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October in Lucca, Chianti, Montalcino and Rome and Two Slow Travel Converts

#1
By jabez from Georgia, Fall 2005
October 8 - 25, 2005 Busseto, Lucca, Chianti, Montalcino, Rome and Milan

This trip report was originally posted on SlowTrav.

Background

The last three years Judy and I have traveled to Italy, my sixth trip overall. Last year was a true Slow Travel trip with a week in Tuscany and a week in Rome.

Two years ago we traveled with friends (Carla and Duane) and had a fantastic time, but tried to do way too much in too short of time. This year we again traveled with the same couple and hoped that we might slow down a bit more.

Slow travel: I can understand the temptation to do everything possible when traveling to a place like Italy, especially the first visit. There’s so much to see!

There’s also a lot to miss!

Packing-unpacking and checking in-checking out takes time and interferes with the travel experience. Invariably, every week or two someone writes for advice at Slow Travel. Usually the heading posted is something like this:

“Is this possible?”

Then the message has an itinerary like:
“Will be in Italy for ten days. We fly round trip Rome and plan two nights in Rome, two Florence, two Lake Como and two Venice. Our question is, what should we do for our other two nights? Maybe the Amalfi coast?”

In my humble opinion, slow travel is about experiencing the travel destination and not just adding a notch on the “I’ve visited” travel-gun. I say all this as a prelude that our trip wasn’t a 100% slow travel trip, but a compromise. The good news is that our dear friends (who, as you will read later, kept going when we slowed down in Rome) at the end of our trip were talking about longer stays for our next trip. Converts!

Planning: Since our 2004 May trip we experienced some amazing personal things that kept my wife and I away from planning this trip as we like. Almost immediately after our trip I had abdominal hernia surgery. We then placed our house up for sale. For people who go through moves every few years, this may not seem to be a big deal. We, however, hadn’t moved for 25 years! No one told me the house needed to be neat all the time!

As stressed as my wife got preparing our house for a sale, she even had more stress going through the process of searching for a new home.

Originally, the idea was to downsize. After awhile, I realized that it was really more to modernize. Over the many months we visited literally every subdivision in our price range. Our house finally sold in March. We decided to build the “perfect” house and it was supposed to be ready early May.

Then my company decided to bring consultants in for a reorganization. Consultants (oh no!) and reorganization (OH NO!) were two words most managers don’t like to hear. Fortunately, I was on the “winning team” and the consultants had me promoted.

Not to carry this on any further (you thought you were suppose to be reading a trip report and not a blog) but, after much times staying with friends, relatives and a long stint at a hotel we finally moved in this August. Thus (mea cupa!!) I didn’t post a trip report for last year's trip. It also added up to less time for preparation.

So less than two months after our big move, our trip began....
 
#2
To Milan October 8, 2005

Since we were all using Delta frequent flyer miles and desired business class, we were stuck with Delta’s route and not ours. It’s getting harder and harder to get the route you want using miles with Delta. We left on a Saturday at 10am heading to NYC, then Amsterdam and then Milan. We wanted Rome or Florence, but all we could get was Milan round trip. Not the best airport for a trip to Tuscany and Rome.

Originally, we had planned on Aosta. I thought that Aosta and the Piedmont might make a great trip. The other couple became timid when they found out that temperatures in Aosta might be quite cold in October. So we decided on going straight to Tuscany from Milan. Note: Aosta was around 70F degrees the days we would have been there.

Our flights went smooth and most of us got a 2-3 hours sleep as we crossed the Atlantic. The KLM flight to Milan was short, but no one should believe that there’s really a business class on their flights. You do sit “up front”, but the seats are the same as coach. We started to grumble a little, but soon stopped. After all, we were close to being in Italy!

Milan to Busseto October 9, 2005

Arrived around 11:30 am at Malpensa. After much confusion about the rental car, we were on our way.

