4th of July, Travel Plans & Italy

Happy Independence Day to all my American readers. Regardless of your location, though, I hope you’re all having a lovely weekend and that those of you in Europe are finally getting some relief from the heat wave.

Source: eujacksonville.com

Source: eujacksonville.com

I’m sorry I haven’t posted any perfume reviews lately, but I’ve been overwhelmed by all that I have to do for my upcoming trip. It’s finally set and everything worked out, much to my disbelief because I really hadn’t been sure I would manage to get away. I’ll be in Italy for a little under 3 weeks, departing on July 20th and returning in early August after visiting Florence, Rome, and a seaside resort town.

The city of Split in Croatia. Photo: Ante Verzotti, via charterworld.com

The city of Split in Croatia. Photo: Ante Verzotti, via charterworld.com

Simply finalising my locations took a lot of time because, at one point, the goal had been 10 days on Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian coast. What beauty… truly stunning. (You should see some of the YouTube videos of their amazing islands and national parks!) Unfortunately, Croatia doesn’t have the easy train connectivity of other European countries, so one can’t simply hop on a train to go from one place to the next. Plus, Croatia seems to be a place best suited to someone outdoorsy, beachy, and/or seriously sportive (the last of which is not me) who is happy to stay in one or two seaside towns/islands, or who can rent a car to go around in-land. That’s not me either. I’m not going through the hassle of getting an International Driver’s License. (Plus, with my luck and terrible sense of direction, I’d end up driving myself off a cliff somewhere in Albania.) So, Croatia will have to wait for another time.

Only a few of Croatian's many, many islands. Source: adriaticprestige.com

Only a few of Croatia’s many, many islands. Source: adriaticprestige.com

Once I decided to stick purely to Italy, the issue was narrowing down where I would go. I’ve been to Florence, Venice, Rome, Milan, Pisa, Genoa, Portofino, and parts on the Amalfi coast in my younger years, but I don’t have a strong adult memory of some of them. I was particularly young when I went to Rome, and all I recall is a massive volley of machine-gun fire ringing out one night when the Red Brigades (Brigate Rossi) shot up something in one of their attacks around the time they kidnapped poor Aldo Moro, Italy’s Prime Minister. Needless to say, I’d like to have a more typical, normal memory of the famous city.

Venice is the place that I recall in greatest detail, so I wanted to focus on the other cities more. Still, I considered spending a few days there and looked for hotels, but I quickly came to the conclusion that one should never be so idiotic as to try to go to Venice at the last minute, at the height of the summer tourist season, and without serious advance planning or a prince’s budget. All that was left 3 weeks in advance were hotel rooms that were either ludicrously expensive, or fleabag horrors from hell (and still not all that affordable at that). After a day of scouring sites and reading reviews, I gave up, deciding that Florence and Rome would be easier, in addition to making more logistical sense given the other places I’d be visiting.

Relais Praxedis hotel room via Expedia.com

Relais Praxedis hotel room via Expedia.com

It took two more days of headaches to find available rooms in suitable, decently located, reasonably priced hotels in either of those cities at the last minute, too, but it finally happened. The one in Rome actually seems too good to be true: the Relais Praxedis is a small townhouse that opened merely a month ago (!!); looks clean, chic, and modern; is very well situated; and is reasonably priced. I’m rather amazed. You should have seen some of the places I read about in Venice for $120-$150 a night: 10 sq. foot hotel rooms with hard, army-style, narrow beds and squashed mosquito stains on the walls, as well as surly service, WiFi in theory or name only, and virtually non-existent air-conditioning.

The Frecciargento (or Silver Arrow), Italy's bullet train. Photo: ltabloid.it

The Frecciargento (or Silver Arrow), one of Italy’s bullet trains. Photo: ltabloid.it

So, for the next week, I have to focus on the rest of the things I need to do in advance. I’ve booked and reserved my tickets for the Italian bullet-trains that I’ll be taking out of the Rome airport to go down South, assuming that I don’t miss them due to flight or customs’ delays (in which case, I’m screwed and the ticket goes out the window, but the alternative was no seat availability whatsoever). The next thing on the agenda is to figure out whether to get an Italian SIM card or a dual American-European one, as well as which company offers the best rates. (Please feel free to offer any suggestions, as my last European trip resulted in a huge AT&T bill, even with an international roaming plan and my using WiFi for the most part.)

