5 nights Rome, 5 nights Venice and then Tuscany area for 8 nights. We would much appreciate suggestions for guides and must places to see and activities to do in these cites and areas. Also places to consider to stay in Tuscany as we have not finalized our overnight accommodations there yet. Just two of us in Rome and Venice and then we meet up with another couple in Tuscany. Any hints to best utilize the Boscolo Palace and Boscolo Venezia would be nice. We are searching for private guides or drivers, special day trips, restaurants, cooking classes, hiking or walking route recommendations.
Tommylee, just noticed your post. Suggest you visit one of my photo albums - At top of page, click on "Browse", then "Photos", and advance to page 9. You'll see some photos I've posted in Tuscany and other areas around Venice. I also just posted recently some photos of Venice, including Marriott Boscola in Venice, but here are a few more:
If you're arriving via airplane into Marco Polo Airport, I'd suggest arranging for public transportation (water taxi) at information desk. You will exit at Madonna dell Orto port and you can walk 5 minutes to the Boscolo. If you arrive via train, it's a bit more of a hike along the Lista di Spagna. You can get directions at train station information desk. My favorite restaurant in Venice is the Antica Trattolria Poste Vecie, 1608 S. Poly (near Rialto Bridge). Breakfast at the Boscolo is great.
If you're driving south, or taking train - perhaps to Florence - we usually don't take too much time in Florence, but stay south of the city in San Gimignano at the Locandra La Mandragola B&C inside the city walls. It's a 45 minute drive from Florence and great place to tour Tuscany from here. Don't expect to check into Mandragola before 4:00 PM, though, as they won't answer the door. I took the photo of Tuscan valley below from wall inside San Gimignano. You can park outside the Porta San Matteo and take your luggage to the Locandra and then park in car park below the city at daily rate. From here you can take day trips to Siena, Montalcino, Montepulciano, Cortona, all designated in Tuscany (or Toscana,as the Italians say).
Also, south of Florence is the walled city of Lucca , 1 hour drive, and you can stay here, but I would recommend the Renaissance Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort - http://renaissancetuscany.com, some 1.5 hours north of Lucca and overlooking the small town of Barga, which is a must to visit. Great accommodations and food at Ciocco and staff is wonderful. Tell Pamella Cimzia and general manager, George Midleje, I said "hello" and that I recommended this place. From here you can also visit coastal towns of Cinque Terre, but you have to park in Spiezia and take train the Cinque Terre, as you can't drive here. Don't waste your time in Pisa, unless you want a photo in front of the tower.
To me, there is no other place like the Marriott Grand Flora, and if you arrive via train just take a taxi to the hotel. If you don't smoke, request "non-smoking" room; I believe they only have two of these floors, an exception in European Marriott hotels. This is excellent place to visit all the familiar tourist places in the old city, but take time to visit Trastevere, across the Tevere Fiume (river), near the Coliseum and Pantheon. We have found the "Hop on - Hop Off" tour buses, which the hotel concierge desk can book for you, is the best way to see the city.
If you're flying out of Rome you can stay at Marriott Courtyard near Fiumicino Airport, where you can check in your auto and take hotel shuttle back to CY.
Excellent information once again fschumpert, I especially like the Toscana part as we will be staying at the Renaissance for a few nights next summer. Thank for the photos as well on Page 9.
Are you driving or taking trains? I would recommend a number of places between Rome and Venice:
Assisi - beautiful town, home to St. Francis and St. Clare.
San Gimignano - Near Florence, one of the most beautifully preserved walled medieval towns, with the seven beautiful towers.
Montepulciano - A gorgeous walled city, on the top of a small mountain, with incredible views. There are a number of wineries inside the mountain. You can tour them and then taste their wares. Inside the caves, it is very chilly. The food there was wonderful. Quite hilly walking about town but worth it.
Florence - everyone has to do it once.
Lucca - Love this place. Just a wonderful, laid back walled town. One of our favorites. Wonderful food.
Ferrara - beautiful small town heading south out of Venice, toward Bologna. Castle right in the center of town.
