Italy Trip October2002 Report

Oct 31st, 2002, 01:20 PM
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Italy Trip October2002 Report

I received lots of help from Fodorites, so I wanted to post some insights from our recent trip to Central and Northern Italy.

Rental Car

We booked the most basic car with Autoeurope. I found a better price before we left with Avis, and true to their promise, Autoeurope bettered it by a few dollars. Be sure to fully check the competitionÕs rates, before you jump.
When we arrived at Fuimicino Airport, Rome, we were in a long line-up behind ten other renters. It took almost an hour and a half before we were in our vehicle. But, once in the driverÕs seat, there were no surprises. It was small, but it was easy to drive, and next to brand new.


We opted to skip Rome this time, having done it well on our last visit. We drove directly to Orvieto, which took only an hour and a half. From the airport, you obviously want to avoid Rome itself, so you follow the ring road signs for Firenze to get you onto the A1. Orvieto is well signposted off the highway.


Orvieto is a beautiful hill town, and easily accessible. Our hotel, Hotel Corsa was on the main street, and easy to find. We booked two nights, at the cheapest rate of our trip.
We received a 10% discount because we mentioned Rick SteveÕs Guidebook. The guy at the front desk had a streaming cold, and his germs were everywhere. Especially in the cramped elevator when he showed us to our very basic room. The bedspread was filthy, and when we complained, he came up and sneezed all over the one he reluctantly replaced it with. We suffered this, mainly because we were very exhausted from travelling, and the fact that Hotel Corso is very centrally located. We would not recommend this hotel to others. You get what you pay for.
Oct 31st, 2002, 01:24 PM
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Part two:

Not as easy to access, but far superior, was the Il Palazzo in Assisi, thanks to Karen BrownÕs excellent recommendation. Highly recommended. Ask for Room 203. Four poster bed and amazing views of the Umbrian landscape, once you reach the third floor with all your luggage and no elevators. Excellent, friendly and efficient staff. Nice breakfast. We enjoyed Assisi, but it would not warrant a return visit.

Castellini in Chianti

We had stayed at Hotel Salivolpi over ten years ago, and we returned for four nights. Castellini is a nice village, with several nice restaurants and shops. A popular Coop, and a great coffee bar, with Internet access. We loved it as a base to explore Tuscany. Salivolpi is a villa type property with lovely rooms, just on the edge of the village, a few minutes drive after dinner in Castellini. Great breakfast is served in an adjoining farm building in the grounds, by an attentive Italian mother. We would return there. We did Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Greve and several other towns from this location. Beware of some of the side roads in this area, which are endless dirt tracks ridden with huge pot holes, and unsignposted. Adventurous, yes. Scarey, yes. Ultimately rewarding, yes. We discovered a great restaurant serving "typical" Tuscan specialties, in the middle of nowhere after such a jaunt.


We booked a small place, Villa Romantica, a vigorous walk outside LuccaÕs city walls. Our room was nicely appointed, and the son of the family owners looked after us well.
Good value for money. Lucca was very nice. Being a Sunday, not everything was open.

Gardone Riviera

We stayed at Hotel du Lac. Other guests seemed to be with tours. Being October, this was end-of-season for this lake resort hotel. The bathroom in our room was the smallest we have ever encountered, anywhere. One person could hardly stand up in it. The balcony view of the lake was nice. But next morning, we awoke to no heat in the water. Freezing, repeat, freeezing cold showers with less than an apology from the front desk. Breakfast coffee was undrinkable, orange juice was like watered down orange flavored water. I would definitely not recommend Hotel du Lac.

Oct 31st, 2002, 01:34 PM
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Part Three:

We picked Hotel Guilietta e Romeo based on Fodorite experience. It was the most expensive room on our budget trip ( 125 euros), and considered good value. Staff went out of their way to be helpful. Location, next to the arena, in the centre of Verona, could not be improved upon, though access is difficult, and parking is only by hotel valet ( 16 euros per night), at the other side of the main square. We were relieved to have our car parked for us, after the difficult drive in. Verona was the largest stop on our trip, a little too big for us.


We returned our rental car at Piazalle Roma in Venice, with no hassles, just a few steps from the vaporetti stop. IÕd recommend using Autoeurope for price and service, in spite of our lengthy wait in Rome.