There will basically be two 2 legs or stages to my trip, with the first week taken up on something perfume-related that doesn’t require any planning on my part, but it’s the second stage (Florence and Rome) that will take great thought. I tend to plan for trips like a military campaign, so there is a gigantic list of things I need to do. I’ll have 6 days in Florence, but only 3 days in Rome. For the latter, the Vatican and its many museums are much higher on my list than the Coliseum. I mean, look at the photos:

Sistine Chapel. Photo: lcc-aftravel.com

Sistine Chapel. Photo: lcc-aftravel.com

Vatican museum gallery via en.wikipedia.org

Vatican museum gallery via en.wikipedia.org

Vatican Museum _ Cortile della pigna. Photo & Source: http://ourescapades.com/rome-day-2/

Vatican Museum _ Cortile della pigna. Photo & Source: http://ourescapades.com/rome-day-2/

But I also need to figure out some sort of advance ticket situation for the Vatican museums because something I saw on Wikipedia made me gulp. It was a photo of the queue of people waiting to get into the museum. The “panoramic view of one small stretch of the entire queue in April 2007, which continues for some distance in both directions beyond view” was sooooooooooooooo huge, I couldn’t imagine what the complete line must be like. This is one “small” part of it:

vatican museum queue line in 2007

Siena, Italy. Source: languages.utah.edu

Siena, Italy. Source: languages.utah.edu

In terms of Florence, I want to take at least one day trip outside of the city, but should it be purely the Tuscan countryside, or should I try to fit Siena in there on a second day? Given just how many lovely small towns there are in Tuscany, where exactly should I go if I have only a limited amount of time? If any of you have any favorites, please let me know all the details.

I also need to: draft a document of sites to visit in both cities with specific Metro directions for each from my hotel (yes, I am that OCD); figure out any other advance reservations I would need; locate perfume places other than Santa Maria Novella in Florence; and make sure that I have enough extra camera batteries, chargers, and electrical transformers for a small army. Oh, and I must research good foodie sites/ restaurants in each city! Ideally, ones that are not too far from my hotels and that, again, won’t cost a Sultan’s fortune each time.

Somewhere in the midst of all this, I also need to further test perfumes, write some reviews, and finish up all my research for interview questions for an edgy European perfume house founder.

And, naturally, My Teutonic Overlord must be worshiped and taken care of throughout it all. I need to schedule a last-minute vet visit to make sure he’s in a good state before I leave him with my parents with a bag of his meds, toys, and special food. God, I’m not relishing leaving him; he normally spends the first 5 days waiting by the front door for me to return, and my mother has to actually drag him away and force him to eat. After the first few days, he simply goes into a depression, even though he loves both my parents enormously. (He may actually like my father more than me on occasion.) Still, my reception when I come back is always an iffy thing; the first time I left him was for a mere 4 or 5 days, and he refused to have anything to do with me on my return for 3 whole weeks from sheer anger. (That was the first time I ever boarded him, and the absolute last. His Highness clearly holds a grudge if he’s boarded.)

In short, there’s a lot to arrange between now and July 20th when I leave, but I promise to do as many reviews as I can manage in that time, even if they’re more cursory than my usual, exhaustive approach. Hopefully, if the timing and schedule works out, there will also be an interview that I’m excited about because the chap does so much more than just perfume and is a real avant-garde intellectual artist. (He’s also responsible for an incense fragrance that some of you love passionately, but that’s the only hint you’re getting.)

So, if any of you have places, restaurants, or must-see destination spots that you’d recommend in Florence or Rome, please don’t hesitate to let me know. And, if my replies to comments are a little spotty throughout this time, please accept my apologies in advance. I’m a little overwhelmed by how much there is to do. But I’d love to hear what you are all doing this 4th of July weekend, or about your own summer as a whole. Any fun plans?

57 thoughts on “4th of July, Travel Plans & Italy

  1. Have a safe and wonderful trip. I haven’t been back to Italy since 2002 when I went to Rome for a week. Keep meaning to go back but haven’t gotten around to it yet.

  2. I read this with an absolute Cheshire grin on my face as your interary almost matches my own! I’ll be in Tallinn Estonia for a week and then I’m flying to Italy for July 20th- Aug 9th.I’m spending the first 2 weeks in a seaside Tuscan town called Castiglione Della Pescaia.I’ll be in Rome August 1-4th and then I head to visit a friend on Naples for a few days.I spent a few weeks in Tuscany last year and absolutely fell in love.The small medieval towns were so charming.I really enjoyed Lucca with its countless piazzas and charming streets.Siena and Pisa were beautiful as well and for a truly authentic medieval hill town without the tourist crush Volterra was stunning.This trip I hope to visit Montepulciano and Montalcino,Pitigliano,San Gimignano.Pienza and Monteriggioni.Florence is a possibility as well although I think I’d need at least 3-4 days to adequately cover it.Ive rented a convertible so intend to drive all over.If you can swing it having a car is indispensable to visit the smaller towns in Tuscany.I’m pre packing now as I leave in a week and of course my greatest concern is which perfumes to bring This time I have about 20 small atomizers I’ll bring plus a few Arabian Attars.Keep an eye out for the Acqua d’Elba perfume brand in Italy.The line is supposed to capture the spirit of Elba and despite their color and island seaside theme a few are them are quite good.Well let’s keep in touch and if you need any more info I’m happy to share my experiences.Perhaps we’ll bump into each other in Rome or some idyllic medieval hill town.I’ll be the guy with a caffe doppio and wafting an animalic Arabian attar Have a great trip!-Robert

