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Itinerary Help: Rome, Venice, Como & Milan

Itinerary Help: Rome, Venice, Como & Milan

Nov 26th, 2010, 07:38 PM
  #21  
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PS - zeppole, I just reread your post and noticed: A few minutes with the mosaics in Santa Maria in Trastevere or with the Caravaggio in the piazza del Popolo can mean more over a lifetime than a jaw-clenched stomp through the Vatican.

Jaw-clenched is right. I quit going to so many standing room live music shows in Nashville (where I live) because I spent more time being cranky about drunk people dancing in my personal space than enjoying the bands. Now I try to mostly pick the ones with chairs. And you've got a good point about the art!
jent103 is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 06:17 AM
  #22  
 
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jent,

I hear very mixed reports about the "secret" tour of the Doge's Palace. I've never done it, so I can't advise personally, but the complaints seem to be that it is boring and dumbed down.

Torcello might have a lot of appeal when you get there if you find the crowds too much.

Regarding the Borghese in Rome, they only allow ticketed, timed entries, so you get nothing like the shoulder-to-shoulder crush you get at the Vatican.

I'm really a museum hound, but I enjoy them most when they are nearly empty, and especially if they are very old-fashioned scholarly museums, not the kind that have been renovated to resemble airports or department stores. If you have time and the inclination, a really enjoyable small museum is the Pinocoteca Ambrosiana in Milan, which is a 10 minute walk from the Duomo. It's like a mini-Smithsonian, with some quirky things like a glove of Napoleon but also one or two beautiful paintings -- a Caravaggio still life, Rafael's original full-size sketch for the School of Athens painting in the Vatican. It probably takes all of 45 minutes to tour the whole museum.

http://www.filcoo.com/en/italy/tg/pi...iana_guide.htm

In case it hasn't already been mentioned, you will need to book far in advance to see Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper.

Have a great trip!
zeppole is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 12:37 PM
  #23  
 
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I can't comment on Rome, because I've only spent half a dozen days there. But I sort of know Venice a little. The Ducal Palace is worth a look - mainly because of the political place that the Doges occupied up until the time that Napoleon upset the apple cart. It is spectacular – and also likely to be pretty crowded.

Murano is glass factories, and glass showrooms doing rather a hard sell. Torcello is worth a visit - Torcello was bigger than Venice in its day, and the church there is great. But if you have only a couple of days in Venice, you might not have the time - Burano and Torcello would eat up most of a day. The good thing about going to Burano and Torcello is that it gives you a feeling of how Venice is placed in the lagoon – there’s a lot more in the lagoon than just Venice. If you do go to Burano, you’ll pass an island on the right hand - starboard – side, with a ruined brick warehouse. It once was a powder magazine.

Zeppole above criticises the Peggy G's collection, and there are a couple of ways of looking at that collection. There are undoubtedly better collections (better, as in wider, and more representative) of modern art, and if modern art is your scene, than you might find Peggy’s a bit under whelming. I see it a bit differently – it is the collection of one person – Peggy – who knew, in both the social and biblical sense, many of the artists whose works are represented there. She was, to all accounts, free with her favours, and was the last owner of a private gondola in Venice. Her gondola is in the maritime museum now.

If you have a lazy hour, my impressions of Venice are here:
http://www.fodors.com/community/euro...st-verbose.cfm
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 12:46 PM
  #24  
 
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jent, we did the secret tour of the Doge's palace and found it quite informative, and it only lasts about a hour or so.
after that you are free to explore the rest of the palace in the normal way.

if it's mosaics you're after, the despised Rick Steves describes a mosaics tour of Rome that we did and thought well worth-while [we are obviously of plebian taste!]

we also enjoyed the mosaic chapel in the crypt of St. Cecilia in Trastevere which no-one seems to know about - you pay €3 to the lady in the corner, walk past the excavations, and right at the end of the tunnel emerge into a perfect domed chapel dedicated to St. Agnes.
annhig is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 01:09 PM
  #25  
 
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I booked the Secret Itineraries in Sept of this year. I am into anything Italian, history, castles, etc and my girlfriend would have been happy shopping at Marni. I thought the tour was going to give an introduction for her and some new historical info for me. I had visited the palace in 1990.

After being picked up in the main courtyard we were led to the upper floor of the palace where the guide talked about the branches of government and how the rooms were used and then focused on Casanova, his prison cell and the great escape. There was an incident in our group when one American tourist almost fainted because of the heat and she was denied water even though the water fountain was one prison cell away or the request to leave the tour. It will remain the most unpleasant moment witnessed in an Italian setting. Anyway, following the tour you are allowed to visit the main rooms of the palace and if I were do to it all over again, I would be happy with that. It takes less time and the impression you are left with is that of a grand palace build by a rich maritime republic. You do get to see the prisons on the lower floors by yourself.
MilenaM is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 01:42 PM
  #26  
 
