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Sep 3, 2012 08:22 PM

Our Italian Tour (Venice - Bologna - Pesaro - Naples - Rome)....What would your perfect "foodie" schedule look like?

Hello (or soon to be Bongiorno!),

We are two Canadians will be traveling with two of our best friends from the USA to Italy for 16 days in the fall. I travel extensively for work and consider myself relatively well-versed in the best restaurants of the major cities in which I travel. I read cooking magazines voraciously and pride myself on knowing what the best places to eat are in my own incredible city of Vancouver, Canada. (And by best, I do not necessarily mean most expensive, though some of the best certainly are!). We have an incredible trip planned in the near future and will be touring quite a bit. I have read the majority of the posts on CH in the Italian threads and I have a general idea of the most regularly recommended places. I am looking forward to hearing some ideas and opinions (expecting to hopefully hear from allende, barberinibee, jen kalb and PBSF and all the others!!) I don't need a huge debate between Chowhounders....just your idea of what your perfect trip would include. You can keep it short and sweet/brief and include the name of restaurant and why you chose it and/or what to order. (ie. Trattoria ______: perfect for a great lunch and a cheap bottle of wine.....or Osteria ________ : be sure to order the squid ink fettuccine....etc.) We are looking for a variety of different places to eat - but one thing that we require is authenticity! Traveling a bit out of the way isn't a bad thing - we are willing to take a taxi! (On that note, is it absolutely ridiculous to plan to take a taxi from Bologna to Modena to eat at Hosteria Giusti?)

Feel free to include pastry/coffee/lunch recommendations as well.

Here is what our schedule looks like:

Saturday Sept. 29th - Venice - just the husband and I - would love a recommendation of a "special" restaurant for the two of us this evening (ie. romantic!)

Sunday Sept. 30th Venice - likely going to Murano/Burano....perhaps eating at Fiaschetteria Toscano

Monday Oct. 1st - Venice - no plans yet

Tues. Oct 2nd - Travel to Bologna (possibly detour through Veneto?)

Weds. Oct 3rd - Bologna - Food Tour booked (Parma/Modena/Bologna)....likely no big dinner but perhaps late night drinks/snacks

Thurs. Oct 4th - Bologna - no plans yet

Fri. Oct 5th - Private cooking class - perhaps a late dinner might be needed?

Sat. Oct 6th - Travel to Pesaro - no plans in Pesaro (staying overnight)

Sun. Oct 7th - Travel thru Abruzzo with stop in Palena (family history ties) - then on to Naples

Mon Oct 8th - Naples - no plans yet

Tues Oct 9th - Naples - no plans yet

(one of these days we will likely spend on Amalfi Coast - Ravello/Positano/Sorrento)

Weds Oct 10 - Travel to Rome - no plans yet

Thurs Oct 11 - Rome - no plans yet

Fri Oct 12 - Rome - no plans yet

Important details:

In Venice, we are staying in the Dorsoduro region in an apartment.

In Bologna, we are staying in the city center (Via Indipendenza at Piazza VIII Agosto) across from the Arena Del Sole theatre in an apartment.

No hotels booked yet in Pesaro or Naples.

In Rome we are staying in Trastevere in an apartment. I think we would likely want to eat at Felice e Testaccio one night during our stay in Rome. Although I think they serve a different menu each night and I was really hoping to eat the Cacio e looks like they only serve it on Tuesdays!!

Feel free to indulge us with suggestions, information, must-eats, must-sees, must-dos, don't-dos, etc.....

Your advice and expertise are much respected and appreciated!


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  1. I almost stopped reading where you instructed us not to argue and to keep it short.



    Sorry, I really can't be scripted when I write, but I think I've written enough about what I enjoy in Bologna and Napoli for you to get the drift. I will only add that your hotel is within easy walking distance of Serghei, Caminetto d'Oro and Trattoria Twinside, and La Baita (the restaurant not the cheese store). For Naples, I would encourage you to look beyond pizza and sfogliatelle. There are wonderful pastas in Naples and other baked treats.