Bologna - beautiful city, more leaning towers than a dozen Pisas. Some of the very best food in Italy, ergo the world.
Cinque Terra - This is a must see, if you have the time. Five beautiful towns, carved into the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean, connected by rail. You can either walk along the cliff walk between them all or train from one to the next. Incredible views and towns.
Siena and Perugia are both beautiful cities, but you may be citied out after Rome and Venice. The other recommendations are smaller, hill towns to give you a broader experience of that region.
If you need food recommendations, I would be happy to share - in each of the towns.
We are heading to Rome in April for a week. In the last couple of years, we have decided to pick one, maybe two cities and just focus on them. We have been to Rome a number of times, but as part of a larger trip. So, we will look for the less obvious sites and many neighborhood dining gems. Can't wait.
Not sure if you are christian or just otherwise interested, but there are a few things at the Vatican you may enjoy. First, the Pope has a general audience on Wednesday's. If you order your tickets early, you usually end up close to the altar. We were just to the left of Pope Benedict. Also, there is a very special tour, called the Scavi Tour, which takes you beneath St. Peters. It was truly incredible. Because it is relatively tight quarters, they can't take that many people, so you need to book it as soon as you can, if interested. http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/institutions_connected/uffscavi/documents/rc_ic_uffscavi_doc_gen-information_20090216_en.html
Then there is the vatican museums and the Sistine chapel. On our last trip there, with our adult kids this time, we did all three in one LONG day. The vatican museums has a cafeteria which is perfectly adequate to get you through the day. I believe the order was: Audience with the pope, vatican museums and lunch (you can also get your tickets in advance for the museums so you don't have to wait in line) and then the Scavi Tour - then a place about two blocks away for a very large cold beer and wine to rest our tired feet. Wonderful day though!
Thank you psudad and fschumpert for all yor suggestions, I am travelling with my wife next October for our 25th anniversary and her 50th birthdary, will arrive in Bologna and plan to rent a car and drive to Il Ciocco or it would be better to take a train to Florence and the. Rent a car there? Will be at Il Ciocco for 5 days and based on your suggestions those are the places to visit while in Il Ciocco, how far is Florence from the hotel is it possible to leave a car elsewhere in Florence for a day trip? Then we will drive up to Venice and be staying at the Boscolo as well, I guess is a good idea to drop there the car since it is useless right?
HAve you all a wonderfull X-MAS and a blessed 2014, greetings from Costa Rica! If my country is under your radar please let me know, we don't have snow here so I leave you with
Best wishes on your forthcoming trip. Since trains are quite reliable in Italy, we don't travel much via auto, except when necessary, and this is usually true if you plan to visit small, country towns. But, then you can normally rendezvous with bus service. Driving an auto, however, provides more flexibility, but I would recommend paying a few hundred Euros extra for a GPS navigation system. *Don't leave this in your auto overnight, or when parked in a city as this might be a target for thieves!
You're right, there is no need for an auto in Venice. Regarding distance from Florence to the Renaissance near Barga, it's approximately 45 minutes to exit off the A11 motorway heading SW toward Lucca, and another 45-60 minutes from Lucca to the hotel. Some GPS's don't get you past Galicano, so drive north past Gallicano, approximately 3-5 miles, in direction of Castelnuovo (but you don't go this far). You'll pass through a small village and in middle of town turn right across a bridge and up the hill and follow signs to Ciocco Resort, Via Giovanni Pascoli. If you have trouble, call 39-0583-7691.
You can also take a train to Lucca and bus from there to Ciocco, but if you're staying here five days you don't have many options for visiting area - particularly Barga, as shown in photo I took from my balcony room at Ciocco.
When you make your reservations at Ciocco, suggest you ask for room in newly-renovated section of the resort; however, by then perhaps all the rooms will have undergone renovation.
You might also check your Marriott site before making reservations in Venice next year as I understand a new JW Marriott will be available across the waterway near Piazza San Marco. I doubt it would be any less expensive than the Boscolo, though.
Hope this is helpful - if you have questions, let me know.
