As I'm planning to leave for Rome tomorrow, I've been perusing Frommer's and I found a really great list of dining tips for Rome which in my many years of trips there is definitely true. Here, I'm shortening them a lot but you get the gist:
1) Don't eat at any restaurant where the menu is translated into five languages (or where the menu is simply photographs of dishes)
2) Avoid restaurants where the waiters are trying to hustle you in
3) Most restaurants located on the main piazzas are big-time tourist traps
4) Do as the Romans do and follow the locals or ask at your hotel
5) Never order priced by weight fish without knowing what the overall price will be.
6) If you're on a budget (or me with my $25 per diem) stick to one meal, hoping you got breakfast free at the hotel. I always make it lunch, since I usually can't stay up late enough for an Italian dinner, especially with the time difference
7) Double check your bill. Even locals get charged sometimes for things they've never ordered (or gotten).
These are great tips and I can't think of anything to add. Have a lovely time in Rome, and please report back on any memorable dining experiences (with details) for future reference.
Well, one thing I'm always wanting to know (whether in Italy or elsewhere) is whether or not the pasta is hand made on the premises. Please toast a glass of Montalcino to us!
Also, the restaurant (just around the corner from the Grand Flora) and the bakery (just a block northeast of Piazza Navona) are really wonderful. I really want you to try the bakery. Here's the thread with more info, and a map.
oops, here's the thread: http://www.rewards-insiders.marriott.com/message/54873#54873
Thanks all! I was reading through Frommer's Italy at about 3:30 this morning (a little earlier than I usually get up) and realized after I sent it that it definitely applies to Brussels and Venice as well -- plus the Latin Quarter of Paris.
Thanks for all suggestions -- I will be staying in a completely new area of the city at the Artemide, so more things will be easily accessible (especially later in the day) without either the long climb up the Via Veneto or the shuttle bus to the Courtyard. I'm just hoping US weather doesn't get in my way tomorrow. I leave for Portland by car at 3:30am tomorrow, then have a 6 hour layover in Atlanta. If anyone out there is in Atlanta now, are you supposed to get the ice storm tomorrow?
PS - reason to celebrate - I just taught my last class of the semester.
Thanks, Jerry -- I'm only sorry I am going to miss meeting you and Nancy. I will report back on the Artemide as well as the restaurants in that area (I think I have actually walked by the hotel once - it is near a lot of museums -- though of course in Rome that means nothing ).
Safe travels home!
The Concierges here are reviewing your post on "Rome Dining Tips", and have offered to provide information for other MRI to add to your valuable suggestions.
Likewise, they are suggesting to supply a list by price of places they would recommend on each persons budget.
You would be welcome, if you have time, to stop by and say hello to any of them, while in Rome!
We were going to treat you to a "Glass" at Harry's Bar across the street, but will wait and do it next time!
Say hi to them for me -- I am not sure they were there last time I was. Signor Chea was the concierge and Signor Dorpatti the doorman I knew best. Are they still there?
Also, are you flying home to St. Louis? Definitely check your airlines because it's currently 27F with ice and some of the national weather reports are saying ice outages in the Midwest could last for days. You might want to extend your stay in Rome.
Believe it or not, we're going through a warm streak in New England, so even though I have to leave home at 3:30am it's supposed to be about 40 degrees, and Atlanta doesn't look to be a problem.
You realize, of course, I'm just trying to get you to stay in Rome longer so I can get that free drink!?!
Seriously, Midwestern conditions look bad.
We will be heading to Rome and a week at the Grand Flora in April. This will be my third time in Rome and my wife's 6th. We have done all the well known sites and are looking to get off the beaten path and will be focusing on some of the small but wonderful restaurants. Can't wait. Prof, we took your suggestions of St. Catherine's in Brussels last April, so would welcome anything you might offer up for Rome.
Alas, I just had to cancel everything -- my knees gave out trying to get my suitcase down to the car (this has happened before just not with such bad timing), and I could only barely drag myself back upstairs to my apartment again. So it looks like I may be in bed for the next several days rather than walking the streets of one of my favorite cities. Sigh!
Jerry, be careful getting home, and PSUdad, write while you're there. I've been to Rome many times, so can especially suggest things to see.
Professor, This is terrible news. How very disappointing for you! I truly wish I could be your baggage porter for you. I hope you can reschedule after the first of the year and after you get your knees fixed or at least made a kilt tale better. I would write more, but am on my iPad. I really feel your frustration and wish You well.
First of all, I want to thank all of you for your kind words -- and I too want to hear a kilt tale!
I have been resting with alternate heat and cold since then and also rescheduled my trip. Rome was too expensive that close to Christmas, so I'm going back to Venice from the 16th -22nd and will stay at my favorite Pesaro Palace, then the Courtyard Marco Polo the last night. I could not believe 4 nights with a canal view at the Pesaro (confirmed by the GM) cost me only 107euros a night! I clicked on a higher price through tripadvisor and it led me to this price. So one very good thing happened to me today. And my cat is (for 10 days) a much happier camper.
I've learned my lesson - no more early flights out of PWM in the winter when I have to get up in the middle of the night. Better to just take a night flight from Boston.
