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Italy Travel Tips

3.0 stars

Insider advice for your Italy vacation


guest
best dinner in Florence 4 stars
Turning the streets of Santo Spirito in Florence, near Piazza Pitti, I came across a Tuscan osteria, Toscanella osteria , I have noticed because the place was beautiful. in a historic building, out of curiosity I walked in and ordered. I ate a florentine T-bone steak very good, drank good wine for a modest cost. It manages a family of very nice people. I really recommend it

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Gadex
Good restaurant 5 stars
Very good restaurant and friendly... Il love this place.

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hanneso
L'Andana Hotel, Tuscany, Italy 5 stars
It’s time to start saving some money. Now. Because L’Andana Hotel & Spa in Italy is a must-do-before-you-die experience. Located in gorgeous Tuscany, and very near the coast, this ultra-luxurious establishment was apparently previously the hunting lodge of Leopold II of Tuscany. I don’t think it was quite as fancy back then though. Right now, however, it is a place of unbelievable luxury. I was a guest for two memorable nights, in a room that I would be very happy to have as my house – it’s bigger than my home anyway! If you’re not relaxing in the hotel room, then there’s plenty to see, do and eat and drink outside – L’Andana has its own vineyard and olive groves. The wines are exquisite. Just as stimulating for the senses is the Spa – I spent some quality time in the funkiest sauna room I have ever seen. Shaped like a small dome, and with colour-changing lights dotted all over the interior, it makes for a very dreamy experience. Outside there is a very large swimming pool, and beautiful views over the rolling hills and olive groves.


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MichaelN
Torino - The Museo Egizio 5 stars
The Museo Egizio specializes in ancient Egypt and it has one of the largest collections of Egyptian artefacts in the world, outside of Cairo. In the initial exhibits of this excellent museum, you learn by maps and displays the extent of the various Egyptian dynasties and their location along the Nile. Then as you proceed further, you see recreations of ancient tombs and impressive collections of hieroglyphic writing. Then comes the truly remarkable part of this museum – a series of dramatically lit galleries that are filled with monumental statues of Egyptian Kings, Gods and Goddesses. This museum is not to be missed. The presentation is world class, and makes the subject of ancient Egypt truly come alive for the visitor.


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Moyleb33
FLORENCE – CLOSED ON MONDAYS 1 stars
The Accademia was my ‘must-see’ destination on a recent trip to Florence. It houses possibly the most famous sculpture in the world…. Michelangelo’s David. You can imagine my disappointment then when I disembarked my city tour bus only to find out the the Accademia is closed on Mondays. And yes, you guessed it, I went on a Monday and it was my last day in Florence. It is worth knowing this when planning a trip to the city as it’s not the only place closed on Modays. Check your guidebook or at the tourist office for opening times in advance.

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Moyleb33
FLORENCE – CITY BUS TOUR 4 stars
I usually avoid tour buses at all costs but if you’re short on time in Florence the CitySightSeeing Firenze does the trick. It’s 20 Euros for a 24 hour ticket allowing you to hop-on hop-off at all the top spots. There are headphones onboard with commentary the whole way round. They operate open top buses and there’s always a queue. A lot of people don’t get on if there are no seats up top. I’d recommend getting on anyway and wait down stairs until a seat becomes available – even if this means going round twice. Once you get upstairs, try and get a seat on the right hand side of the bus – it’s the best views.

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Moyleb33
SIENA – TORRE DEL MANGIA 4 stars
If you want the best view of Siena, head to TORRE DEL MANGIA, the 97m bell tower in IL CAMPO. It’s open to the public but claustrophobics beware, the stairs are quite narrow with uneven steps in places. I’d also avoid wearing a mini skirt if you can!! I definitely thought it was worth the 7 Euros. As with all towers in Italy, don’t be surprised when you get asked to leave your bag in a locker – you’re only allowed to take up a camera. I’d also recommend you make use of the toilet on the way down, it’s one of the only free places to pee in Siena!

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Moyleb33
SIENA – IL CAMPO 4 stars
Another little gem in Tuscany’s crown, Siena is much smaller and quieter than Florence, but equally as pretty and photogenic. It’s often described as Italy’s most spectacular medieval city. At the centre is the IL CAMPO piazza which is another great place to grab a bite to eat and enjoy the surroundings. Then there’s little cobbled lanes leading off the square. They are closed to traffic and offer everything from museums and art galleries to leather shops and bespoke jewlers. Even if you’ve only got enough money for the odd postcard or two it’s still a quaint place to window shop. Like all good Tuscan cities it’s also got a tower for tourists to climb – TORRE DEL MANGIA.

