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Two Important Large Cities of Italy

Two great large cities in Italy are Rome and Florence. This doesn’t mean Naples, Bologna and Milan are not great or important. Italy has four categories of city that we love:

  1. Large cities – These are Milan, Bolgna, Florence, Rome and Naples
  2. Famous smaller cities – Venice, Verona, Capri, Sorrento, Positano, Amalfi, Salerno, Palermo
  3. Mountain Towns – There are so many of these from good size cities to very small towns that we could not begin to list them.
  4. Seaside Towns – Again way too many of these as well. These are towns that are on the sea and not in any other category above.

Today we look at two of the large cities in Italy that we have VLOGGED on:

Rome

Roma is the capitol of Italy and is a very cosmopolitan city. Roma has subways (the Metro), busses, and taxis. Driving in the historic central is difficult and illegal without a pass. If you are staying at a hotel in the center you can get a pass. Streets are crazy. One ways going against where you want to go. We once mapped walking to a place in Roma but had the GPS on driving by mistake. It took much longer to drive it than walk it.

Roma has everything a tourists needs:

  • Great restaurants (Bars, Ristorante, and Trattorias)
  • Museums
  • Architecture – Roma is one big outdoor museum
  • Parks
  • Shopping

Walk with us in our video below and see the famous sites of Roma. Walk the small narrow streets and see the wide large avenues. Roma is to be studied slowly with a glass or two of wine. Study it, observe its people, enjoy its sites, marvel at its museums and pay attention to its fashion. Place your hand into the mouth of truth if you dare (Bocca della Verità).

Florence

Firenze is another very modern cosmopolitan city with all the forms of transportation as Roma. The museums are unreal (the renaissance started here). A visit to Firenze is incomplete without a visit to the Uffizi museum. Learn about how the Medici leaders travelled in secret from their offices (Uffizi Museum today) to their palace (Palazzo Medici Riccardi). Climb the stairs to a vista overlooking the city central and walk across the Ponte Vecchio bridge. See Saint Peter’s Basilica and Vatican City (An independent country not part of Italy where the Pope is President). Come walk with us and see all of this and more in the video below.

Be Romantic! Visit Italy!

– George

Categories: Bars, Beach Resorts, BLOG, Bocca della Verità, Bologna, Capri, Driving in Italy, Eating, Eating Italian, Europe, Florence, Food, General Travel, Italian, Italy, Italy BLOGs, Metro Travel, Milan, Mountain Towns, Museums, Naples, Planning a vacation, Ponte Vecchio, Positano, Ristorante, Romance, Rome, sea, Shopping, Small Towns, Sorrento, Spanish Steps, Taxi, Towns, Trains, Traveling without a tour, Uffizi, Vatican City, Venice, Verona, VLOG, Walking, Wine | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Rome Tour – Day 3

We have already seen a lot of Rome but there is so much more to do and see. Put your walking shoes back on because we will be walking more today. As usual we start our tour at the Trevi Fountain. Today we are headed to Vatican City. We normally do not take tours but the Vatican is a good place to take a tour. You can sign up at your hotel. Then just walk or take the Metro to the Vatican and join your tour.

On our walk to the vatican we will first visit and cross the Bridge of Angels and then enter Castel di Angelo. GPS your way to the Bridge of Angels and the Castle of Angeles. You will see the Tiber River and the Bridge of Angels. As you cross the river look at each statue of an angel. The castle is directly on the other side of the bridge.

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Bridge and Castle

Inside the castle climb to the top and be rewarded with views of Rome and Saint Peters. As you leave the castle turn right onto Via della Conciliation into Piazza San Pietro. There are many shops and restaurants along this road. The cathedral is right in front of you. If you have tickets for Vatican City tour, Go there first and you can exit the Sistine Chapel into Saint Peters Cathedral. Getting to the Vatican City Tour Entrance is about a mile from the castle. GPS it or take a taxi. Inside the entrance is a ticket office where you can join a tour or buy a ticket and tour on your own. You will see many things here and the tour ends in the Sistine Chapel. You have a choice there to exit back the way you came or exit directly into Saint Peters Cathedral. Once in Saint Peters you can not go back. You will exit the church normally and be in Piazza San Pietro. The Castle of Angels is directly ahead on Via della Conciliation. Information on tours can be found here.

