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Milan, Ravenna, Rome...The Good, The Bad, and Limoncello!

Milan, Ravenna, Rome...The Good, The Bad, and Limoncello!

Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 03:14 PM
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Posts: 3,443
Milan, Ravenna, Rome...The Good, The Bad, and Limoncello!

Itís all about the vibe. You know, that feeling that you get, that feeling in the air, when you get to a city. Lots of places Iíve been to have it (Rome--my favorite place, Paris, Venice, Pienza, Galway). Unfortunately, for me, just my opinion, Milan didnít have it. I didnít hate it or anything, just didnít love it as I did other places in Italy. I am definitely not discouraging anyone from going thereóthe ďbadĒ in my title does not refer to Milan! This was my 11th trip to Italy, and although I had changed planes in Milan on previous trips, I had never stayed there. I wanted to see The Last Supper. And of course, there is a lot more to see in Milan (I only saw a small amount of what is there). I could easily have used at least another night or two.

This trip was in September. I've had a lot going on so am just now getting around to writing the report. I flew TAP (Portuguese airline), naturally because it was the cheapest I found. Of course, change planes in Lisbon. Good experience with them.

I couldnít rationalize the Ä90 taxi (or shuttle, they were all the same price or more), so I took the Malpensa Express train to the Cordona stop (a different train goes to Malpensa Centrale, so make sure you get on the right one). At the airport, coming out of baggage control, you go to the right and follow the signs, very easy. There was a little booth right there selling tickets. There was only one person ahead of me but four or five behind. The lady said they could also buy tickets when they got downstairs. Since there was only one person ahead of me, I decided to wait and get my ticket there. Turned out to be a good decision, as there was a much longer line downstairs. The machine to validate your ticket is near this line. (The machine at the top of the ramp down to the train is not the right one.) The train worked out well and was a huge savings at Ä13. No stairs to get on it.

When coming out of the train station, I realized that it wasnít the front of the station, and there werenít any taxis there. No problem, I figured it wasnít that far to the hotel and I could walk. Of course, it turned out to be a little further than I thought, but thatís OK. It was quite hot, so I stopped and bought a bottle of water, and made it to the hotel.

I stayed at Antica Leonardo on Corso Magenta, which I liked. It says right on the sign that itís a boutique hotel. This is not a bad thing! Once you get in (I had a little trouble with this, since the door pushes in and I was trying to pull it ), you walk through a covered walkway into a small outdoor courtyard. The registration and breakfast room (and some rooms) are to the right, and other rooms, including mine, were a different door off the courtyard to the left. (Note to self: If itís raining, take your umbrella to breakfast!) There is an elevator, but I was on the ground floor. Buffet breakfast was included, nice room.

Itís very close to The Last Supper, not so close to other things, but there is a bus stop about half a block away.

I know that itís best to stay awake the first day to get on their time, but I had been sneezing a lot in the few days leading up to the trip and wasnít feeling that great, so I did lay down and sleep a while. I later wandered around the area close to the hotel to check it out. No restaurants in the immediate area, I thought, but not too far to get to some. I only realized the last day that there was a small restaurant right next to the hotel, in the opposite direction of the center of the city. Guess I just never looked that way when I left the hotel. By pure luck, I found a tabacchi shop so I could buy some bus tickets.

Went to dinner at Osteria al 29 (I think this was one of maitaitomís suggestions, so thanks for that). Delicious Spaghetti with clams, garlic & parsley and great Tartufo for dessert. On the way back to the hotel in the rain (and I had not brought my umbrella), I stopped down a side street at Boccondivino to make a reservation for the next nightís dinner. Unfortunately, they were completely booked. I think they were closed my third night.

The next day, I took the bus to the Duomo. I had the Fast Track Ticket. Of course, the Duomo is huge and amazing. I got there early, so went across the street to a big candy store. I donít seem to have written down the name of the store. They have a huge selection. Got some Perugia dark chocolate with nuts and blueberries. Yum!

I was the first in line at the back of the building for the Fast Track elevator up to the roof. So many spires and and so much sculpture, plus of course a wonderful view. From what I had read, I thought I was supposed to take the elevator back down instead of the stairs to end up getting into the Duomo. This didnít work. It put me outside. Not sure where I should have gone, because there didnít seem to be another way. Anyway, I went around the front and got in line. Fortunately, the line wasnít too long and moved very quickly, so I was inside the Duomo in about ten minutes. I spent a good amount of time there, including the Area Archeologica and the Crypt. One of these had a charge that was included in the Fast Track Ticket. Lots to see!

