AND OTHER
  MISCELLANEOUS
RECOMMENDATIONS
    Restaurant Recommendations
Montepulciano
La Porta-Via del Piano 3, 0578-755163. This is a small restaurant sort of in the country side. We went there the night we arrived at the suggestion of Nico, our host at Sant' Antonio. It was very good local cuisine and the owner was welcoming and friendly. When we left, she gave us a nice bag of biscotti and sweets for the morning as we had told her we would like to buy some since we hadn't had a chance to shop. She would not let us pay for them. They had home made picci which is sort of a thick spaghetti.
AI Quattro Venti-Piazza Grande 0558-75-72-31. Again recommended by Nico. Another small Ristorante with excellent pasta and meat. The taglitelli and porcini was outstanding. It is to the right as you face the duomo.
Castellina in Chianti
Osteria Alla Piazza-localita La Piazza, 0577-733580. This was very good! A charming osteria, great country décor, excellent menu, somewhat romantic in terms of setting and charm. It is between Panzano and Castellina on a side road that wanders up quite a ways. Watch for signs along the road and you will know where to turn. Reservations suggested--at least for dinner.
Al Gallopapa***** Via Delle Volte, 0577-742939. This was one of THE best meals we had in 40 days. It is in side an old covered passageway in Castillina. Reservations are a must--usually several days ahead of time. Creative, sophisticated menu and yet still very Tuscany. http://www.gallopapa.com/
La Pestello Antico--0577-740671 Family run ristorante outside of Castillina on the road to Poggibonsi. Very good food, great service, reasonable. A favorite of the locals. Again, you probably would not stop there without a recommendation as it is just along the road. Worth finding.
Gaiole in Chianti
Osteria del Castello--Loc. Brolio (right below Brolio Castle), 0577-747277 Outstanding establishment. Beautiful open country décor. Exquisitely prepared food. The chef is a Master Chef of Discovery Channel. He also holds a 2 and ˝ hour cooking school for groups of 5 twice a week. Reservations necessary for dinner. We didn't need them for lunch. http://www.seamus.it/
Panzano
Il Vescovino-Via Ciampolo da Panzano, 055-852464 We had lunch here and it was wonderful. It would also be a good place for dinner. Lovely patio dining overlooking the countryside. In the historic center of Panzano.
Florence
Cammillo Trattoria-Borgo S.Jacopo, 57, 055-212427. We ate here twice. I had a truffle and mushroom dish that was indescribably different and delicious. Very good pastas and meats. Reasonable prices.
Pisa
Ostria La Mescita--via Cavalca 2, 544294 This is sort of a strange place. It was recommended in two books. It is small, in the market area, family run. Reservations seemed to be needed even for lunch. The menu is "typical" simple Tuscan food. Such things as pasta with beef lard and spices. We enjoyed it as the food was so different from most places that the authenticity was a fun experience.
Napoli
Ristorante Zi Teresa--Borgo Marinari 1, 081-764-25-65. We really enjoyed this restaurant--on the bay of Naples right on the water front across from the big hotels. Fresh, fresh fish, excellent pasta. Reservations are a good idea.
Ristorante La Cantinella--Via Cuma 42, 081-7658684. We had an excellent meal here--expensive! Sophisticated service. Creative, sophisticated menu. Reservations needed.
Amalfi
Trattoria da Ciccio-Via Nazionale Per Sorrento, 089-83-12-65. This was one of the restaurants that picked us up in Praiano. It is on the water front between Praiano and Amalfi. Good food, nice service.
Praiano
La Brace-in Praiano but I don't have the address. A family run restaurant. Simple good food. The pizza looked very good but we didn't have that. Another restaurant that provided its own pickup. The driver then came in and was our waiter. A place that the locals eat. Tourists probably would not find or choose this place without a recommendation from someone.
Positano
La Cambusa-Piazza A. Vespucci-089-875432 This is definitely a tourist place but very good. We ate there several years ago and deliberately went back this time. Both times I had the prawns and spaghetti and both times it was wonderful--those big, huge prawns that are so, so good.
Restaurants to Avoid
Rome
Café Veneto--Highly overpriced, unpleasant service, mediocre food, a tourist trap. Recommended by the concierge who must be on their payroll.
Tre Scalini--This is a highly touted restaurant in Piazza Navona. Very well-established and old. We felt that it was very over priced for the quality and service. You can do a lot better. We did enjoy stopping for ice cream here in the afternoons.
Florence
Villa San Michele--actually this is in Fiesole. It is VERY expensive and supposed to be one of Florence's best. Again, we found it quite overpriced--far beyond its worth. We don't balk at paying a lot of money for an outstanding dining experience but this was a flop! Nothing about it was outstanding. Find another place for a splurge.
