Italy lodging reviews

Jan 9th, 2005, 10:15 AM
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Italy lodging reviews

I used this forum extensively when planning a trip to Italy for June 2004. Now I wanted to return the favor and post my lodging reviews from our trip. All stays were in June 2004.

Venice: Pensione La Calcina (Excellent)
http://www.lacalcina.com/
Neighborhood: Dorsoduro
Deposit policy is annoying (requires check). Good desk staff. Excellent breakfast included. Good-sized room, no view; small balcony on back of building that we did not use (too hot/humid). Great air conditioner in room - was a big plus, since it was so hot and humid. Neighborhood is nice - relatively quiet, easy to walk to major sights, vaporetto stops nearby, nice to walk along the Zattere at night. Felt like the area was a mix of tourists and locals. Big plus: a completely non-smoking hotel!!



Bellagio: Residence La Limonera (Apartments) (Excellent)
http://www.residencelalimonera.com/
Neighborhood: Toward the top (back) of Bellagio in center
Good price for an apartment that was actually larger than we expected (medium sized). Advertised as partial view and had great views from eat-in kitchen and bedroom (over some rooftops to lake and mountains) - gorgeous sunset views. Good AC, though we usually didn't need it, due to cool evening breezes. The apartment was clean and modern (had been recently renovated); the grounds were quite lovely, grassy with roses and sitting areas. Was almost like a park in the center of Bellagio. Right next to a grocery store and a few steps from other shops and restaurants. Staff were only on hand for a few hours a day, and were not always in the office at advertised hours. We loved Bellagio, and this apartment was a big part of that.



Pisa: Hotel Royal Victoria (Tolerable)
Neighborhood: central on Arno
Large with grand, interesting public spaces. Our room was cavernous and creaky. The bathroom was tiny and uncomfortable. Bed was passable. Skeleton keys for rooms. Another guest actually opened our room by accident with her key one morning - startled her and us (though my wife was awake in bed and kind of heard it coming - I was awakened by the clater of our key falling out of the lock from the inside). We stayed in Pisa only due to the Luminara celebration in June, and that was pretty cool. Also, we had some good food in Pisa. Otherwise did not like Pisa: crowded, and during our visit was very hot and humid -- and it smelled bad (sewer smells percolating everywhere). The hotel served its purpose as handy to Luminara - they even let you pass through the unfinished attic to a tippy rooftop viewing spot - but I would not recommend it for its charms. Breakfast was include and was fine.



Rome: Hotel Due Torri (Good)
Neighborhood: Piazza Navona
A charming, small place tucked away on a QUIET street. Our room was on the top floor with a narrow rooftop patio area. Had nice views over the rooftops of Rome. Small room with a low ceiling and good AC unit = great climate control during the hot spell! Bathroom was modern and larger than expected, given cramped room. Very good breakfast included. Friendly, helpful staff. Got an excellent shave and haircut from neighborhood barber.


Florence: Palazzo Gamba (Tolerable)
http://www.florenceby.com/palazzogamba/
http://palazzogamba.hotelinfirenze.com/
Neighborhood: Duomo (right next door)
We expected more from this expensive "luxury" apartment across the street from the Dumo. We were 6 floors up, and the elevator was not always reliable. On orienting us to our room, the receptionist pointed out that the cooktop was only 1/4 operational and that if we blew a fuse, we just needed to run down to the foyer and reset the circuit breaker for our apartment. Great! We did have to reset the breaker a few times, when we were using a few electric items and our neighbor was doing same (on same breaker). AC was passable. Also beware of this general location if you don't want constant noise and activity outside (at least during high season as we experienced). I knew that we didn't have laundry onsite when I booked, but they led me to believe that there was laundry nearby. That meant a very hot, crowded 20 minute walk. One plus is that when I asked if we could leave 2 nights early, there was no fee and no questions asked. We decided to leave Florence early and take those extra nights in the Cinque Terre (for a total of 4 nights), which was better for us.

