Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Italy recommendations.




I am going to Italy this summer for a few weeks (as I have mentioned before), but I really need to get my shit together and make a plan. So I come to you, my friends, for specific recommendations. I plan to go to Rome, Siena, maybe Venice (maybe not.. I am told the place is just a dressed-up sewer), and definitely a lot of lazy time spend on the Amalfi coast or Capri or Ischia. I wouldn't mind trekking down to Tunisia, either, if anyone would recommend that.

I am hoping to get specific hotel recommendations, or any other specific info that might help. Since I will be there about 3 weeks, I am looking for a mix of budget or moderate hotels and one or two ridiculously blow-out fabulous places with a sea view. I have been poring over the reviews on TripAdvisor, but there are just so many hotels reviewed there. Hard to tell which Italian hotel is actually going to be a flea bag with fake antiques and lumpy beds.

You can leave suggestions here or email me. If you have flickr or blog photos to share, even better.

Thanks,
The Management


PS - I am also going to Carmel, CA next month with my mom. Let me know where to eat.

110 comments:

ashley@decorology said...

Venice to me was very touristy - just a lot of vendors selling the same little masquerade ball masks. However - some of my friends loved it.

Anonymous said...

Haven't been to Venice for years. I went in the summertime; it's very busy then. I'd suggest going in the off season.
Siena, Orvieto, etc are the places to see.
I really enjoyed Tunisia - it's easy to get around, inexpensive, has great fresh food, etc. A beautiful place.

Porter Design Company said...

I'm too jealous to comment. Sorry ;)

little miss said...

I only know budget-ass hotel recommendations, but I play a lot on www.luxurylink.com for random fantasy travels -- I'm sure you could get some killer deals through that (although make sure that your travel dates work).

Enjoy!

Paloma {La Dolce Vita} said...

In Rome, I would recommend the Fortyseven Hotel. The location is unbeatable, the staff is fantastic, and it is a fabulous value. It's very luxurious for the price. I recently did a post about where to stay in Rome:
http://paloma81.blogspot.com/2009/01/jet-set-la-dolce-vita-in-rome.html

I am jealous that your are spending time in Capri! I am dying to go there! For a gorgeous splurge hotel, you should try thr JK Capri.

mhr310 said...

Hassler in Rome, Londra Palace in Venice and Savoy in Florence (be sure to go to Florence for the art alone!) All wonderful hotels located in the heart of each city.

Kate said...

Tunisia: yes, recommended!
I was in Italy with an archeological group and we went to Pompei- really fascinating and not just rocks with tourist crap everywhere. Actual ruins. ( if you plan to do anything besides relax and take in the local vibe- not that that is a bad thing mind you)
If you go, please pick me up a copy of "forbidden Pompei" it's a book with pics of all the outrageous sculptures and frescos which feature penises. (I think someone swiped it from my house!)

Anonymous said...

In Rome - The Inn at the Spanish Steps. It's one of the small luxury hotels. The rooftop terrace is to die for and location is great. Worth the money. www.atspanishsteps.com

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

The Hotel Locarno is a charming, stylish and reasonably-priced boutique hotel tucked away around a corner from the Piazza Popolo (central Rome). We've stayed there many times. There's a rack of free bicycles outside for guests, a beautiful cafe and lovely rooms, especially in the new renovated wing. It's one of those places frequented by lots of in-the-know editors, stylists, etc. Plus, the chicest notepads ever!

http://www.hotellocarno.com/

JoAnn said...

Skip Venice - too crowded and dirty. Don't miss Florence. The Amalfi Coast is magical but do not try driving on it...get a driver. We had a fantastic guy who really knew his way around and was a great guide.

We stayed in a charming hotel in Florence, a restored villa that is an easy walk to everywhere. Each room is different. Here is the link:

http://www.lorenzoilmagnifico.net/

Elizgonz said...

I spent a few nights of my honeymoon at Casa Albertina in Positano. Lovely place.

Casa Bonus Pastor is a very conveniently located, clean, and budget-freindly hotel in Rome. It's a former seminary and is still affiliated with the church in some way. Truly, the only drawback is that it has twin beds. We always stay there when we're in Rome, then splurge a little in the other cities.

Paul Anater said...

Be still my heart. While you're in Rome, stay in the Hotel Modigliani. It's only a two star but it's fantastic. Off the beaten path yet still close to everything. I feel like I'm a Roman there, definitely not a tourist. http://www.hotelmodigliani.com/

If you're along the Amalfi coast, Sorrento is a great stepping-off point, even if it's a little touristy. I rented a villa on the cliffs over the Marina last Spring and we had the best view in town. Staring at Mt. Vesuvius while you're making coffee every morning will change your life. Here's the villa: http://www.villaterrazza.com/information.asp?ID=1

I have photos of the villa and the rest of the Amalfi Coast all over my blog and Facebook profile. Save a couple of days for Positano, words fail me utterly when I start talking about Positano.

Ask me anything, I could talk about Italy forever and never grow tired of it. Rome is unlike anywhere else on earth and nothing can prepare you for it. Ditto Campagnia and the Amalfi Coast.

christine said...

Don't skip Venice! Just don't expect gorgeous, crystal clear water. I has a charm you can't find anywhere else! The best hotel of our trip was La Mala in Vernazza in the Cinque Terre. Beautiful, beautiful boutique hotel right on the ocean...

http://www.lamala.it/en/index.html

You can also check out my trip blog I made for the fam to read while we were away to check out our other stops. We went for a mix of budget, with La Mala being our splurge... totally worth it:

http://shankitalia.blogspot.com/

You're going to LOVE Italy :) Enjoy your trip!
ciao!

Anonymous said...

A few Carmel recommendations:

Little Napoli for dinner. Rustic, loud, and unpretentious. Very good food and wine list. Yes, there will be tourists, there... but it doesn't feel too touristy.

Katy's Place for breakfast. A "locals' spot" on Mission St.

And shop at the Carmel Bay Company. I always find something there. Located on Ocean (the main drag).

Jenna said...

If you have the chance to take a trip to Tunisia, do it. The people are warm, and it's really interesting to see what a North African Arab country is like. If you can speak french- even better. I went with a guide book, and no plans on where to stay or what to do, so it can be really spontaneous.

In Italy, I'd check out this site and see if it fits any of your criteria for places to stay: http://www.leterrae.com/

Anonymous said...

Rather then Tunisia...go to south-eastern Sicily- Taormina then to the baroque towns of Modica & Pozzallo from Pozzallo take a 90 min boat ride to Malta. Malta is amazing!!!!! but so is Sicily.

alice said...

