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Trip List by djr76

Our Roman Holiday!

7 Sep 2006  The good the bad and the ugly...Hotels, Restaurants and hidden gems....
4.0 of 5 stars based on 6 votes

Our honeymoon travels from Rome to Venice

  • Category: Recent trip
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Active/Outdoors
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Honeymooners, Active/adventure, Tourists
  • Seasons: Summer
  • 1. The Wine Academy- Rome
    http://www.wineacademyroma.com/uk/uk-camere.htm

    This is the perfect place to rest your feet from the long walking days in Rome. The Academy is owned by the Hassler which is right next door. You feel like you are in a boutique hotel but you get all of the benefits of a larger hotel. Huge room, beautifully appointed, right on the Spanish Steps...don't worry they have great windows to shield you from the noise!!

    Just an aside, this was the only hotel out of 8 that we stayed at during our trip that did anything to acknowledge that we were on our honeymoon. The gave us a bottle of wine when we checked in our room.

  • 2. Martini on Top of the Spanish Steps- Rome

    The Wine Academy sets up a very swanky martini bar on top of their roof. Cool ambiance, great views. Can you imagine a better place to sip a martini?

  • 3. Baffetto's, best pizza in Rome, worst service in Rome!

    This place churns threw tourists and treats them very poorly. To ask for an extra napkin when eating greasy pizza should be normal right? Nope, it is a huge deal, one that will have your waiter sigh, storm away, throw the menus down and then toss the napkin at you. The pizza is good but because of the service...I would never return.

  • 4. Bone Lamp Anyone? Tomb of the Capuchin Monks- Rome

    The creepy, strange and intriguing sight is a must see when in Rome. The bones of 4,000 monks have been used to make chairs, lamps and art work. The tomb is housed under The Church of the Immaculate Conception.

  • 5. Rustic Tuscan Charm- Hotel Vecchia Oliviera, Montalcino
    http://www.vecchiaoliviera.com/

    Perfect location in the town of Montalcino. Set on top of a hill with sweeping views of the Tuscan hills this little hotel was the place to relax! They have a beautiful swimming pool, the rooms are comfortable, basic and somewhat on the rustic side.

    It is in very short walking distance to restaurants, wine bars and shops.

  • 6. Best Seat in the House- Trattoria l'Angolo -Montalcino

    We found this restaurant in the beautiful charming town of Montalcino. This city is alive with locals, hardly saw a tourist in it! We felt like we were truly in Italy when we made our way to this little town.

    l' Angolo was the first restaurant that the waitress actually took the time to talk to us. We were eager to experience Italian hospitality and it had eluded us this far. The meal and service were absolutely fantastic (the chicken with Bruello Sauce was amazing). The owner even came out and poured us some lemoncello that his father had made. He joked with us and made our experience absolutely wonderful.

    Our table was right on the corner of two streets, looking into the town, up to the castle and out to the hills.

  • 7. Songs from Heaven in Montalcino- Abbey of Sant'Antimo
    http://www.montalcino.net/sant_antimo.htm

    Tucked in a valley about 10 minutes outside Montalcino you will find the serenity of the Abbey of Sant' Antimo. A beautiful Romanesque Church that is as peaceful as it is impressive. Go at dusk when the church is bathed in the glow of sunset. The monks hold mass 7 times a day and do vespers twice a day. 7pm is the last vesper and a great time to visit. The vespers are hypnotic and amazing. A truly hidden gem.

  • 8. Sipping Vino in Montalcino- Caparzo Winery
    http://www.caparzo.com/en/index.php

    What an afternoon! Wine tasting for 3 hours with no one else in the tasting room having the full attention of the staff.

    We were very excited to go wine tasting in Tuscany. Living near the Napa Valley it is one of our favorite things to do. We were disappointed to discover that you have to make reservations to wine taste and a lot of the wineries are not the wineries we are used to, they are actually out of peoples homes. So we spent a better half of our morning driving into peoples driveways and then quickly out.

    We found Caparzo on accident. We saw a sign for another winery and headed up a very long winding road. When we reached the first winery we were told we need a reservation so we headed on to the next. We were pleased to find a winery that was a winery by US standards, parking lot, tasting room and signs!!

