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May 28, 2012 03:08 PM

12 days in Italy. Too ambitious?

We are coming to Italy for 12 days and have a pretty ambitious restaurant list. not sure if the lunch dinner combos are too much, etc. Any thoughts or comments would be appreciated.

Dinner: Al Sorriso over night in Orta

driving to Venice
Lunch in Verona: Il Desco,
Dinner in Venice: Il Ridotto
Lunch in Venice: Gatto Nero,
Dinner in Venice: Al Covo

driving to Bologna
Lunch in Bologna: All'Osteria Botttega or Giampi e Ciccio,
Dinner in Bologna: Serghei or Drogheria Della Rosa
Lunch in Modena: Hostaria Guisti,
Dinner in Modena: Osteria Francescana

driving to Urbino:
Lunch in Urbino: unknown
Dinner in Urbino: osteria da la stella
lunch in Urbania: Osteria del Cucco

driving to Assisi
Dinner in Assisi: la fortezza
lunch in Assisi: Trattoria Degli Umbria

driving to Cortona
dinner in Cortona: Laconda del Loggiato
lunch in Cortona: Pane e Vino

driving to Orvieto
Dinner in Orvieto: I Sette Consoli
lunch in Orvieto: La Palomba

driving to Rome
Dinner in Rome: unknown night 1
Dinner night 2: la terraza
Dinner night 3: la pergola
lunches, TBD, depending on order in which we sight see

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  1. I suspect that in short order you are going to stop enjoying eating all that food, especially combined with a lot of hard driving in between (not conducive to digestion). You will need to reserve well ahead for many of your restaurants, which means you will be tempted to keep those reservations even when you'd just as soon skip a meal. You may find yourself picking at food you're spending a lot of money for, or stuffing yourself without pleasure.

    I suggest isolating what you really want most from your dining experiences in Italy, making 5 or so serious restaurant reservations, and leaving everything else open. I'd be looking for some very modest lunches and dinners plus market buys to offset the destination restaurants.

    I suggest you skip driving into Bologna in favor of spending the night in a countryside restaurant in the Emilia-Romagna, one that offers rooms where you can sleep. (You can look up past threads here on the Emilia-Romagna for recommendations.)

    Others may disagree, but for a place as stellar as La Pergola in Rome, I would put it in the middle of your Rome stay, to give yourself maximum relaxation in enjoying the meal. if you are flying transatlantic into Milan and then renting a car, and planning to drive to and from a first night meal in Al Sorriso, you might find that jet lag simply does you in, and the meal and the drive will be problematic (perhaps a very expensive mistake).

    2 Replies
    1. re: barberinibee

      Another big quake just a bit ago around Modena. Felt it here in Versilia.

      Hosteria Giusti (note the spelling) and Francescana in one day. IMHO, not a good idea, earthquake or not :)

      Il Desco. Why? Very mediocre. My goodness, if you want Michelin stars, which it appears that you do, go to Dal Pescatore, a pleasant ride from Verona.

      Agree with barberinibee. Stay in the ER countryside and skip Bologna.

      1. re: allende

        This time, we felt it rolling through Liguria, enough to leap up and head under doorways. People in E-R must be quite sick of this. Hope the plates have now settled into a comfortable position.

        I wanted to add for dax2000 that Venice has a great tradtiion of evening bar hopping and small plates, and you can look up past threads for recommendations of where to go for that in lieu of a restaurant meal.

        In Urbino, the make an unusual pressed sandwich that is made with a very rich and tasty dough called la crescia sfogliata that might be the solution for lunch.

    2. If this is your first trip to Venice, you'll be missing a lot if you are taking two large meal a day at the four places you've chosen. It is not that they are not good but with only less than two days, you'll be getting just a glimpse of the city (including it's food) and even less if one is sitting two hours or more at lunch then same for dinner. A trip to Gatto Nero in Burano for lunch will take half a day.
      Driving from Lake Orto, lunching at Il Desco, on to Venice and Il Ridotto in one day, possible but you'll be doing nothing but driving, negotiating inner city streets, parking, checking in. The rest of your trip is about the same. Might be too worn out by the time you get to Rome which requires lots of energy and full attention. Seems like you are stopping in Verona just for Il Desco; same opinion as Allende, NOT worth it. Lunch few years ago was very mediocre.
      I think most seasoned travelers to Italy will tell you the same about the over ambitiousness of your itinerary.
      Side note: was in Venice when the original quake hit. Our apartment is in the fifth floor and for 30 seconds, felt like we were toss from one side of the bed to the other with a loud rumbling noise. Never felt anything like it. We left the building and went out to Cp San Polo for safety, something we've never done before.