Rental cars: AutoEurope is often the best bet, but sometimes other companies can beat their prices, if you shop early and shop often. Two years ago we had Avis at a great price and had a great automatic car. Last year I found a remarkable deal with Thrifty and they did a great job (especially after I blew the transmission - my fault!). This year Duane reserved with Budget. He had a great deal and Auto Europe couldn’t match it, so he paid in advance. The Avis desk takes care of Budget cars at the airport. Budget didn’t give a voucher (he just had a computer confirmation) to my friend, and reserved a three door manual Vespa! He was suppose to get a station wagon with automatic. Avis did a great job, but it was not a great start. By 12:30 we were on our way.

Another note about rental cars: Ask if there’s supposed to be a voucher for any car you pay for in advance. This is especially true if you are to pick it up at another company’s office. Most importantly, get FULL coverage. No deductible. By the time we returned this car, it had many scratches a few dents and a bumper held together by duct tape. Driving is not that hard, but it is a bit of an adventure.

Our destination was Lucca, but we didn’t want to push it the first day. With the advice of the great people at Slow Travel we decided to spend a night in Busseto. It was about an hour and half drive and we checked into “Due Foscari”. The hotel was right in town was clean, had big rooms and new (small) bathrooms. It was very worth the 85E we paid (8E for breakfast).

We took a drive to Parma expecting it to be somewhat empty and most things closed on Sundays. Were we surprised! The streets were full of people and many, if not most shops were open. Apparently, many people head to Parma on Sunday afternoon to walk, ride bikes and shop. We joined them for awhile and then decided to go to a recommended restaurant that we never did find in the darkness.

Returning to the quaint sleepy town of Busseto we decided to eat at Teatro Pizzeria. It’s right in the piazza, can’t miss it. I started with a plate of parma ham and cheese and it was amazingly good. My five cheese pizza was great, but the others said their pizza selections were only okay.

Time for a walk and gelato! The town’s quite small with only a couple restaurants open on Sunday night. We stopped at Caffe Centrale Pasticceria and Gelateria, where wines, liquor, beer, cakes and ice cream are sold from the same counter. Our first gelato of the year! Ah, Italy!!

It was a beautiful dark starry night and we took a stroll. Busseto calls itself the birthplace of Verdi, although he was actually born in a little town near by (you can visit his home-museum). The entire town of Busseto is dedicated to Verdi. The piazza is named for him and has a grand large statue of him in the square. There were spot lights on it and on a great building behind it. We couldn’t help but wonder, where was everyone? As we walked toward the building, we soon found out. We heard music and singing above us. As we walked through a large archway of the building we found out that we were walking below the Teatro Verdi an opera house built for Verdi (he rejected it as too ornate and expensive). We sat outside an listened. What a beautiful end to our first day. First day! It was now 10pm and it’s been 32 hours since we left home and with only a couple of hours of sleep in the last 36 hours, we were ready for bed.
 
#3
To Lucca October 10 2005

We awoke early to the sounds of bells and children walking to school. We opened the shutters of our massive windows and saw a small town coming to life. The hotel had breakfast in its cellars. We had very good croissants, hard rolls, cheese, yogurt, fruit, honey/jams, great biscuit crackers and of course cappuccinos. Excellent! With the town now awakening, we decided to walk around a little before we started our journey, to work off our breakfast. After about 40 minutes we were ready to start on our trek to Lucca.

I, as the navagator, designed a scenic trip to Barga and then Lucca. I had it pretty well planned until the wives saw an outlet mall. The very attractive Fidenza Village was off the Autostrada A1 exit Fidenza / Salsomaggiore and we made a two-hour stop. We then took the A-15 towards La Spezia. I suggested we exit at Fornovo and take the scenic route (S-62).

Scenic Routes: Michelin marks these routes in bold green. They do this without saying “But, expect very narrow roads with many trucks as you travel over mountains.”

