Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Parla italiano?

Please help.

Needed: Travel tips, restaurant recommendations, and general advice for upcoming trip to Italy.

We are leaving in about a week, staying 2 weeks, haven't been before, can't wait. Flying into Venice and also going to Florence, Rome, and Naples via train. Just the two of us-- no tour group.

I'd love to hear from those who have been before. I know I got some restaurant raves from Bearette and others, but it wasn't on my blog and I can't remember where the info is anymore.

So, where should we go, what should we do? What should we wear? What should we watch out for? Am especially paranoid about theft. I've become obsessed with pick-pocketing stories and am so riled up that you should pity the fool who tries to steal my camera, because I will probably go apeshit.

Things that are out: anything that involves renting a car. We just don't want to do it. Aside from a trip to the Tuscan countryside while we're in Florence, we're not planning to stray very far from the cities on the list.

Things that are in: places, events, and experiences that can give us a taste of what it's really like to live there. We'll hit some of the tourist "musts", but we also hope to avoid a lot of the traps. Anything that involves good food and wine.

So any tips or advice welcome... and did I mention that I seriously cannot wait?


Blogger Lisa said...

I think you just need to take me with you as a personal guide. :-)

I'll look through my stuff at home and see what I can come up with for recommendations, especially for Rome.

Okay, this is going to be very long.

Pickpockets---They are bad. Get one of those travel wallets that you can put inside your clothes (the waist ones chafe a bit, so go for the neck ones). If you take a backpack, put it on front of you when you get into crowds or on any type of public transportation. Don't put anything valuable in a purse; on crowded buses, pickpockets slice open the bottom of the purse and pull out your belongings. You won't even know they've done it until you are off the bus. Tell your hubby to put his wallet in his front pocket (a little harder to steal from there). Leave your hotel key at the desk and don't ever carry one with you that has a key chain with the hotel name on it. Take it apart if you have to.

Beware of gypsy women with scarves, especially if they are draped over their arms. They use the scarves to hide thieving hands.

Write down the international phone numbers (usually on the back of your card) and account numbers for all your credit cards and keep the list in the hotel safe or someplace secure (not with your cards, obviously!). Consider taking a couple hundred dollars in traveler's checks. If you are pickpocketed, it can take a while for the credit card companies and your bank to issue you new cards. Meanwhile, you're stranded.

If you catch a pickpocket in the process, make some noise. Yell "thief" (ladruncolo, I think) or "Aiuto" (help). The locals hate the pickpockets and they will take care of them in their own special way. I saw some serious street justice being delivered when I was there.

Liz---Not to freak you out too much, but American women have a big problem with getting molested on public transportation, particularly the buses because they get crammed during peak hours. And I'm not talking the American-style ass grab or breast brush. This is seriously invasive harassment. First thing is preventative action: Avoid the buses during rush hour. And the locals will love you for not interrupting their daily lives (you live in DC; you should understand). If you get on a crowded bus and can't get a seat, try to stand near a group of women or up against a wall and position your hubby in front of you. If you are stuck in the middle, put the hubby behind you and have him wrap one arm around your waist. It'll make it harder for someone to get at you. And if you feel uncomfortable, go with your instincts. Get off the bus. On the main routes, another one will be by in a couple minutes.

All this said, I spent a total of 8 months in Rome and was never pickpocketed or molested. Although I knew a religious sister who had her ass grabbed on a bus. And she was in full habit and veil!So . . .

2:03 PM  
Blogger Lisa said...

Oh, when you get to Rome, go to a news kiosk near any of the big touristy places and pick up a copy of The American and Live in Rome. They'll have restaurant recommendations and a list of activities in English.

2:11 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

Thanks, Lisa. This confirms things I've read and heard... caution seems to be the key. Can't believe that nun story!

2:54 PM  
Blogger Frema said...

I have never been to Italy, so I don't have any tips except to have a wonderful time. It sounds fantastic. :)

4:23 PM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

Hi Liz,

I would check out:

Enotecca Piniciorri (Florence). 3-star Michelin restaurant. It's expensive but worth it.

Giolitti (Rome). Extremely yummy gelato. I know Lisa disagrees with me that they have the best gelato, but the Pope used to order his marron (chestnut) gelato there by the vat. Need I say more?

Margutta Vegetariano (Rome). Very good vegetarian place, with innovative cooking.

There was another place in Florence that was excellent, but I don't remember its name, and I can't find my Florence guidebook :(

12:29 AM  
Blogger Bearette24 said...

The Florence place MIGHT be called I Tre Merli. I think that's right. It was heavenly.

A gypsy tried to pick my husband's pocket on the subway. Just stay far away from them.

12:31 AM  
Blogger Liz said...

Thanks! My mouth is watering already. Mmm...

8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

have a great time!!!!!! xoxo love you lots -- K

8:22 AM  
Anonymous jenny-bean said...

i went years ago and can't remember specific places anymore... but definitely take a gondola ride and try gelato... it's delicious!

3:39 PM  
Blogger PaintingChef said...

I don't really have any good recommendations because I've never been to Italy but I read a blog entry or two about Les Cadeaux's trip to Italy. Her blog is at http://les-cadeaux.diaryland.com I think the posts are called "Firenze" and "Milano" but she even scanned in cards and/or matchbooks of the good restaurants and posted them at the bottom of the entries.

Have fun!

2:26 PM  

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