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Rome and ? February family trip and I'm the designated planner!

Rome and ? February family trip and I'm the designated planner!

Jul 18th, 2007, 10:53 AM
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Posts: 120
Whew! OK, as I said earlier, taking a daytrip to Florence does seem rushed and not the way I travel, but my parents are set on it (at this point), and my father has been to Italy five times....I think they just want to show it to my brother, knowing that he'll come back on his own and feel confident that he knows the ropes...

Franco, I'm a little surprised at your Puglia remarks. Actually, it is supposed to have great food, and be one of the new hot spots to visit. Seems like every other month, I read about Puglia in some magazine or another. And all the trips reports are quite glowing. That said, maybe you missed the part where I said that ITS WHERE MY GRANDFATHER WAS BORN! We realize he had a region for leaving Southern Italy, but we would like to see the place our family is from. Look, I appreciate your advice, but I don't understand how so many people could have had such a great experience there and you're so negative about it.

Ellenem, thanks for your advice on what to see in Florence. Much appreciated.
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 10:55 AM
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typo--I meant reason, not region!

(That's what happens when you type in an agitated state!)
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 12:06 PM
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I'm a little surprised at Franco's opinion of Puglia. While it is true that some of the coastal areas are not very attractive, there are some lovely stretches of beach down by Otranto and the Gargano Peninsula between Vieste and Mattinata rivals Capri in breathtaking beauty. But in February, it may not be its best. But you don't want to go there for gorgeous beaches and sunbathing. Going to see where your family is from is fine to do in February. And I've had some delicious meals in Puglia--wonderful orecchiette in Bari, a memorable fritto misto del mare in Gallipoli and one of the best dinners I've ever had, start to finish, at Il Poeta di Contadino in Alberobello. So go to Puglia and enjoy it. As for Florence, I've done it as a daytrip many times. But I've spent a lot of time in Florence and when I go from Rome as a daytrip (usually in summer) it is because I need to buy something special or see some newly restored artwork or portion of church that has recently opened up. If your parents have already been to Florence and go with the expectation that they aren't going to be able to show your brother everything that day (nor should they) then a daytrip is fine. But as others have said, February with its short days isn't the ideal time for a daytrip.
Grinisa is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 12:36 PM
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Thanks Grinisa!
I appreciate your advice and reassurance on Puglia. I had heard there was great food to be had so I was surprised by Franco's comments. And thanks for the restaurant tip. That is the Italy that I want to see!

I don't know what we'll end up doing about Florence. Maybe my parents can be talked out of it (I'll just show them this posting! Although then they'll see my shouting ) or maybe my husband and I will just stay in Rome. This is difficulty in trying to plan a group trip, which I've never done before!
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 18th, 2007, 05:05 PM
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So sorry that I posted. But, Eliza, I didn't miss anything, and even if your grandfather did not come from Puglia, I'd still think it's absolutely worth going there - the Romanesque cathedrals (also the two of Bari, e.g.) are among Italy's best, the Castel del Monte is quite certainly Italy's best castle, and the trulli region around Alberobello is definitely charming. I just think, in my obviously old-fashioned way of traveling, that it's important to know ahead what to expect in order to be able to enjoy what's enjoyable. But if you already know everything from those gleaming trip reports you're reading every month, and if you came here just to see confirmed what you've read there, I apologize that this is not what makes Fodor's a valuable source for me, and that I posted at all. I wasn't aware that only affirmative answers are welcome.
franco is offline  
Jul 19th, 2007, 07:11 AM
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I'm sorry I snapped at you. I do appreciate your comments and was just frustrated that you were so negative about a place that I was so set to go to. And you're right. It is important to know what to expect. You just seemed so down on the idea in your first post--but maybe I was reading more into it, then you meant.

I love this forum. I've actually been posting on it for seven years this summer. I use it for every trip that I go on. I'm a research fiend so I love getting all sort of information, and this site is the best for real-time advice. I think what happened was in the course of posting my ideas of what I wanted to do became more solidified, so while I was totally up in the air on the first post. By the third post I had already worked out an itinerary.

By the way, I agree with you about Florence. I think that while my parents kill themselves doing that I might try to find a cooking class for myself and my husband in Rome!

No hard feeling, I hope.
Eliza26 is offline  
Jul 19th, 2007, 07:48 AM
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I guess you were just defending your grandfather ... but there is no need to: actually, I think everybody should visit Puglia (though few ever do), but it's a region where to admire medieval art, and not to expect romantic beach scenery or great cooking. Maybe the restaurants there have improved recently (I haven't been there during the last few years), but nowhere in Italy I've encountered a poorer and more monotonous cuisine - Puglia used to be just too poor to have many great restaurants, the locals couldn't afford it. I've traveled it quite in-depth, and almost all restaurants would inevitably offer merely three pasta courses, spaghetti or tagliatelle al sugo (tomato sauce only) or al ragù (tomato sauce with minced meat), and penne all'arrabbiata (hot tomato sauce, no minced meat), and since I don't care much for pasta al sugo and al ragù, I ended up eating penne all'arrabbiata twice a day (never again sampled it since, guess I've already had my share of it). And the 10 $-umbrella story was hardly credible indeed - the car was old, dirty, ugly, and rusty, there was nothing inside but the "precious" umbrella, and it was parked on Bitonto's main square in plain daylight while we visited the cathedral. But I definitely think you can and will enjoy Puglia - you've just to be prepared. False expectations inevitably result in disappointment...
franco is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2007, 06:47 AM
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I did not post a report about our trip to Rome. (I only signed up on the forum after that trip when we were planning a trip to Seattle/Victoria--but I have looked a lot at the Europe forum since)

In answer to your question about things my son liked:
He was not enthusiastic about visiting many churches or museums, even the museums with ancient Roman art. We all went to the Vatican museums and St. Peter's and churches that were nearby on our walks, and my husband and I went to other churches on our own a few times.

The Roman history sights that my son enjoyed in the central part of the city were the Forum, the Colosseum, the Arch of Constantine,the Palatine, the Pantheon, Trajan's column and Markets, the area Sacra dell'Argentina, the temples and arch of Janus near the Piazza Bocca della Verita (and the bocca itself), the Baths of Caracalla, the Pyramid of Caius Cestio and the obelisks at Piazza del populo, St Peter's , Piazza della Minerva and Piazza Navona. We stayed at an apartment in the ghetto area and all enjoyed walking across the ancient pedestrian bridges of Isola tiberina to and from Trastevere. Even though he knew there was very little left to see of the Circus Maximus I think my son was disappointed by that.

As I indicated in my other post, we took the archeo bus one day. We went to the catacombs of San Callisto, but my son thought the tour there was too short (not sure if any of the others would have pleased him more, but possibly the catacombs of San Domatillo which are larger) We also went into the Tomb of Cecilia Metella on the Via appia Antica but thought the interior was not really worth paying a separate entrance fee; it is possible to get a combined ticket with one of the baths
We also spent an afternoon at Ostia Antica. IHowever, if you are going to Pompeii you might well skip this.

We did not take any guided tours in Rome. We relied mostly on a DK Eyewitness guide to Rome and have many pictures showing me reading from the book. The forum is probably the hardest area to understand/appreciate because there is so much there and it is not well marked.
We did use an audio guide at the Baths of Caracalla

the amazing thing about Rome is that there is so much else that we didn't see I especially regret not having booked the Scavi tour of the Vatican which is a highlight for many people. Since we carefully threw our coins in the Trevi fountain I am confident we will all go back.

It is exciting that you are also able to visit Puglia because of the family connection.

If you have any questions about the places we saw, I'd be glad to try to answer them
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