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Author Topic: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."  (Read 9387 times)

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kreidy

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #465 on: January 15, 2011, 04:32:23 AM »
I have just booked a plane ticket to Italy in late March. I'll have 8 days. I'm spending 2 days in Florence at the start and two days in Venice plus one night in Milan at the end. In the middle I'll have 3-4 days to explore the Tuscan countryside. If anyone's done this, especially without a car, I'd love to get any insights. Please feel free to PM me. Thanks!

First of all, you're going to love every second of it. :) I fell in love with Tuscany the first time I went there, because it's just as gorgeous as you think.

Anyway, the first time I was there we had a car, so we drove from Venice to Verona and then down to Florence. If you're interested in Shakespeare, I would recommend Verona. It's a beautiful town, and Juliet's house is a must-see. It also has one of the weirdest tourist traditions I've ever seen. There's a statue of Juliet in the courtyard, and you have to touch her breast (!) for luck. This means that there's a line of tourists waiting to grope poor Juliet and have their pictures taken. It's totally bizarre.  :D

Seeing that you won't have a car, I would also recommend taking the train from Florence to a lovely Tuscan village called Lucca. If I remember correctly, it took about 30-40 minutes to get there, and it was totally worth the trip. We absolutely loved it. While there are tourists everywhere in Florence, Lucca isn't as well known, so we hardly saw any tourists while we were there. (We were there in October, though, so that might have had something to do with it.) Consequently, it felt a lot more "real" than other cities in Tuscany. Lucca is really well preserved, so I would recommend exploring the town on your own. We walked along the ancient city walls and climbed the stairs to the top of the Guinigi Tower. The latter is quite special as it has oak trees on the roof, and the view is amazing. We ended up having lunch at the Piazza Anfiteatro in Lucca, and that was really nice as well.

Anyway, if you have any questions, please let me know. :)


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Callisto

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #466 on: January 15, 2011, 07:30:51 AM »
There's really nowhere in Italy that isn't beautiful!  I would recommend two of the smaller towns I was able to visit: San Gimignano and Assisi.  San Gimignano has a fantastic old castle you can visit, with a view from the turrets of the whole valley below.  Gorgeous.  Assisi (of St Francis fame) is another typically small, narrow-laned, old town.  The church there is beautiful and again there are fantastic views of the valley from the top of the hill.  I think Assisi is also where the painter Raphael lived, you can see his house.  Or at least get a picture in front of the door, like I did.  :)

One thing to be aware of is that all the Tuscan towns have narrow little streets on HILLS. Just walking around is a great workout.  :D

Oh, and the Verona thing is a must-do.  It's a beautiful town, of course, and the Juliet thing is so funny.  Her statue is all dark from the passing of time-- except for her breast which is rubbed all shiny from the constant groping of tourists.  The little courtyard it's in is very pretty, too.  And there's a well-preserved Roman amphitheater there, if you're into the history.  

Have fun!!

ETA: Raphael's house is in Urbina, I think.

What Colette said: pick fewer places and linger. I have to go back to Italy because I was on a tour that gave us one hour to see Pompeii. I'll never forget literally running through the streets trying to see everything. 
« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 10:16:55 AM by Callisto »
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colette

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #467 on: January 15, 2011, 09:55:51 AM »
Verona also has a still-in-use Roman amphitheater - can't miss it, it's literally smack in the middle of town.

There are probably a dozen places I could add, but if you're exploring the Venice/Verona area and interested in art, I'd rec a quick stop in Padua,  to see the Giotto frescoes - fantastic. (Also one of the oldest university towns in Europe/world - Galileo taught there for chrissakes - with still functioning buildings dating back to the Renaissance.)

Along that same northern route - if you're interested in Renaissance architecture, Vicenza is positively mecca - Palladio central. (Lovely town too.) In town, the Basillica (on main piazza) and Teatro Olimpico, but the main focus are his villas, just outside of town, along the river - Villa Barbaro and Villa Foscari (La Malcontenta) are especially fine. Very accessible.

But if you only have a couple of days up north, this is all way too much to do and shortchanging Venice would be a shame (btw, for a first trip to Italy, I'd skip Milan in favor of spending time at some of these other places.)

Re: Tuscan hill towns - as others have suggested, San Gimignano, Lucca and Assisi are all great. For a wonderful smaller, but iconic town, I love Montalcino - no great 'sights,'  just pure local atmosphere...great place to stop for lunch - the local vino, Brunello di Montalcino, is delicioso. Another (probably obvious) 'must see' in the Tuscan hills is Siena - really fun and lots to do (cathedral, murals in the palazzo on the main piazza/campo - where, btw, the famous Palio horse race is still run after hundreds of years, lots of pageantry, etc.) It's also a bigger town with lots of places to stay/eat.

