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Just back from Rome, Venice, Verona, Milan, Ancona

Just back from Rome, Venice, Verona, Milan, Ancona

Aug 12th, 2001, 01:50 PM
  #1  
claire
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Just back from Rome, Venice, Verona, Milan, Ancona

We just returned from Italy last Wednesday, and this board has been so helpful, I wanted to return the favor if anyone has questions. We were happy with all of our hotels. In Rome, we stayed at the Hotel Aberdeen. We also used ScalaReale for a couple of their walking tours and tried some of their restaurant recomendations. San Teodoro was outstanding! In Milan (VERY brief stopover), stayed at the Hotel Lloyd, a five minute walk from the Duomo. In Verona, the Residence Verona House (with kitchen facilities)in the city center. We attended an opera at the Roman arena, & learned the ropes! In Venice, the Hotel American. In Ancona, the Jolly Hotel Ancona, where we had a beautiful view of the port and of the pentagon shaped Lazzaretto Vanvitelliano. We also had two of our absolute best meals in Italy at La Moretta. I know Ancona (on the Adriatic) is off the beaten tourist path, unless you are a RyanAir summer vacationer flying in from London, but we really enjoyed our time there and found plenty to do and to see. Being in a lively port city which was not over run with tourists was a fun experience in and of itself. Once in Italy, we used the trains to get around. I'll be happy to try to answer questions anyone might have about travelling in these places.
 
Aug 12th, 2001, 02:40 PM
  #2  
Gordon
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Claire,

Thank you for your information. My wife and I are leaving Sept 21st arriving in Rome and then heading south. In Rome can you recommend any fantastic resturants that are reasonably priced with excellent food near the spanish steps
 
Aug 12th, 2001, 06:13 PM
  #3  
claire
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Hi, Gordon. I'm afraid I can't help you with first hand information on great restaurants in the Spanish Steps area. We were trying to go to Otello's one night (Via della Croce, 81) and found we'd have to walk through some serious sand-blasting (yes, at night!), so we opted to go elsewhere. Isn't Alfredo All' Augusteo (of Fettuccine fame!) in that area? Have no idea if it is any good, though. I can give you a high recommendation for San Teodoro, though. I think it fits your description, except for the Spanish Steps part. It is located at Via dei Fienili, 49, near the Forum. Still part of the Centro Storico area of Rome and an easy night taxi ride from the Spanish Steps. Try to get an outside table. They stayed full the entire time we were there. In any case, enjoy your trip!
 
Aug 13th, 2001, 06:52 PM
  #4  
Liv
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We are going to Venice in September, and will take the 1 1/2 hour (3 hours round trip) train to Verona for a day trip. Since our time is limited, do you have a "must see" near the Arena which we plan to visit. Do you know if it is a far walk from the train station to the Arena area? Everyone says Verona is worth the trip from Venice.
 
Aug 13th, 2001, 07:21 PM
  #5  
Howard
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Claire, I was delighted to read that you were in Ancona. We will be flying there in 5 1/2 weeks, where our Italian friend will pick us up for an overnight stay in Tortoreto Lido (a small town about 65 miles south of Ancona on the Adriatic) at his father's pensione to kick off our latset visit. What is that part of Italy like?
 
Aug 13th, 2001, 07:42 PM
  #6  
claire
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Hi Liv. Yes, I agree Verona is definitely worth a day trip if that's all the time you have to give it. It is also a fun place to people watch from the cafes at night, but that is true of much of Italy! It is not too far to walk from the train station to Piazza Bra, but you also could take a taxi or ride the bus, especially as you'll not be encumbered with luggage. I don't knwo your interests, so its hard to pick just a few places. I'll just tell you what I wouldn't want to miss in Verona. The Piazza Bra, of course. If you aren't attending anything at the arena, try to take a tour. I also enjoyed the Castel Vecchio. Depending on your interested, you can go through it slowly or move right along, but it is worth seeing both for its architecture and the museum within. San Zeno is probably the most interesting of the churches. In the shopping area, from Piazza Bra, amble on down Via Mazzini (I think I've remembered the street name correctly). It is pedestrian only. You'll see signs to the (bogus!) Juliet's house along the way & will come out at Piazza Erbe. Interesting market square and buildings of architectural note. Really, only you can say what your priorities would be. Verona offers more churches, gardens, a Roman theater, and other sites. And, it is simply a beutiful old city to wander through. Visit http://www.wel.it, then click on the English version and navigate to "Travel and tourism" and plug in "Verona." That should bring up a map, info on major sites, details on transport from the train station to Piazza Bra, and other itmes that may interest you. As for restaurants, I've often read that Il Desco is a very fine choice, but we did not have time to seek it out. Beware of prices in Piazza Bra cafes. Check them out before you sit down! Have fun! Hope this helps some.
 