    Inside the tasting room we met Anja, a teacher from Bologna that has taken a sabbatical to study wine. She spent close to 3 hours with us pouring wine, explaining the process of growing Bruello, Rosso and the other wines they produce in the region. It was a truly wonderful, unexpected afternoon. I feel so lucky to have had bad luck in the morning because it lead us to this unbeatable experience.

  • 9. Tuscan Treasure- Ristorante Conte Matto in Trequanda
    http://www.contematto.it/

    It was in the little sleepy town of Trequanda that we stumbled upon the most amazing dining experience of our entire trip. An acquaintance had circled the town of Trequanda on our map and we didn't know why. Wanting to explore Tuscany and get out of the crowds of Siena, we decided to take a drive there. When we arrived in the town there wasn't much to it. Nobody was walking around, no shops we weren't sure what to do. We were hungry and decided to look for a restaurant and followed the signs to what appeared to be the only restaurant in town, Ristorante Conte Matto.

    What a find! The menu is inventive, exciting and an absolute experience. The restaurant is on a large patio that looks out on the hills of Tuscany. We spent three hours savoring every bite, sip and soaked in the view.

  • 10. The Haunted Hotel- Palazzo Ravizza, Siena
    http://www.palazzoravizza.it/

    Very fascinating hotel inside the gates of Siena. It is an old family home that was divided into hotel rooms. The rooms themselves are huge and vary greatly in size and decor. The room we stayed in had the only balcony of the hotel and we used it a lot to admire the incredible sunsets and scenery of Tuscany. Our room shared a wall with an old chapel that the family used to use (very creepy inside). The light fixtures and paintings were also rather creepy, although interesting. The room was really beautiful and the grounds of the hotel are beautiful. They have a nice garden in the back where you are served breakfast every morning.

  • 11. You will never leave your hotel- Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni n1- Florence
    http://www.tornabuoni1.com/

    On the top two floors of a medieval family tower sits the hotel Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni n1. The hallways and appointments in the room are not overly impressive but you will forget any slight dissatisfaction when you look out the window. Our room had a private terrace with a view of the Duomo, right there in your face and totally surreal!

    Once you have seen that you have completely bought into this hotel and then you are brought up to the roof deck and are thoroughly convinced. The view is the most amazing view I saw the entire time in Florence (and we trekked to the top of the Duomo). You can see the Ponte Vechio and the Duomo from the roof. We honestly would have never left had it not been for the amazing city we had to explore beneath us.

  • 12. Oh, that's what that is! - The Original & Best Walking Tours of Florence, Italy
    http://www.artviva.com/

    So we held out to our 4th city to do an organized tour and wanted it to be as painless as possible. Not wanting to look like herded cattle we found a walking tour that had great reviews (no megaphones or someone walking around with a stick in the air). It was a casual looking group and the way they conducted it, it did not appear that we were on a tour.

    Our guide was an Australian art/history student studying in Florence and she was fantastic!! It was a great way to get an overview of the city, learn a little history and know what you are actually looking at and walking by.

  • 13. A Little Scoop of Perfection in Florence- Vivoli Gelateria
    http://www.vivoli.it/vivoli-en.html

    I am a huge coinsurer of ice cream and gelato. I was fairly disappointed in the quality of the gelato in our early travels in Italy. What was called gelato actually closer resembled ice cream (which is still good of course but it isn't gelato), that is until we came to Florence. We pulled out a guide book, wrote down a list of the best gelaterias in town and headed out for a taste test. After a day of trying various degrees of gelato we came up Vivoli. It was by far the best gelato we tasted the entire trip (and we tasted a lot of gelato). It was everything gelato should be, creamy, thick and heavenly. I had the orange chocolate and vanilla and I didnât regret the choice!!!

  • 14. The Top of the Duomo!

    Narrow winding stairs, a little claustrophobic but a great payoff! When you get to the top of the Duomo the view is worth the climb. You can see all over the city and see a very unique perspective, Florence without a view of the Duomo.

