You always have to queue so get there one hour early and walk through all the rooms directly to the Sistine Chapel, ignore the rest or do another time; then you arrive ahead of the crowds able to glory in it without the noise and hub-bub. Many people take mirrors to look down into to save their necks.
One of the hubs of nightlife in Venice. There's some great bars - Cafe Rosso, Duchamp, and the Orange bar on the square itself, and Cafe Noir and Cafe Blu just round the corner, the latter which has great live music. But it's not all about the nightlife, in the daytime Campo Santa Margherita is a lovely place to sit and relax, watch people go by, feed the sparrows, and grab a slice of delicious pizza from Pizza al Volo.
Campo Santa Margherita, Dorsoduro
This is a hostel, somewhat away from the tourist areas but still within easy walking distance of the sights. One of the main attractions was the free breakfast and dinner, with free wine, as well as free internet access. This forces the residents to mingle and make friends and creates a brilliant communal spirit. It is also very colourfully decorated, with decent bunk beds and big lockers (which is useful for backpackers). When I went it was almost entirely filled with Americans, whether that is a good or bad thing is up to you.
It is about 5 minutes from Termini station, on Via Principe Amadeo (I think). Details can be found on hostelbookers.com.
Most people arrive at Pisa for Florence. Be advised that if you are catching a train to Florence, the booking office (it's the Information Office) is to the right of the Arrivals Hall. Do not follow the signs for the trains, which take you way out of the airport building far left. Trains are not so frequent so don't get caught without a ticket if you are a hurry! Also, remember that your ticket needs to be validated before you travel by sticking it in one of the yellow machines on the platform. This is essential as you can be fined for travelling with an unvalidated ticket.
Italy's premier art gallery. Pre-book your timed tickets at the pre-booking office or get your hotel to do it in advance. Sunday is the busiest day. Closed on Mondays. Be advised, it does not have a lot of really well known art, so if you are a phillistine head straight to Room 10 and gaze at Botticelli's Birth of Venus. The rest of the place is, honestly, not so memorable unless you are a true art buff.
The toilets are a disgrace. Avoid if at all possible, especially if you are a woman. The cafe is well worth a visit, if the sun is shining. Sit outside at one of the tables high above the city.
Piazzale degli Iffizi 6
Tel: 055 23885
The place that houses Michelangelo's statue of David. There is other stuff in the building but this is the reason for going. Now he has been cleaned he looks great. The kids will like it - he has no clothes on!
The real tip is to book your tickets before you begin to queue. Get your hotel to do it, for a specific time or you can do it on the internet before you leave home. If you don't you will queue for hours along with a load of Americans who have not read their guide book info properly. There is a separate - and much shorter - queue for pre-booked tickets. Yes, it costs you 3 euros more per person but it saves hours of queuing.
Via Ricasoli 58-60
Tel: 055 2388609
This is the big Dome on the cathedral. You can go up to the top and look out from the viewing platform, over Florence. Simply the best sight in the city. It takes a fair amount of queuing - check times and make sure you don't leave it too late - and the climb to the top can take up to 20 minutes, but it is brilliant. Not only do you get a 360 degree view of the city but you see the inside of the Dome in close up, on the way up and way down. The one unmissable sight in Florence, in my opinion.
Ufficio del Duomo
Tel: 055 2302885
One of the best views in Rome is from the Pincio, above Santa Maria del Popolo, which has two magnificent Caravaggios, including the Crucifixion of St Peter and Conversion of St Paul.
South west of the Villa Borghese, above Piazza del Popolo.
This has to be the best restaurant in Venice. I have visited Venice three times in the last eighteen months and have eaten here on two of the three nights on all visits. A little off the beaten track, it is a favourite with locals and specialises in seafood (it is near the fish market at Rialto) and fresh, seasonal produce. Try out a delicious white wine from the Veneto, La di Motte(?).
Calle della Regina (Rialto), 2262; Tel: 041 5222881;
A short train ride from Rome and a pleasant escape from the city. Lots to see there including the Villa d'Este (Cardinal's Palace), various temples and Hadrian's Villa - a few miles outside the town. There's also a spectacular walk through a ravine with waterfalls to cool you off on a hot day.
Only a few minutes from Rialto Bridge it must be hard to find better value in this area. A garden that must be lovely in sunny weather and a very lively trattoria. On a damp Sunday the very friendly staff were almost overwhelmed with diners but kept it all going well. Quite a wide choice of pizzas (all around 8 Euros) and an extremely good value for money set lunch for either 14 or 16 Euros. It's all the traditional courses that you would expect (spaghetti al ragu, brescaiola, spaghetti with mussels and clams, squid) but each course cooked well and very tasty. Half a litre of good wine for 8 Euros. Unhesitatingly recommended - and as almost always in Venice restaurants, perfect for children too.