I am so jealous! Italy is amazing.
I loved Venice, but it's definitely not a fun place to be in tourist season. You'll feel like you're in Disneyworld. Save that for a non-summer trip.
Capri, Sorrento, Positano, and Ravello are beautiful!

Shelly said...

I love Venice, but I'd save it for a trip when you can visit in the off-season.

MyLittleHappyPlace said...

Stayed in Siena in '05 - will pull up the info on our hotel and send to you.
From Tuscany, we drove to the Cinque Terre which was amazing, too.
Haven't been to Tunisia, but did a study abroad program in Malta, and it was truly unique and safe (also a shorter jaunt from Rome or Amalfi coast)
Just a thought...

Mint Julep said...

I recommend Sicily and the Aeolian Islands.

Designerbee said...

Ok first of all - I hate you. I am so jealous.

I went to Italy two years ago (Rome, Florence, Sorrento, Capri & Pompeii). I totally recommend every single one of those places and probably Sienna and more along the Amalfi like Positano.

Hotels - I can't complain about any of them. They were well priced (so not luxurious) but clean, good locations and friendly.

Rome: Hotel Laurentia
Largo Degli Osci, 63
00185 Roma (RM), Italy

Sorrento - this hotel was way up at the top of the hill so it's not within walking distance to the town. However, you can get a bus or taxi very easily. The view was totally worth it.

Hotel Villa Fiorita
Via Nastro Verde 96 - 80067 Sorrento

Florence - this hotel was super cute and fantastic location.
Hotel Cimabue
Via B. Lupi 7 - 50129 Florence

I'd recommend doing the hiking trail on Capri that goes around the perimeter of the island. It's breathtaking and gets you away from all the tourists.

Pompeii - It was really fascinating to see these structures and artwork completely preserved and walk around in this ancient city. Be prepared though - there are few trees so it gets hot.

Outside of Rome - if you have a chance you MUST see Villa d'Este outside of Rome. I went on this tour and it was amazing.
Green Line Tours
Tour Name: Tivoli Half Day Tour
Hadrian's Villa and Villa D'Este

Have fun!!!

Carrie said...

SO jealous!!! I'm aching to take a 3+ week vacation somewhere new and explore away.

I haven't been to Italy so don't have any suggestions however I have been to, and ADORE, Carmel. If I could afford it, I'd live there in a heartbeat. I was there last June for a wedding so don't have many recommendations food-wise... but I would recommend hitting the beach at sunset if you've not before...SO relaxing and peaceful.

Averill said...

Since you're going to Siena (great idea, btw), don't miss a day trip to Pompeii. It's all it's cracked up to be, I promise.

the dutch purple rabbit said...

i lovved capri very much and its a good combo with rome and pompei. pompei is a old city that was cofferd by a vulcano.
rome is big and lovely.
i didn't like venice that much because of all the toerist i prefer seinna then more.
go search for bed and breakfast too sleep they are not longer only in engeland but every where in europe.

nynke

the sweet life with olives said...

wow, the one and only decorno coming to my shores? but seriously, i'm an avid reader and fan and just happen to live between Rome and Tuscany. I have too many suggestions to post in a comment so if you are interested drop me a line at voter33@hotmail.com If you sift through pics of my children and the like on my blog you'll also find some of my Italian favs, hotels, restaurants etc... when exactly are you coming? So fun, it's a wonderful country. Beauty, food, weather, people, the real deal.

Fabulously french said...

I loved Venice but I did go in Novmeber when there were hardly an tourists. I also loved Sicily and Rome is such a great city as you can see all just by walking around the city.

When I was in Rome I stayed at the Casa Howard which I really enjoyed.

As far as Venice is concerned I have heard really good things about Ca Maria Adele and plan to try it the next time that we are there.

opera glass said...

If you go to the Amalfi Coast it makes sense to stay in Positano and make day trips to Capri, Ischia, and Procida. Also, the amazing towns of Ravello and Amalfi are very, very close by and so worth the trip! Pompeii is also a must-see and very close to Naples and Sorrento. I would spend the night in either of these places in order to do Pompeii as it's easier than trekking there from Amalfi once your down the coast.

Also, I second the recommendation for the Aeolian Islands, but getting there can be a bit of a trek. However, if you have enough time it is worth it! Sardinia is wonderful as well.

Another thing: I would recommend learning as much Italian as you can before you go, it will make your trip that much more enjoyable if you do. Buona vacanza!

Maggi said...

Amalfi Coast - we stayed at the Hotel Marincanto (www.marincanto.it) in Positano, and it was fabulous. I'm at work and my delightful employer has blocked Flickr so I can't link directly to the photos, but if you go to my photostream (http://www.flickr.com/photos/lolagetz) and look at the Italy sets, you'll see the pics. We also stayed at the Hotel Tramonto D'Oro in Praiano, just down the road. Less expensive but the views are every bit as gorgeous, the hotel breakfast was wonderful, and the town was incredibly quaint. (www.tramontodoro.it).

I second the recommendation on Florence over Venice - we stayed at the Plaza Lucchesi (www.plazalucchesi.it) and got an amazing last-minute deal on a deluxe suite.

God, I love Italy. You're going to have a fabulous time!

opera glass said...

Actually, I just remembered that the boats to Capri, etc, leave from Sorrento or Naples rather than Positano, so I suppose days trips to the islands are easier from either of those places.

harlo said...

You HAVE to go to Florence. Its a-mazing.

And while Venice can be expensive, I would still say it is worth it. There is a really good Youth Hostel there (and My Mum stayed with me and enjoyed it too) in an old Music school or Nunnery or something - can't quite remember. Cheap, Clean, Quiet, and good location. I'm jealous!

Actually, the Youth Hostel in Florence is also pretty amazing - a big old Grand Mansion or something, a little out of the way but easy bus service at the end of a loooong driveway. Provides breakfast and the rooms are cheap and clean.

Perhaps your tastes are a little more upmarket...when I was there I was just out of University with a massive loan!

Laura T said...

We were in Italy last month. We stayed at Palazzo Ravizza the night we were in Siena, and I would definitely recommend it. I will try to e-mail photos. Our favorite place we stayed was Castello delle Serre in Rapalano de la Serre. It is a great location for taking day trips to the hill towns in Tuscany. The owner Salvatore goes out of his way and has lots a great suggestions for things to see. Have a great trip.

Anonymous said...

I second the recommendation on Katy's Place in Carmel. Rocky Point Restaurant as well. It's on Hwy 1 and about 10 minutes south of Carmel. Loved the food. Doing anything in Carmel is great.

Go to Capri, Malta and Sicily. The people are lovely and the food is amazing. You will love it!

franki durbin said...

One of my very favorite topics. 3 weeks is about right. It will give you time to feel like you belong there.

