City Passes

How to enjoy Italy Fully

Italy is a place most people love. They may like the big cities, the smaller villages, the towns their ancestors came from, the museums, the food, the wine or the people. I love it all. Italy is a special place. This is why I BLOG about it.

Italian Wine Regions

For my wife, Jo Anne, and I; we don’t believe in tours. We enjoy getting out with the Italians and seeing and tasting the real Italy. We plan trips to big cities so that we see all the important things but the smaller villages are often a spontaneous choice. We may be driving on the autostrada and see an interesting town high on a cliff side. We get off, use our GPS to locate the town and go explore it. We usually stop at a bar first for a coffee and maybe a pastry. These small villages are not hard to navigate but many do have a lot of stairs. Remember where you parked your car or use one of the many apps to find it.

Pisciotta D-Positano aea D-Positano fg San Marino bari_seaview Beaches near Rome 2 IMG_1839 IMG_3211

We also enjoy small European hotels but do pay for a private bath. These hotels are often run by a family that is friendly and helpful. We never stay at the large American resort hotels. They are expensive and the food is not real Italian. We try to eat where the Italians eat. We get local recommendations or find places on our walks. We never eat in touristy places. The food there is horrible. Most larger cities have discount tickets for the major museums and sites. If you are spending a few days, this can save you money but more importantly bypasses the long lines waiting to get in.

Lastly, explore your flight options to Italy carefully. Some flights with several stops appear to be very cheap. Each stop adds time to an already long trip and wears heavily on your body. Some of these flights go way out of your way adding double the flight time. One I saw was from Philadelphia to Rome. It went to Chicago and then to Moscow and finally back to Rome. Why?

American Airlines

George

 

Categories: Air Fares, Bars, City Passes, Coffee, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Flights, Food, General Travel, GPS, Italian, Italy, Mountain Towns, Planning a vacation, Regions of Italy, Romance, Small Towns, Stairs, Tour Groups, Travel Guides, Traveling without a tour | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Florence Continued …

Florence is a beautiful city but can be crowded. We went early in the season but there was still crowds at David and the Uffizi. You can buy a Florence pass but it is very expensive. It is worthwhile only if you will hit most places you can use it in the time frame designated. A better choice is to buy a reservation for 4 Euros. This gives you a half hour time slot that you get in a special line and basically walk in. David and the Uffizi had hour long lines but we went in with our reservations in a few minutes.

David is at the Accademia Gallery Museum in Florence. There are many things to see here besides David but David is magnificent. His skin looks like flesh not marble. In his left hand is a slingshot and a stone in his right. He is ready for Goliath. There is a small tree stump behind his right leg. This helps support the large statues weight. It keeps it from toppling over.

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David

He was originally in the piazza near the Uffizi but the weather would have destroyed him. They moved him into the museum and made a replica for the piazza.

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Replica

There are unfinished statues in the museum as well. Michelangelo felt they were done! They were breaking out of the stone and he could do no more to improve them.

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Unfinished Statue

Next stop was the Uffizi Museum near the Ponte Vecchio. This was the offices of the Medici and the government of Florence at the time. The museum is very large on both sides of a street. There are many great works of art here like:

  1. Primavera
  2. Venus of Urbino
  3. Adoration of the Magi (several)

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The church of Santa Croce is another large and beautiful church. It can also have lines but there is a peaceful feeling inside.

Crossing the Ponte Vecchio and turning right leads to an old area that was the artist area. There are still some along the main streets but high prices have moved most of them out of Florence.

The best views of Ponte Vecchio are from one of the bridges next to it. You can view the bridge in its entirety and get great photos. Florence has many different types of restaurants that serve meat, fish, pasta and pizza. The wine is good as well. The main wine regions of Italy are nearby and you can find Italy’s finest wines:

  1. Brunello
  2. Montepulciano
  3. Chianti

Enjoy your stay in Florence. Spend at least 3 nights (two full days). Buy reservations and enjoy what this great city has to offer.

Tomorrow we drive south on the Autostrada to our home in Velina (Campania).

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: City Passes, Euro, Europe, Florence, General Travel, Italy, Museums, Pizza, Romance, Tuscany, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to Plan an Italian Vacation

We are planning a trip to Tuscany and then our home in Campania. Tuscany is a popular spot for vacationers. Here is what we do before boarding the airline:

1) Get a general idea for timeframe. This is important to determine airline costs, clothes to bring, and sites to see.

2) Price your airlines and hotels. Remember saving a few hundred dollars on an airfare that adds 10 hour stop overs is not a wise use of your money. We choose Italian hotels but insist on private baths.

3) Pick the main cities you want to see. Don’t try to do all of Italy in a week or two. All you will see is the inside of planes or trains. Good size trips are a) Northern Italy (Milan, Verona, the lakes and Venice), b) Tuscany, c)Rome and Orvieto and Pompeii, d) Naples and Capri, e) Amalfi Coast, f) Southern Italy and g) Sicily.

4) Now look around each city on a map and see what small cities are close by. Research them on the internet. If you find a great city plan on a visit. Maybe it is to see a festival or a museum or taste wine.

5) Now list the top ten things you want to see in each place. More than ten starts to use up a lot of your time. If you are going to a major museum list the top ten things in the museum you want to see.

6) Determine how you will travel to each city and in what order. Will you need a car or go by train or plane?

7) Now estimate the amount of time you will need in each city. This is critical in doing the things you want to do.

8) If your total time is more than you can take, cut something out. If you have more time, add it to tight cities.

9) Make a list of hotels, addresses, phone numbers and costs as well as museums, etc. This will help when you arrive.

10) Make a check list of what to pack and what to do before leaving like Passports, Euros, turn water off, camera, umbrellas, etc.

The most important thing about traveling in Europe is to be spontaneous. If you find something unexpected, add time to enjoy it and cut something else out. The important thing is not to check off everything on your itinerary but to create lasting memories. Be romantic and enjoy the country that created romance…Italy!

City Passes sometimes look expensive unless you are going to see most sites included but can still be worth the money to save hours of time avoiding lines. City Passes usually allow you to go to the head of the line and have minimal or no delays.

Also don’t miss out on enjoying Italian life:

1) Try some gelato
2) Local wine
3) Pastries
4) Expresso
5) Pizza
6) Pasta

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Air Fares, Amalfi Coast, Capri, City Passes, Eating Italian, Espresso, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Milan, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Orvieto, Pastry, Pizza, Pompeii, Regions of Italy, Romance, Rome, Sicily, Small Towns, Southern Italy, Trains, Tuscany, Venice, Verona, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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