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Jul 26, 2008 08:53 AM

Restaurant Recommendations

Hi All, I'm going to Italy for two weeks on Aug. 15. Travelling the first week to Rome(two nights) staying near the Spanish Steps, Venice (two nights) staying on the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge, Bellagio (3 nights) on Lake Como and a week in a villa near San Gimignanello in Tuscany. I would love to see your recommendations for restaurants near any of those destinations.

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  1. As always for Bellagio, I stand by my recommendation for Trattoria San Giacomo. Cozy intimate little spot with great food & wine.

    7 Replies
    1. re: sylvrgirl

      Thanks Sylvrgirl, we're there 3 evenings any other places worth considering. We're staying at the Hotel Belvedere.

      1. re: Markhamfoodie

        Can I say some things in general rather than give you specific recs (I'm sure others can do that.)

        It helps to know what your budget is, and whether you enjoy eating a lot for lunch or like snacking for dinner or pizza or what. In August, it's pretty hot in those destinations!

        The name of the town near your villa is San Gimignano -- I assume! Are you planning on day trips to places other than San Gimignano? Also, will you have a car and do you want to drink at dinnertime? Does your villa serve dinner?

        I think for Venezia, it really doesn't matter where your dinner restaurant is if your hotel is near the Rialto bridge, because the Rialto is so central, you can walk home from anywhere. Most restaurants in Venezia serve fish, and very few serve meat, so if want meat, you'll need to do some research (just the opposite in Toscana).

        So where else are you going in Toscana?

        1. re: summerUWS2008

          Thanks summer, generally we're looking for good local food at reasonable prices and you're right not too heavy given the hot weather we should be experiencing. We don't have a car the first week in Rome, Venice and Bellagio but we do pick one up in Milan and head down to meet the rest of our group - in total 4 couples, all family, at the villa we're renting near San Gimignanello between Asciano and Lucignano - SE of Siena. It is not San Gimignano which is I think NW of where we are. Ideally I would like to arrange for a chef to come to our villa to cook several of our dinners but I haven't had any success finding one. Our villa is out in the country so any restaurant will be a drive.
          As for day trips from our villa we're looking at a day in Florence, a day in Siena, a day in the Montepulciano/Montalcino area and possibly a day travelling over to Cortona and Assisi.
          I would also like to find a nice winery tour in the Montalcino/Montepul-
          ciano area. One winery I want to check is Altesino. Any suggestions? I notice some wineries also offer olive oil tastings which I think would be interesting.
          On our drive from Milan to the villa I was looking for someplace interesting for lunch in the Parma region around Bologna not too far off the A-1. Again any suggestions?

          1. re: Markhamfoodie

            I just looked up San Gimingnanello, and it certainly looks pretty -- and best of all, less touristed that San Gimingnano:


            Some suggestions

            Try asking in the Slow Travel website message boards about getting a cook, and the winery tour.


            There are marvelous restaurants, country and town, around Parma. A great investment for you would be the Michelin Red Guide for Italia, which really densely covers the entire terrain of Italia and gives quite accurate descriptions of a restaurants food style (traditional, creative, etc) and ambience, price range and -- best of all --- opening hours. Purists swear by the Osterie & Locande guide. I've never used.

            In Italia, it's really necessary to plan to stop for lunch between 12:30 and 2pm, or else you will go without lunch. Either one plans one's day around a destination restaurant, and leaves time to get lost getting there, or one totes a good guide to locate the best options within 15 minutes of where you are presently standing. I prefer the latter -- and I've been more disappointed in destination restaurants than in restaurants found when needed. It's good to know the recommended restaurants where you're going, but be aware they are often the most expensive options or that often it's not worth the extra hassle of battling one's way there when something that smells good is right nearby.

            With four couples in August in Bellagio, especially if you are there on a weekend, you are going to have to make reservations, especially if you want to eat lunch at a spot that takes full advantage of the view -- and you should do that at least once in Bellagio.

            Firenze is extremely difficult to drive in and around. It's ringed by dense suburbs. You might consider taking a train or bus in from some nearby spot. You might check out visiting Orvieto, a famed white wine town with a spectacular cathedral facade, and if you are swinging through Umbria to visit Assisi, a visit to the hilltown of Montefalco to pick up some of its famed wine might make sense if you're not exhausted.

            If I can make one more suggestion: If you do get intense heat, the temptation to drive to the sea will be strong. Resist! The roads to where beaches can be accessed on that part of the coast are simply wall to wall traffic at that time of year.

            1. re: summerUWS2008

              We stayed in Tremezzo last month, which is right across the lake from Bellagio. If you want something a little less touristy, take the boat across the lake and have lunch at La Darsena, which sits on the lake. The view is beautiful (you get to look at Bellagio), the food is very good and the service is extremely friendly. Also, while you're in Tremzzo, you can go to Villa Carlotta which is worth the trip - especially for the gardens.

            2. re: Markhamfoodie

              Since you are near Lucignano, you must go to Da Toto!

              Look at my trip report. (Just posted.)

              1. re: Tuscanlover

                I just read your report and, based on your descriptions, were I staying in a villa near Lucignano, I'd probably eat at da Toto every night.

        1. Thanks to everyone who has replied so far. As a result I have ordered the Michelin Red guide and the Osteria guide and will follow summer's advice and do the lunch/timeframe/guide thing on our way to Tuscany and elsewhere on our trip and will follow up on the suggestions for Venice, Tremezzo and Bellagio. I did manage to find and book a private chef for two evenings at our villa in Tuscany. We are using Chef Mattisse who can be found at ''. If anyone has any comments please let me know. Otherwise keep those suggestions coming. I really appreciate them!

          1. In Bellagio, I recommend the Albergo Silvio. They catch their own fish in the lake, and have an extensive menu that also includes many meat dishes. The prices are extremely reasonable and the restaurant is very popular with local people as well as people staying at the inn. The Silvio is located just outside of town and can be reached on foot by walking along a rather narrow, busy road or by going through the Melfi gardens (which you must pay to use) but the food is well worth the detour and the view is magnificent. In Venice, my favorite for excellent, simple, moderately priced food is Alla Madonna, which is right where you will be, a block from the Rialto Bridge.

            1 Reply
            1. re: rrems

              Just to note that Albergo Silvio is almost always packed, for lunch as well, so do reserve in advance.

            2. Hi, we visited Altesino in May and had a lovely tour with Sanela. By your name I assume you might be from Ontario - if so the lcbo has a Rosso di Montalcino from Altesino that was released a few weeks ago that you may want to try.
              A wine bar in Rome that we really enjoyed for lunch was Palatium - it features products and wines from Lazio and is near the Spanish Steps.

              3 Replies
              1. re: florence

                Very observant florence, Markham, Ontario it is. I bought a case of the Rosso and am enjoying it very much. Did they happen to have olive oil tastings at Altesino as well? How long was the tour?

                1. re: Markhamfoodie

                  Hi, they did have some of their olive oil to taste. Tour was about an hour and they charged 10 E per person which included tasting 3 wines after - however we tasted about 6 wines + grappa + vin santo. I should mention you were not in a big group - just the 4 of us which was really nice.
                  Here's the web in case you need it to book

                  1. re: florence

                    Thanks florence, I checked out the website and it looks great. Will definitely book especially since they book small groups and there will be 8 of us.