Rome: I agree with Paloma and Anonymous 8:28 AM on places to stay in Rome. Give yourself several days to hand out in this city. It is unbeatable in my opinion. It's a start contrast to the sleepy towns along the coast. Major Italian hustle & bustle. Lots of daredevil Vespa drivers darting in and out. Lots of incredible cafes. Lots of real people living their lives rushing about. Do yourself a favor and walk everywhere you can stand. You'll get a real feel for the city.

Amalfi Coast: I can't believe no one has mentioned Le Sirenuse! Stay at this iconic hotel and venture out up and down the coast (and, do not attempt to drive yourself anywhere - it's suicide). Sorrento is "cute" but too small. Do yourself a favor and see the coast from the water. Charter a small speed boat excursion and see what the fuss is all about fro the water. It will take your breath away. Capri is fun. Touristy. Silly. Indulgent. But fun. We went a few times, but there isn't must to do but see and be seen (not that there's anything wrong with that).

I hit Venice in the fall and thought it was one of the most amazing places I've ever been. I suppose in high tourist time it would be different. If you do go (and if you're never going back to Italy, please do go there) I recommend the Hotel Carlton where we stayed. http://www.carltongrandcanal.com/en/

And get a good tour guide for Pompeii... they'll point out all of the naughty sights you'd otherwise miss, as the site is quite large.



Have a GREAT time and enjoy every moment of the journey.

franki durbin said...

this is a must: http://www.sirenuse.it/

Holly Goes Lightly said...

Capri for sandals -- save good $ for those. And don't forget to watch "The Talented Mr. Ripley" before you go...

I miss Carmel -- when I lived in Seattle I went every chance I could. Breakfast with the dogs @ Cypress Inn is lovely. There's a tiny bar on Ocean, just down from Saks & a step off the sidewalk. 8 or 9 types of oysters daily + terrific beers. Can't recall the name but spent quite a few happy hours there...

TheYoupiTouch said...

Hello from France, not far away from Italy ;-)
Summer is not the best season for Venice, but it is ont of the most amazing places in the world ! it would be a shame to miss it !
In Italy, you can sleep in monasteries, for low rates and correct comfort. I'm sure you should find some addresses in the Lonely Planet guide about this.

In Rome, we choosed to stay in high comfort hotel, since all hotels are very expensive, it is worth paying a little more and get much more !
I recommend the Aventino hotels http://www.aventinohotels.com/: a group of gorgeous villas in a very calm place not far away from the interesting spots. We stayed at the Villa San Pio, and it was really great ! http://www.aventinohotels.com/vsp/inglese/hotel.htm

We staied 2 weeks in Tuscany last summer, you can find some pictures there
http://unetouchede.canalblog.com/archives/2008/08/16/10253739.html#comments

Sienna is beautiful, there is no word !
If you can go to Pisa, spend 2 hours to discover the famous tower !

eeb said...

when you are in Rome, literally keep your wallet in your underpants. Every time I've been there someone I know has been robbed, and I promise you we're not idiot travlers. I mean I live in NYC... every day here is an adventure.

I was too lazy to read all the comments, but did someone suggest going to Florence instead of Venice? If not, I do!

Sol said...

If you want to spend a weekend in the Italian Alps, on the border with Austria, you can crash at my place, provided you make me laugh like you do on your blog. Otherwise, I'm sorry but you'll be too far south and I don't have any recommendations.

My Favorite and My Best said...

i DO know that is is quieter and less expensive to stay in anacapri as opposed to capri. easy to get to one from the other too.
sounds awesome!
have fun.
xoj

Anonymous said...

I was just in Italy this past fall and did it on a budget. I would not recomend the hotel i stayed at in Venice (altho I would not skip Venice either- very touristy but I think everyone needs to see it once) but I would definately recommend where we stayed in Rome. Its called Hotel Accademia and is about a block from the Trevi fountain- nothing fancy but clean, nice staff, etc. We actually paid more for the hotel in venice and were very dissapointed.

Brilliant Asylum said...

The Hotel de Russie in Rome and Le Sirenuse in Positano are the best places I have stayed in Italy. Neither are cheap, but both are small and chic with great spas.

My other Italian experience is closer to the youth hostel end of the spectrum.

mamacita said...

Do not miss Venice. People like to sound sophisticated by saying that it's just a tourist trap. It's so much more than that. Stay at one of the swanky hotels on the Grand Canal and have the experience of a lifetime. Oh, and read this book.

But I have to say, my favorite place in Italy was actually Como, on the Swiss border. Not a lot to do, but just absolutely gorgeous.

Lucinda said...

If you do go to Capri, stay at Hotel La Scalinatella. It is fantastic. http://www.scalinatella.com/en/welcome

Oh and watch out for gypsys! I am turning into my mother with that comment.

Anonymous said...

I also highly recommend the Sirenuse or the Hotel San Pietro if staying in Positano. Service beyond belief! The employees know who you are minutes after check-in and refer to you by name constantly. I'm talking everyone. My husband and I have been walking around Positano and have had employees offer us a lift back in their own vehicles. As you're sipping a Campari and soda on the black top penninsula, with the waves crashing below, and your looking out at Capri, you will feel like a real bon vivant from an Agatha Christie novel. Very beautiful!

Paul Anater said...

Ditto Frank Durbin! If you go to the various archeological sites around the Bay of Naples, get a good guide. These sites are enormous and it's tough to do a self-guided excursion. My friends and I hired an American expatriot retiree who lives in Positano and he was worth every Euro. Pompeii is wild because it's gigantic, Herculaneum is equally wild because it's so compact. Our guide got us into a live dig going on in Stabia and I'll never be the same after having seen a real Roman home as it would have been in 79 AD. Life changing!

And yes, study some survival Italian before you go, if for no reason other than to be polite.

Le Sireneuse in Positano is fantastic as someone noted. The history of that whole region reads like a who's who of western civ and I can't think of anywhere else in the world where you can gaze upon the rocks the Sirens hung out on in the Odyssey while you're standing on a balcony where Ibsen wrote A Doll's House. You can do that in Amalfi and I get the willies just remembering it.

Sparrow King said...

go to Venice! But get lost and don't worry about it...avoid the crowds which is easily done...yeah do the Piazza San Marco but then leave and get lost in the back streets...ie: cross to the other side of the Grand Canal, walk down Via Garibaldi, walk until you have no sense of north or south. Don't let negative comments discourage you. Venice is charming. We stayed at http://www.hotelgabrielli.it and loved it. We also splurged one night at
http://www.venice-hotel-danieli.com/

wish I could remember the fabulous place we ate at on Via Garibaldi ...it was next to a large square/church.