Aug 13th, 2001, 08:03 PM
  #7  
claire
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Hi Howard,
Hope the day you fly into Ancona is a sunny cloudless day. I think it is one of the most breathtakingly beautiful sights from the air with the sea sparkling, Mt. Conero jutting into the Adriatic, the curves of the natural port, the church of San Ciriaco sitting on top of one of the hills in Ancona at one end of the port, etc...are you getting the idea we enjoyed this city?! I did not get south of Ancona, though, so can't really answer your question. Still, you may glean some information about both the city and the province of Ancona (including a bit to the south) by checking out http://www.comune.ancona.it And, if you have the opportunity to have dinner in Ancona, try the Trattoria Moretta in the Piazza del Papa (pedestrian only). Their website (prepared in part by a relative in Long Island!) is http://www.trattoriamoretta.com (or .it). People watching at cafe tables in Piazza Roma behind the church of San Domenico. And do go see the Passetto which overlooks the Adriatic if you have the opportunity. Outside of Ancona, I do know there are no huge population centers in the area you will be visiting. Just south of Ancona appear to be some nice beach areas. Wandering about in a car is probably the best way to visit this area. Have a terrific time!
 
Aug 14th, 2001, 07:18 AM
  #8  
Howard
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Mille grazie, Claire. You posting made us even more eager--if that's possible!--to return to our favorite country.
 
Aug 14th, 2001, 07:31 AM
  #9  
Jackie
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Nice to hear about Ancona--I lived in Macerata, Italy (in Le Marche Region, which Ancona is the capital of) for 3 months, and we visited Ancona only briefly at night, but I had never heard such high praises of it (I'd only heard of it as being a port city without much to do). In terms of outside of Ancona (for Howard who asked), Le Marche region is a very beautiful region, blessed with the Adirondack mountains AND the Adriatic sea. Both give it great beauty, and make it a charming place to travel through if you are interested in off-the-beaten-path type of travel and very few tourists. There are two amazing cities I'd suggest visiting: Urbino (a beautiful Renaissance gem packed between hills where many of Piero della Francesca's paintings are housed. This is also the birthplace of Raphael) and Ascoli Piceno (an old Roman town located in the Southern part of Le Marche where there is a beautiful, large piazza and the only hostel in all of Le Marche region. I hear they throw quite a party at Carnivale time).

Hope these helps. I know of a lot of other places too in Le Marche, so if you have specific places you are going, I might be able to give you advice. It's a wonderful place to travel through--and to live!

Good luck and buon viaggio!

Jackie
 
Aug 19th, 2001, 02:09 PM
  #10  
claire
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Sorry for the delayed post....out of town. But, Jackie's mention of Urbino and Ascoli Piceno reminded me of Iesi (Howard, are you a wine lover?), Sirolo, fossombrone, San Benedetto del Tronto, Gradara of Paolo & Francesca fame, San Leo, the Frasassi Caves, Loreto, Porto Recanati, Cingoli, so many little spots, so little time! Howard, I can see that you will be dipping into Abruzzo for your first night in Italy, but, as you noted, the distances are not huge when Ancona is just 65 miles north of your first destination. I would highly recommend that you get a current copy of a travel book called "The Marches" put out by the Touring Club of Italy (Heritage Guide, I think). It is available through the amazon.uk site, I'm sure, as I got a copy through them. It may now be available through the regular amazon site as well.

As for Ancona itself, this guidebook gives a fine few pages over to a walking tour of the city that I can highly recommend. It would take 1-2 days to "do Ancona," depending on your pace and interests. Then, branch out to the beaches, the hill towns, wine country, etc. in the immediate Marche area. If the weather permits, hire a sail or other boat for an excursion along that beautiful Ancona coastal area - Mt. Conero and its protected green space and the Porto Nuovo beach area.

Jackie, funny that you mention Macerata. Our very young desk clerk at the Jolly Hotel Ancona told us that she loved going to Macerata for opera in the summer, and she (and we!) were so disappointed that our schedule would not permit us to make the trip. Opera under the stars at the Sferisterio sounded like a terrific idea in this land of Gigli, Tebaldi, Corelli, Cerquetti, etc. for those opera lovers out there.

This part of Italy rarely presents a cluster of sites in one place like Rome or Florence or Venice, but the many jewels it has (sites, food, hotels, vistas) are well worth the time to seek out!
 
Aug 19th, 2001, 02:33 PM
  #11  
carol
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Hi Claire,
I was wondering what kind of experience you had using travelers checks or an ATM? I've heard there have been problems with ATM pin codes and also rip-offs with exchanging travelers checks?

Any info would be appreciated. Thanks.
 
