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Italy, coming soon!

My poor LiveJournal just can't seem to get regular updating, a combination I think of a shift in my work pattern (longer hours, more stress, but interesting stuff going on) and of finding way too many things to *read*, and thus less time to post. So the LJ mostly comes to mind when I want to blog a trip...and coming up is a family trip to Italy.

Younger niece decided to apply for School Year Abroad in Italy for her junior year of high school, got accepted, and is living with a host family in Viterbo, north of Rome. I'm going with my brother's family, including sister-in-law's mom, to see her over winter break. (When SIL told me about niece's plans, she said "if she gets in, Christmas in Italy, right?" Right!)

We leave next Thursday, arrive in Rome at 8 AM Friday, spend a couple of days there, a couple of days in Viterbo including Christmas Eve dinner with the host family (communication will be through the niece), get up early Christmas Day and go to Venice by way of Rome. Then it will be a longer stay in Florence, one night in Sorrento so we can do Pompeii and the archaeological museum in Naples, then back to Rome to fly home. Two weeks total.

We've got some sightseeing planned like the Pompeii day, and advance tickets for the Uffizi and a guided tour of the Academia in Florence, but mostly we'll wander...as best we can with our diverse group of ages, physical conditions, and interests. It may be a lot of sitting in cafes and enjoying the atmosphere. We'll see.

Any "must see" recommendations are welcomed. coalboy, got any things we're likely to miss in Florence if we don't go looking for them? Rome is going to be frustrating, because there's so much there but we only have our (jet-lagged) arrival day plus one, and the Christmas crowds will be there. We tried to get tickets for the tour of the underbelly of the Colosseum, but it was sold out.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
coalboy
Dec. 14th, 2012 03:52 am (UTC)
Florence!!!!!!!!!!
OOOOH! I only just -happened- to check this, not having done so in over 10 days! MUST: the museum of the cathedral, and will you please get the name of the sculptor of the Madonna and Child, a square, flattish, monochrome thing near the Pieta in that museum? I don't remember how you are about heights - wasn't that a Sarah problem coming back from Asheville? If okay, go up the Campanile and the Dome. I adored Santa Croce's chapels along the east wall. BE SURE to get the guidebook at the gift shop there before looking at anything other than the nave - the explications are much more complete. And be sure you get the English - I got the Italian too quickly & had to exchange. Also the Spanish Chapel at Santa Maria Novella, & the guidebook isn't as detailed as I would have liked. For your sister-in-law specifically, the Jewish Museum at La Sinagoga, which Diane & I liked. Sinagoga itself not as outstanding. We didn't get to the Medici Chapel, & I'm not sure it's a must, nor the Laurentian Library. Be sure to get your concierge to get timed tickets before you get there - saves hours of standing in line. It will probably rain, even if you are going 3 weeks later than we did. Take umbrellas that won't blow inside out, or -invest- once you get there - 5 euro ones aren't sturdy enough.
Continuing in private message!

Edited at 2012-12-14 04:22 am (UTC)
navhelowife
Dec. 14th, 2012 04:22 am (UTC)
Rome is a wonderful city. Go ahead and buy tickets for a tour of Col. - its worth it as you skip the long lines, and the tickets are good for across the street as well - Palatine hills are across the street. You can ditch your tour guide and take your time once you are inside, although we found our guide to be very good. We didn't do the underbelly either, but still it is amazing. Oh, and if you buy bottled water, save your bottle. There are little wall fountains and spigots that you can refill it from. One is right inside the gates of the Palatine Hills.

In Florence, there is a piazza near the Uffizi that has copies of all the famous statues - we enjoyed looking at those. And the Duomo and Baptistry are good to see as well, plus there is a little museum nearby that has diffferent exhibits - we saw one on Leonardo Da Vinci. I think there is a museum attached to the duomo (Cathedral) in Florence- had another version of La Pieta like the one in the Vatican. We walked across the famous bridge in Florence (not really worth it), watch out for the gypsies - horrible for begging and pickpocketing. If possible, I'd eat breakfast "in", and have a late lunch or a late snack - most places don't start serving dinner till late in the evening.

The markets (and whole atmosphere) of Rome and Florence couldn't be more different. Northern Italians and Southern Italians are quite different in approaches to life. One is not better than the other, just different.

Just to let you know if you sit down in a cafe - a coffee shop- you will be charged more. So stand at the bar or take your food and sit near a fountain or something. The table fee is often quite steep.
Food is more expensive in Florence than in Rome - but in Florence you should have the bread soup - it is a regional specialty. That same piazza with the copies of statues has a restaurant in it as well, that's where we ate. Also there is one near the market that is reasonable and good. There is a good hole in the wall pizza place in Rome near the Pantheon

Although he sometimes drives me insane, Rick Steves books are good for the places you are going. So are the DK books if you can find them.

Christmas will be insane in Vatican City, so I don't know if you are going to try for that or not. I will say, if you do, visit the Castle, and do the Vatican museum first THEN the Church - most people do the opposite.

I don't know where you are staying in Rome, but this website has some good suggestions - http://www.rome.info/itineraries/

I am so envious. I love Italy. People love Pompeii, but if you get the chance, check out Herculenum (I am totally butchering the spelling, but...)

Hope this helps!




jekni
Dec. 14th, 2012 04:43 am (UTC)
Don't know if you have already booked your accommodation in Florence but I heartily recommend this place:

http://www.hotelcolomba.com/?gclid=CN2fvaOKmbQCFWs8pgodsX8AkQ

We stayed there in 1994 when on our honeymoon and Jane stayed there last year when she went. Lovely place and really nice people. (Rosanna lived in Australia for ages and was my brother's maths teacher :-))

The San Lorenzo markets are fantastic for leather coats - we still wear ours nearly 20 years later.
coalboy
Dec. 14th, 2012 05:44 am (UTC)
Yes, Hotel Colomba! The elevator is tiny, but bigger than the Parisian one this Sept. And yes, Herculaneum. When I was 13, my mother & grandmother went on a Med cruise & called Pop & me to join them, connected in Cairo via train. Pompeii & Herc was the one day I was sick. mild envy.
I've just spent the past 2 hours looking through guides. It's more a question of what -must- you see than out of the way spots. You don't have enough time. Il Pirato for food, around 2 left turns from Colomba! This icon is the part of the choir loft now in the cathedral museum. I sing "Let everything that hath breath praise the Lord" each time I see the picture - carved along the bottom.
nlbarber
Dec. 15th, 2012 08:50 pm (UTC)
We're booked at the Hotel Cellai, which looks to be 10 minutes or so from Hotel Colomba. Maybe we can still get to Il Pirato....
navhelowife
Dec. 15th, 2012 11:01 pm (UTC)
If I remember correctly, nothing is all that far from anything in Florence.
We walked all over the place, but taxis are available!
filkferengi
Dec. 24th, 2012 12:17 am (UTC)
Buon' Natale!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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