Italy is a gold mine, but if I made only one suggestion, it would be to pick a limited number of stops and linger a little, don't try to do too much...will give you a reason to go back. And back...
« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 10:07:36 AM by colette »
   

suchadork

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #468 on: January 15, 2011, 11:08:27 AM »
I've done a little roadtrip this summer throughough Italy, and I second all the recs for Verona. I fell in love with the city, and the sights were just gorgeous. Plus, there's many things to see, from Juliet's house to the amphitheater (with guys disguised as Roman soldiers :D) and the main castle.

Venice is also gorgeous of course, one of my favorites cities. Other than that, I would recommend Pompeii, which is breathtaking and kind of a must-see. I don't know if you'll be in the area, but if you are, don't bother with Naples and just go to the ruins, you will not regret it :)

And as someone said it, there's really nothing ugly in Italy. Even the small villages are beautiful. I hope you'll enjoy your trip!


Me, on the other hand, am going to London tomorrow!!! The main goal is to go shopping with my sister (her Christmas gift to me  ;)) but I'm just so glad to go there, because it's freaking London!!!!! And it's not even that far from where I live, so it's a shame I'm only going when I'm 20-something, but still, yay!!!


kreidy

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #469 on: January 15, 2011, 11:26:34 AM »
Me, on the other hand, am going to London tomorrow!!! The main goal is to go shopping with my sister (her Christmas gift to me  ;)) but I'm just so glad to go there, because it's freaking London!!!!! And it's not even that far from where I live, so it's a shame I'm only going when I'm 20-something, but still, yay!!!

Have a great trip! I love London, and I got some really cheap tickets to London a couple of days ago, so I'm going back in March. Can't wait!  ;D


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andtheivy

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #470 on: January 16, 2011, 01:04:21 AM »
Thanks, everyone! I'm excited. I've been to Rome, Capri and Positano but that's all in Italy.

Re: Milan, I have a flight out of there Sunday morning because it's cheaper to fly that way, so I'll have Saturday night in Milan and I'm going to get tickets to the opera (La Scala). I'd be interested in Cinque Terre and the Lakes Region, Como, etc., but not in March and not by myself.

So I've been told Lucca is great, so I definitely want to go there, and Assisi. I also really want to go to Cortona. I know Pisa is always on the list, but I'm a little less interested in being able to say I saw the leaning tower and more interested in exploring different places. I found a one-day bike tour through Chianti.

I love wandering through little towns, people watching.

So excited! Now I just have to figure out how to efficiently navigate.

Italian_Food

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #471 on: July 30, 2011, 07:51:07 AM »
Anyone familiar with Washington, DC?  My husband and I want to take the kids down there for a weekend in October, but we want to do it on the cheap.  Can anyone recommend an inexpensive hotel that's not too far from the touristy stuff?
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funkybutt

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #472 on: July 31, 2013, 09:32:32 AM »
We'll be celebrating our 10 year anniversary in October with a (kid-less) trip to NYC! Any advice on things we should do (other than Broadway, Staten Island Ferry, Empire State, Little Italy/Chinatown, Central Park, or Museums )? I know those are the main things, but I'm hoping for some interesting little nuggets that are fun, but not typical.

We're renting someone's apartment on the lower East Side, and we won't have a car.
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Too Late Kev

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #473 on: July 31, 2013, 09:05:35 PM »
For NYC, try to get to some little restaurants with different kinds of food than you might get in your area, like pierogies with onions & sour cream.

If you're a book-person, the Strand Book Store would be a good place to check out ("18 miles of new, used, and rare books"). It's on 12th Street and Broadway. Also for book-people (or movie people since it's often shown in movies), the NY Public Library.


Spencer

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #474 on: August 03, 2013, 10:12:51 PM »
I second The Strand rec.

I also love The High Line and West Village :)

rahenson1

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Re: Travel: "I'm leavin'... inside Jim's car."
« Reply #475 on: August 11, 2013, 09:42:16 AM »
Today our vacation trip ends.  We saw Great Sand Dunes and a waterfall and took a trip on an historic railroad in southwest Colorado, walked around the shops in Breckenridge and Georgetown.  They have a wonderful candy store in Georgetown.  We stopped in Colorado Springs and saw Seven Falls and I hiked a couple of trails there.  Would have seen a Sky Sox baseball game, but rain was forecast and in fact came delaying the game by two hours so we opted out.  Today it is back to the 105 of Dallas from the 75 of the mountains  >:(

Only 40 something weeks to our next fun vacation (a Christmas trip to Iowa isn't terribly fun for me).  That is unless we go to Australia next spring for the first two MLB games.  Have to renew my passport and see if I can find tickets.
The boat was actually Plan C.  The church was Plan B.  And Plan A was marrying her a long, long time ago.  Pretty much the day I met her.