    2 Replies
    1. re: barberinibee

      HI Barberinibee....

      My apologies - I in no way intended to stunt your regular writing or posting habits...debate away if that will provide better information!!! I didn't think I was instructing you not to argue....I just wanted everyone to know that their opinions were welcomed even if they differed from others!! Sorry if it came across as cyber-bossy!!! :)

      And as far as keeping it short and brief - I said that for the sole purpose of preventing people from shying away if they didn't want to write a long post. Truthfully, I LOVE long posts. :) I've printed many, many lengthy CH responses from all over the world and carried them with me on my travels. I just didn't want people to feel compelled to write too much!!! But some of your longer posts have been my favorites. :)

      I definitely had Serghei's and Gigina written down from reading your previous Bologna posts and am hopefully looking forward to trying those.

      Do you think Modena is too far for a cab? I understand it's only about 30ish kms....

      Thanks for the insight. I will also go back and peruse your Naples posts.

      1. re: smartini

        dont know why you would shell out the bucks for a taxi when there is quick and frequent train service between modena and bologna - unless the places you wanted to visit were out in the country.- you definitely dont want a car IN the city center of Modena - and there is getting back...

        generally you only want a car in italy when you are visiting places other than major cities - the public transport between the bigger ones is excellent. the food at Giusti is of a very high quality if you go.

    2. Venice:
      Saturday evening. my very subjective "special and romantic" restaurants:
      Da Ivo is my idea of a romantic trattoria. Nothing over the top; small, intimate, beautiful lighting, finely tuned but not overbearing service, no view to distract. Traditional Venetian cooking (plus a few Tuscan meat items) using the best ingredients. A good wine list to compliment the food. This is the singular place in Venice if we don't have to look at the bill. Aside from that fact, the clientele is mostly international if that bothers you.
      Then there are couple of others, being less expensive (not cheap):
      Anice Stellato: mostly traditional food with a touch of exotic, friendly staff, simple ambience with a few canal side tables during warm weather. The plus for me is the location in the further edge of Cannaregio gives it a feeling of being away from it all yet still in Venice proper. The stroll after dinner through the quiet neighborhood and canals is very special.
      Bancogiro: the second floor low ceiling alcove is very cozy and intimate. And if I am lucky to get one of the three window tables, we can peek at the Grand Canal. The menu is a modern take on Venetian cooking with introduction of different ingredients and combinations, nothing too far out. During warmer months everyone except us wants to sit out on the loggia right on the Grand Canal.
      Boccadoro: this is our favorite modern osteria; located in a tiny quiet campo with a few outside tables or small inside table on a quiet corner. The 'specialness' is that everything is very personal, from the small all seafood menu to the simple professional friendly service. That is rare for Venice.
      For the food oriented, definitely the Rialto market. Mornings only, everything closed on Sundays and much also on Mondays. Saturday morning being the most lively, also the most visitors.. Besides the famous pescheria, there are the produce stands, the butchers (including the last remaining selling horse meat), small food shops and the numerous atmospheric old bacari.
      Dorsoduro is a nice neighborhood to stay; the eastern end is quieter, mostly residential and B&B wherease, the western part is more commercial with Campo San Barnaba being the hub. Much of the places to eat on the main thoroughfare from San Barnaba to Accademia to Salute are geared toward visitors. Any would be fine for a quick breakfast. Da Gino on c/Nuova Sant'Agnese is a bit more special. Although we are in San Polo, we stroll to our favorite Pasticceria Tonolo for a stand up breakfast three or four times a week. Beside the warm staff, it is a morning ritual of observing a slice of Venetian life before the throngs of visitors descend on it. Make sure to pick up a Foccacia de Venezia to take back to your apartment; available only Thursday to Sunday or when they sell out (closed Sunday afternoons and Mondays). The sestiere has one of our favorite bacari, Enoteca Cantine gia Schiave. Beware that Saturday afternoon is always packed during high season and closed Sundays as most bacari. It also has two of our favorite gelateri: Lo Squero is conveniently two doors down from to gia Schiave and the other is del Doge in Campo Santa Margherita.
      As for Murano/Burano, other than a quick bite for lunch, I have not eaten at any places in many years.
      I will be even more boring and repetitive if I was to list my favorite bacari and restaurants again.
      As to what to order: eat the traditional Venetian antipasti such as saor, bacala, grilled sardines in bacari instead of trattoria; often it is just as good and much less expensive. Fall is a good time for seasonal seafood from the lagoon. Those would be what I order first; after that, my advise is to order when you like to eat. I think there is a recently post where I wrote briefly what I would order at FT. If FT is on your itinerary, make sure to sit on the ground floor dining room and not upstair.
      Keep in mind that you are in Venice on Sunday and Mondays, two of the days where many eating places are closed; plan accordingly
      Since this site allow only food related topics, will skip all the must-sees, most-dos, don't dos, etc.

