Venice Hotels Articles

August 12, 2010

Italy – The luxury travellers choice

Rome – ‘The city of Ceasars, romance and la dolce vita’ – A.Moreton.

Rome was not built in a day and has the spectacular treasures to prove it. Rome has provided the pretty backdrop to many a Hollywood movie: Three Coins In The Fountain, Seven Hills of Rome and Roman Holiday to name but three.

It’s the city of the Caesars, of romance, the city of la dolce vita and long sunny days, the city of endless art, churches and museums, fountain-splashed piazzas and majestic monuments to its golden age of empire. Those monuments will already be familiar to many – the Colosseum, the Trevi Fountain, St Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel. But one of the greatest pleasures of exploring Rome is the number of times you stumble across hidden corners, wonderful viewpoints, evocative street scenes and touching vignettes of daily life.

The ancient town of Tivoli is the most popular one-day excursion from Rome. Some 20 miles from the city centre, it’s known for two main sights, the Villa d’Este, a Renaissance villa celebrated for its
Gardens, and the Villa Adriana , a vast villa and grounds created by the Emperor Hadrian.

Trains run from main termini to Tivoli, but this can be a slow journey.

Buses depart every 10 or 20 minutes from the Ponte Mammolo Metro station (Line B). The journey time is 50 minutes. If you have time to spare, Frascati offers a cool, calm retreat from Rome’s heat and hustle.

The Villa Aldobrandini was built at the end of the 16th century and was one of the few old buildings to survive the bombing during 1943 and 1944 that destroyed 80 percent of old Frascati. The villa itself is closed to the public, but some of the grounds are open and offer excellent views of Rome in the hazy distance. Trains depart from main termini every hour and the journey takes 30 minutes.

Helpful Hints about Rome

Language
Italian is delightfully easy on the ear and relatively easy to learn. A few polite phrases might break the ice. Try Buongiorno (Good morning) or Bueno sera (Good evening). Come sta? (How Are You?) or Quanto costa? (How much?)

Currency and Tipping
The Italians use the Euro, made up of 100 cents. Tipping is not expected for all services, and rates are lower than those elsewhere. As a general guide, cabs: round up to the nearest 50 cents; restaurants: around 2 Euros 50; porters: 1 Euro a bag.

Dress Code
Rome can be extremely uncomfortable in the high summer, with temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius in July and August. Light clothes and sensible planning will prevent you becoming hot and bothered in the Roman fray. Top restaurants might demand formal dress for dinner, but for the majority, it’s smart casual.

Safety
Rome is generally safe, but take precautions. Pickpockets are the main worry so carry money and valuables in a belt or pouch, wear your camera, leave valuables and jewellery in the hotel safe and avoid gangs of street children.

Travel
Many of Rome’s sights can be visited on foot – there are organised walks taking in monuments and other places of interest on the way. There’s also a small, efficient (but crowded) subway system that will take you to the outskirts of the city.

Hotels
There are hundreds of Rome Luxury Hotels available so shop around online for your favourite.

Venice – ‘A city built on water with unequalled beauty, which was once the World’s greatest trading empire…’

Nothing quite prepares you for Venice. You can read about it, see film of it and listen to people enthuse about it, but only when you’re actually on the Grand Canal with the wind in your hair watching a Venetian sunset will you fall under its magical spell.
This is truly a place like no other – a city built on water, where the main streets are canals; there’s traffic, but not as we know it. It’s also a city rich in art, sculpture and music. But there are many other faces to Venice.

The shopping here is as good as anywhere in Italy with all the designer names, as well as crafts such as jewellery, glass and fabrics. There are chic bars and a vibrant nightlife and little surprises round every corner. Wander from your intended route and you could find yourself in a small but beautiful piazza – there might be a little restaurant, a chapel or a shop selling Carnival masks. This is a city for art-lovers and romantics … and anyone who wants a brief escape from the age of the automobile.

The main trips out from the city of Venice are to the islands of Murano and Burano. Murano is like a miniature version of Venice itself, but with more modest palaces and fewer churches. Everything here revolves round the glass manufacturing industry which has been established here since 1292.

A visit to the Glass Museum or one of the many galleries is well worthwhile. Visitors to Murano might like to visit Burano on the same day. This has traditionally been a lace-making centre and the houses here are painted in a rainbow of blue, red, peppermint, russet and yellow – colours that are attractively reflected in the waters of the canals. Both islands are reached by waterbus – the journey’s about 40 minutes.

Helpful Hints about Venice

Language
Italian, with a Venetian accent. Italian is delightfully easy on the ear and relatively easy to learn. A few polite phrases might break the ice. Try Buongiorno (Good morning) or Bueno sera (Good evening). Come sta? (How Are You?) or Quanto costa? (How much?)

Currency and Tipping
The Italians use the Euro, made up of 100 cents. Tipping is not expected for all services, and rates are lower than those elsewhere. As a general guide, gondolas and water taxis: between 5 and 10 per cent; restaurants: around 2 Euros 50; porters: 1 Euro a bag.