      5 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        By the "original quake," do you mean the one last week or the first one this morning? As I posted earlier, I felt this morning's quake but apparently the plates hadn't yet settled: I also felt one of the two large quakes that hit around 1pm, but I didn't feel both (they were 5 minutes apart).

        it's impressive that if you've spend time in San Francisco that the quake you experienced in Venice was nothing like anything you'd ever expereinced. Perhaps the soft sand underpinnings of Venice make for more violent surface motion.

        Hee's a picture from this morning's quake of a statue that topped from its pedestal near the Piazzale Roma in Venice.


        We hear about the damages to cheesemakers and vendors, and a ceramics factory suffered very badly, but I wonder how the glassmakers and vendors are faring in northern italy.

        1. re: barberinibee

          Yes, the one last week at 4am. The last big one in SF, the Loma Prieta in 1989 was very different, quick and violent. The long rocking motion and rumbling noise we felt in Venice was an experience. We ran out at 4 am to the empty Campo San Polo; apparently not many other Venetians were as concern at that time.
          Thank you for the link to this mornings quake. Afraid that the sight monitor is going to delete these posts.

          1. re: PBSF

            I saw it if they do.

            I spent a lot of my life in California, and been through several big quakes, and I've felt rockers, and jolters, bouncers and shakers. The only ones that scare me are the ones that twist in more than one direction.

            All this talk of earthquakes makes me think of panna cotta.

            1. re: barberinibee

              "all this talk of earthquakes makes me think of panna cotta" - lol!

              1. re: vinoroma

                Wanted the Chow mods to know, no matter what happens, we are always thinking about food.

      2. Thanks for the great advice.

        So we wanted to stop in Verona on the way to Venice for lunch, to break up the drive. The Milan to Venice is our only long drive, 4 hours, all the other drives are an hour, 2 hours max. We LOVE to drive in Italy, driving is a fun part of the trip for us. But I can see where others might feel its a chore. Nothing like the autostrada in Spring!

        Verona will we look again, for a short meal, stretch the legs, etc.

        Venice I would assume most of you would drop Al Covo the 2nd night and do the bar hopping, cicchetti etc? Or forget Gatto Nero?

        It seems people are not super keen on Bologna. We have done Florence 3 times, Siena twice. Tired of those places, we wanted a less touristy italian city. I had read good things about Bologna, maybe its not a great place to visit?

        I didnt know about Hosteria Giusti, but it might be too much food with Francescana in one day, we prefer Francescana, so we will drop out Giusti.

        great tips!!!!

        31 Replies
        1. re: dsx2000

          If being in Verona is not terribly important, I would take Allende's advice and go to Dal Pescatore. We've only eaten there once and it is our most memorable dining experience in Italy. If you get there for lunch at 1pm, don't expect to finish until at least 4:30; then about an a 1 1/2 hour drive to Venice.
          For cichetti, like most Venetian, I prefer midday or early evening. Though they are serve throughout the evening in many places, the food can get quite tire and sparse by 8pm; bacari either close then or become more for sipping wine and socializing. If I am interested in food on my first trip to Venice, I would skip Burano and visit the Rialto Market in the morning and stop by at the many nearby bacari, The other area for best cichetti of eating is in Cannaregio. The food may not always be earth shattering but it still offer a slice of Venetian life. One doesn't have to bacaro hop. Places such as La Cantina has beautifully composed plates to go with their excellent wines. Plates of local cheeses, cured meat, ripe tomatoes, seasonal produce such as artichokes and asparagus, simply raw and cooked seafood. Food that has not been overly manipulated.
          Personally, I love Bologna because it's history, shops, great cafe scene, and general big city atmosphere. We frequently make day trips by train there from Venice. There are very good traditional food, but I am not a big fan of fresh pasta. I've eaten at places such as Serghei and Giampi e Ciccio, All'Osteria Bottega but much of the food is lost on me, even a well made ragu. There are some beautiful old food shops. You are discourage from it primary because I would not think of driving into it and probably the countryside restaurants offer a better overall experience.

