TR - Italy, Summer 2023

Old Dec 27th, 2023, 04:04 AM
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Originally Posted by pgtraveler
Lovely photos and trip report. I would love to visit Italy, but I speak absolutely no Italian. Do Italians in the tourist areas generally speak some English?
- I don't speak much Italian at all and did ok. When I stayed with non English speakers in Liguria, we used Google translate for the finer points of conversation. Don't let your lack of Italian prevent you from going to Italy!!

Originally Posted by Leely2
Your spot in San Terenzo looks absolutely lovely and relaxing. I said "never again" to the Cinque Terre a long time ago but have since enjoyed Camogli, Santa Maria Ligure, etc.

Hope you enjoy Puglia and Basilicata next summer. I was there this past May, after five days in Naples, and loved it. Have you decided where you will stay?

Looking forward to your next installment.
- Our Summer '24 trip looks like 3 nights in Polignano A Mare, 3 nights in Santa Maria di Luca, 4 nights in Lecce followed by 2 nights in Naples, 2 nights in Orvieto, 4 nights in Florence and 3 nights in Rome. My final night, preflight, will be in Naples.

Originally Posted by KarenWoo
nylilly, I love your photos of Lucca! You really capture the essence of the place. Last May our daughter, son-in-law, and young grandchildren spent 3 weeks in Lucca. With 2 young children, they wanted a very relaxing vacation staying put in one place. They took some daytrips but absolutely enjoyed just hanging out in Lucca. The city walls is what drew them to Lucca. They rented a 4-wheel bike that holds 4 people, with a canopy, and pedaled around in that. They became friendly with the owners of a nearby restaurant they frequented, and the owners gave our grandchildren gifts when they left. Needless to say, they have very fond memories of Lucca.
Sounds like a wonderful way to spend 3 weeks! I think the pace of Lucca is ideal for relaxing and making memories.

Originally Posted by progol
This is a delightful report! Iím so enjoying it! Italy is my husbandís and my favorite country, and have been there several times. Your trip includes a few places that I hope to visit someday soon - Lucca, Ischia - so itís exciting to see this, too. Italy is, to me, the perfect place for travel - lots of cultural sights when I need stimulation but the perfect place to just chill and enjoy.
Thanks for sharing your travels!
After spending nearly a month in Italy this year, I had intended to return to Greece for the same length of time in 2024, but...I decided I needed more Italy! Greece will have to wait until 2025.

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Old Dec 27th, 2023, 04:39 AM
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I left Lucca feeling as if the quiet part of my trip was drawing to a close since the next 2 destinations were city stays. With only a single misstep in my train travels (I think I got off the wrong stop in Pisa to switch to my train for Florence. Not a hug problems whatsoever!), I arrived in Florence's Santa Maria Novella Station and was able to make my way on foot to my accommodations on the south side of the Arno. I swear that first trek to my AirBnB felt as if it was uphill all the way, but after my initial walk, it began to feel quite comfortable and familiar.

I had only been to Florence once previously for an afternoon. We saw David and somehow, at that time, found a crappy restaurant and had a mediocre meal. Happily, this trip featured only delicious food and bright sunshine. My host, a retired chef, provided lots of suggestions as well as a home that I hated to leave.


The view from my window!

My favorite gelato of the trip - ricotta fig.


My first evening in Florence - sunset.


My room for the last 3 nights of my solo portion of the trip was in the Porta Romana area and I loved it. Aside from the phenomenal view and hospitality of my host, I felt as if I was perfectly positioned to explore Florence without being stuck in the very center of the city. I could be at Mercato Centrale in 20 minutes - a feat I accomplished repeatedly when I sought a bite to eat, free wifi and a decent public bathroom. During my alone time I took a sunset rooftop yoga class and visited the Boboli gardens and did my best to locate a few wine windows in advance of the arrival of my guy, as well as a friend and her family who were meeting us for an afternoon.



The ceiling of Mercato Centrale


Sunrise from my bedroom

Bonus balloon!


Boboli garden is ideal for some morning strolling

I ultimately located 3 wine windows!


The duomo at sunset from a nearby rooftop


After nearly 2 weeks solo, the couple's vacation begins next...
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Old Dec 27th, 2023, 05:31 AM
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Originally Posted by nylilly
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After spending nearly a month in Italy this year, I had intended to return to Greece for the same length of time in 2024, but...I decided I needed more Italy! Greece will have to wait until 2025.
2024 will be our third year in a row spending a month in Italy -- There is so much to see. LOVE Italy. Greece is pretty nice though.
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Old Dec 28th, 2023, 06:38 AM
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The second part of my stay in Florence was with my love. He arrived late in the afternoon on Monday and we thoroughly enjoyed our 4 nights. With a twinge of sadness, I left my lovely room in Port Romana for an apartment just a block from the Arno, also on the south side of the river. The location was terrific and I can't imagine why anyone would want to stay on the more touristy north side!