My wife and I spent 2 nights at Boscolo Roma this month between trips to Sicily and Portugal. We've already been to Italy a couple of times and have seen most of the sights. Boscolo Roma's location at via Veneto is very convenient for walking, say to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. It's also convenient for dining. The hotel itself is so so in my opinion.
We loved our 6 nights at the Grand Flora in April. Wonderful hotel. Boscolo Palace is about two or three blocks down the Via Veneto, on the opposite side of the street. It is a beautiful white marble building that actually curves to follow the curve of the Via Veneto. It is across the street from the US Embassy.
Haven't stayed at Boscolo in Rome, but have the Grand Flora, which is "top drawer", if you like this kind of place! We have stayed in Venice Boscolo and it was also great.See some photos posted of Boscolo and other locations posted earlier:
My son and his family are at Venice Boscolo today. They rented auto in Milan and drove to Venice and parked auto in car/bus park near train station. You could do same if you have auto, or if you arrive via train you could walk to the Boscolo, and I could send directions accordingly. Or, if you arrive in Marco Polo Airport, I'd suggest taking public water transportation to Del Orto stop and you can walk to Boscolo from there.
My favorite restaurant in Venice is Poste Vechi, which is located near the fish market and Rialto Bridge.
Our favorite place in Tuscany is San Gimigiano , south of Florence, and Renaissance Pascoli (in photo) , north of Lucca and Pisa, and near Gallicano. I wouldn't waste time going to Pisa, but Cinque Terre, along southern coast of Italy, would be a nice day trip.
If you need suggestions about places to stay in San Gimigiano let me know. It's quite central to Tuscan locations, such as Sienna and Montepulchiano. You can take buses to most of these spots, trains to nearby larger cities.
If you need more specific information let me know.
We will be headed to Cinque Terre in late August so you can be I'll be ringing your bell on some dining and other things to enjoy fschumpert.
You might already know this, but you can't drive in Cinque Terre, so I'd advise driving to La Spezia, park your car and take train to the "5 lands" (Cinque Terre): especially Riomaggiore, Monterosso, Lavanto and Bonassola, and then take train back to car park. You might also want to continue driving along coast to Portofino, just off the coastal road.
If you need any other help let me know.
Should you decide to stay at the Renaissance Pascoli near Barga (north of Lucca), it's a wonderful place to spend weekend, and food there is great! - http://www.renaissancetuscany.com - Georges Midleje is GM - tell him I recommended your visit.
Don't know if this has changed or not, but the last time we drove to Tuscany Il Ciocco Resort, the auto GPS was confused upon arrival in the town of Gallicano. I had to call Ciocco and get directions. Basically, you continue on same road (Hwy 12) from Lucca and drive past Gallicano toward Castelnuovo for about 3-5 miles and turn right over a river bridge in a small town in direction of Barga. If needed, call Ciocco - 39-0583-7691 - or email for directions before you go. Don't bother going to Castelnuova, but definitely visit Barga one day. Take time to
climb steps (see photo) to Duomo on hill for lovely sight of valley below.
That's a gorgeous picture, and yes we will be visiting Barga as well.
I remember reading what you wrote months ago about the GPS getting confused when trying to find the hotel, so I plugged the address into my Droid and poof, gave me directions to the front door of the place. Now when I get to Italy it will probably not do that!
Good, Renaissance was aware of GPS error when we visited, so perhaps they corrected directions. Word of caution about a small matter: the hotel breakfast buffet is included in room rate, but if you order an egg omelet this is extra charge.
(Photo I took from balcony of room)
Also, if you visit Lucca, I'd suggest you park in large car park alongside road that wraps around city when you arrive from Gallicano (or coming from Renaissance), instead of trying to park near the Lucca city wall entrance. I believe there are only two entrances into the city, and the parking places along side the city walls are short term and more expensive.
Say "hello" to Puccini when you visit Lucca!
Thanks so very much for those tips, I will certainly ask for fschumpert room and will also say hello to your good friend "Puccini" for ya.