    • Haha, our schedules and itineraries are SO close!!! Gosh, Tallinn…. I’ve heard it’s beautiful, Robert. That should be a fantastic trip. But, seriously, we really are overlapping in some ways. Unfortunately, my Rome dates give me only one day in common with you: August 3rd when I arrive in the city from Florence. I don’t think that would give us any opportunity to meet. But you mentioned San Gimignano, and that is one of the cities that I had my eye on for a trip outside of Florence! It’s either Siena or San Gimignano, unless I end up managing to juggle things so I give 2 days to outside trips. What are your days when you will be in that area? Also, as a side note, do you have an International Driver’s License (and do you drive stick)?

      I envy you the driving/Tuscany thing. I think that sounds like the BEST way to visit. Hey, are you a foodie at all? Even if you’re not, do me a favour and look up Heat on Amazon, if you’re not already familiar with it: http://www.amazon.com/Heat-Adventures-Pasta-Maker-Apprentice-Dante-Quoting/dp/1400034477/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1436128564&sr=1-2&pebp=1436128569027&perid=0P497ZMVDY9640A3X8FJ The first part is a hilarious exploration of an amateur’s time in Mario Batali’s professional kitchen at Babbo, but the whole second part is about Tuscany. The chap learns about pasta then interns with Dario Cecchini, a legendary butcher in the Tuscan town of Panzano: http://www.dariocecchini.com/en/ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/10/06/world/europe/06iht-currents06.html

      I’m not saying you should go see Dario Cecchini in Panzano, but I do think you may enjoy the book (if you haven’t already read it) to take on the plane and, then, perhaps later explore some of the Tuscan places mentioned within since you are driving around.

      So, in terms of your suggestions, would Volterra be higher on your list of places that I should go than, say, Siena or San Gimignano? What made it so special for you and what would you advise? How far is it from Florence, do you recall?

        • Filomena, you’re not helping narrow down my choices! 😉 😀 Teasing aside, it really seems as though I should try to put aside 2 days for outside trips to go to both, but that I should make Siena an absolute definite. I really had no idea it was such a Must-See place!

          • You may even be there for the Palio! There are so many wonderful towns in Tuscany. Piacenza is wonderful also and I once stayed in a suburb of Siena called San Quirco d’Orcia where the flag bearers and drummers practice for the Palio in Siena.

          • Wow, reading up on the Palio was fascinating! I went to this site, http://www.thepalio.com/, and found the centuries-old district rivalries to be so dramatic. Unfortunately, it’s not being held when I’m there, but I would love to see it, and I’m glad you told me about it in general.

            Maybe I should just stick you and a few other readers in my suitcase and take you with me as my guide… 😉 I definitely wish I could steal away Paskale’s Mother-in-Law for all the inside restaurant tips. lol

          • Thank you for sending me the Palio link. It was very interesting. Although I have been to Siena several times, I have never been to the Palio. It would probably be a great experience. Have a wonderful trip and savor every moment.

      • Thanks for the book suggestion! I’m in Tallinn now and enjoying reading Heat as I prepare for my trip to Tuscany.Its funny because a close friend when he heard I would be in Tuscany insisted that I visit Panzano and meet Dario Cecchini.My friend owns several restaurants and dined at Dario Cecchini’s place and said it was a meal and a experience he would never forget .So I may add Panzano to my itinerary .I did get an International Drivers Permit just in case at a AAA in NYC.Ive heard you don’t really need it but decided to get it as I thought there could be an issue renting the car.And yes it’s stick shift all the way for me.I grew up driving one and on the winding Tuscan roads it is the way to go.Automatic rentals are actually more expensive as they are rare in Europe.As for Volterra it is a quintessential medieval hill town without the tourist trappings that you find in San Gimignano.It has a well preserved Roman theater and ancient Etruscan ruins.Its only 30 min drive from San Gimignano so they can easily be visited in the same day.They are both close to Siena as well.Siena is completely different as it is a much larger city with a wealth of architectural sights and artwork.Its definitely a must see but in a different category than the medieval hill towns like Volterra or San Gimignano.Well I’m off to explore the medieval streets of Old Town in Tallinn.Ill be bundled up as it’s somewhat cool here and when I reach Tuscany its will be a shock as the daily temps in the region have been close to 100F!! So have a safe trip,Arrivaderci and talk soon!

  3. Your blog is always such an education. I am so happy that you will have this wonderful journey. Have a terrific time!! I shall look forward to hearing about your trip and to your interview with…(Filippo Sorcinelli?).

    Bon voyage,


    • Thank you, my sweets, for the kind words on the educational aspect of the blog, because I do try to make it different or interesting when I do digress into the occasional personal post. I plan to send you an email, btw, as soon as I come up for air, so thank you for that note in the other thread.