From there, I went across the street to the Museo del Duomo. This is also included in the Fast Track, as is the Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore inside the museum. Donít skip the museum, itís definitely worth your time.

Going back towards the bus stoop for another place I wanted to see, I stopped for some good Pizza Prosciutto at Ristorante Pizzeria on Via Dogana. Then I continued on to Chiesa Santa Maria Preso di San Satiro. According to my research, it should have been open, but no luck. I hopped on the bus back to the hotel to put my feet up for a while.

For dinner, I had planned to take the bus to Risoelatte. The bus went a little past, I got off and walked back. Again ran into a completely booked restaurant. Make dinner reservations before you go to Milan! Walked back to the bus stop on Via Dante because there is a restaurant right there at the stop, Granaio. More expensive than I usually do (a glass of wine for Ä12.50!). I figured I needed to try the Milan specialty of Osso Buco/Risotto. Good choice, it was delicious.

Next day, The Last Supper. I had planned to buy the ticket as soon as they went on sale. From checking them several times, it appeared that would be May 30 or 31. I went online on May 30 and they were all sold out because they had gone on sale on May 29! I ended up buying a tour in order to get in, but that didnít turn out to be a bad thing. The two other places included were ones I wanted to see anyway, and the guide was excellent. He gave us a lot of good history and information. And I finally got to see The Last Supper! Not much else to say, except donít forget there is another great painting at the other end of the room, Crucifixion.

The tour moved on to Chiesa di San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore. Fantastic frescoes, both in the front area and the back area where the nuns lived, because it was an order that didnít allow any direct contact with people. They could look through a couple of places to see the priest during the service. I thought the really depressing thing about this place was that only 10% of the nuns were there because they felt a calling and wanted that life. That left 90% who were there because their family couldnít find an acceptable marriage for them! Imagine being forced to end up in a place where you couldnít speak or have contact with anyone for the rest of your life.

Our last stop was Castle Sforzesco. The tour only included the outside and interesting history about it. Of course, you could go in on your own after the tour, and I had intended to do so, but I was tired and hungry, so I didnít go inside. Wandered back in the direction of the hotel to find someplace for a late lunch. Luckily, I made a good choice with Caffe Litta on Corso Magenta. Had a salad that included lettuce, parmigiana, mozzarella, artichokes, tomatoes and some other cheese. This was a yum! Since they had Falanghina (a new favorite that I discovered in Ischia last year), I added a glass of wine. Great lunch.

Back to the hotel to put my feet up. When I walked up to the hotel, I finally noticed the restaurant just on the other side of the hotel, so I decided I would go there later. Pizza 13 & More turned out to be terrific. Bruschetta Pomodorini and Insalata di Tonno were another yum! And they had Falanghina, so I had that again. Since I hadnít had any of my favorite Limoncello yet, I ordered a glass after dinner. When the waitress brought it, she said is was a gift. Nice!
More later.
SusanP is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 03:31 PM
Join Date: Apr 2007
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That information about the nuns breaks my heart (and also makes me really angry).

I haven't been to Milan, but I've heard similar things about it being just meh.

Great report, looking forward to reading more!
memejs is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 04:25 PM
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Thanks for the report. Milan is one of our top favorite cities in Europe.
StCirq is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 05:47 PM
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Have been to Milan twice and sort of had that meh feeling too. However... I''ve heard that it is a terrific place to live.
(Have heard that from fellow New Yorkers. One , especially, went on about the pastries -
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Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 06:50 PM
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memejs, I agree about the nuns. Awful!
St. Cirq, I thought you might respond. I've ready many of your posts about how much you like Milan. If I had unlimited time and money, I would probably go back, but unfortunately I don't have either!
Gwendolyn, guess I missed the pastries!
Here's some more:The next morning, I take a taxi to the train station (€16) for the trip to Ravenna. You get off the train a few levels down. I start up the first flight of stairs, when a very nice young man just picked up my suitcase and carried it up. At the first landing, he pointed to the side to an elevator. I’m not sure I would have noticed it. I do find that I often get this kind of help without ever asking for it.

