Travel to Italy

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Angelskates, May 30, 2012.

  1. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    I arrived in Florence today, and a huge shout out to Tinami - all three hotels so far have been so different and fabulous! The Relais Cavalcanti is like a boutique hotel, it's stunning and homey! I LOVE IT! Loved San Carlo's location, Grand Vesuvius was, well GRAND, with a pool and stunning views...really pleased with all of them!! Thanks, Tinami!
     
  2. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Your hotels do look wonderful.
    I've been checking the websites; and vicariously enjoying them!
     
  3. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

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    Very nice!

    skatesindreams, I've been in Florence 3 times and every time have stayed here: http://www.plazalucchesi.it/ I love the location, right on the Arno and right behind the Santa Croce. And the concierge is the best ever! There are more luxurious hotels in Florence, but we stay at the Plaza Lucchesi because of the location and concierge.
     
  4. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    I'm not for luxury, I'm usually not for a concierge either, I just like to be comfortable, and of course, free wireless!

    Last night I was completely blessed to hear and see a once a year orchestral and choral concert outside the Duomo! It was the Orchestra e Coro del Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and this year their theme was "Il Maggio È Solidarieta" with donations to the Italian Red Cross helping the victims of the recent earthquake. I actually had tears in my eyes; the scene was a feast for the ears and eyes, and I sat there for ages taking it all in. It was a very spiritual experience for me, being in the presence of such beauty. Totally overwhelming and magical. I would have come just for this, and it was completely unplanned!
     
  5. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

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    Ordinarily, I don't worry about a concierge, but the one at Lucchesi is amazing. First, we found that in Italy, it made things so much easier to get tickets for all of the museums via the concierge. He called the museum, made a time reservation, we paid him for the tickets, and then just went to "will call" picked up the tickets and avoided lines. He also was brilliant in recommending restaurants. We don't like the "fancy", tourist places, so we asked him to send us to places he goes to. Every restaurant he sent us to was incredible! And every restaurant he sent us to, we were treated like long lost family :lol:. I, also, got into a conversation with him (our first trip) about my Italian heritage. My maiden name does not sound Italian, though my father's parents were born in Italy. We didn't know if it was a French spelling and that the family was originally from Northern Italy, or it was changed when they immigrated. So, my concierge friend did a search for me on the Italian version of "family tree".
    3 years later, when we went back, he remembered us. Then when I went back with my friend, two years ago, he really went out of his way for us. It makes you feel special, when people are that kind.

    Sounds absolutely magical!
     
  6. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Angelskates, I have tears in my eyes, just reading your post about the concert.
     
  7. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    So happy for you! THIS is what travel is for, these planned, or, usually unplanned, experiences that move us to tears or joy or rapture or excitement or all of the above. I can feel it just from your description :swoon:
     
  8. alilou

    alilou Crazy Stalker Lady

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    Just caught up on all your blog posts. Sounds as if you're having a fabulous time. It was such a great trip down memory lane for me - of course we have some of the same photos! And great to see pingu! She showed me and Mr alilou around Milan for an afternoon. Please say hi for me if you read this while you're still in Milan. I guess you're getting pretty near the end of your trip.

    Can't believe you watched Mark Webber win his F1 race! Mr alilou is a huge F1 fan so I always know what's going on and was thrilled when a fellow Aussie won :cheer:
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2012
  9. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

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    Just catching up on your photos, also going down memory lane :).

    The sunflowers are magnificent, this time of year. By september, they will be gone (or, at least mostly gone).

    Little trivia, the Uffizi was the office building for the Medici. Uffizi literally means offices. The Palazzo Pitti was built for Luca Pitti (a banker), but was later sold to the Medici.

    When you saw the David at the Academia, were you taken aback by it's size? In situ, it appears to be the size of a real person, it was intended to be an optical illusion. Walking around Firenze, and seeing the replica outside of the Palazzo Vecchio, you get used to having a sense of it's size. But, when you see it all pristine and white in a domed room, by itself, it really hits you, just how big it is.

    Did you have a chance to go to the Mercato Centrale? Inside, the foods are just amazing. Outside, great souvenir shopping, and you can negotiate :lol:!