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Moyleb33
TUSCANY – SAN GIMIGNANO – TORRE GROSSA 4 stars
The Torre Grossa in Piazzo Duomo is the only tower in San Gimignano that is open to the public (March – Oct). It’s possible to climb to the top to get great views of the area. Unlike some of the other climbable towers in Tuscany, this one is well-lit and there is a hand rail. The only really steep part is the last flight at the top but it’s worth making the effort if you can. One word of warning though, there is a small ridge in the ground across the roof and during the short time that I was up there, two people fell over. It is also incredibly windy. Due to the last flight of stairs I’d also advise women not to wear skirts (or hold onto them tightly if you do!)

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Moyleb33
TUSCANY - SAN GIMIGNANO 4 stars
For once this was a case of ‘do believe the hype’. Everybody told me that I couldn’t go to Tuscany without paying a visit to San Gimignano and I’m really glad it was recommended to me. Virtually untouched for centuries, the main attraction is deemed to be the 14 towers that dominate the landscape. If you find you’ve been spending too much money on the yummy wine and cheese then this is a good place to save a few pennies by grabbing a slice of pizza from one of the many outlets around Piazzo Duomo and sitting in the square. The perfect place to watch the world go by. If you want to work up an appetite first you can always climb the Torre Grosse to check out the view.

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Moyleb33
TUSCANY- GREVE – LE MURICCE (B&B) 3 stars
If Vignamagio is out of your price range (see separate review) then Le Muricce is a nice alternative just down the hill. Situated in the centre of Tuscany, halfway between Florence and Siena it really is a stunning place to spend a couple of days. You need a car as it’s pretty much in the middle of nowhere and only caters for Brekfast - you have to head back into Greve for food and supplies. There are five bedrooms all with antique furniture and original art, which open onto a common area where breakfast is served. The food was a bit disappointing but the views of Leonardo’s landscape more than made up for it. The owner has three dogs and a cat that roam the B&B, they are adorable and very friendly but worth knowing in case you like your hotels pet-free. I would definitely recommend this B&B purely for it’s location and the views.

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Moyleb33
TUSCANY - GREVE – VIGNAMAGGIO (HOTEL) 5 stars
I always love it when my friend’s get married abroad and I love it even more when they invite me. I was lucky enough to spend a recent weekend at Vignamaggio, just south of Greve in Chianti. The fairytale dusty pink villa is rumoured to be the birth place of Mona Lisa and more famously acted as a film set for Kenneth Brannagh’s Much Ado About Nothing. It certainly ain’t cheap but you do get a nice experience for your Euros. Now operating as a hotel and vineyard, the Villa occupies a prime location at the top of an isolated hill. Even when operating at capacity it is easy to feel like you are the only person there. As well as the main villa, there are cottages spotted around the grounds and two well appointed swimming pools so guests are far from cramped. The wedding was magnificent and the manager could not do enough for us. If you are looking for a wedding venue and are considering Italy, Vignamaggio comes very highly recommended by me!

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Moyleb33
TUSCANY - GREVE IN CHIANTI – BIKE HIRE 2 stars
Lots of websites for hotels and tourist attractions in CHIANTI recommend hiring bikes - claiming the terrain is perfect for a days cycling. If you’re Lance Armstrong then I’m sure it probably would be a nice little cycle, but if you are me (ie a person of average fitness) you’re quite likely going to struggle. It is certainly a pleasant way to whiz around Greve town but if you want to head out to the surrounding countryside you may want to consider a car. I attempted to do a cycling wine tour and spent most of the day walking my bike up hills. Bike hire when I visited was 20 Euros for a full day.

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Moyleb33
TUSCANY - GREVE IN CHIANTI 4 stars
The Chianti region of Italy has got to be one of the most scenic areas around. Rolling hills, vineyards as far as the eye can see and proud Cypress trees dotted along the horizon, all make for a photographers dream. The small market town of Greve is the unofficial capital of Chianti, with a beautiful triangular piazza lined with arcardes. It is also home to Chianti’s biggest wine fair (which alas wasn’t one when I was there – its September I think). There is a Saturday market in the Piazza which is a great way to wander away an afternoon so if your schedule allows it, I’d really try and be around on the weekend.