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she was denied water even though the water fountain was one prison cell away or the request to leave the tour.>>

why didn't she just go and get it if she knew it was there? I have every sympathy with the unhappy tourist but sometimes I think that we leave our brains at home.
annhig is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 02:26 PM
  #27  
 
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annhig, the whole group joined in and asked for water or a chair for the fainting lady. Upon getting an indifferent look and a couple of "no, no", the couple asked to leave the tour. The tour guide did not even explain that water was to be found in abundance in the cell next door. She simply said that they needed to continue on. She calmly finished her story while the tourist was held firmly by her husband, and when we crossed a small hallway we all realized that the water fountain had been close all along. The tourist could have brought a water bottle with her but one could have never anticipated the elevated temperatures under the tin roof. As explained by the guide, it is meant to make you suffer: hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter.
MilenaM is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 02:35 PM
  #28  
 
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Peter,

My objection to the Guggenheim museum in Venice is precisely that they have obliterated the space as a personal home -- they literally painted everything over in white, including the fireplace, plus removed every scrap of furniture to make it a conventional gallery hung with modern art. And her gondola should have been left outiside the palazzo.

Peggy Guggenheim is a historic figure of Venice and the curators had no respect for her life there. Modern art completists like myself will of course want to see the collection, for all its omissions, quirks and handful of influential works, and for gossip value.

But it is a real shame that the history and personality of Peggy Guggenheim -- dreadful as it was -- has been erased at the museum, save for the graves of her dogs.
zeppole is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 02:40 PM
  #29  
 
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well, not tin but lead, thus the name I Piombi.
MilenaM is offline  
Nov 27th, 2010, 04:55 PM
  #30  
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Interesting thoughts on the Secret Itineraries tour - thanks, everyone, for your impressions! I think that's something we'll be talking about, but we've got several months to make a decision. Modern art is definitely not my "scene", so the Guggenheim home hasn't really been on my radar.

zeppole, I have the on-sale date for Last Supper tickets marked on my calendar! (Or at least, the date I'm guessing. They only have on-sale dates up through March last time I checked, but I'll keep looking.) And I'll make reservations at the Borghese if that ends up on my list. I need to look into the Roma pass as well and see if it would work well for us.

Peter, I've seen your trip report pop up a few times and have read parts of it. It's in my notes to come back to!

annhig - [we are obviously of plebian taste!] From what I can tell from your posts and trip reports, I think my friend and I share your plebian tastes. So your posts have been really helpful! That's a great tip about St Cecilia's.
jent103 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 05:29 AM
  #31  
 
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Hi

Just now re-reading your OP. When I first replied, I was in Vienna, idly checking fodors, when I saw the Lake Como bit and pounced.

Re: your two days in Venice.

I wouldn't waste time on the Secret Itineraries tour either - save that for a longer trip after you've seen the rest.

I can't recall if you've been to Venice before but I'd probably spend the two days walking and wandering and popping into churches. If you have a Venice specific guidebook (even the DK Top Ten series, which are very slim and compact) there should be a listing of the "Top Ten churches in Venice". If not, I'd be happy to oblige with the ones I like and I am sure others would as well. Also, perhaps pick one museum (Accademia?) and leave it at that for museums...

A thought regarding climbing the campanile... consider going to the Isola San Giorgio Maggiore, which is the small island you will see across from San Marco. That views from that campanile are stunning (see below - yes, there's a pic for that) and you will also visit the Palladio church.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalkerbeth/523101069/

A boat ride tour would be quite enjoyable. I've been on one, I seem to recall it was a few hours and we got to see quite a bit. This was a small powerboat - maybe taxi sized? I also think Rick Steves must have some kind of written guided tour using the vaporettos - or even a podcast.

I've visited Venice a handful of times and still have not visited any of the outlying islands. There is so much to do in Venice! Each time I think "I'll make it this time" and never quite make it. I can't really be a good commenter on Murano/Burano, other than to relate that. If it's your first time there, or your friend's first time, odds are you will determine the same thing once you get going. I will say that when I finally do make it to the islands, Burano will be my first choice.

Regarding planning, my "eyes" are always bigger than my "stomach" and then I arrive and realize "what was I thinking, I can't fit this all in". It's good to have options written down though - so I do it each time, anyway. For instance, I just returned from Vienna and by my second day there I decided to jettison the two night side trip to Budapest (luckily had only made hotel rez, which being a Marriott has a very generous cancellation policy).

Guggenheim - Zeppole is right, the museum is stripped of any character - clean bright and white. I wonder how it was when she lived there. She was quite a character - worthwhile to read a little on her life.

Rome: If you really really want to see the Sistine Chapel, you'll have to visit the Vatican Museum. If you can find a tour that will permit you to avoid the long line, jump on it. I've done it twice, once with a personal guide during the day time (sharing the space with lots of people but at least I walked straight in with him, no lines...) and the second time was a "private after hours tour" which is just as it says. You are with about 20 or so people on that tour (a few other private tours are on at the same time, but they are also very small and staggered so you are alone with your group) and that was marvelous. Also spendy.