  4. Oh Italy, yes, finally got there from Australia two years ago! My tips….be careful of the organised crime taxi drivers preying on tourists in Rome! The Sistine Chapel is the only art worth bothering about in the Vatican, in fact I was so underwhelmed I wouldn’t bother again.(Fine Arts degree). It’s ranged like the plunder it is, the whole place is amazingly over commercialised considering its a place of worship etc. although the building itself and the crypt with the dead popes is fantastic.Go to the Borghese instead. Then save your Art energy for the Uffizi in the awesome magical Florence. I wept in front of the Botticellis. The best of Rome is the ancient ruins in my opinion, and the Pantheon. But I’m an architecture addict. Siena is the most extraordinary magic haunting place, absolute must. Yes we got the fabulous trains everywhere although apparently the bus is better for Siena. We actually meant to go to Pisa but got on the wrong train, obviously a special twist of fate. Climb up to the top of the church, along the tiny twisting stairs…..
    Perfume…yes, had a detailed itinerary! Campofiri niche chain fantastic…need to check the spelling….about five of them in Rome. We discovered Cherry too, the lady in there was awesome and gave my daughter a tester of Red Oud…on the walk back from Villa Borghese down to the centre of Rome where we stayed. I adored Profvmvm Roma, now consider it the Palais Royal of Italy. But I was sick with something really bad I caught on the 30 hour haul from Oz and my smell was gone. You can get the little 20 ml bottles of their gorgeous frags there.
    We went in November because Australia is so hot and its a novelty to go to beautiful cooler climates in the off season!
    Already have plans to go back, magic…..enjoy :):):):)

    • This was fantastic, Marion, and SO helpful! So, can you explain more about the Vatican Museums and what you meant by “It’s ranged like the plunder it is”? (LOL at the “plunder” comment. Heh. You’re right.) But was it the organisational hodge-podge layout which disappointed you on an aesthetic level, or something else (beyond the general over-commercialisation)? Thank you for the suggestion of the Borghese, by the way, as I had hesitated whether it was worth trying to squeeze in with so little time.

      As for Florence, I smiled at how much the Botticellis got to you, because they are magnificent. In all honesty, I found them much more moving than David. I’ve been told my views on David are “heresy,” lol, but it never really did much for me. I can see the historical and artistic significance, the accomplishment of achieving it, but David…. eh. *shrug* I know, I know, I’m a philistine. 😉

      So, what made Siena “the most extraordinary magic haunting place” for you? It’s really hard narrowing down where to go outside of Florence, given how much the city itself offers, so I keep hesitating as to whether to carve out 2 days for outside trips or just 1. The more information I get from others, the easier it is for me to decide, so I’d be grateful for whatever details you can share.

      BTW, Cherry seems to get a number of votes from other readers as a good perfume place to go in Rome, so I will definitely put it on my list.

      • Well..heh…I am an avowed feminist pagan, so my views re the Vatican may be a leeetle coloured!! But, yes, it is more like a museum than a dedicated Art gallery, a huge storehouse if you will, without a great sense of careful curation showing off the really fine works. We were unbelievably lucky with the Sistine, going in the off season and carefully perusing advice on tripadvisor regarding times so we didn’t get caught in crowds. We were able to go in, sit down, and really meditate on the awe and beauty of it in the way the sublime Michaelangelo perhaps meant, with only a handful of other people in there.
        Oh, Siena. I actually had an almost out of body type experience there…once again, the off season and no crowds, only a handful of tourists….we found ourselves walking down one of the old alleyways, completely alone….I found myself time travelling back to the fourteen hundreds when the plague was raging, it was one of those freaky flashes….what it must’ve been like in this beautiful proud place, with its religion and power brokers. It barely recovered, the cathedral, amazing, is in suspended animation, a huge wing incomplete. The town square, paved like a giant wave of terracotta is jawdropping ….o Kafka you MUST go to Siena!!!
        Yes, heh, Florence certainly got plenty of mileage out of David! He is adorable, but there are about four of him around the place.
        Another place I liked in Florence was the Boboli Gardens behind the…that huge palace, gosh, the Pitti? Across the bridge. Florence, one of the great wonders of the world, and so small and accessible, we felt like it was home after living in a self catering apartment, shopping, walking, gelato ing etc. yes we went to the market mentioned above. But Aussies cannot bring food into the country because of our strict quarantine…the mounds of dried porcini, the deliriously beautiful buffalo mozzarella, the truffled sausage, the drool drool drool….we just had to make the most of it while we were there!!! Travel safely :):):)

  5. I couldn’t believe your post today about your much needed vacation as I was talking to an acquaintance earlier today who is doing his internship in Florence for an architectural firm-he’s an architect major. He’ll be there for four months. Croatia looks
    stunning. Give me beaches and I’m happy. When I get to go to Europe I would probably opt for the Intern’l driver’s license because I love driving and have a very good sense of direction. Relais Praxedis looks very chic indeed. Just make sure you have your camera equipment functioning. I think I would cry if I went to take once-in-a-lifetime photos only to have malfunctioning camera equipment. If you come across a really nice ‘rose’ frag, let me know. 😀

    As for that incense, I think I know which one. Haha.
    My insomnia has been atrocious lately so I’ll be going through various perfume sites to build my sample stock back up. I am empty! Boring w/o them. I think I have an addiction problem but will not go to Perfume Fumeheads Anonymous.