          1. re: dsx2000

            Bologna is a great place to visit. It's even a great place to food shop. But you can eat better elsewhere unless you'd like to shop in Bologna at some place like Bruno e Franco in the morning and haul your food purchases over to Osteria del Sole to eat (they let you bring in your own food if you buy a glass of wine) . You can visit Bologna to very easily from Modena and save yourself a hotel switch. You could take in Parma too. (I'm a huge fan of fresh pasta, and I hope you will try some before leaving Emilia-Romagna.)

            The people who responded to your post live in Italy or are here so often they might as well. I won't speak for others, but driving in Italy just driving for me, but I really don't like to do it right after a huge meal, plus I really do like to drink wines when I am in wine regions, so your itinerary wouldn't work for me.

            When I have the freedom of the car, I like to head to restaurants I otherwise couldn't reach. It is probably a fairly safe bet that most of the best places to eat in Italy are not in cities. Sometimes they are only a short distance from cities -- maybe 30 minutes by car, and many have places to stay for the night if you want wines with your meals or there are b&bs close by. If you don't drink, you might enjoy being right in the city, but drive out of town for dinner.

            I think that PBSF is right to point that you'll be spending a lot of your time behind the wheel not flying along the superhighways but negotiating the traffic-clogged outer rings of cities and looking for a place to legally park your car near your chosen restaurants. (All of your Bologna choices are inside the ZTL.)

            Assisi is a world class destination and I don't wish to discourage you from going there, but you might want to take your meals elsewhere (and sleep elsewhere to get away from the tourists mob scene there). Likewise Cortona.

            Again, 90 percent of your itinerary could be done more easily by train and you are whizzing past a lot of interesting food. I'm not trying to change your sightseeing agenda, but just pointing out you could still see all the same things but eat better and park your car a lot more cheaply and easily if you considered overnighting in rural restaurants along the way that have places to sleep.

            1. re: barberinibee

              thanks for the great advice. We are from San Francisco, so city driving and parking is par for the course! :) But you thoughts are welcome and I will rethink perhaps lodging situations in Bologna and the Cortona/Orvieto/Assisi region. We love the freedom a car brings, you are on your own time table etc. Even if it means spending more money to park etc.

              where would you recommend staying around orvieto cortona assisi etc. most of those cities are about an hour more or less from each other?

              1. re: dsx2000

                We stayed at Hotel Roma in Assisi.....which was a nice affordable hotel. Spacious rooms, free wifi that actually reached into the room and not just the lobby. It was in the square of the Basilica of St. Claire, and a 20 minute walk down the main road (filled with shops) to the St. Francis Basilica. Personally I thought Assisi was a very quaint town on the hill versus Orvieto (which we did a drive-by in). There's currently a Botero exhibit I believe there as well. It seems like it just had tons to do there in terms of different museums, stores, churches and the views were amazing on the hill.

                1. re: dsx2000

                  It's been a while since I lived in San Francisco. Are there now ZTLs of some sort?

                  As for where to stay, I like to stay where you can eat well. If you do a search for past threads about the areas you are interested in, you can find recommendations for alberghi ristoranti, locande or agriturismi those places that people like a great deal, like Amerigo dal 1934 and others.

                  1. re: barberinibee

                    ZTL, you mean traffic controls? No none whatsoever. I have lived here over 20 years, you get to know where and how to drive, park, etc. It can take 10-15 mins to park sometimes.

                    i will look into other lodging options around Perugia area. maybe easier for 1 home base, etc. thanks, again.

                    1. re: dsx2000

                      ZTLs are areas of towns or cities where either only residents with special stickers may drive or no cars whatsoever are allowed at all all (depending on the day or the time of day.) In places like Bologna and Verona, they are usually monitored by police video cameras that capture pictures of your license plates if you mistakenly enter a ZTL. Rental car companies cooperate with the police to make sure you get the ticket sent to the address on your driver's license (the fines are huge).

