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Tuscany and Positano - Please critique my list

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bethandben Aug 4, 2010 10:52 AM

After much time reviewing many many posts, I have put together an informal eating/drinking itinerary for my trip to Italy with my husband in late August/early September. We will be going to Tuscany (splitting our time between Radda/Volpaia as a home base and Montalcino as a home base) and Positano. I would appreciate anyone's advice and/or input as to changes or other suggestions. Thanks in advance!

Florence:
1 late lunch - 'Ino (Is this open all day?)
1 dinner - Unfortunately, many of the places that we wanted to go to are closed for the summer holiday but two that are open are La Giostra (is this actually great food or way too touristy?) and Trattoria 4 Leoni

Chianti Region:
Castellina in Chianti (lunch) - Osteria alla Piazza
Panzano (lunch) - Mac Dario (Antica Macelleria Cecchini)
Volpaia (2 dinners) - La Bottega and a home cooked dinner where we are staying
Possible Winery Visits - Casa Emma, Rocca delle Macie, Castello di Fonterutoli, Castello di Volpaia, Casaloste, Castello di Verrazano

Montalcino:
2 dinners - leaning towards Taverna Grappolo Blu and Il Giglio (other thoughts are Le Potazzine, Osteria al Giardino and Assedio)
Lunch - Il Leccio (had wanted lunch at Poggio Antico but they advised that their restaurant is still under renovation)
Winery Visits - Ciacci Piccolomini d'Aragona, Poggio Antico, Altesino, Casanova di Neri
Also possible visits to the Enoteca La Fortezza and/or Osteria Osticcio.

Montepulciano:
Lunch - Osteria dell' Acquacheta or A Gambe di Gatto (although we may be going on Wednesday when this appears to be closed)
Winery - Avignonesi

Pienza - Unfortunately we won't be here for a meal but I would love recommendations as to the best pecorino shops!

Positano Area:
3 Dinners - Il Ritrovo, Barilotto del Nonno (drinks first at Il San Pietro) and Il Fornillo
3 Lunches - Leaning towards Lo Guarracino, Da Vincenzo and La Cambusa

1 Lunch in either Ravello (Da Salvatore or Cumpa Cosima) or Amalfi/Atrani (A Paranza or Da Gemma)

Looking forward to your comments!!!

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  1. l
    LotsC RE: bethandben Aug 5, 2010 02:32 AM

    Re Florence - have you tried Vini e Vecchi Sapori or Osteria de Benci both of which I love and have done consistently; I still dream of a very simple roast chicken and potatoes I had at the Osteria de Benci once and the flavour was to die for.....I've never been to La GIostra and have been to 4 Leoni on several occasions and have been slightly underwhelmed, but I guess everybody's tastebuds are different.
    Re Chianti - I notice you haven't planned to go to SIena which really can't be missed. La Bottega is good though; re winery visits Fonterutoli is fab as is Volpaia. I'd recommend that you go to Ricasoli/Brolio rather than Rocca della Macie?
    In Montalcino Grappolo Blu is good but can't comment on Montepulciano, Pienza or Positano but have a fantastic holiday.

    C

    1 Reply
    1. re: LotsC
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      bethandben RE: LotsC Aug 5, 2010 08:10 AM

      Thanks for the responses!
      Re Florence - I will look into both of your recommendations and see if they are open. I actually had Vini e Vecchi Sapori on my list (thanks to this board) but I must have missed checking if they are open!
      Re Siena - Both my husband and I have visited Siena in the past and this trip we were trying to hit places that we have not yet visited.
      Chianti - Funny you mention Ricasoli/Brolio as I had really wanted to go there but unfortunately they do not have a tour available on the day that works best for us although if time permits we may try to stop by for a tasting. I also just found out that there is also no tour available at Fonterutoli although we may also try to stop by for a tasting. Have you been to Rocca della Macie and had a bad experience?

    2. erica RE: bethandben Aug 5, 2010 04:52 AM

      Why don't you let us know which other places in Florence will be open during your stay, and perhaps we can come up with some other choices for you. Did you try Zibbibo, for example? Or Alla Vecchia Bettola?

      12 Replies
      1. re: erica
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        bethandben RE: erica Aug 5, 2010 08:13 AM

        Unfortunately I have been getting very discouraged with finding restaurants that are open (as many that I have tried so far are not (some off the top of my head are Sostanza, Taverna del Bronzino, Osteria Tornabuoni, Pandemonio)) that I don't have a very good list but the two that you have mentioned I have not tried so I will certainly check them out! Thanks!

        1. re: bethandben
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          barberinibee RE: bethandben Aug 5, 2010 08:14 AM

          Regarding your lunch in either Ravello or Amalfi/Atrani, if you are at all subject to motion sickness, you might think about how you combine sightseeing and eating that day, because the roads are so twisty in that area. One option would be to go up to Ravello in the morning but ride back down to Amalfi or Atrani to eat lunch -- and then sightsee in those two towns before heading back to Positano, stomach settled. Another option would be to walk back from Ravello after lunch there. (Or walk up after lunch in Amalfi or Atrani,)

          Ravello is a tiny town and unless you are very interested in gardens, or coral, you might not find a lot to do there, making it easy to see and leave before lunch. .Amalfi/Atrani have more shops and substance, and you can break up the ride back to Positano with stops in tiny places in between if you feel like it.

