Friday, March 25, 2011

Travel Details Part 1

Home again after our fabulous trip to Rome to enjoy a honeymoon, babymoon, and friend’s wedding. Here are the details, in two parts:

In Rome, first night – A Casa De Penelope. A no frills hotel which was perfect for us as a place to shower and sleep. One of the negatives is that WiFi was only available in the hallway, or by the door. Otherwise, met our basic need.  The train station was a short walk away which was manageable with our luggage. We invested in a EuroPass before we left so we were able to purchase our ticket to Florence for 10€ each.

In Florence This apartment was awesome, as was its location. The owners were easy to work with via email, and they were genuinely friendly with their welcome (plus, they left us some dry goods and wine to start our visit with). On a map, this looks far from the city center, but it was a nice walk. Plus, this part of town was quiet and there was a café on every corner that we were able to have our caffeine and croissant needs met. Additionally, there is an American Style café a few feet away to meet your bagel and coffee withdrawls.

Took the train to Venice from Florence. There’s a lot to see, and we should have taken the earlier train. Ah, well. A reason to return.

From Florence, we took a tour of the Tuscany area through WalkAbout. We went to Siena, San Gimignano AND Pisa with a wonderful farm fresh lunch at an organic Chianti winery & farm on this full-day guided coach trip from Florence. It was well worth the 80€ and a great way to spend the day.

Places we ate while in Florence:
Trattoria La CasalingaAte here one night where my menu translator came in handy. Busy night, but our server was very patient. Homestyle food that’s good, not great.
All'Antico Ristoro Di Cambi - We ended up here when everyone else turned us away on a Saturday night. They did tell us the table was reserved later, so we ate quickly. Had we known they were famous for the Steak Florentine, we would have ordered that. We went to a microbrewery nearby, but I don’t know where I left the info. L
Osteria dell’Agnolo – Had the best truffle risotto here after a morning of sightseeing and shopping at the central market. Eyeballed the pizzas the whole time.
Il Guscio – Florence foodie find, based on reviews. A little pricey, but delicious. If you’re feeling adventurous and hungry, worth the visit.

Friday, March 18, 2011


Today was a beautiful day in Rome. We began our day with a walk through our neighborhood - the Jewish ghetto. Checked out the ruins nearby and had cappuccino at the kosher cafe behind our apartment. I'm convinced that people are more patient and friendly because I'm pregnant - and drool on every pastry case I find. The clerk was friendly and we sat at a table in the piazza letting the sun warm us up. We even had the polizia come and ask for our passports - he was not friendly and didn't like that as only had copies on us. I just smiled and explained in broken Italian that the real ones were in our apartment next door and he walked off.

Turns out the area is heavily guarded by the military police after an attack by the PLO 25 years ago and we must have looked suspicious. Really?

We then got dolled up and met the gang at their place and headed off to nearby tivoli in a Benz. Our poor driver, Mauro, dealt with Roz, Steve, and I playing 20 Italian questions while everyone else was in a different van.

From what we could see, tivoli was gorgeous. We got lost and saw a lot at 45mph in narrow alleys! I was pretty woozy after that.

The ceremony was at city hall and performed by the Mayor. We had a rotten translator but we got the gist of it. Roz looked gorgeous.

Then back to Rome for dinner at a restaurant at the campo di fiori. The restaurant opened into the plaza so we were able to watch the transformation from open air market to bar nightlife. And watch the sudden rain deluge that lasted all of ten minutes. Paul and I ate mixed bruscetta, two different pasta dishes, artichoke roman style, and pork saltimbocca. And house red. It was great. Followed by ... gelato!

Great walk back to the apartment as the sun set and temperature dropped. And now for a quiet night to prepare for more exploring tomorrow.

Buena notte!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

In Rome

It's a rainy, cold day in Rome. Had to wait a bit to get in to the apartment, but we were able to get in the foyer after I broke the door ring. :-). Had I known the bakery around the corner closed in a few minutes I would have run in.

We settled in and had lunch at Nonna Betta. The artichoke was a-mazing. I mean AMAZING! Fried in olive oil. Yum!

Found groceries and settled in until dinner as tonight is "bachelor/bacelorette" night. At a steakhouse. :-/. Better be super amazing to go out in this mess.

Walking around plans need to be changed so we don't get soaked or sick. Good thing we are a stone's throw from the jewish district and all their food offerings. :-)

Time for a quick nap.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Last day in Florence

First non-rainy morning and first full free day. Hit the cafe across the street - ie 6 ft - for "American" coffee for Paul and to start the day. Cool weather, cloudy.

Crossed the Old Bridge which is the last original Arno River bridge in Florence. Back in the day it was all food and meat markets but it stank so much the ruling class threw them out and installed jewelers. These remain today and it was nonstop gems and gold and the like. Not for the small wallet!

Must wave walked 8 miles today exploring Florence. Forgot to reserve tickets to Ufizi and the line was over an hour long - fail. Wandered the market areas, lots of leather goods and such. Bought some gifts, though many would be upset that I didn't buy any handbags. Bought spices and such in the central market - poor Paul having to deal with me wanting to see and smell everything. Sadly, I had to refuse most samples of cheeses and meats but I took lots of awesome pictures.

Saw the Duomo and was awestruck by the beauty of it - google it. Didn't climb to the top as I didn't want to tire so quickly.

Instead wandered around some more, had an awesome lunch - black truffle rissoto - and headed to the Piazza Republica to partake in treats at a historic cafe. That was unexpectedly closed - fail #2. Found another cafe for cappuccino and tiramisu. Soldiered on to find the Galileo museum. Which closed at 1- fail #3.

Walked some more up to michalangelo piazza for the most spectacular view of the city. It was a long, uphill walk. I have burned off everything I have eaten! So, going here for dinner:

My handy restaurant menu translator and the internet has saves us from embarrassment.

Off to Rome tomorrow for a day of rest and planning.