Trip review:Venice,Florence,Siena, Rome

Aug 15th, 2005, 06:42 AM
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Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 7
Trip review:Venice,Florence,Siena, Rome


I am new to writing to this forum so if I do something not standard please forgive me. Reading this forum had helped me plan our vacation so I thought I would give back and tell you how it went. This was my husband's and mine second trip to Italy. We had both gone before we met each other, he staying in Venice for a month and me in Siena a month. Our itinerary started on July 30 and went until August 10. We had 4 nights in Venice, 1 night in Florence, 3 nights in Siena, and 4 nights in Rome.

Venice: We stayed at Hotel Mercurio which is on a main canal and near to San Marco square. We chose this hotel because it is where my husband had stayed. We had a view of the canal and enjoyed hearing both the gondalas paddle through and the musicians singing. As far as the hotel, it is a bit older in accomodations, the AC wasn't too cold, and one of the mornings there was no hot water. We had wonderful service as the same people still work here from eight years ago and my husband remembered them. Even if one didn't know them, they are very helpful with getting water taxi times, restaurants, or just talking about the local life.

I had been to Venice for one afternoon in my last visit. I was very surprised with the amount of things there are to do and how St. Mark's square can just take you away at night. I wish we had more than four nights here. It was so much fun just walking over bridges seeing where they would take you. It was nice getting away from the touristy areas and finding what seemed like our own areas. Also away from the hot spots, you will find fountains to fill up your water bottles. It was quite hot some days and these fountains were a welcome relief to the hot and to our pockets. As far as food, I don't recall any bad places. We ate at a place called Bora Bora on the way back from the Rialto Bridge. My husband and I shared the best pizza we had in Italy. Friendly place. The best gelato we found at Paolin's in St.Sebastion (I think) square. It's on the way to the Accademia. In general we didn't find the prices for food to be too bad. Being used to NY prices probably helped this.

If you like to and can walk you can walk anywhere. The vaporetto is good to get you long distances like from the train station to St. Mark's.

In general we didn't get involved in any planned tours except for one here in Venice. We got our ticket at some information shop that also sold tickets for concerts, vaporettos, etc. It was near St. Mark's square.
It included a tour of St. Mark's Cathedral, Doge's Palace and Secret Tour, a boat ride to Murano, and a demonstration of glass making. We found that for the price of 31 euro each we didn't have to wait in any lines, it was more personal, and it wasn't much more than if we were to have done each thing separately.

If you are going to Italy for the first time beware of a few things: you will see older women and women with young children begging for money, here in Venice they didn't bother tourists too much. I did watch one of the older woman beggers all slumped over and achy suddenly be "cured" as soon as she reached a bridge. Also beware of the men selling imitation pocket books and such. It was interesting to see that there is some sort of warning signal to them that police are coming. Interesting that all they have to do in Venice is pack up their stuff not actually move. If you are familiar with any large city in the States then these things won't seem so strange to you.

We would definitely recommend going to Venice and we can't wait to go back again.

Florence: being that we had both been here a few times before. We didn't go back to any art museums or such. Instead we went inside the Duomo. An incredible work that took 150 years to build! We also walked up the bell tower (413 steps) and saw beautiful views of the city. We also went to the church of San Croce where famous people such as Michelangelo and Rossini have their tombs.

We stayed at Hotel Balestri which is on the Arno river one bridge down from Ponte Vecchio. You could see it from our room. Hotel had very good AC, new bathroom with a tub, large room, wonderful breakfast service, and was very reasonable. Hotel was a hike from train station. Would recommend taking some sort of transportation to get there and back.

Will continue about Siena and Rome...

Hope this is helping or enjoyable to someone...
missysnow is offline  
Aug 15th, 2005, 07:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Enjoying your report missy. Looking forward to hearing more.
Statia is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 08:59 AM
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hi missysnow

Enjoying reading your trip report - I second your enthusiasm for Santa Croce. My daughter and I loved it.

