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Rome and Florence... and somewhere in between!

Rome and Florence... and somewhere in between!

Oct 4th, 2012, 11:06 AM
  #21  
 
Join Date: Apr 2012
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Whereever you end up, have a great time! Try to plan somewhere for Christmas dinner as a lot will be closed and you don't want to end up eating crackers and cheese in your room.
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Oct 5th, 2012, 04:32 AM
  #22  
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Hi hollywoodsc,

Thanks again for the tips, including the "fashion advice", wool skirts, leggings and boots are wonderful for day & night!
Again, we are from Boston, so just add the Red Sox cap to the attire and we will be all set!
Ursulina is offline  
Oct 5th, 2012, 04:52 AM
  #23  
 
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Hotel Forum is better for a cocktail than dinner. Food is generally just OK, although I agree the service is nice, and the view is interesting. Every year, Katie Parla puts up a list of good restaurants in Rome that will be open Christmas and New Year's. She has a website.
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Oct 5th, 2012, 07:16 AM
  #24  
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Thank you, biztravfod! I will check out the website you recommend too.
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Oct 16th, 2012, 02:42 PM
  #25  
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Hello everyone!

I come back with some updates and asking for some advice too. We have already decided to go first to Florence (by train, straight from the airport), take a day trip to Siena (there's a wonderful article on last Sunday's Times! http://travel.nytimes.com/2012/10/14...italy.html)and then spend the last 4 days in Rome. We've booked a budget hotel with sensational reviews there http://www.hotelivanhoerome.com/ and now I would like to book the hotel in Florence (in 12/24 - out 12/27)... any advice on the best location? We will be arriving and leaving by train and would like to stay in very centrally located hotel. Since we found such a good deal in Rome we might be willing to splurge a little bit more here.
Thanks again for your feedback!
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Oct 16th, 2012, 03:37 PM
  #26  
 
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How much is your idea of a splurge?
Jean is offline  
Oct 16th, 2012, 06:22 PM
  #27  
 
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We have stayed in the Hotel Tornabuoni Beacci in Florence several times; it is centrally located and has some good specials from time to time. It has good reviews on Trip Advisor.
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Oct 17th, 2012, 02:54 AM
  #28  
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Hi Jean & pctraveler,
Actually just a little bit of splurge... Meaning not budget hotel this time... Definitely not 5 stars splurging.
I will check the Tornabuoni, thanks!
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Oct 17th, 2012, 02:59 AM
  #29  
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pctraveler, the prices & reviews are very good indeed, I think we do have a winner here, thank you!
Ursulina is offline  
Oct 17th, 2012, 04:36 AM
  #30  
 
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We have stayed at the Tornabuoni Beacci over 3 decades and I highly recommend both the hotel and its location, very central.
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Oct 17th, 2012, 04:40 AM
  #31  
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Booking as I type...

Thank you!
Ursulina is offline  
Oct 17th, 2012, 05:56 AM
  #32  
 
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Hi Ursulina,

just found this thread - hope I don't throw a spanner in the works with the following:

day 1 - Dec 24th - arrive Rome - get train to Florence.

Day 2 - Dec 25th - Florence - ? service at the Duomo or Santa Croce - lunch - book in advance at one of the big hotels[who still have their guests to feed] /decent restaurant, afternoon self-guided walking tour of city.

Day 3 - Dec 26th - ?Siena - are you sure that anything will be open in Siena this day ? and do you want to leave Florence when you've barely got there?

Day 4 - Dec 27th - Train to Rome [or early bus to Siena - you could be there for mid-morning, see sights, have good meal, overnight there and be in Rome by midday on Day 5]

Day 5 - Dec 28th - Rome

Day 6 - Dec 29th - Rome

Day 7 - Dec 30th - Rome

Day 8 - Dec 31st - Fly home.

As you can see, what I am advocating is that if you want to see Siena, you do it between Florence and Rome, rather than as a day trip, as IMHO that cuts into your time in Florence too much, and gives you too much travelling on consecutive days.

here is the link for the Firenze card which enables you to look at the opening times of all of the main museums and galleries:

http://www.firenzecard.it/

you'll find that virtually all of them are shut on Christmas Day, but open for the rest of your visit. The firenze card is expensive for what it is, but the website is very useful.

and here is the website for the Duomo in Siena:

http://www.operaduomo.siena.it/orari.htm
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Oct 17th, 2012, 06:29 AM
  #33  
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Hi Anhig,

Your suggestions do make a lot of sense. I am aware of the Holiday and we know that we will be mostly walking around and admiring the city & monuments from the outside during that day. We plan to spend the 26th in Florence (Museums are open, already checked) and then taking the day trip to Siena on the 27th. The problem with the stop over in Siena on our way to Rome, as apposed to a day trip, has to do with checking out and then in and then out again, packing and unpacking, etc.
Call me lazy...
Thank you for the links, they are very useful!
Ursulina is offline  
Oct 17th, 2012, 06:56 AM
  #34  
 
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A hotel's rate is not determined by the number of stars.