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Saint Peters viewed from the Castle

From the Castle cross back over the bridge to go to Mouth of truth (Bocca della Verità). Set your GPS from the Castle to the Bocca della Verità. It is a about a mile and a half walk. It is outside a small church, Santa Maria in Comedian. The legend has it that if you place your hand in the mouth and it comes out OK, you tell the truth. If you lose your hand you are a liar. We saw many Italian women place their hands in and withdraw them successfully but most of the men would not do it.

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Line waiting to place hand in the Mouth of Truth

As always GPS your walk on you smart phone, take a taxi or the Metro. Roman is easy to get around. Always have your hotel name and address programmed in your smart phone. You can show a taxi driver the name or use the address to GPS your way back.

George

Categories: Bocca della Verità, Castel Sant'Angelo, General Travel, GPS, Rome, Saint Peter's Basilica, Taxi, Traveling without a tour, Trevi Fountain, Vatican City | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How to Plan a Trip to Italy – Part 14

All good things come to an end. It is your last day in Italy. Most large cities have several ways to get to the airport. Listed in order from least expensive to most:

  1. Hotel shuttle – Many hotels have a shuttle bus to the airport.
  2. Train – You can usually find a train to the airport. In Rome for example you can take a Metro (subway) or taxi from your hotel to the train station. Then there is a special train to the airport. In Rome it takes you right into the parking structure where the rental cars are. It is a short walk to the terminals.
  3. Driver and Car service – Hire a driver to take you from your hotel to the airport. In Rome there are several of these services.
  4. Taxi – Take a taxi from your hotel to the airport.

Trains Italy

We did not include a car since you really don’t want a car in most Italian large cities. The streets are crazy, you need a special permit to enter the old town areas and it is expensive to park.

At the airport you have time and look at all the stores. These are usually very expensive stores but fun to look at. Then you see Duty Free Shopping. I am amazed at how many people get duped into duty-free buying. Duty free doesn’t mean cheapest it just means no duty (tax). We find that wines and liquor at duty-free is 20-30% higher than our tax-free store, Total Wines, in Delaware. Duty on these products is nowhere near that high.

Airport

Buy your gifts in town at small inexpensive non tourist places and wait to buy your alcohol at home. The only exception is if you find something you can not get at home or if it is a local product and much cheaper than home. Never buy it at duty-free.

Remember if there is any possibility of a trip back to Europe, DO NOT EXCHANGE YOUR EUROS BACK TO DOLLARS! Save your money for the next trip.

Board your plane and relax. You are on your way home! Yes it is depressing to leave Italy but you will be back. Italy has a pull on us. It makes us want to return. It forces us to eat well and be romantic. It slows us down … If we allow it.

American Airlines

Tomorrow is the last in this series. We will talk about cultural shock of coming home!

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Airplanes, Duty-Free, Euro, Europe, Italy, Metro Travel, Parking Garage, Taxi, Trains | Tags: , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Ravello Pictorial

Yesterday we were in Amalfi and today we take a short bus ride (or taxi) up 3 miles of very narrow winding road to the town of Ravello. Ravello has a population of only about 2,500 people. This two towns are on the Amalfi Coast in Campania in southern Italy. Ravello was a refuse for the rich and famous. They could come here and relax without photographers or the public. The list included Richard Wagner and Greta Garbo.

Ravello has a Duomo (Cathedral) and two villas:

  1. Villa Cimbrone (both 11th century) and
  2. Villa Rufolo (13th century)

These are worth a visit. We loved Villa Cimbrone. It has wonderful gardens and old buildings. You can walk out to the edge of the cliff and see the sea far below. You can also see the mountain road you took up.

The square in town is a nice place to relax and have a drink or gelato. You will find a tourist information place just off the square. The bus stops outside the town. Walk through a small tunnel that takes you through the old wall to the city center.