                      Perugia is a great town and its dark chocolate is my personal favorite of all the chocolate in Italy. It's a bear to drive in and out of, and has a couple of ZTLs


                      1. re: dsx2000

                        Its often hard to drive into the historic centers of these towns at all, which means that you wind up parking in areas on the periphery and walking in. Modena and Verona and I presume Bologna are examples of towns where it will take you some time to navigate through an urban zone and then wind up parking some distance from the restaurants you will want to visit. In Orvieto, you will also not be able to drive up real close.. Add the time of walking into the center and back of you dont have a lot of time, it can be significant over a short visit.

                        On the other hand, you will not see the Modena duomo (really the only must see as opposed to must eat there) unless you enter the center. If your priorities are clear it gets a lot simpler.

                        Barberinibee isnt Gigina on the periphery of bologna?

                        If I were heading down that route, I wouldnt skip Ravenna (there have been discussions of meals there on this site previously) - in addition to Urbino Gubbio, the next town over, in Umbria, and on your way to Assisi is also spectacular, worth a visit and has several restaurants, another Montefeltro palace and pottery production,, but its too many years since Ive travelled this route for me to be able to recommend restaurants from my own experience in any of these lovely towns, but we had fine meals, involving hand made pasta, fine pork products etc in all of them..

                        I would just reduce your expectations of how many meals you are going to eat - a real meal will mean a commitment of at lest 1-1/2 hour, more for the top tier restaurants. plus if you you have spent a good amount of time driving, you wont have time for enoughwalking to work off lunch before dinner comes along. Its a recipe for tourist misery. so I would dial down your expectations of how many restauant meals you will eat a bit. dont expect to dine at Il Ridotto if you are lunching at Dal Pescatore, for a start

                        1. re: jen kalb

                          Gigina is outside the historic walls of Bologna, which no longer exist, but which still form the demarcation lines that separate the centro storico (where the ZtL's are) from more modern development.

                          1. re: jen kalb

                            you guys have been awesome. couldnt have hoped for better advice.

                            yes, we are going to CUT a lot of the higher end places out and thin down the lunches A LOT. probably going to be too much food and it will start to blur together, especially at 500 a dinner, you want to not be sick after 3 days!

                            1 question maybe people can help me figure out. apart from the 3 star restaurants, a typical nice(R) place, can you eat in 30mins? usually we would each order a pasta or a soup, no wine. I couldnt see where this would be an issue if we are in and out with only 1 dish each. any thoughts??? some people might suggest we would be missing out on the whole experience, but sometimes, a nice taste of the best is good enough for us.

                            1. re: dsx2000

                              thats what the Gambero rosso lowcost guide recommended by BB could be good for. Winebars could also be good for a lighter, quicker meal. Most sitdown restaurants you would want to eat at least 2 courses in my opinion. not a lot of food but not a slurp it up and leave type experience. Lunch with some wine is a quintessential italian vacation experience anyway, especially but not only in the country and works better than late heavy meals but its definitely different strokes.

                              1. re: dsx2000

                                Add to jen kalb's post about the quick in and out 30 minutes at a simple trattoria/osteria, service in Italy is different than service in urban centers such as San Francisco. The pace is more leisurely and there is not that snap quick get to your table that sometimes we Americans demand. The staff expect you to eat at Italian pace. You might not get the menu right away when you sit down or a simple glass of wine might require a wait and then there is the asking for the check ritual.
                                Since you've been to Siena and Florence on previous trips, what were your experiences with eating out? And with your earlier reference to driving in San Francisco (even with all the new bike lanes, etc) which I also have a lot of experience with, driving in Bologna is a total different level.

                                1. re: PBSF

                                  our last trip was a little unique, 1 day in Florence, lunch in hand. :)

                                  before that was 10 years ago, our wedding. i dont remember a lot of lunches, to be honest. i also dont remember sitting for over an hour to eat. dinners were always fantastic and leisurely. we were also sort of on a budget. we did eat at Da Fiore in Venice which i thought was average at best. La Terraza in Rome was excellent. a lot of great but not memorable meals in between.

                                  this trip we have no budget, money isnt an issue for us. but at the same time $500 for dinner is still $500. which is a night is a 5 star hotel.

