Italy vacation thread

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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    Pizza in Italy ? Perfection on a plate. It's all oven baked, the right way with simple ingredients and a few exotic ones if you like. Arugula is called Rocket there for some reason. Prosciutto can be had on anything, and only the good stuff.

    Gelato....had it everywhere I went. Vivino in Florence is the absolute best. Go there if your ever in Florence. If you don't go the first day your in Florence, your going to be mad you missed a day, because your going to want to go everyday. Their chocolate will make your head explode.

    Rome is good for those hearty dishes, pasta in wild boar sauce almost made the wife drop to her knees....pasta carbonera.....like you never tasted here. Theirs is cooked with Pancetta, slices of truffles, and Pecorino, not Parmesan like many do here.

    Tuscany and the coast is seafood baby.....caught that morning and rolled from the pier into the restaurants. You never had Sardines until you have them there, totally different taste. Fresh squid/Octopus/mussels and clams.....and who can pass on Branzino ? Simply an out of this world experience. Pesto....tastes totally different also. They make it in the small towns of Cinque terra and again....it'll turn you sideways and make you wonder how we came up with our versions.

    I can talk food all day, but here's the thing with Italy and their food and why it's cherished world wide.

    It's the right ingredients, grown under the right conditions, the right climate, picked at the right time, by the right people, made by hand or caught fresh, cooked by the right people with nothing added in the way of chemicals or other junk. The baked goods in the stores will have you crying. Momma has her ovens there in store and makes the crust fresh daily. Yes, most the processes they used are traditional and labor intensive, but they don't care. It's about pride and making the best you can. Torte's and Focaccia...forgetaboutit, you won't leave, and you'll be looking to re-arrange your flight schedule to stay another few days. You never thought, the same foods we eat here, with the same ingredients could taste so different. I haven't even covered the cheeses yet.....lol.
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  • Waaaaaay cool pictures Tony. Nice trip !
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    .....and by all accounts, it's cheap too. Wine is sold mostly by bottles, you can get a glass or they can give you half bottles. Good stuff too. My average dinner bill was between 45-75 euros. That included an appetizer 2 main courses, a bottle of wine, one desert and espresso and cappuccino. You can't eat at Olive Garden for all that...and with their quality makes it a bargain.

    Sure, I spent 250 bones on a few higher end places for dinner, but I'll tell you right now it wasn't worth the coin.

    Cool story.....one of our relatives recommended a place to eat while we were in Rome. We had a snapshot of the place on our phones so when we went there we could match it up. The owner of the joint see's us standing looking at the menu and comes over. We show him our phone with the pic of his joint on it and tell him we were recommended from Chicago.

    He say's, "Someone from Chicago recommended me ? " Yep...."Come on in, pick a table." I would classify the joint as a middle of the road, not low end, not high end, somewhere in the middle.

    Bring me your best wine for 50-80 euros I tell him, I felt like splurging. Comes back with a bottle at 70 euros, a Borolo. I smile as that's our favorite wine. Brings the wife pasta in a wild boars sauce and me a big plate of mixed seafood. Fantastic....then I ask him to bring me his best desert. He says Tiramisu....and I cringe. Why ? Because I already had it at a few other places and it didn't blow my sack back like I thought it would. He says try it, if I don't like it he'll take it back and give me something else but wants me to grade it on a scale of 1-10.

    I could tell the second it landed on the table this was something special. I took one bite and almost wet my shorts. He's standing about 15 feet behind me as I turn around and say "Eleven !!" He just smiles.....but holy crap, it was one of the best things that ever touched my lips. Think that dinner was 140 euros, but the wine was 70.....and we had 4 coffee's too. You can't do that at Morton's, Ruth Chris, or any other higher end joint here in the states. The wine alone would have sent you back 150-200 bones.

    I felt like pacman.....eating my way through the country, drinking wine, and slurping down Gelato's every chance I could.

    The first night we were in Rome, the wife needed a nap,traveling for almost a whole day takes it's toll. I was hungry.....half a block out the door I hit a small guy with tables out on the street. Wolf down some Pasta Carbonera , slurp down some vino and head back to the room. The wife is up, "I'm hungry, lets go eat". I'm game, even though I just ate. Hit up another joint for some Rabbit, then hit the Gelato shop.

    When in Rome.....as they say eh ?
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  • cfrizzcfrizz Posts: 13,420
    Great story and terrific pictures Tony! You and your wife are adorable. But dammit you're making hungry and I just had breakfast!!! :(
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    Everyone told me Cathy, don't worry....you won't gain weight there because of the quality of the food and all the walking you'll do.