Looking forward to reading more.
anggem57 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 09:13 AM
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We leave 2 months from last Sunday for a week in Venice and I can't wait! Do you remember the name of the tour you took?
swalter518 is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 09:37 AM
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Hi missy,
Great first trip report! Very organized
TexasAggie is offline  
Aug 16th, 2005, 11:00 AM
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Sounds wonderful - keep going! I love trip reviews, they're entertaining and a huge help in planning!
pookamani is offline  
Aug 17th, 2005, 05:46 AM
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Thanks for your comments. For swalter: I believe the name of the place we bought our tickets was at the Comune di Venezia. When we got there in the morning, other people had said they got their tickets through threir hotel. The ticket itself will only say 11 euros. I believe it may be the same ticket you'd get if you went to Doge's palace yourself. Howerever, like I said it includes St.Mark's, the secret tour (seeing the prisons and crossing the Bridge of Sighs), and going to a glass factory. We were happy to have this oppportunity because when we went to Doge's palace on our own for their secret tour, they said they were sold out for the week. If I can find more info as to where the info place is I will let you know. We stumbled upon it near St.Mark's square. Also for your info we found that for the best deals on glass and eating to cross the Accademia bridge. There are two restaurants on a main body of water that are both very reasonable and are beautiful, plus less touristy because you are far from St.Mark's. Once you cross bridge just walk to the left and go to the end (you'll see the water), turn left and you'll see the restaurants.
missysnow is offline  
Aug 17th, 2005, 06:24 AM
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On to Siena...I love this city. Had stayed here a month for study some years back. Stayed at Palazzo Ravizza. This was the highest of our hotels however you tend to get what you pay for. Our room had incredible views of the Tuscan countryside, an ancient bell tower next store that ran every half hour(how quaint), amazing breakfasts outside in a garden, and a very nice sized room and bathroom. We came here via bus from Florence. Schedule said it would take an hour and a half but it only took 45 minutes. Luckily when we got off at bus stop things started to look familiar. Funny how your mind can remember things once you see them again. Walked around noticing how things have changed a little. Such as there are charges to get into the Duomo and they are restoring it now, so, as they do with most restorations in Italy, they place a very realistic picure tarp over it. It is so real looking that we watched the pidgeons fly right into it trying to land. Spent the 10 euros to go into the Duomo, baptistry, cript, and tower. Well worth the money. Cript was only recently discovered in 1999 (not really a cript), and the views from the tower are wonderful, being at the top a little scary. Only a waist level bar separates you from the concete below. The largest enjoyment for both me and my husband was just sitting in Il Campo observing people and pidgeons and feeling like you are back in the 1300's. We had also rented a motor scooter to go outside the walls of Siena. We wound up in Monteriggioni, and San Gimginano (sp?). Had an interesting time trying to get gas. Seems you get some sort of token to place into machine. Maybe it was just the place we went to. Moped was so useful in seeing the countryside, took many side roads just enjoying sites. Found that road signs are very easy to figure out here. We didn't have a map except for one of the walled Siena. Found we didn't need one. Monteriggioni was nice (my second time here), they now have a foot bridge so you can see over the top of the wall. Not too much to see here, one can probably spend a couple hours if you eat lunch. San Ginmigno we were a little disappointed in as it was sooo crowded and hot and so much like Siena however much more touristy. We went because I read about the towers and was told that it was Pinocchio's birthplace. Expected to see more on Picocchio. We wound up going to a torture museum (on display both here and Siena) which was well done but eerie. Walked a bit and got back on moped to go home. Went to a concert in the Campo of the group I was a part of when I studied here. Met up with the director which was such a thrill to me. Had the opportunity to see a contrada parade around the campo both in uniform with flags and drums and also with everyone else of contrada on their motorcycles circle around. Think this may have been last year's winner of the Palio. Food here is relatively cheap and wine is very cheap. You can get a liter of house wine for 5 euros. We did this one night, but a liter is a lot for two! Also found that house wine in Siena is very good, better than some of the bottles and glasses we had elsewhere. In general it is a Chianti. Didn't have any bad food here although found service not the best. Wound up sitting long periods of time to get bill. Usually asked each time to get it, and not sure about the whole tipping thing yet. Kept getting differing opinions on whether you should leave one. If service charge wasn't included then we knew to leave a tip, but if it was we weren't sure. Any ideas or knowledge out there for next time?
Overall Siena is amazing and everyone should get the opportunity to go, read up on the tradition and history as this will make the city come alive for you.
missysnow is offline  
Aug 17th, 2005, 06:44 AM
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Thanks Missysnow. I'm sure we'll find the place to buy the tickets.
swalter518 is offline  

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