U.S. CitiesCity-Data Forum Index
Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Travel
 [Register]
Please register to participate in our discussions with 2 million other members - it's free and quick! Some forums can only be seen by registered members. After you create your account, you'll be able to customize options and access all our 15,000 new posts/day with fewer ads.
View detailed profile (Advanced) or search
site with Google Custom Search

Search Forums  (Advanced)
Reply Start New Thread
 
Old 08-29-2008, 05:24 AM
 
Location: In the sunshine on a ship with a plank
3,413 posts, read 8,001,597 times
Reputation: 2219

Advertisements

Thanks Bob. Since you live there, I'm going to pick you brain a bit more and I hope you don't mind........

What might I miss as an American tourist that you recommend seeing? I live in Florida which is another tourist mecca. There are so many buried treasures here that the majority of visitors miss because they are so focused on the tourist traps. I'd love to know of a few little gems that I would not otherwise visit. Whether it be a restaurant, market, site, place of beauty...

Also, you have a fabulous command of the English language and that leads me to believe that you may not be a native Italian. How important is it that I be able to speak Italian when I visit? Should I just get a dictionary, consider a Rosetta Stone course or take a class before I visit?
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message

 
Old 08-29-2008, 07:55 AM
 
Location: on an island
13,382 posts, read 40,931,363 times
Reputation: 13245
Quote:
Originally Posted by pirate girl View Post
Thanks Bob. Since you live there, I'm going to pick you brain a bit more and I hope you don't mind........

What might I miss as an American tourist that you recommend seeing? I live in Florida which is another tourist mecca. There are so many buried treasures here that the majority of visitors miss because they are so focused on the tourist traps. I'd love to know of a few little gems that I would not otherwise visit. Whether it be a restaurant, market, site, place of beauty...

Also, you have a fabulous command of the English language and that leads me to believe that you may not be a native Italian. How important is it that I be able to speak Italian when I visit? Should I just get a dictionary, consider a Rosetta Stone course or take a class before I visit?
Those Rosetta courses are pretty cool.
I always bring a phrasebook wherever I go.
It can be especially helpful when looking at ruins (there is usually a Latin section for Roman sites) or reading a menu.
The only problem with not driving at all is finding those little off-the-beaten-path buried treasures. Some of the best times we had were when we had rented a car and got a little bit lost. One of the most fun things we ever did as a family was visit a hot springs in southern Tuscany. I just don't think you can do that by train. But Tuscany is the only area you might miss having your own wheels.
But maybe Bob can come up with some hidden gems which are feasible for you that do not involve driving. I am going to repeat my recommendation to visit Hadrian's villa, in Tivoli, just outside of Rome. This can be done as a day trip.
It is supposedly a major tourist attraction, but was very uncrowded when we were there in early June, and a nice shady spot on a warm day.
Also: if there are art galleries you want to visit, some of them, such as the Uffizzi in Florence, can be booked ahead. No need to wait in long lines.
I quite enjoyed this little guidebook: City Secrets :Rome
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-29-2008, 02:47 PM
 
Location: NYC area
3,486 posts, read 5,070,290 times
Reputation: 3853
Rome -- I'd say three or four days. Don't just chase after the attractions. Rome is made for strolling.

Naples -- Pompeii requires a full-day excursion. You need at least a day for Naples. I'd also spend a day exploring the Amalfi coast, it's lovely.

Venice -- One day. Okay, maybe a couple, though I definitely wouldn't extend the stay in Venice at the expense of Rome or Amalfi. You definitely have to see Venice once -- and then never go back. Don't get me wrong, it's a lovely, unique, unbelievably cute gingerbread town. But alas, it exists mostly as an amusement park for sophisticated adults. Very few Venetians still live in the old city; the outrageously soaring prices have pushed most of them onto the mainland. Venice today consists predominantly of hotels, shops and palazzos of Hollywood celebrities; and in my opinion, a town that no longer has its community of residents cannot hold on to its authenticity or character (mind-blowing architecture notwithstanding). The city is full of tourist traps, the prices are astronomical (70 euros for 1/2 hour on a gondola during the day, without singing). Worst of all is the attitude of shopkeepers, hotel clerks, etc. -- abominable. What do you expect? In Venice, it's a seller's market. No matter how angry you are, Venice will always be swimming in tourists. But explore the countryside. We went to Padova, a medieval city that has, among other things, a famous chapel painted by Giotto -- only 40 km away, and people's attitude there was totally different.