Another idea...consider Lake Como. it is heaven on earth in tems of beauty. In Mennagio, I stayed here: http://www.hotelgarnicorona.com/
not the fanciest but friendly, clean and perfect location, my room opened up to lake view.

Also, I highly recommend this wonderful winery just outside of Greve if you are in the Chianti region: http://www.casaloste.it/main.htm
it is an organic winery and they make olive oil too. A year after we went, we saw it on Anthony Bourdain's show when he went to Tuscany!

Anonymous said...

It seems like you have received several recommendations of where to go, but I would like to suggest when to go. If you want to avoid huge crowds of tourists go in May. The flowers are in bloom and I believe that everyone in Italy is passionate about gardening, even if it is just a hydrangea on their doorstep. Rose blooms the size of your head - seriously!

My favorite place in Italy is Levanto. It's at the top on the Cinque Terre. Only a five minute train ride to Monterosso. I've stayed at this place twice before and it is a great budget option. Agriturismo is a wonderful way to make friends with locals.
http://www.agriturismovillanova.it/layout_html_standard/italiano/home.html

Decorno said...

Anon 10:20 - I am actually taking Italian now, so hopefully I will know enough to get by when I arrive in Italy.

Everyone else, thank you sooo much for all of this advice. I really appreciate it.

Meg said...

I have to admit that I had an absolute BLAST driving the Amalfi coast road. My passengers always seemed to make straight for the nearest bar (with wobbling legs) as soon as I parked, but if you enjoy crazy drivers, precipitous drop-offs and curves that a bus can't actually go around without taking more than one lane it is SO MUCH FUN. Also, having a car there makes it easy to get to Paestum (lovely, and the level of preservation of the temples is astonishing) and Pompeii (amazing, huge and impossibly sad). On the coast itself, I prefer Ravello, with its sweeping views of the coast. There are also a couple of incredible gardens in town. Capri is very beautiful, and there's a cool ancient Roman site there, but if I was editing, I would edit Capri out, despite its undeniable allure.

Here's a link to my favorite gelato places in Rome. http://dolcenutella.blogspot.com/2008/04/results-of-gelato-derby.html
Since my kids can be bribed to walk several more miles and pay attention to art by just offering them another scoop, we checked out A LOT of gelaterie.

I don't have any hotel recommendations in Rome, but I highly recommend San Teodoro (it used to be a trattoria, but they've gone steadily upscale over the years, deliciously so, though, and dropped the trattoria from the name), a restaurant in the Velabro (near the arch of Janus and mouth of truth). Their food is great (and pricey-ish), and the quiet residential pocket in the Velabro is really charming (there is an apartment hotel there, called Palazzo Velabro). On the Aventine: the garden next to S. Anselmo (often called the orange grove), and the keyhole. The Pantheon, even though it gets mobbed. S Ivo (which can be hard to get into and see), which is probably my very favorite church in Rome. The baths of Caracalla, the Capitoline Museums and the Doria Pamphili galleries. I love taking people to S. Ignazio and having them walk to the dot in the floor before looking up (the ceiling fresco and dome painting are all geared to roughly that visual point).

I loved Venice. I was there in winter, though, so didn't have to deal with crowds or smelliness. But I would imagine that even if it's crowded, a long summer evening stroll past S. Maria della Salute would be incredible. Almost all of Italy is heavily touristed in the summer; why skip Venice because of that? I've been eyeing a hotel/restaurant on Torcello that sounds pretty cool (should I manage to get there sometime): http://www.locandacipriani.com/.

I can go on about Italy endlessly. If you want more info, I'd be happy to blab on more.

Unless you have more than 3 weeks, I wouldn't add in Tunisia (especially if you're thinking of going by ferry), even though it sounds incredible. Your trip will be better with less destinations, and Venice, Rome, Siena/Tuscany and the Amalfi coast is a lotta trip already.

And like so many other commenters: SO JEALOUS.

Anonymous said...

In Carmel, some restaurants worth considering:
Bouchee Bistro (French)
Cantinetta Lucca (Italian)
Casanova (Mediterranean)
Fresh Cream (Cal-French)
Marinus (Cal-Mediterranean) or Wickets (haven't been but heard it's good), both in the Bernardus Inn
Have a lovely trip!

Debra said...

When you go to Carmel, you must have breakfast at the Tuck Box on Delores St. Whatever you order have the scones with it they are amazing and not like any scone I've ever had!!!!!

Iheartfashion said...

This sounds like a fantastic trip! Don't miss Venice; even if you just spend a weekend there it's worth a trip for the Guggenheim collection and San Marco alone.
I spent a month between Rome and Florence last year and would advise not trying to squeeze in too many cities in one visit, but relax and really get a feel for the places you do stay. I've stayed in a couple of the above hotels-the Plaza Lucchesi in Florence was well-located and not terribly expensive.
But my last few trips I've rented apartments instead and now I wouldn't go back to hotels. It's a great chance to meet local people and get recommendations for where to eat, shop, etc that you won't necessarily find in a guidebook. And it's so much easier to have the option of a kitchen and laundry facilities if you want it. I've stayed in beautiful, art-and-antiques-filled places in both Florence and Rome that I found on craigslist, and had a great experience.

tracey said...

If you are going to be in Venice when the Italian school holidays are on, DON'T go! All the Italian school children go there on holiday camps and it is teeming with children. Venice has over three times the amount of tourists in the holidays as the Eiffel Tower (just to give you an idea of the overcrowding). Venice is, however, something else but don't visit in the school holidays

suzewearsshoes said...

Venice is very hit-and-miss; some people love it (me), others hate it. To me, it's worth going just to have seen it. It's a one-of-a-kind, bizarre Italian jewel that you will never come across again. Go for a weekend. Wander around the tiny streets and bridges and crumbling walls and just breathe it all in. Then go somewhere else.

I went to Rome in high summer and as someone else pointed out about Italy, the school kids were out in force and everywhere was totally overcrowded. OH and they shut the underground trains at like 9pm which means you HAVE to take the bus, along with 100 other people. Being able to get home was often a very big problem in the evenings after dinner out, because you literally couldn't all fit on the bus; it was mass hysteria.

Florence has fabulous markets - you could spend days there. Really. The rest of the city I found a bit blah, but I hear that's just me.

My favourite Italian place is the teeny tiny island of Elba, but it's kind of hard to get to so you might not want the hassle. If you feel up to a challenge (and I MEAN a challenge - noone speaks a word of English and our Italian wasn't so hot) it features pristine beaches, the most ridiculously gorgeous towns, and hardly any tourists. I loved it.

Sorry for the essay; I hope some of that was useful. You'll have an amazing time whatever you do!

