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Mar 6, 2010 03:00 PM

Eating and Lodging suggestions for Italy?

I am travelling to Italy April 1- April 15 -- flying into Rome, visiting the Amalfi Coast and afterwards Tuscany, Umbria, The Marches or anywhere else someone might suggest.

I would love to hear any and all suggestions of specific hotels or restaurants to visit. Looking for off-the beaten track, unique, wonderful, amazing (not so touristy).

My hotel budget is preferably under $200 though willing to stretch from time to time. Your recommendations are much appreciated!

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  1. lodging is offtopic for the chowhound boards. you should head for general travel forums like fodors or slowtrav for lodging or itinerary/travel logistics info. I would say that you've set out lots of territory potentially to cover in just a couple of weeks so you have some itinerary decisions to make. the folks over there are very helpful with that sort of thing.

    For dining, If you have ,just use Chowhound Search feature above you will find a lot of info about all the areas you mentioned. if you input Amalfi, Umbria, Marches etc.
    Here is a really good thread on Amalfi dining.
    We were in the Amalfi coast around April 1 (note - you are in Easter season) two years ago and it was still pretty sleepy, misty and cool, (beaches will not attract) but lovely for walking in the hills - I particularly recommend peaceful Ravello and if you are up there for lunch the informal slightly hokey Cumpa Cosimo restaurant also the A'Paranza restaurant in Atrani, at the bottom of the hill if you want to walk down from Ravello.

    1. This current article in the NY Times should be helpful:

      Otherwise, I would suggest spending 15-20 minutes or more reviewing the comments posted on this board over the past 3-6 months. You will find many, many helpful suggestions already available for you. You could also do "Search this board" searches for Tuscany, Umbria, March, Amalfi, etc.

      2 Replies
      1. re: DavidT

        For example, here is a recent thread that might be of interest:

        1. re: DavidT

          I want to comment on that NYTimes article to say that "uncrowded" in Italy is not synonymous with "untouristed", especially when it comes to eating. Many destination restaurants in the val d'Orcia have adopted menus and wines more appealing to foreign tourists, and they don't switch back to native tastes in wintertime. So you are really not off the beaten tourist track. You are just more alone on the beaten track.

      2. I don't think lodging should be completely off-topic on the Chowhound Italy board because people interested in food will have their best eating experiences in Italy's countryside by eating at the places they lodge --- either in agriturismi or locandas or alberghi ristoranti (or even in some cases high-end relais).

        I think you will have a very poor experience if you post on Fodor's message boards of being steered straight into the one-dimensional sightseeing tourist track and increasingly Slow Travel comes across as some kind of religious cult (Slow Tidings, kumbaya) that evangelizes to "slow down" (meaning, rent apartments). I think it's better to lodge in places with restaurants, not your own kitchen.

        I say all this in the interests of helping people who post on Chowhound have a better eating experience in Italy by understanding Italian eating. It really is part of the best of Italy to stay in a place that cooks for you. That is the traditional way Italians travel if they don't have relatives where they go.

        You can easily find wonderful agriturismi by doing google searches and looking on Tripadvisor.

        I heartily recommend that if you are really motivated to get off the beaten track you investigate le Marche and stay in an agiturismi in the vicinity of Urbino, in the hills of the Montefeltro. HOWEVER, you are going so early in Spring, and le Marche is mountainous, so you need to be prepared for cold. Before you book anywhere, get a guarantee you will have heat.

        I can recommend Hotel Nene near Urbino. Beautiful lodgings, fantastic restaurant. Good access to many undiscovered hilltowns, many with truffles (although you will have to settle for preserved in Spring).

        The second choice of off--the--beaten track would be Umbria. Were it me, I would include spending some days in Perugia, but you can also investigate using Montefalco as a base so you can drink the local fabulous wine at dinner and not have to drive home. The restaurant Coccorone -- one of the finest in Umbria -- has rooms. I can also recommend I Frantoio Brizi in Montefalco, an olive oil producer. The owners of the B&B there also have a restaurant, but I believe they only serve lunch. You can google both places.

        The last place I would go is the val d'Orcia in Tuscany, which even if uncrowded (which it won't be during easter) has generally reoriented itself toward the mass tourist trade.