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Moyleb33
Pisa - Hotel (Airport) 2 stars
There are plenty of hotels in the centre of Pisa but not all that many seem to offer parking. If you are looking for a hotel with parking or perhaps your flight gets in late and you fancy staying near the airport - I stayed at the BEST WETSERN PARK HOTEL CALIFORNIA. It is laid out a bit like a motel with low level rooms around a pool, rooms are basic and breakfast is optional. It is far from plush but serves a purpose. It’s about a 10 minute drive from the airport and takes online reservations. Don't consider it if you like 5 star!

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Moyleb33
Pisa - Leaning Tower - Advance tickets 4 stars
I saved myself a lot of time queueing at the LEANING TOWER OF PISA by buying my tickets in advance. There’s a really good website called www.opapisa.it so you can organise everything before you go. There is a booking fee but it was only 2 Euros when I did it. During peak season in Pisa it gets ridiculously busy so I reckon you could face a very long wait. It’s also worth knowing that children under 8 are not allowed in the tower. We didn’t realise this till we got there. It’s not a particularly hard climb to the top (only 294 steps) but it is very narrow so maybe not one for you if you’re claustrophobic. They do limit the number of people at anyone time though so it is well managed.

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Moyleb33
Pisa - Leaning Tower 4 stars
It is free to wander into the CAMPO DEI MIRACOLI, home to the wonky delight they call the LEANING TOWER OF PISA. You can spend as long as you want taking the essential comic photo pretending to hold it up but be warned there is a charge (and usually a queue) to go inside. The same applies to the rest of the monuments and museums in the square. There is a ticket office next to the tourist office in Campo dei Miracoli with a varied ticketing system depending on which buildings you want to go into. It is essential to have a ticket as you can’t pay on the door to the bell tower or Duomo. So make sure you’ve bought the right tickets in advance.

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catipoo
Rome, Florence, and Cinque Terre 4 stars
Cinque terre is a group of five small fishing villages on the coast of Italy, situated between Rome and Florence on the map.
The walks and views are breath taking and it is definately a hidden treasure in that there are very few tourists here. You can choose different lengths of walks depending on your preference and then relax in any of the local cafe's and bars in this beautiful peaceful place.
Then you have Rome. It is a very old city and this makes it very unique. The many ruins including the very recognisable colosseum are still as they have been for many years, and being able to look at such historical buildings is such a distinctive experience.
In addition The Pantheon, Trevi fountain and Santa Maria della Concezione (not for the faint hearted) are also sights worth seeing while in Rome, not to mention The largest religious building in the world ‘St Peter’s Basilica’ in the Vatican City.
From Rome you can also take a day trip Pompeii which is home to the volcano mount Vesuvius. Pompeii is still exactly as it was 2000 years ago, you can walk around the whole uninhabited city and its ruins which is extremely surreal when you think how much things have progressed in this day and age.
Similarly Florence bears many ancient buildings and squares. Lying on the river Arno Florence is home to the famous statue of David, Il Duomo the domed Cathedral, the Uffizi art gallery, various ‘Palazzo’s’ and also quite arguably home to the best Gelato ice cream in Italy!
The walk up to the view point is a lovely stroll and the views over the city of Florence (or Firenze as it is known to the Italians) are stunning and should be seen by day and night to get the full effect.


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kristin5683
Night train from Naples to Rome 1 stars
Don’t take the night train from Naples to Rome without a seat reservation.

My friend and I were 75% finished with our whirlwind backpacking trip through Western Europe. We only had a few days left; we had already tackled missed connections in France, not enough warm clothes in Switzerland, a train without power in Germany and washing our hair in sinks in train station bathrooms. This last train ride would be no problem, even though it was leaving at 2am.

An earlier train shortly after midnight, also headed to Rome, had people hanging out the windows. We were glad that that wasn’t us. Except in a few hours it was. Every seat was taken; the aisles were stuffed with people sleeping on each other’s shoulders. I can’t count the number of people that I accidentally awoke by hitting them with my backpack as we squeeze through the train looking for somewhere to sit.

Eventually we ended up sitting in front of an out-of-order toilet next to a group of older Italian men smoking and leering at us. It was a long night. Had we foregone our university stinginess and bought a reservation, we would have been squashed in next to others, but at least we would have had some place to sit.

Don’t take the night train from Naples to Rome without a reservation.

Rome was beautiful, though.


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