OK, this is what I was referring to—as soon as I come out of the train station, I can feel the good vibe of the town. I loved Ravenna! Of course, the reason to go there is for the mosaics, but I just liked the town. There was only one taxi waiting outside the train station, so fortunately, there was no crowd trying to get one. It was €9 to Hotel Centrale Byron on Via IV Novembre. Great location, right in the center as the name implies. Easy walking distance to everything. Good buffet breakfast.

I liked the hotel fine, except the bathroom seemed to be out to get me! There was a very small step up into the bathroom, small enough to not notice it but big enough to trip on it and stub my toe, which I did twice before remembering to watch my step. Ouch to both big toes! Then later I flooded the bathroom. It had one of those small showers, probably less than 2’ square, with the folding doors. When I took a shower, I didn’t realize that the door on one side wasn’t quite straightened out to be shut tight. I tried to soak up the water with the bath mat, but there was just too much, and of course because of that step, it ran a little ways into the bedroom. What a mess! However, when I told them about it at the front desk (because I would never be able to get it all up), they were very nice about it and said they would clean it up. Made me wonder if that happens a lot!

Not to mention that when I bent over in the shower to wash my feet and then stood back up, I hit my shoulder on the thing that holds the shower head. Now I have a nice bruise on my shoulder, and of course, it’s right where my purse strap hits it. Oh well, can’t let these little things bother you!

I headed out to get some lunch at Al Cairoli. Had to wait a bit for a table, but not bad. The ravioli in herbs and a butter sage sauce (something I make at home) was delicious. I think this might have been another of maitaitom’s recommendations, so thanks again.

On my way to see mosaics, I started with San Vitale. The ticket to cover most sites is right next door. Then the Mausoleo di Galla Placidia, statues and frescoes at Museo National di Ravenna. Of course, the mosaics are as amazing as you would expect. The amount of detail is incredible, and you can imagine the hours and hours and hours it took. I love mosaics and have seen them lots of places, but these are wonderful, partly because they cover so much area, not just the dome.

As usual, I went back to the hotel for a while to put my feet up, and this is when I had the shower disaster. Made up for it with a great dinner at La Gardela, Via Ponte Marino 3. The Carpaccio Salmone w/toast points & butter and the Frito Misto (Calamari/Shrimp/Zucchini) were both a yum! The Frito Misto was huge. After dinner, I went to Piazza Popolo to have a limoncello at Ristorante il Roma. One of my favorite things to do in Rome is to have a limoncello after dinner in the Piazza Navona, so this was similar, except of course a lot quieter! The limoncello came with a slice of lemon in it, something I’ve never seen anywhere else in Italy.

Started in the other direction the next day and encountered Piazza John F. Kennedy of all things. There is a very modern mosaic/statue there. Then continued to the Duomo, which isn’t one of the mosaic stops but is a good stop as well. On to more mosaics in Battistero Neoniano, Museo Cattedra Davoric, Cattedra dell’Arcivescovo, San Francesco, S. Appolinare Nuovo and Battistero Degli Ariani, interspersed with the Tomb of Dante in between. Beautiful!

As I wandered back toward the hotel in search of lunch, I came across la Feltrinelli. My son always says that I can’t walk past a bookstore without being sucked in! Plus, I always go to the bigger la Feltrinelli in Rome by Largo Argentina, as they have an English section. So of course I have to go in, and they do have an English section in this branch as well. It’s not difficult to find a couple of books I want.

As I come into Piazza Popolo, I’m thinking that a Caprese Salad sounds good. Il Nationazale has one on their menu, so I take a seat. I order a glass of wine, which the menu says comes with snacks. I’m thinking it’s probably a dish of nuts. I couldn’t believe the tray of appetizers that the waiter brings with the wine. It has a mini croissant with prosciutto, a mini pizza, and a small pasty-type thing with tomato sauce and cheese that is fantastic. That probably would have been enough for lunch, but I had already ordered the Caprese Salad. I’m glad I did, because it was the most beautiful Caprese Salad I’ve ever seen, as well as being delicious. Large slices of tomato and mozzarella were stacked with the end of the tomato on top, surrounded with olives and oregano, and baby arugula covering the plate. Yum!

Dinner later that night was at Belle Venezia, a couple of doors from the hotel. Roast Beef Rosamarino with crisp pancetta bits was thin slices with a hint of rosemary. Delicious, as was the Tiramisu for dessert, made without the lady fingers. Back to Piazza Popolo for a limoncello.

