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JoeDavola

Joe Davola's Tour Of Italy

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Every Easter over the past few years I've taken a few weeks off and go away somewhere for an extended break; to date it's been to the USA but I think I've had enough of America for the time being so was thinking of Italy this year.

I'd be away for 3 or 4 weeks and the plan would be to spend at least 4 days in each place and then get a train to the next place. So far all I've got on the list is Rome and Florence, and I'm going to start doing some research on the rest of the country, but I thought I'd tap into the ever-reliable HPC hive mind to see what their highlights of Italy are too?

(Alternatively, if you think Italy is a terrible idea and that there's somewhere else I should go for 3 weeks, feel free to let me know...)

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Every Easter over the past few years I've taken a few weeks off and go away somewhere for an extended break; to date it's been to the USA but I think I've had enough of America for the time being so was thinking of Italy this year.

I'd be away for 3 or 4 weeks and the plan would be to spend at least 4 days in each place and then get a train to the next place. So far all I've got on the list is Rome and Florence, and I'm going to start doing some research on the rest of the country, but I thought I'd tap into the ever-reliable HPC hive mind to see what their highlights of Italy are too?

(Alternatively, if you think Italy is a terrible idea and that there's somewhere else I should go for 3 weeks, feel free to let me know...)

The best bits of Italy are away from the tourist traps, especially Rome and Florence.

You want to see the fantastic renaissance art for which they're renowned? You get it in spades in thousands of little village churches, where it's in its natural setting and looks right. Or you can go to the tourist museums and galleries and see it out-of-context and looking dreary.

If you want to spend time in Rome, go out-of-town to see their two best attractions. Ostia Antica (the old Roman port, abandoned when the geography changed) and Villa Adriana (Hadrian's out-of-town villa). I don't know Florence well enough to make equivalent recommendations for it.

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Bologne - not far from Florence, hour train ride. Oldest University in Europe World. Preferred it in many ways to Florence, but more real,

Pompeii / Herculaneum. Gobsmacking.

Venice - actually stayed up the coast at Lido di Jesolo, resort town, cheap and cheerful if you don't want to stay in the town itself.

Another vote for Capri, hire a moped for a few hours and buzz around. Naples - bonkers place never seem so many dents in cars. Amalfi coast nice but lacking in beaches and a bit cramped. Got lucky with a hotel just outside Amalfi town - hotel Dei Cavalieri, ended up with apartment overlooking the sea across the road for same price as double room.

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Don't know South Italy at all but in the North I'd agree with Porca, small rural villages - amazing. City centre tourist traps - Avoid

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Someone on here is half Italian - can't mind who though.

Not much help.

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Thanks for the replies so far folks.

The best bits of Italy are away from the tourist traps, especially Rome and Florence.

Yes, what I've found is that when I visit big famous places, it's usually not the epicenter of them that leaves the greatest impression on me, it's a quiet little corner here and there that I find when I go exploring a little further out. So whilst I'd like to go and see the big cities, I would have no real desire to spend most of my time there. Small fishing villages and university towns would appeal more to me than shopping meccas.

In America over the last few years I've used AirBnb to great success; staying with a local in a (safe) residential area that's always just a 20 minute bus ride from the center of the city. I much prefer staying in this kind of place, and it works out much cheaper than flashy hotels, which is how I'm able to go away for so long without bankrupting myself. so once I've got a rough route sorted, I'll be doing a bit of investigation to see if AirBnb works out much cheaper than a hotel or standard BnB - it probably will for the big cities but might not be worth it for the smaller towns.

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Italian Ways by Tim Parks is worth a read, especially if you'll be travelling by train.

Just bought it for my kindle, will start reading it tonight - thanks!

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There is almost no part of Italy which isn't worth seeing, the variety is astonishing from the Alps in the north to the coastal areas, the Appenines, the islands, and so on.

Even if you don't like cities, Rome is well worth it, maybe don't spend too much time in museums, just walk around the historic city center, there are monuments and interesting buildings in almost every street.

One word of caution though: if a restaurant looks like it's targeting tourists (menus in English) then absolutely avoid it, you will be ripped off and the food will be mediocre, choose to eat where the locals eat, even if that means you have to figure out a menu that's only written in Italian.

Also there are some snack bars and restaurants that try to con tourists by adding ridiculous service charges, so always check the bill carefully.

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It's many years since I've been so my "what to see" advice is out of date.

The one thing I definitely didn't expect is how few Italians speak English. Pretty much none; unlike every other European country I go to where you would think that accented English was the national language. So do some of the language basics before you go if you want to have an easier trip.

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I've only ever been to Milan (not impressed) but have always wanted to do Rome, Pisa, Florence etc.

I have an Italian friend who comes from the north east near Udine. He recommended for me to visit Grado, a smaller less touristy version of Venice.

I loved the train ride from Milan to Geneva, past lake Como, but I'm a lakes and mountains kind of guy.

One thing I would add is that, unless you are limiting yourself to one country for cheap trains (ie. 1-country interrail) then use Europe's close proximity to consider venturing off into France or Slovenia.

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There is almost no part of Italy which isn't worth seeing, the variety is astonishing from the Alps in the north to the coastal areas, the Appenines, the islands, and so on.

Even if you don't like cities, Rome is well worth it, maybe don't spend too much time in museums, just walk around the historic city center, there are monuments and interesting buildings in almost every street.

One word of caution though: if a restaurant looks like it's targeting tourists (menus in English) then absolutely avoid it, you will be ripped off and the food will be mediocre, choose to eat where the locals eat, even if that means you have to figure out a menu that's only written in Italian.

Also there are some snack bars and restaurants that try to con tourists by adding ridiculous service charges, so always check the bill carefully.

all good advise. ;)

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There is almost no part of Italy which isn't worth seeing, the variety is astonishing from the Alps in the north to the coastal areas, the Appenines, the islands, and so on.

Even if you don't like cities, Rome is well worth it, maybe don't spend too much time in museums, just walk around the historic city center, there are monuments and interesting buildings in almost every street.

One word of caution though: if a restaurant looks like it's targeting tourists (menus in English) then absolutely avoid it, you will be ripped off and the food will be mediocre, choose to eat where the locals eat, even if that means you have to figure out a menu that's only written in Italian.

Also there are some snack bars and restaurants that try to con tourists by adding ridiculous service charges, so always check the bill carefully.

A walk around Rome (or indeed most of Italy) will always be blighted by cars. You just can't relax and enjoy the good things when you have to be continually on the lookout for the moving ones, and sometimes have to climb over the parked ones just to get to the door of where you're going. It's worse than Blighty because they have so much less space, with much narrower roads and rarely any pavement to speak of.

There are depressingly many bad/mediocre restaurants, and not just the ones with multilingual menus. But a menu in any language is a tourist-thing: a proper Italian restaurant will just give you what you ask for (of dishes they know - a fairly standard repertoire) - just so long as they have the necessary ingredients. That can be useful if you don't fancy anything from the menu!

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Always fancied going to San Gimignano

RTEmagicC_San_Gimignano_copertina_02.jpg

Yes it's quite lovely. I recommend a trip to the torture museum to learn about the ******** pear.

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Buy yourself an Italian menu translator. There's loads out there. I've got a shirt-pocket size one the Telegraph published years back by Jean Robinson. Might be one on Amazon/Ebay or whatever.

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