          But maybe you don't have that problem!

          1. re: barberinibee
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            bethandben RE: barberinibee Aug 5, 2010 08:24 AM

            Thanks for the advise! We are both generally okay with motion sickness (so I say now!), but your advise is appreciated! I was thinking along the same lines as you say, spending the morning in Ravello and then lunch and the afternoon in Amalfi/Atrani or doing the reverse, possibly depending on where we would prefer to have our lunch. It sounds as though your advice for Ravello first and then the larger portion of the afternoon in Amalfi would make more sense if there are more places to wander....Do you know how long the walk is from Ravello to Amalfi?
            Have you eaten in any of the restaurants on my list? Or do you prefer another place in those areas?

            1. re: bethandben
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              barberinibee RE: bethandben Aug 5, 2010 09:28 AM

              bethandben,

              I've eaten at both Cumpa Cosimo and Da Salvatore, and if you end up eating lunch in Ravello that day, the choice might come down to what else you've been or will be eating in the region, and whether you want more of the same or something different. Da Salvatore veers toward creative, and Cumpa Cosimo stays more toward the homey. I fall into the camp that has a hard time sitting indoors on a staggeringly beautiful day, and Cumpa Cosimo has no al fresco dining -- but for others that wouldn't be a consideration, and the owner of Cumpa Cosimo creates an atmosphere that charms lots of visitors, and that is for some a draw in itself. Both restaurants use top quality ingredients and pour a lot of energy and enthusiasm and family pride into their cuisine.

              But I've also heard great things about the choices at sea level, so I'm not sure what i'd do -- other than make sure a put a good chunk of time between finishing my after lunch coffee and stepping onto a bus or into a taxi.

            2. re: barberinibee
              jen kalb RE: barberinibee Aug 5, 2010 09:10 AM

              I didnt notice a motion sickness issue going up and down from Ravello but that is very individual. Ravello is very quiet and spacious more sky than land, sort of the opposite of the crowded white towns down below. I think a walk UP the hill to Ravello after lunch would be too much, but a walk down the hill , either to have lunch in Atrani (we enjoyed doing this) or to work off a Ravello lunch would be very nice. Ravello probably has more to see than any other town on the Amalfi coast, with the gardens, churches, vistas all around, and very good paths and trails which can carry you all around the town out into grapevines, lemon groves, etc. or to adjoining towns and hamlets (Minori, Pogerola, etc) where you could catch a bus if tired out) Pick up maps at any of the tourist offices in the region. A morning would be adequate but a little bit tight if you want to see both of the gardens - it would be a shame to give short shrift to one of the highlights of the region. If you dont have more than one day for Ravello-Atrani-Amalfi, I guess I would start at the top with Ravello, come down to Atrani for a late lunch and see Amalfi in the afternoon.

              1. re: jen kalb
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                bethandben RE: jen kalb Aug 5, 2010 09:17 AM

                I think that sounds like a good plan. Would a walk/bus to Minori be too much to fit into a day touring/eating in Ravello/Atraini/Amalfi? If you had to choose a lunch destination among those towns which would you choose? You mentioned lunch in Atrani....would A Paranza be your choice? If I recall correctly, Aparanza does not have seating with a view; is this correct? While we definitely want to enjoy great food, I am a bit partial to having a view as well, although if it is a very hot day, the A/C may be appreciated too....also, would you recommend reservations for lunch in any of these places the first week in September or can we play it by ear?

                1. re: bethandben
                  jen kalb RE: bethandben Aug 5, 2010 09:27 AM

                  A Paranza is a very good restaurant which we enjoyed however it is in Atrani town and does not have a view. Its an individual choice - if you are spending a whole day with view - a morning in Ravello and an hour walking down the hill with superlative views - it may not feel as necessary as it does to you in theory right now.

                  If the view is critical you can eat in Ravello (Da Salvatore has a view, I believe, Cumpa cosimo does not) at , walk down to Minori (a bit shorter I think, tho I havent done it) have a nice pastry in the excellent shop there and catch the bus over to Amalfi to continue your tour.

            3. re: bethandben
              z
              zerlina RE: bethandben Aug 5, 2010 08:33 AM

              For what it's worth, the Italian food guide Gambero Rosso lists - ranked according to their point system - these restaurants as open in August in Florence: Murate (75 Euro), Baccarossa (65 Euro), Santo Bevitore (35 Euro), Osteria del Caffe Italiano (30 Euro) and one other that is very pricey and given a low quality/price ratio. All the others have a medium Q/P ratio except Santo Bevitore, which has a high one. None of these restaurants has received much mention here, but I've read positive reviews of Murate by an expat living in Florence. Santo Bevitore is a big favorite in a travel forum I read and may be somewhat touristy. I add, as I did once before, that Gambero Rosso is not infallible.

              1. re: zerlina
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                bethandben RE: zerlina Aug 5, 2010 08:52 AM

                Thanks! I will check out all of those restaurants.

