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Driving through Italy (rome to venice)

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
Going to be doing a trip with the fam (parents, brother, aunt and uncle) in May in Italy. Basically fly into rome, we will hire a van driver to take us from Rome to Venice and back, visiting a few spots along the way (Florence, Pisa, Tuscany, etc). We need to rent the driver, one in the party is handicapped and it will be easier to just get dropped off and picked up wherever we tour in a city, etc.

I think about a week-10days.

Its probably going to be at a more rushed paced as I want but any general suggestions?

Making a list of places to go, anything worthwhile? So far I've only really looked in Florence. Probably going to look at some fragrance (Santa Maria Novella Pharmacy) and maybe a leather wallet somewhere in the market. Might do an outlet mall if its worth it, but I'm not the one directing the show....so it might be hard.

Foodwise, looking at getting some Bistecca al Florentina (sp) in Florence (I googled a few places for this) and the seafood risotto in Venice (saw on the No Reservations episode).

Any interesting things on the road or general travel advice? Interesting trinkets I should pickup?
post #2 of 21
In regards to Florence: Obviously check out all the main tourist sights (Duomo, Uffizi, Palazzo Vecchio) and Piazzale Michelangelo (will need the van for this one if one in your party is handicapped). Bistecca alla Fiorentina is a must (pm me if you want some suggestions for places). Farmacia di Santa Maria Novella is cool, but maybe slightly overpriced for your needs. If you want a wallet, check out the leather school in Santa Maria Croce (just google it), and there's a bunch of other shops around there that have it. In regards to an outlet mall, if you already have a driver it would definently be worth it to check out The Mall (yes that's the name, again just google it), has outlet stores for Gucci, etc. and is very cool. The markets are very cool, but if you look touristy you will get targeted aggressively by the stall owners and this can be a little overwhelming sometimes. If you want more info on Florence feel free to pm me.

A general rule for restaurants: if there is an employee standing outside calling out to you in English and trying to get you to come eat there, proceed with caution. These places are usually more touristy, often overpriced and slightly lacking in food quality (this is especially bad in Venice). Italy is beautiful, but you may find (often due to the overabundancy of tourists) that it may be slightly different than you expect it to be. That being said, just keep an open mind and you'll have a great time.

One last thing: don't carry your wallet in your back pocket and keep an eye on your possessions when in touristy areas. Oh and don't buy anything from people coming up to you on the streets (fake watches, etc.) as it's illegal and you will get a VERY hefty fine if caught.

Enjoy Italy! Hope your trip goes well.
post #3 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks! Not sure of my schedule yet, but I'm a big fan of old perfumerias, etc...visited the Alvarez Gomez store in Madrid last year, had a nice time buying things from the source. Was also looking at Lorenzo Villoresi, they do sell them and Santa Maria Novela here at a store in LA, but I like to buy from the actual source, makes it more interesting and they may carry some things I haven't seen/smelled.

I'm curious as to the autostratta and the little rest stops, etc where I can pick up paninis and espresso, ice cream at the autogrill.

I've been to Italy twice before (Rome, Milan and Torino), so pretty familiar with most of the cautionary tales/scams/flim flams/etc.
post #4 of 21
Leather market in Florence. And please do yourself a favor and eat at Il Gatto in Florence - their balsamic and mozzarella is to die for.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
on the list. hopefully i can get away, family isn't the best at choosing foods or they'll do something like go get chinese food in italy. foo.gif

Saw this the other day:
Quote:
Trattoria Sostanza, Florence, Italy
This Florentine institution has been around since the mid-1800s and is perhaps most famous for its bistecca alla Fiorentina, a porterhouse-style steak taken from the exquisite beef of the Chianina cattle. The steaks must be at least an inch thick and are prepared in the time-honored way of a few minutes of grilling on each side and then sometimes for a few more minutes standing upright on the bone. Traditionally, a bistecca is always served rare, and at Sostanza it comes to the table with little more than a salad and some roasted potatoes.

