Overdue Trip Report - Italy

Apr 8th, 2006, 04:28 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
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Overdue Trip Report - Italy

The phrase, “better late than never,” truly applies here. We traveled to Italy last May and I returned and hit the ground running back to the rat race. As such, my trip report is now very tardy. However, I hope it will still be of help to someone, and thanks again to the Fodorites who answered my questions during the planning phase and gave tips/suggestions.

Day One – Venice
I’m not quite sure whether it was at DFW or while awaiting our connection in Philly, but somewhere along the way I realized that the all-mighty itinerary that I spent weeks crafting was back home, probably sitting on the kitchen table. Rather than panic, I figured ok, time to be creative and resourceful. Knowing that I had e-mailed drafts and a final copy to my mother, we planned to find an Internet café as soon as we hit Venice to try and retrieve the document. In the meantime, I called my mom to ask her for specifics, lodging addresses, phone numbers, etc. I was feeling very humble at this time, as I had been kind of cranky with DH at what I interpreted to be his lack of travel savvy. ;-)

Our flight to VCE arrived at 8:45 a.m. on a Sunday. We were exhausted, but soooooo excited!!!! A shuttle picked us up from the landing area and quickly moved us to the terminal building where I was so happy to see a most clean and modern ladies room.

Finding and using the ticket machines for our bus ride to the island was easy. We took pictures along the way, looking, I’m sure, like total tourists. The journey from the airport to Venice reminded me of my trip to Russia, weather-wise. It was a gloomy, rainy day, but not enough to dampen our spirits. We arrived at Piazelle Roma only to find that no vaparettos would run because of a race down the Grand Canal. We, or should I say I, was very unnerved by this, thinking that the taxi driver was trying to pull a fast one. But, in the end, we arrived at St. Mark’s and lugged our rolling suitcases through the square and finally to our B&B, Casa Petit, near the Accademia Bridge.

We freshened up, grabbed some breakfast, and filled our day bag with guide books, cameras, memory cards, notepads, and bottles of water. The sun came out and it was a gorgeous day. We watched the Venetians hustle past us as we dined on our first meal of Panini sandwiches and juice. It was delicious.

After strolling through the streets and shops, buying everything with our eyes, we wound up at the Rialto Bridge, which was so crowded. Everyone was dining, shopping, and watching the race on the GC. We found our way back to San Marco square to look around, peruse the shops, and take pictures. For dinner we ate on Dorsudoro at a little antico called L’Incontro. The food was great: steak, grilled veggies, and bread with oil and pepper of course. Cost us about $70.

Day Two - Venice
After a delicious and healthy breakfast at the B&B, we had planned to take the secrets tour, but opted not to. Instead, we visited St. Mark’s and just walked, shopped, and ate gelato, and fruit. It was great.
We sat on the church steps at Campo S. Aponal and listened to a street singer, my husband enjoyed a delicious Venetian streudel from Pasticceria Rizzardini on the way to the Frari (the Frari was pretty cool), watched a glass maker creating paint brushes, and visited St. Mark’s church.

We walked to the train station to make sure we knew exactly what it would be like the next day. We purchased our tickets to Rome at the counter, because at that point we were unaware how completely simple it was to do so at the automated kiosk. Later, we would purchase our tickets from Rome to Florence and then Florence to Venice via kiosks. I would definitely recommend not buying them in advance before you head to Italy because it just seemed as though we had so much more flexibility, taking it day-by-day.

Day Three – From Venice to Rome
We got up early and hopped on a vaparetto at the Accademia stop headed to the train station. We were so glad to be settled into our seats after one transfer and chatted, read, and napped a bit on our way to Rome.

Once there, we pulled our luggage down a few streets and found our way to our hotel. Hotel Brasile. This place was adequate, but I wished we had stayed nearer to the action of the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, or the Vatican. You know the saying, “the pictures don’t do this place justice?” Well, in this case, the pictures did us a disservice as the room we were given, and I suspect many others, was not even close to the one shown on the hotel’s website. Oh well, it fit the budget and the location wasn’t too bad. It was close to the train station and across from an Embassy’s garden, which was nice.

