Italy 3 week honeymoon review! (long)

Nov 15th, 2004, 06:23 PM
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Italy 3 week honeymoon review! (long)

Thanks for all of your input during the planning process! We traveled from October 23rd through November 14th. Here is a critique of the hotels and services we used! I also included just a couple of special restaurants worth mentioning! I did not include the museums and major sites we visited because I figured you wouldn?t want to hear about that! Everyone knows what to see according to your tastes! This website and the Rick Steve Guide helped us plan it all! Also, I am still a little groggy from returning last night so you may see multiple grammar and spelling mistakes. Please bear with me as I stumble through! Best piece of advice is bring a journal and a roll of tape. Write and tape in everything you can! We now have so many memories verbally and visually to look back on!

Rome-Hotel Regno (5 nights). We loved this hotel because of its central location! Right on Via del Corso, we were minutes from the Pantheon and Trevi Fountain. It was a very modern and clean hotel, with an elevator and good breakfast. Our favorite restaurants were those we stumbled upon down the side alleys! Also, the pizza was extra yummy! Hotel Regno
Via del Corso, 330 Zip 00186 Tele. (+39) 06 6976361. Under E200 a night. So thrilled we started in Rome to do the crazy site seeing first. I think if we had ended our three-week tour in Rome, we may have not done many sites because we were ?museumed? out by the end!

We used for our transportation to the hotel. They were very professional and on time. Cost was E45. Book at least 4 days before departing.

We then took limoservicerome back to the airport to pickup our rental car. We didn?t want to attempt driving within the city. We rented through Hertz and got an excellent Mercedes A class. It was a simple drive to the autostrada where we were off to Assisi! LOVED driving in Italy! We actually fought over who got to drive! Definitely get off the autostrada and take the side roads. It is worth the extra time if you have it to spare!

Assisi-Hotel Ideale (1 night). We loved this hotel because of the spectacular view! The rooms were very simple, clean, no elevator and had new bathrooms. We had a top floor room on the corner with a great balcony overlooking Assisi to one side and the Umbrian hills to the front. Wish we had stayed one more night just to sit on the balcony and sip wine! Hotel Ideale Piazza Matteotti 1 Zip 06081 [email protected] E85

Siena-Piccolo Hotel Oliveta (5 nights). We liked this hotel for many reasons. The first being its location. Right outside of Porta Romana (one of the city wall gates), it was very convenient with our rental car and free parking. It was about a 15-20 minute walk to Il Campo so if you prefer being closer to the city center, get a hotel within the city walls. We had friends who stayed at Palazzo Ravizza with their car and they said it was not difficult to get in and out.

Our first evening we did the wine tasting with Alexander on the patio overlooking the Tuscan hills. It wasn?t as much a wine tasting but a social event for the three of us. We all got a long wonderfully and ended up drinking wine together for hours. It was a great introduction to Tuscany! I believe it was E50 or 60 for the two of us.

Secondly, Alexander, Alexandra and Fabio were remarkable hosts! I let all of our hotels know we were on our honeymoon and this hotel was the only one that offered us a complimentary bottle of wine or some sort of gesture. Definitely a special touch! The rooms were simple, but huge! Also a big plus was the shower in another room, separate from the toilet. E145 Piccolo Oliveta Via E.S. Piccolomini 35 tel 0577.283930

We also booked a private wine tasting tour with their business, Country Tours. Fabbio was our tour guide and it was an amazing day! We started out at the Constanti Winery where we toured the cellars and learned a TON about vineyards and all that goes into making wine. A great tasting of their brunello followed. We bought our first (of many) bottles of brunello here! On our way to the next winery, we stopped at a great Abbey. We reached our second and last winery stop of the day, the Le Presi Winery, an extremely small winery outside of Montalcino. Here we met Bruno, his wife and son. His wife prepared lunch for us all and we wined and dined in their wine cellar. An amazing experience! We ate bruschetta, pasta, fresh turkey, desserts, you name it! One of our favorites was the one-week-old extra virgin olive oil we used on everything. Of course we had to buy a few bottles! Afterwards, we took Bruno to the one café in town for some espresso. With our bellies full we headed back to the hotel. Highly recommend this tour as it gives a personal and interesting look into Tuscan life! Expensive, but worth it! E120 each.