Our days together in Firenze were spent walking, eating and drinking, with a bit of art thrown into the mix. Since we had both already seen David, as one must, we booked advance tickets to visit the Uffizi to take in the Birth of Venus. I very much appreciate art, but in small doses. For a place like the Uffizi or the Hermitage, I generally pick a couple of things to see, much preferring to be outdoors. I loved what I could see of the Birth of Venus, but had little patience for the folks who were more interested in posing for selfies in front of the art than in actually looking at the work.


Street art



I was quite taken by the Seven Virtues - Justice

Fortitude

The best I could do with the TikTok crowd!



We enjoyed a couple of fantastic meals. There were breakfasts of fruit and pastries, bruschetta, pasta, pizza, porchetta and, of course, Steak Florentine.


Bruschetta at Mercato Centrale

Get yourself a porchetta sandwich here!

Antica Porchetteria Granieri 1916

Perfect porchetta sandwich

The steak should be presented uncooked first. https://www.anticoristorodicambi.it/en/

Finished, yet still quite rare.

A very fine bottle of wine - not on the list. Ask!

Zucchini flowers

Cinghiale ragu

One night, we enjoyed an elegant nightcap at the St. Regis, a beautiful hotel beyond our budget. Treat yourself to an amaro in their gorgeous lounge!


Swanky sipping!



Save a few bob by eating at the Mercato Centrale. There is literally something for everyone there - and mornings were very quiet and peaceful...and delicious.

On one of our last days in Tuscany, we took the train about 20 minutes outside of Florence to visit a winery. We had scheduled in advance through friends who own a restaurant in the city where we live and the winery folks organized a car to meet us at the station for a picturesque drive into the country.


Our train stop

Beautiful scenery in every direction.

The wines & olive oil were excellent!

NOT a runaway bride!


Our tasting room



And so our time in Florence, for this trip, comes to a close. Next up - Rome!
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Old Dec 28th, 2023, 06:39 AM
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I spent nearly a month in Greece in 2022 (Paros/Antiparos, Athens and Nafplio) and am eager to get back to see more!
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Old Dec 28th, 2023, 12:10 PM
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Originally Posted by nylilly
I spent nearly a month in Greece in 2022 (Paros/Antiparos, Athens and Nafplio) and am eager to get back to see more!
All nice places. Try the Peloponnese, outside of Nafplion which has gotten so popular. Other areas are less well touristed and fabulous! I have TR on our trip last spring.
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Old Dec 28th, 2023, 12:52 PM
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nylily,

Loving your photos! Italy definitely steals my heart! Funnily enough, we’re going to Greece this spring for a month and will be going to the Pelopponese and central Greece area. But thinking of getting back to Italy sometime soon.

We were in Polignano a Mare and Lecce in 2021 (as well as Matera - are you planning to go there?) and loved it. There’s just SO much to see in Italy!
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Old Jan 1st, 2024, 10:53 AM
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I enjoyed this report. Recently retired, we have spent a lot of time in Napoli and The Mezzogiorno over the last two years. Following a long passion went to pizza school in Napoli... love the city and her people.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 03:03 AM
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Originally Posted by amardhaliwal6609
I enjoyed this report. Recently retired, we have spent a lot of time in Napoli and The Mezzogiorno over the last two years. Following a long passion went to pizza school in Napoli... love the city and her people.
I love your enthusiasm about Naples - it seems that many people find it to be "too gritty," but I also appreciate the authenticity and diversity of Napoli. can't wait to get back there!

Originally Posted by progol
nylily,

Loving your photos! Italy definitely steals my heart! Funnily enough, weíre going to Greece this spring for a month and will be going to the Pelopponese and central Greece area. But thinking of getting back to Italy sometime soon.

We were in Polignano a Mare and Lecce in 2021 (as well as Matera - are you planning to go there?) and loved it. Thereís just SO much to see in Italy!
We are going to Matera! I booked two nights there at the very end of July. Please share any must sees for there and Puglia.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 03:25 AM
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After a bite to eat at Mercato Centrale and some last minute Florentine purchases (leather accessories), we boarded the train for Rome. We had purchased our tickets in advance, but found ourselves able to make an earlier train and we easily able to exchange our tickets, plus a few euro, to get ourselves to Rome a bit sooner in the day. It was my guy's birthday (one that ends with a zero) and we were feeling celebratory.

We arrived at Termini and caught a train to my friend's home near Basilica San Paolo. After dropping our bags and freshening up, we hit the streets for some strolling. We had no specific destination.


Along the Tiber


These Holocaust memorial plaques always stop me in my tracks.





We had our first and only day of rain on the trip while in Rome. It was great - it freshened things up and forced the less hardy tourists to indoor locales.


Caution when wet! We witnessed more than one person go down on these slippery cobblestones.



