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ElendilPickle May 29th, 2015 09:37 PM

Italy on the Cheap (Mostly), May 2015
I'm over the jetlag, my cold is gone, and after spending a good deal of time dealing with my dad's health needs, I think it's time to start a trip report!

Here's a link to our pictures:

I didn't take many notes this time, but I hope to be able to give a decent amount of detail without being overwhelming. :-)

Lee Ann

isabel May 30th, 2015 02:29 AM

Nice photos. Rome, Orvieto, Siena - that was the trip I just took in March and I'm not even done organizing my photos yet. I'm impressed with your efficiency. Looking forward to the report.

Waldo May 30th, 2015 10:14 AM

Lovely photos. However, you said you saw Italy. If you didn't go to Naples, you didn't see Italy!

Dayle May 30th, 2015 01:22 PM

Lee Ann

I have really been looking forward your TR! Will check your pics first.

ElendilPickle May 30th, 2015 01:51 PM

No, Waldo, you said I saw Italy. :-) We did what we could in the limited amount of time we had for the trip.

Lee Ann

Waldo May 30th, 2015 05:34 PM

You are correct, I said you saw Italy, and I stand corrected. It's just that I'm so enamored of Naples that I feel that one doesn't see Naples, one lives Naples.

thursdaysd May 30th, 2015 05:59 PM

WTB - have you been to the Fashion and Textile Museum? The BBC has an interesting piece on their current swimwear exhibition - - but I had read a not-so-good review of the museum.

ElendilPickle May 31st, 2015 01:05 PM

thursdaysd, did you mean to post that on WTB's London thread? :-)

Lee Ann

thursdaysd May 31st, 2015 01:34 PM

Oops, sorry ElendilPickle - of course, you're right.

Dayle Jun 1st, 2015 05:03 PM


I'm anxiously awaiting your trip report! It was your first to Italy and we want to know what you loved, or not.

Ciao, dayle

ElendilPickle Jun 1st, 2015 05:20 PM

We were planning a road trip through parts of the southern US when Fodorite DebitNM posted a link - Emirates Airlines was offering a $400 RT per person flight from JFK to Milan. I called Mr. Pickle, and when we realized we had enough airline miles to fly to and from New York for free, we decided to go for it.

We left April 30th and returned to the US on May 12th. In retrospect, it would have been nice to have had another couple of days in Italy, but we covered a decent amount of ground without feeling rushed.

I flew Delta through ATL to JFK, Mr. Pickle flew Southwest to LGA and took the Airporter to JFK. Delta made me check my carry-on suitcase, but aside from having to carry my Chromebook and knitting around the airport, it worked out OK. It was kind of nice to have all that time to myself - doesn't happen often!

Both of us ended up having to check our carry-on bags at JFK; providentially, Mr. Pickle had packed a daypack in his suitcase and we were able to keep our electronic devices, etc. in it for the flight. Note to self - next time be sure to grab the bag with the chargers too. :-)

The overnight flight to Malpensa was pretty decent. Emirates has good food and free wine and cocktails, and a nice selection of entertainment. Mr. Pickle took an ibuprofen PM and got some sleep, and I dozed a little.

We arrived in Milan around noon May 1st, got some Euros at the airport, and took the Malpensa Shuttle to Milano Centrale station. First stop was the TIM store, where we bought a SIM card for my phone - 30 euros for a month's worth of calls and a decent amount of data.

I'd bought an unlocked phone from eBay to use in Italy. After we got the SIM card installed, we discovered it wasn't completely unlocked; I could use it, but it was only a 2G connection. Super slow, but at least we could (mostly) make calls, and text people.

We found the bus to take to the Airbnb apartment we'd rented for two nights. As we rode, I kept trying to call our host, but never was able to reach him at the phone number he'd listed on Airbnb. Someone let us into the apartment building, and Mr. Pickle borrowed someone's cell phone to call Giovanni. He sent a family member to let us in. Unfortunately, the man didn't speak any English at all, and he just let us in, handed us the keys, and left.

The apartment itself was fine - a studio on the 9th floor of the building. Everything was clean and in good shape. However, some kind of written instructions in the apartment would have been very helpful, especially as we were tired and jetlagged. Once I remembered I had the Airbnb app on my phone, Giovanni and I were able to communicate. He had tried to send me instructions by text, not realizing the phone number I listed is a landline. :-) He told us how to use the wi-fi and a couple of other things we needed to know.