      3 Replies
      1. re: PBSF

        With all due respect to the OP, my perfect "foodie" schedule would look nothing like yours.

        First of all, six stops in 14 days is a lot of traveling. It is impossible to understand the food of a region in two days (and some will be travel time).

        Second, the places you are going, with the exception of Naples, do not even come close to the most interesting "foodie" places. Clearly, you can't change your trip; for the benefit of others who might be doing a "foodie" trip in the future, here are my very brief thoughts.

        The most interesting food regions in the north of Italy are Piemonte, ER (excluding Bologna), Liguria, and southern Lombardia. In the south, clearly Sicily and the Campania. The most interesting places to eat, by far, are in the countryside, not the cities Get a car. If you really care about food, this is the way to go.

        To the OP,have fun on your trip.

        ps As much as we've always very much enjoyed Hosteria Giusti (and a lot of people disagree with our thoughts), there is no way I'd take a taxi there from Bologna. If you want the "real" food of the Bologna area, go to Amerigo in Savigno. Closer than Modena by far and a very different and more interesting meal from what Giusti is.

        1. re: allende

          Hi allende,

          Thanks so much for your insights. I guess I should have titled my post "best possible food experiences within the confines of our already-planned-itinerary!"

          Unfortunately, with four people, there are a lot of sacrifices and compromises we all had to make when planning our itinerary, and we're doing the best we can given the timeframe we have.

          I know the real way to explore and understand regional cuisine is to stay for much longer than we are - but like you said, I can't change our trip. It's more of a road trip and brief exploration of a few areas...if I had it my way I'd never leave and I'd explore all the places possible. Unfortunately, we're at the mercy of being limited by both vacation time and finances, otherwise we'd stay forever!

          I think 3 days in Venice, 3 days in Bologna, travel through Pesaro and Palena (1-2 days), 3 days in Naples and 3 days in Rome is the best we could have done to make everyone happy.

          Thanks for the insight on Amerigo. Will check it out and see if we can make it work.

          1. re: smartini

            Hey smartini,

            We just returned from Venice and one favourite place where we enjoyed a delicious lunch on a quiet canal was Anice Stellato, as suggested above by PBSF. I agree wholeheartedly with the fact they make delicious traditional food and have extremely friendly staff.

      2. Smartini, I would suggest either Gatto Nero or Venissa for your Burano day. I certainly hope you have cicchetti mapped out for your time in Venice.

        In Rome, we love Roscioli for a great dinner.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ekc


          Venecia: Da Domenico Alle Grave; the Camerotto Family
          Venecia: Harry´s Bar for a Bellini & an Espresso is a must, a landmark
          Venecia: The Proietto Family´s La Corte Sconta, which translates to Hidden Courtyard; and is a simple trattoria with some of the best fresh fish and shellfish varieties.
          Venice: Antico Martini, a stunning restaurant across from Teatro La Fenice

          We have not been to Venecia since 2008, however, prior to 2008, we had spent uncountable evenings in Venecia, and our 1st honeymoon, 32 years ago.

          1. re: foodeditormargaux

            Where is there a Da Domenico Alle Grave in Venice? Are you referring to the one near Treviso?