Blade said...

i love capri...if you're staying for a few days, skip positano and just enjoy capri...there is much more to do and it's very romantic...i agree with lucinda...stay at http://www.scalinatella.com/en/welcome...it's a great small hotel with great views and a wonderful lunch for hotel guests only...

Amanda said...

go to Florence for sure! I got married there and it is incredible!

Anonymous said...

The Ferragamo Family has hotels all over Italy..the one in Florence is The Lungarno..It is on the Arno..very cool

Anonymous said...

ps I forgot to add L'Auberge in Carmel..It has only 10 or so tables , Fireplaces roaring and really great food and also good wines. Charming.

Anonymous said...

In Rome or Florence, you might like www.casahoward.com. Relatively affordable, stylish housing in the city.

Don't skip Venice. Yes, it is VERY crowded in the summer, BUT The Biennale, the mecca of contemporary art, is open from June - October this year, and it is worth the trip to Italy alone to be able to spend a few hours there.

Tara.Fields said...

The only advice I have is that if you take a train or ferry in Italy, get first class if you can, because their first class is like other places regular. I'd taken an overnight speed ferry to Sardegna from Italy a few years back and first class was kind of ratty, so when I got on a speed ferry in Buenos Aires to go to Colonia a few weeks ago I was preparing myself for that or worse and it was NICE! Whew.

Anonymous said...

Ditto on Little Napoli in Carmel. It's my favorite restaurant there--cheap, charming and great food.

The only part of Italy I've been to is Venice, but I went during Carnival and it was completely magical. If you decide to go, don't miss the hot chocolate at Caffe Florian.

mary said...

I don't think that Italy would be complete without Venice--that amazing Renaisance Merchant State!!
Yes, it is touristy, but so amazingly intriguing. Just to stand where Guardi and Canneleto(sp?) painted.It's amazing.

Shirley said...

Venice yes but also Florence. Suggest small walking tours that take 8 folks or less. I used walking tours of florence or http://www.girosole.com

Michelangelo was an amazing tour guide and worked at both places. We ate an incredible dinner at his mother's home and walked the Cinque Terre all in one day. You can make it longer and enjoy it even more!

Kara said...

Too much good stuff to say about Italy and yes - MUST SEE VENICE and MUST EAT TONS OF GELATO. I am pretty sure they put crack in it, totally addicting and soothing and ahhhhhh gelaaaaaato.

Ok - onto Carmel. Mission ranch for dinner and I hear that Clint pops in on occassion to play the piano. If you can do it - travel the 26 miles south down to Big Sur and see the MOST amazing place ever. Visit - Nepenthe, Post Ranch Inn and Ventana. If you want to experience something unique go to Esalan.

Big Sur will leave an impression - promise.

Shirley said...

PS - forgot to say...Virgin Travel packages are amazing. I went to Florence 5 years ago and RT airfare including hotel for 7 days was $700. The vintage hotel was modest and super clean. We took several day walking tours in the city and countryside. Those are additional but so worth it. Not sure if its in your plans, but I enjoyed doing research on when the real authentic flea markets are scheduled (Not the touristy ones).

holly said...

Venice is a place like no other- I was in the travel business for 15 years- my husband over 20 years and we think Venice is magical- I wouldn't miss it. I imagine the people who said it was touristy or the references to a "sewer" didn't know where to go. Listen to sparrow king- stay at the hotel danieli. (take a gondola ride and remember....it's not disney this is for real)

I think you'll be able to find something in Rome that's cheap and cheery and save the budget for elsewhere.

Capri- nice. Amalfi coast- overrated. Florence- one day will suffice. Tuscany- not a bad meal to be had, and the wine...Did I mention the wine? red red wine and lots of great white wine too.

Also LOVE cinque terre(flip flops, sunshine, the nicest people and good living at a decent price) check it out. I stayed in Montorosso also- a memorable 30th bday by the way...And it was really cheap! But that was 11 years ago. Mr Poggi at La Spiaggia invited us for dinner and it was a HOOT- loved it!

muranogirl said...

Totally agree with Youpi Touch: while in Rome stay in one of the Aventino hotels:
Hotel Sant' Anselmo. It is on a little hill away from the NOISY hotels near all the sights. You will feel like a Roman princess - every Seattle girl's dream; ). My dad was working for the UN there for 8 years and we always recommended it to friends.
While being near the Spanish Steps or Piazza Campo dei Fiori is convenient and lovely, tell me how you'll feel when the baker revs up his motorino at 4:00am to start deliveries (noise reverberating like mad) then the glass recylcling truck rolls through the small vicoli lifting and dumping dumpsters full of empty Pellegrino into the truck just when you have fallen back to sleep after the baker. As charming as the center is - we lived in the Piazza Campo dei Fiori, the Aventine hill is just so much nicer!

di fabulous said...

oh man, so much to say...i lived in florence so i can give you ALL the details on where to eat, shop, sleep, anything. but first you have to promise that you will go there!

i also know rome pretty well. i have an alternative for you if you want to stay on budget. there is a lovely hostel-type hotel run by nuns a block away from the colosseum. fantastic service, beautiful rooms, amazing view from the roof. and they are all so sweet and helpful. only catch, a curfew of 11:30.

also anon 2:05, could NOT agree with you more! you MUST MUST MUST see levanto. a tousand times nicer than the cinque terre and muich mreo affordable!

Suzy said...

I think you should see Venice - you'll regret it if you don't. And Florence is a must see. If you can fit it in your itinerary go to the Cinque Terre too - you can walk it in a day - some of the most stunning scenery I've ever seen. I'll see if I can dig out the hotels we stayed at for you...

theresa said...

hello,

the j.w. marriott in capri is breathtaking. the walls are hand painted and the tiles in the hotel are stunning. the hotel is embedded into the cliffs.

if you have marriott rewards, that is the way to go. last year i stayed there and it was the same number of reward points as it would have been for a marriott stay in the U.S.

eggplant said...

IMO, Venice is a beautiful place even if it's a "dressed up sewer" lol

alis said...

Whoever said Venice is a dressed up sewer must be a very negative, sad person. I went in August and it was enchanting! That being said, Venice is very small and 1-2 days will be more than enough to explore it.

My advice would be to always buy first class tickets in trains in italy. I did Milan-Venice with regular train tickets and I had to stand up for 3 hours in the smelliest carriage ever, with gypsy kids throwing boogers at me. I smelled of sweat & pee when I stepped out of that deadly train. On my way back I opted for first class and it was actually decent.

Lola Is Beauty said...