Dinner at Ditirambo


We ended the night at the rooftop bar Acquaroof which features Molinari sambuca, my beau's favorite.

Dinner was here.
Drinks with a view here.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 04:40 AM
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nylily,
I hope you don’t mind looking at my trip report from 2021 as there is so much to the Puglia area and to Matera, that I could exhaust myself with suggestions! And we didn’t see half the places that are popular to visit! Still, I think we did a good job seeing the regions we did visit. We had traveled from Croatia to Bari by ferry, starting in Polignano a Mare, staying in Lecce, going to Matera, before moving on to the Amalfi Coast and Naples (2nd visit for the latter 2).

From the Adriatic to the Tyrrhenian: Part 2 - ITALY!

Last edited by progol; Jan 2nd, 2024 at 04:54 AM.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 05:57 AM
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The holocaust stones are now spreading across Europe. The originator has finally retired and just does a few but, with friends, he has laid over 70,000. He only provides them in a town which asks for them and has been at it for many years.
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Old Jan 2nd, 2024, 06:23 AM
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"I love your enthusiasm about Naples - it seems that many people find it to be "too gritty," but I also appreciate the authenticity and diversity of Napoli. can't wait to get back there!" On our first trip to Naples my husband said, "Nothing like garbage strikes and fear of [size=13px]crime[/size] to keep tourists away". It was blissfully empty of tourists. A bit more tourists on our second visit, but still not bad at all.
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Old Jan 4th, 2024, 12:38 PM
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Getting caught up on TR's after the busy holidays! I love your photos and narrative on Florence. We visited once for a day in the 70's and I am really anxious to get back. I love your travel philosophy: see some sights such as art in Florence but make time for being outdoors wandering, drinking, eating. We love to visit markets when we travel so I know we would enjoy the Mercato Centrale. Love all your food photos. My husband would love the way the steak is cooked - not me, a little too raw looking for me.
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Old Jan 5th, 2024, 04:55 AM
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@bilboburgler - I've seen them in Prague also. They are so powerfully heartbreaking.
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Old Jan 5th, 2024, 05:01 AM
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@Karenwoo - That steak was definitely extremely rare! By the time our main was served, after our preliminary courses, we didn't have much room to eat the steak. Took it back to our Airbnb and very much enjoyed it the next day for a hearty steak & eggs breakfast. You must return to Florence! The Mercato Centrale is two stories with purveyors of meats, cheeses, produce, wines, etc, primarily on the first floor and the best "food court" you could ever imagine upstairs. Surrounding the building, the streets are filled with stalls selling leather, pottery and other desirable items. Be sure to haggle - it is expected.
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Old Jan 5th, 2024, 05:49 AM
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nylilly, forgot to mention that I love the photo of you and your beau in the vineyards! Lovely photo!

And enjoyed your photos of Rome! Haven't been to Rome since the 1970's when we spent a week there. The cobblestones do look nice in the rain but can be treacherous. I like your attitude about the rain. You won't let anything spoil your trip. Good for you!

I'm sure we would love the food court at Mercato Centrale. We always eat in food courts at markets and love trying different foods. ​​​​​​
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Old Jan 17th, 2024, 04:09 AM
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Our stay in Rome was only for 3 nights since we had both spent time there in recent years. One thing I did for the first time was visit the Jewish ghetto, reputed to be the oldest such enclave in Europe. I didn't have a specific agenda, instead I just wandered the streets taking in the architecture, aromas and sounds of this vibrant neighborhood. As I walked on a sunny late morning, I was utterly entranced by the sound of someone masterfully playing piano in a second floor apartment. Pure magic. I would have liked to share the video/audio, but it isn't the correct format to allow me to upload. Sorry!


Jewish ghetto

Jewish ghetto


View from Terrazza Navona

Cocktails on the rooftop Terrazzo Navona


We also ate at the only "chain" restaurant I've ever been to in Italy, La Prosciutteria. There are three locations, I believe, and I've never been disappointed with a morsel I've been served. Well, actually, their license doesn't allow them to serve diners, so you'll have to carefully carry your antipasto laden board to the table yourself. Completely unassuming, reliably delicious and with the best playlist in Rome. Pizza at Mercato Testaccio's Casa Manco is not to be missed. Their secret involves a long rise of the dough and it was fantastic.


La Prosciutteria spread - don't miss the porchetta!


Next stop...Ischia via Napoli!

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Old Jan 17th, 2024, 04:19 AM
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the whole, show customer the steak before we cook it, thing is just a new thing. I've been in Europe with local friends and they all look aghast at it and one even began shouting at the waiter. Not to be encouraged.
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Old Jan 17th, 2024, 05:38 AM
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I never would have considered requesting to see the beef prior to preparation had my Airbnb host, a very highly regarded, successful retired chef from Florence, not advised me to do exactly
that. I deferred to him in this situation.
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