Alarming News

June 30, 2008

Italy update and advice seeking

We fly into Rome on July 11. The current plan is to rent a car at the airport and drive to stay with our friends in Lucca for 3 nights. Then, we’re going to Venice for 2 nights, staying at a hotel on Lido Island.

Here’s where I can use some help: we then have 2 nights before we have to get to Rome. Any suggestions for towns between either Venice and Lucca or Lucca and Rome? Maybe a vineyard with a B&B? A restaurant that is good enough to detour to visit?

We arrive in Rome on the 18th and fly home on the 20th.

Update: Someone asked via email so to clarify, we’ve already booked hotels in Venice and Rome (here and here) and no longer need info on that. (Yes, we love the Starwood brand, in particular Westin).

Posted by Karol at 02:26 PM |
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Do yourself a favor and take the train from Rome to Venice if you aren’t already. It’s *MUCH* easier to travel that way.

Posted by: Pokerwolf at June 30, 2008 at 3:28 pm

We’re not going straight from Rome to Venice. We’re going Rome-Lucca then Lucca-Venice. We’d like to have a car, get lost along curvy roads and have adventures. I understand a car in Venice is near impossible but we read that we can either park it on the outskirts or ferry it to our hotel. We’ll see.

Posted by: Karol at June 30, 2008 at 3:40 pm

Ravenna, just south of Venice. San Vitale and Lord Byron. What more do you need?

Posted by: Von Bek at June 30, 2008 at 5:12 pm

Driving in Italy involves confusing roads, lots of tolls that are paid in a kind of confusing manner, and of course dealing with Italian drivers. I have had to jump out of the way of a car while eating lunch on the sidewalk in Rome–the car was driving down the sidewalk because he couldn’t be bothered driving down the street with the other cars.
Speaking of which, remember that eating standing up outside a cafe is less expensive than eating sitting at an outside table, and that is less expensive than eating inside. And never ask for spaghetti with meatballs. That’s an Americano thing, not an Italiano thing. Pasta is served with sauces, and there’s hundreds of sauces you’ll encounter as you go along.
As for stops on the way to and from Lucca–you’re in the middle of Tuscany. Firenze, Siena, Pisa are all convenient. But practically any road will give you at least one memorable town and ten memorable vineyards. Ravenna is a great suggestion, especially since the mosaics are a foretaste of Venice, but Bologna is more than a deli item. Again, almost every city has its own bit of history.
When you get to Venice, park at the Piazzale Roma, and take Vaporetto route 1 to the Bacino. Vaporetto 1 runs up and down the Grand Canal, and once you’re at St. Mark’s it either continues on to the Lido or you can transfer to another vaporetto for the ride across the lagoon. It’s a great way to get an overview of Venice right away, and cheap. (If you end up going by train, there’s a stop for the vaporetto literally outside the station.)You will, however, be ready to kill yourself for choosing a hotel on the Lido and not in the centro storico. (Could be worse. You could have chosen a place in Mestre.) You’re essentially cutting off an hour each way that you could be spending in the main part of Venice. Be prepared for plenty of walking. Also be prepared to get lost easily. But there’s an interesting church or museum or palazzo in almost every neighborhood. So just plunge on in. You will need to see San Marco, but be prepared for crowds and crowds of people inside and outside. Palazzo Ducale is probably worth it, but if you’re pressed for time, skip it because there’s plenty else to see. Best thing in Venice is to pick out two or three things you want to see, and wander around for the rest of the time.
And enjoy!

Posted by: kishnevi at June 30, 2008 at 7:38 pm

I went to Venice for 3 nights and never even went to Lido.
Kishnevi is correct. Prepare to get lost! The maps of Venice do not list all the streets on the maps. There are many small streets that are not on the map and make navigation with a map very confusing. Also many streets dead end when it hits a canal and there is no bridge!
The Jewish ghetto is interesting and is a very old historical part of they city.

Posted by: PAUL at June 30, 2008 at 11:25 pm

A few things…
* I’d recommend turning in the car before you get to Venice, and taking the train there. Trying to get a car to Venice is a major hassle (one bridge in/out & limited parking). Besides, the train is cool.
* I love Ravenna, but I’m not sure it’s worth more than a day-trip. And with only two nights in Venice, I wouldn’t do it as a day-trip from there. If you want to do Ravenna (as someone suggested), do it en route from one city to another. The mosaics in San Vitale are breath-taking. (And don’t miss Dante’s tomb.)
* Bologna is an underrated Italian city, and is especially great for anyone who loves food. Nearby Modena is the birthplace of balsamic vinegar, and the Emilia-Romagna region (of which Bologna is the capital city) is known in Italy as the pinnacle of Italian cuisine. It’s certainly not a rural destination, but it’s foodie heaven, and a cool city (with few tourists) to boot.
* Between Rome & Lucca, you’ve got the major Tuscan tourist cities of Florence & Siena – it’s hard to choose between them, unless you’re really into art in which case you can’t go wrong with Florence’s world-famous museums. For something a little less city-fied, San Gimignano is a great base from which to explore Tuscany’s hill towns by car. If you can afford it, a car with a navigation system allows you to take any random turn you want in the region and then just turn it on when you want to get back to your hotel.
If you’ve got other questions, shoot me a note – I’m happy to go on & on about Italy, as you can see. :)

Posted by: Jessica, Italy Logue at July 1, 2008 at 1:27 pm

Say hello to Westin in Italy for me. I work on them here in NY

Posted by: Tatyana at July 2, 2008 at 6:30 pm

Lucca is about an hour and a half away from the Cinque Terre. I highly recommend it. Amazing seafront, beatiful craggly cliffs. Postcard-perfect. Good gelatos, there’s also a restaurant that has a great view of the sea and when I was there had a wooden ship floating in the harbor. Just gorgeous. The food was good (maybe not spectacular, but definitely good). The region is known for pesto, and tends to be a slightly different consistency than pesto you find in the States. It’s not between Lucco and Rome, but it’s worth it.

Posted by: dorkafork at July 6, 2008 at 6:28 pm
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