Monterosso: Hotel Palme (Good)
http://www.hotelpalme.it/
Neighborhood: North end of new town, a block inland
We booked here with help from an agent in Bellagio during the early part of our trip when we found all the places in our guidebook full. (We had considered just "winging it" in the Cinque Terre, and I'm glad we didn't - about 2 weeks before we went there, we started calling places and finding them full, so I went to an agent in Bellagio for help. She recommended this place, and it was a good tip.) Reasonably priced. Helpful, friendly staff -- 2 out of 3 of the front desk people were like your favorite cousin or uncle. A good place to practice your Italian (and German!), and we had fun watching soccer on the lobby TV with the staff a few evenings. Comfortable lobby and patio. Great breakfast in a large, comfy room -- some of the best pastries we've had in a long while, brought in from a local bakery. Our room had a partial view (could see water and hills). The room and bathroom were fine, but the AC was weak, which caused some lost sleep during the hot, humid nights. We actually propped our room door open to get more air flow. We really liked Monterosso, too - though I cannot deny the picturesque quality of Vernazza from the trail. We found good food and sights in both old and new Monterosso.


Milan: First Hotel Malpensa (OK)
Booked via Expedia
Neighborhood: Malpensa airport
Picture a quaint, old world village: locals riding bikes around dusty streets, children playing, a few small businesses nestled in with homes. Then plop in a major airport about 1/2 mile away and put a modern multi-story hotel smack in the center of the village. Our hotel room was modern, clean, and comfortable. The restaurant hotel was fine, if overpriced. Staff were fine. The village is very cute. Very handy to the airport with a free shuttle.


Milan: Hotel Ariosto (OK)
Booked via Expedia
Neighborhood: Santa Maria delle Grazie
Nice room, but AC was turned off for part of the night, which was a big downer during our HOT and HUMID visit. Was fine for sightseeing: we had easy access to the metro, which we used to get to the duomo, etc. Was a quick walk to Santa Maria delle Grazie. Quite, safe neighborhood. No special character.

westont is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 10:46 AM
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Thank you very much for this - specific and right-to-the-point. Very useful.
TuckH is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 10:57 AM
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Thanks for the reviews.
A question about La Lemonera. How long and steep a walk down to the center on the lake? Would this be good without a car? I've looked at the site, but couldn't get a good feel for how far it is. Normally I like being in the "thick of things", but this does look inviting.
Patrick is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 10:59 AM
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linking to Helpful Information Italy
elaine is offline  
Jan 9th, 2005, 12:09 PM
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I suggest you look at Venere.com to find a hotel that fits your needs. They have may reviews at each hotel from tourists like you and I. I am traveling to Ialy this summer and I found 3 hotels that excellent reviews from travelers and we are staying at each.
They are as follows:
Rome- Hotel Golden @Via Veneto
Florence- Hotel Casci
Venice- Lido island- Hotel Villa Stella. Eventhough this is not in the city there is esy access to it and all of the reviews were really exceelent. They all have websites so you can see them and bopok them right there. There rates were better than other advertised rates!
Good Luck
Ron
Ronald is offline  
Jan 25th, 2005, 04:49 PM
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La Limonera was in the thick of things by my sensibilities. Right outside of their gate are many shops and restaurants. You're near the top of Bellagio, which puts you about 5 minutes walk to the lake front. It's a small place!
westont is offline  
Feb 4th, 2005, 02:08 PM
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Join Date: Mar 2004
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Just a note about La Calcina in Venice-they WILL book a room with a credit card- be persistent. They did it for us in June 2004. We really liked it and had dinner there as well which was good.
Gree65 is offline  
Feb 4th, 2005, 02:53 PM
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Thanks for the great reviews.

Thanks especially for the review of La Limonera. No one believes me when I describe how terrific this place is at such a reasonable rate. And it is definitely in the middle of Bellagio -- much more so than the Belvedere which is so popular on this forum.

Message for Patrick: La Limonera is one long block walking from the lake front road or about five blocks driving from the ferry dock. It has street access, and there are a few parking spots outside the entry gate. I'm not sure how those parking spaces are allocated. Bellagio is a town best explored on foot. If a person can't walk up and down the steep walkways, they won't enjoy the town.
Jean is offline  
Feb 4th, 2005, 04:00 PM
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Thanks for the clarification of LaLimonera. I found this place on line after we were in Bellagio (at the Hotel Du Lac), but I couldn't get from their website a feel for where it is. I somehow suspected it was considerably further out than it must be.
Patrick is offline  

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