Would love any hotel or restaurant recommendations for Florence, Lake Como, Sienna, Bologna! Any favorite sights along the Italian Riviera, Umbria? And, travel tips for exploring the Lakes - Como and Maggiore?? Thank you!!
Firstly I would say that the best way to travel between the cities on your itinerary is by train ( you will get to see a lot of the countryside and you might find an interesting village to check out along the way) When you get to Comer See try to stay near the centre of the lake, maybe Varenna and use the water bus to take you around the lake. Bologna is less than 40 minutes by train from Florence and if, like me, you hate big crowds, Bologna is a great alternative resting place! I have stayed in the Starhotels Excelsior near the train station which is decent and very good value. Art Hotel Orologio is also a good option. In Florence I stayed in Room Mate Luca, which is on a quiet(ish) side street but a short walk to everything. Bologna is known as the gourmet capital of Italy so you won't be disappointed by the food. We liked Ristorante Pappagallo and Ristorante Al Sangiovese but, just walk around and let your nose guide you!
In Siena Osteria Castelvecchio has a lovely ambience and very good food, there are lots of cafes dotted around Piazza del Campo for a coffee or a glass of wine with a view. This is the Italian rail website:
www.trenitalia.com (remember to use the Italian spelling for each town)
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It sounds like such a wonderful trip you have planned. In Florence, we made it a morning ritual to have cappuccino and pastries at Chiaroscuro. My husband and I often think about which city throughout our travels had our favorites (cappuccino, gelato, pizza, etc.), and this place always ranks as the top for cappuccino!
In Siena, we stayed at Hotel Palazzo di Valli which was a little outside of town, but with the spectacular views. We did walk to town and back the two days we were there, but it is about a 10-15 minute walk. The views from this hotel were just what you think of when you think of Tuscany.
The photo below was from the large Terrace just outside our room at the Palazzo.
Have a great trip!