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vumit May 29th, 2006 04:00 PM

Just back from Rome and Florence
 
Thanks to all the advice on this board, we had a great trip May 3-15 to Rome, Florence. We did the day trip to Pompei by train from Rome using the advice on this board and it was quite easy. I would recommend getting a guide at Pompei. We used the audio guide and found it quite confusing. Nevertheless we loved that day trip.

Hotels: Rome--Albergo del Senato...expensive but worth it. The location is wonderful and the staff was very helpful. Florence--Hotel Berchielli: again a wonderful choice. Location on the Arno very near the Ponte Vecchio. Both hotels were very quiet (we had courtyard rooms). The rooms were very nice and VERY clean. The breakfasts were fantastic!
We also stayed at the Hilton, Rome Airport on our last night to catch an early flight. This hotel was sterile (as we expected) and not convenient to anything but the airport. Lunch there was ridiculously expensive...so bad that in the evening we actually walked over to the airport and ate...cheaper!

We had wonderful tours of the Vatican and the Forum/Colosseum led by Daniella Hunt. We found a recommendation for her on this board and she did not disappoint. We are very thankful we hired her and would highly recommend her to anyone( http://www.rome-tours.com/tours.shtml).
We also had a great tour in Florence with The Original Walking Tours (http://www.italy.artviva.com/) We highly recommend this company. Check out both of these websites and you'll see they are highly qualified .

Best meals: Not even close. We loved the 4 Leoni restaurant, across the Arno, in Florence. Our walking tour guide told us that it is where she takes her friends. It was wonderful, reasonably priced and very convenient once we found it (cross the Ponte Trinita and take the first angled road to the left. At a tiny piazza you'll see the restaurant. Don't miss the dish with the pasta that has pears and asparagus in it. WOW!

We did have trouble finding the SITA bus to Siena. Advice: ask a knowledgeable taxi driver for exact directions. Many people THINK they know where the station is, but most do not. (it seems to be temporarily under construction and this leads to some confusion?)

Day trip to Siena was very nice and easy once we found the bus. However we also had some trouble getting diretions back to the bus. People of Siena don't seem to know where it is...but they do know where the Jolly Hotel is, and the stop is across the street from the hotel.
From Florence we also really enjoyed the trip up to Fiesole. Wonderful views and a nice little monastery up at the top.
Also hiked up to Piazz. Michelangelo and that was well worth it. One of our favorite things in Florence was the Chieso San Marco...monastery full of Fra Angelico's frescoes....we'd go there again in a heartbeat. (only open in the mornings so plan accordingly).

Do not miss Ostia Antica. We enjoyed it as much or more than Pompei. It was worth the 50 Euros we had to pay for round trip taxi from the Rome Airport Hilton. A guide (Alexandra) approached us and we hired her for 30 Eu. She was well worth what we paid.


Thanks again for all the advice.

Ciao

francophile03 May 29th, 2006 04:26 PM

Thanks for posting your trip report. I appreciated the Florence restaurant and Siena bus tips. Those are quite helpful.

Zydecoqueen May 29th, 2006 05:04 PM

Ditto Francophile comments. How long was the bus trip to Sienna? Were there many guides? WOuld you recommend booking in advance?

Woody May 30th, 2006 10:26 AM

Reading your report brought back fond memories of our trip to Rome and Pompeii in March. How I miss the food!

Woody

j_999_9 May 30th, 2006 10:31 AM

Underscore for everyone that problem with finding the bus to Siena. The people at the station are of little or no help. In Italian, I asked a station worker where the stop was, and he told me, "Go look at a map."

mel_hunt May 30th, 2006 10:50 AM

Thanks for the trip report. I'm heading to Florence in a couple of weeks and your restaurant recommendation sounds wonderful. If there are other Fodorite/foodies out there who would like to try the pasta/pear/asparagus dish, I located the recipe at: http://www.4leoni.com/ricette.asp?id_ricetta=9.
It will require a little improvisation (?) as the instructions are translated from Italian and not intended for US cooks. Anyway, Trattoria 4 Leoni is now an official destination. Thanks!

Melissa

vumit May 30th, 2006 12:41 PM

bus to Siena is about 75 minutes. The bus was nice, new and comfortable.

We didn't have a guide in Siena so I don't know about that.

joycap May 30th, 2006 06:20 PM

Thanks for your input aboutOstia. We will be in rome for 4 days (second trip) the end of June and plan to go out there. We are planning on using the train. Any idea on how long you stayed? Is it about a half hour trip from Rome? We would appreciate your input as we have a Borghese reservation at 5pm that night and am nervous that it will be too long of a day.

TRSW May 30th, 2006 08:23 PM

ttt

gracie04 May 30th, 2006 10:05 PM

I second the recomendation for 4 Leoni. I had a wonderful lunch there on 5/19. The pasta w/pear and cheese was very good.

Still trying to get that trip report together... :)

Johanna

vumit Jun 5th, 2006 09:26 AM

In response to the question: We stayed about 3 hours at Ostia with an excellent guide. I really do think you need a guide to get the most out of the stay. I think 3 hours is about the minimum stay. Since we go there from the Airport Hilton I don't know about the time it takes to get there from Rome.


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