  • 15. A dorm or a hotel?- Hotel Villa Steno, Montarossa
    http://www.villasteno.com/en/

    This was probably my least favorite hotel that we stayed at, although the staff was very nice and the common areas were clean and nice. The room itself felt like a dorm room or hostel. We were supposed to have an ocean view and I suppose it sort of was, but I would classify it as a partial ocean view. The hallways were very loud and you could hear everyone enter the hotel and walking down the halls.

    For Cinque Terre I think this might be one of the best hotels, the area is not known for luxury accommodations. I wasn't expecting much so I wasn't disappointed; I just was really that impressed.

  • 16. Strap on your hiking boots- Cinque Terre Hike

    Start early and pray for an overcast morning! The first two legs of this hike are by far the most strenuous!! We lucked out with slight drizzle in the morning but after the 2nd town it cleared up and was pretty rough. After that it was much easier.

    This hike was one of the highlights of our trip. It is challenging at parts, easy in others and the view is just incredible. Worth the effort!

  • 17. Ocean View and Live Music- Pizzeria la Smorfia, Cinque Terre

    Our stay in Cinque Terre was the mid point of our trip. Not to sound ridiculous we were growing tired of the 2 hour plus long meals. We were ready to eat and go.

    After completing our long hike we found this little pizzeria tucked into a side alley in old town Monterossa. We got a pizza to go, grabbed a bottle of wine (one that we purchased at Caparzo) and headed to the town square.

    A band was playing and we ate pizza overlooking the ocean and listened to local music. It was the most perfect evening.

  • 18. Hotel Bellegio- Good if your not looking to sleep- Lake Como
    http://www.bellagiohoteldulac.com

    I am really torn on this one. The hotel itself is really charming and beautiful. Our room was large and nice and the view...amazing. BUT I really thought I was going to relax in Como. We were going to lounge and sleep a lot and finally rest after our wedding and sightseeing but that wasn't the case.

    First, the pillow was so hard on the bed that I could never get comfortable. Secondly the hotel is in front of the ferry terminal so every morning at 8am you hear very loudly a man calling the stop over the loud speaker and this happens about every 15 minutes or so. Then at night the hotel has this woman sing in front of the hotel until after midnight and it wasn't Italian music or something charming that you would want to hear- it was songs from Celine Dion and similar music.

    So I was pretty disappointed overall, even though the hotel and the room were really beautiful.

  • 19. If Something is Good, Stick with it!- Ristorante Antico Pozzo, Bellagio, Italy
    http://www.bellagioanticopozzo.it/eng/ristorante.html

    When we reached Bellagio we had already eaten out 40 times. We had experienced a huge array of restaurants with varying degrees of service. Some great, some really, really bad. When I found Antico Pozzo in Bellagio, I looked no further. My adventurous side was gone. I found something I liked and I stuck with it during our stay.

    They have great risotto, fantastic chicken, actually everything I had was really good. It has great ambiance, no view but we got that at the hotel so it wasn't a huge deal for us.

  • 20. I didn't know people this nice existed!- Locanda Orseolo, Venice
    http://www.inns-venice-hotel.locandaorseolo.com/

    If you are looking for a hotel in Venice, honestly look no further! This hotel is absolutely the closest thing you will get to perfection. The staff is beyond amazing and so much more than nice. I've heard this said in the past but before staying here had never felt this, we were treated like family.

    From the moment we arrived we were greeted very warmly. We walked through the door and they called us by name as if they had been expecting us. They took our bags and climbed the 4 flights of stairs to our room. They gathered around us to give us advice on where to eat, what to see and where to go and when I say they I mean everyone on their staff.

    Every time we walked in or out of the hotel they said our names, which was such a nice touch. On the day we were leaving we had to leave the hotel very early. Matteo the owner not only ran up and got our bags but also cooked us breakfast an hour and a half before breakfast is normally served. I cannot wait to return.

    Oh yeah and the room was so comfortable decorated beautifully. It is tucked away on a street that is only a couple of blocks away from Saint Marks Square and it is right on a side canal. We could look out our window to see gondolas going by.