Italy Trip Report

Sep 20th, 2002, 01:54 AM
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Italy Trip Report

I am not very good with the computer and tried to paste this but it did not work so I will try to type it all over.
ROME- Left from Philadelphia on Sept.1 on US Airways on the most cramped plane I have ever been on. The good news was you can watch 6 movies from your seat. We were picked up at the airport by a car sent from Residenza Cellini (06-478-2504) on Via Modena (160E for junior suite). Very small and charming, only 6 rooms run by the De Paolis brothers. Had a quick shower and off to the Pantheon. I went to high school in Rome, many years ago and wanted to search out an old haunt for lunch. La Sacrestia is great for thin pizza and pasta on Via del Seminario. Later a delicious gelato at Giolittis.
Traveling with a couple who had never been to Italy so trying to give them quick overview of the city. We climbed the Victor Emmanuel monument for a gorgeous view of Roma and then on to the Forum and Colosseum. It never fails to thrill me to see those felled columns and ancient stones.
Made sure we got some shots of my husband and I with Colosseum in the background in order to make our own postcards with blank cards from Eckerds to send to family that would have us on it. You can address them in the U.S. before you leave.
Hot day but pushed on to see the Moses, get all our train tickets settled at a travel agency, and then out to dinner at Myosotis, Via della Vaccarella(o6-686-5554) which was quite good, but rather formal. Took an ambien that night.
Sep 20th, 2002, 02:09 AM
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Part 2- Sept. 3 we were in line at 8 AM for the Vatican Museum but you cannot enter until 8:45 so the tours are in there before you are and the Sistine Chapel was packed. I still found it glorious as I had not seen it since it was cleaned. We left through the back exit into St. Peters and were fortunate to attend Mass at the front altar with a wonderful cantor. Did the usual there but the line was too long to go to the cupola, took a taxi to the Spanish steps. My friend was on the search for the perfect tiramisu and this was it! We ate at a small trattoria called Shaki on Via Mario dei Fiori (with your back to the steps go up Via Condotti maybe two blocks and to the right). They also have a gourmet sweets shop in Piazza di Spagna.
Started to rain but my husband and I trucked on to the Galleria Borghese . The Bernini statue of Apollo and Daphne is breathtaking as she is turning into a tree with delicate leaves growing from her fingers and roots from her toes. Canova's statue of Pauline Bonaparte is also not to be missed. There are lovely views of the garden as you tour the villa. I had made reservations from the U.S. by phone. Inspite of the weather, it was busy.
Met another couple at Hotel Minerve for a drink hoping to see the sunset from the roof but it was closed due to rain. On to a very fun birthday dinner at Osteria Di Giovanni Ar Galletto, Piazza Farnese #2,06-686-1714. This is an outdoor restaurant and became packed with Italians which is always a good sign. They were very sweet asnd gave us a delicious bottle of wine for my birthday. It is a very quiet square and close to Piazza Navoma whewre we went after dinner for limoncello and grappa.
There were many artists there and we found a greater selection there then in Florence the day we went so I would say if you see something you love, buy it. On to the Fontana di Trevi, but I was disappointed as it was thronged with people. Overall, Rome was very cleaned up from the last time I was there 20 years ago.
Sep 20th, 2002, 02:29 AM
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Sept. 4 a long, hot train ride to Perugia and the AutoEurope office is on a precarious, busy street with almost no parking in front. Our car return in Siena is a much better location as it is in a roomy industrial park near the train station. (5 E for a taxi)
We reached Assisi easily but were not well prepared for the parking situation. You can unload your luggage for 5 minutes and then go to remoter parking areas. We stayed at cozy Hotel Umbra Via Degli Archi (075-812-240) Lovely people here and they have an excellent restaurant but we also ate at a wonderful family restaurant La Pallotta (075-812649) also off the square, and it was delicious.
We loved the peacefulness here and had an outstanding 4 hour lecture with Rosella Fiorucci (39-075-800-1422). She works with Anne Robichaud, teaches art history and is an impassioned guide. She spent san entire year studying only the art in the Church of San Francesco.
Then drove to the Eremo (Hermitage) of St. Francis at the top of Mount Subasio which is filled with serene and cool natural walking paths. If you drive onto Spello (get out that Travel gum!) as you twist down the mountain you will see a little jewel of a town, Colle Pino. We went on to Spello as I wanted to see a painting by Pinturricchio in the Church of St. Andrew.
In the church I engaged Fra Paolo in a bit of my amusing Italian and he insisted we see some things behind the locked doors. We saw his iron sculptures of 30 years ago and he now makes enormous wood figures on wheels used for feasts that are very elaborate, have a spiritual message and are decorated with powdered, dried flower petals which he collects. He was filled with joy and enthusiasm and this encounter was a highlight of our trip
We sought refuge from the rain on the porch of Il Trombone Restaurant soaking in the beauty of sage green, misty hills over beer and vino. Their dinner was excellent.