    I’m sure you’re having a great weekend K. Cheers.

    • I hope your insomnia gets better, and that you find some good perfume samples to occupy you in the meantime. 🙂

      • Thanks. My insomnia comes and goes. I’ll let you know what samples I choose. 😉

  6. Have a wonderful holiday,dear Franz !!!
    I hope som native Italians will chime in with expert’s recommendations. I love Rome, where I was mostly just walking around with no special target and still experienced the most breathtaking art, views, architecture, food, etc. Thankfully no shooting during any of my visits there. Venice is one of my favorites in Italy – but not during this time of the year, the heat doesn’t suite Venice, that old lady. Florence is magic – and Siena too, I’d definitely recommend a trip there. which is easy by train from Florence. I hope we’ll be able to read about your adventures after your return.

    Hopefully your Shepherd is well and going to be a bit more tolerant to you this time (my cats always hated when I went away – and for five weeks now I’ve had a new findling…)

    Take care and enjoy !

    • I can imagine that Venice might not smell all that great in the summer heat. LOL. But I wouldn’t have minded seeing Venice in the sun. Whenever I’ve gone there, it was raining and grey. Not the best look for the old girl.

      So, another vote for Siena. What did you like so much about the city, Mi’Lady? I’m having a devil of a time narrowing down where to go for my outside-Florence excursions. So many wonderful towns, so little time.

      • It was the atmosphere of Siena, Franz. It was full of old treasures, and young people. I felt instantly well. I can get all sentimental, when walking along those ancient paths in Rone, Venice, Florence, Siena (or even in Ferrara), so you better shouldn”t listen to me…

  7. Hi there – very envious of all of your travel this summer. I visited Florence in November last year having been a few times in the past with my sons and then with a girlfriend. In November, I stayed near the Ponte Vecchio in a beautiful courtyarded hotel, completed hidden from the street by a heavy wooden door. Perfumeries to visit include SMN, Farmaccia SS Annunziata on the Via dei Servi, 80R, where they will decant their fragrances into 20ml atomisers from large urns, if you wish. Otherwise, they have the full range of perfumes, shower gels, soaps, etc. The Avery is a beautiful perfume house that I stumbled upon stocking a large range, including BTV, Venezia Profumo, a huge range of Montale and much more. The building is incredibly old with some original frescoes in the crypt and the main shop at Borgo degli Albizi 70/r. There was another perfumery which I couldn’t find when I set out first thing in the morning. Avery directed me back to the same location I had tried that morning saying that they opened at 10. when I returned I found it. Again, it had been hidden behind huge wooden doors. Ollfatorio at the very smart Via de Tornabuoni 6 – opposite Tiffany. They have Liquides Imaginaires, TDC and much more. finally, one tiny pharmacy – Profumerie Aline at Via dei Calzaioli, 7-R that had a huge range, including Laboratorio Olfacttivo and Bruno Acampora. Don’t forget the San Lorenzo market – ye Gods, how many bags did I carry back from there! Wonderful dried mushrooms and hunks of stunning parmesan cheese. There is also a fab food market in the Piazza Santa Maria Novella, steps away from my hotel. It was on Weds – Sat when I was there, but I don’t know if this is a regular thing. I’m like you re organisation: I plot my routes on Google maps and follow on my phone. Invaluable for bringing you back en route when you have diverted off after spying some treasure down a back alley! Anyway, Kafka, have a wonderful time, and have great fun in your first week :).

    • This was SUPER, Jane! You gave actual street addresses, bless you! THANK YOU!!!!!

      I had totally forgotten that Farmacia SS Annunziata had its own store there, and the news that they sell 20 ml decants there is so exciting. I can get Ambra Nera in a more practical size. YAY! I haven’t tried the Venezia Profumo line, so thank you for telling me about that one. As for the San Lorenzo market, you’ll probably laugh but I actually hadn’t given a single thought to it, or even shopping/leather/bags as a whole. The Ponte Vecchio, yes, but San Lorenzo hadn’t crossed my mind, but you’re right, I should check out it out. In all honesty, the sound of the food market made me sit up more.

      How I wish I could do all my navigation, mapping, and street plotting on the phone with Google maps like you did, but the US Cellphone carriers basically ask you to give up a kidney with roaming data charges. At least, mine does, so I have to prepare all this ahead of time as a result.