    Know what ?

    They lied.... ;)
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    I'll get into the worst day I had there soon, and that involved driving. More latter.....
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    I dunno X, kinda like going back to Blatz beer after you had the good stuff, or Gallo jug wine. The wife and I went shopping yesterday to restock on food and booze as we let everything run down to nothing before we left. We both were saying Hi, thank you, bye and other phrases in Italian before we had to correct ourselves. It just becomes second nature after awhile.
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  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 10,564
    Cavi non contato, mio amici!!
  • erniejadeerniejade Posts: 5,152
    Beautiful!!! Pics look great! Glad you had a good time. Did you get some good wine while you were there?
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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    Cables not counted my friend....what does that mean Russ ? LMAO


    Bigfoot non dare un senso.... :)
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  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 10,564
    Ahhh, si! Different dialect. "Matter" :p
  • WagnerRCWagnerRC Posts: 1,988
    Nice pictures. Thanks for sharing.
  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 10,564
    Cavi non importa il, mio amico!

    My eyetallian is a little rusty! :/
  • txcoastal1txcoastal1 Posts: 10,780
    lightman1 wrote: »
    Cavi non importa il, mio amico!

    My eyetallian is a little rusty! :/

    Here, study up, and put down the moonshine
    http://forum.videohifi.com/discussion/110538/cavi-di-alimentazione-un-documento-da-leggere-/p1
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  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 10,564
    2a6x9tobaadn.jpg
    I'm in disguise, now. Maybe I can pass for a southern Italian.
  • I kind of like Brad Pitt's approach to Italian in the movie, "Inglorious .. Fellows"



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  • lightman1lightman1 Posts: 10,564
    txcoastal1 wrote: »
    lightman1 wrote: »
    Cavi non importa il, mio amico!

    My eyetallian is a little rusty! :/

    Here, study up, and put down the moonshine
    http://forum.videohifi.com/discussion/110538/cavi-di-alimentazione-un-documento-da-leggere-/p1

    Hot dog! An Italian cable fight!
  • mrbironmrbiron Posts: 5,183
    lightman1 wrote: »
    2a6x9tobaadn.jpg
    I'm in disguise, now. Maybe I can pass for a southern Italian.

    Boing!
    Pants check in isle 5.
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  • scubalabscubalab Posts: 2,855
    Thanks so much for sharing Tony! Sounds like you and the Mrs. had a great trip. Looking forward to more pics and stories. Really enjoying them!
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    Holy cow tails Batman, Russ looks....dare I say.....human. Always knew he was in disguise, being an Alien and all.

    Have to wonder though, what bet he lost that made him shave. Hopefully he wasn't on the wrong side when bets were made about Chicago's murder totals going down once I left.
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  • Great stories, @tonyb.

    There's nothing quite like trip around Italy!

    Keep the pics and stories coming. :)
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  • WagnerRCWagnerRC Posts: 1,988
    Tony your journey also forced me to enjoy a mortadella on Kaiser roll today. Thank you.
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    WagnerRC wrote: »
    Tony your journey also forced me to enjoy a mortadella on Kaiser roll today. Thank you.

    .....and that comment leads me into the next part of my trip.

    Time to leave Rome, and part of the plan was to drive off the beaten path around Tuscany. You won't see much from the main highway and Florence is only a 3 hour drive from Rome.....I left myself a day and a half to get there.

    Renting a car in Italy is not like here, you have to get it at the airport.....and drop it off at another airport. They don't have small rental car outposts scattered all over like we do. So a 70 buck taxi ride back to the airport. You don't think twice about buying the extra insurance either once you see how they drive there. Just make sure you get one with GPS, YOU'LL NEED IT.

    I had 2 stops on my grand plan to make on the way to Florence, Mendocino and Sienna. The first is known for their Brunello, the second, Chianti. The thing I didn't account for was traffic. Took about 2 hours just to get out of Rome, but once I was on the open highway heading north, an accident caused another 2 hour delay. I had to make a choice and skip a town so we decided to go straight to Sienna. Italy has rest stops along the major highways like we do. You can get a Mortadella sandwich, Prosciutto...or hit the grill for your favorite Panini. Far cry from the Mickey D's and vending machines we have.

    Sienna is about 30 miles off the highway, the countryside is about as beautiful as one can imagine. The Town itself was originally an outpost for Florence, looks like many other smaller towns with narrow and steep streets, a big square in the middle and local works of art to enjoy. Food was outstanding as one would expect and I had the best seafood salad there of anywhere. It was time to make another decision though, stay in Sienna for the night or continue on to Florence and dump the car at the airport, find a Hotel.