Our first mission was to find the Spanish Steps and have gelato. Afterwards, we roamed the area, including the grounds of the Borghese. We spent hours gazing at the fantastic art inside the Borghese Museum. If memory serves me correct, this was a sleeper because while we appreciate art, we are not art lovers and this site was low on our list of things to see. However, it turned out to be one we enjoyed the most.

Rome was where we caught our first glimpse of the Smart car. It’s so tiny that showrooms are store fronts, rather than the dealerships we’re familiar with here in the states. A mere $30KUSD, these itty bitty autos were zipping all over the city. I dreamt that if I lived in Rome, I’d be one of those Smart car drivers The cars were so compact and they could fit in the smallest of parking spaces.

We had dinner at Ristorante Difronte, which I believe was a Rick Steve’s recommendation. This was when I realized that American Italian really isn’t the same as the real thing. I consider my taste to be pretty diverse, but their al dente is al dente…virtually not done, but perhaps that was just this particular establishment. My husband enjoyed his dish though. I filled up on pizza and a chicken kabob-like entrée. We walked to the Trevi and had more gelato. Mmm mmm good.

Day Four – Rome
We visited the Vatican. OMG! This was my favorite! There was so much architectural detail. The crowd to get in was massive. There was no rhyme or reason to the set up. Basically, hundreds of people crowded the plaza bottle-necking at six, I said SIX, security stalls. It worked though and was well worth the hassle. The outside of the church was beautiful as was the inside. We had no idea though that the Vatican museum was filled to the max with more beauty and the Sistine Chapel was a moment that took our breath away. I mean most people only see this creation in pictures and there we were craning our necks, following the scenes, and just soaking in the magnitude of it all.

Since this was our last full day in Rome, we shopped for keepsakes for just about everyone we knew!! We suspected we bought more for others, than ourselves, which was great!

We took a taxi to Piazza Navona where we enjoyed dinner at an outdoor café, people watched, and bought some items from street vendors. I guess we were on a roll because we decided to walk back to our hotel and stopped by the Pantheon on the way. This is when I realized even the most comfortable shoes have their limits. We sat near a fountain with a few other couples and groups and read up on the history while gazing at these massive columns. We have this thing for columns…love ‘em, any style, we just like the stately look. We also stopped to take pictures of the Vittorio Emanuel Monument.

Day Five – From Rome to Florence (My Birthday)

Before taking an afternoon train to Firenza, we visited Il Colosseo and the Forum. We paid for the blue phone walkie-talkie thingies and listened to all the details surrounding the construction, operation, and purpose of the coliseum. I tried to fight off images of Russell Crowe as Maximus. It was an absolutely gorgeous, clear, sunny day. Overall, while in Rome, we were in awe of the history and the thought that our steps were tracing those of larger than life characters like the Apostle Paul and Cesar.

We rushed back to the hotel, gathered our bags, and boarded our train at Rome Termini where three-story tall banners hung, advertising the movie Star Wars.

For some reason Florence seemed a bit more modern, clean, and city-like. We located our B&B, Relais Cavalcanti, which came with rave and accurate reviews. Our hostess greeted us and provided recommendations. The view from our room was amazing. We could see the Vecchio clock tower and the market where the heinous Hannibal Lector stabbed the amateur spy following him and then washed his hands in a boar’s head fountain. Lots of other people recognized this spot too.

We visited Michelangelo’s David and had some more gelato (kiwi) and then made our first real mistake. We went back to the B&B for a nap. Ugggh. When we woke up, it was dark. I wanted to cry. I had slept away a good chunk of my birthday and in a city that we would be in for only a day and a half. Oh well, we were obviously tired. After I drowned my sorrows in more gelato, mango and raspberry this time, we visited the Palazzo Vecchio, crossed the Ponte Vecchio, walked around, returned to a little bar and had a bite to eat.