Rome and Siena are just as touristy as Venice during the summer. Venice is breathtaking, I don't know how someone could call it a dressed up sewer (maybe someone who's never been there?) Just stay away from San Marco and get lost instead of following the signs with arrows (San Marco, Rialto, Ferrovia) that all the other tourists are following. Even in high summer it's easy to find quiet places just moments away from a tourist jam. The rooftop terrace of Molino Stucky is amazing for cocktails at sunset. Trains in Italy are great and really cheap - you could start in Venice, take the train down to Florence (3 hours) - from there you can visit Siena - you only need a day, then take the train down to Rome (3 hours). Trastevere (in Rome) is nice.

Lola Is Beauty said...

Ha - just saw the above comment re: trains! They're usually very civilised - honest...oh yeah there was that one time when a conductor tried to arrest me for forgetting to validate my ticket - remember to do that!

franki durbin said...

Just popped back to see how things were going. Who knew I'd have so many typos in my comment before? Ugh! Truly, I can spell. I blame my keypad ;). Let's hope my fingers cooperate more this time...

Anyway, wasn't sure if you were a cappuccino girl or not. Two places in Rome battle it out for the best cup. Both are undeniably good, but Tazzo di Oro will deliver an amazing cup. So will every little hole in the wall spot.

I should mention these odd tid bits about Italy: wear the most insanely big shades you can find, prepare to have your butt squeezed and pinched in crowded places, drink your coffee standing up at the counter at cafes unless you want to stay longer & pay more, the Italian women were not so friendly, but the charm of the men more than makes up for the standoffish nature of the ladies.

Just writing this I can't wait to go back!!!

Susan said...

I loved Florence and Rome the best,
Venice is a dressed up sewer!
but I got to visit the glass factory so it wasn't as bad.
I can't remember hotel names but I'll contact my friend and get back with you.
I have always wanted to go to Capri, let us know about your visit when you get back esp. photos

Jill said...

Venice is a dilapidated grande dame that showers occasionally, but she musn't be missed!!

Studio14D said...

Another vote for Venice -- it's magical and amazing in my opinion. Looks like you have enough recommendations on hotels in Rome but I had to put in my 2 cents -- The Beehive totally budget chic. Here's the website http://www.the-beehive.com/english.html We stayed there 3 yrs ago and really enjoyed it.

Fabulously french said...

Saw this and thought that it maybe useful:

http://www.cntraveller.com/Special_Features/Stylish_and_affordable_hotels_in_Venice/

Susan said...

Like all good people in this world, you're a drinker. I can't believe that no one has thrown out hill towns in Tuscany to you. You have to visit Montelchino and Montepulchiano. Stay in Sienna and rent a car for a couple days and explore. Or there are gorgeous villas/hotels in the Tuscan countryside. I would definately plan on spending 3-4 days in one. Make sure you get one with a pool.

Under the Tuscan Sun: don't talk to me about the movie - its dead to me, but the book is fabulous and has some great suggestions for things to see (ie antique markets), places to eat, places to stay, and most importantly places to drink.

I love Venice; I have been in the summer and in the spring and its always magical. You just have to wander away from San Marco and get lost.

That said, you only have three weeks. It seems like a long time now, but its not. I would concentrate on a region and cut your traveling time down. Do Tuscany/Florence for a week, a couple days in Rome and then spend a week in the Amalfi coast. You need time on this trip to just be, to soak everything in, not rushing around trying to see everything.

North Africa is fascinating, but better combined with a trip to Spain, or better yet by itself.

Have fun!
Susan

Anonymous said...

Hotel Pescille in San Gimignano. I went there 11 years ago and I still think about it.

http://www.pescille.it/pescille/index_en.php

Anonymous said...

i wouldn't skip venice or almost anywhere else in italy.

i would, however, FOCUS and not try to do too much in 3 or so weeks. if you fly into rome and do rome right, naples (for the archaeology museums, pompeii and herculaneum, pizza, crazy driving and the ferry to capri and ischia), either capri or ischia with a brief stay at the other, sorrento, positano and the amalfi coast down to salerno (for the pottery), you've got a nice leisurely vacation.

you can probably add one more stop, especially if you like packing and unpacking luggage more then i do. i'd vote for sicily or sardinia myself in that case. save venice, florence, and even siena for another trip.

slurge at the san pietro or le sirenuse if you've got $750 a night to spend. on capri, i was lucky enough to stay at the quisisana and the capri palace in an earlier life and remember both fondly. in sorrento, i'd just stay in one of the older hotels above the ferry docks on the cliff. they are grand 100 year old monsters... some rough around the edges, but with amazing details and views and you can spend less, $200 or so a night.

budget a few days to get lost.

gp193 said...

YES to Ischia - I did a trip on the Amalfi coast last summer and Ischia was my favorite by far. It's quiet, scenic, and I met no other Americans there. It's like the Hamptons of Italy. There are natural hot springs everywhere that are fabulous.

Positano, Amalfi etc are beautiful but very much over-touristed. I ended up disappointed with Positano, our last stop. Avoid Sorrento at all costs - it's a London/Australian pub scene transplanted in Italy.

Definitely yes on Ravello too - it's absolutely stunning and there is a music festival there in the summer. Touristy but more classy crowd than some other towns.

Have a great trip! I'm so jealous.

Deb said...

On the island of Ischia stay here

http://www.vagnitiello.it/homepageovagnit

It's right on the ocean. They server breakfast and supper in a small dining room with glass walls. Such a quiet, relaxing place. They also have a spa there.

DDgirl said...

Hey,
I'm Italian, and I have travelled a lot...

If you want to splurge in Costiera Amalfitana, go fo Rialto hotel in Vietri sul mare (the southern part of the Amalfi coast)!

However, in the nearbies of Amalfi, there are plenty of cute B&Bs

*moggit girls said...

Clint Eastwood's "Mission Ranch" restaurant in Carmel has a fabulous brunch....

Anonymous said...

Hi Decorno,
My husband and I spent 2 weeks in Italy about 6 years ago. We spent one night in Venice and were robbed immediately after we got off the train, before getting to the hotel. So that colored our experience...
We spent the rest of the time at a B&B, which happens to be run by family members. You can check it out at www.montalto.it. It's an old family castle with servants quarters that have been converted into cottages and apartments. Very quiet, very "authentic," and very affordable compared to what you'd pay at a hotel in the city. You'd have to rent a car, though, and plan to buy groceries nearby, or else drive 5 minutes to the nearby restaurant in Castle Nuovo Berardenga. This is all about 30 minutes from Siena, which was very nice to visit because it doesn't have a train stop (I don't think), so it's not as mobbed with tourists as some of the other cities.
The rest of the trip we visited Florence, which was fine; Rome, which was awesome; and several smaller towns that were off the beaten path. The experience staying in a home-like environment and driving around on our own was very cool.

paola said...

Not sure when you're going but try and avoid July and August if you can during the European summer holidays. All the places you've chosen will be crazy busy and also incredibly hot. June and September will be INFINITELY better.