Aug 19th, 2001, 03:14 PM
  #12  
claire
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Hi Carol,
I didn't use an ATM card at all. I relied on credit cards and travellers checks. Had no problems with either. With the TCs, I usually cashed the amount I thought I'd need for a city or period of time, rather than try to access my money belt in public (invitation to trouble!) at each establishment where I might want to pay in cash. I kept what I needed (cash and perhaps one credit card I knew I'd need for a big purchase) for the day in a fairly secure spot I could reach easily, and the rest in my money belt. No problems at all. And, often I could get discounts for paying in cash. The only thing to have to look out for is the rate or commission on cashing those travellers checks. Had one bad experience there, and it was my own fault. I waited till the last minute to do the cashing, and had to use an unanticipated exchange place in a major tourist area in Milan, with a predictable higher than norm rate. I learned my lesson! Hope this helps.
 
Aug 19th, 2001, 05:15 PM
  #13  
Howard
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Claire, thanks in good part to your initial comments, we are now spending two days in Tortoreto Lido in Abruzzi when we arrive September 22! I quote from part of my Italian host's recent email: "When you come to Tortoreto, you'll taste the original best Italian lasagna, because the Abrruzzi is its original region. Then, I'll show you the typical Italian way of living in a small town on the beach. If it is good weather, you could swim in the Adriatic Sea just in front of Jugoslavia [sic]. Don't forget your bathing suit!" Any wonder why we want to stay longer than overnight?
And all because you mentione Ancona in the title of your posting! Mille grazie!
 
Aug 19th, 2001, 05:41 PM
  #14  
claire
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Howard, with such a host, it sounds like you've got it made in the shade (if you can find any!) your first two nights! PLEASE don't come after me if the Tampa Bay sharks invade the Adriatic while you're there!!! Seriously, I hope all goes spectacularly well on your visit to this wonderful part of Italy & I also hope you'll report back on what you found there. And, let me know whether that fine "original" lasagna is the beef, cheese & tomato type we are used to or whether it is made with chicken, "white" bechamel type sauce, truffle & a bit of Madeira ..... Enjoy!
 
Aug 19th, 2001, 08:07 PM
  #15  
Howard
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I certainly will report back, Claire. Now, we're off for a few days' mini-vacation (stateside). So, hold off any responses until the end of the week!
 
Aug 20th, 2001, 05:53 AM
  #16  
Mike
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The local tourist authority's website is www.le-marche.com. Quite good, and seemingly pretty honest - for instance, they admit the weather's pretty brutal in winter.
 
Aug 20th, 2001, 07:35 AM
  #17  
Jackie
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Claire:

Che bei ricordi! Your mentions of all of those many Marche small towns brings back many memories of my trip there. The Frasassi Caves are a great stop on a traveler's tour, and Loreto's church is quite magnificent (and the 3rd largest pilgramage spot in Italy! after Rome and Assisi) with the house of Mary located there. Also, Sirolo is very beautiful as well. I'm sorry you did not get to make a stop at the Sferisterio--while I was not there during the summer to see the Opera (although I plan to return for that!), I hear it's amazing. We went to the Sferisterio, and it's quite big and was originally created for a kind of ball game the Italians used to play, until it was realized how great the acoustics were! Macerata is a great place to visit--I took my family there when they came to visit Italy, and they were impressed with the little city. Also, the best pizza I had in all of Italy was in Macerata .

Did you get a chance to visit Ascoli Piceno and Urbino as well? Also, did you get a chance to visit Civitanova?

Anyway, thanks for the mentions of these cities. The Marche is a great place to visit for any off-the-beaten-path vacations.
 
Aug 20th, 2001, 04:53 PM
  #18  
claire
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Good point, Mike. The most bone chilling cold I've ever been was in Venice the last week of December a few years back. I'm sure the Ancona/Conero Riviera area could be just as rough. And, I think any "beach town/port" is a bit dreary in rain & cold. When I was in Ancona, it was sunny and a fairly humid 95 degrees. One evening was mildly cool, with a nice sea breeze. But, you still would not have wanted long sleeves for the outdoor table at that favorite restaurant. Definitely shoot for warm weather with promise of sun for those coastal visits!
 
Aug 20th, 2001, 07:43 PM
  #19  
claire
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Jackie, unforunately, Urbino and Ascoli Piceno (& their Quintana which I just saw broadcast on RAI International)remain on my wish list of places to visit next trip. I don't know Civitanova.

When you get back to Macerata for the opera, do report back. I'd love to hear about it. And would appreciate recommendations of places to stay & restaurants to visit while there. One of the barriers for us this trip was that there was no train into Macerata, we didn't have a car and weren't familiar with the local bus system. But, the main barrier was lack of time. The transportation could have been worked out, I'm sure. Suggestions on the best way to get there from Ancona?
 

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