Planning an Italian Getaway


On a bit of a whim, my friend Jane and I booked tickets to Italy in December! The airfare was the lowest I’ve seen and I’ve been anxious to return to the land of tiramisu and gelato. My poor man will be home grading papers, but I promised to return bearing gifts. Jane and I met in college and have traveled all over the world together (from Belgrade, Serbia to Savannah, Georgia!) so I know it will be a memorable trip filled with gallery hopping and bellinis. Our itinerary includes Rome and Florence, but I’m also contemplating a day trip to Venice. I would LOVE to hear your favorite boutiques, restaurants, and museums in each city! Any Rome or Florence hotel recommendations would be especially appreciated. Let the planning begin!

(image: Françoise Hardy tosses a coin into the Trevi Fountain, Rome)

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15 comments on “Planning an Italian Getaway

  1. Heather

    Of course, I’m going to comment on food in Italy. My husband and I were there last May.

    For Rome, Salumeria Roscioli:
    The best meal we had, by far, in Rome was here. The cheeses and cured meats were the most delicious that I’ve ever tasted. The Parmesan tasting blew my mind. Great atmosphere and it’s in a great area right off the Campo de Fiori.

    In Florence, Santa Trinita Gelataria:
    This was the best gelato I have ever had in my life. It is across the Arno River from the main section of Florence off of the Santa Trinita Bridge. It was incredible.

    Also in Florence, Ora d’Aria:
    We decided at this point (halfway through our trip) that we wanted a meal that wasn’t a rustic plate of pasta. We were somehow able to get a lunch reservation here (it holds a Michelin star or two) and it was one of the best meals I had in Italy. The food here was beautiful, refined and surprising.

    Should you get to Venice, Cantinone Gia Schiavi:
    In Venice you MUST try the chicetti bars – which is basically like bar hopping for food and drinks. Order a Spritz (Prosecco, Aperol and Club Soda) and then pick a few chicetti (tapas) from the selections that each bar has (each piece usually only costs a euro, and we ate enough chicetti one night to cancel our dinner reservations). This place, Cantinone Gia Schiave, was our favorite. It’s a wine shop that serves snacks and drinks and the food was incredible. We took our drinks and paper plates full of food outside and ate by the little canal that runs alongside the shop. It was my favorite place in Venice (again, amazing bites of cheese).

  2. Catherine

    How exciting, lucky you! If you have time, Lucca is a short day/morning trip from Florence and it’s very pretty.

    For where to stay – I’d recommend Airbnb! I found so many great ones when I went to Italy earlier in the year and I saw so many I would have loved to stay in in Florence – some actually balancing on the Ponte Vecchio!

  3. Tessa

    Whatever you do, make sure your thighs & shoulders are covered…nothing like traveling all that way and being denied entry to the cathedrals because you’re in a sleeveless top or a dress that’s above the knee. (It happened to my friend in a fairly conservative dress. )

  4. Molly McConn

    my parents just came back from a fall trip to Italy and had rave reviews.

    they stayed at Hotel Eden in Rome and loved it. if you don’t stay there and opt for airbnb (which i might encourage myself), i’d stop by there for a drink and/or dinner on the rooftop overlooking the city at night.

    i’m not sure if december is the best time of year, but they made a pit stop in Capri on their way in and said it is paradisio on earth! whatever you choose, there will be tomatoes and wine aplenty, so enjoy la bella vie!!


  5. Lindsay

    Otello alla Concordia in Rome (near Plaza de Spagna) has my benchmark for eggplant parmigiana (dreaming about the cheesy yumminess now). My husband and I send everyone we know there. We also spent a drunken, fun-filled night at the Aster bar in Florence where the bartenders gave us a bell to ring whenever we wanted another drink (the bell now sits on a table in our entry way). Not sure if it’s still there or not – this was in 2006 – but it was a hilarious night spent with locals. The Uffizi Gallery is my favorite museum in the world, but be sure to make reservations. Have fun on your trip!

  6. antonia dosik

    Although I don’t have any suggestions for Italy, I was curious about your travels to Belgrade! What took you there?

    I was in a small city, 150 km from Belgrade working with NGO’s on issues of domestic violence. I visited Belgrade often and loved the city. I actually loved Serbia, much to my surprise

  7. Pink Camellias

    I haven’t been to Italy since high school, so I can’t give you any recs on restaurants, but I can say Venice is worth a day trip. There is no place like it and it is worth seeing if you can.

  8. Katie Armour Post author

    Molly – Will check out Hotel Eden, thank you!

    Jade – I’m thinking the same. I’ve been several times, but ages ago. Time to get back!

    Lindsay – Booked Uffizi tickets yesterday, so excited to go back. I haven’t been since I was 14?! Love the bar story and that you still have the bell…classic.

    Antonia – What important work you must have done there! I traveled throughout former Yugoslavia (from Slovenia to Montenegro and back…) with a class in college (I went to college in Switzerland so there was a lot of “academic travel”). I was struck by how beautiful Belgrade was, but also how visibly the war had taken its toll on the city (the bombed buildings in disrepair, this was 9 years ago…). One of my best friends in New York is actually Serbian and I am hoping to go home with her sometime and experience Belgrade with her family. Thanks for saying hello. Loved hearing your story.

    Pink Camellias – I agree! I’ve actually been before, but miss its magic. Think I’m overdue for a visit again :)

  9. Diana

    I just got back from Rome and Florence a couple weeks ago with my husband from our honeymoon! It was the trip of a lifetime. Just so you know, they were doing some MAJOR construction on the Trevi Fountain and at the rate the Italians go, I’m not sure it’ll be done next month. Just a little something to keep in mind though. Anyways…! The best restaurant we ate at was in Florence and it was Vecchio Mercato. It is in the Piazza del Mercato and is right across from this huge market/bar called Mercato Centrale. It was probably the best meal of our lives. The best pizza in Rome was at La Soffitta Renovatio right across the street from the Vatican and the best pizza in Florence was at Gusta Pizza. Hope you have a marvelous time!

  10. Kat

    I was also going to recommend Roscioli, in Rome, to eat. I was just there the other day and had the cacio e pepe, which is a Roman specialty, but I was so tempted by the specials they had as well! The food is classic and great, and the service has a touch of elegance above most places in Rome.
    In terms of art, I would check what exhibits are at the Chiostro del Bramante, Villa Medici, and Galleria Borghese while you are there, as they are also housed in gorgeous buildings that are worth seeing on their own (there’s also a Gagosian Gallery if you’re more interested in contemporary international art).
    In Florence, a gorgeous gorgeous hotel is the Hotel Davide, near the river. For art I would check out the Palazzo Strozzi (they also have a lovely caffè in the courtyard which is a nice place to take a break in the center when you’re exhausted from walking!). A fun modern Italian restaurant is Tamarò, in Piazza Santo Spirito (where they also have a nice little flea market on Sundays). A great local dish to try is pasta with ragù di cinghiale (wild boar).

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