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Just back from Florence, Rome, etc. - Questions ?

Just back from Florence, Rome, etc. - Questions ?

Oct 18th, 1999, 01:05 PM
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Just back from Florence, Rome, etc. - Questions ?

Just back a week from Italy. I want to start by thanking everyone from whom I gleaned many, many tidbits of information on this forum!! Your recommendations and suggestions were invaluable. This forum is a great resource!!!

This year we went to Florence, Rome, Sorrento and Tuscany (8 days). I have to start out saying that I was very, very disenchanted with Florence. I've been there many times, and I have always loved it; but this time, the pollution, the noise, the crowds, and the filth were just too much - I doubt we'll return soon.

Rome was interesting! The Italians are desperately trying to get it ready for 2000, and it will be interesting to see if they succeed. I can tell you that the scaffolding is completely off of St. Peter's, and it looks FABULOUS! We had a great 4 days here - the only problems are caused by the road works, which necessitate many inventive detours by the taxis.

The best two tours in Rome (esp. if you are an archaeology buff) were the Domus Aurea (Nero's Palace), built into the Esquiline hill next to the Colosseum, and the ancient Christian Necropolis underneath the Vatican. Tickets are required for both. For the Domus Aurea, call directly to Rome (06) 481-5576. They speak English, and you can charge the tickets. For the Vatican necropolis ("scavi"), see this web address for info:

We traveled Florence-Rome by train (very comfortable), and from that point on (leaving Rome) by car. The Italians maintain their roads to a high degree, and it is a pleasure to drive over there. Yes, I do actually ENJOY driving in Italy - but then, I live in Boston.....it's just like Boston driving, except on speed!!

Tuscany was, as always, beautiful. The grape harvest was in full swing while we were there, so some fields were picked clean, while others were still waiting for that final ripening. And of course, the food was scrumptious! I tried Pici for the first time this year - a Tuscan special pasta, like thick spaghetti. Try it with either the duck sauce or the chingiale (wild boar) sauce.

So what's on tap for 2000? I'm already planning the trip back to Italy! Let me know if I can answer any questions.
Oct 18th, 1999, 01:46 PM
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Paul, Great report---thank you. Your
comment on Florence makes me want to
cry---what a shame and all too true.
You skipped over Sorrento. Were the crowds bearable down there? Did you hit
Positano and is it still as charming as
I recall or have the tour busses ruined
it as well?
Oct 18th, 1999, 02:32 PM
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good grief..the worst possible news..and from 2 of you!!
I am headed off to Florence for 8 days, next Monday!! too late to change now..
boo hoo
Oct 18th, 1999, 04:18 PM
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I too just returned from 3 weeks in Italy. I disagree with the report on Florence tho. Altho it is a busy city, the streets were swept daily or more often, there were crowds, but it is a major destination, so you can't avoid the people unless you want to go some place smaller and miss all the good things Florence has to offer. There was some pollution, no worse than I've seen in the US many times. We loved the art, food and wine and would return tomorrow if possible! Rome was great, we walked and avoided the taxi detours, Cinque Terra was warm and relaxed, Siena won my heart as the Island of Elba. We also visited Monza, Bellagio and San G if anyone has a question. Ciao! Pam
Oct 19th, 1999, 05:54 AM
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Sorrento was still charming - the crowds seemed quite bearable, still. I recommend "Davide", down on a side street, as having the BEST gelato in Italy (or so my companions vouched - I can't eat it). They have a flavor called "Profumo di Sorrento", a mix of several citrus flavors, which was reported to be outstanding. We didn't get to Positano this time, as we got to Sorrento at 2:00 AM due to car trouble, which tired us all out.

Sorry, Pam and Deb, but I was very turned off by Florence this time around. Yes, the art is not to be believed, and yes, you have to see it, but... We drove from Florence through the Po valley to Lucca, and the pollution throughout the valley was awful!! The Italians do not appear to be doing anything about it (I hope that I'm wrong).

Lucca, on the other hand, is a gem. It reminded us of Perugia (another favorite), but without the hills! Lucca is very under-touristed (thank goodness!), and very charming. It's a very prosperous city which obviously does not depend on tourism for its main economy. Lots and lots of Pisan-style Romanesque churches, yummy food, and a very manageable sized city. Definately on the return list.

Oct 19th, 1999, 06:30 AM
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I'm planning a trip to Umbria this spring, planning to use Perugia as a base (I don't drive). Any suggestions are welcome (hotels, restaurants, sights). Your report's great.
Oct 19th, 1999, 02:26 PM
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Hi Paul:

I fell in love with Florence on my first trip to Europe 21 years ago. I was lucky enough to return five years later and was still in love.

However, this past May (several years had passed since I was in Europe) we were in Florence. Wow - had it changed. The noise and the pollution were horrible, just as you said

It was so sad to see what had happened to this city.

However, for everyone who is going to Florence - it still is a lovely city - still one of my favorites - but just take heed of the potential to encounter noise and pollution.

Paul, it sounds like the rest of your trip was great. We hope to return to Italy in the next year or two.

Oct 21st, 1999, 10:12 AM
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Hi Carol(s),

We stayed in a very nice hotel in Perugia in 1998 called Hotel Fortuna, Via Bonazzi, 19 06123 Perugia Tel. (075) 572.28.45/46. We had a room on the top floor (elevator goes to 1 floor below, then walk up). The two rooms there each had a private rooftop terrace with spectacular views over the city and surrounding countryside. They are on the web at: http://www.wel.it/Welcome/Umbria/Per.../index.uk.html. They have an arrangement for parking (if you're driving), but book it when you reserve.
We were only there one night, and we ate at "Da Cesare", just off of the main square (sorry, the name escapes me). You walk down the Corso towards the cathedral, then turn left in front of it. The food was absolutely fabulous!! Highly recommended!! The kitchen is glass-enclosed, so you can watch the goings on. The kitchen is run by 3 women, and you can tell that they're the boss!! For an appetizer, they split a piadina (shaped like pita bread, but nothing like it), fill it with an arugula-onion mixture and sliced mozarella, and bake it - I still drool thinking about it!!
Yes, I too agree that it's sad that Florence has become so polluted. It has the most phenomenal collection of artwork anywhere, and has always been one of my favorites. But I think that daytrips will be the rule of the day.
The rest of the trip was great! You know, I've always found that it's tough to get a bad meal in Italy. And I have always found that Italians very warm and welcoming, especially if you try to speak a little Italian. I'm not fluent by any means, not even close, and I can understand it better than I can speak it. But just making the attempt to speak seems to make quite a bit of difference. I'm definately boning up on my tapes this winter!!
Oct 21st, 1999, 10:42 AM
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Thanks so much for all the Perugia details. I'm getting excited about my trip now.
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