Mediterranean Summer Plans Revealed

Dear Audience,

I’ve kept something from you. In less than two weeks I’m flying across the Atlantic Ocean to Venice where I begin a summer Mediterranean odyssey with my family. We are cruising for two and a half weeks and rumor has it that Judge Judy may be on our boat. But that’s irrelevant. There are two relevant bits here: (1) during those two and a half weeks (July 7th to the 24th) my internet access may be shoddy; I’ve done some investigating and the boat does have internet access for laptops but it’s really expensive, if I can blog here and there while at sea I’ll certainly try; (2) I’d like your advice on places to eat and see in the following ports of call:

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– Venice, Italy

– Dubrovnik, Croatia

– Rhodes/Lindos, Greece

– Santorini/Thira, Greece

– Sorrento, Italy

– Sardinia/Porto Cervo, Italy

– Monte Carlo, Monaco

– Rome/Civitavecchia, Italy

Parisian forces are trying to convince me to make a side trip to gay Paree after the cruise is over, but after trying to make that work I realized all the planning would detract from my enjoyment of Mama Mediterranean. Plus I’d love to plan a full week in Paris, maybe for winter break. As it stands, though, can’t wait to eat my way through Italy, Greece, and Monaco. Looking forward to your tips!

Best,

Capt. Adam

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28 comments

  1. I’ll be the first to say it … I am so jealous. I’ll just stay here in the North Florida humidity and drive my kids to swim team. Good for you – have a great time! Let us know what you find when you get back. Someday I’ll be young again (or at least my kids will be older)

  2. I think one of the best restaurants in Venice is Da Fiore. At least that’s what I heard and read about since I’ve never been to Venice myself.

  3. In Dubrovnik, forget it. Just order fried cheese (an important national dish), french fries and beer and like it. In Rome, though, PLEASE go to Da Robertino (formerly Gofferdo) near the Colosseo (Via Panisperna 231 00184 Roma Tel. 06/4740620). We went and had the best meal in Italy there. The owner served us (it was a slow night) and brought an enormous bottle of grappa (called “bambino” because it’s the size of a small child) to the table that we all drank from. We had fresh fish, which they show you before fileting it. The most amazing, crispy roasted potatoes ever, out-of-this world antipasti: razor-thin prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil, crispy rosemary focaccia, fried zucchini blossoms stuffed with cheese and anchovies. The pastas were to die for, too, and the waiter kept urging me to eat more and asking when we’d be starting a family. A quintessential Italian dining experience. You won’t be sorry. Oh! Almost forgot: they have Tignanello and other great wines for very little markup.

  4. in rome go to cavour 313 its a GREAT wine bar with delicious food and very cool interior. have fun!!! i love italy!

  5. Il Buco in Rome. A friend living in Rome for 5+ years introduced me to this restaurant; it is Tuscan cuisine, and is the best meal I have eaten in Italy. We ate there two nights in a row on our last visit! RIght around the corner from the Pantheon at Via S. Ignazio, 8, Rome. Neighborhood: Centro Storico

    +39 066793298

  6. Ooh – it’s been a while since I’ve been to Rome…

    The open-air market @ Campo de Fiori is small but nice, and there’s a tiny gelato shop & tiny pizza stand (you pay by weight) there. The pizza doesn’t resemble anything you’d see over here – my favorite one had anchovies & zucchini blossoms. YUM.

    There’s a bigger gelato shop on the other side of Corso Vittorio Emanuele (the main street there) @ Piazza Navona. Of course, I can’t remember the name of it, but if Vittorio Emanuele is behind you & you’re standing in Piazza Navona, then the gelato shop is on one of the streets that’s on your left. My favorite there was the creme caramel gelato.

    And in some little town outside Rome (again, I don’t remember exactly where), I had a porchetta panino from a street vendor, which was just about the best sandwich EVER. Porchetta is slow-roasted pig with lots of rosemary & other herbs, and the vendor was roasting the piggy right there. Yum, YUM.

    Hey, I’m going to be in Venice, Milan, Turin, & Florence around then as well, so I’m curious to hear any recommendations for Venice…

  7. Stay away from cruise ship internet. Instead, look for internet cafe’s when you’re in port. Much cheaper, from what my friends have said.

    Bon Voyage and Bon Apetit!

  8. OH take lots of pics in Santorini! I spent a month in Thessaloniki but wasn’t informed well enough on how to get to the islands. I would do it in a heartbeat though! Expect a lot of fried cheese there too, fried potatoes, pork and chicken…not much lamb, it’s too expensive. Bon Voyageeee!

  9. Oh, yes! I can finally delurk and throw out a few recommendations. It’s been about a year, so take ’em with a grain of salt…

    Venice: I Quattro Rusteghi, on the Campo del Ghetto Novo. They had these slices of smoked goose breast wrapped around tart apple with some kind of kiwi panna cotta…bliss. It’s tucked away next to the museum of Jewish history. It’s a little hard to find, but worth the trek, especially since there are far fewer tourists there than on the main drags.

    However! I was intrigued by the description of the Antiche Cantine Ardenghi de Lucia e Michael (“a leap of blind faith and an excellent splurge”). Call a day ahead, pay 50 euro per person, say the secret password to get in(!), and they serve you and a handful of others a full Venetian-style dinner–heavy on the shellfish–wine included. Unfortunately for me I was traveling with a vegetarian, so that was right out…

    Rome: Ristorante il Gabriello, Via Vittoria 51, near the Spanish Steps. The only place we went to twice, and it was amazing each time.

