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Italy: Venice, Florence, Positano, Rome

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Hi there -
My boyfriend and I are heading to Italy in about 10 days ... We are going to:
Venice - 2 nights
Florence - 3 nights
Positano - 4 nights
Rome - 1 night

Our travel agent made us dinner reservations, but I wanted to get other recommendations/opinions from all you food gurus! I can (and will) change the reservations should people disagree with her advice. I have been thrilled in the past with chowhound people's advice!

We have booked:
Venice:
Al Covo
Santa Marina
I saw on some other posts that other restaurants to look into are: Il Ridotto, Il Refolo, and The Met

We are driving from Venice to Florence ... worth stopping in Padua for lunch @ Le Calandre?

Florence:
Pandemonio
Parione
Il Salviatino

We are driving from Florence to Positano and planned to stop in Orvieto @ Giglio D'Oro

Positano:
Max
Donna Rosa
San Pietro
La Sponda

Rome: Pierluigi

We are certainly willing to spend money for some fabulous meals, but would also love to combine it with more local and reasonably priced restaurants. I really do not want to eat at touristy type of restaurants either.

Any opinions, suggestions, thoughts would be so appreciated!

SG75

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Il Ridotto
Sestiere Castello,4509, Venezia , IT

Il Refolo
Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio, 1459, Venezia 30135, IT

Pierluigi
Piazza Dè Ricci, 144, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

Al Covo
Campiello della Pescaria,Castello 3968, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

San Pietro
Piazzetta San Francesco, 2, Cetara, Campania 84010, IT

Le Calandre
strada statale 11, località Sarmeola, via Liguria,1, Rubano (PD), Veneto 35030, IT

Donna Rosa
Via Montepertuso,97-99, Positano, Campania 84017, IT

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  1. There is a city called Calenzano near Florence. It is in the countryside and it may take about 45 minutes to get there, but the breathtaking view around Hotel Meridiana makes it totally worth it. It has been a few years, so if you do decide to go, hopefully none of the beauty of that area has changed. I believe my cab ride was about 40 euro. A very local restaurant near that Hotel is called Ristorante Carmagnini. It is right by the woods and you can see the restaurant's farm animals right through the window. It is an amazing experience that I hope you take the time to enjoy. The food is absolutely delicious. Brush up on some basic restaurant Italian before visiting. As far as Florence itself, I've only been to the cafes. All I know is that Italy has some of the best, fresh-tasting coffee. (No coffee beats Eritrean coffee, ground, strained, and poured, right before your eyes.)

    1. For Venice, both Al Covo and Osteria San Marina are very good. San Marina is mostly seafood whereas Al Covo's menu is more varied. If it is your first trip to Venice and being there for only two days, I would stick with those choices because they more or less serve good traditional Venetian cooking (with a few liberty taken). An alternative might be Fiaschetteria Toscana which I think is the best and most consistent traditional restaurant in Venice. The large menu is strictly traditional Venetian. And has one of the best and reasonably priced wine list. The cooking at the Met is extremely creative, taking traditional Venetian recipes and re-intreprete them according to the chef. I have not been to Il Ridotto but from reading, it is in the same vein (maybe a little less modern). And if you are looking for reasonably price, neither are. Il Refolo is a glorified pizzeria with a few good antipasti, primi and secondi. As for 'local' in Venice, it hardly exist anymore for any good restaurant and unavoidable. You will be seated among visitors in Al Covo though you will be treated well. One might hear more Italian spoken at Osteria Santa Marina but most are not Venetians but visitors from Milan, Trieste, etc. Neither are 'touristy' type of restaurant. At both, you will be serve traditional Venetian food; that mean no Spaghetti alla Carbonara, Tagliatelle alla Bolognese, Bistecca alla Pizzaiola, etc.
      As for Le Calandre, it is difficult to recommend any Michelin 3 star restaurant without knowing more about what and why they are interested in it. The simple reason being how expensive they are. The cooking is modern take on the food of the Veneto (less seafood and more meat and poultry). It is one of my favorite restaurant and I posted a lunch we had couple years ago. If you like any specific details, I would be happen to help. Below is the link to Le Calandre:
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/618939
      If the primary reason you are considering it is that the name gets mentioned here and there, my thinking is to skip it.

      -----
      Il Ridotto
      Sestiere Castello,4509, Venezia , IT

      Il Refolo
      Campo San Giacomo dell'Orio, 1459, Venezia 30135, IT

      Al Covo
      Campiello della Pescaria,Castello 3968, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

      Fiaschetteria Toscana
      Cannaregio, 5719, Venice, Veneto 30131, IT

      Le Calandre
      strada statale 11, località Sarmeola, via Liguria,1, Rubano (PD), Veneto 35030, IT

      1. We had a wonderful lunch just outside of Padua at Trattoria Tre Scalini on Via Castelo in Montegalda. I think we were the only non-locals in the restaurant and both the food and service were lovely. Here is what I wrote in my trip report:
        This was a wonderful cozy restaurant, filled with families out for Sunday dinner. They had a fantastic rolling “salad bar” which had various bowls of lettuce, radicchio, onions, etc. and you could choose which veggies you wanted and the waiter would choose a bowl for you and put a small amount of each in your bowl. He then gave us cruets of olive oil and balsamic vinegar so we each could make our own salad dressing. So traditional, fresh and clean! I also had a wonderful tajarin con tartuffo, J had fantastic pumpkin saffron ravioli, M had yummy fettuccini con porcini and G had a beautiful steak.

        1. In haste: love Al Covo and Calandre. Would never choose Pierluigi for my only dinner in Rome.

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          Pierluigi
          Piazza Dè Ricci, 144, Rome, Lazio 00186, IT

          Al Covo
          Campiello della Pescaria,Castello 3968, Venice, Veneto 30122, IT

          3 Replies
          1. re: sg75

            If you look down the Board there is a "Rome in August" link, which is relevant since lots of places are closed. You might want to take a look at that list, see what appeals to you and then ask questions.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Fantastic -- thanks jen kalb!!!

              1. re: jen kalb

                Thank you jen kalb!
                The list is long but in case anyone is interested in other openings just write a message in the "Rome in August" board and I'll try to do some additional research.