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My mother-in-law’s “partner in crime” from her youth is traveling to Italy and asked for a few suggestions on places to eat, see & play in Rome and Florence. Well, any partner-in-crime of Cathie Kocher’s is a partner-in-crime of mine, so I was glad to help.  I’ve decided to document my “MUST” list and have others contribute.  If you have suggestions on where to go – or place’s to stay away from – your thoughts are welcome here.  This guide will be helpful for many who plan to travel to one of the greatest countries in the world.

Must Eat
*For authentic Roman meals, ask the locals where they eat and consider it a cardinal sin to “get your food on” in touristy squares.  Your best bet for authentic Italian is typically found off the beaten path, in some narrow alley where the owner may, or may not, have a restaurant license.  We ate at a place like this in Rome and I’m pretty sure a law was being broken, although the pasta was incredible.

Food:
La campana – any pasta with truffles or pesto
Matricinella – bucatini all’ amatriciana (pasta with tomato/pancetta sauce), abbacchio cacitore (lamb hunter’s style) best overall meal I had!
Da Baffetto – best pizza in Rome! Make sure you go to the original! It’s very thin and incredible! -submitted by chef, David Falk of Boca Restaurant group

Hosteria Roma (AMAZING) dinner
anyplace near the Pantheon in the square for lunch (for a less authentic, but still delicious experience)
La Campana
Florence:
GustoVino (the best) dinner

Others:

Rome — Armando Al Pantheon, La Campana, Antico Forno, Pierluigi, Ristorante del Pallaro.
Florence — Gusto Vine, ViniE Vecchi Sapori, La Casalinga, Tattoria Garga, Le Fonticine
*Chowhound.com has a lot of great suggestions. This is what we reviewed before going to many of the restaurants we visited
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/444686

Must See
Pantheon
Vatican
Tuscany
Ruins

Must Sleep:
expect to wake at 10am-12pm. You are going to be on a 6 hour difference and it really messes with your body.
Allow time for naps
Lunch around 2pm
Dinner around 9pm

Best Villa in Tuscany:  Borogo De’ Ricci- http:www.borogodeiricci.com;  tel. +39 055 208324

This 14th century villa, renovated with modern comforts, is 15 min outside of Florence and is absolutely breathtaking with an infinity pool overlooking the vineyards of the Lanciola Farming Estate, http://www.lanciola.net.  At this estate,  they produce one of the most incredible wines I’ve ever had called Terricci.  The estate also produces golden honey & extra virgin olive oil.  The owners of this villa own Gusto Vino Restaurant, http:www.gustavino.it, a modern and delicious taste of Tuscan and Florentine cuisine.

Must Wear
The best time to visit Rome is in March when the weather is warm, 75-83 degrees and sunny with low humidity.

The summer months, July- September get very hot.  If you go anytime between May-September wear cool, comfortable clothes and expect to increase your body temp. from all the walking you will be doing.
SACRIFICE style for comfort!  Your shoes can make or break your trip.  Be sure to wear comfortable, already-broken-in shoes to tread the cobblestone walkways of Italy.
In holy places, such as the Vatican and Sistine Chapel, cover your legs to the knees and arms to the elbows, otherwise you will need to run to a nearby store to purchase a long scarf or wrap like I did here:

Must Say

Here are some key phrases that will help you navigate your way around, compliments of my friend, Val.  Parli’ Ingles is one of the more important of the phrases (Do you speak English?)
Era un piacere incontrati oggi! (It was a pleasure to meet you today!!)
Do you speak English: Parli Inglese?
I would like a glass of red wine: (posso avere is may I have it is more formal) Vorrei (I would like) un bicchiere di vino rosso(red) bianco (white)
I’ll have an espresso: Posso (may i) avere un espresso per favore?
Where is the bathroom: Scusi, Dove al bano?
What is your name? Come ti chiami? Mi chiamo Val
Vorrei abitare con suo familia in questo villa per tre mese. .. e possibile? I would like to move with your family in this villia for three months, is that possible? Lol.. they would love you if you said that!
And the word they use for everything is PREGO .. I can’t believe I forgot that today.. they say prego for everything!!! Hai un bellissima viaggio!! Ciao bella.. Arrivederci!!

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