Today, would be a slooooow scenic drive on a beautiful fall day. We were all in the mood for mountain views today. That is, at least when we began the day. We finally reached the turn off SS63 and then SR445. It was absolutely beautiful! The colors were much more vibrant than I expected, but it was also a long, sometimes frightening drive.

As the roads curved, they often narrowed and with much truck traffic ... well, I think you can figure it out. Sometimes trucks would back up to let us or another to go first. Sometimes is was us backing up. Sometimes trucks were scraping rocks around tight corners and at any moment we were sure that we’d be the next scrapers. Some of the homes were so close to the small mountain road that we could have reached out of our windows and snatched laundry drying on their ledges. After many hours, we finally spied Barga.

We were ready to get out and walk, run, or just anything except take on another mountain curve.

Barga is a lovely mountain village. Originally, I wanted to stay there and tried to book a nice B&B. They, however were booked and we elected to stay in Lucca instead. We walked to the top of the village. There we had beautiful views form the magnificent Romanesque Cathedral dominated by an embattled tower and containing an elaborate Romanesque Pulpit and a large 12° century statue of St. Christoper in wood.

Then, after stopping at a few quaint shops and taking a few pictures, we were on our way to Lucca. Not exactly a slow travel day, but interesting nevertheless. I think, no I know, in the future we’d skip the drive we took. We, however, think staying at Barga would be very nice. It’s an easy drive to Lucca, but the sun was retreating quickly.

We were booked at La Boheme. We stopped at the welcome center at the main gate and they called the B&B for us. With directions in hand we then were to drive to the inn and unload the bags before going to a parking area. Sounds easy, but this is an ancient Tuscan town with tiny one-way streets, no driving or parking allowed (except by permit) and lots of people on the street. After a couple tries we got close. People and shops were everywhere. I was outside in front of the car trying to slowly lead the way when the owner saw me and pointed where to stop. We blocked the small street as we unpacked and got directions where to park. The girls went to the room and we headed toward the “parking area.”

In reality, there was no parking in Lucca. There was some permit parking for a few residents and about 10 (maybe) paid parking place for 10,000 visitors cars. This may seem like hyperbole, but it didn’t seem that way as we went in circles, backed up, accidently left the town and returned. We finally found a parking place a long way from the central area, but we were happy to take it. We made a few more trips there the next few days to pay for another 24 hours. We had no intentions on using the car before leaving Lucca.

Our room at the La Boheme was the red room. No hyperbole here, this room was real red (floor stone even painted red). It was a good size room with sufficient bathroom, but no washcloths (we usually bring one or two of our own-just in case) It’s location was great!

We tried to go to Trattoria da Leo. It’s near Piazza San Michele on via Tegrimi. Roneiri, the inns owner said we wouldn’t need reservations, but he was wrong. There was an hour wait and we were starved because we only snacked at lunch. We started looking for GiGi’s another recommended restaurant. A very nice local man walked us there (lost again) after we asked directions, but it was closed so he took us to one he liked.

Here’s where we fail the readers. We never were sure of its name and location. Maybe the man was an angel and wanted to give us a little taste of Lucca heaven. Either way, we had a great meal with salads, pasta and Farro soup. The cute waitress brought us a free vegetable pie (Swiss chard) to begin the meal and the entire meal and house wine was excellent. My recommendation, ask a local. If they don’t take you there, they’ll probably take you to one just as good.

After gelato, we were ready for bed.
 
#4
Lucca October 10 - 13

We really liked Lucca. It seemed to be just the right size. We’d daily wake up to church bells, open the windows and watch the action in the streets. We were right above a popular bakery and loved to watch the people rushing in to get fresh baked breads, pizzas,etc. The breakfasts at our inn were hard rolls, cereal, ham, cheese and packaged croissants. With bakery right below them, why packaged bread? This would not be the only time I’d ask this question on this trip.

After the first morning I was making trips to the bakery and bringing back marvelous wheat rolls. Who says Tuscany doesn’t have good bread?