Day Six – Florence to Venice

We took a taxi to the Piazelle Michelangelo. There were great views of the city and the River Arno, despite a little haze. We took lots of pictures and walked to the Palazzo Pitti to tour this monstrous residence of a former banker. The story behind this place was interesting. Apparently Pitti was a wealthy banker, bent on trying so hard to keep up with the Joneses, in this case the Medici’s. In the end, Pitti lost everything and the Medici family purchased his palace. This was an amazing museum. Highly recommend it.

After taking pictures on the Ponte Vecchio, we found an Internet café where we confirmed our lodging for our last night in Italy. And, then, it happened. I found my favorite gelateria of all time. I was energized by the mango and fruit salad gelato, which gave me strength to make it through the Duomo, including the baptistery and the Duomo museum.

While in Italy, I smelled these sweet, delicious scents on the ladies. I finally figured out what it was and bought some of the expensive perfume for myself. I’ve since used it all, sniff, sniff. We grabbed a couple slices of pizza and went back to the B&B to check out.

We arrived in Venice after dark and found out there was a vaparetto strike! I overheard a couple talking and asked if they wanted to share a water taxi since we were all going to the Accademia. The couple was newly married and the wife’s mother was traveling with them. We told them of our crazy six day trip and they topped us, having done all three and the Almafi Coast!!!! They were prepared too, back packs, and great walking shoes!LOL.

While planning, I had checked so many places, that the Hotel Galleria was completely booked by the time I finally called them back to make a reservation. However, they hooked us up with an apartment that turned out to be right around the corner from the B&B we stayed in earlier.

Our last night in Italy was a late one. We almost missed dinner as nearly every restaurant appeared to be closing. Finally, we found a spot just off the San Marco square. On the way back to the apartment, we took a gondola ride that was so peaceful and relaxing, I started dozing off. This was the best time for a night ride because there was virtually no traffic, making our ride seem longer and well worth the money.

We chatted with a couple of teens on the vaparetto ride to P. Roma the next morning. It was Saturday and we were surprised to learn that they were on their way to school. They have class five days during the week and then a half day on Saturday. I snapped as many parting shots of Venice as I could.

Even though the Philly airport lost my husband’s suitcase, we made it home, safe and sound. Ever since, I’ve been telling everyone I left my heart at a little gelateria on the the Palazzo Vecchio.

Overall, our trip was fantastic and exhausting. We enjoyed so much about Venice, Rome and Florence, but most of all we enjoyed the times we sat back and relaxed, recognizing the nuances between our cultures, and loving Italy’s history. I cannot wait to go back!!!! Lake Como and Amalfi, here we come!

Thanks for reading. And, sorry it was so very late.
Happy Travels,
ChicagoDallasGirl is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 04:37 AM
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By the way, if you have any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at [email protected]
ChicagoDallasGirl is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 05:12 AM
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Great report! We're currently planning our return trip to Italy (well, actually I am planning it, and my husband is very graciously agreeing to most of my plans!). Your report was very helpful. Glad you had fun!
Samsaf is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 05:19 AM
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Wow!Italy at breakneck speed!Glad you had a good time.
massagediva is offline  
Apr 8th, 2006, 07:05 AM
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Thank you for a very enjoyable report Tricia. I appreciate all the info and details.
Micheline is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 02:26 AM
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I really enjoyed reading your trip report - my trip is coming up soon and I found it very interesting. Thank you.
Shezza is offline  
Apr 9th, 2006, 02:58 AM
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I enjoyed reading your Italy report. Wow, you did a lot in the six days you were there and celebrated a birthday also!

Please tell us the name of the perfume you purchased.
Marianna is offline  
Apr 13th, 2006, 10:07 PM
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Marianna, the delicious smell was Apparition by Emanuel Ungaro...
ChicagoDallasGirl is offline  
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