Archive - Italy RSS Feed

Our Favorite Italian Trattorias, Enotecas and Ristorantes

20100929ITALY

It’s no secret that Italy is home to some of the world’s most exciting and delicious cuisine. One of the perks of a vacation in Italy with VBT is that we incorporate all facets of Italian food into our tours. VBT guests might find themselves taking a cooking class with a local chef, enjoying a wine or olive oil tasting, foraging for ingredients before preparing a fresh meal with their group, or even checking out local restaurants at their leisure. VBT’s Director of marketing, Paul Williams, has compiled a list—and some fun stories to boot—of some of his favorite trattorias, enotecas and ristorantes that you can dine at while on tour with VBT.

For those of you who don’t know the difference, a trattoria is an Italian restaurant serving simple food in an informal atmosphere where there are no printed menus and your wine comes by decanter; a ristorante is a full-service restaurant with menus, and chefs that prepare their special takes on traditional dishes; and an enoteca is basically a wine bar, where small snacks are served as you sample various local wines.  Buon appetito!

Trattoria Mario: Via Rosina, 2, Florence

IMG_2032You’ll find this welcoming, family-run place on a corner of the Piazza del Mercato in Florence—which is either a pre- or post-trip extension city on four of VBT’s Tuscan tours. It can be busy, noisy and a bit hectic at times, but I assure you it is all entertaining. It was recommended to me years ago by a friend who lived in Florence, and I go back whenever I visit this great city.  It is open only for lunch, and often there is a wait, but it is worth it. Your name is taken and you are called when space is available at a communal table. This is one of the best features- making new friends and sharing the experience.

On one visit, a group of American students were seated at a table with me. None of them spoke Italian so I assisted with my very limited language skills and with the help of a patient, laughing waitress, we ordered food for all, and enjoyed the meal together.  There was no stress and no rush…just good cheer. The menu changes daily and is handwritten on a wall over the very busy kitchen. Some house specialties are always on it, but there is always a fine variety of delights to sample. Soups are popular, especially the bean soup, and they have excellent steaks and home-made ravioli which are my favorites.

Bengodi Enoteca and Cucina: Via della Societa Operaia, 11, Castelnuovo Beradenga,  Siena
This small restaurant and wine bar is located in a small hill town in the Siena Province – about 7 miles from the 20101002_ITALY.Canon2_8084W-Lcity center of Siena (a town featured on both our Tuscan Hill Towns by Bike and Italy: Quiet Pathways of Tuscany tours). They have an amazing selection of reasonably-priced wines for such a small place, and the owner is happy to assist in making your choice. Largely unknown by tour groups—as Castelnuovo Beradenga  is off the beaten tourist paths—Bengodi is very popular with the locals. We enjoyed attentive service, frequent interaction with the owner, and a few small surprises he provided as we waited for our meals.

Steak and wild boar items were plentiful on the menu, and they have an excellent assortment of homemade pasta dishes. Ample appetizers, salads and wonderful desserts made for a memorable meal for our party of twelve. If you find yourself in the in the area, be sure to visit the Poggio Bonelli vineyard. You can go to their small outlet on the vineyard property to purchase their excellent Chiantis, Vin Santo and enjoy one of the prettiest views in Siena.

L’Antico Moro Ristorante – Pizzeria: Via del Moro, 61/62, Trastevere, Rome

910464624_img_2027We happened upon this one day while strolling through our favorite Roman neighborhood. We were looking for a place to eat and I poked my head in to look and heard all at the three or four occupied tables speaking Italian. Bingo! A place the residents go to is always a strong recommendation.

I have been back on every trip to Rome (which is a city extension on 6 VBT tours) and am always delighted with our meals, whether lunch or dinner. The consistency is overseen by the owner, Elisa and the ingredients are always fresh, well-prepared and well-presented that yield simple Roman dishes cooked to perfection. We have enjoyed their pizzas, a mixed grill plate, a superb oxtail dish, many pasta specials, lasagna and so much more. L’Antico Moro is not fancy, but it’s definitely the real deal. Also worth noting is that many times our waiter has been a man named Cee Cee who is attentive and fun.

Tasso Ristorante Pizzeria : Via Correale, 11d, Sorrento
We first visited this place on the recommendation of a resident of Sorrento, and I quickly learned that this is a 800px-Margherita_Originalefavorite of the locals. We had very attentive service and thoroughly enjoyed our lunch, but dinner is also served there. Tasso is located very close to Piazza Tasso, at the main intersection of Sorrento.

