This palace contains a wonderful collection of paintings and sculpture, set in galleries of the most sumptuous rococo design. Parts of the building are still used by members of the original family and the entire collection has the strong sense of having been bought and assembled by a succession of discerning individuals. The "star" of this great show is undoubtedly the Velasquez portrait of Pope Innocent X.
Piazza del Collegio Romano, Rome.
I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS HOTEL in Bergamo's Citta Alta. It has a One am curfew. They were not flexible AT ALL about negotiating this and refused to give us a key. On two occassions, over a long weekend break we had to leave friends early to make sure we were allowed back in. Some bars in the Citta Alta seemed to carry on untill at least three am. - with people of all ages strolling about the street outside our hotel enjoying themselves. Because we were there for a friend's wedding and there was also a cycling event that weekend we found it impossible to look for or find alternative accomodation at such short notice. If you like spontaneity then this is not the place to stay.
Citta Alta,Bergamo, Italy
This is a great B&B near Amantea, in the centre of Calabria located in Cleto. The friendly proprietor is a sculptor and everything about the house and grounds reflects his professional skills. This B&B offers free bike hire, ping-pong table and internet. Outside there is a wonderful sitting-pool with a fountain. I felt absolutely fantastic there.
Via Piano Prato. 1 Cleto, Cosenza.
Tel: 0039 0982 4403
Venice Cream is a gelato shop located right on the canal between the Arsenale boat stop and San Marco square. You should avoid this shop at all costs.
I requested a taste of the gelato & was handed "chocolate" gelato that was terrible. When I requested a different flavor, the owner became obviously upset, and very reluctantly gave me my taste of mint gelato. Just as I was about to have a taste, I glanced in the case & noticed numerous bugs & flies on the front edge of the cooler. When I pointed them out to him, he became angry & began to yell at me in Italian. I was amazed that he would be angry with me when his shop clearly had major cleanliness issues. Nonetheless, he continued to yell and waved me out of his shop, still yelling as I walked away.
For cleanliness sake, I would avail myself of one of the dozens of other gelato shops around Venice. So many of them are wonderful (and CLEAN) and the people are very friendly. Unfortunately, Venice Cream is not one of them.
On the canal between Arsenale boat stop & San Marco square, near the Metropole Hotel.
Please beware of people trying to overcharge you for taxi fares from the airport. I booked an apartment through the website www.feelhomeinrome.com and they booked me a taxi for 65 Euros. I only found out later, when the taxi didn't turn up for the return journey and I had to hail a cab from one of the main streets, that the official charge is 30 Euros to the inner city. You can also get a bus for eight Euros to termini.
By the way, even though the apartment was good, I wouldn't recommend feelhomeinrome.com as they apply hidden charges for cleaning the apartment and work with a dodgy taxi company that is charging more than double the official fare.
The Yellow is a funky hostel close to termini, I recommend it just because of the great time I had there. They've got a brand new reception and a cool bar with cheap drinks for guests.
I've stayed all over Europe and the States in hostels and this place is at the top of my list.
HUB is an English speaking restaurant and bar serving some of the best Italian food and wine (like the local Montepulciano) at very affordable prices.
It is on the first two floors of a striking modern building. Its beautiful outside terrazza is furnished with cosy white sofas and chairs and the view from there is pretty amazing. At aperitivo time, around 7pm, people like chilling there with some of the best cocktails ever. Great music all day long.
HUB is also 10 minutes away from the beach and only a 30 minute drive from the mountains and national parks. Children and families welcome.
HUB is in Pescara near the new Tribunal. Telephone 085 4554999 www.hub.pe.it
This the best agency you can find in Florence to rent or buy apartments and villas. Their service is outstanding. The owner is bilingual, knows how people "think" in the US and can help you deal with all the cultural differences and the problems you would certainly find if you wanted to rent or buy properties in Italy. Simply The Best.
Very acceptable 4-star hotel. Great for exploring Padova, but even better for visiting Venice by train (30-40 minutes) to avoid paying crazy prices to stay in that city.
Wonderful detective novels set in Venice. Donna Leon is an American author living in Venice and her observations of the city and her affection for it couldn't be put to better use. Her books made me feel like I knew Venice before I got there and in fact give you some good tips if you want to experience Venice like a Venetian and not a tourist. Her descriptions of food will make your mouth water!
Any good book shop.
It tastes better in Venice than anywhere else. Have it as a mid-morning ombra with cicheti (small snacks in bars) or as an aperitif or with your dolci or just for the sake of it. Best drunk standing outside in the sunshine watching the world go by.
All over Venice!
Attached to the La Calcina pensione this wonderful restaurant has great food at a fair price, which is not bad in Venice particularly given the view here. A good mix of meals and light snacks and good for vegetarians.
In Dorsoduro by the Zattere vaporetto stop.
Get away from the crowds and walk to the Arsenale. You can't go inside, but the gates are pretty spectacular with ancient lions guarding the shipyard that was once the lifeblood of the city.
Walk about 15 minutes East of San Marco into Castello - the arsenale is signposted.
If you want to see art in Venice, it doesn't come any better than this. Tintoretto's painting of the crucifixion literally took my breath away. This has been described as the Venice equivalent of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and I wouldn't disagree. It is a real tour de force by Tintoretto and shouldn't be missed.
My other favourite place for his paintings is Santa Madonna dell'Orto in the north of Cannaregio.
Right by the Frari church in the lovely and quiet San Polo sestiere.
We decided to be environmentally friendly and go to Venice on the train. Not necessarily cheaper than the plane, but you travel overnight from Paris (it leaves at about 9pm) and arrive in the middle of Venice in the morning. It's a wonderful and romantic way to get there.
Visit www.seat61.com for details.
A stunning shop-cum-gallery selling original etchings and frames made by the artist-owners and their friends. No "art snobbery" here - the owners are English-speaking and happily spend time with you, explaining how they make the etchings and frames. With our purchase, we got a cup of tea and a fab local restaurant recommendation. Whether you want a unique memento of Florence or an original gift, Il Tamarino is well worth a visit.
Il Tamarino Stampe d'Arte
via del Moro 46R
Tel. 055 282457
This hotel located in a small oasis set between sea and hills, surrounded by palm and century-old trees in perfect harmony with the lush environment of the Riviera dei Fiori and with the elegant Sanremo gardens.
I've been there this spring and I would recommend this place to anybody.
Corso Matuzia, 21 - 18038 Sanremo Imperia Italy
Tel. +39 0184.6957516
Spacious, clean self-catering apartment, in the heart of Abruzzo. Situated midway between the Apennine mountains and golden beaches of the Adriatic. The apartment is secluded, but it is within easy reach of all the local amenities and attractions.
Contrada CasaBianca, Castilenti.
Tel: 0039 0861993508.
Nearest station & airport is Pescara - 25km.
A massive and excellent eatery in central Rome (two minutes off via del Corso), incorporating a posh restaurant, more homely osteria, wine and cookshop and - the highlight for this family - a pizzeria, which on weekends serves a magnificent brunch.
You take a large tin plate, heap it with food from the buffet, and pay by weight (returning as many times as stomach and wallet permit). The kids loved it - as did the many Italian families queuing for tables. Brilliant.
Piazza Augusto Imperatore
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