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Help me plan my trip...

Hello everyone,

My bf and I are planning a romantic trip to Italy next week from Toronto (Canada), for two weeks. I am usually a total over-planner (I admit, I have a bit of OCD.. I make lists, have binders, maps, routes, directions etc). I decided this time around I would plan everything except for making dinner reservations.. That way, we would have more flexibility to pop in and explore neighbourhoods as we come across them.
However, I would like your suggestions on some names of places that I can at least keep a list of so that if we have the time to be choosy, I know what my best bets are.
If you could provide me with a bunch of suggestions for must tries for breakfast, lunch, or dinner in all of the places I am staying. Price is not an issue, we're up for casual and more upscale suggestions. I have also included the hotels we're staying at, but the restaurants don't need to necessarily be close by because we will be out and about all day.

Rome - Rome Cavalieri hotel

San Gimignano- Hotel La Collegiata (at this point I will have a car)

Florence- JK Place Hotel (still have car)

Bologna (just going for the day but could use a lunch spot)

Bra (just going to see the University of Gastronomic Sciences for a tour)- anything close to the university would be ideal

Verona - hotel Due Torri (still have car)

Venice- Baglioni Boutique (we will give back the car here)

Thank you in advance!!

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  1. You are mostly not going to find breakfast restaurants in Italy, Breakfast is usually included in your room price at hotels - its will oftenjuts be rolls and coffee, or a cold buffet with juice, yogurt, etc but will nornally not be a cooked breakfast as north americans know it. Alternatively, you can go out to a coffee bar and have coffee and a brioche (croissant), The bigger hotels might cook you an american style breakfast, for a price but its really not an italian thing

    1. I would search this board for the tons of earlier posts on the places you will be visiting, especially those in Rome, Florence and Venice. Depending on what specifics you are looking for in restaurants, your criteria of "must tries" can mean dozens of places in these cities. Below are links to recents posts on dining in Venice that might help you narrow down a few places. Hopefully, posters can chime in with some specifics on places that interest you.
      The earlier poster pretty much described breakfast in Italy. No need to search too far from where you are staying at. In Venice, if the Baglioni Boutique is the elegant Luna Hotel Baglioni, I would take their breakfast if it is included in the room. Can't do better elsewhere. If not, couple of good stand up places nearby are: Rosa Salva near the Ponte dei Ferai (with several other branches) is one of the best pasticceria Venice; or the super friendly Caffeteria Doria on calle dei Fabbri. A little further is Marchini Time on Cp San Luca, another well known pasticceria. Of course there is the Caffe Florian for the history, ambience, service and price. Not bad coffee either but open at 10am.

      1. Jen Kalb is correct about breakfasts in Italy. Most Italians have an espresso and a cigarette (J/K). No, they eat a brioche, sfoglie or biscotti...nothing too substantial. That's because many Mediterraneans make the midday meal (lunch) the main meal of the day if and when possible.

        I can help you out with Florence. I personally prefer the restaurants in the Oltrarno (across the river), since they tend to be better in quality and in price. There are a few closer to the Duomo that are also good, but I find the Oltrarno ROMANTIC. A few places to try are:

        Il Santo Bevitore: good food, candles and a nice atmosphere
        site: http://www.ilsantobevitore.com/home.htm

        Borgo San Jacopo Restaurant: excellent food, higher end, very elegant, great view from terrace.
        site: http://www.trattoria-trebbi.com/menu

        OR if you still want a romantic view without spending a fortune, try:

        Open Bar Golden View: Dinner is "ok"- I would do an aperitivo here instead. Award winning bartenders creating amazing cocktails (top shelf) with a complimentary gourmet buffet and a stunning view. The aperitivo is worth the price...the dinner, not so much. The food is good, but you can get just as good next door for less at Alfredo sul Arno.
        site: http://www.goldenviewopenbar.com/