Trattoria Sostanza
Via del Porcellana 25/r
Florence

Read more: http://www.askmen.com/fine_living/wine_dine_archive_500/522_best-steaks.html?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews#ixzz1olowCgvX
post #6 of 21
Piazzale Michelangelo for the best view of the city (Florence)
post #7 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xericx View Post

on the list. hopefully i can get away, family isn't the best at choosing foods or they'll do something like go get chinese food in italy. foo.gif
Saw this the other day:
Quote:
Trattoria Sostanza, Florence, Italy
This Florentine institution has been around since the mid-1800s and is perhaps most famous for its bistecca alla Fiorentina, a porterhouse-style steak taken from the exquisite beef of the Chianina cattle. The steaks must be at least an inch thick and are prepared in the time-honored way of a few minutes of grilling on each side and then sometimes for a few more minutes standing upright on the bone. Traditionally, a bistecca is always served rare, and at Sostanza it comes to the table with little more than a salad and some roasted potatoes.
Trattoria Sostanza
Via del Porcellana 25/r
Florence
Read more: http://www.askmen.com/fine_living/wine_dine_archive_500/522_best-steaks.html?utm_medium=referral&utm_source=pulsenews#ixzz1olowCgvX

That's actually on my street hah. There's a pretty big crowd in there every night, so you may have trouble getting a table. As to Il Gatto e la Volpe (The Cat and the Fox), it's a great place to eat. If you go with a big enough group (I think 5, maybe 6) you can eat "family style" which is a good experience and cheaper also. As for the rest stops, they are nice enough but expensive, more so than back in the states. Coffee is good, but you may want to stay away from the paninis, etc. from the smaller rest stops. Look for exit signs with a fork and a knife for the larger ones with real food.
post #8 of 21
I haven't been to Florence in years. is Cibreo still good? As for the autostrada panini grills -- i always found them to be cheaper than american rest stops, and for the most part really good. or maybe it was just the value was better -- prosciutto on a roll v. fast food hamburger.
post #9 of 21
I was at Cibreo maybe four years ago. It was very good. A little gimmicky.
post #10 of 21
La Giostra (http://www.ristorantelagiostra.com) in Florence was one of my favorite meals ever. Bistecca would feed 6 easily.
post #11 of 21
Thread Starter 
Got the schedule where we're going:

Arrive Rome, no time to do anything really
1 day: San Giovanni
2 days: Padua-Venice-Loreto-Lanciano (Loreto and Lanciano are quick stops I guess on the road). Staying in Venice.
2 days: Florence/Pisa
1 day: Assisi
1 day: Rome (leaving from here).

any other recommendations. mainly looking for food recos or buying small goods (I'm only hand carrying luggage).
post #12 of 21

I'm going to agree with the poster who said to not keep a wallet in your back pocket. I remember someone trying to pickpocket me in Florence, but thankfully my wallet was in my front pocket.

 

I went to Rome and Florence a couple years ago as a poor student, so I don't think I have the fanciest recommendations for restaurants, but I figure I'll share my experience.

 

If you go near the Vatican in Rome, I like the gelateria nearby: Old Bridge (I believe they have an Italian name, but everyone calls it 'Old Bridge'). The guys there are super friendly, and despite its proximity to a huge tourist spot, it was the best gelato I found in Rome.

 

An overwhelming majority of restaurants in the center of Rome are expensive and touristy. I'm sure there are good spots, but they are probably well hidden. Unfortunately, the center of Rome is quite big, so if you get hungry there, you'll more than likely be stuck eating somewhere terrible (especially if your family is anything like mine).

 

In Florence, I liked Il Pizzaiuolo. I remember getting there as it opened for dinner and still having to wait to get a table. I think I was probably the only person not from Florence there. While they are quite famous for pizza, the pasta looked really good. And the portions were quite generous for Italian standards.

 

Old Bridge Gelateria

Via Bastioni di Michelangelo 5, Roma  

 

Il Pizzaiuolo

Via De' Macci 113 r, Firenze  

post #13 of 21
I would stop in Montalcino en route if you can. Some of the best food I ate was there and Siena. The picci bolognese at Trattoria Pozzo in Montalcino was the single best dish I had in Italy.

For bistecca fiorentina, I would check out Buca dell'Orafo in Florence. We went there on a whim and it was the finest example I've had.
post #14 of 21
Thread Starter 
worth buying a pre-paid sim card (data only really). Will be on the road, out and about and it might be good to have something on me. I have an unlocked iphone 3GS. I'd like something with a better camera, but I guess I can instagram with it.

how much do they run?

how's the coverage on the road between major cities? any particular carrier better than the rest?
post #15 of 21
Quote:
Originally Posted by Xericx View Post

worth buying a pre-paid sim card (data only really). Will be on the road, out and about and it might be good to have something on me. I have an unlocked iphone 3GS. I'd like something with a better camera, but I guess I can instagram with it.
how much do they run?
how's the coverage on the road between major cities? any particular carrier better than the rest?

Ehh if you plan on using your phone probably yea, phone use over here is expensive already, if you used an iphone it would be a nightmare. Look up vodafone and TIM, your two best choices probably. But if you're going to be here for two weeks or less, it may not be worth it, really depends on how often you plan on using your phone
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