We are going to do a land tour of Italy before an Italy/Greece cruise.  We will have a few days each in Venice, Florence, Siena and Rome.  We've done the Vatican and the Colosseum in Rome but haven't been to the other places.  There are some obvious sites to see such as the Forum and key museums in each city.  I am interested if anyone has some ideas on things to do that are not the obvious key things to do in any of these cities.

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Have seen the Trevi fountain, plan on the Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Galleria Borghese.  Interested if there are any non must see by all sights that would be cool to see.  I am using Rick Steve's guide as one of my sources of things to do.

thistlintom posted:

Have seen the Trevi fountain, plan on the Spanish Steps, Pantheon and Galleria Borghese.  Interested if there are any non must see by all sights that would be cool to see.  I am using Rick Steve's guide as one of my sources of things to do.

I can do that with LA and Chicago but unfortunately my International travel made in depth traveling not an option. I just hoped to get the conversation started because I know there's a lot of people here who know a shit ton about Europe. So speak up!

Florence - escape the crowds by going across the river on the Oltrano neighborhood; the Leather School near Santa Croce and the Santa Maria Novella Farmacia were fun visits.  The latter was the prettiest retail store I’ve seen at the time.

Rome - I’ve read that the farmer’s market at Campo de Fiori is expensive, but I think it’s nice to walk through; if you want a food tour, how about one in a real market listed in this site - http://www.mercatidiroma.com/?

Siena - highly recommend staying within the city walls and walk the city at night.  It’s surreal.

Venice - take in the views from the top of the Accademia Bridge at dusk; the Rialto Fish Market was excellent to watch and made me wish My hotel room had a kitchen to take advantage of what was being sold.

+1 on staying inside the city walls in Siena. Took a trip to Europe with my then 16 year old son for years ago. Walking around Siena late at night was the most memorable part of our trip which included most of yours Berlin, Prague and Paris. It's like going back in time a thousand years

In Siena try eating at Osteria CeCi.  A hole in the wall place, sort of subterranean. Watch your head as you enter if you are taller than around 5'9".  Not much English spoken here but some terrific pasta.

In the Oltrano area in Florence, look for www.trattorialacasalinga.it  I assume it is still there. Haven't been to Florence in 7 years. (Must get back)

As for sights, there are some art restoration places in the Oltrano area that are really fascinating. I loved the sculpture at the Pitti Palace.

In Venice, take in the opera house and make sure to go to the Guggenheim museum. Eat at Vini da Gigio or Trattoria Alla Scalla, which is a seafood place not too far from the clock tower. 

 

irwin posted:

In Venice, take in the opera house and make sure to go to the Guggenheim museum.  

 

Watching an opera at La Fenice is a must in Venice.  If there aren't any performances, a tour is still a good option.

So the question is 'not the most obvious things...'  

Siena, in the main palazzo, there is a gelateria, if it is summer, get the fig and ricotta gelato.

Florence - Across the river is a good idea, pitti palace.  this is an amazing picture gallery.  A bit out of the way and up teh hill is San Miniato al Monte.  Its one of those places the Italian tourists go to.  Capella Medici....where else can yo go to a room with 4 Michealangelo statues? 

Venice - scuola grande di san rocco...second the Guggenheim...chill neighborhood.  Look for the little round cream filled pastries.  The vaporetto down the main canal. Or a ride to Lido or Murano.  You are a boat guy, right? 

Not off the radar, but in all the cities you mention there is no more of a must see than the Uffizi.  Buy your tickets online a month or two before you go and plan your day around it.  I cannot stress this enough...this place is incredible...and reasonably sized.

The Palazzo Barberini is one of my favorite places in Rome...low key, uncrowded and major works by Caravaggio.  Another is the Doria Pamphilli where yo can see perhaps the greatest portrait of all time, Pope innocent X by Diego Velazquez.  there is a very cool tea room at this museum to end your site seeing day and contemplating where to go for dinner. 

In each area, ask your hotel person if there are any local fairs or special events going on...

Pitti Palace is a good suggestion.  Not far from there is Il Santo Bevitore - what used to be at least a great local place that our friends who live in Florence took us to for the first time many years ago.  I do believe it has since been discovered though

Some interesting suggestions, the kind of which I was looking for.  We definitely plan on the Uffizi.  We are staying inside the walls of Siena and look forward to wandering around there.  We are going to do a small group tour for a day around the Siena area.  Also planning on the Borghese and the Spanish Steps.  There is a suggested walking route by Steves that takes us around that area.  Also thinking of going to Murano and yes I am a boat person.  I have sailed small boats most of my life.

Thanks and appreciate more suggestions.

Last edited by thistlintom

Venice- Lido

Venice- Doges Palace- private tour

Florence - Uffizi - Great restuarant on second floor overlooking plaza.

Florence- Duomo and bapisty

thistlintom posted:

Some interesting suggestions, the kind of which I was looking for.  We definitely plan on the Uffizi.  We are staying inside the walls of Siena and look forward to wandering around there.  We are going to do a small group tour for a day around the Siena area.  Also planning on the Borghese and the Spanish Steps.  There is a suggested walking route by Steves that takes us around that area.  Also thinking of going to Murano and yes I am a boat person.  I have sailed small boats most of my life.

Thanks and appreciate more suggestions.

Murano is quite nice to walk about if you like glass.    Be careful with prices.  Try to shop ahead of time on line and elsewhere to get a feel. Otherwise you might well overpay.