                                  1. re: dsx2000

                                    Just an example about a simple lunch. Couple weeks ago we trained down to Bologna for the day and had lunch at Ciampe e Ciccio. The menu was simple traditional Bologna (only one antipasto, a few primi, secondi plus contoni}; we pretty much already knew what we wanted, therefore, we spent very little time reading it. Two antipasti, two primi and ordered two glasses of house red without looking at the wine list. The simple lunch took almost 1 1/2 hour. They wanted to make sure we are through with the antipasto before they start cooking the pasta. And we didn't linger much afterward as the restaurant was closing for midday. We did chatted with the wonderful waiter for a bit. And if you do eat there, one antipasto is enough for two: slices of prosciutto, salami, cubes of mortadella and a chunk of grana. We couldn't finish the two orders and the waiter packed the leftover for us to take.

                                    1. re: PBSF

                                      Excellent info PBSF. we are probably going to eat there after arriving from Venice.
                                      quick question for you. if you skipped the antipasto and only went with primi how long would you have been there?

                                      1. re: dsx2000

                                        Im interested in what PBSF thinks but remember, you may sit there with your bread for quite a long while...if you are thinking about eating and running its time to be less ambitious in your scheduling. There really isnt a culture of prompt service, it is very relaxed. Just the opposite of say a Chinatown restaurant where they want you in and out. I personally would not go to a restauant and order just a plate of pasta - at least a salad, a vegetable dish or antipasto as a second course. Others would say thats not civilized but I think its a reasonable compromise. You can skip the dessert and coffee at all times.

                                        1. re: jen kalb

                                          great advice Jen, not so much that we would dine and dash. but more to get an idea. if we know its going to take 1.5 hrs to eat then we will plan accordingly. and if a day we only have a short time, we can get a sandwich and walk in hand. but point well taken.

                                          also, sometimes a big heavy lunch can make you want to take a nap after. leaves less energy to enjoy the day :)

                                          1. re: dsx2000

                                            You seem to be getting the idea that two full-course meals per day are more than most people can manage, but I wonder if you're realizing the time involved in avoiding ZTLs and parking. Giampe e Ciccio is in the historic center (ZTL zone) of Bologna. I would not expect to get out of a full-service restaurant, which a trattoria is, under an hour, even if I only had a primo, which I personally would not do.

                                            1. re: Octavian

                                              My concern isnt that its too much food in day, we can control that. My bigger concern was repetition. We dont want to go to essentially the same restaurant twice in one day. Additionally time is always an issue when traveling, there are only 24 hours in a day. Sleeping is 8 of those :) Some days we will probably have a 2 hour lunch and watch time go by and relax. Other days, we will want to eat and run on to the next site or whatever. Its good to know how long certain places and types of places take to eat, etc. Great point Octavian, well noted!

                                              I figured parking and ZTLs would be an issue, we are going to stay at places that provide parking either free or for a nightly fee. The ZTL will be a problem though. Its strange that rental cars are not exempt from that.

                                              1. re: dsx2000

                                                What about visiting a place like Tamburini in the center of Bologna. It is a fabulous food shop with a self serve buffet of many different items, you can also get a plate of their cured meats and cheeses, their mortadella is fantastic. There is take out available too. It is very busy at lunch and can be difficult to get a table, but if you go just outside of this time you would be fine.

                                                1. re: dsx2000

                                                  many towns have basically blocked cars from large areas. the first time I went to florence many years ago I picked up a rental car and tried to drive through some little streets and got stuck it was laughable. Now most of those streets and many of the larger ones are essentially car - free. If you look at the maps in a michelin guide, you will see what folks mean. Hill towns are easier (because smaller), but you still cant expect to be able to drive into the town

                                                  Even if you are able to eat two meals a day, I wouldnt worry about repetition, on such a short visit.

                                                  1. re: barberinibee

                                                    I think this helps a lot:

                                                    To allow access to the hotels (including bed & breakfast) in the historic center, the managers shall communicate to the city of Bologna, through procedures agreed with the offices in charge, the license plates of customers. In this way the plates are inserted in the list of authorized entry in the LTZ and will not be fined.

                                                    For guest parking on the hotel’s road, there is a day pass, available at the facilities, including ATC and daily subscription costs are € 9. The subscription is valid for parking in all pay parking areas (blue lines) of the city (center and outskirts).