                1. re: bethandben
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                  LotsC RE: bethandben Aug 5, 2010 09:55 AM

                  Re Brolio - they have a fantastic shop for all the wines and do tastings there. Osteria del Caffe Italiano is good too and also went to the Osteria Bella Donne on my last visit...I;ve heard fab things about Zibbibo.

                  1. re: LotsC
                    l
                    LotsC RE: LotsC Aug 5, 2010 10:32 AM

                    Sorry me again - also in Florence there is La Posta on via Pelliceria (you can even sit outside). I've been there several times and it is amazing the food and service are excellent and it is reasonable and it is always (thank god) below the radar in terms of blogs, websites etc....

                    1. re: LotsC
                      z
                      zerlina RE: LotsC Aug 5, 2010 12:11 PM

                      I'm glad to hear La Posta is still around and still good. I ate very well there on two different trips, but both were many, many moons ago.

          2. The Florentine RE: bethandben Aug 6, 2010 02:23 AM

            here my favorite choice for my own Florence:
            Marione
            A great restaurant with moderate prices, and a menu offering different meat and fish dishes, but i recommend the mixed boiled meat and the spelt soup
            Address: Via della Spada 27r
            Telephone: 055-214756

            Pepò
            A very typical restaurant, rustic and minimal with a really home cooking
            Address: Piazza del mercato centrale
            Tel: 055 – 283259

            Da Burde (just for lunch)
            Tuscan soup, the steak, pasta, beans and to the roast meat, everything tastes great!
            Address: Via Pistoiese 6r
            Telephone: 055-317206

            and in the Chianti:

            La Martellina
            Right outside Florence in the southern parts on the mythical wine and oil road, that goes towards Siena.
            Address: Via di Pancole 1
            Telephone: 055-858348

            they are all open in this period (i've called them).

            Filippo
            http://www.weekend-in-florence.com/

            3 Replies
            1. re: The Florentine
              erica RE: The Florentine Aug 6, 2010 05:23 AM

              Filippo that is most helpful. I hope you will stick around these forums as our man on the scene. Mille grazie!

              1. re: erica
                The Florentine RE: erica Aug 6, 2010 06:33 AM

                no problem Erica, i'm here !
                and if you or all other users here need some accurate help, do not esitate to ask directly to me using the contact form on my site.
                i'm also thinking to add a fast question and answer page there, maybe about Florence restaurants first??
                keep in touch, ciao!

                Filippo
                http://www.weekend-in-florence.com

                1. re: The Florentine
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                  bethandben RE: The Florentine Aug 6, 2010 07:34 AM

                  Thank you so much!

            2. cherishg RE: bethandben Aug 6, 2010 05:25 AM

              Regarding Florence I don't know which are open, Sostanza is great but as you said it will be closed. La giostra is a bit touristy already but it still has very good food. I ate there last June and the truffle carbonara is still one of the best I've ever had. How about Cibreo? Yes the restaurant is stuffy but what about the Trattoria? The food is excellent and might be worth the wait (assuming its open). If you find yourself in Fiesole (20 minutes from Florence), La Reggia is also a really good restaurant there.
              I don't know about mac dario but we went to the officina dela bistecca of dario and we had the best sunday lunch ever (not for vegetarians!)
              In Positano, Da Vincenzo is excellent. You might also want to try lunch at Da Adolfo.
              HTH!
              Cherish
              http://hungryballerina.blogspot.com/

              1. l
                LBNDC RE: bethandben Aug 19, 2010 10:51 AM

                Hi we are heading to Venice, Tuscany/Cortona, Positano next month for our honeymoon.
                Did you end up with a final list of restaurants for Tuscany & Amalfi? Would love to see that.

                Any Venice suggestions? Anyone?

                thanks! L

                2 Replies
                1. re: LBNDC
                  erica RE: LBNDC Aug 19, 2010 10:58 AM

                  HAve you searched here? There are dozens and dozens of threads about these topics..

                  1. re: LBNDC
                    The Florentine RE: LBNDC Aug 22, 2010 06:33 AM

                    for Cortona you can chose between 2 very nice place to eat a special dinner:

                    trattoria Dardano and La Loggetta, both right in the center near the town hall.
                    Dardano it's more spartan but it's incredible fried porcini are absolutely a must do, at la Loggetta you will find also a very nice panorama if you get a meal outside, in the loggetta!
                    hope this helps,
                    Filippo

                    http://www.weekend-in-florence.com/

                     
                     
                  2. g
                    gret RE: bethandben Aug 22, 2010 07:22 AM

                    Just returned from the Amalfi coast! it seemed less congested than expected in mid-August.We did Il Ritrovo for an EXCELLENT lunch- would have loved to return for dinner...(so many places, so few days). In Ravello, a dinner at Da Salvatore was wonderful, but I agree, not strictly 'traditional'. We found Ravello a great place to spend time. The piazza is wonderful, like resting in the sky. Although the shops are not as centralized as in Amalfi, its fun to stroll down the alleys and explore. There are several glorious gardens that are open to the public, with astounding views. Traffic and parking were a mess. We drove and parked in the paid lot, but on an 'all-day' visit, we took the Sita bus

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