Last edited by SusanP; Jan 23rd, 2020 at 06:52 PM.
SusanP is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 07:05 PM
Join Date: Aug 2005
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I'm so glad you have a nice time in Ravenna -- i've been there 4-5 times for mosaic classes after an initial visit (staying at Byron) touring. It really is an amazing place and your times at these restaurants brought back my visits there. Apertifs on the Piazza (with the complementary snacks) and an evening passagiata made for lovely evenings.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 08:14 PM
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annw, I think I read about your classes and am pretty sure I got some good suggestions from your report, so thanks!

Here's more:The next morning, Iím on the train to Rome, my favorite place. Unfortunately, this is where the ďbadĒ comes in. When you travel, there will always be bumps along the road. On one trip to Rome, they lost my luggage and I didnít get it back for five days. Thatís just one example. I normally just deal with it and move on. Whatever the bump, it has never affected my trip. Until now.

I took a taxi to Hotel Genio, Via Zanardelli, immediately north of Piazza Navona. I stayed there last year and really liked it. They have a good buffet breakfast, but most important to me, a great location. Some people donít want to be in the thick of things, but I always stay in this area. First of all, the Piazza Navona is my favorite place in the city. Itís a great location, near a lot of sites, and has great bus connections no matter where you want to go. Lots of restaurants nearby. Itís also flat, so when Iíve been sightseeing all day, I donít have hills to climb at the end of the day or to go to dinner. From time to time, I have considered staying in a different neighborhood and have looked into hotels in other areas, but I always end up staying in my favorite place.

Iím telling you all this so you will understand my feelings when I arrive and am told that their booking service made a mistake and they donít have a room for me! I am extremely angry. I made the reservation five months ago, so surely there are people who booked more recently who shouldnít be given a room over me. When I tell the clerk that, he says there is nothing he can do. I ask for a manager but he is not available. He tells me that I can come back after my first four nights and stay there for the last three nights, as though heís doing me a great favor.

Things get worse when he shows me on the map the location of the hotel they are sending me to, Hotel Eliseo. Itís in their family of hotels. He has marked the intersection of Via Sistina and Via d. Porta Pinciana (and this turns out to be a lie). No no no! I am very familiar with Rome, and this is NOT where I want to be. Now Iím not only angry, but very upset. Continued argument and insisting that they find a room are to no avail. I tell him that they need to give me a discount Although he agrees to this, itís not a big enough discount to make up for what they are doing.

They do pay for the taxi to take me to Hotel Eliseo. Itís not where he said it is; itís way up at the other end of Via d. Porta Pinciano, close to the archway to Villa Borghese. This is the only thing the hotel is close to. The Galleria Borghese is wonderful, but I have been there twice and wasnít planning to go back this trip. When I walk down Via d. Porta Pinciano to check out the neighborhood, there are no restaurants close and itís very steep. Coming back up might make you happy if youíre a mountain goat! The only saving grace is that I know there is a bus stop just the other side of the arch where I can get Bus 116 down to Piazza Navona or Campo dei Fiori. Or so I thought. Turns out that bus has been discontinued! In the coming days, I discover that I have to take at least two buses and 45 minutes to an hour or more to get anywhere. This is why itís hard to just get past this.

Iíll try not to dwell on this for the rest of the report! I did try not to dwell on it while I was there, difficult when it was taking so long to get anywhere.

That first day, I walked down to the Trevi Fountain because I wanted to go to the Vicus Caparius (City of Water) which is close. It was closed for renovations. Things can only get better, right?

I went to Thatís Amore on Via Arcione for lunch. I had taken a cooking class the previous year and still had the card to get a free wooden paddle for rolling gnocchi if you go to the restaurant. As long as Iím so close, Iíll do that. The Pasta Carbonara was very good, although not the best Iíve ever had. I walk around a little more and then figure out the bus to get back to the hotel.

Later, I take the bus down to the Piazza Navona and go to Old Bear for dinner. The Mussel/Clam Saute with bread ďfingersĒ is a yum! At least I can end the day doing my favorite thing, having a limoncello at Cafť Barocco on the Piazza Navona. Iíve known one of the waiters there, Angelo, for a long time, so itís nice to see him. Iím surprised that there are no artists there. Apparently itís an issue of permits. Iím sorry to see this, as I have a good friend who is one of the artists. I know I have his phone number with me but canít find it in the next few days. I canít face the long bus ride back to the hotel, so I take a taxi. It costs me Ä12, so I canít be doing that every night!
More later...
SusanP is offline  
Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 08:28 PM
Join Date: May 2008
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Great report, looking forward to more.

