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Your favorite museums, gardens, and trattorias/osterias in central Italy?

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Nov 4th, 2009, 08:15 AM
  #1
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Your favorite museums, gardens, and trattorias/osterias in central Italy?

Hello---we will spend two weeks in Italy next June with our two young adult/older teenage daughters. We are going to Verona, Firenze, Lucca, Cinque Terre (Monterosso al Mare), Varenna, and Milan. Hotels are booked and I have a pretty good sense of some of the things we want to do in each place.

We will be staying inside the city or town center at each place (inside the walls in Lucca) and will not have a car.

I'd love to hear your recommendations for places to eat lunch and dinner. We prefer small, friendly places with a warm welcome, moderate prices, and casual or rustic ambiance (and great food). We don't need menus in English.

I would also love your suggestions on things to see and do that I might have missed. So far I have planned an opera (Aida) in the Roman arena at Verona, the Accademia and Galileo Museum in Firenze, hiking at Cinque Terre, the Silk Museum at Como (from Varenna), the Duomo roof at Milan, and maybe the ballet at La Scala.

We like art in small doses; love science, natural history and antiquities museums..
We particularly enjoy exploring on foot, and I feel compelled to climb every bell tower, church roof access, or other viewpoint I can find.

We'd love to see a lovely garden or two, take a half-day bike ride (maybe from Lucca), and find a half-day cooking class somewhere.

Thanks for your help!
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Nov 4th, 2009, 09:44 AM
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In Lucca, we liked Trattoria Da Leo. Central and very good.
We loved biking on the city walls: in June the weather will be perfect for that. Also, if you are going to be in Lucca around June 16, you should go to Pisa and see the Luminaria. It's impressive.
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Nov 4th, 2009, 09:55 AM
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Thank you! I'll put Trattoria da Leo in my trip book.

We will bike the walls but would like to extend for a ride outside the city. Somewhere I read of a nearby path along a river, but can't find it again.

We depart the US for Italy on the 17th and won't get to Lucca until a week later, so we will muss the Luminaria on the 16th. But we will visit Pisa for sure.
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Nov 4th, 2009, 10:48 AM
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enzian,
Take a look at http://www.knowital.com/html/lucca_-...d_gardens.html


Henry
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Nov 4th, 2009, 03:17 PM
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In Firenze my friend and I enjoyed a cozy wine bar with great food on the way back from Piazzale Michelangelo and the Basilica San Miniato A Monte called Fuori Porta. It's where I first discovered burrata.

http://www.fuoriporta.it/
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Nov 4th, 2009, 04:12 PM
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In Firenze we just happened on to this small trattoria, it was so good, authentic and friendly that we ate lunch there everyday we were in Firenze. They only do lunch and close at 3:00pm. We thought it was a real find.

http://trattoria-mario.com/index_english.html
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Nov 4th, 2009, 05:39 PM
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Enzian: I've been "piggybacking" on some of your posts, cuz, as you know, DH and are going to Southern Tuscany via Zurich next June also.
Am thinking we'd like a couple of days in Lucca en route. can you give me some clues as to hotels in Lucca? Where are you staying? you might have mentioned it before, but I didn't "bookmark" if you did. thanks.
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Nov 4th, 2009, 08:38 PM
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In Verona, not far from Juliette's balcony, Ristorante Greppia. The website offers a language choice, but is only in Italian so don't bother clicking language. Order Tris della Casa for a primi.
http://www.ristorantegreppia.it/gall...o/gallery.html

I understand there is a similar named restaurant in Lucca, but haven't been there and don't think they are connected.
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Nov 4th, 2009, 08:42 PM
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I consider the Rome area as central Italy (southern Tuscany to Naples area) and the most of the towns you listed as more northern Italy.
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Nov 4th, 2009, 08:44 PM
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JenV--the wine bar looks charming, and we'd love the burrata. I've made a note in my little book.

And Marycang, I've had recommendations for Mario's from others as well---the place ssems much-loved. The menu looks heavy on the meat, which my husband will love, but the girls might not. Do they have salads and pasta as well?

taconictraveler---I found a nice 2-bedroom apartment in Lucca that will be perect for our family, so no hotels. While I was researching those, I found lots of recommendations for B&B La Romea. It didn't work for us as it appears all rooms have double beds. But if there were just the 2 of us, I'd give it a try.

Or if you are staying 3 nights, I can point to some other apartments I found.
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Nov 4th, 2009, 09:16 PM
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We loved Varenna--stayed at the Hotel Du Lac and enjoyed the hike up to the castle behind the town. Probably took about 2 hours including looking around the castle/ climbing the tower/looking at the falcons displayed outside the castle walls. Had a couple of great dinners--here is a description of a great place we ate in Varenna.

