My wife and I will be traveling in August to Italy and I was hoping to get some advice fromthose of you who know these areas well. It's my first time to Italy so any help you could offer would help me out alot. Our itinerary is:

Rome: 3 days
Orvieto: 4 days (staying at the Hotel Orvieto)
Siena: 5 days (staying at Hotel Bel Soggiorno in San Gimignano)
Florence: 3 days

Obviously we have a car to do lots of day tripping as I plan on hitting up Montalcino and Montepulciano to do as much wine tasting as is humanly possible in this amount of time. I know there has been a lot of topics on Italy travel and wine tours, etc., but I'm asking again for some more advice from any who have traveled there. We already have our hotels booked, so what I'm looking for is restaurants to go to in these areas, and wineries that I shouldn't miss. I plan on visiting the majors, such as Biondi Santi, Castello Banfi, etc., but if anyone has any advice on some particularly nice ones where you possibly had some especially nice experience, that would be greatly appreciated. Restaurants as well, mainly because we are not looking for 3 michelin star establishments, but rather more local places that you may have found that surprised you without breaking the bank. If anyone knows of any particularly good places to drink/taste wines such as wine bars, for example, please let me know, as well as anything else that may come to mind. Again, thanks for any help you might be able to offer!!!
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We'll be back in Florence in August as well. I'll recommend Cantinetta Antinori for a great meal. We loved it. One place that was highly recommended that we missed was La Giostra. I'm hopeful we can get there this year.

In Rome, we found a nice place for lunch near the Trevi fountains. I believe it was called simply "Trevi," and a couple of blocks north of the fountains.
If you have the chance, take a day and drive over to Cortona from Siena. 5 days in Siena is a lot unless all you plan on doing is driving and checking out the wineries. I was bored with downtown Siena after two days.

Cortona was an amazing little town up on a hill with some of the best authentic food we ate our entire 2 weeks in Tuscany. A few really nice little enoteca's, and some gorgeous views. Great place to just relax! -mJ
In Florence for dinner, as Board-O mentions, I highly reccomend La Giostra.

I *loved* tasting at San Giusto a Rentananno in Gaiole in Chianti. They make both my favorite Chianti as well as my favorite Sangiovese-based Super-Tuscan (Percarlo)... and probably my favorite olive oil, too! And the woman who helped us was super nice. The tasting room is just located in this old fort; I cannot reccomend it strongly enough.
I know your hotel reservations have been made. I will be in Rome the first week of September and just want to let you know about something I found on travelzoo.ca: Radisson SAS hotel, next door to Termini station, 5*, close to everything, 140 Euros (Roof top pool, breakfast, spa ). Just enter code 29190 in the corp. account box.
Before you leave for San Gimignano, try to see the movie "Breakfast with Mussolini". It will set you in the Tuscan mood. Our last trip to Italy was 9 years ago so I don't have recommendations for restaurants.
In Siena, check out Antica Osteria Da Divo on Via Franciosa 29. Food is great and the decor is very cool and romantic. Dinner for 2 with appetizers, entrees, dessert, and two glasses of wine cost about 85 euros.

In Rome:
- Ristorante il Gabriello near Spanish Steps on Via Vittoria 51. We had a 6-course dinner with a bottle of local red wine for about 100 euros.

- Da Settimio all'Arancio near Via Corso and Piazza San Lorenzo on Via dell' Arancio 50. Also excellent food. About 80 euros for apps, entrees, and a bottle of wine.

- Restaurant Coco near the Pantheon on Piazza delle Coppelle 51 offered an awesome brunch buffet on Sunday at 15 euros. Freshly prepared pastas, fish, meats, and dessert with espresso.

- Don't forget Giolitti's on Via Uffici del Vicario 40 (between Pantheon and Trevi) for the best gelato.

Because you are going in August, you may want to make sure that you call these restaurants and confirm that they will be open. Some of them may be closed for their own vacations.
Two to add are to eat at SantoPadre in Rome, which is (relatively) near to the US Embassy and to have tasting menu for lunch or dinner at Castello Banfi. I'm pretty sure that the locals don't think too much of Banfi (I think because it's run by Americans), but the food is very good and it's a truly beautiful property.
Damn, you guys are coming through for me big time! I'm definitely going to check out La Giostra, there seems to be a consensus that the place is worth a visit.

Winetarelli, it looks like I'm probably going to add Chianti to my itinerary and check out San Giusto a Rentananno based on your strong recommendation. Thanks for that!

Vinoman7, thanks for the wine bar tip on Florence, I was looking for something just like that, so I will definitely check that out as well.

DoubleD, I'm looking into all your suggestions for Rome. Sadly, I'll be only in Rome for 2 1/2 days, so I won't have time to get everything. As it turns out, my wife and I just realized that we will be in Italy for our anniversary, so some of your restaurant suggestions may come in handy.

Thanks again guys, keep the suggestions coming!
Absinthe, in this thread you'll find a number of places that we really enjoyed in Rome (Christmas 2006). And here is a write up of our holiday in Italy in the summer of 2007.

Given that you are there in August, please keep in mind that's the national holiday month, and many shops, restaurants and wineries tend to be closed. We encountered the same last year. So if you plan ahead, make sure to have some alternatives ready.

Enjoy your time there! Smile
Hey guys, I'm in Rome right now and suffering from the heat and, what's worse, the humidity.

Board-O, made a reservation for La Giostra in Florence for Aug. 15th, so I'll let you, winetarelli and wine+art, who also recommended it, know how it is.

On-the-wine recommended Tullio, which is actually one block from my hotel. We walked by to check it out, but alas, it was closed for August, as was Ristorante Matricianella, also recommended by On-The-Wine. So, we'll check out Cul-de-Sac tonight.

DoubleD, thanks for the tip on Giolitti's. Last night, we had some of the best pizza in Rome at Pizzeria Remo in the Testaccio area, and later went to Giolitti's for dessert. No doubt, some of the best gelato I've ever had.

Very little wine consumption to speak of at the moment, but my trip has only just begun. More to come...
Hey guys, just got back from dining at Cul de Sac just off the Piazza Navonna. What a great little place. Very small establishment, with room inside for about 10 tables. However, the wine list is impressive. We had lasagna, which was some of the best I've ever tasted, an assortment of cheeses and charcuterie, and a bottle of Cantina Terlano Lagrein Alto Adige Porphyr Riserva 2005. As the wine list was extensive and a bit overwhelming, I asked the waiter to bring me a bottle for around 30 euros, not from Tuscany (we are leaving for Tuscany tomorrow) made from Italian varietals. Spectacular wine! Muscular wine at 13.5% alcohol, but the heat was under control. Good fruit concentration and long finish. 90 - 92 points easy! Will definitely return. More to come...

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