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Villa Cimbrone

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Path at Villa Cimbrone

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The road up

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Edge of Villa Cimbrone with sea view

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Edge with sea view

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The view

If you are going to the Amalfi Coast, don’t miss Amalfi or Ravello. They are worth a day trip. Take the ferry from Sorrento, Positano or Salerno.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Amalfi, Amalfi Coast, Campania, Duomo, Europe, Ferries, Gelato, General Travel, Italy, Mountain Towns, Positano, Ravello, Salerno, Small Towns, Sorrento, Southern Italy, Taxi, Villa Cimbrone | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Florence, The City of the Rennaisance

Florence is the largest city we visited on this trip. It is a wonderful city of museums and sites. This is home to David, the duomo, the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio (old bridge). We will discuss Florence over the next few days. Today we will talk about the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and the Piazzale Michelangiolo.

Our trip in was by car. Florence is a big city with a lot of small streets. The center has restricted driving but you can drive in if you have a hotel reservation. We found a garage around the corner from our hotel and we had only two small streets to take to get there. Our first view was when we crossed the Ponte Santa Trinita (bridge). We looked down the river and saw the old bridge, the Ponte Vecchio.

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This old bridge used to sell meats and food but the rulers, the Medici, didn’t like the smell so they banned all sales on the bridge except gold. To this day it is full of gold jewelry shops. This is a fun bridge to walk across. If you notice the top of the bridge, there is a passage way. You can go in this by appointment only. It was used by the Medici to cross from their palace (Pitta) to the Uffizi where they worked and ruled.

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There is a gelato store at the other side of Ponte Vecchio if you are there on a hot day.

The Duomo is impressive on the outside. The inside is not as impressive as the duomo in Siena. The baptistery is separate from the church because an unbaptized person couldn’t enter the church. The doors tell a bible story in gold. These are a replica since being outside would eventually ruin them. The originals are in the Opera del Duomo museum nearby.

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Lines can be very long at the Duomo and Baptistery. Go early or later in day. The piazza that includes the duomo is impressive. Stroll around it and be amazed that we humans could build such a structure in marble.

The last thing to discuss today is the Piazzale Michelangiolo. This is a small area high on a hill across the Arno River. From here you can see fantastic vistas of all of Florence. You can go by bus, taxi or walk. We walked and there are a lot of stairs but the vista was worth it. You cross the bridge, Ponte all Grazie (one down from Ponte Vecchio) and follow the signs to the Piazzale Michelangiolo. Soon you will be on a long set of stairs. At the top is a tourist trap and the most beautiful views of Florence. Do not miss this!

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Tomorrow we will continue our tour of Florence.

George & Jo Anne

 

Categories: Driving in Italy, Duomo, Europe, Florence, Gelato, Italy, Parking Garage, Romance, Taxi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

How Much Money to Take on a European Vacation?

Money is a very personal thing. How much you need is related to how you spend, what you buy and how often. If you are going buy Gucci products in Italy, you will need some money. We like to arrive with some Euros in our pocket. Maybe 200- 400 so we can buy tickets, take a taxi, etc. Most restaurants and stores take credit cards. There used to be a problem at some places because the European credit card machines require a computer chip on their credit cards. The US has finally caught up to the rest of the world and most banks are now issuing credit cards with both the old stripe and the new chip. Choose a credit card that does NOT charge an extra foreign transaction fee. There are many today to choose from.

You can get money from a European ATM easily. His is the easiest way to replenish your cash. Banks offer great exchange rates but can take a while to fill out paperwork and get your cash. When you are returning home, don’t exchange your Euros back to dollars if you plan another trip in the next few years. The double exchange is very costly. Hold on to your Euros with your passports and use them on the next trip.

Traveling is fun and money shouldn’t be the main concern. You are on vacation and you should relax and enjoy the trip.

George & Jo Anne

Categories: Cash, Dollars, Euro, Europe, Exchange Rates, Italy, Taxi | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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