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Feb 2, 2013 12:32 PM

Florence & Venice in February

Thank you for all the help with the Rome portion of my trip! You guys gave me such good advice. And I'll definitely post a trip report when I come back--I've already picked up a couple notebooks where I can record information.

I thought I'd post our tentative plan for Florence and Venice just to make sure we haven't made any bad choices.

Saturday: Train from Florence to Rome. Lunch at Trattoria Mario
Sandwiches at All'Antico Vinao for dinner.

Sunday: Lunch at Trattoria Cibreo
Dinner at Osteria Cipolla Rossa

Monday: Day trip to Siena. Lunch at Antica Osteria Da Divo
Dinner: I'm not sure whether we should try to eat in Siena or get back to Florence. If I'm reading the bus schedule right, the last train to Florence leaves Siena at 20:10.

Tuesday: Train to Venice. Late lunch at Ai Promessi Sposi
Dinner: La Zucca

Wednesday: Lunch at L'Anice Stellato
Dinner: La Bitta (This is our last night in Italy)

It's been a challenge for me to wrap my head around eating in Venice, and I'm not sure why. I don't know whether it's because we're not big seafood eaters or that everything seems so expensive, or both or neither.

But I'm so excited about the way that all the food (Rome vs Florence vs Venice) is so regional and different.

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  1. We ate at all four of your Venice choices in feb 2012 and enjoyed each of them, our favorite being l'anice stellato. They are all fairly casual and the staff was very friendly and welcoming at each, especially ai promessi sposi.

    1 Reply
    1. re: tlubow

      Oh, great! It's really nice to hear that they're casual and friendly. That doesn't usually get mentioned in reviews.

    2. When are you in Venice? is it before or after Carnival?

      6 Replies
      1. re: jen kalb

        After, thank goodness. We get into Venice on Feb 19.

        1. re: Callea

          Venice is lovely in the winter - it may be particularly dead then, so you should enjoy!

          1. re: Callea

            when you say you are not big "seafood" eaters, does that include fish as well as the whole seafood nation? Grilled Fish and the local seafood are so good and fresh in venice that you might want to give it a try - samples in a bacari, perhaps. Maybe PBSF can give some tips on good items to look for

            I was not a liver eater (actually a liver hater) til I was in my 20s and ate at a topflight french restaurant while on a business trip, which cooked it to rosy pink, sauced it beautifully., and then, it rocked my world.

            1. re: jen kalb

              Neither of us love fish but we are completely on board with trying anything. We even talked about going to Alle Testiere and just putting the meal choices in the hands of the server/chef.

              I love shrimp/shellfish, but my husband not so much. I made scampi for dinner last night that he picked through mostly for the kids' sake. =)

              1. re: Callea

                If you love shrimp/shellfish and your husband does not, you might consider switching La Bitta or Alla Zucca for a trattoria that has a good selection of seafood as well as meat/poultry. The earlier mentioned Da Alberto is a good alternative to La Bitta, similar in ambience, price and always packed. Vini di Gigia is another good option, a little more expensive than those above but more relax and from my experience better food than La Bitta/da Alberto. It has varied menu with some excellent non-seafood dishes. If you decide to do cicchetti for lunch, might still consider ai Sposi for one of your other meal. The food at Alla Zucca is different from the others, therefore, good if you are looking for a change.

                1. re: PBSF

                  Thank you for the wonderful ideas! There's no amount of Googling that can make up for the experience you all bring to the table.

        2. You've done a lot of good research!

          Saturday, maybe you want to change around lunch and dinner plans? Seems like Antico Vinaio would be a better choice for lunch.

          Siena: Yes, you're right. Best to come back for dinner, since the last train leaves too early.

          Not sure you will make it in time for a real sit down lunch. Maybe better to head around near Rialto and stop at Do Mori, Do Spade and All'Arco, for cicheti and wine?
          Then Promessi Sposi for dinner.
          What about Alberto for lunch? It's very reasonably priced, and usually has good non-meat dishes. Or Portego?

          Hope this helps!

          Wednesday: Both choices good. Especially La Bitta since you're not big fish eaters. It's not too expensive, and they don't serve fish.

          2 Replies
          1. re: minchilli

            I'm with minchilli. Do a cichetti crawl on Tuesday when you get to Venice - then go to La Zucca or Al Promessi Sposi for dinner. If you are not big into fish, I'd go with La Zucca.

            1. re: minchilli


              Those are some good thoughts about Venice, and honestly I love having a Plan A and Plan B.

              I will look up both Alberto and Portego. Thanks for the recommendations!

            2. Callea--Perhaps I'm misunderstanding, but are you taking the train from Rome to Florence, not the other way around? And if you're talking about Trattoria Mario in Florence, I don't think they're open on Saturdays--at least not when I was last there.

              3 Replies
              1. re: lisaonthecape

                Boo for typos. Sorry! Yes, we're coming from Rome to Florence.

                Trattoria Mario's website claims they are open on Saturday. But your experience definitely trumps that. So maybe we will do as Elizabeth suggested and go to Antico Vinaio for lunch.

                1. re: Callea

                  I think my visit was on Saturday - but its been a long time since. You might want to check when you hit town in any case.

                  1. re: Callea

                    If Mario's is open, don't hesitate to try it. Best to get there right when it opens, as it can be very crowded. It's not a place to linger, but you can get Florentine classics at very reasonable prices. Da Sergio, just around the corner from Mario's, is also one of our favorites.

                2. If you take an early train from Florence (two hours to Venice), you should be able to have lunch at Ai Promessi Sposi. They will sit you until around 2pm. If you arrive later, bacari (there are good ones in just about every neighborhood) are good options since they are open through the afternoon. Those around the Rialto such as Do Mori, L'Arco, La Merca are stand up only.
                  All your choices are moderately priced, casual with mostly good food. Understanding that you are not a big seafood eater, La Zucca (much of the cooking not Venetian) and La Bitta do not serve any seafood at all.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: PBSF

                    Thank you for the suggestions!

                    Maybe a chicheti crawl would be more interesting anyway? I think we would have more fun walking around a bit rather than getting to Venice and immediately heading into a sit down meal.

                    1. re: Callea

                      yes on the cichetti and you would get to see so much more that way... some bars do close for a few hours in the afternoon though. La Merca closes between something like 3 and 6:30 (I am estimating) so go there first!