        Alfredo sul Arno: traditional Tuscan. The last time I was there I had a wonderful Lombatina di Vitello (Veal) that was melt in mouth tender. The view is the same as Open Bar, only dinner won't cost you so much.
        site: http://www.alfredosullarno.com/\

        Since you have a car, why not take a nice day trip in the Chianti? There are so many agriturismos to have lunch that offer great food and stunning views.
        Buon Viaggo!!!
        xoxo, C

        Il Santo Bevitore
        Via Santa Spirito 64r, Florence, Tuscany 50125, IT

        1. Thank you for your help.
          I knew that I wouldn't be having a typical american breakfast.. I guess I more meant, where do people go for the best morning coffees etc, but if our hotel offers something (and yes,I'm talking about the Luna Baglioni) than we will probably take advantage of that.
          I will look through those links, if you think up anything else, please let me know!
          Thank you again.

          5 Replies
          1. re: hungryabbey

            From my experience, coffee in Italy is uniformly good. I have never found a need to trek all over town for coffee in the morning. It just happens that our apartment in Venice is near the Caffe del Doge in San Polo which I think has some of the best coffee. If your room rate at the Luna Baglioni includes a breakfast, yes take it. There, you can have a leisurely sit down breakfast. As stated in the above posts, most Italians take their breakfast standing up at their favorite or most convenient caffe/pasticceria. In Venice, most places that offer early morning breakfast are stand up only. Sit down cafes usually open later. One example being the Caffe Florian on the Piazza San Marco doesn't open until 10am.
            On your original post, you listed your hotel for each city. It would be helpful you can also include what part of the city they are located at. Even the most inform posters might not know their locations and should not have to google to find out.

            1. re: PBSF

              The University of Gastronomic Sciences is actually in Pollenzo which is a frazione of Bra. I have enjoyed several good dinners at Carpe Noctem e Diem which is very near the University. The restaurant is located in a former stable and has been beautifully renovated. They have good Piemontese cuisine and I have never been disappointed. If you prefer to go upscale there is the famous Ristorante Da Guido adjacent to the university. Great food but very elegant and very pricey.

              1. re: PBSF

                Oh my appologies.. I will do my best to tell you where.. I dont always know the names of the neighbourhoods.

                Rome- Rome Cavalieri Via Alberto Cadlolo 101- its between what looks like "Monti" and "Quirinale"

                San Gimignano- Hotel La Collegiata (at this point I will have a car)- Localit Strada 2, I cant find a neighbourhood for this one..

                Florence- JK Place Hotel (still have car) Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, its near the museo Nazionalle and Cathedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

                Bologna (just going for the day but could use a lunch spot)- we're going to the Bologna Cooking school at Carlo Alberto Tozzola

                Bra (just going to see the University of Gastronomic Sciences for a tour)- anything close to the university would be ideal which is at Piazza vittorio emanuele

                Verona - hotel Due Torri (still have car)-S Anastasia, in the historic centre of Verona, is near the church of Saint Anastasia, Juliet’s famous balcony, Piazza Bra and the Arena

                Venice- Baglioni Boutique (we will give back the car here) San Marco, near Piazza San Marco, right in the heart of Venice facing the San Marco Basin and the island of San Giorgio

                Thank you again.

                San Giorgio
                Via Mancini,3, Umbertide, Umbria 06019, IT

                1. re: hungryabbey

                  Except for Venice and the Luna Baglioni which is right next to Piazza San Marco, I am not familiar with the rest of the hotels. The Rome Cavalieri if I am not mistake was the Hilton, is quite a way from the center of Rome, not anywhere near Monti or Quirinale.

                  1. re: PBSF

                    oops, I marked it wrong on my map.. you are right :S It seems to be upwards towards Monte Mario on the map.. I'm not sure if that is a neighbourhood.

            2. In Bra, it is well worth having a meal at Boccondivino, which is a restaurant affiliated with the Slow Food movement.


              Via Entella,18, Chiavari, Liguria 16043, IT