Ravello
Villa Maria--Although we really enjoyed the hotel and recommend it, I can'tt say as much for their restaurant--which has been given some good reviews. Again, we found the meal was not worth the cost. We ate much better at less expensive places. We felt the food was quite inferior.
Castellina in Chianti
La Torre--We really, really did not like our meal here; although, many people had recommended it to us. It is quite reasonably priced but so were other places which were much better. We felt the quality of the food to be inferior.
Gelato
This is always a big contest and in 40 days we found many good places. However, the very, very best was the gelateria in Castellini in Chianti--Antica Delizia. There is only one there and so you can't go to the wrong place. Again it is a family place. They change some of their offerings from day to day. The flavors were very rich and full. One day there was mango which was outstanding.
      Places
           to
         Stay
Montepulciano: Sant'  Antonio
I TOTALLY recommend this wonderful place. We had a delightful time here. It's ambience is wonderful. It is an old monastery that has been converted into a "Case Vacanze". The grounds are lovely as are each of the units. There is a gated entrance for which you are given an opener (like a garage door opener.) The owner is very urbane and sophisticated -- totally bilingual as he grew up with dual languages. The property has been in the family for years. The estate has considerable acreage with much of it used as vineyards. Their wines are highly regarded. Nico, the owner, believes in providing quality. Linens are Egyptian cotton, dishes are the pure white quality pottery, kitchens are incredibly well equipped. There is CNN and BBC. The property is about two miles outside of Montepulciano, secluded and quiet -- lovely views and a pool. Units vary in size so you should ask for one of the larger ones. It is well situated for day trips to other hill towns.
Web site is http://www.santantonio.it/ Owner is Nico Panneviso.
Castellina in Chianti: Podere Colle Lungo
This is an agriturismo of high quality. Highly recommend it.
Colle Lungo was delightful and the owners most pleasant and accommodating. The place is beautifully restored and maintained. The apartments are thoroughly cleaned and sheets changed weekly and towels twice a week. Kitchens are well equipped (although not as nicely as the one in Sant' Antonio -- which was quite superb). Fresh rolls are delivered daily and Francesca and Margharita, the cleaning staff, left a bouquet of flowers and roses from the garden on the table with a nice note. The views over the vinyard and close hills are lovely and relaxing. There is a gorgeous pool with lounges. I would highly recommend Colle Lungo.
Apartments vary in size with some being quite small so if people are like us and like a roomy feeling it would be important to select size carefully. We had the largest and it was fine. No matter the size, all of the apartments are charming and cozy -- each one is different as this is a restored 16th century farm complex and so space is creatively used. And -- their wine is wonderful -- it has received a very high rating from Parker and has been in the Wine Spectator. I had taken a Mr. Coffee with me so that I could have plain breakfast coffee in the morning and ended up trading it for two bottles of wine when we left. We had planned on leaving it anyway (to make room for such things as 3 cutting boards), so it was a bonus when Tony (owner) indicated he would like it.
The only downside is that the property is not close to any village so that you must always drive to do anything. This was ok with us but it would be good for people to know. The upside is that the quietness is wonderful -- at times there is total silence except for the birds and the rustling of leaves. It is a very serene and soothing place to be.
Website is: http://www.collelungo.com/ The owners are Tony and Mira Roco
Things to Do (other than the normal things)
Don't miss
Last Judgment frescoes in Orvieto's duomo: These have recently been restored and are incredibly beautiful and complex. Set aside time to just sit and study them as you can't appreciate their complexities otherwise. Take little binoculars.
Piero della Francesca's La Leggenda della Vera Croce frescoes in the Basilica di San Francesco in Arezzo. Again there are recently restored and are incredibly beautiful. The talent of these artists is breathtaking. You need to make reservations to see the Piero della Francesca frescoes. A limited number of people are allowed in for 30 minute visits.
Il Prodigio di Cimabue: Basilica di San Domenico in Arezzo. This is restored wooden crucifix masterpiece by Cimabue. The display presents the restoration process from beginning to end. The restored product is awesomely moving and beautiful.
Domus Aurea (Nero's Golden Palace) in Rome. Reservations recommended.
Good tour group
Through Eternity Cultural Association walking tours of Rome. The guides are highly educated and knowledgeable. They provide historical and cultural insights into what you are seeing. There are several itineraries. We had previously visited the forum and Vatican on our own. This time we took the walking tours and really appreciated them; however, we were glad that we had visited the sites independently as the tours did not allow for exploration.
http://www.througheternity.com/
Miscellaneous
Tony and Guy Hairdressing: Florence Via Borgo Ognissanti 12, 055-264-5561. (I had Alexandro)
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