We honeymooned at Le Sirenuse. Try and spend at least a night there. We also enjoyed the Villa Maria in Ravello and the Luna Convento in Amalfi. If you're going to the Amalfi coast you must spend some time in Naples - it's the craziest, most fabulous place and most tourists don't bother with it. I've always found Capri to be overrated - very posey and expensive. Ischia is much nicer.

Further down the coast Maratea is beautiful, very untouristy, and we loved the Locanda delle Donne Monache.

In Rome try and stay in the Medieval quarter (close to Piazza Navona or Campo dei Fiori). The Hotel Minerva is lovely, but I've only stayed there on business so it might be too pricey. The area round the Spanish Steps is super touristy and not so 'Roman'. I lived/worked out there for six months a few years back, and have a long list of restaurant recommendations. Email if you want them.

The Castello di Velona near Siena is gorgeous and set in the most incredibly countryside and away from the madding crowds. (Also where Rachael Ray got married, hee...I had no idea who she was when I stayed there) I have photos if you want, but I don't seem to have posted them to Flickr, so let me know. Orvieto, Perugia and Assisi are beautiful and maybe won't be as crowded as Florence or Siena. We stayed in a great hotel near Orvieto whose name escapes me but found through here www.relaischateaux.com. Lucca is my favourite place in Tuscany, pretty but not so touristy and very, very Italian. Volterra and San Gimignano are also worth visiting.

You sort of need to do Venice once in your lifetime - though maybe not now. It's like stepping into a painting. The light and the colour of the lagoon are indescribable and like nowhere else on earth. It will probably be hell in July and August though. If you're going to be in that part of the country, check out Verona. I love Verona to pieces - less touristy, v Italian, v. beautiful. Get tickets for the opera in the arena if you go.

If you want some more beachy stuff then go to Sicily as recommended (Taormina is lovely but the hotel we stayed there was not too hot) or else do as the Romans do and take off for Sardinia. We stayed in a great hotel called La Coluccia. Or else as everyone has said, the Cinque Terre are stunning.

V. jealous.

Amy said...

La Bussola in Amalfi is about E100 per night and is very nice. We enjoyed staying in Amalfi for about 5 nights and we took a couple of day trips - one to Positano and one to Capri. We enjoyed getting around the Amalfi coast by boat/ferry much more than the buses! If you take the train from Rome and then the bus, it can take most of the day - so plan accordingly!

If you really want to splurge, Hotel Sirenuse in Positano is supposed to be the best. I know people who have stayed there and loved it. Spend time IN the Amalfi coast - I would recommend getting away from Sorrento which is much more touristy because it's easier to get to. Or just go to Capri or Ischia - Capri is GORGEOUS and i can only imagine that Ischia is too

kathryn said...

You will LOVE Italy!!!! The food is glorious! Promise me you will have a gelato EVERY day!!!

I did 15 days a few years ago. 5 days each in Tuscany,Rome and Positano. We didn't make it to Venice but regretted not visiting, hope to go next spring. You should fly into Venice, spend 2 days and then fly an intra europe cheap flight or train to Florence. You can get advance tix online to see the David, well worth it. We cut the line of 200 people with our advance tix!! Rent a car and drive through Tuscany (Greve in Chianti) gorgeous scenery!!! We stayed in Montalcino at the Hotel Olivera. Its a renovated olive oil mill at the edge of town with beautiful views of the vineyards. Buy brunello wine to ship home! Tour a winery, there are over 150!! Drive about 10 minutes outside of town to a beautiful church, sant timo, stunning location set all alone in the middle of vineyards. Nearby towns to check out; Pienza, San quirico D'orcia, Montelpuciano, Buonoconvento. Read, Under the Tuscan Sun if you have time, nothing like the movie.

Rome - We stayed outside the city at a b&b, Casa Stefazio. We had 10 people with us and took the entire place. If I was just a couple, would prefer staying in Rome. The owner is a great tour guide. Her name is Stefania. She has a great night tour of Rome that we loved.

Positano - LOVED!!! We drove from Rome; 2 1/2 - 3 hours. It was fine. Everyone freaks out about the Italian drivers but they just pass you if they want to speed! There's nothing like the sound of a ferrarri passing you!! I personally loved driving the Amalfi, views are out of this world!!! This is a great place to crash and relax from all your touring.
We stayed at the Hotel Marincanto, which is a few doors down from the Sireneuse. It has the same breathtaking views for a lot less money!! Check it out. See an Italian movie on the beach, they set up chairs and a huge screen, everyone is eating gelato, its a classic scene!!
Someone mentioned that you can't take the ferry to Capri from Positano, but you definitely can do this. Visit the Blue Grotto, touristy but fun. Combine the blue grotto trip with a boat tour around the island, unforgettable scenery!! We didn't stay there, but I've fallen in love with the JK Palace website. Beautifully designed hotel.
Have a wonderful, memorable trip!!

Anonymous said...

No time to read all 90 comments posted above mine, but re the first picture in your post? To borrow a phrase from Liz Lemon...I want to go to there.

Iris said...

I am a reader from Germany so please excuse my English. Three years ago my Husband and me visited the Amalfi coast. We were living in a private apartement of an Italian friend. But we saw some beautiful hotels. The most impressive (but expensive) to me was the Santa Caterina Hotel in Amalfi. It is described as well in the book "A perfect friend" of Martin Suter. The best way to have a Coffee break is to go to Pasticeria Andrea Pansa at the market place in Amalfi. The pastries and cakes are really handmade and sensational. You never would expect this at a tourist spot. Don't forget to visit Ravello with the magnificent garden of Lord Grimthorpe (a place where George Clooney could make an Martini commercial in black and white movie style). I wish you a wonderful holiday.

Anonymous said...

Tunisia is incredible. Highly suggest making the trip, especially if you will already be in the south of Italy. Also, might want to take a boat through the Strait of Messina (between the boot of Italy and Sicily) at sundown, visit Malta, which boasts one of the world's most beautiful ports and offers fantastic food.

Anonymous said...

Dont do Venice. Go to Florence! And one of the best- Cinque terre! Go to Monterosso first.

Rome is fantastic, but read before you do all the sightseeing, think you will like it more....

Have a nice trip. Italy is great!

From NORWAY

Anonymous said...

