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Honeymoon in Italy (Genoa, Cinque Terre, Bologna, Modena, Parma, Venice, Tuscany, and Florence)

Hi all,

My wife and I will be celebrating our honeymoon in Italy (and 5 days in Barcelona) in October. I've researched the board pretty heavily and have gone through Plotkin's book as well as Osterie d' Italia (2014). I am wondering what everyone thinks of our itinerary and if there are any suggestions or alternatives recommended.

Before the itinerary, let me just explain that my wife and I are both "foodies" who love a great meal. A great meal can be super cheap or quite expensive but the food should be memorable. We eat pretty much everything but my wife loves shellfish and she is not a big fan of offal. I've never met a pasta or stinky cheese I didn't like and love shellfish, red meat, and wild game equally. Neither of us are wine aficionados but we will have a glass or two at dinner.

So first we will be staying in Rapallo for 3 nights and spending 1 day in Genoa and 1 day in Cinque Terre,

In Genoa, I was thinking of going to Trattoria da Maria for Lunch and Trattoria Vegia Zena for dinner. Any thoughts on either of these places? I think they are both from Plotkin's book.

For CInque Terre, I haven't really found any place that seems like a must try spot. We will probably hit up Il Pirata for breakfast. Suggestions for lunch/dinner would be appreciated either somewhere in CT or in or near Rapallo.

From Rapallo, we will be renting a car and driving to Bologna. Now here is where I may be trying to squeeze too much in. On the way down to Bologna, we are planning to stop at Al Cavalino Bianco for lunch. Then drive to our hotel right outside Bologna. For dinner, I was hoping to head back to Da Ivan. Will that be too much driving? Should I instead go to Da Ivan for lunch and skip Al Cavalino Bianco? How is the drive to and from Da Ivan? I know we could stay at Da Ivan but our hotels are all booked and paid for.

The next day we plan to head to Venice. I am thinking cichette for lunch but am open to any suggestions. For dinner I am leaning towards Antiche Carampane but am still considering Al Covo or Bordero. Is Al Covo worth the extra $$? The menus look pretty similar.

The next day we will head to Modena. Now here is another place I am torn. For lunch I am between Trattoria Ermes or Hosteria Guisti. Guisti seems quite expensive, which is why I have not locked it in yet. How do the two compare? For dinner, I am pretty set on Osteria di Rubbiara. Am I packing in too much food here? Is it reasonable to eat at Ermes/Guisti + Osteria di Rubbiara in one day? Also, any suggestions on organizing a balsamico tour through Osteria di Rubbiara?

So my wife was born in Vincenza so we are planning to go to Verona and Vincenza the next day. I really have nowhere special picked out for either of these towns. In fact, I was hoping to get back to Bologna on the earlier side and was thinking of going to Ponte Rosso in Monteveglio as per David Rosengarten's article in Forbes. Has anyone eaten here? Alternatives could be either Da Fabio in Bologna or even Da Ivan. I'd also be open to eating somewhere in Verona/Vincenza for dinner if there is somewhere special worth going to. A lunch recommendation would also be appreciated.

The next day is a full day exploring Bologna. It will be a Sunday if that matters. I have some ideas for lunch (All'Osteria Bottega, Da Maro, or Osteria al 15). Are these reasonable lunch spots or are they more of dinner places? For dinner, I was thinking Amerigo dal 1934 in Savigno. Again, is this too much food for one day? We could also go to Da Ivan, if we haven't made it there yet.

The next four days will be spent at an Inn in Lecchi in Tuscany. One night we plan on eating at the Inn and one night at Ristorante Malborghetto. I know my wife wants to go to San Gimignano for a day trip. Anywhere in or near there worth hitting up for lunch? Is it worth driving to Antica Macelleria Cecchini for dinner or is it more hype than anything else? How about Piccola Trattoria Guastini in Montepulciano?

Finally, we will be in Florence for 3 nights. We will definitely hit up Sostanza for dinner. I also have Da il Latini, Il Santo Bevitore, Tranvai, and Enotria on my list but I haven't locked any place in besides Sostanza. I am sure we will eat a meal at Mercato Central. Anywhere else I should be looking at for either lunch or dinner?