We took a nap for a couple of hours, decided we were too tired to go far for dinner, and ate at the Chinese/South American restaurant next door to the apartment. It was tolerable. :-)

Lee Ann

ElendilPickle Jun 2nd, 2015 07:33 PM

Saturday, May 2 Fun in Milan

After a good night's sleep, we were ready to see some of Milan. We weren't able to get Last Supper tickets when they went on sale, and considered going there first thing in the morning to see if anything was available, but decided it wasn't a high priority for us.

It had been cool and rainy when we arrived, but we had sun with cooler weather - really nice for walking around.

Our apartment was about 15 minutes from the Duomo, with a handy tram stop right outside the front door, so we made that our first stop. We bought tickets for the roof and took the elevator up.

The views are really incredible from the top, and we enjoyed all the intricately carved marble sculptures. This was one thing I'd really wanted to do in Milan, and it worth the price and the wait.

When we came down, we thought we'd go ahead and look around the cathedral, but we hadn't realized we needed to pay for a different ticket to go inside so we skipped it.

Since we were trying to travel inexpensively, we set a daily food budget of 60 euros per day, and we were able to stick pretty close to that on average. We'd read about a little place close to the Duomo called Luini where we could get an inexpensive lunch. They make delicious panzerotti - baked or fried bread with fillings. We tried a couple of different savory fillings and a sweet strawberry and ricotta filled bread.

After lunch, we walked to La Scala to visit the museum, which was really interesting. We watched an opera rehearsal for a few minutes. I don't remember what they were rehearsing; it was modern, with people walking around with suitcases looking up at message boards and dropping f-bombs. Not our cup of tea!

The museum currently has a really nice Turandot exhibit - scores, art, costumes, etc. - which is worth seeing.

Our last stop for the day was Castello Sforzesco It has quite a lot to see - ancient Roman sculpture, frescoes, a musical instruments museum, a Michelangelo Pieta, and more. We spent a couple of hours here, but didn't try to see everything since we were still a little jetlagged and tired.

I had bookmarked a good-sized list of things to do and places to eat in each place we planned to visit. Since I'd done it in Google Chrome, I thought I would be able to find all my bookmarks on my Chromebook. But nooooo! they weren't available, so we ended up winging it for most of our meals. Thankfully, we only ended up with one mediocre dinner. :-)

We had dinner at Farinella, just down the street from the castle. The weather was just right for sitting outside and people watching as we ate. We both ordered a pizza - mine was sausage and broccoli, and was very good - and split a salad. If we had realized how big each pizza was, we would have split one, but we ended up with leftovers for Sunday morning's breakfast.

Time for our first gelato stop of the trip at Van Bol and Feste, next door to Farinella. I had some really good chocolate/hazelnut and coffee. They had some delicious-looking pastries and cakes, but we didn't try those.

We walked back to the Duomo piazza and walked through the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II before catching the tram back to our apartment.

Lee Ann

jent103 Jun 2nd, 2015 08:02 PM

I'm glad you mentioned your report on the other thread, Lee Ann - I'm excited to keep reading! Sad we never actually crossed paths. :)

ElendilPickle Jun 3rd, 2015 12:01 PM

>>Sad we never actually crossed paths.<<

I know!

Sunday, May 3rd
Mr. Pickle and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

As most of you know, we only had 11 nights in Italy, so we planned to make the most of our time in Rome by booking 8:00 a.m. tickets from Milano Porta Garibaldi to Termini in Rome, a three-hour trip.

We arrived at the train station that would transfer us to Porta Garibaldi, and asked a couple which train we needed.

Unfortunately, they told us to take the train going the opposite way, which we didn't realize until we got to what was supposed to be Porta Garibaldi and found ourselves at a little station on the outskirts of Milan. We hopped off and got on a train going in the right direction; of course, by this time we missed the train we wanted to take.

Once we got to Porta Garibaldi, we had to buy new, more expensive tickets for the next train to Rome, which left around 10:30. We used our time to enjoy a couple of cornetti and drinks, and, since we were going to miss the lunch I'd planned for us at Zia Rosetta, we bought sandwiches and lunch things at the supermarket in the train station.

It was a pleasant ride to Rome. We enjoyed what scenery we were able to see and relaxed a bit. I texted the apartment owners in Rome to let them know we'd be late, and they recommended we get a cab (we'd planned to take the Metro) from Termini to the apartment to save time when we arrived.