      Seriously, THANK YOU for all the street addresses. I can’t tell you how helpful that is. It gives me a starting point in mapping out my meanderings so that I don’t waste time getting ridiculously lost and can squeeze in the maximum amount of things in a short time. I appreciate your tips so much. Street addresses….. YEAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! 😀

      • Haha, glad to be helpful. Re WiFi: I don’t roam and switch off my cellular service when away from home. Central Florence now has open free WiFi so you can use Google maps without charges. Have a wonderful time, and haggle over prices for leather goods for your life!

      • Another thought, there are also many fine aka authentic gelateria, and others that are poor immitations. Perche No! at Via dei Tavolini 19r, Gelataria Carabe at Via Ricasoli, 60 and Gelateria dei Neri at Via dei Neri, 26 were pretty spectacular.

        • Oh, that Gelateria (dei Neri) is unforgettable, indeed ! Probably not the most important info but very plrasant, nevertheless

  8. As with you, my memories of Italy are a little dated. But I don’t think I have any bad ones. Such a wonderful country to visit! Siena is gorgeous! With the time you have in Florence I personally would stay busy there as so much is worth real time. And the shopping is beautiful too!
    Can’t wait for photos! And have a great trip!!!

    • Thank you, Megan! I’m excited, too. So another vote for Siena. My word, I had no idea the place was such a hit. lol. I appreciate the tip, because narrowing things down amongst the wealth of choices and lovely towns has been hard. But it’s a great dilemma to have! 😀

  9. L’Orso 80 in Rome for terrific antipasti, Ristorante Natalino in Florence for a great meal (I still dream about the pear and Gorgonzola pasta I had there). Somebody sent me a link to Aqua Flor Firenze and I was so bummed I wasn’t into perfume at the time of my trip because it looks pretty cool: http://www.florenceparfum.com/?page=gallery. Bon voyage!! Tell us all about your journey when you are back! 😀

    • Oh, AquaFlor looks SOOOOOOOOOO cool!!! Every part of it, but especially the room full of essence….more than 1500, wowza! And they seem to have a huge range of fragrances, with Habana and the Sultan one catching my eye. Thank you so much for the tip, my dear, as well as for the food suggestions. I love the fact that you still dream of the pasta dish you had at Ristorante Natalino, because that is the sign of a truly memorable, great place. Only food prepared with love, care, quality, and attention can have such an impact, just like perfume. So, all three of your names are going on my list. I really appreciate it!

      • Right?!? 😀 I’ll live vicariously through you if you get to go. If I ever get back to Firenze it will be one of my first stops. 🙂 As for Natalino, it was a recommendation from the concierge at the hotel I stayed at and he was dead on–so good! And our waiter was lovely, just impeccable service. I hope if you go you have just as enchanting an experience. Have a wonderful trip!!

  10. La Nuova Campania, an Hostaria in Rome near the Pantheon owned by two brothers, Enrico and Vittorio. It’s located at Piazza Delle Coppelle 8, Roma; Telephone 0606.688.03.921. They are on Facebook. Buon appetito!

  11. Also, for perfume in Firenze, you must visit Santa Maria Novella at Via della Scala 16 (near the train station). Even if you have already been there, it is worth an additional visit. You can also check them out on line, but I’m sure you already have.

    • Oh, Santa Maria Novella was the first thing on my non-museum list for Florence, believe me! LOL. I’ve written quite a bit about the company, its Florentine rooms, its history, and its scents, so having the chance to go there in person will mean a lot to me. In fact, I think SMN was the only specific Florentinian thing I mentioned in this post. Heh. 😀

  12. I had suggested Florence for August but my troupe said no. Too hot for my dad. Instead I’m doing Lebanon for 10 days with friends, then two weeks in Scotland with my parents brother and partner. None of us have ever been, weather is cool and my parents are finally well enough for a fun trip. We all want time together without anyone having responsibilities around. So if anyone reads this and has Scottish or Lebanese perfume stores to recommend, please do!
    Back to Florence. My mother in law is an artist and spent a lot of time there. She’s also a foodie. If your mother is perfume snob #1, my mother in law is food snob #1 incl being known to walk into the kitchen and chatting with the chef about what he could have done better or asking for his ingredients list. My reactions to this the first times aside, she recommended these two spots to eat in Florence: Trattorio Sostanza and Trattoria 13 Gobbi. She’s rifling through her notes and if she finds anything else I’ll be back on here.

      • Thank you for the confirmation, and also for letting me know which of the two restaurants you yourself prefer. That’s a big help in terms of knowing which one I should try to make advance reservations for!

        • Sostansa is actually a Florentime steakhouse but the chicken dis is sublime (or at least was the last time I was there). As an aside, quite a few years back all the waiters and cooks bought it from the original owner.