                                                    1. re: dsx2000

                                                      [deleted my comments about why ZTLs are off-limit to rental cars after realizing my points had already been made in 2 posts above]

                                              2. re: dsx2000

                                                If I just take one course at Giampe e Ciccio, it would still take me about an hour. I am not a particular slow eater but when I am in a restaurant, even a simple trattoria, I like to get settle in, look around the ambience, the other diners, etc. before even think about ordering. If a place is more than just a convenient stop for food, I like to talk about what I am eating and usually try to engage the waiter in a conversation about his restaurant. Even in at a Vietnamese joint in San Francisco which I would categorize as 'fast food', it usually takes me about 45 minutes for a bowl of pho.
                                                I've found Italy requires a little more patience, from simply buying vegetables, renting a car, at the post office. The pace is different; a transaction is exchange of pleasantry as well as good for cash. If one is always in a rush and looking at the watch, the twelve day will seems a lot longer. I can't stress more that when traveling, one should relax, adapt to the pace of that particular place. No point in trying to impose our own way of doing things; it just lead to frustration.
                                                Tamburini is a old historic food shop; has every conceivable types of cured meat, excellent cheese, fresh pasta. I am not particular taken with the food at their buffet though the salumi/cheese plate is excellent and huge. More than two person can eat. A wonderful place to browse. And go around the corner to Atti Bakery (across from Eataly, one of the better general bookstore) for some traditional pastry. Their original shop is a bit of a disappointment, though interesting historically.
                                                Don't just go for restaurant food, the cured meat in Italian is a revelation; put Fra Mani, Boccalone to shame. Eat the best prosciutto and cured meat and Parmigiano. Then eat Osteria Francescana's "Five Ages of Parmigiano Reggiano". And don't miss the fresh cheeses.

                                                1. re: PBSF

                                                  Some notes on this loooooong discussion (longer than 30 minutes to read!)

                                                  The minute you sit down in an Italian eatery, you have just lost control of your schedule. It is now in the hands of the restaurant. If they are busy, if the cook is doing something else, if you order something that needs to be cooked from scratch, if the owner steps out for a smoke and can't ring up your bill right away -- you will be sitting there, waiting for that to be over. Anytime you think you will want to sit down for lunch, budget 90 minutes.

                                                  As for Tamburini in Bologna, it is really worth your while to walk the extra steps to a place like Bruno e Franco for the best in freshness. (It's on the via Oberdan.) You can take the food to Osteria del Sole to eat it.

                                                  Also please note that Teresina in Bologna has a little space next door where they serve one-course lunches. It's also on the via Oberdan, but you need to get there early--12:15-12:30 -- because it is a very tiny space. (Also on the via Oberdan is Caffe Terzi, which serves truly great coffee.)

                                                  Hotel Amelia is good for parking outside the ZTL.

                                                  Another good spot in Bologna for a very fast meal to go is Zanarini, in the piazza Galvani. You can get excellent sandwiches to go from the bakery up front, plus marvelous little pastries.

                                                  1. re: barberinibee

                                                    thanks for the great additional info. i think bologna will be awesome thanks to you guys.

                                              3. re: PBSF


                                                Did you like Giampi e Ciccio? I don't think they have the best pasta in Bologna, but you say you are not a big on fresh pasta anyway. I'd be curious to know what you ate. I do think they may have the best owners. They treat everybody with real care.

                                                1. re: barberinibee

                                                  As a whole, we like Giampi e Ciccio very much, a reason we eat there again this May. We like the simplicity of the place and the two front of the house owners are really special; we enjoy watching them work the room. We each had the only antipasto on the menu: slices of prosciutto, salami, cubes of mortadella and a piece of grana. It was more than we can eat to start a meal (our waiter, the taller owner of the two, bagged the remaining for us to take). I had the tagliatelle with ragu and my partner had the ricotta stuffed tortelloni with butter and sage leaves. The pasta was beautifully made, tender yet still has a elastic mouth feel and just the right thickness. It is true that I am not a big fan of fresh egg pasta. The ragu was not overly tomatoey but a bit salty, especially after eating the salumi antipasto. My partner who like fresh pasta thought the tortelloni were excellent. We traded off so we got to eat half of each.
                                                  As for Tamburini, I don't know if it is the time of the day that I visited (usually after lunch at 3pm), I am always taken by the lack of business at the salumi and cheese take out counters. Same for the old Atti. Both seems like more of a museum. We visited Bruno e Franco right after and the shop was bustling. I love watching the guys in their white uniform and red caps dealing with the customers..