Our favorite part of Tuscany was the exploring we did with our rental car. I am thrilled that we decided to rent a car. It was extremely easy to get around as long as you follow the city signs and not the highway numbers! We knew this beforehand and never got lost. It was incredible exploring the countryside. We visited Montalcino, Montelpulciano, San Gimignano, Pienza, Castellina in Chianti and Radda in Chianti. But the best was just driving around! We were amazed at the landscape differences north and south of Siena.

We bought a case of brunello at Enoteca Fortezza in Montalcino. Shipping to the states was E120. We bought a mixed case a few days before in Radda in Chianti at Enoteca Toscana. Shipping was E160, so obviously Fortezza is a better bet! We bought these bottles to serve as anniversary bottles! When they run out, we must return to Italy, if not sooner!

A MUST do restaurant is La Torre! If you are in Il Campo looking at the tower, take the alley to the left. The restaurant is on the left. A local tratorria where the owner comes to your table and tells you what they have for the night. Listen closely when he tells the table next to you what he has?it will most likely be a different menu! Confused? Watch him go to the bar and swig from his wine glass all night. Entertaining, but even better than the entertainment was the food! Remarkable Tuscan cuisine! The best ribollita and homemade past you can find. We NEVER go to the same restaurant twice, however, we went to La Torre three times! You will not be dissatisfied! Go early, around 7 or 7:30, it fills up and is a small place.

We also went to a futbol match. It was so much fun! The fans are great! Flares, singing and jolly good times!

On our way to Cinque Terre, we stopped in Pisa to see the tower and Lucca to do the bike tour.
Dropped our car off at the San Bartolomeo Hertz location in La Spezia and then took the train to Vernazza where we stayed at Carmere Giuliano Basso for 3 nights. A steep climb (pack light or get buff before your trip), but worth every step. Guiliano has made a very comfortable space with a modern bathroom and down comforters. The shared patio overlooks all of Vernazza and the sea. The only minor complaint would be its nearness to the train station. We did not mind because it was cold and we had the windows closed. If you were there in the summer with the windows open, the train may be a problem. Inexpensive and comfortable, we would stay there again. We especially enjoyed drinking wine on the patio with some foccacia and tomatoes! Tele. 3333414792 [email protected] E60

Got to hike the CT. Every minute was worth the sweat. We rewarded ourselves with a beer in each town we stopped in. We did the hike in 2 days.

Florence-Soggiorno Battistero (3 nights) We loved the location of this soggiorno (right in front of the duomo), but did not like the room itself. The room made us feel like we were institutionalized?white, nothing on the walls, no attempt at giving it a homey feel. It was clean and quiet, great for the price. But if we were to go back to Florence, I would spend the extra money to go elsewhere. It was also a hike up the stairs. E90

LOVED the restaurant Aqua al Due. Has a great pasta tasting menu, second course tasting menu and dessert tasting menu. A must do if you love food and a trendy atmosphere. Also had a lot of fun at Il Latini (chianti anyone?), but I don?t think it was worth the stress of standing outside in a mob waiting for them to open and then once they opened, everyone pushed and shoved to get in. If you don?t have a reservation, just say you do. Shout out your name and party number. My husband did this and to my surprise they ushered us right in. I looked at the paper that supposedly had all the reservation names and there were only three names listed. They obviously don?t write them down!

If you like trendy, 20-40 something crowds, have a drink at Slowly. They have a ton of delicious, free munchies to accompany your drink. Helps lessen the blow of the E10 price per drink! A cool spot before dinner! Sorry I don?t know the street name, just ask a local young person.

