Saturday, April 21, 2007

Italy - final thoughts

Italy was a lot of fun. One of the reasons we chose Italy was the variety of things to do - museums, ruins, good food, shopping, hikes. But it was also very expensive and not a relaxing vacation at all. If you are looking for something affordable, or looking to come back well rested, pick somewhere else.

There were also a couple of myths we had heard about Italy that we're dis-proven:

Myth - All the food in Italy is great.
Truth - There is plenty of mediocre, and even bad food, in Italy - even if you avoid the "tourist trap" type places. We didn't end up getting consistently good food until we started following recommendations rather than trying to pick all our own restaurants. If you are coming from someplace where it is harder to get high quality, fresh food, then Italy might be better on average, but we come from someplace with lots of great food available and nothing we had in Italy was better than what we can get around here and a lot of it was worse.

Myth - Everyone in Italy dresses very well, compared to America.
Truth - We saw a lot of very casually, very plainly dressed Italians. Even when they were more dressed up, it often wasn't in a good way. Current fashion trends in Italy seem to be jean jackets, fancy belts with big belt buckles and large, bug-eyed sunglasses.

Guide books we used:

For the general trip, we used Rick Steves' Italy 2007. This is a pretty good book. It covers the important sites well and gives nice summaries for each area and city. In addition, the recommendations are better than some of the other books I've seen. We tried one of the hotel recommendations and a number of the restaurant recommendations and they were all very good. The maps included are good for high level navigation but are best combined with a more detailed map if you are looking for anything specific.

Since we were in Rome for four days, we decided we needed more details for that part of the trip. We bought a copy of Frommer's Rome (2007 Edition) when we got there. It has some good recommended walks throught the city and a nice included map. The recommended restaurants we tried weren't as good as the ones recommneded by Rick Steves.

Amazon Links:
Rick Steves' Italy 2007
Frommer's Rome

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