Consider a Context Rome tour. They are fantastic. Not cheap, but you get what you pay for and more.

If you simply don't want to deal with 1000s of people in the Vatican, after the Scavi you can get into St Peter's very easily.
flygirl is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 07:22 AM
  #32  
 
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She calmly finished her story while the tourist was held firmly by her husband, and when we crossed a small hallway we all realized that the water fountain had been close all along. The tourist could have brought a water bottle with her but one could have never anticipated the elevated temperatures under the tin roof. As explained by the guide, it is meant to make you suffer: hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter.>>

apologies for my misunderstanding - i do hope that no-one gave her a tip! we went in March - it was very cold, so expiring due to the heat did not apply. our DD is always well equipped with water, but I'm not sure he'd ahve been able to take it up there with him -do you not have to deposit any bags before the tour starts? and I'm not sure that it was actually designed to make people suffer - rather they were indifferent to the suffering of lesser morrtals.

jent - I'm glad I've been helpful. A place we really enjoyed in Venice which is not on the normal tourist circuit is the Jesuiti - just round the corner from the vaporetto stop for the islands on Fondamente nuove. the marble work is stupendous - our DS couldn't get over the carved curtains and swags and we had to go back twice to see them again, and ther was a very good neighbourhood restaurant neaby which we liked a lot [it was full of workmen which is a pretty good guide]. and i agree with flygirl about the campanile - the one of the isola san Georgio is just as good, and much easier to get into.

In Rome, a place we took to this last visit was the museum Doria Pamphilji - it has some lovely pieces, a quiet atmosphere, and very few tourists, but really in Rome, if you just pop into every church that you come across, you can hardly go wrong. again, flygirl's tip about getting into St. Peter's after you have done the scavi tour is spot on. alternatively, go as erly as possible [before 9am] and climb the dome - then tour the Basilica. leave it any later, and you'll waste half your day waiting to get through security.
annhig is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 08:44 AM
  #33  
 
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The church annhg refers to is called "Gesuiti" -- although its official name (which is what sometimes appears on maps) is la chiesa di Santa Maria Assunta. Since the Fondamenta Nuove is somewhat long, the place to look for the church is the Campo dei Gesuiti. (I'm one of the few people who thinks getting perpetually lost in Venice can be an overrated experience.)

Annhg, did you eat at Osteria alla Frasca?

http://www.qype.fr/place/403343-Oste.../photos/609461
zeppole is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 09:44 AM
  #34  
 
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I'd agree with regard to getting lost. It's been wet here today, and the combination of umbrella, perplexed look and map quickly turning into pulp is not a happy one.
Peter_S_Aus is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 10:29 AM
  #35  
 
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Peter,

Clear ziplock envelopes are great. I sometimes can find them in 8x10 size in Italy, in places where they sell school stuff for kids. Slip in the map. Zip it shut. Map doesn't get wet and you can still read it.

Likewise, have you looked for laminated Streetwise maps in Venice?
zeppole is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 11:22 AM
  #36  
 
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Zepp, I’m running with a much folded Rough Guide map – printed on semi-waterproof paper, like the Streetwise maps are.

The other thing that works for me is the Moleskine City Guide for Venice. It does not list the smallest streets, and the street finder can be perplexing (Ponte Donna Onnesta is listed as Onnesta Ponte Donna) but otherwise it works.

Advice I’d give anyone – get a decent map before you arrive in Venice, and have one with a street finder. Everyone says that getting lost is part of the Venetian charm, and I’ve done my share of that. It is less charming though when you are hauling your bags, and you’ve passed through the same campo half a dozen times. And it’s bucketing rain, and aqua alta is threatening.
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Nov 28th, 2010, 11:23 AM
  #37  
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Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions - they are all duly noted! flygirl, I have been to Venice before, but only for a quick day trip. We spent the day seeing St Mark's (for about ten minutes), eating gelato and wandering about. My friend has never been. I'm looking to have a list of things to do, but based on my only experience there, if all we end up doing is looking around and whatever strikes our fancy, I'll be perfectly happy. I'll check into the Doge's Palace a little more and decide where that should be for us, priority-wise. I don't mind wandering in Venice, but I do want to have some idea of where I'm going!

annhig and zeppole, thanks for the information on the Gesuiti. I'll mark that on my map! And flygirl, that picture is great - thanks so much for the tip on that campanile.
jent103 is offline  
Nov 28th, 2010, 01:30 PM
  #38  
 
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zeppole - Gesuiti, of course.

the name of the place you mention doesn't ring a bell - it was a little place, with a room at the back, and it was full of working Venitians. the standout dish was "risi e bisi" [peas and rice] what the other [few] choices were escapes me. I just remember that it was on a little square down the street from the Gesuiti.
annhig is offline  
Jan 27th, 2011, 07:42 PM
  #39  
 
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Jan 27th, 2011, 10:13 PM
  #40  
 
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flygirl,

I love your pictures!
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