Florence -- take my word for it: don't. I had huge expectations for Florence, and I was sorely, sorely disappointed. Preliminarily, Florence is choking on tourists. Lines are incredibly long and move very slowly. The city itself surprised me. I don't know what they had there -- fire, perhaps? -- but most of "old" Florence is 19th century classic revival buildings. The irritating brand of Italian conservationism (in an effort to redistribute tourist crowds, or make more money, or whatever) has stripped palaces and famous churches of their artwork and furnishings, replacing them with copies and sometimes nothing at all, moving all decorations into separate museums. The idea is basically this: a palace is gutted until it is a mere shell, and all its furnishings, including wall treatments, are removed to a museum, where they are displayed in an orderly fashion; you go and see the shell of the palace, then go to a museum (which is elsewhere totally) to look at what was once in the palace and try to imagine how it was. The famous church of Santa Croce has been stripped to its bare walls; you can see where people actually cut into walls to rip out the frescoes. It's barbaric and painful to look at; and in any event, I prefer to look at artworks in their natural environments whenever possible, not in endless display cases in museums. This is not the Florence of Dante and Machiavelli. I would not even go so far as to call it a shadow of its former self. For a person who loves history and ruins, it's heartbreaking. And it will be VERY crowded in June. Unless you want to spend most of your time viewing the backs of some people's heads, either go there in the off-season or not at all. By the way -- one day definitely isn't enough to get through all those lines.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Some additional advice:

General: Italy is one of the most outrageously bureaucratic places in the industrialized world. Not merely does it have "a" bureaucracy -- it has a culture of bureaucracy, slow and draining. Ticket sales agents, security guards, hotel clerks, information booth people -- all work very, very slowly, in a very convoluted fashion, and with every customer, act as though they are re-inventing the wheel. Often, one hand does not know what they other is doing. Lines at ticket windows are slow and lurching. Above all, be patient. With a little flexibility and a sense of humor, you won't let such minor annoyances ruin your vacation. Keep in mind also that museums in Italy are open only until 12 pm on Saturdays and closed on Sundays. Functioning churches are closed to visitors on Sundays -- and this is something they really enforce.

Rome: If you plan to see the Sistine Chapel, arrive VERY early. Seriously, I'm talking, like 5 a.m. The line outside the Vatican for the Chapel must be the longest line ever in the history of mankind -- and that's just the line to get on the ticket line. I'd scour the Internet to see if there is a way, ANY way, to reserve the tickets (officially, there isn't, or at least there wasn't the last time I was in Rome). Perhaps some local tour operators can get you in without having to go through the hassle. I'd pay a premium for it, it's worth it.

Rome: Opposite from the Colosseum is the Palatine Hill, with its Lebanon cedars and Imperial ruins. You will want to see both sites. The huge line you see snaking out of the Coliseum is actually the line for the ticket booth, not the line to enter the Colosseum. Here is what you do: Go across the street to the Palatine Hill entrance. There is a ticket booth there with NO line. Buy a combo ticket for both the Palatine Hill and the Colosseum at that booth. That'll save you about an hour. (I realize my description of the area is vague, but trust me -- when you get there, you'll know what I'm talking about.)

Pompeii: Take a Circumvesuviana train from the central station in Naples to the stop called Pompeii Scavi (not just "Pompeii" which is the modern city of Pompeii). Get there early, around the time the site opens (which is 10 or 11 am, I forget, so you have to check). You won't believe how big Pompeii is. Wear very comfortable clothes and shoes, and bring your own lunch, a bottle of water, head covering, and sunscreen. The excavated site is shaped like an egg, elongated east-west. When you buy your train ticket in Naples, you'll have the option to purchase the ticket for Pompeii, as well. Don't -- they tend to direct you to the entrance that's inconvenient. Buy the ticket when you get to the site, and enter from the west. See the wester portion first, then, just as the crowds start filing in, move eastward -- some of the most interesting things are in that least explored (by tourists) area of town.

More Pompeii: Pompeii was once a sex tourism destination, and several brothels have been unearthed. One has a well-preserved interior and "price list"; that is, since most people in antiquity were illiterate, the price list is pictorial. I don't know if you would allow your teenage son see those frescoes (they are quite graphic), but perhaps you yourself would view them. Problem is (and I never expected such prudishness of Italians, of all people), its location is not exactly advertised. It's not marked on the official map and not listed in the official guide book sold at the entrance. If you ask the workers at Pompeii, or the ticket agents, they'll pretend they don't know what you are talking about. The official website is silent about it as well. So if you want to see this villa, you'll have to do some sleuthing in order to pinpoint its exact location. I'd suggest asking the folks on the forum over at Lonely Planet, or getting a private guide (see below).