    • Scotland…. I’m so envious. I had considered it for myself this summer, before other things made me focus on Italy. Where are you going in Scotland? One of my readers, and a friend, 2TwoaHorse, goes to Scotland regularly, though I don’t think he’s ever once focused on perfume stores when there, as he goes more to the countryside or islands. Perhaps you can look up his comments in the June Grab Bag, write to him, see if he gets notification of your reply, and can give you some Scotland tips? As a side note, won’t Lebanon be very hot in August? I mean, I understand it’s your father who has the heat issue, but it should be quite sticky and hot for you and your friends there, too.

      Your Mother-in-Law sounds like my kind of woman, and I beg of you to thank her on my behalf for the Florence restaurant tips! I’ve already looked up both of them on Google maps in relation to my hotel, and they aren’t too far away. They’re certainly quite close to each other, mere doors apart on the Via del Porcellana. I did a quick search for what is said about each restaurant, and both seem to be enormously popular with raves about the food. But they also both seem to be extraordinarily busy restaurants where reservations are highly required but not necessarily easy to get. Especially for dinner. But I will be sure to try to stop by for lunch, when the two places seem to have more openings. I’m reluctant to make actual dinner reservations, simply because I don’t know what my schedule is going to be like at this point, but I will look into both restaurants further.

      Again, please tell her thank you. And if she has any tips for good restaurants in Rome near the Via Veneto, I’m all ears!

    • Paskale, I have always wanted to go to Scotland since I was 9. Fascinating
      history and people.

  13. Good morning!

    Jane EP has Firenze about covered. L’Olfattorio were very welcoming, when I visited in 2012 and 13. There is another place, a little bit more of a walk, on Via Pietrapiana, called L’Oprofumo, which is incredibly well stocked, though the gentleman there had little English (and I only halting Italian) – but it’s amazing what a shared knowledge and passion can achieve!
    As for Roma, I love it as much as Paris in a way. It doesn’t have the House shops that Paris does, but it does have so many fragrance shops, everything from the apothecary’s cabinet style stores like Cherry (Via Francesco Crispi 73) to the elegant salon of Campo Marzio at Via Vittoria, and Profumerie Helen (Via Lombardia 22) not too far from the Villa Borghese gardens.
    You probably know what I mean when I say that our eyes become attuned to the glint of glass, to amber liquid within crystal: we can’t not notice the form of small bottles, displayed in shop windows. And one such walking discovery was a sweet, small shop on Via di Ripetta, called Silvera, which stocked some harder to find Italian brands. I bought Caldo Legnoso by Officina delle Essence, a beautiful warm woody affair.

    I find Roma a very good walking city, so I’d recommend just ambling: down Via del Governo Vecchio, coming off of Piazza Navona, then across to Campo de’ Fiori…
    But you’ll be loaded with advice, and there’ll be too many places to visit.

    Have a lovely trip, a fragrant reverie, and I’ll look forward to your recollections when you return.

    • Lee, you’re another gem with your names and some specific addresses. Thank you!! Everyone seems to love Cherry, so that is definitely going on my list. And all these specialised, in-the-know Italian brands that one never hears about in America, like Officina delle Essence and the ones mentioned by Jane EP! I do know exactly what you mean when you talk about our eyes becoming attuned to the glint of glass and ambered liquids within. That’s so true for perfumistas. Our eyes will make us do a double-take at something that others will simply glance at and dismiss. For us, it holds such a wealth of promise and meaning.

      I looked up Silvera to get a sense of its location in Rome vis-à-vis my hotel near the Via Veneto, and it’s not close, but your description makes it sound enchanting. I will put it on my list. Again, thank you for the suggestions and tips. You, like so many of my other wonderful readers, have been so helpful and kind. I really appreciate it.

      • Via Ripetta is one of the three streets coming off Piazza del Popolo. Central Rome, say between the Vittorio Emmanuele Monument and P. del Popolo is very walkable, and mostly quite flat (though the cobbles can be treacherous). Cherry is on the way up a hill. You may find the proprietor is having coffee in the café across the road, and she’ll come scurrying across when she sees you. I have mixed feelings about Cherry – it is jam packed with delights, but there is a certain conspicuous theatricality to the hostess, the diva in her salon… there is an interesting attitude, shall we say. That said, she knows everyone, it seems.
        Silvera is also small, but sparer and more minimal.
        Missing Campo Marzio on Via Vittoria would be like missing Jovoy in Paris; see if you can find yourself a way upstairs to the exclusives room. The host at the time, Fabrizio Di Liello, was kind enough to take me up there, in 2013, and I did buy a Xerjoff coffret set.

  14. Farmacia SS. Annunziata is in Firenze
    Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561,
    Via dei Servi, 80/R 50122 (Fi) ,
    Tel +39 055 210 738
    I recommend a daytrip to Perugia or Assisi, both are beautiful umbrian towns with several interesting places to visit – and they should be easily reachable by train/bus.
    Also, Pisa is interesting to see – simply because of their torre pendente.

