Wednesday, January 20, 2010

They still speak Latin there, right?

So I'm doing the RSA thing in Venice. And after RSA, I and Thing 1 are going to make our way casually down to Rome, exploring as we go. Couple nights in Ravenna at the start of the journey, couple nights in Rome at the end. But I've never been to Italy before, and I don't know a) if it's going to be easy to public-transportation my way through the joint with a 9-year-old in tow, esp with no functional knowledge of Italian, or b) what we ought to see between Ravenna and Rome. Do we linger in the hills around Perugia? Do we spend long days museuming in Florence? Do we trek south of Rome to see Pompei? Thing 1 is interested in each of these things, and can't make up his mind. I don't know what's vital and what's lame touristy. You jet-setting sophisticates out there, how do we best fill up a week between Ravenna and a flight out of Rome?

(And any inexpensive lodging tips will also be appreciated.)

(Also, obviously, food tips.)

HELP! April approaches, cruelly as ever.


Silivren said...

It's easy to go everywhere in Italy, by bus, train, or rental car. Just make sure you validate your train ticket before boarding the train. EVERYTHING, and I mean EVERYTHING, north of Rome is touristy in some sense or another. Don't worry about it. On a first trip, just do whatever you think is interesting. I've been to Italy over a dozen times and Rome almost as often, and I still find my breath taken away by the sights on a regular basis. Only concrete tip is to avoid any restaurant with menu posted in 4 languages. Slowfood recs are generally good. However, should you wish to eat at times other than the "officially sanctioned" ones (12-2:30 for lunch, 7:30-9:30 for dinner), given that you're traveling with a kid, the touristy restaurants can be a lifesaver. Enjoy! The hills around Perugia, YES, especially Siena and/or Assisi if you can spend at least a night (given that this is a first visit). Florence is fantastic, but is entirely overrun at all times, more so (in terms of feeling) than Rome, which is so large that it's easier to escape the crowds. Again, though, on a first visit, do all the typical things. That's why they're typical. You'll have a great time!

Blue Cheese said...

I would feel bad for you and your cruelly approaching April, but I can't. While you'll be in Italy, I'll be visiting your house. That's what I do.

Really, I rejoice in your good fortune.

Lisa B. said...

What an amazing opportunity for you both. Really, thrilling. I am too amazed even to be jealous.

Obviously, all that awe-struck-edness above means I have no tips whatsoever, of any kind, to offer. You're welcome.

squadratomagico said...

I second the recommendation of Siena and Assisi; I also like the tiny town of San Gimignano (lots of medieval towers, and a scary Hell fresco in the Duomo), and Orvieto just north of Rome. Florence, I've always felt a little "eh" about. That's heresy in some quarters, but I just never warmed up to it. Rome is far more interesting, IMO. Be sure to leave a lot of time for the Vatican Museums; and to check out the little Church of Quattro Coronati (lovely cloister) -- it's not far from San Clemente, I think, which also should be on any Roman itinerary.

There is an excavation of a large Roman city, Ostia Antica, on the suburban rail line from Rome. In my opinion, it's nearly as interesting as Pompeii, but way easier to get to. You can do Ostia as a day trip; Pompeii would be a 2-3 day excursion from Rome. If you poke around in Ostia Antica off the beaten path, you can find some lovely villas with mosaics.

Have a great timne!

dkm said...

Have a great week! I don't have any advice, but I loved the Mausoleum of Galla Placida and hope you did as well.

the rebel lettriste said...

Ravenna is where Dante is buried, and where Caesar crossed the Rubicon!

I'd echo the tips to hit Siena (eat torrone and check out the bowl shaped piazza), and San Gimi.

And Rome is pretty much the tits, across the board--all the glories of a big city with tons of charm and lots of secret little neighborhoods and weird ruins and museums.

But Florence--you have to go. Really. Go to the hills above Florence (Fiesole) if it gets too overwhelming. Remind yourself that that's where Boccaccio went to escape the Plague. Florence is utterly worth the visit. David, the Medici Palace, the Uffizi, and lots of good walking. There's also a gorgeous vegetable market in the center of town, which you should hit and obtain sundries like asparagus and new fava beans which are in season in the spring.

the rebel lettriste said...

Also, wisteria. It's all over Venice in April. So beautiful you could weep.

Special K said...

2 cents:
1.Florence, for the day that I was there, was fantastic. The Uffizi was on my must-see and it didn't disappoint.
2. Eat. Gelato.