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Thread: Travel to Italy

  1. #101
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  2. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelskates View Post
    Aside from comfortable walking shoes, anything I absolutely need to pack?

    Aside from good cheese, anything I should buy there?
    I like to take a bunch of Zip-Lock bags so I can buy messy foods (pastries! cheese!) and carry them somewhere for a picnic. The last time I was in Italy (1995-ish), a lot of food shops packaged things in paper. I also take some sturdy plastic or lightweight metal eating utensils and a small knife for slicing bread, tomatoes, etc. Be sure you have clothes that will work if you encounter cool, rainy weather. But you're right: comfy shoes are the #1 priority.

    About shopping: A few years ago there was a flurry of warnings in travel magazines about fines levied on tourists who bought counterfeit merchandise. I think it was mainly things like scarves, sunglasses, and leather goods with fake logos bought from street vendors. I don't know whether that enforcement activity is still going on, but the fines were very, very high (some over $1000 US). I think there was also something about being sure you exit cafes/restaurants with a receipt, because local authorities were cracking down on tax evasion by cash-based hospitality businesses. Customers were being stopped as they exited restaurants and fined if they couldn't produce a receipt.

    Italy has traditionally been known for silk and leather goods, folk pottery, glassware (beware imports in Venice as Tinami noted), and Florentine paper, among other things. There are all kinds of wonderful food products, but I have no idea what China's import regulations might say about that. For example, I don't think an individual can bring prosciutto back to the US, and unpackaged food (such as spice from a street market) is a no-no, but canned goods are generally OK. Not sure how you'll fare with cheese.

  3. #103

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    acraven, I live in the land that makes all that fake stuff and have absolutely zero intention of buying it in Italy when I could buy it (if I wanted to!) so much cheaper here

    You can pretty much bring anything into China; I brought cheese back from Australia at Christmas. In 10 years, I've never been checked at customs and have rarely actually seen anyone there!

  4. #104

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    Quote Originally Posted by alilou View Post
    Hi Angelskates I just discovered this thread! I admit I haven't read it all (or even half of it) but have discovered 2 things - everyone has their own ideas about what's interesting and exciting to see/do (and so of course that's all we can offer), and Tinami is a breathtaking, astonishing fountain of information.

    As I think you know (from my blog) I was in Italy for 7 weeks last year so here's my 2 cents worth:

    There is a mountain of things to see/do in Italy and I would favour seeing fewer places at a leisurely pace than trying to cram everything in. Make sure you plan some days where you have no agenda and can be as lazy as you wish. I don't mean do nothing necessarily, but let the pace of the day unfold itself instead of rushing off to the next thing on the list that you have to see - e.g. take a whole day in Positano just to laze on the beach (as an example). This way you'll feel like you're having a holiday, not just checking things/places off a list.

    Unless you're really interested in the ancient Romans don't bother with the Forum, the Palantine Hill, etc., but do get yourself to the Coliseum - the size of it alone is amazing.

    My absolute fav places in Italy - Cinque Terre, the hill towns of Tuscany (esp San Gimignano, and Orvieto - which is actually in Umbria), and Venice. Someone earlier said Venice is not worth more than a day or 2, and both Mr alilou and I completely fell in love with it. Which brings me back to the beginning of this post - all of us who've spent time in Italy have our different fav places. If you get away from the usual tourist haunts Venice is a dream.

    Re the Vatican museums - someone up thread said they were boring and I can see why unless you're really interested in art history, though the building itself is fabulous. We were glad we went , but the highlight was the 13th and 14th century Christian art - I guess because I love this period of European art. The sheer elegance of design, and there's an innocence to it, a sense of connection to their God, an untrammelled trust. At least that's how it is for me anyway.

    Re the Sistine Chapel - If you haven't already please read this that I wrote about it, and see the photos I took so you won't be disappointed. I know you're busy so just scroll down to the part about the Sistine. http://alisonarmstrong.blogspot.ca/2011/11/rome.html (well maybe you don't need to bother - it's just a rant about the crowds so be prepared for that when you get there.)

    And finally - have a wonderful time! Stay present. Enjoy yourself

    ETA just read Tinami's post above and it reminded me - you must go to Burano when you're in Venice. It is absolutely magical.
    Thanks for the info Allison, I am looking forward to everything a lot, but I am also looking for a break. I need this holiday to be a holiday.