Any thoughts would be very much appreciated. I hope I am not squeezing too much food in. In between all of these meals, we will be seeing the sights and doing the usual touristy things. Any suggestions on a cooking class? I was thinking of doing it in Bologna but I may not want to give up a meal there LOL.

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  1. Way, way too much driving in the segment from Rapallo to Bologna and back up.

    The drive to and from Da Ivan to Bologna is easy but long; figure close to two hours until you find Roccabianca. You'll spend more on gas and tolls, than the cost of a room at Da Ivan or La Buca in Zibello, and save close to four hours driving time.

    Rapallo to Cavalino Bianco to Bologna to Da Ivan (five km from Cavalino Bianco) doesn't seem to make any sense.

    Florence. Latini. I'll say it as politely as possible. Don't go.

    1 Reply
    1. re: allende

      <Florence. Latini. I'll say it as politely as possible. Don't go.>

      Well said, allende.

      We went there maybe 20 years ago. It was recommended by the concierge at the hotel where we stayed. Definitely one of the worst dining experiences we have had in Europe, with mediocre food at best, slapdash service, and being sandwiched between annoying people at communal tables. I guess it hasnt changed much. Yecch!

    2. In terms of your Florence list, Il Santo Bevitore is dimly lit and romantic, perfect for a honeymoon. It has great food as well and seems to please everyone. I really love Enotria but do know it is a 10 minute cab ride (or really long walk) outside the city. It's not a particularly romantic setting but I think it's worth the trip if you're willing to be outside of the centro storico for an evening.

      1. Just to make sure I am getting this straight, after staying in Rapallo for 3 nights, your itinerary is as follows:
        Bologna - 1 night
        Venice - 1 night
        Modena - 1 night
        Verona/Vincenza - 1 night
        Bologna - 1 night
        Then Tuscany and Florence

        Is this correct??

        2 Replies
        1. re: ekc

          No. We will be based in bologna but will have a car and are taking day trips to Venice, Modena, and Verona/Vincenza.

          1. re: FoodDude2

            If you do go to Venice for the day, take the train. Do not drive.

            I like having my big meal at lunch. I have not been to Antiche Carampane or Al Covo, but think very highly of Alle Testiere and L'Anice Stellato. We recently had spectacular lunches at both places.

        2. 1 day in Cinque Terra? I think it requires 2 or 3. No great restaurants as far as I can determine. Will be in Vernazza in Sept. So I may have more info before you go.

          1 day is Venice is too short as well. Not easy to arrive/leave.

          Consider cutting out a couple of destinations.

          And 1 good meal per day is a good rule.

          1 Reply
          1. re: collioure

            While I agree with you that this itinerary is too rushed overall, I disagree regarding Cinque Terre. We were staying in Santa Margherita, and took the train to Monterosso, walked to Vernazza, where we had a nice lunch, then took the train to Manarola, strolled around the very small town, and took the train back to S.M., all in one very lovely day. You could spend more time, but this was a perfect introduction.

            As far as one good meal per day is concerned, as I've often pointed out on CH, it depends on the person. When travelling, my partner and I usually have a substantial lunch and dinner (no breakfast or a very light one) and it works out just fine. We don't want to miss out on a great meal when we only have limited time to experience wonderful food.

          2. Whoa! Slow down a bit. It is Italy, afterall.

            We loved our lunch at Piccola Trattoria Guastini. It is in Valiano, not Montepulciano.

            1. This is much too ambitious, too many destinations (particularly if you intend to drive between them) and too many meals, Using up your vacation time driving back and forth through the flat, and heavily trafficked E-R and Veneto countryside believe me will not appeal. Also, You will simply not be able to eat two full meals a day in Emilia Romagna for example -the food is simply too rich for it and your stomach will rebel, so that you will lose your appetite well before you get to Tuscany. So target a handful of special meals and come up with a backup plan of light eating to fill in. Triy specialties like piadina or a plate of culatello with gnocco fritto, say for your dinner. your destination list in half and you will be much happier. Venice for a day (from Bologna) is doable, but dont plan two meals - choose a good meal (lunch) highlighting the venetian seafood specialties.then maybe have some pastry and later cichetti before you head out of town. The trains are wonderful to whisk you in and out of towns.

