Trip Recap (finally)

Here is the long-awaited summary of trip.  Sadly, the two documents that created this were done by October 18, but we never got around to combining them and getting this done.  To the two of you that made comments to us about, “Where is your summary?”, we thank you for your interest and patience.

Our perspective on places we visited/Pros-Cons for each location

Como (likely would not visit again)
Pros: Lake is beautiful, very nice place to relax for the first few days after arriving; Bellagio is the “happening” spot; great lunch at Ristorante la Punta
Cons: Didn’t see that there was much to do other than the lake (this could be perfect for others)

Reggio Emilia (likely would not visit again)
Pros: Excellent dinner at Tabarin Osteria; easy access to Parma and Modena; nice boutiques (closed from noon-15:00); multi-block night street market
Cons: This is a very small and quiet community with little to do after dark

Bologna (absolutely would return)
Pros: Vibrant city, excellent nightlife, wonderful food, relatively close to Modena
Cons: Don’t really have any

Florence (absolutely would return)
Pros: Great city for all the visual items (museums, churches, etc.), nice food, Market Centrale is great
Cons: Lots of people

Orvieto (absolutely would return)
Pros: Jim/Anne, the Duomo is spectacular, lots of dining options, ex-pat community
Cons: Very small, not a lot to do

Rome (probably would not visit again … three times is enough. We certainly would not stay in Trastevere, again)
Pros: So much history to see, excellent food
Cons: Lots of people; pickpocket concerns; lots of graffiti

Ripabottoni (likely would not visit again)
Pros: Small, quiet community, phenomenal dinner at Nonna Maria; it was great to get a feeling for where Dave’s paternal great-grandmother grew up
Cons: Not much of anything to do as a tourist

Siena (would definitely return here)
Pros: Relatively small, but lots to see; good food
Cons: Things seemed to close early (even by our standards)

Cinque Terra (having experienced this, we likely would not return.)
This was a great place for us to visit, but we just don’t feel like we need to do it again. But, if we did, we would not stay in Corniglia.
Pros: Beautiful setting, five unique towns, excellent lunches at Trattoria dal Billy in Manorola and Ristorante La Torre in Vernazza
Cons: Corniglia was a little too quiet; hiking can be a bit strenuous … seems like the hikes between the southern cities may be less challenging

Torino (would definitely return; would spend more time in Aosta, need to time better for visiting the Alps in Breuil)
Pros: Vibrant city, excellent access to Aosta Valley
Cons: Not a con, but it was too easy to stay in the area of the apartment, need to venture out further

Mango (would definitely return to the area, like still rural, but closer to Bra or Alba)
Pros: Wine, vineyards, small towns to explore, friendly bar in Mango
Cons: Mango is in the middle of nowhere, no dining in Mango, need to plan ahead for dining better

Milan (probably would return)
Pros: Duomo, lots to do, cooking class
Cons: Big city, need to better plan what to do and where to go

Favorite accommodation: Mango/Alba; huge home, comfortable furniture, nice setting; better wi-fi would be nice
Least favorite accommodation (Okay, really the only horrid accommodation): First apartment in Torino; very small, no sitting area, just a bed, no kitchen to speak of either

Some general observations about Italy

  • They have no Kleenex and napkins do not soak things up as they are waxy-worthless
  • Cover charge just to sit at table (maybe get bread that you don’t really want)
  • Tourist women dress for comfort rather than style
  • Buy beer in grocery rather than bar
  • Buy toiletries and other consumables after you arrive
  • Grocery stores were Conad, Co-op, Aldi, and PAM
  • Italians are trusting, friendly people, but be very careful with your items in larger cities, in particular, because of the risk of pickpocketing (we were aware of one incident in the Rome train station … hold bags close/tightly when on/off bus or train)

Packing and travel thoughts

  • Two pairs of shoes were one pair too many for Dave.  He did not need the “dressy” shoes he took. His new hiking shoes would have been fine.
  • Need to think of the trip as 10 four-day trips, not a 40-day trip (took too many things that could be washed overnight)
  • Small roll along was great for trains
  • First class train probably only needed for long trips or busy lines when traveling with suitcases
  • Driving is an exciting experience; Waze was very accurate

Some recommendations

  • Recommend having Google Maps for walking around
  • Highly recommend having Google Translate on your phone (took translation books that should have been left at home)
  • Take not so nice clothes in case want to swap out for something new and you need to create space in your suitcase
  • Dave found that he took too many electronic items
    • Didn’t need laptop and tablet
    • Didn’t need DSLR camera because of phone (quality might be better with the DSLR, but didn’t need to carry it)
  • If you are staying in an Airbnb:
    • We made sure there was at least a washer; in that case, you can pack less clothing
    • Pack heavy socks or slippers, if your feet get cold, since there weren’t many rugs and carpet in the Airbnb
  • Place any meds you have in small mesh/plastic bags to save space.
  • Dave recommends this converter … it has two US outlets and four USB ports. With two of them, you are really well covered, even in this world of multiple electronic devices. (
  • Oh, and have the gelato

If you have any questions about why we said things about a certain area, observations,or recommendations, please drop us a note.

5 thoughts on “Trip Recap (finally)

  1. I can’t wait to go back. We went in Oct 2022 for my birthday. My family just fell in love with Italy and the people there. My family on my Mom’s side came from Catanzaro, Italy. When we visited we stayed in Rome. Our next trip is going to be a long one like yours to decide where to live when we retire. Thank you so much for writing about Italy it makes me smile.


      1. Unfortunately she wasn’t able to go with us. However, if you look at the photo on left I would call her through face book video messenger. So I would show her all of Rome and the Vatican, Paris , and London. She would say “You don’t need to be on here with me. You should just be enjoying the sites. ” I would tell her that bring her with me was the best part. Truly, being able to have her with me was the best.


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