Sep 20th, 2002, 02:42 AM
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Up early to sketch in the Piazza del Comune and then spent the day in Spoleto Enjoyed the small, bright archaeological museum near the Roman ampitheatre. I can imagine how beautiful this is as a site for the Festival's concerts. It was rainy but the sudden vision of the Duomo with the huge fortress to the right is a sheer delight and the Filippo Lippi frescoes inside are not to be missed!

SAN GIMIGNANO- Sept. 7 drove the breathtaking "Crete Senese" and so regretted we could not stop at Montepulciano, Pienza and Montalcino. Ate lunch at Castello Banfi which was farther than we thought, quite formal and they ;insist on reservations though it was half empty. It is in a lovely area but I was not that impressed and would not go again.
Our destination was an agriturismo, Fattoria Voltrona outside of San Gimignano run by the Leanza family. ( There we meet many other couples we knew who filled up their villa. It is in a great location, peaceful and very simple and clean and costs $66 per couple with breakfast. For 16E per person you can have a large dinner with all the wine you can drink.
Took day trips from here including wonderful Etruscan Museum in Volterra, Colle Vald'Elsa has beautiful glass and an elegant restaurant. I would highly recommend La Mangiatoia Via Mainardi 5 (0577-941528) in San Gimignano for lunch with classical music or La Terrazze in the Hotel Cisterna for dinner (0577-940-328)
Sep 20th, 2002, 02:55 AM
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Parked at the train station, reservations at the Accademia for 11:00 (you can see David but not the base which is covered with plywood and there is a small exhibit there of people who copied his work. Walked to Museo San Marco to pick up our reserved tickets for Uffizi in the afternoon. No lines here and easy to see the cell of Savonarola and the charming, sweet frescoes of Fra Angelico. Line very long to get into the Duomo, not enough time this trip. Quick lunch at the Vernaccia wine bar, and then a two hour tour of the Uffizi by a friend who studied in Florence and has taught Art History. We split up to shop, see Santa Croce, Ponte Vecchio (Hideously crowded), take photos. We arrive early for dinner at Il Latini Via De Palchetti 6 (0552-10916), and a good thing. A huge line of orderly Germans formed down the alley and at 7:25 a huge crush of Italians pushed to the front door and there was almost a riot! I had reservations but this did not seem to matter much. This is an experience...huge hams hanging from the ceiling, fast, jocular waiters , fun; and noisy and truly tuscan food. While we were eating a huge crowd was longingly gazing in and had to be appeased by the restaurant with small glasses of vino bianco! Leaving the city was a was deserted.
Sep 20th, 2002, 02:56 AM
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Your report is wonderful. I will save it for future reference. Thank you for taking the time.
Sep 20th, 2002, 03:18 AM
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Our first mistake was to not buy the combination entry ticket as you pay everywhere. We parked near stdium on side very close to San Domenico. I was very moved by the delicate, pale frescoes there by Sodoma of St. Catherine. Of course the Duomo is spectacular and the intricate marble floors (supposedly only uncovered in September?) fascinating. Do not miss the Chapel of the Vow which is blocked off from the inside with barriers and you have to go out and reenter at the side to get in to see the Bernini sculptures. In the Palazzo Pubblico do not miss recently restored "Maesta" of Simone Martini...gorgeous.
I would highly recommend dinner right off the Piazza Del Campo at Le Logge Via Del Porrione (0577-48013). They set up a special table for 7 of us in their wine cellar as it was quite cool outside.
We spent a glorious day driving through the Chianti area and having lunch and a wine tasting and tour of the gardens (you need 10 people for this) at Badia a Coltibuono (near Gaiole). It is the home of Lorenza de Medici who started the first cooking school in Italy and has written many cookbooks. It is an old monastery and the restaurant, run by her children, is on a lovely terrace overlooking a beautiful valley. This is a good thing to do on a Monday when the museums are closed elsewhere.