Lucca Highlights
It was early in our visit to Lucca that I discovered one of my wife’s primary goals for this trip: shopping! Last year she concentrated on shoes. If I remember right she bought eight pairs, maybe more. She bought most of them in Greve (shoe outlet there) or Rome. When she wears a pair, she tells me that they bring a smile to her face because they remind her of Italy.

This year, however, her primary goal was for items for our new home. She even had a shopping list.

Shopping
There’s a number of nice shops here and both ladies did well in starting to fill one of the extra bags we brought with us.

Both ladies fell in love with L’Erbario Toscano. The store had beautifully packaged soaps, oils, candles, aprons, pot-holders, perfumes, etc. The store keeper’s name is Chiara, who almost had my wife convinced to open a sister shop back in Atlanta.

Wine
Like all Tuscan towns, there’s plenty of Enotecas ready to sell local vineyards wines. Duane bought a few; I decided to wait.

Food
We ate at GiGi’s and enjoyed it, but not memorable. Trattoria da Leo was a very popular restaurant and I had a great pasta and rabbit dish. My wife’s spinach ravioli was good, but not great. On the whole, our best meal was at Vecchia Trattoria on Buralli at Piazza S. Agostino (closed Wednesdays). We sat outside on a small patio and we each had daily specials including spelt soup. This is one of the only places that serves the interesting local “Lucchesi” wines like Matraia, Palistorti and Forci. Their foods tend to have more vegetables than the restaurants further south in Tuscany.

Overall, we didn’t have any memorable food in Lucca. It may be because we tried to not go to a couple of the much more expensive ones. Comparably, we found that (for the price) we ate better in other areas of Tuscany. This was especially true for my wife, a vegetarian. The Lucca area emphasized meat dishes, especially in the fall. One of the most appealing ways we enjoyed some food happened around 5pm each day at numerous bars. Platters of free food came out. They opened a variety of wine bottles and you chose what you want. I found it a fun way to relax as my wife shopped.

Things To Do in Lucca
Besides eating, drinking and shopping Lucca had plenty for a four-day stay.

Guinigi Tower: Probably a bit overpriced, but a nice view.

Walking tours: Each afternoon around 3pm there were very good English speaking tours. They cost about E15 and left from the main welcome center.

San Michele Church: It was built on the site of the old Roman forum. Puccini started his musical career here as a choir boy. Legend has it that as long as St. Michael stays on top of the church, Lucca is safe.

Overall Highlights
  • A Pucchini concert at Basilica di San Giovanni (church is worth a visit on its own).
  • The Ramparts. We rented bikes at the main welcome center and road around the roads. This is a not-to-be-missed experience.
Lucca Summary: It’s worth more than a day trip. We all agreed that this is a place we will stay there again. I definitely would plan to train there and not worry about the parking.
 
#5
Chianti (Panzano) October 13 - 15

Recommended Stops
Driving to Chianti from Lucca is easy and a short trip. Getting our car packed up and exiting Lucca is not. If I haven’t already mentioned it, cars and Lucca don’t go together. On our way to Ponzano we stopped at Castello di Vicchiomaggio, amazingly beautiful place with walking trails, magnificent gardens, very nice (wife used the word “tasteful”) rooms and restaurant. This castle once hosted Leonardo da Vinci. (Quick note: We went to Vinci last year. Well worth a visit!).

Our next stop was very small Montefioralle (just above Greve). Not only great views, but one of the most picturesque towns I’ve ever seen (as attested to by the many artists and photographers with tripods there). This was the ancestral home of Amerigo Vespucci. We had lunch at Tavernna del Guerrino.

We then made a stop in Greve and as the wives shopped Duane and I made our way to the COOP. Not for groceries, but for the wine store around back and below it. It’s a giant tasting room with up to 100 different bottles of all kinds on Italian wines that (for a fee) can be tested. We each got E20 credit and tried some E100+ wines as well as some inexpensive ones. It’s quite an experience.