We could not get into the Hotel Galleria, our favourite in Venice, and we tried the Locanda Art Deco, which others had recommended. It too was full, but Judith at this hotel offered us a nearby apartment off San Samuele, which served us really well for six nights at 100 euros per night. It was just as described, on a quiet street on the first floor, with three large shuttered windows, a small well stocked kitchen, a chandelier, and a beamed ceiling. Television with 13 Italian channels. Excellent heating to dry our clothes after two days of heavy rain. I shopped the Rialto market for fresh produce, and we found the local supermarket for other necessitiesÉ.a long vaporetti ride, a much shorter walk, and cooked several memorable meals. A couple of evenings, I went out for gellato, which we ate at home for dessert. For six short days, we played at being local Venetians. Highly recommended.

Oct 31st, 2002, 03:28 PM
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Grazie for reporting back Martin. It seems that you learned alot. We too did the apt. route in Venice--a very good idea. Do not always trust Rick's hotels--try to get another report.
Nov 1st, 2002, 05:46 AM
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Thanks for the report. Going to some of the destinations you reported on...helpful feedback. Thanks.
Nov 1st, 2002, 05:56 AM
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Thanks for your report, Martin.
Nov 1st, 2002, 07:33 AM
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Martin: Can you provide a web site or information on the Venice apartment? It sounds great for us. Thanks. Jack
Nov 1st, 2002, 07:56 AM
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Send an email to Judith Boulbain at Locanda Art Deco:
[email protected]
mentioning my name and specifying the San Samuele apartment.
The Art Deco Hotel is minutes away, and its website is:

You will enjoy this accomodation!

Nov 1st, 2002, 08:24 AM
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Some further observations:

Bob the Navigator had correctly suggested that we made too many overnight moves.

Next time, we would focus on staying in three places in a two week period, and do day trips.

We're in our fifties, and find that big cities can be stressful. We much prefer smaller towns and villages.

If you are on a big budget, you will enjoy Italian cuisine without restraint.
We prefer not to splurge every night, so we selected single dishes from very large menus of choices and courses. This presented no problems. However, we raised our wine consumption at dinner to at least a bottle between the two of us!

We loved every minute of our time in Italy....I took hundreds of photographs, especially in Venice.
We had no problem with our poor command of the language, though we used key phrases whenever possible.
Train service was excellent on the last day, to get us from Venice to Trieste airport. The airport in Trieste is very small, but has a suprisingly good restaurant on the first floor.

Tuscany is still a favorite, in spite of others' reservations about its cost and commercialization. Landscapes are incredible, towns are a joy to roam.

Venice is my favorite city of all. I could live there very easily!

If anyone needs more specific help, I'll be happy to provide it.

Nov 1st, 2002, 11:24 AM
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Martin: Great report. Just curious did my directions to the Hotel Guilietta e Romeo help any? Although it sounds like they didn't. Well hopefully you weren't cursing me as you were driving around Verona.
It is a tough hotel to find and after around my 3rd attempt I decided to risk a ticket and take the Bus/Taxi lanes part way around the Arena.
Yes, the valet parking is nice and well worth it after the search for the hotel. Regards, Walter
Nov 1st, 2002, 07:02 PM
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We probably passed each other on the Autostrada. Just returned from Cinque Terre, Podere Terrano (Toscana), Torre S.Severo (Orvieto), Verona, Gardone Riviera & Varese.
We stayed at Villa Fiordaliso in Gardone (a rendevous spot for Mussolini & Claretta)and it is a gorgeous, marble lined villa= fabulous. Their (1 Michelin star) restaurant was beyond our expectations. In Verona we were also at Giulietta e Romeo -- had a hard time finding it initially but once the receptionist drew the in and out of the city route on our map, it was easy. We did a day trip to Bassano del Grappa which was charming.
We love Italy and I say that after my husband fell and broke two ribs while hiking in CT; ten days later, gypsies broke into the house we rented near Orvieto and stole all of my jewelry.
The last night we stayed at Villa Castiglione in the Varese area to be near the airport. We were the only guests (there were about 45 rooms and I don't know why they stayed open). The commute to the airport was a breeze and I'd recommend Castiglione to anyone.
After our misfortunes, friends ask if we'd return to Italy and we enthusiastically say "certo!"
Nov 1st, 2002, 11:40 PM
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Martin, as trip report goes this is not a very good one. Other than useful notes on hotels, there is no much substance as far as how you spent your time, why you would not return to Assisi, sightseeing in Orvieto, Castellini (did you leave the hotel?).
Nov 2nd, 2002, 12:45 AM
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I am just curious, why does everyone call Castellina in Chianti Castellini?
Nov 2nd, 2002, 08:38 AM
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Thanks Martin. Jack
Nov 5th, 2002, 04:49 AM
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My wife was not keen for us to risk a ticket, so we followed the hotel's directions, which were not easy to follow in the traffic, but their signs, as we got closer in the back streets, saved us! I appreciated your help anyway....


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