On Sept 14 dropped car easily in Siena and took train back to Rome but it made many stops. I would probably drive to Orvieto next time. Final night at Hotel Aberdeen (Rick Steve's suggestion so many Americans). Good location Via Firenze 48 (06-482-3920) 129E and a free computer to check your e mail.
Final dinner at Grappolo d'Oro on Via Palestra off Via Settembre north of Piazza Republicca. Excellent dinner and more antipasti than I have ever seen! 50 E per person with wine.
Used Andrea of Rome Limo to airport. If you need to get rid of euro you might look in the airport bookstore for cahrming "Tuscany Sketchbook" by Huck Scarry for 21 E....lovely watercolors.
I know this was long but wanted to share as memebers of this forum helped me plan such a wonderful trip that will be long remembered. Will add one last suggestion thing. Thanks! Annie
Sep 20th, 2002, 03:33 AM
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I only saw white tennis shoes on Americans. The hip, leather bowling style shoe is sold throughout Italy. For clothing layer down to a cool shirt or tank top but have a light jacket to cover up for churches or dinner. I basically wore the same Clark's nubuck sandals as my feet were too swollen to wear my enclosed shoes. Scarves or a necklace you would not worry about if lost, help to break the monotony.
Any Farmacia will carry "Travel Gum" mentioned on this Forum. It saved my life on winding roads in Chianti area. I brought way too many blister and cold aids I did not need. Am very sensitive to smoke and did not find it that bad really and did not have to use all that stuff I brought to remove odors.
My husband (affectionately known as "the llama" carried all maps,water, camera and sketching stuff in a back pack and I carried cash for the day and credit card in small purse across the chest in front of me. Passports etc. in his money belt. Never had any problems
or threat of theft.
"Magic Wrinkle Remover" spray was truly magic. You can buy a haridryer there for $20 in an electric home supply store. Assisi developing was dismal.... There was an excellent, professional film developer in San Gimignano in the Duomo square. If you prefer gloss printing ask for "lucido".
I brought way too much film and it seemed to only be 5 E per roll there.
A 5 E inter Italy phone card from Tabaccheria was more than enough to confirm reservations etc. for two weeks.
I wished that I had bought good city maps of Florence and Siena for Driving before we left to plan best parking areas.. Fortunately friends had them . Loved the MapEasy maps for Rome and Florence for touring...great for old eyes. Internet cafes are everywhere and we frequently popped in to keep in touch with family.
Forgot to mention that friends in Lucca very moved by huge Mass with firemen and policemen commemorating September 11. Did not see so much in small towns.
Sep 20th, 2002, 05:34 AM
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Annie, I enjoyed your colorful trip report, especially since we'll be covering some of the same Tuscany/Umbria territory at the end of October.
One question: In your Siena report, you wrote, "Our first mistake was to not buy the combination entry ticket..." Please elaborate, i.e., what's covered with the combined ticket. Thanks in advance.
Sep 20th, 2002, 09:44 AM
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Howard, Apparently there is a 16 E ticket that covers 8 sights includine Museo Civico,Santa Maria della Scala, Baptistery, Piccolomini Library and more. It is good for 7 days so I guess it depends on how long you will be there. You might ask at any of the sites as you enter about a combo ticket. I think there are separate ones for religious sites and city museums. I know we were constantly paying to enter each sight.
Sep 20th, 2002, 03:18 PM
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Thanks, Annie.

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