Panzano/B&B Fagiolari
Driving down a very long and very bumpy road, we finally arrived at B&B Fagiolari. The home dates back to 1237. Giulietta,the owner, bought it in 1984. She has 20 acres with a small vineyard and 150 olive trees. The home was very attractive, the pool, gardens and view are just what someone would want for a stay in Chianti.

The room we got was on the bottom level and, quite frankly, was stuffy and not all comfortable or tasteful as we had expected. Duane and Carla’s room was better, but it’s bath was down the hall. No problem, since she said it was only for their use and no one else was in the area. This was fine until the last morning when she told them that they had to move to another room because she rented that particular room out. I use the word “told” because it was not open for discussion. Giulietta has a very business-like personality, but Judy and I both liked her and admired how hard it must be to run her business as a single lady. All those acres, the B&B and a cooking class with only a couple staff. There was also a cottage above the pool area. I’d highly recommend this as a first choice. Probably the biggest negative and surprise was that the rooms were not cleaned while we were there. For an additional fee (E12?/day) they would be, but we chose to make our own room. We’ve never traveled to a B&B in any country that did this and did not advertise it in front.

The breakfasts here also were amazingly average. Cornflakes, packaged pound cake, bread and jams. They also served “Americanized” coffee. I love Italian coffee, so this also was a negative. Overall, to spite the wonderful setting, I don’t think we would return.

Day Trips
We love Chianti and have been to many of it’s towns the last three years. These were our stops:
  • We like Ponzano and especially Dario’s famous butchershop, the cobbler and its hardware store.
  • Castellina is another small town that we don’t miss. Partly for a little shopping, but especially for its food.
  • Radda is a nice stop for shopping as well.
  • Castello di Volpaia is a very small town that has an excellent wine and olive oil tour and tasting. We saw the olive oil press, wine being processed and their wine cellars. As we tasted several varieties of their good wine they served cheese and excellent bruschetta as part of the tasting. The visitor center at Radda recommended this tour and we were impressed. No charge and no pressure to buy. As a matter of fact, we had to chase them down to find out where their store was.
  • Greve is one of our favorite towns. We went back on Saturday for their market day. This was our first market day there and it was packed. The entire piazza was PACKED with vendors. Judy bought a watercolor, a doll, and a sweater. It was a fun experience, not really for tourists. The locals come to shop, eat and meet. Recommended.
Except for a few countryside stops for pictures, that’s about it for days trips. We were starting to get the feel of travelling slow.

Vignamngio, not a town, but a villa. DaVinci’s Mona Lisa, the daughter of Anton Maria Gherardini, was born there in 1479. We toured the beautiful gardens. which served as a background for the movie “Much Ado About Nothing."

Shopping
As mentioned, the Greve market day was a time I even enjoyed (I’m not an avid a shopper). The boar sandwiches, fresh fruit, knock-off designer sweaters, etc. made this a fun morning. Note: it’s basically over at 1pm.

Near Radda was the Cashmere Goat Company. Get directions at their visitor center. The turn into their property may surprise you, so look for the goat signs. Judy and Carla bought soaps and lotion that everyone back here in the states are raving about. Watching two large mail goats locking horns made this stop perfect.

Greve also has a nice outlet shoe store just a little south of the piazza.

In Castellina Judy bought a beautiful small painting, some prints and a Floretine plaque of “The Last Supper” in a neat little shop “underground (actually where guards walked and held sentry along the wall).

Between Castellina and Radda is a great ceramic shop that we stop at each year. It’s the Ceramiche Rampini and they have beautifully crafted and painted ceramics. We bought a set of plates that currently are hanging on one of our walls. Highly Recommended.