If you'd like recommendations, tell us your budget in euros or dollars.
Jean is offline  
Oct 17th, 2012, 07:39 AM
  #35  
 
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not Ursulina, but on such a short trip, any way that can be found of using time as efficiently as possible has to be looked at.

that being said, I take your point about the pain of packing, unpacking and packing again. and if you decide that you are too interested in Florence to want to leave it, you don't have to go!
annhig is offline  
Oct 17th, 2012, 07:53 AM
  #36  
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Hi Jean, I got a phenomenal rate at the Tornabuoni (around 100 euros a night) so I am all set, thank you again.

Anhig, I was considering that possibility too: Staying in Florence if we feel like it... Booking already made, I am SO happy! We all know that thrill and feeling of anticipation... Thanks again!
Ursulina is offline  
Oct 17th, 2012, 11:27 AM
  #37  
 
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Ursulina, sounds like the trip is coming togather well and you got a great rate at the Tornabuoni.

i hesitate to mention it as another fodorite stayed there and found it dark, but DH and i rented an apartment in Rome which is very central and IMO is ideal for a couple. you can find the details on www.lacasadiclelia.webs.com - the bedrooms are downstairs so undoubtedly they are not as light as they would be if they were upstairs, but OTOH the living room is at ground floor which makes a huge difference compared to being on a 4th floor with no lift, believe me.

it's pretty reasonably priced [around €120/night depending on the season,] and as I said very central, near the piazza Navonna and via Coronari.
annhig is offline  
Oct 17th, 2012, 12:57 PM
  #38  
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Thank you, Anhig!
Actually DH (I love your acronyms!)already took care of the hotel in Rome, it's called Ivanhoe: http://www.hotelivanhoerome.com/
It has awesome reviews and it is really affordable even by American standards.
Closer to the date I will get the train tickets and ... We'll be ready to go!
Ursulina is offline  
Oct 18th, 2012, 02:00 AM
  #39  
 
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Hi Ursulina,

Had a look at your hotel - it looks fine. it's not completely in the heart of things, but on our first visit to Rome we rented an apartment in the nearby via dei Serpenti and it's a great area to be in, though you may find yourselves using the bus quite a lot [the nos 45 -express - and 60 - run from Termini along the via Nazionale to the Corso Vittorio Emmanuale so they will take you to most places you want to go, and just as importantly, back again]

you will find numerous little shops, workshops, a nice little square with bars and cafes, good restaurants, all around you - AND you can walk to the forum and colosseum as well.

i'm sure you'll have a great time.


[the abbreviations aren't mine, BTW!]
annhig is offline  
Oct 18th, 2012, 04:02 AM
  #40  
 
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I have been to Italy three times in Christmastime, in these last 5 years. Last Christmas was one of them, visiting three different regions, Alto Adige, Emilia Romagna and Umbria.

They do some really wonderful original events and festivities during this holiday season. I'll describe some of them. Many towns and villages, mostly the medieval ones, transform into a living nativity scene with the way of life at that time, in every house and corner. Really really beautifl. There are soooo many localities that organize them on fixed dates. Last year we went to one at a small town very close to Deruta in Umbria. The year before we went to that of Casole D'Elsa in Tuscany Believe me, the locals of the village/town put in so much effort, transforming their own home, depicting the way of life at that time. If you want me to check for you the ones that are held close to Florence, no problem, I will gladly do so.

Last Christmas we had good weather throughout our trip, we went a few days before Christmas and the week between Christmas and New Year. Yes, it was quite cold, when you are outside, especially in the north, you need a nice warm sweather and jacket, and gloves and hat (a hat always keeps in the warmth from leaving your body - it is one of the most important accessories to keep yourself warm. And the best way I find to keep myself warm in the evenings (and also sometimes during the day)is to wear a pair of leggings or very thick cotton tights underneath my trousers or jeans. But for me the weather was nothing unbearable for sure (and I do come from a warm country), every time we went we walked around everywhere in the evening, like in San Gimignano, Voltera (which was colder as it is up a high hill) etc, and even Trento in the north. I must say, for me it felt much colder when we walked around in the evenings some years ago in the UK like near Bath and Wales, etc to a restaurant etc.

The altitude of course highly affects the temperature. Like when once we stayed for a couple of days in Rocca Pia near Roccaraso, a skiing resort in Abruzzo during the Christmas season of 2007, it was unbearably cold in the night-time, but the temperature was 7 degrees below zero, at such a high altitute.

