Solo in Roma for Pranzo (lunch). It was raining and I debated about grabbing a panino or finding a a small and cozy place to tuck in for a nice long lunch. I sat across the street earlier having a cappuccino with one of my valued vendors and spotted the perfect spot…Armando al Pantheon just minutes from my hotel. I strolled across Piazza della Rotunda under my umbrella and upon being greeted I said, “Vorrei tavolo per un favore”. The place was a full and bustling little place with only room for maybe 35 patrons and luckily one empty table in the middle. A perfect spot…family run with 3 generations from the kitchen to the waiters. After hearing about the specials I knew my rainy day was being transformed into an engaging experience. Being alone I had the opportunity to observe the waiters interacting with their customers sharing their recommendations with enthusiasm and pride and seeing the satisfaction on the faces of their customers as they took their first bite. I was delighted to see one of my favorite wines on the menu from Tenuta Valdipiatta in the Tuscany region I would be visiting in a few days and ordered a half bottle. I struck up a conversation with the table of 4 next to me, a delightful couple traveling with their 2 adult daughters. They had visited the restaurant 2 or 3 times, and happily recommended several dishes. Suddenly I wasn’t alone but part of an Italian scene talking about food, wine and our mutual love of all things Italian. Waiters were attentive and kind checking in to be sure all was “buono”. This is what I so love about Italy, engage and you will be welcomed and given an experience of a lifetime. Soon to return!
Italian Travel Destinations
Received this beautiful photo from Italia Magazine. I will be visiting the Vatican Gardens on November 15. The gardens cover about 57 acres, which is most of the Vatican Hill. The gardens and parks have a history going back to the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Filled with fountains and sculptures there are also several underground springs. We will have a private historical guide and I’m sure to learn some amazing things to share with you.
Hoping for a sighting of Pope Frances!
Beating the crowds in Tuscany takes on a different kind of itinerary. Off season travel in Italy can be enchanting and a way to avoid the crowded roads and constant bumping into other tourists. It is a way to truly immerse yourself into the everyday life with the locals. There are always festivals in nearby towns and your time can be truly magical and often at a fraction of the cost. Most any region has it’s appeal off season. Read more about Tuscany Without the Crowds. If this is appealing to you, contact me to design the perfect custom trip during off season.
Venice is an enchanting city with it’s alluring canals, interesting water modes of transportation, charming six sestieri or neighborhoods & wine bars where you can experience Cicheti. Because of the popularity, it can also be very crowded during the in season months and during cruise season. If you would like to avoid crowds and see Venice from a different lens, read more about “Venice in Winter”.
If you like walking and dining with locals, visiting museums and sites without crowds then off-season Italy is for you. I’ve visited Italy in November, December and early April and found it to be more of a true experience in Italian life. While you may deal with cooler weather and some rain, being prepared for that you can have some wonderful experiences in Italy. Some locations are more favorable than others for off-season. For example the Amalfi coast is much prettier in the spring, summer and fall while cities such as Rome, Florence & Bologna can be enjoyed with their many museums and without crowds. Bologna has a huge network of arcaded streets so you can walk from one side of town to the other without getting wet. Popping into the quaint cafes throughout the cities can be a great way to sip coffee, wine and slow down and enjoy your surroundings. I remember on a trip in November stopping in Florence for a night on the way to our rental villa in Umbria. It drizzled for part of the day, cleared up and we sat on our balcony with an incredible view of the Ponte Vecchio and a rainbow emerging at sunset. For cocktails, we headed to our favorite spot, Harry’s Bar chatting with the infamous Leo the bartender as he made me the perfect martini and treated us to bruschetta . The walk back across the Ponte Vecchio was enchanting with no crowds allowing us to linger and take in the views of the river and bridges. Something you can’t do in the summer months!
The rates at many hotels and villas/apartments are often reduced in the off-season months (exception for holidays) and will give special rates or upgrades if you stay 4 or more days. Nothing better than unpacking your bags and exploring from a base to take full advantage of all a city and their environs can offer. I’ve had clients stay in Rome for a week in November at an apartment and they explored the riches the city has to offer off season going to Ostia Antica ruins and Tivoli and Hadrian’s Villa. See how they lived like Italians.
Airfare prices is another big advantage of traveling to Italy in the off season. Here’s a great site to compare pricing on most all airlines. This is not a booking site so you need to book with the airline directly.
If you want to explore off season Italy, email me at: email@example.com