I like--but don't love--Milan. It's no Rome, it's no Venice. However, I personally wouldn't describe it as meh. There's a ton to see and do, and the energy is active and modern and busy (IMO). I was surprised by how much I liked it when I visited summer before last after having only been once decades ago on a fly-by-night student tour. However, I had the same issues as you, SusanP, with running into fully booked restaurants, even at lunch.

Thank you for taking me back to beautiful, relaxing Ravenna.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2020, 09:32 PM
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Leely, I agree, I wouldn't say Milan is "meh."

Here's more:
The buffet breakfast is on the top floor of the hotel and there is a terrace with wonderful views. There is a good selection. Then I get the buses to the Fiori Imperiali Museum/Trajan’s Market. It’s a little on the high side, €16. Some neat statues here. I was a little surprised at how much Chinese stuff is on display. Then you can go down a bunch of steps to Via Biberatica, which is much as it was in Roman times. If you go back up the stairs at the other end, there are good views.

Back out the front, I went down the stairs around the corner that take you down to the Vittorio Emanuele II Monument. Across from that are two churches which were closed the last time I tried to go in. One is still closed, but the other, Chiesa Sanata Maria di Loredo, is open this time. Some beautiful things inside, but I didn’t have much time because it was closing for the siesta.

I like to just stroll through Trastavere, so I took a bus down to the Petrocelli stop (also the stop if you want the Mouth of Truth). It’s close to Ponte Palatino, which goes over into Trastavere. I continued down Via d. Lungaretta so I can go to Cristo Campo for lunch. I love their Beef Strips with Tomato and Arugula. Yum! I also like their motto, I think it’s “We hate war and tourist menu.”

I walk back to Viale d. Trastavere, where it takes a tram and then two buses to get back to the hotel. I’ve done a lot of walking and definitely need to put my feet up for a while.

When going to get the bus last night, I see that in this direction from the hotel there is a restaurant, Harry’s Bar. I figure it’s probably expensive, but I’m too tired to take a long trip to dinner so when I got back from the afternoon, I stopped and made a reservation for dinner. The Squid & Prawns with Mayonnaise Sauce with ginger and hot chili peppers is delicious. Another €12 glass of wine. The service is terrible. I was considering dessert but could not get the attention of the waiter. I finally gave up.

The next day, I had a cooking class with In Rome Cooking on Corso di Rinascimento, which of course is right by the Piazza Navona. Instead of five-minute walk, I had to allow at least an hour for the two-bus trip. I got lucky and didn’t have to wait very long when I changed buses, so it took ĺ hour. I went into the piazza and enjoyed seeing a bride & groom there taking pictures.

I love taking cooking classes when I travel and have done so many times. When you have people who are willing to spend vacation time taking a cooking class, it always means it’s an enthusiastic group, so they’re a lot of fun. We made a couple of pastas with different sauces and tiramisu, which I didn’t realize was so easy to make. Yum!

I’m in the area and the Bramante Cloisters is on my list, so after the class, I head over there. Lots of nice frescoes. Only a few people, so there are places near the popular stuff that aren’t crowded. On the way there, I had noticed that Santa Maria della Pace was open, an unusual occurrence in my experience, so after the Cloisters, I went there (it’s right next door). This is another beautiful church. You can go into almost any church in Rome and find beautiful paintings, gold, statues!

Taking the bus back to the hotel, I had to wait almost an hour when changing buses. If I had known it was going to be that long, I would have walked to the next stop, but of course, I kept thinking it had to be coming soon. Even after a rest at the hotel, I was again too tired to go very far for dinner. The other side of Harry’s Bar is the top of Via Veneto, so I figured I could find something there. I went a little ways down and found Baccanale. The Pizza Diavola (tomato, mozzarella, spicy sausage) was good but not great. I finished with a limoncello.
SusanP is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2020, 02:05 AM
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SusanP, just for the record, I guess compared to many people we have unlimited time, but we certainly don't have unlimited money. In Milan we always stay in a ridiculously spacious and luxurious apartment on the edge of the Brera district for under 100 euros a night, for example. It saves on meals, even if we allow ourselves to shop for ingredients at Speck.