We were at a shop in Murano.  Nice place, nice salesman. Gave us some Prosecco to drink. He said, "I just want you to know that this is not a discount store. We do not negotiate the prices. We do not bargain. What you see as the price is the price."  Fine.  We walked around. Saw some nice pieces with pretty exorbitant prices.  Salesman hovering.  We just were not interested in paying that much for the stuff.  He sensed that and said, "I see that you like this piece but you are hesitant because of the price.  Suppose I took off 15%? No, make it 20% off."
Well, the guy who said they didn't bargain started to bargain.  We wound up buying a very nice piece at a "discount". Probably overpaid.  In fact, I'm pretty sure we overpaid because he took me downstairs and had me pick out some nice Murano glass cufflinks and he threw them in for free.

But, the piece looks nice.

 

A few "not so obvious" things to do in Venice:

Walking tour of the Jewish Quarter. Do a little reading about it beforehand, or take a guidebook that includes walking tour highlights.

Museo di Palazzo Mocenigo. I didn't think I'd enjoy it, but this was fantastic. The museum contains collections of rare Italian fashion and costumes, mainly from the Correr, Guggenheim, and Cini collections. They also have a really interesting collection of perfume bottles going back centuries. If you're into design, it's well worth the time.  https://mocenigo.visitmuve.it/en/home/

Ca' Pesaro Galleria Internazionale d'Arte Moderna. The Peggy Guggenheim is definitely the first stop for art in Venice, but if you have time for a second museum, this one is very good. https://capesaro.visitmuve.it/en/home/

Those two museums are within a 2 minute walk of each other.

I agree with Irwin that a side trip to Murano is worthwhile.

Last edited by sunnylea57

There was a beautiful wine carrier at the Leather School in Florence which had a place for a decanter and a bottle of wine, both sold separately, for about 1,000 euros.

I better not post more pictures. I don't know how to do this.  Anyway, this is the piece we bought in Murano.

yes, we had it shipped. It weight around 40-45 pounds and it's about 20 inches high and 40 inches around. Not something you can stuff in a suitcase.

Last edited by irwin

Thistlintom: For what it is worth, the name of glass blower/artist who did this piece is Afro Cellotto.  We were there in 2011.  You can check him out on the web.

 

Did those who visited Venice use the vaporetto boats much or did you mostly walk?

For those who went to Murano, did anyone do a "tour/demonstration" or did you just wander around and look into various shops?  Is the glass museum worth the visit?

The island of Venice is very walkable from the Santa Lucia train station to  St. Mark's Square and all the areas in between.   If you buy a one-day pass for the vaporetto (good for a 24-hr period), you can visit Murano on your own and take the #1 (local) that goes up and down the Grand Canal.   Don't forget to validate your pass at the yellow machines by each vaporetto stop every time you get on and off.  We visited Murano on our own.  It's a lovely island, but it does take time to get there and back.  I'd rather see the inside of the Basilica first than visit Murano if you have very limited time in Venice.

Yes, Murano is a possible side trip while in Venice.  We are definitely doing St Marks basilica and Doge Palace.  We also plan to do a lot of walking around and visiting other landmarks.  To get to Murano quickly, I believe there is a vaporetto stop on the north side of Venice that goes to San Michele and Murano, so it's a fairly quick ride.

thistlintom.... The lines at the Doges Palace and St. Marks can be ridiculously long.  I can give you the name of our guide.  If you hire her to take you to these places, she can get you in without waiting in line.  Saves hours. She can arrange a private boat to Murano. You can hire her for a half day, full day, or whatever you like.  It was worth the look on the faces of the hundreds of people in line when we walked right up to St. Marks and got through. (Who are those folks?)

If you are interested, you can email me at baltlaw@yahoo.com   I will look at my email tomorrow when I am in the office, and can email you her contact info. 

thistlintom posted:

Some interesting suggestions, the kind of which I was looking for.  We definitely plan on the Uffizi.  We are staying inside the walls of Siena and look forward to wandering around there.  We are going to do a small group tour for a day around the Siena area.  Also planning on the Borghese and the Spanish Steps.  There is a suggested walking route by Steves that takes us around that area.  Also thinking of going to Murano and yes I am a boat person.  I have sailed small boats most of my life.

Thanks and appreciate more suggestions.

TT, a really nice walk is through the public parkland between the Borghese and Piazza del Popolo. Assuming the weather is nice, of course. For the Uffizi, allow a minimum of three hours and be prepared to stand outside in line a bit past your scheduled entrance time. 

When I went I had very short visits in each city some time was more important than a few extra dollars to see all we wanted to. I booked tours through Trip Advisor and every major tourist attraction has "skip the line" tours available. Highly recommended

irwin posted:

thistlintom.... The lines at the Doges Palace and St. Marks can be ridiculously long.  I can give you the name of our guide.  If you hire her to take you to these places, she can get you in without waiting in line.  Saves hours. She can arrange a private boat to Murano. You can hire her for a half day, full day, or whatever you like.  It was worth the look on the faces of the hundreds of people in line when we walked right up to St. Marks and got through. (Who are those folks?)

If you are interested, you can email me at baltlaw@yahoo.com   I will look at my email tomorrow when I am in the office, and can email you her contact info. 

As in most of Europe.  Go online and buy early bird tickets.  They will have you on a schedule, and all you do is walk to the front of the line, and no waiting. 

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