More Pompeii: If you do Pompeii on your own, you may find some buildings (including famous and well-preserved ones) locked. There is no published schedule of closings. Basically, you share the site with researchers, and whether you'll find this or that place accessible -- it's the luck of the draw. When you get to Pompeii, you'll see some people at the entrance advertising "private tours". Apparently, some Pompeii workers (who have keys) do this as a side business: if you go with them, and pay them, they not only will guide you around, but also will open the places officially closed that day. A friend of mine a few years back got a guide who carried a ring with what looked like a hundred keys on it; she saw absolutely everything, including places that were still officially being excavated and not open to the public at all. Be careful, however, as some people have gotten scammed. Make a list of of buildings you want to see, clearly agree on the price of the tour and make sure that your guide really has access to all those "off-limits" places. It helps if you really sound like you know what you are talking about. For example: "If the Villa Dei Vetti happens to be closed, as it was the last time I was here, can you get us in?"

More general advice: I am a very big fan of off-the-beaten track tourism. With Italy being as packed with tourists as it is, it makes sense to look for some out-of-the-way gems: and Italy has a lot of those! Check out Ostia, for example, a well-preserved ancient Roman port city (often referred to as "the other Pompeii"). It is within a short train or bus ride from Rome (an hour each way, I think, but double-check) and makes for an excellent day trip. Plus, after you are done sight-seeing, you can go to the beach and swim. Another place to check out is Bologna -- a fine medieval city and purportedly the site of Europe's oldest university (the other contender is Paris), but somehow mostly bypassed by tourists. Remember also, that Italy for a long time was a patchwork of tiny princedoms, which each prince trying to make his capital as attractive as possible. Thus, the Italian countryside is literally peppered with lovely medieval towns (like Lucca, Urbino, etc.), which have few tourists and lots of character. The province of Emilia Romana (located inland, between Venice and Florence) is especially picturesque, and I highly recommend checking out the sights there, if you would consider a less traditional itinerary.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-29-2008, 03:01 PM
 
Location: Living near our Nation's Capitol since 2010
2,177 posts, read 2,917,673 times
Reputation: 5851
By all means, go to Pompeii. I think he ..and you!..will find it fascinating on so many levels. Rome is great and as BlueWillowPlate said, be sure to see the Coliseum and the Forum. The Vatican too for all its history and grandeur. Florence is great but I too find it to be a zoo. Siena if at all possible, its lovely.

Take trains, its the very best way to use your time wisely. Gas is hideously expensive there and parking is almost non-existant.

Bon Voyage and let us know how your visit goes.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 08-29-2008, 04:51 PM
 
862 posts, read 815,701 times
Reputation: 149
What you should do is go to a quiet neighorhhod in Verona -sit in a local outside cafe for a week-
and JUST watch how people who know how to live do it and pray to God your kids get it !
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-08-2008, 10:43 PM
 
Location: Grapevine Texas
45 posts, read 131,852 times
Reputation: 26
What a fantatsic thread. My mind is bursting with ideas and my little fingers can not tyoe them fast enough.

I took my then 17 year old one a European vacation in 2005. We drove down from paris through Switzerland to Itally. In Itally we stayed in Verona and took day trips to Milan and Venice. We then drove to Florence and Pisa and then onto Rome. Rome back up to Verona for a few days and then back up to Paris.

Me and the mister took a trip alone to London Paris and Rome a few months ago. That all being said here are my recommendations:

Skip Pisa.. just dont do it not work the time you can spend better time someplace else. After you see the tower it is all downhill from there.

Do not do not and i repeat DO NOT DRIVE. Take the train or get cheap flights on Ryan Air or Easy Jet. Really the Europass on the train is the best way to go. Gas is $9 a gallon and the tolls on those roads will murder your wallet.

Venice is really only worth a days time if you are dragging a teen with you.

In Rome stay off the beaten path and just stroll through town. Even without dragging your teen to museums there is so much to see and do.

People watching in Verona is a wonderful idea and should you require additional information my sister lived there for three years. I can get you all you need.

Take a phrase book, but on my last trip I never even pulled it out of the suitcase. I soleak enough minor French and Spansh to get by on and I just winged it with the Itallian. If you actually stay out and about intourist areas most everyone speaks enough English to understand what you are saying. If you make an attemot to spoeak to them in their language them most often always answer you back in English.

Also, visit www.virtualtourist.com . That website has been a life saver for me in all my travel plans world wide.

If I think of more later I will add more.

I think I forgot Florence.. It was beautifull., I missed Pompeii because I wanted to go to Pisa.. BIG MISTAKE on my part....
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-09-2008, 12:20 AM
 
11 posts, read 37,367 times
Reputation: 15
Italy Top 3

Rome, Venice, and Amalfi Coast/Pompeii

Go to these 3 places and forget everything else. Forget Pisa, Florence is overrated.

How can someone go all the way to Italy and not see Venice and Rome? That leaves only one place more that you have time for, and Amalfi Coast wins over Florence for the top 3. Do not bother with the city of Naples itself. You don't have time.