We must get back to Ravenna. DH has never been and for me it's been almost 30 years! Isn't that frightening?

I've only had one experience with a hotel messing up a reservation, but it sure was a huge PITA, as it was, of course, on a trip that involved business and meetings and precise timing - UGH!
StCirq is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2020, 07:51 AM
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I guess I misspoke about not having the time, since I am now retired. It's a matter of how often I can afford to go and the number of places I would like to see! ☺ But one of the reasons I try to keep the hotel cost reasonable is so I can have decent meals. Under 100 Euro is good!

Last edited by SusanP; Jan 24th, 2020 at 07:54 AM.
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Old Jan 24th, 2020, 03:45 PM
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Here's the rest:
Before dinner, I had decided that I would try to embrace my location and did a google search to see what I could see in the Borghese Gardens. They are huge, and I knew there was a lot more than just Galleria Borghese, so the next day, that’s where I went. Looking at the list I had made and checking my map, I figured I would concentrate on the western half of the gardens.

There is no question that this is a beautiful spot, and it was a beautiful, if hot, day. I gradually made my way around, and there are benches fairly often where you can just sit and enjoy the view. I found the Temple of Asclepius in the lake (along with some unusual birds and turtles), the Water Clock, and Cinema dei Piccoli (world’s smallest cinema). I tried to find Pincio Terrace and pedestrian bridge for the panoramic views, but couldn’t find it. A lovely day. By the time I came out of the gardens, it was mid-afternoon. I had eaten a big breakfast, so didn’t really need lunch. There was a gelato stand right outside the entrance to the gardens, so I just had that. Expensive but delicious!

Later, I took the bus down to Piazza Navona for an earlier-than-normal dinner, since I had to take the bus back. The Melanzane (eggplant parmigiana) at La Fiametta was definitely a yum! So good. The Torta Nonna dessert was very good, too. As usual, back to Piazza Navona for my limoncello.

The next day I am able to move back to Hotel Genio. Great! I head over to Biblioteca Angelica. I’ve tried a couple of time on previous trips to go here, but it has always been closed, even when it’s supposed to be open. Same thing today. I continue on in the area because there is a little shop on Via d. Scrofa that I like. I don’t end up buying anything, but turn onto Via d. Portoghese and come upon Chiesa S. Antonio dei Portoghesi, and oh good, it’s open. Here is a church that is very close to Piazza Navona that I’ve never seen on anyone’s must-see list. It should be there! Gorgeous place, Lots of gold and marble and a fantastic ceiling. If you haven’t seen it, check it out.

I take the bus to Via Marmorata so I can go to Volpetti’s. I always go here to get wonderful cheese to take home, some for myself and some for my son. There’s also a restaurant closeby that I really like and I go there for a late lunch. I wanted it to be late, since dinner will be very late. It’s Bucatino Taverno Testaccio on Via Lucca di Robbia, and their Pasta a la Gricia with artichokes is definitely a yum! I take the bus back to the hotel to put my feet up, getting ready for the evening.

I have a reservation for the night tour of the Colosseum. I take the bus there and am early, so I just watch the people (always interesting) and take some pictures of the outside, as well as the Arch of Constantine. The tour is seriously underwhelming. You know those pictures of the Colosseum at night with the arches lit up? Well, that lighting does not penetrate inside, and there are no lights. It was so dark that you really had to watch where you were walking and couldn’t see much. The only place that had any lighting was in the lower levels. The guide gave some interesting information, most of which I already knew. At the end of the tour, there was a movie shown on three huge sheets hung across the space about the dream a gladiator has the night before battle. OK, but not great. I would definitely recommend going there during daylight.

I take the bus back to Piazza Navona and want to go to La Danesina on Via d. Governo Vecchio. I’m walking along and don’t see it. Now, I have been to this restaurant many times, it’s one of my favorites, so I know where it should be. Then I realize that a much more modern-looking place is it. It has been totally renovated and the name changed to Fattoincasa. Whereas the restaurant used to be charming, with old wood and neat pictures and lots of character, now it has been sheet-rocked and painted grey. Awful! However, the food is still terrific. The Fried Artichoke and Bresaola Salad (beef/arugula/mozzarella) were both a yum!

