Let me start by demystifying a myth. The Myth of best shopping in Rome. Nowhere have I seen shop assistance more preoccupied with exchanging news and impressions with their colleague instead of paying attention to customers.
December 25 and 26 are official holidays in Italy and even shopping malls are closed. Do not get fooled by a ‘open 24 hours’ sign. They open and close as they please.There are so few children shops in shopping malls. PreNatal is the place where you find pretty much all you need from cloths to strollers and other baby and toddler stuff. You may find it in Euroma2 shopping mall, which is about 30 minutes by car from centre of Rome.
In Rome we stayed in Vatican Residence Suites, which is literally wall to wall with Vatican. It’s a self-service place – with a kitchenette and fridge to make you own breakfast/dinner. Staff is helpful. Hostaria San Pietro on Via Delle Fornaci is a great place to have dinner. The owner is their for his customers. Their desserts are heavenly. We enjoyed it so much that went there 3 evenings in a raw.
Since it was a short trip, we had time only for usual touristic destinations. If you have little time and what to see a lot, take a sightseeing bus. It will take you from St. Peter’s square to all major touristic destinations: Coliseum, Trevi Fountain, Pantheon,
You can get out of the bus at their stops and visit monuments of interests. St. Peter was such a disappointment and surprise to me. Dark, as in middle ages style. And such a cult of death with so many statutes and tombs to popes. I wondered if all Vatican assets would be sold how many hungry mouths can be fed.
Also, while in Rome, if you have a half a day, take a bus/train from Rome to the Sea Side. In about 30 minutes you get to Oscia, the closest destination. Enjoy the waves, but not too close, as our wet feet have learned after some intensive fun.
Florence and Fiesole are great and enchanting places. We took the train from Rome to Florence and in an hour and a half we were there. We stayed at Bodoni hotel in Florence, which is a 10 minutes walk from Duomo. Its’a clean hotel, with helpful staff and a decent breakfast. Near Duomo in Florence go to Buca San Giovanni and order home made ravioli with potatoes, cheese sauce and zukinni and a traditional Tuscan soup (very vegetarian with dissolved bread in it: “this îs the way they make it”, as a very client oriented waiter explains it). Try sweets at Scudieri (a sweets maker since 1939. Just useful to know that if you want a table, the price of sweets gets four to five times higher. “Service, madam” a smiling waiter will explain to you.
Florence is a great point of departure to other destinations and leisure opportunities. You may want to try cooking classes, wine tasting or one-day organised visits to nearby regions. The Mall, Space and Barberino outlets are for shopping lovers. There are bus shuttles from Florence to these places.Ask at your hotel.
We took the train again and in 2 hours were in Milano. A city of business. A city of fortunes. The Duomo there is magnificent and the Christmas market really enchanting with lots of traditional Italian delicacies.
Arrivederci, for now, Italy. We’ll come back for the rest!