'autunno... A minor difference, but that's why it didn't come up. Hope you enjoy it!
Debbie Lee...
 
Aug 23rd, 2004, 03:26 AM
  #20  
 
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mmmmmm......
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