|Our book, de-binded and ready for travel|
So the crazy thing about the Rick Steve's book, is he literally tells you to take it apart. We sliced the binding up right before we left and made compact purse sized travel guides for each city. Crazy and genius! There is nothing more 'touristy' than walking around with a giant book, but when I had little bite size booklets I could discreetly figure out where we are going, what we should be eating, and of course where could we find the best gelato.
The other amazing tip we picked up on was that Rick Steve's has free audio guides. Download the app and you will get detailed histories, including maps of all the best sites in Rome, Florence and Venice. As we walked through the Uffizi Gallery in Florence or the Colosseum in Rome we had Rick's cheery voice in our earbuds guiding us through the best of the best.
And the last crazy great travel tip we got from Rick Steve's book was to download maps to our phone. With maps on our phone we could be total insiders as we wandered around lost in Venice, AND these maps download for offline mode, which is essential for us Americans traveling in Europe with limited data.
The one we used was City Maps 2 Go by Ulmon http://www.ulmon.com/#get-the-app
So those are my three amazing tips from Rick Steve, but the actual information in his book is pretty awesome too. We joked that the only times we had a bad meal in Italy was when we didn't consult his dining guide before we picked a restaurant :) And since why does anyone go to Italy but to eat (oh and see amazing architecture and art) good dining recommendations are pretty important. So here were some of our all time favorites out of the Rick Steve's book.
So when in Rome, eat as the Romans, and that means do NOT eat by the Colosseum! Yeah, if you are starving, you may cave and get an overpriced pizza but the best places to eat are a short walk away in the Monti neighborhood. We followed Rick's recommendations to Taverna Romana and had an incredible homemade fettucine with boar and the most delicious ricotta cake I ever put in my mouth. https://www.yelp.com/biz/taverna-romana-roma-4
Another touristy area is Piazza Navona, and yeah we definitely had a spritz and watched people wandering through, but when dinner time came, we went just a little south to 'Cul de Sac'. There we enjoyed duck ravioli and tagliatelle with hare ragout with a lovely abruzzi vino.
So with such dining success we headed north to Florence to sample some of that incredible Tuscan food, oh yeah and see pretty much every piece of Renaiisance art we learned about in Art History Class.
|Do I even need to label this one??|
|The hauntingly beautiful Mary Magdalene by Donatello|
We stayed a little north of downtown so we ended up at this incredible family run restaurant near the Academia called Ristorante Cafiggi. I loved this place because it had three generations of family working there, and it was obvious they put a lot of love into their meals. The charmingly grumpy matriarch taught me how to properly order house wine in Italian and helped me with all my pronunciations. We had a beautiful ravioli with walnut cream sauce, cooked to perfection lamb chops, and peas. Oh the peas in Italy were like no other pea I have ever tasted. I think I fell in love....
Lastly we went to Venice. What to say about Venetian food... very expensive, and many mediocre places and I think Rick Steve's is honest about that as well. We found a few great meals there; an incredible mushroom risotto, great pizza and some very interesting squid ink fettucines and razor clams, but the tip I will give to you about Venice restaurants is if there is a picture map of their menu outside the establishment, just keep walking. And in Venice it is fun to keep walking... there are so many great places to get lost in that city. But really, if you are in Venice, go ahead and splurge on a coffee at the Caffe Florian in Piazza San Marco and listen to the orchestra. It is just an experience that must be had. and don't rush.... Italy is not for rushing....
|San Marco, St Marks Cathedral|