Seriously, thanks all for your concern! I am falling apart slowly...but maybe they'll be able to fix parts of me in January .
I am so sorry you had to reschedule your trip Professor. I understand how those knees can just give way. My husband has had major knee surgery and two knee replacements all on the same knee over the years. Before I had arthroscopic knee surgery, my knee would just give out and I never knew when it was going to happen. I feel for you and hope your trip to Venice goes without a hitch. Take care
Thanks, Madmax! At least I can either ride around on the vaporetto all day or stay ensconced either in the library or my room at the Pesado. We'll see what my January tests show. I want to hold out on any replacements as long as I can because when I had the big toe joint replaced about six years ago it took 9 months of PT . Also, it seems to be mostly an unexpected reoccurrence of the horrible injury I had on the Turkish ferry (probably MCL) a few years back rather than arthritis.
Thanks, Pluto! And you really made me laugh (and think) with that post that your IPhone change. Some of those kinds of things are priceless. Assuming we don't have a major ice or snowstorm, the idea of being in Venice cheers me up even thinking about it. And this is the same time of year I first experienced the Pesaro. There are virtually no people in Venice, so you get the real deal, and some of my favorite photos came from my hotel window in Venice there two years ago, right across from the Pescheria and next to Ca' d'Oro.
PS - Do you have Scottish blood ?
"Virtually no people in Venice" sounds like a slice of heaven. I'd love to experience that someday. If you happen on any worthy dining experiences, do please try and remember the name and the lane that it's located on for us. I wish I could remember where the store that sold the authentic Venetian masks that I stumbled upon is, but I can't to save my life. The wonderful - and beautiful - Venetian proprietor (who also spoke French - that's how we were able to communicate) I'm sure could've tipped me onto some good restaurants, had I thought to ask (but that was a very stressful trip in which one of my daughters insisted on coming with her two small children, and so there was no way we were going to have any special dining experiences on that trip - and honestly on my daughter's behalf, even though I didn't want to spend time in Venice with small children, how could I say no to a few extra days with my daughter - living in Germany at the time - and the grandlittles, just so dog gone precious I could gobble them up!)
I do not have Scottish blood so far as I am aware. I am primarily of Irish and English descent, with background surnames like Dempsey, Redfield, Smith, Windsor...
(Just kidding about Windsor )
Hi Lady Pluto Windsor ,
I plan to visit some of my favorite dining haunts (I'll have to copy some from the tripadvisor posts I've made so that ).
I think I know the mask shop you mean, or at least I found one similar that winds away from (if you're there) the Riva degli Schiavoni toward Rialto that goes through one of the alleys (calle) near the Londra Palace to a piazza of the church of San Zaccaria (I think). I'm pretty sure it's either Calle Albanesi or Calle della Pietà. There's also a very good, authentic and off-the-beaten path Murano jewelry store near it.
Here's a very good but outdated (the Pesaro isn't on it, but right next to Ca' d'Oro) map of Venice, so if you look past San Marco toward the long strip of the Riva, you'll see the areas I'm talking about and know if they're what you remember.
My Roman dining tips (that is, Frommer's) definitely apply to everything in Venice. Off the beaten path is the rule of thumb for the best of everything.
Anyway, here are my tripadvisor favorite Venice restaurants to date (I've gone back to some many times):
Hope you get back soon!
I'm ProfT on Tripadvisor. I've never searched anyone by name or moniker there, but you probably can, especially knowing the places I've stayed and eaten at. The Pesaro Palace is amazing. The first time I was there two years ago they upgraded me to a grand suite from a superior room (what I booked today; it was January, and that's also why my current rates are so low) with three windows on the Grand Canal and a huge room. I didn't stay there after a booking last year because I thought a junior suite would turn out the same, but it turns out they all face the garden in the back. So you're actually better off with a superior room, whether or not it is upgraded.
Thanks, Pluto -- I stayed at some other highly rated hotels in the Grand Canal/Cannaregio area (Hotel Ai Reali - lovely hotel, but not really on the Grand Canal at all; and Ca' Favretto San Cassiano - on the Grand Canal, with view, but much smaller room than the Pesaro, even though I PAID for a suite). Cannaregio has actually become my favorite section of Venice -- it's away from the crowds and utterly beautiful. Plus if you stay at the Pesaro, the vaporetto stops exactly at the hotel (the Ca' d'Oro stop). About a 15 ft flat walk from the dock.
I'll send some pics of my favorite restaurant in Venice, Al Fontego dei Pescatori, tomorrow. They treat me like family each time I return, and the food is spectacular.
Have you ever ridden the Flying Scotsman? Eaten Flying Scotsman? Do you like Haggis?
My stepgrandmother (Scottish) published a cookbook many, many years ago. In it was a recipe for Haggis and Bash Neeps (funny, the things one remembers...) As a kid, it did not sound good at all! (and frankly, still doesn't .)
AGGGHHH!!! HAGGIS!!!!! I was forced to eat in as part of an NEH Summer Seminar in Paris in the 1990s led by an English art historian on the Ile-St-Louis. I should start by saying I don't like organ food at all. I was more or less coerced into eating it, but I literally gagged and threw it up into my napkin. (Sorry for the graphics. But I have never eaten anything so horrible in my whole life.)