We decided upon a simple meal and began with antipasto which was a nice selection of cheese, meats and olives. Then we enjoyed wonderful salads along with two pizzas—one similar to what we would call a Margherita in the States  with thin sliced tomatoes, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese—and a second with many interesting cheeses, artichoke hearts and onions. Along with the house wine, we were completely pleased and satisfied with all.

Trattoria del Moro: Via S. Leonardo, 7, Orvieto
This trattoria provides real value and well-prepared meals, as well as and friendly service in a warm and cheerful environment from the moment you walk in the door—what’s not to love? In busy seasons you will want to make reservations, often the day before, as it is a favorite of many locals.

Cinghiale_01This small family-run trattoria offers wonderful steaks, specials with cinghale (wild boar) that are to die for, excellent pasta , soups and just and wait until you have their desserts—they are fabulous!  Also they have a nice selection of reasonably priced wines and a good house wine. It is located on a small lane but easily accessible. Orvieto is a small, charming town and this place reflects that personality.

To learn about all the wonderful places you can travel to in Italy with VBT, click here.

Best Reasons to Travel to the Tuscan Coast with VBT

Gregg--Vineyard Tuscan Coast

So much of southern Tuscany seems to have emerged from the earth itself. Tiny villages huddle within walls and rise atop hills as if divinely sculpted from the very stone upon which they perch. Quaint farms – many of them transformed into countryside agriturismo inns – offer up a bounty that finds its way onto famed Tuscan tables. As we cycle along its friendly Wine Roads—whose soil bear vintages so bold they can only be called Super Tuscans—we pass ancient olive groves that produce smooth elixirs beloved by the Medici family themselves. VBT will bring you the heart of the Etruscan Coast and here are some of the best reasons why you should join us.

The Cycling
thumbs up
There are wonderful biking routes throughout the tour, but one of our favorites is the day we take in the scenery on a spellbinding cycle along one of the most picturesque routes in Europe, from Sassetta to Suvereto. During our ride we’ll pass cork and pine trees, medieval estates, and fields of sunflowers before arriving in Suvereto—an ancient village that dates back to the year 1000. Located on a hill overlooking the coast, the town is a true jewel full of history and art. After walking the ancient streets, we’ll continue on a thrilling downhill ride to Montioni where you’ll have the option to hop on our van and shuttle through a beautiful area of flat grazing lands, or continue riding back to our inviting country hotel.

The Agritourismi
Agriturismo Montebelli--Exterior at night

At VBT we place a certain emphasis on our guests immersing themselves into as much local culture as possible, and a big part of that are the accommodations we carefully select.  One of our favorites, the Agriturismo Montebelli—which has 91% thumbs up rate from Trip Advisor—is a gorgeous country hotel located in the Maremma region that is surrounded by olive trees, gardens and vineyards. VBT travelers will enjoy using their tennis courts and bocce courts, as well as relaxing in the outdoor pool or taking advantage of their horseback riding facilities for a leisurely ride. We’ll also dine on fresh food, much of which is grown right on the property and cooked up by the chefs at their amazing restaurant.

Wine and Olive Oil Tastings
Tuscany Olive Oil tasting
Not only will we pedal past beautiful wine roads like the Strada del Vino—which traces the Ornellaia vineyard to Bolgheri along gently rolling hills—we’ll also enjoy a tasting of some of the best varietals in our Agrihotel’s wine cantina in Collemezzano. Also, on day 6 of the tour, we’ll visit the family-owned and operated Fonte di Foiano olive oil mill in Livorno. Upon arrival we’ll meet members of the Di Gaetano family and enjoy a private tour of the press and workshop. During our tasting, Michael Di Gaetano will explain the differences among regions and how varied the flavors can be.

The Pre-Trip Extension
20100925_ITALY.Canon_7671W-L

The Tuscan Coast tour begins with an optional pre-trip extension of two days in Florence, the cradle of the Renaissance. Florence is a perfect city to discover on foot because many of its attractions are centrally located in the small historic city center that stretches from Piazza del Duomo south to the Arno River. By day you can see all the masterpieces of art that are on display throughout the city and at night we’d recommend heading up to Piazzale Michelangelo, and taking in its enchanting  views overlooking the city.

To learn more about how you can visit this region on VBT’s popular The Tuscan Coast tour please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868 or visit vbt.com. They are available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST and Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

Page 1 of 2312345»1020...Last »