Help me plan my trip...
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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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
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.
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
Borgo San Jacopo Restaurant: excellent food, higher end, very elegant, great view from terrace.
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.
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.
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.
Il Santo Bevitore
Via Santa Spirito 64r, Florence, Tuscany 50125, IT