    My mum wrote to me today, "don't stress, enjoy" and that is really what I am aiming for.

    Quote Originally Posted by maggylyn View Post
    Tinami, you are amazing!

    I'm so excited for Angel's trip from reading your travel guide!
    Me, too! Tinami - I have writing to my friend in Rome's travel agent friend to ask some questions about the tours, and also to see if they have trips from Sorrento to Amalfi and Pompeii. I would also like to be somewhat social though I love being alone as well (I'm an introvert!).

    Quote Originally Posted by milanessa View Post
    It felt like everyone I know messaged me about this!

  5. #105

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    Whatever you do, save yourself all the waiting in line and book one of those tours that includes the ACCADEMIA and UFFIZI because everybody in the world wants to see those places and the line reflects that.

  6. #106

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    I am going to Italy as well...in October. I just can't get over the cost of airfare. It costs nearly $1500 for a direct flight from DC to Rome!
    If ignorance is bliss, I'm overjoyed.

  7. #107

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    Quote Originally Posted by maggylyn View Post
    Tinami, you are amazing!

    I'm so excited for Angel's trip from reading your travel guide!
    As am I!
    I've learned so much from reading this thread.

  8. #108
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    If you stay in a hotel with a concierge, have them make a reservation for the larger museums, like the Uffizi and the Academia. Then you go to the advanced sales window and don't have to wait on line (well, at least not much of one).

    Don't miss the Opera del Duomo museum, it is incredible. That is where Donatello's Mary Magdalene is. Also one of Michelangelo's Pietas.

    Best gelatto in Firenze - Vivoli. Next best would be Grom.

    Best restaurant pizza - Baldovino. The pizza with mascarpone, porcini, and truffle oil, is heaven! But rich!

    Best street pizza - Pizza Taglia next to the Swatch store, on the Piazza Del Duomo

    If you can find Andrea Bianchini's shop (it is in the "general" Santa Croce area) - you will have one of the most ecstatic chocolate experiences in your life! If they have it get the balsamic reduction in dark chocolate. Swooning just remembering!

    Go to the Piazzale Michelangelo (on the other side of the Arno) at sunset - breathtaking!

    The climb to the top of the Duomo is with it, amazing views.

    Santa Croce is my favorite church, Michelangelo, Dante, etc. are entombed there.

    The Santa Maria Novella (near the train station) is also a favorite.

    Pitti Palace and the Boboli Gardens behind it.

    Near the Santa Maria Novella is the Mercato Centrale. You can buy food there and eat there. They close early though. but there are butchers, cheese shops, fruit, olive, olive oil, vinegar, all sorts of wonderful shops.

    Around the Mercato Centrale is street after street of vendors. Selling scarves, tee shirts, leather goods, shoes, all sorts of touristy, inexpensive but nice things.

    Something else that's interesting, is the Leather School. You can watch leather good being made and decorated with gold leaf. You can also buy things there.
    It is behind Santa Croce.

    Favorite store for clothing is Stefanel (on Via Calzaiuoli). Great sweaters! Not cheap, but not $$$.
    Last edited by cruisin; 06-13-2012 at 06:07 PM.

  9. #109

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    Advice on tours, please!

    So, I received a reply from the tour/travel company...

    We are pleased to quote all requested regular sightseeing tours:

    in Rome:

    on 21st June or on 23rd June 2012 ( this tour is operated only on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday )

    Tour “5”AM - TIVOLI AND IT’S VILLAS (Morning , 4 hours approx) Villa Adriana, Villa D’Este ( visit inside )

    Rate: Euro 53,00 per person

    on 22nd June:
    Tour“2 B”PM – COLOSSEUM AND THE ETERNAL ROME – Walking tour (Afternoon, 2,30/3 hrs approx ) Colosseum (inside visit ), Palatin Hill (inside visit ), Roman Forum (inside visit )
    Rate: Euro 48,00 per person

    on 23rd June:
    Tour “3” AM - VATICAN MUSEUMS, SISTINE CHAPEL & ST. PETER’S BASILICA – (Morning, 4h00 hrs approx) Vatican Museums (visit inside), Sistine Chapel(visit inside), St. Peter’s Basilica (visit inside)
    Rate: Euro 53,00 per person

    Pls let us know when you would like to have one of the below tour:

