OK, so it's Sicilian and we're talking Rome, but Capricci Siciliani delivers the best baby squid in the known universe. Fantastic seafood, excellent wine list, including many native Sicilian grape varieties, reasonably priced, and a warm and inviting staff. Over an 8-day visit, we actually had dinner here twice, and our 14-month-old enjoyed both the delicious bread and unending attention. Two truly memorable meals.
Via di Panico, 83 (near Piazza Navona;
tel: 06 4543 3823;
Some friends and I spent a fortnight in Venice two years ago and shared a furnished apartment on the island of Giudecca. We borrowed the shopping trolley from the flat and bought fresh produce in the local shops and cooked our own delicious meals. We felt very much at home, sailing across to San Marco every morning on the vaporetta. A not-to-be-missed day out is to the islands of Murano and Burano; it is a chance to escape the bustle of Venice and it is another opportunity to explore the traditional Venetian culture of seagoing exploration.
A great spot to stop for lunch in the otherwise overpriced and tacky, touristy San Marco area.
It's a small but bright, friendly and busy place, right next to a bridge - actually, if you're a woman with a mind for pranks, you can have the singular experience of startling fellow tourists in gondolas with a 'hello' as they glide past the window of the women's toilet. I also shared my table with three (rowdy) off-duty gondoliers.
East of San Marco, on the Riva degli Schiavoni
Even if Venetian masks are not to your taste, the shop is a little treasure box to wander into. They did the masks for Eyes Wide Shut and I think the unpainted white ones that they sell are the most dramatic. The Ponte dei Pugni and floating greengrocers are also nearby.
The island of Torcello lies across the lagoon from Venice about 10km north as the crow flies (or halibut swims). There is a regular vaparetto (water bus) leaving from the Paglia Bridge near St Mark’s Square, which makes stately progress by way of Murano and Burano. This is not, although it sounds a bit like it, some kind of skittish homage to a well-known catchphrase of Mr Vic Reeves. It is, in fact, another pair of islets in the lagoon. Murano is famous for its glassware and tourists can readily purchase various knick-knacks and baubles. However these trinkets are - almost without exception - of hideous aspect and exorbitant cost and can safely be left to the Americans.
A convivial night culminating in us making short work of a large bottle of brandy meant that we missed the hourly Sunday morning vaparetto we were aiming for so, with a lunchtime table booked at the splendid Cipriani’s restaurant on Torcello, we hopped on to a water taxi. These little speedboats are, inevitably, a lot more pricey that the water bus but, on a crisp, clear autumn morning, as we bounced across the silver-blue waters of the lagoon, the exhilaration of the ride more than made up for the expense. And certainly did a lot to assuage any cognac-induced greenness around the gills.
Such was our air of wellbeing that we did not mind at all when the water taxi-driver insouciantly handed over control of the speeding craft to his 10-year-old son. The look of benign, paternal content on the father’s face as his nipper hurtled us across the deep brought to mind the dog in the Tom and Jerry cartoons (‘Spike’ was it?) with his indulgent chuckle of “That’s my boy!” as his yapping offspring chased Tom up a tree.
Small Italian hotel, some rooms overlook small canal and campo S. Apostoli, close to Grand Canal and Rialto, reasonable price and very friendly and helpful.
Camp San Apostoli, Cannareggio, Venice.
The best shopping street in Verona, found just to the left of the arena. Louis Vuitton is on the corner so it can’t be missed. Shops here include Diesel, Gucci, Versace, Benneton, Energie, Sixty, Miss Sixty, Sisley, MaxMara, Mandarina Duck, Witboy, Stefanel, Bulagri and Cartier.
A shop that’s not to be missed (I forget the name) sells shirts for both men and women but is on the right hand side as the arena is behind you. It sells the most amazing shirts I've ever come across at the best prices.
At the other end of the street (the opposing end to the arena end) is a small market selling fruit and veg and nice little souvenirs and if you turn right there is a little archway about 20-30m on the left, walk through it and you find yourself at Juliet’s balcony. Next to the archway is Armani Jeans store and about 20 metres further on the right hand side is a very big Emporio Armani Store.
For perfume walk down a bit further and on the right is a nice shop, with very helpful staff. The "more mature lady" who works there is best friends with a sales assistant in Emporio Armani, i ended up getting a discount, just be nice.
Off the main square, as the arena is in front of you, the shopping heaven is to the left with Louis Vuitton on the end
Does huge, delicious and cheap sandwiches and salads at lunchtime.
Corner of Via Vitruvio and Via Settembrini - with your back to Central Station, turn left down Via Vitruvio. Bar Piazza is about 100 metres down the road.
This small boutique hotel near the Forum is ideally situated for exploring central Rome. The owner and staff are very friendly and go out of their way to make your stay special. They recommended excellent restaurants for us that we would never have found on our own. We felt as if we were dining like real Romans in places of real style and character.
Via Cavour, around the corner from the Forum and around 1km from the railway station
Roman Reference is a company that offers apartments to rent in the centre of Rome. I found them by googling 'Rome apartment rental'. I took an apartment in the Rione Monti area of the city near their office, which is right next to the Colosseum. The flat was excellent, accommodating four people easily. The staff all spoke English and were very friendly. The cost worked out to be almost as much as it would be to stay in a hostel. Being so central, all the sights are within easy walking distance. It really made the trip. They appear to have lots of apartments in the centre of Rome and I'll definitely be using them again when I go back.
A typical "bolognese" restaurant in which to eat well, big quantity of food, spending very few. Also, Fantoni is located in a very nice pedestrian street full of "osterie" (the pubs typical of the area of Bologna, in which you can both drink both eat good dishes).
via del Pratello 11a (city center) Bologna 0039 051 236358
A tradional bar which serves the best authentic home made tartufo ice cream (chocolate ice cream with chocolate chunks). One is enough for two.
Piazza Navona 28 Phone: 39 066 880 1996 In the middle on the northern side of the piazza.
Is this the best bar in the world? Well, it is set in a beautiful crumbling piazza, serves Frascati that will amaze you, does a nice line in salads and shows the Italian football on the TV indoors. All this without attracting too many tourists.
Pop into the Museum of Trastevere opposite, clock the art, come here after and have some frascati with a pear salad while pretending to read La Repubblica over your fake Gucci sunglasses. Now that's civilised.
The bar staff are really sexy too.
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 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.
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!
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