Italy here we come!

Jul 6th, 2014, 12:31 PM
  #1  
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Italy here we come!

When I last sought some advice, my husband and I were thinking of pairing Bologna and Le Marche for our first trip to Italy. I'm not sure why I switched gears, but at some point I started obsessing about Umbria, with a few days in Rome. And thus a plan was hatched.

Over the weekend, I reserved a rental house in Spello for seven nights and an apartment in Monti for four nights (the Dolce Roma apartment that comes well recommended on Slowtrav's website and forum). Deposits have been paid. We'll be there from early to mid-May. We plan to rent a car at the train station in Foligno through Avis/AutoEurope. This will be our first time driving in Europe, so we wanted to avoid driving in Rome. But it means we likely won't get the car until our first full day in Umbria, as the agency will be closed by the time we make it into Foligno from Rome Termini. But Foligno is a very short train ride from Spell, so we aren't worried about it.

Now you may be wondering about why we went with an apartment in Monti. I realize that it's a walk from some of the usual tourist haunts. That's okay with us. The apartment is in a charming area, was very reasonable at 130 Euro a night and required no extra fees. The owners, by all accounts, make themselves readily available, too. So while we have never been to Rome, we felt it was a relatively safe bet. We like having that extra space and flexibility and, like I said, many Slowtrav members recommended it. I wish we had another night in Rome, but this is about our limit right now.

Now I just need to keep an eye on airfare. We received some 10% off base fare coupons from United after a long delayed flight this past spring. I'm hoping to make use of them for this trip assuming United's fares are otherwise competitive. Right now, my preferred itinerary is $1418 per person without the coupons, $1287 with.

We are very excited to say the least!!!!
indyhiker is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 12:45 PM
  #2  
 
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I'll be with you in spirit, indyhiker.

Check to see if you are near a tram stop in Rome--it's very convenient and easy to manage. Monti gets good reviews around here.

We did a day trip to Spello (we based in Spoleto) and enjoyed it. When we were there, the Spello train station was unmanned. There is debate about whether U.S. credit cards will work in the unmanned ticket machines. So, you might want to get your ticket to Foligno when you arrive in Rome (assuming that's where you are arriving) and can get a person.

Is Air France way higher? Alitalia? I'm going to assume you have to change planes after Indiana????

Have a great trip. Hard to wait until May for your trip report!
TDudette is online now  
Jul 6th, 2014, 01:05 PM
  #3  
 
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hi indihiker,

really there's no need to worry about being in Monti, we spent our first week in an apartment in the Via dei Serpenti and it was a very good base, especially once we'd got the hang of the buses that go along the via Nazionale. before that we were walking everywhere and getting sore feet! The metro stop at Via Cavour is useful too, as is the little electric archeobus that goes between some of the most important sites.

We tended to go out all day and then after having a rest back in the apartment, go out to a local restaurant in the evening. There are plenty of these and they were mostly very good. There are also plenty of local shops and cafes as well as a very nice little square with a bar and a fountain. The best gelateria we found was on via dei Serpenti and the locals obviously agreed as the police would turn up there every night for their share. there is a good wine bar there too as well as a few indian restaurants if you want a change from pasta.

it's not necessarily where I would choose to stay for a first visit, but you can certainly make it work for you especially if you get the transport sorted out.
annhig is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 01:13 PM
  #4  
 
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Nice trip---you seem to have done your homework.
Have fun ! BTW, I am from Indy originally.
bobthenavigator is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 01:17 PM
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Since Monti is just a stone's throw from the Colosseum, I have never considered Monti out of the way when it comes to being the heart of Rome.

For many people the heart of Rome is either the Spanish steps or the Vatican, but nothing could be easier than taking the metro from Monti to either. It's a bit more than 20 minutes to walk from Monti to piazza Navona, and a bit less than 20 minutes to Campo di'Fiori or the Pantheon.. It is less than 15 minutes to walk to the Trevi Fountain from Monti!

I've been to Rome probably a dozen or more times now, and I always wish too I had another night in Rome, so it is just an ever-receding horizon.

You won't need a car your first day in Spello, when you will just want to explore your own neighborhood in Spello anyway, so you're saving money by waiting to get it later.

Glad to hear you weren't afraid to change your mind when you got a new idea about the trip you wanted to take.
sandralist is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 01:18 PM
  #6  
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Thanks for the advice and good questions. We had already planned to get train tickets at a local news agent in Spello to avoid having to buy tickets at the train station. We do have a chip and pin card from Barclays, but I still have some trepidation whether it will work. I'm checking all the major carriers and so far, United and USAir are the lowest with just one stop. My choices for United are Newark and Dulles. USAir flies out of Philly and Charlotte. Newark offers the best itinerary in my opinion, but it's been a while since I've flown out of Newark internationally. Does anybody know of an airline that flies direct to Rome out of Chicago? The biggest plus for me for Chicago is lots of connecting flights to/from Indy should something go awry.

A couple of electric buses (I think) run through Monti as well as the metro with a stop at Cavour. I want to make sure I know the best way to get to Testaccio and Trastevere, too.
indyhiker is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 03:40 PM
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Kayak shows non-stops from ORD to FCO with Delta, American, Alitalia, British Air.
HappyTrvlr is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 04:10 PM
  #8  
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Thanks for all the assurances about Monti. I'm excited about the area! I'm not sure why it called to me more than, say, the Campo, but I couldn't shake the desire to stay there.

Thanks for all the positive feedback. I have already put a lot of time into figuring out the logistics. Now it's time to move on to learning more about both Rome and Umbria. I don't want to go into it with a rigid plan, but I do want to have some idea of what we want to see, along with the history behind it. I have some helpful books in that regard, including The Companion Guide to Rome and the Touring Club of Italy's guide to Umbria. We are also thinking of taking a winery tour with Gusto in Montefalco, as well as a food tour of Testaccio with Eat Italy. Food and drink are enjoyable pursuits for us and we want to mix that in with sightseeing. Gusto is willing to pick you up, which means we can both imbibe without worry.

@bobthenavigator, hello to a fellow Hoosier (or former Hoosier as the case may be)!

@happytrvlr, thanks for the info on carriers! I should have figured that put myself!!
indyhiker is offline  
Jul 6th, 2014, 05:11 PM
  #9  
 
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L'Alchimista in Montefalco is a good place to stop for a glass of wine (Sagrantino) and a snack.

>>>A couple of electric buses (I think) run through Monti as well as the metro with a stop at Cavour.<<<

The 117 electric bus runs through Monti. It starts at the Spanish Steps and goes all the way to S Giovanni in Laterano.

http://atac.roma.it/files/doc.asp?r=9

As for Trastevere, you wan walk to Piazza Venezia and catch the tram.

http://atac.roma.it/files/doc.asp?r=5

There's also the Cavour metro entrance on Via Leonina.

I looked up your apartment and it appears to be on Via Madonna dei Monti (the website doesn't say).
kybourbon is online now  
Jul 6th, 2014, 05:29 PM
  #10  
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It's actually Via della Madonna dei Monti for anyone trying to find it. Thank you for the tram/bus info. My guess is that we'll end up using busses more than the metro. Luckily, my husband is a fabulous navigator.

L'Alchimista is near the top of my list for a meal! It sounds fabulous!

Are there any traditional Umbrian dishes one should try? Beyond truffles, I haven't been able to glean the local specialities.
indyhiker is offline  
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