I can mention soo many events that take place, especially in Umbria and Tuscany - I am always on the look-out of unusual ones. One is the big bonfires which the locals of Abbadia San Salvatore light on Christmas Eve, they spend two whole months building huge stacks of wood in streets and squares, then on Christmas Eve they are blessed, and there would be a procession and live music and stalls with food and warm wine next to some of these burning stacks of wood. This takes place in Abbadia San Salvatore up on the Mountain Amiata. It is not that easy to drive to it, since it is a hight steep narrow mountain with winding roads, but it is truly spectacular.

Another event is in Citta' Di Castello, when at dusk a group of canoeists from the canoe club of this locality, dress up as Father Christmases, and at dusk they descend on lit canoes down the Tiber river, and when they reach Citta' Di Castello, they descend and distribute gifts to children. We went for it, but unfortunately we did not make it on time on Christmas eve, as on that day we were driving from Trento. So we went to the Christmas eve dinner booked at our relais country hotel at Pietralunga. The next morning we went to visit Citta' di Castello in the morning, for a visit and for Christmas Mass. There at a huge hall close by, they make a big exhibition of Christmas static cribs, from all over the world, but a lot of them from Naples and Spain. Really lovely. Anyway, when I was back at home, so disappointed that we missed the canoe event, I went online, and on some sites saw that this even takes place on Christmas eve not Christmas day - the site I had searched on apparently did not give the correct information. I need to contact this canoe club now as I really want to see this event - I have to go another time, probably not this year though - to this locality, it must be really nice.

Around the Lake Trasimeno in Umbria they do the Christmas Soul Music - I am not that interested in it, but could be for some.

Just in case you do decide to hire a car and stop somewhere in Umbria - last Christmas eve we stayed at a relais country hotel called Locanda Del Borgo in Pietralunga. Wow, I really have never eaten such a delicious and abundant fish dinner in my whole life!! Plate after plate of seafood, anything you can think of. Incredible!! Pietralunga is a village a few kms away from Citta' di Castello. On Christmas Day we had lunch at L'Antico Forziere in Deruta (I do like to try different restaurants that have good reviews). It was very good as well, but nothing compared to that of Locanda del Borgo, in my opinion, although it was also authentic umbrian dishes. On Christmas they usuall a soup with tortellini is served, followed by a plate of pasta, usually stuffed ravioli, and a meat dish, sometimes stuffed pork, or deer or some fowl. I just love these special meals. Of course you can pre-book. Maybe if you base yourself in Florence you might make a reservation at an agriturismo or restaurant outside Florence.

I also agree with above fodorites that you should leave Rome till the end so that you do not waste time and have to go there twice.

Another thing I forgot - the largest Christmas tree in the world on a slope on a small mountain in Gubbio area. We went near it on our way from Umbria to Emilia Romagna last December. The light of this tree are really lovely and impressive - I made sure this time my husband passed by Gubbio whilst driving that evening, I was so curious to see it.

I could go on and on. PERSANALLY (also given the fact that my husband is an experienced driver in Italy, I would prefer to visit any of these events, but this might not be your case, (I have been to Florence three times.) We went to Florence for the day in 2010, and it was packed during the day, even in December, can't imagine what it would be like in the Summer months, especially in August!!

In 2010, we walked everywhere in the centre of Rome in the evening, in fact, one time we walked it from Hotel Crosti, which is close to Termini Station and back in the late evening, and wandered around centre of Rome and even had a gelato at gelateria at Fontana Dei Trevi square. Best ice-cream in the world there in my opinion. As I said, we were always lucky with the weather in Italy during Christmastime. But one thing I noticed during these last years - in Italy they often get very bad weather mid to end November (then hubby starts worrying and saying we are going to have a hard time driving around, especially if we book at some place in mountaineous regions or high altitude part of the holiday, then when Christmastime comes we always encounter the good weather. This happened in 2010 when we also went for two days at an agriturismo on Monte Miniata, provence of Pisa (we are wandering travellers lol). The owner told us that a few weeks ago the road up the mountain was inaccessable because of heavy snow, and they were even snowbound for two day, but a few weeks later when we were there, it was nice and sunny up the mountain, really incredible views from above of the Tuscan countryside. It almost also often gets much colder in most places in Italy (snowing in some parts) in January and February - last year they experienced heavy snowfalls in certain cities where it never or hardly ever snowed. So really, you can't forecast the weather, but in the three times that I have been in Christmastime, except maybe in isolated cases, like when crossing the pennines in northern Tuscany, we were lucky enough not to encounter any rain. Guess we were lucky.

It is true, like in any other country, that the days are shorter at that time, but in the Christmas season this makes it even more magical as in Italy they really love decorating the streets with lights, setting up cribs in many squares in many towns, cities and villages, to mention a couple of famous ones like that of Assisi or Rome.

Enjoy your Christmas vacation in Italy - now you are making me want to go again, lol!!
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