  15. Husband and I spent almost a month in Italy a few years ago. Venice, Florence, Tuscany, Rome. Fabulous sights, people, food, wine… ahhhhhh!

    – Vatican Museum: it will be very crowded. Definitely get advance tickets, they will enable you to walk past the mile long (I am NOT exaggerating) line to get tickets. The Vatican Museum website is easy to navigate: http://mv.vatican.va/3_EN/pages/MV_Home.html

    – Florence Museums: Ask your hotel to pre-book tickets for you. Having advance tickets is very worthwhile, but from here I found it impossible to tell which websites were for real and which were scams. So I asked the owner of our B&B to book them for me, which worked like a charm. Can be done for both the Ufizzi and the Accademia.

    – We fell in love with pietra dura while we were in Florence. The Medici family chapel is truly astounding, and there’s a school/museum near the Accademia – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Opificio_delle_pietre_dure

    – Eat lots of gelato :^)

    – Just ask your hotel owner/concierge for restaurant recommendations, that usually works well for us. And the house wine will usually be quite good.

    – Oh, and an international driver’s license is not necessary, if you want to rent a car in Italy. If you really want one, just go to AAA and they’ll produce one — it’s just a paper card. It does help if you can drive a stick shift though, since automatics are uncommon and much more expensive than sticks. We mostly took bullet trains around Italy (as you are doing) but we rented a car in Florence and drove around Tuscany… lovely. Btw you can pre-book a car from here, most of the big car rental agencies (Avis, Hertz, etc) are there too.

    – Take paper printouts of every reservation, email trail, etc. Bureaucrats love paperwork. I was amused at how often someone would take my proferred 6-page email printout, peruse it carefully, then stamp it with some official stamp :^)

    Have a great time!!

  16. I am so envious. We spent our honeymoon in Florence many years ago, with plans to rake several day trips, but Florence was so wonderful that the day trips never happened. There was so much art to see that we were never willing to leave, even for a day. It was late September and several evenings we ate great big gorgeous porcini mushrooms from the little grocery across the street, sliced and seared in the tiny kitchen of the apartment that we rented. We have geriatric parents and dogs now and won’t be leaving the country any time soon, but I would love to go back to Florence, especially in porcini season.

  17. Hi,
    –Roma have an incredible number of antiquities monuments,churches, museums,ecc.( but is a bit “caos city”, big traffic).

    —Firenze,ok, fantastic ( Firenze are at 30-40 minutes near heart of coltivation zone of the best iris in the world, in Chianti and Valdarno/Pratomagno zone (San Polo in Chianti and Greve in Chianti, Valdiscò and Castelfranco in Valdarno / Pratomagno) https://mauriziovernini.wordpress.com/
    In July and August, farmers are in full working with the orris root (rhizome)
    contact:Associazione Toscana Giaggiolo ,Castelfranco di Sopra, tel. 055 914 7084

    —Siena is very very beautiful,worthy

    —Assisi and San Gimignano are two jewels, but a little village,not a city.

    Attention to theft

    Good travel
    Excuse me for my bad english

    • Geco, please accept my deepest apologies for taking so long to reply. I’ve been running around like crazy to prepare for the trip, but I so greatly appreciated your note, advice, and suggestions. Also, please let me welcome you to the blog, and say how kind it was of you to give me some tips. I have arranged a trip to Siena and San Gimignano and, thanks to your comment about theft, ordered a money belt to wear under clothes. I’m afraid I won’t have time to go to the iris centers in Chianti, but I really enjoyed reading about the places, so thank you for the links!

      Rome does, indeed, seem chaotic. I actually spent 4 stressful days trying to get a tour to see the Colosseum’s underground and uppermost tiers, available only by tour, but it seems that the ONE day I’ve got free for the Colosseum is the ONE day that they are closing the underground in order to do work on some new area. AGH! So, I just booked an advance ticket for that and will see as much as I can by myself. I’ve also arranged for advance tickets for the Vatican Museum, and trying to figure out directions to places so I don’t get too lost. Heh.

      Anyway, THANK YOU for your tips and suggestions. I just wish I could fit in Assisi and more of Chianti. And, again, I’m sorry for the time it took me to reply.

      • Hi Kafk,
        no problem for time to reply. good holiday ! If you want other informations i’m available,ciao

  18. Just popping by quickly to wish you a pleasant journey! Have lots of fun and don’t let the crazy European heatwave get on your nerves! Happy to hear the hairy German is better! I’m boiling right now and so I’m marinating in Montecristo. If you can fight the heat, go with it. And smell divine!

  19. Rome is indeed chaotic but it is interesting chaos, full of beautiful people, shops, buildings, great ristorantes, ostarias and trattorias…crazy traffic. You will not be bored!

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