Food
Each year, one of our favorite stops is near Castellina, Osteria Alla Piazza. We give it one of top honors, we ate their twice this year. Vegetable crepes, pumpkin ravioli, wild boar sausage, ravioli stuffed with vegetable in a tomato cream sauce, farro soup, rabbitt ... I could go on. Magnificent! Don’t skip the desserts. Figure about 120-150E per couple, including wine for 4 courses.

Castellina also has one of our other favorite restaurants. This one is right in town and you must have reservations , even for lunch. Antica Trattoria La Torre. Everything, I mean everything is always great there. It’s about 80-100E per couple, including wine. We especially love any of their pastas.

Guilitto’s cooking class at the B&B was fun for the girls and was excellent (we guys were doing some R&R by the pool). Beef loin, rolled eggplant, taglietelle with chick pea tomato sauce, spaghetti with pesto, mele cake and all the wine, grappa and limoncello you could eat. Fun and great food.

Gelato in Radda. Right off the highway you can see a large ice cream cone outside. Outstanding gelato. Some say the best in all Chianti.

Overall Highlights
For the ladies their cooking class. For us guys we enjoyed the time while the girls were cooking by opening some wine, cutting some pecorino and conversing with a couple pool side. It was a beautiful day and the sundown was spectacular.

Our visit in Greve with Cecilia who owns Podere Torre. We’ve stayed there the last two years. For the price, it’s easily the best bargain we’ve experienced in all of Italy. Wonderful rooms, breakfasts and views are only surpassed by her hospitality.

Cecelia warmly greeted us with some wine fom her vineyard (quite good) and we all sat and enjoyed great conversation and a magnificent view. She then gave us each some free bottles of wine and home made soaps. Highest recommendation!
 
#6
Montalcino October 15 - 18

Originally, we had planned on Monticello. We traveled to this tiny quaint town and went to check in, but somewhere either Duane or the owner miscommunicated about the accommodations at Poderucchio. Apparently there is only one shared bath and it’s not on the same floor as the rooms. Duane showed his confirmation and his request for “en suite”, but somehow this became confused. I liked the place, but agreed sharing a bathroom, most importantly one on another floor (over 50 and sometimes in need of one at night for you younger readers) wouldn’t do. So we headed to Montalcino where most places we tried were booked (beautiful weekend weather). We were able to get two rooms with patios and amazing views at Dei Capitani. Rooms were a bit small and so-so. Nowhere near as nice as Palazina Cecira where we stayed last year.

The breakfasts here surprised us. Great views, cappuccinos, meats, cheese, yogurt, fresh croisants, etc. Very nice.

Montalcino is one of our favorite towns. In October, however, much of it closes up pretty early. There’s not even a gelato shop open after 10. There’s also a more than even chance that the days would begin in heavy fog, but clear up later.

Day Trips
We spent part of a day at Pienza and Montepulciano. Both towns we have visited a few times before. This was primarily shopping stops. Most of our time was enjoying Montalcino.

Shopping
When you think Montalcino, you think wine. As the women hit their shops (they bought only a few small things), we hit the enotecas. Surprisingly, we found many of them hesitate to offer any tastes. We only bought at the shops that did. The lesser priced (10-15E) are the best bargains here.

Food
Again, our top award goes to our regular stop, Grappolo Blu. We ate their twice last year and twice this year. While everyone loved their bread soup, bruschetta, tortelini, rabbit, wild boar sausage, etc., it’s the pinci that kept us amazed. I think it is the best dish in Italy.

Del Falco, in Pienza was a let down. We’ve heard a lot about it, but it was only average. This could have been because they couldn’t seat us until 2:30 because the pasta dishes were overcooked. We did have great baked pecorino.

Bocco Di Vino, a great experience last year, was overpriced and average this year. Unless we hear of some significant changes, we will not return.

Overall Highlights
  • Mass at Saint Antimo.
  • The beautiful views and weather.
  • Doing laundry in Montalcino. Well, actually, we guys offered to do it. No problem, put the clothes in and walk to a near by bar and enjoy the vino. Return to put clothes in drier and go to another bar to sit outside, eat cheese and have some Brunello. Ah, that’s the way to wash clothes!
 
