Just Returned from Italy-Great Trip!

Oct 22nd, 2000, 08:40 AM
  #1  
Hitomi
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Just Returned from Italy-Great Trip!

I posted a long message (spent 1.5 hour to write), but for some reason, only the title shows up and no content. If someone sees my other message with the same title WITH the content, let me know. So, this is a concise version. Also, please excuse me for misspelling if you find.

Anyway, our 10-day trip to Italy was just great. It was the second visit for me and will return someday.

In general, people are nice and friendly. Most people we encountered spoke some or good English.

Food is great and reasonable, particularly in Florence. Since we came back, we have been eating Italian every day here in California to recapture our experience.

FLORENCE (3 days)

- Accademia. We visited 5:30-6:30. No line at all. It was almost all to ourselves as no many people were in there and quiet. We just stared at David--it is just magnificent.

- Uffizi. Reservation is a must IMO. You can reserve on the first day you get there--that's what we did. We were there 1:30-4:30. It offers so much.

- Climbed up to Duomo. 463 steps, no lift. Wonderful view--it worth it.

- Central Market is such a fun place. We've seen many kinds of meat and fish I've never seen before.

- We stayed at Hotel Bellettini. Very friendly, nice people. Huge room with a high ceiling. 200.000L

- We had dinner at Cinghiale Bianco, south of Arno. Very good food. We got there at 6:50 and a dozen of people were already waiting. We found that in any city you either make a reservation or be there by 7:00 for popular restaurants.

- Mario across from Central Market. Great, cheap food.

I wish I had one more day for Plz. Michaelangelo and shopping.

SIENA (2 days)

Campo is breathtaking. Unfortunately, it rained two whole days.

- I highly recommend Hotel Santa Catarina. From our room, we had a magnificent view of Tuscan hills. Beautiful breatfast room.

VENICE (2 days)

Venice is magical. Hard to describe it in words. I love Venice, as much as I love Florence. I enjoyed walking in Dorsoduro. Campo del Marghrita was full of local people.

- Pensione Accademia. We booked 6 months in advance. All standard rooms were taken then, so ours was a superior room at 400.000L, definitely worth it. It has a beautiful interior and garden.

- We planned to eat at Al Mascaron in Castello. We were offered a one-page menu only. Pasta dishes alone cost 50-60.000L. All items were priced for two. It was too much as we heard it was an economical place. We walked out so did other two couples. Instead, we ended up eating at Agli Artisti da Piero nearby--touristy but good. I had a seafood tourist menu at 35.000L, which included seafood salad, seafood pasta, fried mixed seafood, and mixed salad, and dessert.

It is getting too long. I could go on and on as I have so much to share. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Hitomi
 
Oct 22nd, 2000, 10:34 AM
  #2  
Judy
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Dear Hitomi,
Haven't seen your other message yet, but so nice of you to post this. Re Santa Caterina(I'm assuming you had a car), was it difficult to find? Does it make sense to use it as a base in terms of ease of driving in and out of town? Thanks.

 
Oct 23rd, 2000, 07:06 PM
  #3  
Hitomi
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Judy, it would work for you, either you have a car or not. Hotel Santa Catarina is located approx. 100 yards outside the wall. So, you have no problem with a car. You can either park off the street or arrange to park in a parking lot. We did not have a car, so I don't know the details. Please e-mail the hotel. They'd be glad to answer your questions. Hotel staff are very responsive and nice.

When you see the sites in Siena, you can walk to Campo in about 15 minutes or can take a shuttle bus, that runs every 15 minutes or so.

 
Oct 24th, 2000, 09:11 AM
  #4  
Paulo
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Glad to see that you liked two of the restaurants in Florence that are in my list ... they'll therefore remain in my list The Mario is indeed very cheap, full of locals ... is it still a lunch only restaurant? How much does one spend at the Cinghiale nowadays?

Pasta at Lit 50-60,000 at the Al MascarÚn? It's hard to believe. Even though it was probably the most successfull osteria in Venice some years back, with its pasta specialities as spaghetti coi caparÚsoli, co l'ŗstese or col nero de sŤpe, they must have gone nuts! But you seemed to have found a table just walking in ... once a reservation was a must! Maybe that's an indication that they're practicing a bad policy. I'll strike it from my list! I appreciate you walking out on them ... If most visitors would follow your example these ripoffs wouldn't prosper.

Paulo
 
Oct 30th, 2000, 08:37 PM
  #5  
Hitomi
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Paulo, I meant to say "thank you" for the first time around. Before the trip, I faithfully read your advice and followed many. You really helped my trip and thank you very much.

To answer your questions:

MARIO is still for lunch only. Still mostly locals. We ate there twice. Great pasta and excellent ossobuco. Staff is very friendly and have met several nice people there.

CINGHIALE BIANCO is very reasonable. We paid 88,000 lira (=$40) for two, including appetizer, pasta/soup, meat, wine and coffee. We had wonderful brushetta, nothing like the ones I have had in Italian restaurants in the U.S. Tomoto bread soup was very tasty. Good roast pork. etc. It offers a nice atmosphere, too.

We also wanted to tell you that La Maremmana near Santa Croce changed hands. The restaurant is still there but called something else and not very crowded. We thought about eating at Cibreo or Il Pizzianolo nearby. But both places had a long waiting list.

Again, thank you so much, Paulo.

Hitomi
 
Oct 31st, 2000, 11:17 AM
  #6  
Larry
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Re: Al Mascaron

Had dinner there last week and my objection was not to the price but to the attitude. We were seated without a greeting and only a gesture toward a table and the one page hand written menu was basically thrown in our direction. Due to the hand written aspect, it was a little difficult to read so we asked for an explanation and got one word descriptions, i.e., clam, crab, meat. We ordered with our minimal Italian (we tried, anyhow)and when the house wine was delivered, we asked for wine glasses. The waiter very brusquely turned over two of the short water glasses that were on the table and continued on. The couple that then sat next to us got real wine glasses.

I don't remember exactly but I did not think it was expensive. I think the pasta ragu was 28000 for TWO.

The waiter has the unique position of being one of only two Italians with a poor attitude out of 17 days -the rest of the people were delightful. We probably should have walked out but didn't.
 
Nov 1st, 2000, 07:34 PM
  #7  
Hitomi
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Larry, I agree with you about the attitude of the restaurant staff. He treated us in the same way as did to you. I hope, at least, you had great pastas.
 
Nov 2nd, 2000, 12:18 PM
  #8  
Linda
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I'm curious about fall foliage in Italy. Was it still pretty at this time of year? My dream is to go back to the Med in the fall.
 
Nov 2nd, 2000, 03:44 PM
  #9  
Judy
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Dear Hitomi,
Do you know how close La Calcina is to the Pensione, where you stayed? Thank you.
 
Nov 2nd, 2000, 06:57 PM
  #10  
Renee
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Hi Hitomi,

I just read your review of Italy, and found it interesting. I'm curious about the hotel in Venice where you stayed--Pensione Academia.

How close is it to St. Marks?
Since you liked your room so much, maybe we should book the one that you had when we go there in May. Do you remember the room number?
Thanks,
Renee
 

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