No! It was not on the "Via Veneto or the Trastevere!
I am not sure where it was in Rome, but the taxi trip was a "Rip-off" (Story later', and this place had come highly recommended by others!
It was the ONLY bad experience in Rome!
I failed to live up to one of my "Road Rules" and go to a place prior to actually dining there! Big mistake!
I used checked out Quinzi & Gabrieli on tripadvisor, and while the relatively small number of reviews are positive, it is rated 2285 oout of 7125 restaurants in Rome. It looks like it is near Piazza Navona, where the waiters typically accost you to try to lure you in. I just found this fairly recent review on Tripadvisor by Dan F about it:
"First bad sign was that every other place was PACKED and Quinzi was EMPTY. After taking them 5 minutes to find our reservation (confirmed and made with AMEX) they refused to sit us on their outdoor balcony which was EMPTY at 830pm. We almost left then, but after sitting and being thrown the menus, we both almost lost it being in the hot, small room inside by the kitchen. Prices on the menu were very high and my wife and I left about 5 minutes later without the restaurunt caring. STAY AWAY and I am sure there are tons of other nearby places who would be a lot nicer and accommodating to you. The only place in a 2 week tour of Italy which we felt judged as tourists. They should be ashamed..."
Was that your experience? I've never been there. Sorry you had such a bad experience. The best restaurants in Rome tend to be the least known ones, both in Trastevere and in the Monti section. They also tend to be inexpensive and you don't remember their names...but you do remember their food.
You should definitely write something on tripadvisor. I am one of their 'top contributors', and I really believe tripadvisor works because so many people chime in, so even if there are a few attempts at gaming the system by hotels and restaurants I don't think it works. I have given some damning reviews in my time and they've all been posted and counted.
The key especially in urban Italy is avoiding the tourist sites. Usually the concierge of a hotel can help but not always, especially if they have some deals with the locals. That's why I love Trastevere and Monti so much. You get real Italian food -- including seafood -- the night I ended up a member of the Workers' Socialist Cultural Club (go back a number of year of posts to find that ) I first had dinner with my friend at a (to me) nameless restaurant in Trastevere. If I find the restaurant again, I will post a review, because it was great -- I had a whole prima of delicious pasta, then (at the recommendation of my friend) a whole (very fersh) branzino (sea bream). He and I also shared a large carafe of house wine, and tutti erano deliziosi -- and very inexpensive. It was on a side street off of the main square where Santa Maria in Trastevere is located.
I agree with staying out of Venice in May. Every square, church, restaurant, street, is packed with tourists. We were there again in May of 2012 and took our kids for the first time. We actually bagged trying to get in to St. Marks because the line was all the way to the grand canal. It was crazy. Finally, my son and I found this wonderful little bar in an alley and hung out there for a few hours, with some beers and a nice cuban, while the ladies shopped.
I think it's because all the schools in Italy (maybe even Europe) get out then, as well as many American universities. Others want to avoid the summer heat, which can be but is not always as horrible in other Italian cities.
DO NOT GO TO VENICE IF POSSIBLE in May, July, first three weeks of August, and November (November is high point of acqua alta).
I am a big fan of December and January, and have had very agreeable weather and no crowds both previous times. The forecast for my upcoming stay is (for the whole time) 51 by day, 35 by night). That is spring in Maine! Of course I am always wary of weather forecasters, but this seems consistent.
But above all avoid November and May. If you like heat July and August might work for you, but it's crowded and hot. If I could go in Sept or Oct or April, those would probably be my optimal times.
We were there once in early November. Having been there before during warm sunny times, my wife was disappointed that my first time in Venice - and everywhere else from Bologna to Venice, was blanketed in the Nebbia, as her family near Bologna refers to it. I actually found it to be romantic and intriguing, feeling I was seeing a Venice most didn't. It was beautiful, from Saint Marks Square, looking across the water, through the fog, and seeing San Giorgio Maggiore and St. Maria of Salute. Took a few great pictures which reminded me of something out of an old movie. There were few people around then. When I saw it in sunny May, I was joined by 100,000 of my closest tourist friends. If I had to choose between the two, I would take November but would prefer prof's recommendation of Sept/Oct or April.
i apologize for the awkward typing ( tablet) but i got in yesterday to beautiful weather. plus there's no one here but venetians! i walked from cannaregio after dinner to rialto and the decorations are gorgeous, especially reflecting off the water. i got one pic of the bridge around 7pm with about 4 people on it. and once again a fabulous room at the pesaro. life is good!
would you believe i walked straight into san marco (no lines whatsoever) and since they were not enforcing the photo policies at all -- people were taking flash photos like crazy, i used my non flash camera to get my first ever interior shots. i'll be going back for vespers then mass tonight.
had another great meal at do leoni and the weather continues perfect. the maitre d' there told me december, strangely, is usually like this. it is much nicer than when i was here in october let alone the heat of summer. and walking through the main streets it's like being in a very small town.
i think you're right about this trip, jerry!