              In Liguria you might want to cut back on your touring. In Rapallo, you are at the gateway to the beautiful Portofino peninsula. It is offseason so the boats may not be running but its a good season for walking and the restaurants will not be crowded. You will not be disappointed if you take a bus from Rapallo to San Rocco di Camogli - you can walk around up on the Monte Portofino or out around the point -there are some amazing trails and views then have a relaxed and delicious lunch at Nonna Nina in San Rocco. This food is more refined and bourgeois than what you are likely to experience in Genova. the walk down to Camogli (and that town it self) are very nice and scenic
              Your choices in Genova seem acceptable and characteristic - the food at many places there seems on a certain level - our favorite of the 4 we dried was Il Genovese across the street from the amazing Mercato Orientale. Remember that good seafood is expensive - you will pay for quality and for the nicer fish and seafood. I also recommend trying farinata - wood oven baked chickpea flour "bread" and foccaccia di Recco, a thin dough sheet baked with white cheese. .Search for "Liguria" in the search box and you will find my account of my visit to the region. Barberinibee also has a lot to say about this area, where she lives.

              We loved Il Cavallino Bianco and the Po countryside there is lovely, but I think you need to choose between that and Da Ivan, which is very highly recommended on this Board - it somply does not make sense to backtrack halfway across E-R for what will likely be a fairly similar menu.

              You can book tours of the Pedroni family's balsamic vinegar facility at Osteria di Rubbiara by emailing them - there is a link on their website. Im not sure whether they serve dinner, but no, it probably would not make sense to eat there and at Ermes or Hostaria Giusti on the same day. I believe both the Osteria and Ermes serve fixed meals.When you have to go light a la carte is a much better option.

              Depending on where you are staying in the Bologna area, Da Amerigo might be a better choice for a final meal in this region - again, you will not be well served by going there after a noon meall in bologna.

              There may be game and mushrooms in the higher areas during your trip. Its a very nice time to travel.


              1. If you are doing a day trip to Venice from Bologna, eat cicchetti near where you will sightsee rather than searching out a bacaro across the city. If your wife love shellfish and you don't mind an all seafood menu, go with Antiche Carampane. Al Covo has more polish service and more of a restaurant feel whereas Antiche is a trattoria. Al Covo has a larger dessert menu. The cost between the is negotiable. If your spelling of Bordero is correct, I have been or heard of the restaurant.

                1. I wholeheartedly endorse a meal at Cavallino Bianco. It was one of the best lunches I have had in Italy. Where else can you have a selection of various ages of culatello that is made in the basement?! There is a charming little glass room off of the corner of the restaurant that is just big enough for a table for 2 - it would make a very romantic lunch spot.

                  1. A lunch suggestion for Cinque Terre: Trattoria dal Billy in Manarola. I don't know where you are staying, but if it's one of the neighbouring villages you could walk to Manarola (about 1.5 hours from Monterosso, for example), eat pasta with fresh crab and lobster and then get the train back. Wonderful location and food. If they take you off menu, check the prices before you order (fish of the day will be delicious but can be pricey).


                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Parmasam

                      Are reservations required for lunch? We will be driving through so not 100% sure timing will work -- although the food and view look fab.

                      1. re: Island Girl

                        I think you'll be fine without a reservation in October.

                    2. Just back from Cinque Terre where we dined at Il Pirata and at Belforte in Vernazza. As Rick Steves notes, breakfast is kind of a joke in these parts.

                      Il Parata - there's nothing exceptional about the cuisine here. It's quite good and satisfying. The white wines were not interesting. So we ordered a light red which the owner wisely suggested over my first choice.

                      Belforte's most interesting dishes are for two. Maybe you can swing that on a honeymoon; I couldn't. Mostly seafood with some good white wines choices available - esp from Livio Felluga's prodigal son Marco. We had very good food. However, it can get rather windy and cool up on their terrace. In October you can probably eat inside.

                      In Florence we enjoyed excellent dinners at Da Ruggero - rather basic Tuscan cuisine excellently prepared, and at more inventive Belcore.

                      Happy Honeymoon