        In Ravello, for 90 euros, you can let charming rooms with balcony views and Vietri tiling at the restaurant Da Salvatore, which I think has a better kitchen than Cumpa Cosimo (unpleasantly hokey, I think), including a memorable house-made limoncello. There is also a well-regarded restaurant at Villa Maria in Ravello-- but I don't know the cost of staying there.

        You might prefer to stay at the lower elevation of Amalfi to avoid the risk of fog and mist in Spring, which obscures the views in the higher lodgings. Sorry I have no recommendation for Amalfi or Atrani as to places to both stay and eat.

        As jenkalb noted, you are traveling during Easter, which is when Italians like head out for a week in their native beauty spots and enjoy a romantic welcome to Spring, in addition to a lot of Americans packing up the kids and heading over for a vacation. For anything you really want to do, you need to reserve.

        8 Replies
          1. re: mfkarnow

            Yeah, it may be late to find any lodgings that are both good and reasonable for Easter time -- it's the most expensive season in Italy.

            I just want to offer a different perspective than summerUWS -- I like staying in an apartment because for me one of the most interesting things to do in a foreign country is exploring markets and shopping for food. Maybe Italians stay in hotels when they travel in Italy, but then, their object is to have a relaxing vacation and not to immerse themselves in a different culture. It's also noticeably cheaper, especially since you don't have to eat all your meals out. But although you can rent apartments for shorter stays, I think it's not practical for fewer than five days.

            One area that's very foodie but is not as touristy as some is Emililia-Romagna

            1. re: Ruth Lafler

              Apartments have some real advantages, especially for families and others who dont want to eat all of their meals at restaurants and/or like to cook the local food as Ruth mentions. Not to mention features like washing machines, sitting areas to relax in or having more than one room in case travelers dont go to sleep at the same time,

              1. re: jen kalb

                An apartment can make you feel part of the neighborhood. You buy food, beer, wine but also the mundane stuff that supports an active couple/family for several weeks. You see shopkeepers every day or so, build relationships and brush up on your language skills. At the end of the day, you retreat to your rooftop terrace, glass of wine in hand, and watch the sun go down.

          2. re: summerUWS2008

            I would NOT recommend the restaurant at Villa Maria in Ravello during the offseason - we stayed there during our visit that ran into early April and had an abysmal meal (tho we got a cheap rate at that time.) We had fantastic views of the coast and clouds and, as I said a very tasty lunch (both the vegetables assortment taken as a first course and the tris (three types of pastas) we were served as a second course were excellent - even with a full house we received a genuine warm welcome from the lady proprietor (a character). This is simple food and since the food in campania generally is quite wonderful, Id be the first to admit that better renditions could be available.

            We enjoyed the fantastic clouds that were part of the spring views up in Ravello.
            Nice wine store (Masi?) under the arch next to Cumpa Cosimo, with their proprietary limoncello made down in MInori.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Just to clarify - the lunch mentioned in the prior post was at Cumpa Cosimo, the poor dinner but fine view at Villa Maria.

              1. re: jen kalb

                So, we've booked three nights at the Agriturismo Villa Maria in Minori, based on many positive comments/reviews. You're saying nix on that? (We have also booked half board for three days, except we may not have to do all three since we are booked for a rather sumptuous lunch at a restaurant connected with the Marisa Cuomo winery...(I'm in the wine industry:)) while in Minori..what say you?

                1. re: Shooley

                  Ddnt worry - my comment was on the restaurant at the Villa Maria Hotel in Ravello. I have nothing to say one way or the other about the Agriturismo you've booked in Minori. Without knowing the name of the restaurant (in Ravello? - I think some of the wine tours showcasing the Marisa Cuomo vineyard feed you in Ravello) - you will be going to on your wine tour, its hard to comment further - the Cuomo wines have a great reputation but I dont think we have tried them. The other wines from the Ravello vineyards we did try sample were not noticeably impressive, but there are so many wonderful ancient varietals in the area I think you are going to be charmed.

            2. I believe that lodging connected with food is appropriate for Chowhound. We look for lodging that also serves good food, especially if we are on the back roads of a country. Perhaps, we enjoy our wine too much but the thought of driving, in the dark, on unfamiliar roads after a meal and a bottle of wine is not comforting and probably illegal. If travelors have suggestions as to where one can find good food with a decent hotel at the same location or within walking distance of the restaruant, that should be shared.
              To that end, may I recommend the two Michelin restaurants in Spello that offer both.

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