    So off to Florence we went, and it started to pour rain. Italy doesn't have drainage like we do so highways can flood easily.....and they did, causing more traffic and delays. I have the Florence airport plugged into the GPS so I wasn't worried.....that is until I got close to the airport and it was like L.A. at rush hour. Wtf is going on here ? The Florence airport is a small thing......not a major airport. Make it thru almost another 2 hours of traffic to get to the airport only to find out.....there is no signs for car rental returns. Drove around it 3 times, neither the wife or myself can see diddley squat about rental returns. So I ask a taxi driver.....he tells me it's only 2 blocks away.....over there. lol Still can't find it, so I call the rental car company, and they tell me to follow the rental car shuttle to their lot from the airport. Go back to the airport and I see a few busses.....only none are marked as rental car shuttles. I could have followed one.....maybe to Pisa, maybe back to Sienna, who knows. So I drive around in a 2 block area looking for a sign and finally see one. It's on a bigger sign made up of about 10 different signs about the size of the slates on a wood fence. Has an arrow pointing the way to return cars. Progress....thank god, only immediately taking the turn the arrow pointed to.....you come to a fork in the road with no additional signage.

    This is typical Italy, many times you follow signs and come to a fork in the road within 50 feet of making a turn and your GPS can't even respond that quickly. Not to mention you have cars 1 foot off your bumper honking at you. Make a wrong turn and it can take awhile to get back on track.

    I eventually caught what originally looked like a junk yard under a highway bridge out of the corner of my eye and thought that had to be it. Yep....and nobody was there either. Drove the car around the back, into the lot, they had a key drop box and I washed my hands of ever driving in Italy again. Took 3 and half hours to return this car.

    The other thing we didn't expect, was Hotel rooms were scarce. We wanted to stay closer to the city but had to settle on a Hotel by the airport. Why ? Roma was playing Florence....in Florence that weekend and the town was going nuts. Explains the traffic too.

    Time is too precious when your on vacation to be dickin' around like this, learn from my mistakes, don't drive in Italy.

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  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 15,275
    lightman1 wrote: »
    2a6x9tobaadn.jpg
    I'm in disguise, now. Maybe I can pass for a southern Italian.

    dang like being in witness protection Russ.....
  • pitdogg2pitdogg2 Posts: 15,275
    wonderful vacation you had there Tony pictures are very nice makes me want to go:)
  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    edited September 2016
    Florence is a can't miss city if you go to Italy. They have style, great food, boat loads of culture and things to see. Plus the best Gelato in Italy. They are a bit stuck up though, consider themselves better than the rest of the country. It gets very crowded too, more so than Rome. Shopping here is also better than Rome so if you want to buy stuff to take home, wait until you get here. Prepare to do lots of walking also.

    Still haven't put all my pics on the 'puter yet and have ton's of video also.

    We enjoyed Florence greatly, but it was soon time to move on and catch a train towards Cinque terra with a stop in Verragio to see the wife's family for a few days. They own a Hotel a block off the beach between Verragio and Lucca.

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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
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  • NightfallNightfall Posts: 8,778
    You have some amazing pictures Tony. How much (USD) was the average hotel room? Were there cheaper?
    afterburnt wrote: »
    They didn't speak a word of English, they were from South Carolina.

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  • tonybtonyb Posts: 31,711
    No such thing as cheap in Florence, you have to go out a few miles before hitting under 200 a night. Rome has a variety of prices but keep in mind, ya get what ya pay for. Also keep in mind you have to taxi your way around, so the farther away you are the more it costs going back and forth. That difference can make up for a closer hotel room. We planned for going out in the morning and not coming back until late at night, after all.....who wants to spend time in a hotel when you have Italy in front of you.

    In my 12 days there, 2 of which were traveling days, I probably spent 6- 700 on taxi's alone. Something to account for when your planning. Also, travel light. Last thing you want to do is lug big suitcases around, up and down flights of stairs, etc. We packed 2, next size up from a carry on, and had 2 backpacks. We wound up buying a third suitcase to bring back all the stuff we bought. The backpacks come in handy, don't do without one. You'll pick up trinkets along the way and store them in the pack, water bottles, travel info, money.....you need one.

    My last day there before coming home I spot some wine glasses made of Murano glass in a small local shop. How do I know it's Murano and not fake ? It's stamped into the glass. 3 went into my backpack, and 3 went into the wife's. Bubble wrapped....and babied all the way home. Bought 6....at 15 bucks a glass, which is a steal for Murano glass.

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