          2. re: ekc


            THE FLORIAN : since 1720, the popular and the norm commoners, known and unknowns have all been to the Florian, the stunning celebrated St. Mark´s Caffé ...

            1. re: ekc

              ROMA ...

              From an Italian point of view; this highly touristic city, is more enjoyable monumentally; and has the mediocre or just okay and not cared for slow food; the food in comparison to Emilia Romagna, Umbria, Abruzzi, Tuscana,Basilicata, Puglia, Veneto, Sicilia, Trentino al Adige; as far as we are concerned.

              Here is the best of what we found in the 1990s and we do not know if they are still open or have changed hands:

              1) RISTORANGE ALBERTO CIARLA : Trastevere Ristorant is known for its fine fish

              2) ETTORE LO SGOBBONE: press and media people have adored this trattoria which is very cozy and intimate. Family Vibe ... Check to see if the children are running it ...

              3) We stayed at the D´Inghilterra Hotel which is near the Spanish Steps, and members of Royal families and journalists are plentiful.

              1. re: foodeditormargaux

                Alberto Ciarla has changed hands, I believe.

            2. Napoli:

              1) La Sacrestia: gorgeous villa restaurant overlooking the bay.

              2) Da Mimi Alla Ferrovia: The Guiliano Brothers create the wonderful family ambiance and Neapolitano spirit.

              3) Miramare: Look at the Sea, is the name of this rooftop terrace open air small Hotel overlooking the Port of Santa Lucia. Lovely place.

              4) La Bersagliera: Portside ristorante that prepares or prepared fanstastic classic pizzas located in the shadows of the Castel Dell ´ Ovo ... lots of local ambiance.

              1 Reply
              1. re: foodeditormargaux


                I really liked Donna Teresa and Cantina di Via Sapienza for lunch. I liked Europeo di Mattozzi, but didn't love it. I enjoyed Osteria Castello and Osteria La Chitarra and Hosteria Toledo for dinner. For pizza, my favorite is Di Matteo and my second favorite is Starita. I didn't like Decumani very much, Brandi was just eh and Da Michele is bad.

              2. Bologna:

                La Campinina is the best Ristorante in Bolonia Centre ...

                We had been sitting at the table, when USA Italian American Chef Mario Batali and his professional team had entered. Cool dudes, and invited us to have a taste testing and told us, they were opening a new Trattoria in Manhattan ( 2007 ) Del Posto in the Meat Packing District.

                We were a bit unpleased with a venue, which is owned and operated by a woman. Very over priced and the service was a bit too cold & crisp for my taste.

                La Campinina: As far as I am concerned, we could eat here every day and never tire. Their Lasagne al forno di Bolognese is 99% closest to my Nonna´s ( grandmom ) that I have ever had.

                The charcuterie: Proscuitto di Parma, Salume ( salted meats), hand rolled Tortellini, my fave Tagliatelli, Culatello Ham, Tortelli d´erbette and the Lasagne al forno and salame da sugo ( a lean pork sausage ) all fabulous off top of head, I cannot remember all ... We also had truffles, mushrooms and numerous other antipasti and uncountable sweet tooth pleasures. Everything, was highly enjoyed.

                Mario had told me how he prepares his Lasagne al Forno & the only difference with this restaurant´s and Mario´s and my Nonna´s is the the color of the wine utiilised !

                If you are a cheese-a-holic, the after dinner course of Emilia Romagna Cheeses, is heaven on earth.

                I had published an article on the Trattoria however, we are on vacation and do not have the print magazine with us. However, LA CAMPININA IS HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

                2 Replies
                1. re: foodeditormargaux

                  Da Domenico Alle Grave
                  Via del Fante
                  Spresiano, Treviso, Veneto

                  It was wonderful when we had been there. Has a good write up on trip advisor dot com for Italia

                  and very atmospheric and family like ... however, since it was a few years ago; I cannot say. There was a very nice write up on www trip advisor dot com about it

                  Best of luck