    You mentioned that sitting at a restaurant or cafe in Venice costs more. I found that throughout Italy. It's called the coperta, which means blanket & = cover charge.

    Ooo, you took photos in the Basilica! You're not allowed! You got lucky, they're really strict there. Did you see the Pala de'Oro?

    Did you sit and have a drink in the Piazza San Marco in the evening? It is one of my favorite things in Venice. The orchestras playing around the Piazza, people waltzing in the middle of the Piazza, with the birds and the backdrop of the Basilica - just amazing!

    So happy you had a wonderful trip. thank you for sharing your photos and experiences.
     
  10. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    We were allowed to take photos at the Basilica, many guides were even helping take some. There were rules of where and what (as with most places), but the ones I took were allowed - the guards saw us and the tour guide said she owed them all coffee all the time :p And they were far from strict, for everyone. The only photo I took that was not allowed was at Michelangelo's David and actually they were pretty lousy and enforcing any of the "no photo" rules anywhere I went. I found that rather pathetic actually - worst in the Sistine Chapel, which was appalling. Either enforce it (and the silence) or don't, but don't make it worse by just YELLING, "Silence, no photos!!" in a bored voice.

    The only place I went to with a cover charge only for sitting down was Venice. All the rest of the cover charges were regardless of how you ate, everyone paid them.

    Mercato Centrale was nothing special to me. In fact, they have similar things in Beijing... and Australia... ;) some of them are even better.

    I sat down at Piazza San Marco and found it no where near as nice as most, if not all, of the other Piazzas I ate in.
     
  11. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

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    We experienced it everywhere: Firenze, Pisa, Siena,...

    Ah, but you can't get the vinegars and oils anywhere else. And upstairs the olives and other delicacies are just incredible. I'm not talking about the stalls outside, I'm talking about inside.

    I've been to the silk market and the pearl market in Beijing, I thought they were horrible, sorry.

    I wouldn't have eaten in the Piazza San Marco. But the orchestras and the ambiance are wonderful, in the evening.

    Did you go to the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset? Brilliant!

    My daughter took a photo of David, at the Academia. She did it with a tilt screen, which she held at her waist. I was rather :mad: with her for doing it. It's really unfortunate that people take photos in places where they are not supposed to. The flashes are not good for the frescoes and paintings. I never really understood why you were not supposed to take photos in the Basilica San Marco since it is all mosaic and not effected by flashes. I was shocked that we were allowed to take photos in the Louvre and the Musee d'Orsay. But, we were.

    Did you go over to Murano? It's really fascinating.
     
  12. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    As am I. There is nothing there I can't get at the speciality markets in Beijing (or Australia). There's at least two markets specialising in Italian and European products in Beijing- and they have vinegars and oils from Italy, Venetian sweets (the owner of that stall is from Venice) etc. You can get almost anything, anywhere these days. I like to buy local so I wouldn't buy anything there that I wasn't going to eat there anyway. My hotel in Sorrento gave me two bottles of olive oil, but I have specialty oils (made in Australia, and absolutely divine) and vinegars in Beijing. Italy is famous for mass making, but it, IMO, doesn't necessary have the best of these products in the world anymore - or at least you don't need to come here to get it.

    No need to be sorry, I don't like either of these markets either, but seriously, what a ridiculous comparison. :rolleyes::rofl:

    I don't disagree, but it's the same ambience as all of the piazzas I went to, but not as good, IMO. There's orchestras (or jazz bands, or whatever) in all of them. Best piazza was Florence for me, easily.

    David is not a fresco or mosaic, and it not affected by photos. Many of the things not affected, they don't want you to take photos of because they want you to buy stuff. But it's their responsibility to enforce their own rules, and they don't, not even in the places where the flashes do affect the surroundings. They did a terrible job there. If they don't take it seriously, they shouldn't be surprised when no one else does.

    Nope. I saw glass making around the corner from where I was staying (and have seen and done it in Beijing myself as well), and don't like big, touristy places like that. bought some glass though, but for family, not me. I didn't hear one good report about Murano - from Italians, Venetians or foreigners. From all reports, it wasn't worth it and it was all about SELL, SELL, SELL. I had friends who went there the week before me and said skip it since I only had two full days. I'd rather meet up with friends, which is how I spent my second day.
     
