All I wanted was the five Cs
Cheap – in Venice that’s almost impossible, but this was very reasonable.
Cheerful – fabulous smile from the receptionist on arrival and every time we returned.
Cosy – ask for an attic room at the back so you can spy down into the locals' gardens below, and see the ocean liners berth in the distance. The breakfast room overlooks a local canal.
Clean – room was spotless and cleaned every day.
Convenient – 50 metres from Piazzale Roma bus station and car park, 250 metres from vaporetto number 1 stop, and 5 minutes from the railway station.
Just spent a month in Florence and ate in this wondrous restaurant seven times! Great food, terrific atmosphere, superb service, discounts and many free drinks. They gave us two bottles of wine on our last night. Watch the laid back guys in the kitchen and appreciate the effortless charm and expertise of the staff. Fantastic!
Via Santo Spirito near the Ponte Vecchio
This small hotel (about seven rooms) has a spectacular location on the Grand Canal, right by the Rialto bridge. Our room (junior suite) had a breathtaking view right onto the Grand Canal. Excellent service from the charming owner made us feel like royalty - a really special place.
Budget airlines fly into Pisa - don't bother with the bus, the road is usually very busy into Florence. Get the train, there's a station at Pisa airport with regular trains to Florence; or go to Pisa Central where there are even more trains to Florence and it's cheaper.
We originally found out about Bar Calce from local guide Angela Imperato. It is located directly off the main square in Ravello, just to the left of the church.
During the summer months, they have numerous tables in the piazza itself - the staff have always been friendly and helpful. Interestingly, above Bar Calce there are three hotel rooms, at least two of which offer excellent views of the piazza itself.
The rooms are spacious and clean, and very affordable - the one we stayed in was only 90 euros, and in a town like Ravello where five-star hotels abound, this is an extremely good deal!
2 Via Roma,
Tel. 089 857 152
Angela Imperato: www.aguideinside.com
If you are planning to visit Rome, an apartment might be a good choice. In fact, if you are with your family or a group, an apartment might be cheaper than a hotel, but also very central and beautiful.
For example, Domus Colosseo is a big apartment at Coliseum, with a 360° view over Rome from its terraces. Ideal for large groups and families looking for a very central penthouse with full comforts.
Address: Via Annia 36, Rome
Design Summer Sessions for beginners
and advanced students of all ages at two of the city's top design schools. Courses last two or four weeks and cover the areas of fashion, graphics, interior and product design from a fascinating Milanese point of view with many guest speakers - a great place to network for contacts as well. Book a place online for this July.
Domus Academy and Naba are the host schools - it is also possible to do the first two weeks in London at St Martins College of Art and Design
When I've visited Florence before, I've stayed in cheap places with sagging mattresses and thin walls. This time since I was travelling alone from the States and wanted somewhere to recover peacefully and safely after my sightseeing, I decided to shell out a few more Euros and stayed in this hotel. I found the staff to be courteous, helpful and very accommodating, Andrea (one of the family that own the place) was really welcoming and arranged museum and restaurant reservations for me and also gave me good tips to move around.
The place (built in 1500) was very central and the neighbourhood was safe, I could walk to all the main tourist sights. Ponte Vecchio and Uffizi Gallery are about 2 blocks away. At the end I had a discount for paying cash without asking for one, the cost of my single was originally €88.00 but they gave it to me for €80.00 per night. A bargain!
The hotel also offers a left luggage facility which is handy if you have a late flight/train. I will definitely return for a longer stay in the future.
The last time I flew to Venice, an air hostess announced 'For those of you on the right-hand side of the plane you will shortly have a wonderful view of Venice in the sunset. For those of you on the left, you really should have sat on the right!'
The hotel is in a residential area about 10min walk from Termini. The room and bathroom are small but clean and new. It is generally quiet at night, except for the hostelry and pizzeria close to the hotel. Very nice employees, helpful and smiling. Only problem we had was with the elevator... there wasn't an elevator!!! Within walking distance of Stazione Termini. I would definitely stay there again.
Htel Felice, Rome
nearest Station: Termini
The local train service runs from Sorrento to Naples, with stations near to the main sites or with a shuttle bus (to Vesuvius). It drops you right outside Pompeii entrance for example. It's cheap and regular.
The museum has lots of the treasures that have been removed from Pompeii/Herculaneum etc. for security reasons. I've been twice and it was very quiet on both occasions despite the stunning artefacts, I guess because of the reputation of the city. It also has the 'secret room' where much of the pornography from the sites is on display, you can easily avoid it if you wish!
You can easily get there via the underground, there's a station right outside, but you must watch your bags as you travel around!
Monterosso old town is a good place to stay to explore the Cinque Terre. It's got good railway and boat connections, attractive streets, bars and some of the most fantastic food I've ever eaten (risotto marinara to die for)! It's also got two decent beaches which the other villages lack.
I have fond memories of this place because in September 2006 my husband and I had our wedding breakfast here. Marco and Angelo are the owners and do all the cooking themselves. Marco made us the best wedding cake I have ever tasted (our friends did agree, although I know I'm biased!).
It is traditional Abruzzan food and is delicious. The antipasti is worth paying a vist for alone. The views from the terrazza are stunning. I love this place and we go whenever we can.
Above the village of Serramonacesca, all the locals know it so its easy to find. www.lechateaudemamere.com/
A fantastic seafood restaurant. The day after my husband and I married, we took our wedding party there for a luncheon before everyone had to leave for their flight home. The food and ambience is unbeatable and all the locals eat there, which is always a good sign. The alici (anchovies), sea bass and sorbetto di limone are out of this world! This isn't a 'tourist' restaurant and you need to dress smartly, although it is certainly not a snobby place.
On the seafront in Pescara
In the heart of Florence's San Lorenzo district, the hotel is very convenient to the Santa Maria Novella train station. Laid out over three floors, Hotel Corona D'Italia is housed in an nineteenth-century palace with clean and pleasing lines. Its interior, decorated with beautiful Florentine ceramics and elegant stucco cornices, is large and light-filled.
Via Nazionale 14
50123, Florence, ITALY
If you're taking a stroll (La Passegiatta - you'd better be expensively dressed) along the promenade at Viareggio, you absolutely must try some of the (takeaway only) pizza from La Rusticanella.
If you're walking from the south side, the harbour (darsena), then you've gone too far if you reach the gap in the front and the clock tower - it's just before there. Easy to miss, it's small and usually has a large crowd outside. Fight your way to the front, see what's available and order by the portion. Specialities include the potato pizza, the margherita is splendid, but my all time favourite is the onion pizza (cipolla).
A glass of beer from one of the bars to the right (they own the seating outside, but as long as you buy drinks you're welcome to eat your pizza there) and you're sorted. Not to be missed!
Viale Margherita 80
Viareggio (on the promenade)
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