#7
Rome October 18 25 & 1 Night in Milan

Judy and I were on to Rome for a week. Duane was to drop us at the hotel and they were to head to Sorrento and the Amalfi coast for three nights and then join us back in Rome. Their “conversion” to slow travel would come during this part of their trip. Judy and I last year stayed a week and did most all the most popular things except the Borghese museum and gardens. Amazingly, although planned, we still have not done Borghese. Ah, next time.

I won’t mention too much of the obvious (Forum, Colosseum,etc.) in this part of the report. We did a papal audience this year (us and about 10,000 others), went to the Caspian Way and the Catacombs (recommended) by bus, again toured the Vatican museum (used their audio tour-suprisingly good), liked St. Giovanni in Lateran, Castle St. Angelo (interesting) and Della Scala Santa (recommended-you can do it on the way to the catacombs), St. Paul’s Basilica (gorgeous) and walked to Trastevere (wouldn’t mind staying in that area). Bottom line, there are so many interesting things in Rome, you can go for months and still be missing things. We love Rome. Only downside, first three days we had pouring rain. Our only non “perfect” days.

This year, like last, we stayed at the Cavalieri Hilton. My review from last year is in Slow Travels review section. No difference, a great hotel that’s inconvenient. Used Hilton points. As much as they pamper you, there’s no way I’d pay 400-500E/night to be that far away .

Shopping
It’s Rome and there’s LOTS of shops. Start on Via Nazionale, near the Terminii, and start walking for some good bargains.

Judy bought a lot of prints at at Corso Vittorio Emanuel V. II 277/285. Probably some of the best prices with great selections.

She bought two beautiful ceramic chalices at Il Giardino di Domenico/Laboratorio Artigiano Via Torino, 92. This “store” (much of it outside) is a find. Amazing pottery and ceramics done right there at very good prices. Castroni, near the Vatican (Via Cola Di Rienzo) has great gourmet type food.

Note: Rome shopping stops on Sundays more than most hill towns. Use Sundays to go to the Appian Way.

Food
For the price, you won’t get the same quality meals that you get in most of Tuscany. We ate at L’Orso 80 twice. The second time to take Carla and Duane. Except for their great antipasto, I think it wasn’t as good as last year.

Costanza (near P. Fiori and Navona) Via del Paradiso had great mixed antipasti. I had a great thin sliced steak in cream sause. Duane’s veal was good, but Judy’s crepes were so-so. Risotto was bad. Not Recommended.

Der Pallaro largo del Pallaro 15, is a fun good restaurant where we had a get together. Five course meal and wine for less than 30E per person. Recommended.

Giollitti’s (in front of Pantheon) outpointed Blue Ice in our “best gelato in Rome” contest. Highly recommended.

Overall Highlights
  • Four attempts by pick pockets had us a little unnerved. If you take public transportation, be prepared.
  • Our get together at Der Pollaro.
  • Our special get together with other Slow Travelers at the home of Andrea and Sandra. They prepared some pasta, we ate, drank, had a great view and enjoyed great company. Great folks!
  • Trying to get all our bags to and on the train as we left Rome.
Milan October 25

Flying out of Milan, we spent our last night at the Hilton. It’s an okay hotel, but not even close to the Rome Hilton. we trained into centro and went through the doumo (nice) and did some shopping. Milan is a shopping town and very nice. It was much better than I expected. My wife was even able to find one more pair of shoes at a great price on a side street store near the Duomo.

Our meal was at an overpriced restaurant that sadly we all lost the name of. I will, however, research it find out its name. People need to be warned about this place. Check out Slow Travels review section in the not so distant future.

Home October 26

N’uff said. Thanks for reading. I hope your trips are as good and even better than ours. Ciao!

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