    Tour “8” - ROME BY NIGHT PANORAMIC TOUR (Afternoon 2 hours, approx ) Illuminated Rome by night tour with stop at Trevi Fountain ( walking ), Capitol Hill, Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Janiculum Hill, Castle St. Angelo, St. Peter’s Basilica, Trastevere
    Rate: Euro 36,00 per person

    Tour “9” - ROME BY NIGHT with dinner in ‘TRASTEVERE’ Panoramic tour by bus & dinner in a typical Italian restaurant located in a traditional popular area. Stop at Trevi Fountain ( walking ), Capitol, Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Viale Trastevere, Janiculum Hill, Castle St. Angelo, St. Peter’s Basilica, Trastevere
    Rate: Euro 69,00 per person

    Regarding the tour with open air bus, CIAO ROMA we are pleased to give the following information:

    double decker bus tour of rome
    hop on/hop off
    HIGHLIGHTS: The buses drive continuously by the city's most important monuments. You'll find them punctually at all 12 stops of the bus route from 9.00 am to 8.00 pm, seven days a week. Get on and off when and wherever you like. On board a very informative audioguide will help you to understand the incredible history and the splendour of art that make Rome a unique city.

    1. P.ZZA ESQUILINO
    In front Appian Line Agency
    2.COLOSSEO* Via di S.Gregorio, 30
    in front of Palatino Roman Forum entrance
    3.CIRCO MASSIMO -
    Via del Circo Massimo, opposite Roseto
    4. BOCCA DELLA VERITÀ*
    P.ZZA VENEZIA -
    IN FRONT OF ARACOELI
    5. P.ZZA DELLA CHIESA NUOVA - P.ZZA NAVONA
    Piazza della Chiesa Nuova, in front of n°18
    6. CITTÀ DEL VATICANO
    Via della Conciliazione, in front of Caffè S. Pietro.
    7. ISOLA TIBERINA
    Piazza di Monte Savello
    8. . P.ZZA AUGUSTO IMPERATORE - ARA PACIS
    Piazza A.Imperatore, in front of Mausoleum
    9 PORTA FLAMINIA /PIAZZA DEL POPOLO
    10.VIA LUDOVISI - VIA VENETO
    Via Ludovisi, in front of hotel Savoy
    11. PONTE S. ANGELO
    Lungotevere degli Altoviti
    12. PIAZZA BARBERINI in via Barberini
    in front of n° 14-15
    13. P.ZZA S. BERNARDO - P.ZZA REPUBBLICA
    in front of Carrani Tours agency
    14.TERMINI STATION PIAZZA DEI CINQUECENTO

    € 30,00 pp
    Full day 48 hrs
    --------
    € 23,00 pp
    Full day 24hrs
    --------
    € 19,50 pp
    After 13.00

    € 16,00 p.p.
    One run
    The ticket is valid for one day . It is important to stay at the bus stop few minutes before the bus arrival.
    *important: on Sundays and holidays those stops will be changed as per below:Colosseum - Circus Maximus - Piazza Navona

    in Sorrento:
    - Half day in Pompei ( length 2 hours )
    Operated on Monday or Wednesday. Meeting at 08h10 am at Achille Lauro Parking Area
    Rate: Euro 32,50 per person - includes transportation and local English speaking guide. Entrance fees not included
    The tour ends at the Achille Lauro Parking area

    - Full day Amalfi drive ( length 6/7 hrs )
    operated on Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday - Meeting at 07h50 am at Achille Lauro Parking Area
    Rate: Euro 34,00 per person - includes only transportation for the whole tour - Entrance fees not included
    Departure by bus to Amalfi, on the way stop in Positano for pamoranic view. Once in Amalfi time free for shopping and independent visits.
    The tour ends at the Achille Lauro Parking area

    - Full day Capri & Anacapri ( length 6/7 hrs )
    Operated Every day- Meeting at 08h00 am at Kambusa Bar ( Marina Piccola - Port of Sorrento )
    Rate: Euro 70,00 per person - includes transportation and local English speaking guide in Capri & Anacapri. Entrance fees not included.
    Embark on hydrofoil to Capri, once arrived visit of the Island by minibus. Free time for shopping and lung ( on You onw ). In the afternoon embark on hydrofoil to Sorrento.
    The tour ends at Sorrento Pier

    In Florence:
    on 01st July or 03rd July ( in order to combine this tour with the visit to Boboli Gardes -closed on 1st Monday of each month )
    2.a MEDIEVAL AND RENAISSANCE FLORENCE
    San Lorenzo, Duomo, Piazza Signoria, Ponte Vecchio, Piazza Pitti.
    Rate: Euro 23,00 per person