Leather shopping-we found the best handbag prices at Umberto on Via Guicciardini near the Ponte Vecchio. I bought 3 for myself and 3 for gifts! Whew!

For a great view of the duomo and people watching, grab a beer at JJ Cathedral Pub on the square and take it upstairs to the balcony if its unoccupied. There is only room for 2 people.

If you have time, check out the Science Museum and ask the workers to demonstrate some of Newton and Galileo?s experimental machines. We really enjoyed ourselves in this museum.

Took the eurostar to Venice where we would spend our last 4 nights of our honeymoon at Pensione Accademia. We took a taxi to the hotel (E45), and it was worth every penny not lugging all our stuff on the public boats. ADORED this hotel! Very clean and comfortable, with a perfect location near the Accademia Bridge. Our room, #28, had a nice view of the side canal and Grand Canal. Breakfast was great, no elevator. Dorsoduro 1058 Zip 30123 Tele. 0039 04 152101 88 The hotel runs a free taxi to Murano for a tour. We of course came home with some great pieces! E183

We went to symphony Interpreti Veneziani in San Vidal church and it was breathtaking! A terrific way to spend an evening! Tickets were around E22 each.

Having a glass of prosecco at the famous Gran Caffe Chioggia was wonderful. We sat on the stage with the pianist and bassist, while looking at St. Mark?s and people watching.

There is also a huge and wonderful Dali exhibit at Palazzo Grassi that will be there through January. I highly recommend the audio guide.

If you need a restaurant that?s opened after 10pm, we ate at Casin dei Nobili near the Accademia and it was decent.

An excellent restaurant near the Rialto Bridge was Ristorante il Paradiso on Calle Deparadiso. This place is incorrectly listed in Rick Steve?s as Miguel and Lucia?s private home dinner. We booked it and they told us they had moved and opened a restaurant. Disappointed that it would not be in their home, we decided to go anyway. Expensive, but the seafood was amazing. This was our last splurge and the last dinner of our honeymoon!

Had our hotel arrange a taxi to the airport. E95?ouch! Then a double ouch for the E20 shuttle to the airport (less than 1km). We had a 6:30am flight and no other option because the E1 bus wouldn?t be coming for an hour!

Sorry if this report is somewhat incoherent and choppy, we just returned last night. I wanted to send this out before getting back to the ?real? world. Hope you enjoyed!

JennaJ is offline  
Nov 15th, 2004, 07:07 PM
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Sounds like you had a great time! My husband and I are going to Italy in 6 mos. We will be in Rome for 5 days and a week in Tuscany. Do you have specific restuarant recommendations for Rome and the Tuscan towns like Montalcino, Montepulciano (where we are staying), Pienza, Chianti,etc...

It's comforting to know that the driving won't be so bad. I have yet to book the car rental because I was dreading it but you made it sound easy and fun. Thanks for sharing!
mv_rd is offline  
Nov 15th, 2004, 07:28 PM
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Welcome back to the real world
It sounds like you had a perfect honeymoon and what a good idea to send those anniversary bottles home!
Congratulations and I hope to hear about the first anniversary trip back to Italy?
Scarlett is offline  
Nov 15th, 2004, 07:39 PM
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JennaJ, did you need reservations for the Dali exhibition at Palazzo Grassi? How much of a wait was there?
WillTravel is offline  
Nov 15th, 2004, 11:44 PM
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Wow, I want to travel with you guys! This is one of the most fun sounding travel reports I've ever read. Thanks for sharing.
JenV is offline  
Nov 16th, 2004, 12:20 PM
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Thank you all for the kind words

WillTravel-reservations for the Dali would be a good idea, but its not necessary. We did not have them and waited about 15 minutes. Those with reservations had no wait. Enjoy the exhibit!