  13. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Angelskates,

    Thank you so much for sharing your memories of such a special trip; and allowing me to see Italy through your eyes.
     
  14. cygnus

    cygnus Liberal Furry

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    I have stayed there too- really liked it. Pity we never thought to use the concierge. The location is great, though.
     
  15. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

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    The head concierge is really fantastic. His name is Michele, in case you're ever there again. He is really friendly, very efficient, and just plain nice.
     
  16. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    So, I'm bumping this thread up because I'm going to Italy again this summer. :cheer2: This time I want to do Rome, Sorrento, Florence, and Sicily. I'll stay in the same places in the first three, but any suggestions for Sicily? Any suggestions for order? I'm excited already!
     
  17. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    Taormina in Sicily (rather touristy but beautiful beaches and town).
     
  18. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    I'll be doing a Taormina and Mt Etna day trip at least :)
     
  19. IceAlisa

    IceAlisa Épaulement!!!

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    If you are a migraine sufferer, be ready with meds--climbing up Mt Etna can be a trigger. It's really cool though! :)
     
  20. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the tip, I take migraine medication when I travel, but have never needed it. I get maximum of once a year migraines.
     
  21. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    Bumping up again, because I'm heading back to Italy from June 29 to July 18. I'm flying into Rome for 4 nights, then taking the train to Florence and staying there for 6 nights, then taking the train to Naples just to get the circumvesuviana to Sorrento and staying there for 6 nights then back to Rome for 3 nights. I'm staying in all the same hotels as last time, since I loved them and the variety Tinami Amori gave me (the one in Rome is small but homey with a great rooftop breakfast, the one in Florence is boutique and homey and the one in Sorrento is amazingly grand!)

    I'm planning go mostly relax with friends this time around, and go to some "vintage" markets in Rome, too. :)
     
  22. halffull

    halffull halffull kind of day

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    Wow, I'm totally jealous Angelskates. Have a wonderful vacation :)
     
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  23. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Enjoy, enjoy!

    Please. share a report afterwards.
    I'd like to know if the places/hotels are as wonderful as you remember.
     
  24. Angelskates

    Angelskates Well-Known Member

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    Hotel San Marco (Rome) is exactly as I remember. Simple, clean, great water pressure, free wireless, and the rooftop breakfast is a fabulous way to start the day :) Always tempted to just come up from 6:30 to 10:30 and eat my daily food here. :lol: Cold cuts, cereals, biscuits (cookies), pastries, breads, huge variety of cheeses, fruits, yoghurt, jams, juices, and of course coffee. This is the first time in my life that I have been to Italy and not been a vegetarian, so it's a different experience already!

    My friend collected me from the airport last night after a delayed flight from Beijing (where Air China should have paid me as a translator, seriously!) and so a we had 10 p.m. dinner after checking in to the hotel, just down the street. She bought me the wrong sized SIM cards for my iPad and iPhone so I will find the 3 store today and get it cut. Today I hope to be catching up with a fellow FSU'er who has come to Rome from Milano to see me :)

    I'm not really planning any touristy things, just relaxing and catching up with people. Another friend of mine who lives in Rome is meeting me in Florence as well, and we're taking a day trip to Pisa, since she's never been there. Two of my Italian friends have also had kids since I came last, so I'm really looking forward to seeing them!
     
  25. skatesindreams

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

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    Wonderful!

    The advantage of having been there before is that you don't need to be a "tourist"; and can revisit people and places that you love.
    I love your descriptions.
    Keep us posted.
     
  26. cruisin

    cruisin Banned Member

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    We are probably going back next Spring. Going with my daughter's husband's parents. They have never been before. So, we will revisit Venice and Florence with them. Then, most likely split up and they will go to Rome, and we will go to Cinque Terre, then north. What I find to be really rewarding is to go back to such magical places and see them anew through other's eyes. I love to see the expression on people's faces when they see the Piazza San Marco for the first time.

    Am back to studying Italian with Rosetta Stone. But, I think I am going to take a course at county college in the Fall. Rosetta Stone is pretty good for vocabulary. But, not so good for learning grammar and verb conjugation.