    Regarding the visit to Boboli Gardens, is closed on the 1st ( 02nd July 2012 ) and the last Monday of each month.
    It is opened from 8.15 am to 19.30 - entry is permitted up to an hour before closing time
    Offical selling rate Euro 7,00 per person with direct payment.
    Ticket valid also for the Museo degli Argenti, the Costume Gallery, the Porcelain musem and the Bardini Gardens.
    Pls let us know if we have to reserve the entrance ( reservation fees Euro 5,00 per person ) or you will do it directly.

    on 2nd July:
    3 – SIENA, SAN GIMIGNANO & CHIANTI AREA - Landscape tour
    Rate: Euro 53,00 per person

    Pls let us know if interested in our offer in order to confirm all services.
    Are there "priorities" as far as this list? Is 1/2 a day (two hours) in Pompeii enough? From what posters in this thread have said, it's not!! The prices seems little expensive since they don't include a lot except transport...

    They also told me that the Roma Card allows entry to the Colosseum etc but not guided tour...but I don't necessarily need a guided tour...

    Grazie mille!

  10. #110
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelskates View Post
    Are there "priorities" as far as this list? Is 1/2 a day (two hours) in Pompeii enough? From what posters in this thread have said, it's not!! The prices seems little expensive since they don't include a lot except transport...

    They also told me that the Roma Card allows entry to the Colosseum etc but not guided tour...but I don't necessarily need a guided tour...

    Grazie mille!
    You don't need a guided tour at the Colosseum. But you might want to read up on it before you go. Learn about the building, mechanics, contests and spectacles, etc.

    Is that all you will be doing in Florence? That is not much. San Lorenzo is wonderful, but not as wonderful as Santa Croce or Santa Maria Novella. The Piazza Signorina is at the end of the Ufizzi and the Palazzo Vecchio is there. You should go into both, but you need time. It is the original site of Michelangelo's David. But, the David that is in situ is a replica. The real one is in the Academia. If you are going to the Boboli Gardens, you have to go through the Piazza Pitti, but why not go into the Pitti Palace? Ponte Vecchio is literally an old bridge (ponte=bridge, vecchio=old), it is all gold shops. If you go into one, you've seen them all. Not much variety store to store. It's all 18kt gold, but more $$ than it should be. How long will you be there?

    San Gimignano is a smaller version of Siena. Very cool, but sort of a medieval mall. Will you get to go to any vineyards? We did a wine tasting at Dievole, which is not far form San Gimignano. It was very well done. And they have some wonderful Super Tuscans and Chianti Classicos.

  11. #111
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    There's big sign boards all the way through the Coliseum giving you as much info as you could possibly want.

    In Florence you must go to the Baptistry (right next to the duomo) and stare at the ceiling - just breathtaking.

    There is a fabulous view of the Arno and Ponte Vecchio from inside the Ufizzi. Ponte Vecchio itself will be so crowded you won't be able to see anything much really except for the breaks in the gold shops where you get to look up and down the river.
    My travel and adventure blog http://alisonanddon.wordpress.com

  12. #112

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    I think aside from Rome, everything else I will book when I get there.

    cruisin, wine tasting is not really my thing.

  13. #113
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    I spent 3 days in Rome when I was 10 and vividly remember how awed I was touring the city by night. Many thanks and to Tinami & everyone else who have provided wonderful travel tips -- I'm inspired to travel around Italy someday and will be sure to refer to this thread for planning purposes.

    Angelskates, I hope you have a fabulous vacation and will share your highlights with us afterwards!
    "Randy [Starkman (1960-April 16, 2012)] lived by the same motto as the rest of us. The Olympics isn’t every four years, it’s every single day. He just got it." --Canadian Olympic kayaker Adam van Koeverden

  14. #114
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    We did the tour at the Colosseum only because it was a much shorter ticket line.

    IDK if 2 hours in Pompeii is enough, especially if you're interested in Pompeii. We spent probably 5-6 hours there and maybe saw 30% of it? But there's a large part of it that's just "suburban Pompeii" aka house after house that isn't all that important. We didn't do a guided tour, just listened in on other tours, so if you have a tour guide then you might be OK with hitting the highlights. We missed all the plaster casts of bodies (the ones on the ground) but did see the ones that are in the pottery storage area.

