Our trip was at Venice, Vicenza, Parma, Torino, Annecy, Lyon & Paris. This post focuses on Italy:
Venice: Always wonderful to return to Venice! We really enjoyed the Clock Tower climbing tour & history our 2nd morning; reserve for the small group tour at the Museum Correr. Another highlight was that I attended the opera at La Fenice (hubby passed on this one). Otherwise, we so enjoy just exploring and getting “lost” in Venice, and we were almost off the map when we stopped for gelato one day! Our hotel was Hotel Ala – apparently approved by RS because we saw two different RS groups there, including running into our former Best of Italy Tour Guide! Excellent location, and it’s a minute from the vaporetto with no bridges between vaporetto stop & hotel. We took Aliguna from the airport & vaporetto to the train station to head to Vicenza. I liked that the hotel was near San Marco, so our boat arriving & leaving gave us the full tour of the Grand Canal coming & going. Summary: what’s not to like about Venice!
Vicenza: We stayed overnight to enjoy the architecture of this town. Our hotel was Relais Santa Corona – a smaller boutique hotel with a huge room, friendly staff & great breakfast. Although there’s a bus out to the Villa Rotunda area, we enjoyed walking out & back on a nice paved “bike path” type trail. Besides all of the architecture to enjoy, one of our favorite Italian dinners was in the Palladio Basilica piazza at Bar Bosco – amazing fresh food where we ate for both lunch & dinner (it was that good!) Say “tiramisu”, and we both sigh with the great memory! Summary: this friendly “day trip” town turns small-town special when staying overnight.
Parma: We stayed two nights at Palazzo Dalla Rosa Prati, located next door to the Cathedral & Baptistry. The hotel contacted me to offer a private Food Tasting in their small restaurant of all of their local foods – prosciutto, culatello, sausages, sweet tangy balsamic vinegar the consistency of molasses, and of course parmesan cheese. We both really enjoyed this event, and the food was amazing. I’ve been to the major Italian cities and several smaller ones, but my favorite church will probably always be the Parma Cathedral (google interior photos). I returned there three times during our two days. We visited the
Galleria nazionale di Parma which was a disappointment because the Di Vinci painting was in New York City. At the recommendation of TripAdvisor, we ate a lovely dinner at LaForchetta – lucky to even secure a reservation our last night. Summary: come for the food & touching cathedral but not a “must see” town.
Torino: We really enjoyed our two days in Torino & left wishing for two more days! Our hotel, TownHouse 70, close to Palazzo Reale, was modern with a gigantic room & bathroom, friendly staff, and huge selection for breakfast. We visited the Palazzo Reale, took the bus & funicular up to Superga, took the glass elevator up for the views on top of the Mole Antonelliana, & saw so much beautiful architecture. A highlight was finding out the month before that Milan & Torino were hosting an all-day free choir concert event (Torino the day we arrived) in the city's churches & sites with a grand finale Sing-along of 1000+ people singing together in Piazza San Carlo. We sang several Italian songs in 4-part harmony ~patriotic, sacred, silly, opera, and they added “Yesterday” by the Beatles for “the tourists” – great memories of a fun event with the locals! Summary: great city with lots of royal history & beautiful buildings, amazing food, and an inexpensive city for hotel & meals.