My_rd - unfortunatley I cannot recommend any specific restaurants in those towns because we only had wine and appetizers while day tripping. We based in Siena and that is where we had dinner each night. You really cannot go wrong in Tuscany with food! Just ask the locals where to eat, and stay off the main streets! Enjoy your trip!
JennaJ is offline  
Nov 16th, 2004, 02:16 PM
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Thanks for all the great info. I am also planning a honeymoon in Italy. It was great to hear how easy the driving was. I have been trying to find a rental car with navigation to avoid the "we're lost" fights!
bighil is offline  
Nov 16th, 2004, 02:55 PM
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Jenna, Really enjoyed your trip report! Brings back lots of memories. Congrats on getting married and welcome home. Thanks for sharing! Sally
SRS is offline  
Nov 16th, 2004, 05:08 PM
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Thanks for posting your trip report. What a wonderful honeymoon!
Nov 17th, 2004, 05:36 AM
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Sounds like a gret trip, jenna
ira is offline  
Nov 18th, 2004, 04:24 AM
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Thank you for a great report, and congratulations on your marriage!
TarheelsInNj is offline  
Nov 18th, 2004, 06:39 AM
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Good stuff Jenna. A trip you will never forget.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Nov 18th, 2004, 08:49 AM
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Hi Jenna. Sounds like you had a magnificent time.

I'm glad you liked Piccolo Hotel Oliveta since four of us are spending four days there next September. A couple of questions. The wine tasting with Alexander sounded cool. I am sure we will do that at least one night. Can you also bring your own wine and sit out on the patio to relax, or is this a case where we should always be purchasing wine from the hotel when we're sitting out there?

Lastly, is the Fabio wine tour an all day thing? We thought 120 Euros per person was a bit steep, but we all are wine freaks, so I guess both couples figure that we're not going to die with only 240 Euros left in our pockets.

Thanks for the info, and glad you had a great honeymoon.

maitaitom is online now  
Nov 18th, 2004, 11:28 AM
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Hi Jenna,
For your location in Venice, can pedestrians just walk across the Accademia Bridge to San Marco??
Chrissem is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 06:18 AM
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Maitaitom- I would suggest the wine tasting with Alexander the first night! He gave us wonderful recommendations for restuarants and things to do!

In regards to the wine tour, it is all day and was well worth it. We visited 2 small wineries, learned a lot and eat with an italian family. We felt is was worth it if you have the money to splurge. But you can also arrange your own wine tour of a contacting the winery directly. It would be less costly this way. If you do go with their wine tour, book before your trip and try to get the day with Alexander! We loved Fabio, but had even more fun with Alex on the patio.

You do not have to buy wine from the hotel to sit on the patio! They actually gave us toast and olive oil, we bought tomatoes and wine...made homemade bruschetta!
JennaJ is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 06:21 AM
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Chrissem- The location was great. The hotel was about a 5 minute walk to Accademia. Once you cross over the bridge you are about 10 minutes from San Marco. The major sites are well marked with yellow signs on the buildings. It was convenient to be near the Accademia bridge because wherever we went, it was always easy to find our way home...just follow the signs!
JennaJ is offline  
Nov 19th, 2004, 09:32 AM
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Thanks for the info Jenna.
maitaitom is online now  
Oct 6th, 2005, 12:53 PM
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Since I have seen a few HM posts popping up, I thought I would dust off my trip report from this time last year We are currently planning next year's trip to Tuscany! Gotta love Italia!!!
JennaJ is offline  
Oct 6th, 2005, 01:00 PM
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Where might you stay in Tuscany?

Thanks for your earlier reply.
natc143 is offline  
Oct 7th, 2005, 05:16 AM
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Thank you so much for posting. My fiance and I are honeymooning in two weeks and doing almost exactly your trip! We're even staying at Oliveta and Hotel Regno. If you have any tips, please email at [email protected]. Many thanks for your excellent report.
fallbride05 is offline  

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