It's late, but I still head back to Piazza Navona for my limoncello. One of those guys selling roses goes by with a large bunch. I’ve rarely ever seen anybody buy one, so I wonder how they stay in business. A few minutes later, a group of three British couples comes in to sit down, and each of the ladies has a rose! I guess they do sell some after all. The group is having fun and have obviously already had a few drinks, and one of the guys starts singing “Sweet Caroline.” I can’t resist turning around and saying, “Neil Diamond!” One of the ladies says, yes, he’s Neil Diamond. I have to answer that I have seen Neil Diamond in person three times, and that is NOT Neil Diamond! They all laugh, and we have a nice chat. When they finished their drink, they invite me to come along to another place for karaoke. Sounds fun, but it’s so late that I decline. As they leave, all the ladies give me their roses. So nice!

After that late night, I sleep in the next morning and don’t have breakfast at the hotel. I’m off to the Campagna Amica Market on Via d. S. Teodoro. Checking my map, it seems I can take the bus to Petroselli and walk over to the market. I do this, and on the way over realize that I could have taken the bus one more stop and been closer. This is a market more for locals. I don’t hear anything but Italian while there, lots of families. There is a large selection—meats, cheeses, produce, jars of jams & olives, etc. A great place if you had an apartment and were cooking. Out the back, you can get lunch. I had Misto that was fantastic. Still hungry, I went to another stand and got Bruschetta Pomodoro. Delicious, and bigger than expected. It was very hot, so I finished with a gelato. How can you go wrong?

On the way back to the bus, I stopped at a church I had noticed on the way in, Chiesa di Sant’Anastasia. Most of the right side was behind temporary walls, I assume for restoration, but beautiful ceiling and half-dome over the altar. I don’t know that I’d go out of my way to see it, but since I was right there, why not?

Later for dinner, I returned to Santa Lucia, Largo di Febo 12, where I had gone last year because it was one of the restaurants in Eat, Pray, Love and I thought it would be fun to visit restaurants from the movie. It was good, so thought I’d go again. I ordered the Grilled Lamb Chops and Roasted Pepper Salad with caper & black olives. While I waited for the food, a young waiter came by my table and said, “Oh, I remember you, you were here about a year ago.” Needless to say, I was quite surprised! He also remembered that I had come for dinner a year ago and found the restaurant full and had made a reservation for the next night. He was absolutely right. Didn’t know I made such an impression! The food was great. And of course, back to Piazza Navona for my limoncello.

The next day, can’t believe it’s my last day. I decide to take the bus to Villa Celimontana after reading about it and then if I have time, on to St. John in Laterano, This is the first time I’ve been on a bus that didn’t stop because nobody pressed the button to get off. It went right by Celimontana. By the time it stopped, it would have been a long uphill climb to get back there, so I figure I’ll just stay on the bus until it gets to Laterano.

Somehow, in all my trips, I’ve never made it to Laterano. Definitely a must-see. Just gorgeous. It’s huge, and so much to see. Fantastic ceiling, frescoes, statues. Something everywhere you look! I went across the street to Scala Santa and went up the stairs (the ones on the right are for walking, ones on the left for going up on your knees). Another must-see place. Wonderful frescoes and mosaics.

When I come out, I look for somewhere for lunch. Just down the street is Laterano Caffe. I order Pizza Funghi & Prosciutto. It’s pretty bad, but I’m hungry, so I eat it.

I decide not to try to go to Celimontana on the way back and continue on to a bus stop over between Castel Sant’Angleo and St. Peter’s. I had read about a wonderful view from the top of Hotel Atlante Star and figure that sounds good. I’ve been meaning to try a Negroni, never got around to it, so having a drink while enjoying a great view seems like a good idea. Didn’t turn out so well. I’ve been using my Streetwise Map for 14 years with great success, but even with the map, I can’t find the right street. I probably would have continued looking, but it was very hot and my water was almost gone and there was nowhere to buy another bottle, so I headed back to the bus and took it back to the southern end of Piazza Navona.

Coming into Piazza Navona, I decided to just sit down at the first cafť you come to (I was tired, thirsty and needed a restroom!). Turns out to be Vacanze Romance (duh, Roman Holiday!) I never realized that this was the cafť used in the movie where Audrey Hepburn smokes her first cigarette. I’ve only passed it dozens of times but never really paid attention to it. The Negroni is delicious!