"Try Il Cavatappi (The Corkscrew), a tiny 5-table restaurant off a narrow alley in Varenna. It was recommended by the bartender at Hotel du Lac, where we spent 3 nights last May. Everything is run by 2 people, the very quirky, funny chef/owner, and the charming hostess/waitress. The risotto with red wine and smoked cheese was the best rice dish I've ever eaten. I can't remember the exact prices, but it was very reasonable. Reservations are a must!"
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Nov 5th, 2009, 06:42 AM
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macgogmom---a hike up to a castle is just the thing for us! Perfect. And I'll check out Il Cacatappi---it sounds like our kind of place.

I have also heard of a restaurant there (In Varenna) that offers cooking classes in the afternoon. . . starts with a "C" but I don't think it is Cavatappi. Somewhere up the hill, maybe out of town a bit? Does this sound familiar to anyone?
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Nov 5th, 2009, 07:52 AM
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I was misled by your header. "Central Italy' to me means Umbria and Lazio area. In Lucca (northern Tuscany) we'd recommend Hotel Romantica- small and charming, just outside city walls.
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Nov 5th, 2009, 09:04 AM
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bellini---I knew I was taking a risk on defining the region---I tried to say "Veneto, Tuscany, Liguria and Lombardy/Lakes" but the header only allows 75 characters. I thought "central Italy" might cover it as it seems neither Northern nor southern to me. But I guess "Central" has a different meaning.
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Nov 5th, 2009, 09:14 AM
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Fuori Porta is a great suggestion. My absolute favorite wine bar/snack place in Florence is Le volpi e l'uva - http://www.florence-on-line.com/food...pi-e-luva.html

It sounds like you would really enjoy the newly reopened Museo Bardini http://www.florence-journal.com/flor...penstion-.html - after which you can enter the Giardino Bardini, and walk up the hillside gardens for some spectacular views of the city. From the top of the garden, you can go across to the Boboli, or walk down Costa San Giorgio (one of the steepest streets in Florence), past Galileo's house, and end up at Le volpi e l'uva for some wine and snacks (I am getting hungry just thinking about this!).

Check the map at this link for this itinerary - http://maps.google.com/maps?f=d&sour...07693&t=h&z=17

Just note that you don't walk around and up to enter the garden, there is an entrance on Via dei Bardi near the bus stop and arrow - you enter there, walk up the hill through the park, and then exit at the top (B on the map) then you can walk downhill to C.
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Nov 5th, 2009, 09:50 AM
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we were in Lucca in September and had two fabulous meals. One at All 'olivo and the other at Giglio. both were outstanding with All 'olivo being a slight favorite. They may be a little more expensive than you're loking for but perhaps for a treat---they were not at all "stuffy". We ate outside at both and service was warm and friendly.

Also if you enjoy opera, every evening there is a concert at 7 or 7:30 with a variety of Puccini and other music. Lucca was Puccini's home. The concerts are in a church very close to Giglio restaurant.
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Nov 5th, 2009, 10:39 AM
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On our recent visit to Florence, we ate at del Fagioli, a popular local casual place (recommended to us, originally, by the owners of the B&B we stayed at). Great local cuisine, the best bistecca Fiorentina that we had in Florence, and the pastas were good as well. They don't have a website, but there's a video that someone made of the restaurant that you can find by googling it.

Our favorite lunch in Florence, though I had a long list of restaurants, were the pizza-by-the-slice places. We could get reasonably-good pizza at a great price, and not spend hours waiting to be served. Our favorite is Pizzeria Piccadilly, on via Por Santa Maria, 43-r (about one block from the Ponte Vecchio). You get in line, order pizza by the slice (pizza al taglio), a salad if you want, drinks (including wine), then they have an outdoor seating area in back that's quite pleasant.
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Nov 5th, 2009, 03:56 PM
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enzian

Yes, Mario's has pasta and soups, I don't remember salads
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Nov 5th, 2009, 04:23 PM
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We ate at a new place in Varenna. It's not on the water, but just beyond on the walk to Hotel du Lac. The name is Nuevo Isola 1169. We had the risotto with Gogonzola and small bits of porcini mushrooms. Very good. Then Lavarello, a Como lake fish, and roasted goat. Both main plates were 15 euros. The restaurant has outdoor seating in a small courtyard. Very charming.

On the walk along the water from the ferry stop to Hotel du Lac, you will also pass by two very cute cafe/restaurants directly on the water. We did not eat there, but they were filled every night with what appeared to be happy diners and the views were spectacular.

We also dined at Il Cavatappi. It's down a narrow street from the square where the church is. There are only about 5 or 6 tables, but it is cute, quirky and has good food. I'm not sure it's the cult favorite that some foodies claim, but it's good and worth going to.
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Nov 5th, 2009, 04:46 PM
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My favorite place is

http://www.slowtrav.com/italy/restau...ssacce&s=duomo

I believe it may be closed sataurday and sunday
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