Sottoportico di Siora Bettina, Santa Croce 2338. Phone 041 5241169
A cafe/bar with wonderful snacks and coffee at very reasonable prices - 2 cappucinos and 2 krafens (like doughnuts) at half the price of 2 cappucinos near St Marks. We heard Italians coming out and agreeing that the coffee was excellent - a real complement.
On Campo San Stefano, near Accademia bridge and Vaporetto stop.
Venice is a stange and wonderful place - full of quirks and idiosyncracies, and while often (but not always - go when it's freezing!) filled with tourists, it does what it can for its own, and its regulars. Apparently there are three prices - Tourist, Italian, and Venetian. If you're a regular face in a restaurant or cafe, you'll notice prices dropping significantly over time (depending on how long you stay!) - one night I was out to dinner with one of my friends, and supper was free!
Still, people complain about high prices in Venice, even the Venetians. I think the British are lucky on any trip, because there is no way you'll pay coffee and sandwich prices that we do over here! Just have a 'toast' (ham and cheese toasted sandwich) and a coffee and you'll pay 3 Euro depending on where you go. Even my Milanese friend couldn't believe prices in DuChamp on Camp Santa Margerita ("But how is it possible? I don't understand. HOW is it possible?") So, don't always believe the myths.
Also, hotels often decrease prices significantly in low season, and while often freezing, it is worth it for a deserted San Marco, and a real look at Venice.
A great website by Krysve. Hotel information and booking for four good hotels (Salieri, Art Deco, Al Sole, Florida) as well as photos of Venice (including some taken in March this year - really a fantastic experience in Venice!). This site is well-maintained and a wonderful resource for anyone who is in love with or who wants to visit Venice. Certainly the creator of the website loves the city maybe more than anyone I else I met during my stay. Try it!
I love this part of Venice. It's a little off the beaten track even though the Peggy Guggenheim Museum and the Accademia are only a few blocks away.
Stroll the quiet streets and escape the crowds and for a genuine trip in a gondola for a fraction of the price take a tragetto across to S. Maria Griglio. Be sure to stand up though - sitting is frowned upon.
Gangs of pickpockets, both girls and boys, harass tourists on the Rome underground by stealing wallets and purses not kept securely enough. They distracted us with a breast-feeding baby and then pounced as we entered the packed train. My friend had his wallet taken and we saw many similarly fated tourists going into the Police Station where we reported it. They used physical means to restrain me but succeeded only in bruising my arm.
The underground is not very extensive in Rome, consisting of lines A & B, but it is the most convenient mode of transport especially for the Vatican and St. Peter's and the Colosseum.
Lucca is one of my favourite italian cities (prob #1) - everything is wonderful. The medieval wall provides a great palce where everyone rides their bike or walks to work or school, or just for fun. A great place to meet hot guys. The people are great.
Around the centro storicco.
Al Sole Hotel is a delightful hotel in the San Croce area of Venice away from the crowds of San Marco. We discovered it by accident one evening on our first visit to Venice in October 2004. We were so enchanted by it we decided that if we were to return to Venice we would definitively stay there, and that is what we did. We stayed for three nights recently and we were not disappointed – so much so, that we have booked another visit in January 2006!
Al Sole Hotel is housed in a charming XV century palace and faces on to the Tolentini Canal, with a very open aspect, and with a garden at the back. The surrounding area is quiet and attracts locals and tourists alike. It is only a five minute walk from Piazzale Roma bus station so it is very conveniently situated for a transfer from the airport. On our recent visit we booked a water taxi which took us straight to the hotel but on our next visit we intend to take the less expensive bus and walk the short distance to the hotel.
From Al Sole, it is only a few minutes walk to several good and inexpensive restaurants as well as to the famous Campo San Margherita with a wealth of lively bars and restaurants.
We would definitely recommend this charming hotel, with its friendly and helpful staff, to anyone who wants to stay in a perfect location in the heart of old Venice. We can’t wait to return.
This is Rome's oldest 'gelateria' (ice cream shop). They make the most delicious ice cream, so creamy and so many different flavours to choose from. Buy an ice cream and go to Piazza della Rotonda (where the Pantheon is) and enjoy it while watching the world go by. Not to be missed, not even in winter!
via Uffici del Vicario, 40
To say it is a campsite gives the wrong impression, though it is - a large one. We stayed there in a trailer-type bungalow in October 2005. The accommodation was clean and comfortable with twin beds (linen provided), heating and shower room/WC. It was very cheap, compared with any hotel - only £145 for two of us for six nights. There are no cooking facilities, but that was fine for we ate out while sightseeing during the day and had a cold meal in the bungalow in the evening, or went to the splendid on-site pub/restaurant which also provides breakfast. The main downside was no way to dry wet shoes! Frequent buses connect the camp with the Rome metro system.
Send your feedback or queries to firstname.lastname@example.org