♥ Once a month we spotlight the JetSetter of the month. This month, Lynn is our spotlight JetSetter. Check out what Lynn had to say about her trip to Italy. Maybe next month the spotlight will be on YOU! ♥
JSD: Tell us about how you ended up in Italy and how long you've been there.
LYNN: I went to Italy last October when the tourist crowds were smaller and the weather was magnificent. Before I went, I studied the Rick Steve’s Guidebook to make sure that I would know about the cultural and entertainment highlights of the three cities I wanted to visit(Venice , Florence , and Rome ), the best hotel buys, the best food in my price range, and the top problems to avoid.
JSD:What are your favorite Italian hotspots?
-Restaurants: La Spada restaurant (The restaurant offers all kinds of roasted meats and good pastas. You can get a plate with three different kinds of pasta or the fantasy menu with all kinds of meat and 3 kinds of bruschetta + dessert (25 euros) The bruschetta with fresh tomatoes is to die for because the tomatoes are 100 times more flavorful than any you will find in the USA.)
-Salons/Spas: I didn’t go to any spas because I got all my exercise by walking.
-Nightlife/Bars: Piazza San Marco- I paid around $15 to drink Sgroppino (champagne, vodka & lemon sorbet )
-Culture/Museums: Baptistry, the Duomo, the Museo dell Opera del Duomo (the cathedral museum), the Bargello, and Santa Maria Novello. If you want to see the statue of David, you need to go to the Academia Museum .
-Other: General recommendations: eat all the gelato & sorbetto you can, try to find free concerts in the churches.
JSD:What areas or neighborhoods are best for first time travelers?
LYNN: *In Rome , I rented an apartment in the Trastevere section, which is like the French Quarter—very colorful and old and like a village. There were lots of students staying in this neighborhood and lots of good, inexpensive restaurants. Since I had my own kitchen, I could make salads or order “to go” items from delicatessens. The apartment was actually cheaper than any hotel and had a living room with flat screen TV (no English programs)
*In Florence , I stayed at a very cheap hotel that overlooked the Duomo (cathedral). Location, location, location.
*In Venice, I stayed at the Casa Favaretto. It is on the water with a beautiful view of the lagoon and San Grigorio Church. It was spotless, well-priced (about 100 euros- $140- with continental breakfast)
JSD: What makes Italy different from any other place?
LYNN:All of Florence is like a museum—it is fairly compact and every street is full of interesting things; the streets and canals are so charming
JSD:Tell us about the fashion and current trends in Italy.
LYNN:The thing to buy in Florence is leather- purses, belts, shoes, briefcases. As in Venice , I saw lots of high fashion clothes in the shop windows. I took photos, but I didn’t buy any.
JSD: What are some of your travel must-haves?
LYNN: My must-haves for travel to Italy :
(1) a converter to convert 220 Volt Italian electricity to 110 volt used by my cell phone & camera battery charger
(2) adapters that would fit into the round Italian wall sockets.
(3) A secret wallet that I could wear under my blouse to thwart pickpockets—a very big problem in Italy .
(4) An easy Italian language kit—2 CDs and a booklet to cover basic phrases like “On which track is the train to Florence ?” “Where is the toilet?” Most people speak some English, but not everyone.
(5) I, Mona Lisa- a very enjoyable novel about a girl living in Florence during the time of Leonardo da Vinci, the Medicis and Savonarola . Lots of violence and sex and a painless way to learn some Renaissance history.
(6) A wardrobe consisting of all navy blue so that my jackets, blouses, slacks, socks, and scarves all matched. (Blouses are striped, checked, patterned to add variety but still blue) I travel as light as possible because there is often no porter to lift suitcases onto luggage racks in trains and no bellhop to carry suitcases to rooms.
(7) LL Bean travel purse. I use the small size to go about town. I can keep my city map in the outside pocket, my water bottle in the mesh pocket, my handi-wipes, pocket Kleenex, guidebook, and mini-umbrella inside. Money and credit cards are in my secret purse.
(8) Good walking shoes
JSD: What advice do you have for the rest of us Jet Setting Divas looking to travel to Italy in the future?
LYNN:Don't wear shorts or sleeveless blouses to St. Peter’s Basilica because you will not be admitted. I looked at the Eyewitness Travel Guides for the color pictures and maps. Go to Tourist Information in each city to find out what current events are happening- concerts, special exhibitions, parades, etc. Most Venetian hotels are MUCH MORE expensive. Agency for my apartment in Rome :
“I think any diva would have a wonderful time in these cities although her interests might be a little different than mine”- Lynn