Made it back to the hotel and crashed! Had a rest and finished packing before going to dinner at Il Duella. I had a great meal here on a previous trip, but probably seven or eight years ago. The meal started with an Amuse Bouche, some sort of breaded mushroom ball. It was terrible, sort of like eating sawdust. Hope this is not a sign of things to come! Fortunately, the Paccheri with Sea Bass and mint & yellow cherry tomatoes was much better. Very good but not as good as the last time I was here.

I finish with my usual limoncello in the Piazza Navona. Wish I didn’t have to leave tomorrow!

I always use airportshuttle.it for a shuttle to the airport and all goes well for the trip home.
SusanP is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2020, 08:49 PM
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I haven’t yet been to Rome, but I have enjoyed reading your report. Thanks.
Adelaidean is online now  
Old Jan 24th, 2020, 09:12 PM
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Adelaidean, glad you enjoyed it. There is so much to see in Rome in addition to the usual sites!
SusanP is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2020, 09:24 PM
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Really enjoyed this thread and the details. Looks like you really had a good time.
I am thinking of a trip to Rome sometime, thus wondering if riding buses in this large city is safe and easy. Looks like you used the buses a lot, so please share some tips or advice.
Also, did you do any special Italian shopping? I think food souvenirs would be fun to purchase.
Many years ago I was in Sicily and loved the gelato varieties and the delicious baked goods.
Where are you traveling in 2020?
ileen is offline  
Old Jan 24th, 2020, 10:14 PM
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So sorry about your hotel issue in Rome, SusanP, but I guess life gave you lemons and you made limoncello.

Your report inspired me to book flights for this summer.
Leely2 is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2020, 12:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Leely2 View Post
So sorry about your hotel issue in Rome, SusanP, but I guess life gave you lemons and you made limoncello.

Your report inspired me to book flights for this summer.
we had a similar experience with hotels in Rome. We booked a hotel that just opened at a great price. Then a week before the trip they cancelled. Paining a mistake. My guess is they got a better price and sold it to others.
With one week notice we could not find a real nice hotel.

St view I am interested in your stay in Milan. I happen to go to Milan quite a lot these days - one or two bughts in a row.

I start to like the city a lot albeit I see it from 5 or 6 or later in the evening.
ahbonvraiment is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2020, 09:30 AM
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I am enjoying your trip report very much, SusanP. Your descriptions make me want to follow in your footsteps... well, except for the bad hotel behavior, that is. I wonder if they moved you because you are a single traveler: better to deal with one angry client rather than 2. And, yes, as Leely said you handled it with grace.

Rome used to be one of my least favorite places until we stayed there several nights during a longer trip. I now realize I wasn't giving it the time it deserved and instead was rushing from place to place trying to fit 20 lbs. of grain into a 5 lb. sack. Now we have to go back!

Thanks for writing.
Trophywife007 is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2020, 10:22 AM
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It took me three trips to Rome to find myself comfortable there - I think there is always an initial shock factor in that city. At any rate, I'm a convert now and relish any opportunity to go there.

Here's our digs in Milan for those who might want to linger a bit there: https://www.booking.com/hotel/it/coo...tml?aid=304142
StCirq is offline  
Old Jan 25th, 2020, 12:42 PM
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Leely, I'm delighted to inspire anyone to go to Italy!
ileen, I'm going to Vietnam next month and to the Czech Republic in September. It's always a dilemma for me. I always want to go back to Italy, but I also want to see new places!
Yes, the buses are safe and easy. There are signs at each stop showing which number buses will stop there and where they will go. You do have to know the name of the street you want, as that's what is listed on the sign (not the name of the site, except for maybe the Colosseum). Might take a bit to get the hang of it, but it's a great way to get around. You do have to watch out for pickpockets, but no need to be paranoid. If I have to stand up, I just make sure I have one hand on my purse, and of course don't keep valuables in an easily accessible place, but that goes for anywhere, not just on the bus.

ahbonvraiment, I probably needed more time in Milan.

Trophywife and StCirq, yes, Rome is great if you're not trying to cram everything into a couple of days. I'm always a bit amused when I hear people say they can "do" Rome in three or four days. I've spent somewhere around 85-90 days there over 11 trips, have only taken 5 day trips out of the city during that time, and still have plenty of things that I haven't seen yet!
StCirq, that Milan apartment looks great. I see in one of the reviews that there is an elevator to the first floor. Are there more floors that aren't reached by the elevator?

Last edited by SusanP; Jan 25th, 2020 at 12:44 PM.
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