                                                  1. re: PBSF

                                                    Thanks for replying. Tamburini is loaded with people on guided tours in the morning and several tour guides bring their charges to eat lunch there. Like you, I've gone by during the afternoon shopping hours and it's been mainly deserted. Old Atti does a brisk business in cakes and breads out of its side store. Every native I talk to in Bologna decries the prices in the historic markets -- and truth be told, much of the handmade pasta I have bought from no-name stores around town rivals anything I've bought from Atti. My favorite thing to buy from Atti is candied chestnuts (when in season), and from Tamburini, the strudel-like cake called "pinza" which is filled with a Bolognese mostarda so dark and rich it almost tastes like chocolate, but it is pure fruit.

                                                    Bruno e Franco has a beautiful selection of all kinds of prepared foods, and I love going there.

                              2. re: dsx2000

                                PS dax2000,

                                I forgot to ask: What is the Al Sorriso plan? You mention in your most recent post you'll be driving from Milan to Venice. Your first post has you driving from Lago d'Orta to Venice

                                1. re: barberinibee

                                  Yeah, so we are arriving at malpensa and driving to Orta, we got married in Orta 10 yrs ago. we will stay 2 nights in Orta, first night will be casual at the hotel, then all day relaxing in Orta. then Al Sorriso for dinner, back to Orta to sleep and then early AM drive to Venice.

                              3. Just went on a similar trip. I had a good lunch at Da Romano in Burano, which was on No Reservations. Had their famous Risotto.

                                In Assisi, I had a nice Panini sandwhich and bought some black truffle spread at La Bottega de sapori There were several very nice stores/delis selling cheese and cured hams, sausages, salumi, etc.

                                1. My suggestion is to relax a bit with your restaurant choices. You miss so many local, out of the way magnificent memories when you try to plan everything ahead. To us that's half the fun of finding unchartered unknown little town gems. Have a wonderful trip.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: Doreen

                                    We are trying to thin down the dinner choices, leave some less formal options in there. and some lighter lunches.

                                    the problem i have found with "finding" unknown gems. is that 9 times out of 10, there is a better gem, 2 blocks away that you end up missing b/c you are a tourist and have NO clue.

                                    you wouldnt believe the kind of places that pass for restaurants in SF, if I was hoping to find a good meal on chance and a recommendation from a local, i would miss out on the best SF has to offer.

                                    1. re: dsx2000

                                      In Bologna we had a very memorable meal at Al Sangiovese, which is on the southern outskirts of the historic center, which would make parking much easier. Also close enough to walk into the center for a tour around. We stayed very nearby to the restaurant at a B&B called Antica Residenza D'Azeglio, which we also loved.

                                      1. re: cleopatra999

                                        Al Sangiovese is actually inside the historic walls of Bologna, but close enough to the border that there is less risk of running into a ZTL and finding some unrestricted parking. A place like Antica Residenza d'Azeglio (which is absolutely in an area of ZTL) can usually direct guests to legal parking with precision.

                                      2. re: dsx2000


                                        I hear you about the downsides of asking the locals, and finding out you were just steps away from a marvelous place and missed it. This $20 investment in a Slow Food guide might be a great aid in planning your trip while you are still stateside:


                                        When you get to Italy, you should pick up a copy of the most current Slow Food guide, Osteria d'Italia, or get their phone app, and double check your choices.


                                        Another book I would recommend buying when you get to Italy is the Gambero Rosso Mangiarbene LOW COST guide, which can point you in the direction of good small meals


                                        You should be able to find these books in Venice if you haven't spotted them around Lago d'Orta. They are in Italian, but you will easily be able to decipher the info.

                                        If you will have a GPS in Italy, some of the typical frustrations of city driving can be reduced. It is also extremely worth while if you are headed to cities for eating to have a Michelin map that indicates where to find public parking.

                                        1. re: barberinibee

                                          will definitely grab that book and the iphone app. just need to get a local SIM card so my bill isnt $15,000.00 when i get back to the states :)