  15. #115
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    Have a wonderful time, Angelskates!
    3539 and counting.

    Slightly Wounding Banana list cont: MacMadame.

  16. #116

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    Thanks, milanessa! I'm getting extra excited now, but SO much to do before I leave!!

    My friend in Rome has said she can take me on the night tour, so keeping in mind I have a Roma Card - what should I book for Rome?

    Do you think I should book all of the others??

  17. #117
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    Quote Originally Posted by Angelskates View Post
    Thanks, milanessa! I'm getting extra excited now, but SO much to do before I leave!!

    My friend in Rome has said she can take me on the night tour, so keeping in mind I have a Roma Card - what should I book for Rome?

    Do you think I should book all of the others??
    I've done the Vatican with and without a tour. It was a private tour, the guide and my family. It was very interesting and educational. More for my family than for me, since I have a very strong background in Renaissance art history. I found, however, that we missed a lot doing the tour. When I did it without a guide, I saw much more, and had the leisure of taking my time. But, that was my second time there. So, for a first time, a tour might be good. Tours will get you in faster, group or private. You can also go on line and book a day and time, then you don't have to wait on line. I don't know why anyone would stand on that long, long line when they can book tickets and print them out on line.

  18. #118

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    You will have amazing time!

    Tinami is a master genius, she helped me a lot last year when I was in Rome.
    I am a little sad that I will not be able to see you Angelskates, since I arrive in Rome on 28th and stay all July.
    So if any you here are there - let me know. I would love to meet skating fan in Rome

  19. #119

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    I leave on Wednesday for ITALY, folks!! I'm really going to Italy

    Here's the proposed schedule, with some of the tours not 100% confirmed yet.

    June 20 arrive in Rome, my friend is collecting me from the airport, and we're probably going to dinner after we drop my stuff off at the hotel!

    June 21 - free day to walk around and see my friend.

    June 22 (afternoon) - Colosseum and the Eternal Rome walking tour, visiting the Colosseum (inside visit ), Palatin Hill and Roman Forum

    June 23 (morning) - Tivoli and its Villas tour, visiting Villa Adriana, Villa D’Este

    June 24 - Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel and St. Peter's Basilica

    In the free mornings and afternoons, I'll be seeing my friend and walking around. My friend is taking me on a night tour (not a real tour, and friend-led tour!) one night, we'll Trevi Fountain, Capitol, Colosseum, Palatine Hill, Viale Trastevere, Janiculum Hill, Castle St. Angelo, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Trastevere. She'll also take me to Castelli Romani and near the Albano lake, to have dinner there and take me through the very nice narrow streets over there.

    June 25, train from Rome to Naples, train from Naples to Sorrento

    June 26 - fall day Amalfi Coast drive

    June 27 - visiting Pompeii

    June 28 - full day in Capri and Anacapri

    June 30 (morning) take train back to Naples and from Naples to Florence

    
July 1 - a tour of Medieval and Renaissance Florence (San Lorenzo, Duomo, Piazza Signoria, Ponete Vecchio, and Piazza Pitti, and then visiting the Boboli Gardens


    July 2 - a day in Siena San Gimignana and Chianto Area

    July 5 (morning) take the train from Florence to Venice

    July 5, 6, 7 - Venice



    July 8 (morning) take the train from Venice to Milan, where I will be visiting, and staying with, alhrayth, who will be taking me to Lake Como and Maggiore.

    July 11 - fly back to Beijing

    I'm almost all packed

    kosjenka - come and visit me in China!

    Tinami, thank you so much for all of your help!!

    I'll be blogging about my trip on my normal blog (no special travel blog for me, actually my blog is pretty boring to people who don't know me, it's more to keep those at home up-to-date and save me sending out mass emails).

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    ^^ Be careful in Rome. There are a lot of pick-pockets and beggars around the Trevi Fountain, other outdoor sites, and in the subways. The pick-pockets are VERY talented, so watch your purse/pockets.

    Alos, I am confused, you have July 1 and 2 scheduled for Firenze and Siena/San Gimignano, then you skip to July 5 to leave for Venice. Will you be in Firenze from the 1st to the 5th? Does that mean you will have 2 days to explore Firenze, beyond the tours?

    An FYI, it's aout 470 steps to the top of the Campanile of the Duomo, but well worth it!

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