Before we left Milan, Mr. Pickle put some items in his daypack so we'd have them on the train, since we weren't sure where we would be able to store our suitcases. When we got to the apartment, we grabbed our suitcases and his daypack. Somehow, both of us managed to miss his camera bag and left it in the cab. We didn't realize it was missing until about 15 minutes after we arrived at the apartment, and we had no way to contact the cab driver.

Poor Mr. Pickle was unhappy. He had saved to buy a nice Nikon DSLR camera, and now it was gone. He contacted the police and every lost camera site we could find, but we figure someone else has it now.

However, he shook off the disappointment and we decided to get on with our day. By now it was about 3:00 p.m., so we were a couple of hours behind our planned schedule.

Our apartment was four blocks from the Colosseum, and we'd planned to visit it that day. Most of the museums and historic sites have free admission on the first Sunday of the month, and they are pretty packed with people. I reserved tickets online so we wouldn't have to stand in a long line. Best four Euros I ever spent! :-)

Before we left, I had downloaded some of Rick Steves' audio tours to my phone. Unfortunately, the Colosseum tour was kind of cheesy (no, Rick, I am not going to stand here in the Colosseum and shout, "Ave Caesar!"), so we turned it off and chose not to listen to the Palatine Hill and Forum tours.

It was really incredible getting to see these sites that are so important in Western history. We spent time in the Colosseum, then walked up the street to the Palatine Hill entrance (no line there) and looked at what was left of the grand houses. From there we made our way down the hill into the Forum and strolled past all those huge arches, columns, old temples, etc.

We exited by Trajan's Column, spent a little time listening to a band that set up near the Victor Emanuele monument, and walked across Piazza Venezia to the Carabinieri office there so Mr. Pickle could report his missing camera. The policeman just shrugged and said they couldn't help, and suggested we try to file a report online. There is a site for Rome where you can report missing property and check to see what has been turned in, so we gave that a try.

By now we were getting tired and hungry, so we made our way back toward the apartment. We were going to try having dinner at Pizzeria Luzzi, since it was close to our apartment, but didn't feel like waiting 20 minutes for a table. We ended up around the corner at a nice little place called Naumachia, which had tasty, reasonably priced food.

There is a little market next door to the apartment building; I'd spent some time admiring their fresh fruit and vegetables earlier in the day. We picked up some really delicious strawberries and some cheese to have with breakfast the next morning and called it a night.

Our apartment was on Via di San Giovanni in Laterano, and overall we liked it quite a bit. The owners provided bottled water, breakfast pastries, and crackers, which was a nice touch. It is nicely decorated and quiet. The wooden loft floor was pretty creaky and noisy, especially in the middle of the night (I was drinking tons of water trying to get rid of the swelling in my feet, so I was up a lot). Also, probably because of underground springs nearby and that the back wall was partially underground, there was a mildewy smell when you entered. We didn't notice that after a minute or so. We have a longer review on Airbnb if anyone is interested in reading it. It would have been handy to have been a little closer to somewhere like Piazza Navona, but it was perfect for the Colosseum, and very close to both subway lines, buses, and the 117 tram.

Lee Ann

LowCountryIslander Jun 3rd, 2015 12:13 PM

Just spotted your trip report, bookmarking to enjoy later this evening! :-)

jent103 Jun 3rd, 2015 01:41 PM

Poor Mr. Pickle - that must have been the worst feeling! Good for him for shaking it off - that must have been tough.

M and I ate at Naumachia on our 2011 trip thanks to a Fodorite recommendation - I vividly remember the cacio e pepe and the ricotta with honey. That was my first cheese + honey and it is now one of my most favorite things ever.

ElendilPickle Jun 3rd, 2015 07:30 PM

Jent103, there's a picture in our Siena photos that perfectly depicts how he felt. :-)

I should have kept better notes, but I think we split a pizza and salad at Naumachia. Both were delicious.

Lee Ann

jent103 Jun 4th, 2015 06:56 AM

Haha! I love it. Your captions are awesome.

MARIOMaltese Jun 4th, 2015 09:33 AM

Hi all new to all this well was wondering if anyone can help me out with some info.....I will be arriving into FCO Ter 3 at 1700 aprox and need to get to Naples which is the best way to do this??

Adelaidean Jun 4th, 2015 02:35 PM

Hi Mario, you will get answers to your particular question if you click on "post new topic" and place your query there. Otherwise it will get buried, this thread is actually someone's trip report.

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