We loved Lucca. Stayed there three nights but did day trips to Cinque Terre, and Florence, so we didn't spend nearly as much time in Lucca as we would have liked. So tranquil. When in Rome, only a few blocks from your hotel, highly recommend dining at Osteria 44. Tell Sergio Lou Martel said hello. Wonderful dining experience and great food! Also in the same neighborhood, treat yourself to a great dinner, to include some fabulous pizza, at San Marco.
Have you gone to Lucca yet? After three computer crashes (in which I lost my photo software and had to go through ever single set of downloaded photos as a date and rename them), I have a new computer and have finished that task. I found some of my photos of Lucca. I stayed at the Hotel Ilaria, which was in my view the best hotel in town -- they even let you use their bicycles for free. Anyway, here are some photos to add to the others.
Love Lucca. Sweet town...lots to walk around, bike the wall, travel outside the area easily! Really nice shopping.
We stayed in a villa there up in the hills...awesome and the next time in an apartment in town. Sounds like an aweeeeesssoommme trip. I have one all planned out that includes a couple night in Rome...again, out at the hotel in the Italian hills and then to Venice for a few!
You are so right about the music! You made me think of times I have gone to masses in great churches -- they have been some of the most beautiful experiences of my life, both because of the setting and the spirituality especially on holidays. I went to Christmas mass at Notre-Dame in Paris, a New Year's Day mass at San Marco's Basilica, and an incredible Pentecost mass in the Duomo in Florence. I'm attaching some Florence photos from several years ago, not taken during mass (that's one of the things that makes it so special -- people aren't flashing cameras or rushing around aisles -- instead you can concentrate on every sensual/spiritual aspect of the environment). I'm including the famous dome, the exterior, Ghiberti's door on the Baptistery across from the Duomo (Michelangelo, on seeing them, supposedly called them the Gates of Paradise), the Arno bridge, and views of the city. Brings back memories!
It's fun for me too because now that I have my photo albums renamed, I'm getting to look at (in some cases like Florence after several years) the places again and relive the experiences. It's the same reason the walls of my apartment are covered with Shutterfly enlargements of all my favorite photos. [I better die in this apartment or there will be hell to pay, literally.]
Well, I learned something today (thank you), I mistakenly thought all this time that the east doors were done by Bernini. Glad to know the real facts. I was actually thinking of the concerts that are frequently given in churches across Europe (and specific to this thread Lucca and Florence), but it's true, the mass singing is other-worldly. I listened to a beautiful mass at the National Cathedral here on American soil last year and it was so lovely. I was trying to sort out some of the choral music schedules at Salisbury Cathedral for next year, in hopes of getting to enjoy a junior choir concert, and am still sorting that out (it looks like I'll have to either call or email the choir dept., or just wait; they don't have next year's schedule published), but it looks like we can at least enjoy an Evansong mass.
So this is veering off topic a bit, and sorry to anyone not interested. I was going to digress further, but I'll start a separate thread.
Giorgio Vasari, who wrote the sometimes exaggerated, sometimes falsified and always useful Lives of the Artists, made famous what his own master Michelangelo supposedly told him about the doors:
“When Michelangelo (Buonarotti [1475-1564]) the panels saw
Gleaming upon the church in gilded bronze
Amaz’d he stood; after long wonder thus
The solemn silence broke: ‘O work divine!
O door worthy of heaven!’”
Yes, we were in Lucca in 2011 and we also stayed at Hotel Illaria. Wonderful place and great breakfast. We were not in the main hotel,but in the annex about a block away. Wonderful rooms. We had three rooms for the six of us. Great hotel and great people. Loved Lucca! Only regret is, though we were there three nights, we did day trips to Cinque Terra and Florence, instead of spending much time in Lucca, other than dinners and a two hour stroll our last day. We'll be back.
We stayed at the Boscolo in Venice and it was delightful! The hotel was very helpful with their suggestions and helped us find a gondola guide that took us off the usual circuit. It was great fun! The hotel is pretty far away from where the main action is but everything is walkable. We liked being out of the way. The vaporetto stop was easy to use and convenient to the hotel if you get tired of wandering the alleys.