Dress Code
Summer isn’t necessarily the best time to visit Venice. Apart from the crowds of tourists, the air can be unpleasantly humid. But if you are there in July or August, light cotton clothes would be ideal, with some warm jumpers for evenings on the canals. Good walking shoes are a must.

The best time to visit is from late April to early July. In the late spring, it rains less often, the air is mild and the long days allow you to dine out of doors in the light of the setting sun. If you time your visit to coincide with the famous Carnival (February), remember that the Adriatic coast is often cold and windswept. Take coat, gloves and rainwear. And in the winter and autumn (fall), remember that high tides can cause some flooding of piazzas, so make sure your shoes are fully waterproofed! Except in the very best restaurants, smart-casual is the accepted dress code.

Safety
Venice is not a dangerous city, apart from pickpockets in the most touristy areas. The usual precautions apply: carry money and valuables in a belt or pouch, wear your camera and leave valuables and jewellery in the hotel safe.

Travel
Venice itself is not so big and the best way to explore it is on foot. A good map is essential and it’s useful to locate and remember a few landmarks like the Rialto Bridge and St Mark’s Square to help you get your bearings. If you do want to go farther afield, you can either take the vaporetto or the motoscafo. The former is big and rather slow, but offers fine vistas of Venice from its open deck. The latter is low over the water and faster, with a smaller deck. You can use it to go to the islands of the lagoon. The Venice Public Transportation company, ACTV, has a useful website with full details of fares, routes and times

Hotels
A huge selection of Venice Luxury Hotels available so shop around online to find the one that suits your needs.

Florence – ‘Located in the heart of Tuscany, Florence is considered the birth place of the Renaissance…’

Few nations, let alone cities, can boast of having nurtured such a remarkable heritage of artistic, literary, scientific and political talent as Florence, or Firenze. The roll call of artists and writers who lived and worked in the city is extraordinary – Dante, Donatello, Botticelli, Michelangelo and Machiavelli, to name but a few.

Renaissance Florence remains very much intact and in evidence at every turn. However, its historic palaces, great churches, exquisite sculptures and countless other works of art are not crumbling relics but still a vivid and functional part of everyday life – worked in, lived in, prayed in, prized by present-day Florentines and accessible to all.

Florence is far from being austere and haughty. Alongside the museums, art galleries and historic churches there are designer shops, beautiful piazzas, chic restaurants and cutting-edge clubs. It’s a city of a thousand secrets.

Independent travel to nearby cities is easy. Regional train and bus services cover the whole of Tuscany. Take the No 7 bus from Santa Maria Novella railway station for the little hill-top town of Fiesole for an escape from the city’s summer heat and wonderful views over Florence and the Arno Valley.

Roughly 50 miles west of Florence lies Pisa, the birthplace of Galileo and home of the fabled leaning tower. It can be reached by train from Florence’s mainstation, Santa Maria Novella.

Siena, 21 miles south of Florence, is a mediaeval hilltop city with a maze of narrow winding streets that have survived virtually unchanged from the 16th Century and earlier. It can be reached by Sita’s regular express bus service. If you’re in Italy on July 2 or August 16, it’s worth going out of your way to see the palio, a traditional bareback horse race that’s been held in the Piazza del Campo in Siena since the 13th Century. It’s hot, crowded and utterly crazy!

Helpful Hints Helpful Hints about Florence

Language
Italian, with a Florentine accent. Italian is delightfully easy on the ear and relatively easy to learn. A few polite phrases might break the ice. Try Buongiorno (Good morning) or Bueno sera (Good evening). Come sta? (How Are You?) or Quanto costa? (How much?)

Currency and Tipping
The Italians use the Euro, made up of 100 cents. Tipping is not expected for all services, and rates are lower than those elsewhere. As a general guide, cabs: round up to the nearest 50 cents; restaurants: around 2 Euros 50; porters: 1 Euro a bag.

Dress Code
Florence can be extremely uncomfortable in the high summer, with temperatures of over 35 degrees Celsius in July and August. Cotton and linen clothes are best for coping with the summer heat, but you’ll want a sweater or jacket for the cool evenings in spring and autumn (fall).

In winter, you’ll need warm clothes, a waterproof jacket and an umbrella. Comfortable walking shoes for the cobbled streets are highly recommended. Remember to wear respectable dress for Florence’s churches including something to cover bare shoulders.

Safety
Florence is generally safe, but take precautions. Pickpockets are the main worry so carry money and valuables in a belt or pouch, wear your camera and leave valuables and jewellery in the hotel safe.

Travel
You can easily get around the tourist areas of Florence on foot. The longest walks take twenty minutes at most as the important monuments and museums are contained within half a square mile. Hiring a car is not advised, but you’ll see many young Florentines on scooters and if you’re brave enough and can stand the competition, these can be hired for about 30 Euros a day. If you’re taking a cab, use only the official white taxis with a ‘Taxi’ sign on the roof.

Hotels
There are a wide selection of Florence Luxury Hotels available so shopping online is your best bet to find the perfect choice.

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