Saturday, June 25, 2011

Italy - here, there and everywhere...

I wanted to bake something for you all. Baking is all that's always on my mind. But back from a vacation a woman's gotta do what a woman's gotta do = buckets and buckets of laundry (especially having traveled to Europe with a  toddler), toddler jetlag = wierd sleep schedule, tons of cleaning up, haywire help schedule= no help at all and this could go on and on and on...

Stunning architecture, steeped in culture, a complete harmony of the cosmopolitan embedded in historic and a gastronomic paradise - truly describe Italy. Our trip started in Rome and took us through Siena, Florence, Montelpulciano and parts of the Tuscan countryside ending in Venice (for any details on how, where, what please email me). I did a lot of detailed research on the hotels I chose and why I did and all of them were excellent choices.

Hotel Michelangelo, Rome was a 2-minute walk from Vatican City, a great 4 star, with well stocked and very clean rooms offering a view of St. Peter's Basilica, a hearty breakfast and helpful staff - all requirements when travelling with a toddler.

Our hotel was away from the sites yet just 10 minutes away from every place we wanted to be at - picking up our car from Roma Termini, eating and chilling at the Spanish Steps. Being able to sit and absorbing the beauty of the Basilica from outside is truly a remarkable experience but little can you guess the splendor in store for you on the insides - a true visual orgy. Though it was my second time inside the Basilica, I was truly spellIt was astounding to sit at the fountain and just stare at the Basilica and its fine architecture.

Villa Elda, Siena was our home while we were in Tuscany and we couldn't have stayed in any place better. It was near the Fortress, very close to the Basilica & Piazza and a short walk from the Duomo. It had a beautiful terrace & garden - excellent breakfast and cappuccino, huge modern rooms, very friendly & helpful staff who gave us excellent tips & suggestions and made our trip truly memorable.

One of the best Piazza's where we chilled for an entire afternoon with food and fine and the toddler running around in glee. Less touristy than Florence but very lively and full of life.

Suites Torre dell'Orologio, Venice, right at St. Marks was the most gorgeous hotel we lived at. Was sad it was just for a day... a gorgeous suite in a by-lane just near the clock tower giving us a very homely feel (thank you to a reviewer on TripAdvisor we found our hotel in 2 minutes) in the midst of the hustle & bustle. Friendly staff, great eateries all around - couldn't have asked for more.

Rialto & St. Marks were the true touristy things to do but with one day on hand and a tiring journey to Venice we couldn't have achieved more. Just sitting under the stars at St. Marks and listening to the gorgeously played orchestra is a a blissful and romantic experience. Venice has become really tourist and you need to really save yourself from the 100 Euro Gondola rides which we couldn't!

I have stressed on the breakfast everywhere 'coz you need a huge breakfast to take off on all your walking adventures throughout Italy and don't want to keep stopping for food, water and coffee. Our usual was eggs, sausages, a variety of pastries, fresh juices and excellent coffee. We always carried some fruit or snacks for the toddler to tide him till lunch time and that the mornings were best for places that had entries or lines. CAn't stress more or how much our umbrella stroller helped us on our trip - we couldn't have survived without it - nap times were a cinch.

We had great recommendations for restaurants and staying away from the touristy places helped. The Hop On Hop Off bus was great in Rome, maybe July wasn't peak tourist season... we couldn't have seen Rome without it.

Now the part you have been waiting for our the pics. I didn't get any food pics because we were always ravenous... but I did get pics of an Italian Restaurant Kitchen. And I got some lovely pasta tie & die colored green pasta and animal shaped pasta to humor me. Wish I gotten back some cheese, olive oil, marinated tomatoes but we had no place after packing our bottles (only 2) of wine.

The first cut of pictures have only Rome in them... you will have to wait and watch the space for more. Also, the sky's were going to pour almost everyday we were there that's why the dreary skies...

1 comment:

Barbara Bakes said...

I was fortunate to be able to take a similar Italy trip several years ago. So nice to hear about your trip. It brings back such great memories.