Hi! I love Italy and have been there a few times. I really recommend Venice. I actually spent 8 nights there after getting married. We stayed at a low budget hotel close to the Rialto Bridge, fantastic location, simple but clean. We had a balcony :-)) Google on Hotel Caneva. FUrthermore, do not miss going around with the Vaporetto ("tube/bus" on water), very cheap & you can go to see Murano, Lido etc. Amazing!! It is quite easy to find your way from the tourist crowds too. There are many nice and cheap restaurants too. Look for the Peggy Guggenheim house/area e.g. If you visit Cinque Terre, do not miss Riomaggiore! If you go to Milan, visit Brera (not too many tourist (traps) and a very nice area. Sicily is amazing, I love the Northern coast. If you visit Firence, do not miss the food hall! Have a wonderful time wherever you go!
Jea in Sweden

JoAnn said...

Well, to begin with, I am not a sad or negative person - I love to travel and experience new places and look forward to every adventure.

We wandered around all over Venice, letting ourselves "feel the moment" and get lost, away from the crowds. Didn't work...for one thing, it is hard to be in the moment when dodging the ever-present gypsies, whom I found to be very threatening when encountered off the beaten path.

And the WORST part of our time in Venice was the gondola ride --- when we had the unique opportunity to see all of the floating trash up-close-and-personal, so to speak.

I just read "Very Valentine" a novel by Adriana Trigiani.....part of the book takes place in Capri where the main character is learning how to make sandals (the whole book is about small-scale shoemaking/shoe design business).

Jackie said...

http://www.pellicanohotel.com/ - My husband took me there so he could propose. An "eat amazing breakfast, swim, eat amazing lunch, swim/ nap, eat amazing dinner, pass out, repeat" sort of place. An hour north of Rome. Definitely more enjoyable than dare I say, building my kitchen :)

Michelle May said...

I highly recommend YELP for all travel needs. Not so sure what the content is on there for Italy, but you get alot of inside info on the site.

Anonymous said...

While in Rome - the morning market at the Campo de Fiore in the historic center. I second Siena, and especially Orvieto, a real gem especially if you love wine. You cannot skip Venice, it may be touristy but it is a magical place. Verona and Vicenza are worth a visit too, close to Venice and both wonderful cities. Vicenza especially if you are a fan of architecture, see the buildings of the master himself Palladio.

Oh and learn a little Italian, it will take you far.

KP said...

The coolest looking hotel i have ever seen, it has a restaurant in a grotto overlooking the sea in Bari. South of where you will be but worth it.
http://grottapalazzese.it/
Check it out on my blog...
http://ffneasy.blogspot.com/

neuroticalways said...

You MUST go to Sorrento! There are lemon trees everywhere. I fell in love in this city. I stayed at the Hotel Conca Park. It's not fancy but I loved the bathrooms.

http://www.concapark.com/

melissa said...

www.villafranca.com
in positano is gorgeous...old school,overlooking positano.The walk into town is great,all the help you need to walk of the fantastic food in town
and for budget be damned kind of thing treat yourself to a night at
www.ilsanpietro.it

Bonnie said...

Oh Italy is my favorite place in the world! Capri is the very best!!!!!!!!!! I went and didn't wanna go home... just stayed for a few weeks, then went back the next year too! All along the Almafi coast is just breathtaking (but if u ever get motion sickness take that medicine with you cuz those roads are windy... i had a prob with that) Oh Ravello, Positano, I can just smell the ocean breezes and the scent of jasmine on Capri. Venice Florence and Milan are great if you are up in northern Italy. And don't forget Tuscany, and Lake Como! If you do southern Italy, fly into Rome, explore and then go south. Oh and my interior designer friend Ken Bordewick who is a Duke of Perugia Italy, he could recommend the best of the best for you! You can reach him by clicking on his link under favorite designers on my blog. Capri is the most beautiful and relaxing place!

mosey said...

Hi,
My husband and I recently visited Rome and stayed in the Hotel Victoria. The room was quite nice and totally affordable. It's really close to everything and set on a small quiet street so you get the best of both worlds. The only thing I don't recommend is the hotel dinner food.
http://www.hotelvictoriaroma.com/index.php

Astrid said...

Tuscany is amazing. Here are my Flickr photos from my October travels, and here is a blog post. Cinque Terre is also amazing.

Happy planning and travels!

Laura said...

Just got back last week. Unbelievable trip. Try not to schedule your trip around an earthquake so all the people at home aren't worried sick about you.

I was skeptical about Venice (and the tourists), but it was magical. Stayed at Hotel Ca'Pisani and liked it fine.

My favorite was Siena--we stayed there 3 nights, and that gave us time to go into the countryside (by bus and car--equally scary) and Siena itself was just wonderful. Every town should have been designed around a public space like Il Campo.

Favorite hotel (that I've ever stayed in my whole life) was JK Place in Florence. I got a sort of good deal on their website. Also, want to second to Hotel 47 in Rome--great hotel and great location and white linens, which is all I really care about!

We flew into Milan (Hotel Spadari) and out of Rome and traveled by train the rest of the time. I was anxious about not buying train tix until we got there, but it wasn't a problem at all.

And one of my favorite things--everytime you order cocktail, they bring you a bowl of potato chips!

SFBFLY said...

We were married outside Seina last year.

I highly recommend Rome, Florence, and Positano for multi-days (2+). We did day trips from Siena to Orvieto, wine tasting and San Giminano. Also, I recommend basing yourself in Positano and doing day trips to Ravello, Amalfi, Capri & Pompeii. We did not like Sorrento due to the tourism, so I would recommend not spending anytime there. Finally, as for Venice I would recommend Lake Como over Venice if you are going to do the north of Italy.

Erica said...

YES! Le Sireneuse in Positano--do not pass go, do not collect $200. Please, please, please make this your big splurge so I can look at pics and drool and reminisce over my fave hotel on the planet.

I also second Hotel 47 in Rome.

Florence is my geographical soul-mate...and I too love the Hotel Locarno.

Have a blast!

Anonymous said...

If you hit Capri, make sure you go to Anacapri (sp?) a smaller village at the top.

Venice is definitely worth it despite the tourists, it's so different from any other city.

If you are in the Amalfi area, hit Ravello. We walked up using this book as a guide:

Sunflower Guide Sorrento, Amalfi & Capri: Car Tours and Walks . . . Accident of history and steepness of terrain have preserved a network of ancient footpaths which reaches from the coastal towns of the Neapolitan Riviera into the surrounding countryside. These paths take you almost from your hotel doorstep up into the lemon groves. You can visit hillside villages or remote monasteries and be regaled by the most stunning of views all along the way.

Daniela said...

I'm a PRO regarding the island of Ischia because I have a house there.
Ischia has 6 major villages and a variety of hotels and pensiones. The most beautiful 5-star hotel is the Mezzatorre which is located in Forio.
There are 2 major spas and several smaller ones. The most beautiful is POSEIDON GARDENS. All of these recommendations can be found online.
Ischia is one of the best kept secrets. I also rent my apartment if interested...dansalmi@aol.com