Stick with those top 3, split them up 3/3/3 or 4Rome/3/2 or anyway you like.

Do not underestimate how awesome the churches are in Rome, but you'll see that anyway, you can't avoid them, just pop into any one as you walk by. The Borghese Gallery is not to be missed, drag that child to that one!!!! He won't regret it.

Explain to your son, when he asks, about all the graffiti, much of it is fascist vs. communist stuff. A good history lesson actually can exist with that. Rome now has a new fascist mayor, who is trying to clean up the city of many problems and hopefully it'll be accomplished by the time you get there.

Last edited by capt. courageous; 09-09-2008 at 12:30 AM..
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 09-30-2008, 06:23 AM
 
Location: Milan, Italy
13 posts, read 40,819 times
Reputation: 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by Redisca View Post
Rome: If you plan to see the Sistine Chapel, arrive VERY early. Seriously, I'm talking, like 5 a.m. The line outside the Vatican for the Chapel must be the longest line ever in the history of mankind -- and that's just the line to get on the ticket line. I'd scour the Internet to see if there is a way, ANY way, to reserve the tickets (officially, there isn't, or at least there wasn't the last time I was in Rome). Perhaps some local tour operators can get you in without having to go through the hassle. I'd pay a premium for it, it's worth it.
i'll give you a little tips for that, wich i discovered about a years ago. Go to this site:

ROME VATICAN MUSEUM Booking Museum Tickets in Vatican Rome Italy

here you can book your vatican museum visit just about a week before you intend to go and than jump all the queue. Obviously it will cost you a little extra but i think it's worth it. I tell you this cause i'm italian ( live in Milan ) and i also booked my ticket with this agency last year when i went to pay a visit to Rome, and everything was fine. You dont have to wake up that early and stand for a long queue. You just go in front of the entrance at at 8 a.m. you meet with the agency man and than he'll take you directly inside the museum without any queue.
I tell you man: Vaticans museums are amazing if you love arts: you'll never see such frescoes anywhere else in the world: the maps rooms, the raffaello rooms and the sistine chapel, well, saying that they're breathtaking is really not enough.

the same agency is covering Leonardo Da Vinci's LAST SUPPER in Milan if you're interested. You would normaly have to wait 3 or 4 months if you book your visit in the common way but with this agency:
MILAN MUSEUM: Booking Museum Tickets in Milan, Italy
you can just book it about a weeks before your visit. I live in Milan and last time i visited Last Supper i booked with them and i had to wait only a week for my visit ( if i had to book it today directly by the curch where the fresco is held i would have to wait about till january 2009 to see it, cause people came from all over the world to see it and the most of them dont know about the trick im showing you )

Instead, in Florence you can go directly at the museums ( UFFIZZI, PITTI PALACE, ACCADEMIA GALLERY ) the day before you want to visit it and than book a ticket for the day after at the time you prefer. Than you can simply go there the next day at that time and enter without any queue.

sorry for my english, i hope it's understandable
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
 
Old 10-26-2012, 09:45 PM
 
548 posts, read 1,807,185 times
Reputation: 186
My opinion and I've been to Rome, Venice, Amalfi, Florence, the Italian Riveria, and Como not all in one trip mind you. Rome 3 or 4 days is plenty to get the feel. You can spend more time but it's not necessary. Do visit Venice. I do not care what others say I loved Venice. One day is not enough. 2 days 3 nights a must. Florence can be accomplished in 2 days. Pisa..eh! Outside of seeing the leaning tower it is nothing. Pompeii is a one day thing...no more. 9 days is slim. I'd skip out on Florence IMO if Pompeii is a must unless you can extend to 12 or more days because Florence requires at least 2 full days. However, do not hesitate to make your plane reservations to accommodate. NO need to fly in and out of Rome. You can fly out of Florence or even Venice. On the airline websites choose multiple locations and not round trip.
Reply With Quote Quick reply to this message
Please register to post and access all features of our very popular forum. It is free and quick. Over $68,000 in prizes has already been given out to active posters on our forum. Additional giveaways are planned.

Detailed information about all U.S. cities, counties, and zip codes on our site: City-data.com.


Reply
Please update this thread with any new information or opinions. This open thread is still read by thousands of people, so we encourage all additional points of view.

Quick Reply
Message:

Over $104,000 in prizes was already given out to active posters on our forum and additional giveaways are planned!

Go Back   City-Data Forum > General Forums > Travel
Follow City-Data.com founder on our Forum or

All times are GMT -6.

2005-2019, Advameg, Inc. · Please obey Forum Rules · Terms of Use and Privacy Policy · Bug Bounty

City-Data.com - Archive 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35 - Top