Long Trip Report for Rome and Florence

Old Jan 6th, 2005, 11:40 AM
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Long Trip Report for Rome and Florence

Just returned Tuesday from a week's trip split between Florence and Rome! It was awesome and I just wanted to give a few highlights and helpful information.
We flew into FCO in Rome last Tues. and took a private shuttle service to Termini (man at the info desk suggested this; it was cheaper and easier because there were 5 of us). We got to Termini and bought train tickets to Florence, where we would spend our 1st three nights. Tickets were, I want to say, 27 Euros each.
When we got to Florence, we were of course bombarded in the station by people trying to offer us lodging. I just snapped at them and they left us alone. We were staying at a place outside of Florence called Il Poggiolo, an old Italian villa, run by a kind lady named Graziella. You could not ask for a better setting than Il Poggiolo, it's the real Tuscan countryside--beautiful. However, I never once had a hot shower and we were all constantly freezing in the room, unless we were wrapped under many bedcovers. On the good side, Graziella was very helpful and met us at the bus stop our 1st night (there would've been no way we could've found her place otherwise). She also picked us up the next night in Florence when we missed the last bus back to her place, which, inconveniently left at 7pm. As a side note, the buses in Florence are very confusing, so next time, I would probably stay in town.
We saw all we could in Florence. I would highly recommend going up in the Duomo; beautiful view of Florence, but not for the weak of body (there are a ton of stairs in very small passageways). I loved seeing the art in Uffizi and the David in the Accademia. Make sure to have your hotel make you reservations; this is invaluable and worth the few extra Euros you pay for the reservation fee to the museums. Otherwise you'll wait in line forever. I loved exploring the backstreets and piazzas. I was surprised at how many tourists were there, considering that it was December! The weather was GREAT every day. It was cold but never rained! I layered and wore a windbreaker.
We left for Rome on New Year's Eve day. There we would stay at the Pensione Panda, near the Spanish Steps. We had no problem finding the hotel, which is quite remarkable for my husband and I! And the best part was, it was wonderful! The location was the best part. Pensione Panda is located about a block or two from the Spanish Steps, which is a great upscale area, but the price of this place was not upscale! All 5 of us shared one room and split the cost. The room was, of course, small, but it was actually bigger than I thought it would be! I thought we'd be on top of each other, but we had room. We had our own bathroom (with hot water) and the room was warm. We were on a fairly busy street, but it was quiet at night, even on New Year's Eve!
Okay, New Year's Eve was so fun! There were what seemed like millions of people in Rome, it was insane. We started out at the Steps, and ended up wandering through the city streets, following crowds of people to different piazzas, where different events were happening. We were actually glad we weren't at the Steps at midnight. My husband and I went back there shortly after and there was broken glass everywhere (like a carpet) and police were there trying to stop some vandalism that was going on, led by a bunch of drunk guys. Anyway, it was an experience and I loved every minute of it!
New Year's Day was by far the highlight of my trip, though! We walked over to Vatican City and saw the Pope speak from his window that morning. No, I couldn't understand him, and no, I'm not Catholic, but there was just something awe-inspiring about the whole experience and being surrounded by so many people in that square. It felt like I was really living out history.
Saw about everything we could in Rome. Three days was no where near enough. I already want to go back! Biggest disappointment was that the Sistine Chapel was closed on New Year's Day (Sat.) and on Sunday, and we had to leave Mon. So we didn't get to see it. Oh well, like I said, I'm going back; I threw my coin in Trevi! Had gelato every day at least once. Baci is my absolute favorite flavor. Limoncello is good mixed with Sprite (too strong for me straight; guess I'm weak). We ate some good food, want to mention Supplis, which are little hushpuppy-looking things filled with rice, tomato sauce, and mozarella. They were so yummy and typically Roman. If I think of anything else to add, I will. But for now, sorry so long!
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 11:46 AM
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Oh yeah, in St. Peter's square at the Vatican, a lady with a baby tried to pickpocket me! I couldn't believe how smooth she was! Luckily, I warded her off, but it scared me enough that for the rest of the trip, I made sure my money belt was safely under my clothing! Seriously, she was so smooth, I hardly knew she was about to reach in! It was crazy.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 05:26 PM
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Sara, thanks for your report! I really enjoyed it and am glad you had a great time.

Did you stay 5 in a room the whole trip? Were you all still friends at the end?
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 05:31 PM
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Thanks Sara, I know what you mean about the pope and crowds. When the pope visited Boston and passed us in his pope-mobile, we got a rush.It was the energy of th crowd not our riligious slant.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 06:48 PM
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Yes, the 5 of us stayed together in one room in both Florence and Rome, and yes, it was trying. We were two couples and one single guy. I will admit that I wished we had gotten separate rooms by the time we got over there! However, it was very economical and I think we are all okay. More annoying was that, while my husband and I did a lot of studying up before the trip so that we could better appreciate what we saw, they did nothing and therefore, were not all that impressed with things that awed us. They seemed rather bored much of the time to be honest! What a shame.
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Old Jan 6th, 2005, 06:55 PM
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Have I mentioned that the whole time we were there, our friends kept searching for pizza that "tasted American"? Arghh...
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Old Jan 7th, 2005, 05:44 AM
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Sara,

Do you have the name of the place that the 5 of you stayed in Florence? Also, how to contact it and make reservations? I am going in June with my husband and 4 children, and new a place in Florence. What was the cost per night?

Thanks!
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Old Jan 7th, 2005, 05:51 AM
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Tracy, the place in Florence was Il Poggiolo. The cost was 165 Euros/night, with breakfast. We were in a little apartment area that had a bathroom, microwave, coffee maker, dishes, etc. The website address is
www.il-poggiolo.it/eng.htm, and it gives Graziella's email address where you can contact her. She is very accommodating, and might give a cheaper price since you are a family with kids. If you have any other questions, I'd be glad to answer as best I can.
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Old Jan 7th, 2005, 07:30 AM
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Hi sara,

Thanks for posting.

>...the buses in Florence are very confusing, ...<

See http://www.ataf.net/ for bus routes, schedules and a great map.





ira is offline  
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