    No real suggestions for Sorrento, unfortunately, apart from “load up on limoncello”. And sfogliatelle! There are several seriously kickass gelato parlors there, though. And a lemon grove in the middle of town (with limoncello tastings)! Just try not to kill all of the obnoxious English retirees on vacation.

    You can’t really go wrong by following the Three Unwritten Laws of Dining in Italy:

    1. The Inverse Bread Law: The worse the restaurant’s free bread is, the better the actual food will be. Soft, fresh and warm bread? Get ready to eat warmed-over garbage. Stale, pre-packaged breadsticks that expired in 1998? You’ll be served heaven on a plate. I have no idea why this is.

    2. The Multilingual Menu Law: The more languages a menu is printed in, the worse the food will be. Aim for two or less.

    3. The Time Law: Don’t set foot in a restaurant before 8pm. (Trust me.)

    And the house red is almost always good.

    Have fun! I’m ridiculously jealous now…and nostalgic…and hungry.

  10. In Rome, near the Piazza Navona: there’s a wonderful little bar called “Enoteca Il Piccolo” (which, in Italian, means “the little wine bar”). It’s small, dark, and cozy, and doesn’t feel at all touristy.

    I can’t encourage you enough to fill up on Brunello di Montalcino, which is a cousin of Sangiovese but so much more amazing. It’s kind of hard to find in the US, and super expensive when you do find it, so better drink up on it in Rome while you can! I first had it at the Piccolo and life hasn’t been the same since.

    The bar is at: Via del Governo Vecchio 74-75

  11. Lucky you! The map looks like you will be going to Turkey as well, but you don’t mention it. Are you?

  12. I hope you are bringing your camera and your pen, because I can’t wait to hear about all the great food you will be eating across the Mediterrean. And I assume price will not be an issue since you are eating with your parents.

    From what I hear, in Rome you should stay away from all places that don’t display a daily special, have menus and signs in english, and seem to be lacking a kitchen. I have no idea why that last one should even be an issue but that is what’ve read. Enjoy!

  13. Caruso’s in Sorrento was probably the best food we had there.

    I’ll be in Dubrovnik (and the rest of Croatia) a week or two before you’ll be there. Looking forward to hearing about your trip. Bon voyage!

    (PS – the ricotta gelato at Otto puts the olive oil to shame. Try it immediately if you haven’t already.)

  14. Have a splendid time – no recommendations here. I have rarely had a bad meal in Italy – overpriced, yes, but not bad. In Venice, try a sgroppino which is lemon ice cream or sorbet combined with prosecco and perhaps a bit of vodka. Creamy, smooth, and a treat on a hot day. Bellinis and carpaccio at Harry’s Bar. A bottle of prosecco at either Florian or Quadri in Piazza San Marco while listening to the dueling orchestras of both cafes and watching the setting sun light up the mosaics on the basilica.

    Such a magical place.

  15. literally got back a week ago from spending 10 days in Rome. It was glorious. Do not miss eating dinner by the Pantheon or eating gelato at Tre Scalini in the Piazza Navona. I think the other gelato place recomended in an earlier comment was Da Quinto, which was good, but doesn’t hold a candle to Tre Scalini. I always got Stracciatelli and Mente (Chocolate Chip and Mint). cannot wait to hear about it.

  16. Hi, Adam. We spent a fabulous week in Venice in April and my recommendations would be 1) skip Da Fiore – its supposed to be the best but was very very expensive and filled with Japanese tourists; the food was good but there are better places in Venice; 2) Definitely check out Cantina Do Mori, a fabulous cichetti bar; 3) Some excellent restaurants: Osteria de 4 Ferri; La Zucca; Corte Sconta. Have a great time! Can’t wait to read all about it

  17. That looks suspiciously like a Crystal map. If it is, you are in luck. It has the best food of all the lines IMHO.

    One unadvertised feature is that regardless of what is listed on the menu, you can have full caviar service with blini every night (and I did.) I skip the lunch buffets (which are pretty, but a mob scene) that’s the best time to hit the gym (I have seen that’s when the Captain hits it too)

    Take the galley tour. They usually only give one per cruise (sometimes 2) It’s fantastic. You learn alot (like that they fridgerate their rubbish)

    Have fun!

  18. I strongly second the suggestion re: Campo de Fiori and the pizza by the weight. Even the (plain) pizza bianca is freakin’ fantastic. Still dream of it years later. Also the wine bar in the Campo is fantastic.

    I’ve found venice a bit trickier to eat in than most other Italian cities. From what I hear (I’m a vegetarian) best to stick with fish (not pizza, or much in the way of pastas) in Venice. And the food in the wine bars (even if you don’t have much wine) is typically very simply prepared but absolutely wonderful (and cheap).

    In Rome have Penne Arrabiata if you can, as it’s the pasta of that region.

    And a hearty second to the Brunello suggestion. So very, very delicious.

    Have a fabulous time.

  19. Hi Capt. Adam,

    You know how when you go to a theme park there are 10 unique looking restaurants to choose from, but they all pretty much serve the same food, as if from some giant kitchen? That’s what I found Venice to be like. I spent four full days there and never found one restaurant that stood out, or that served very distinctive meals. Don’t get me wrong, the food is good, but not good enough to write home about (ha). The best meals I had in Italy were away from the popular areas. Looks like you have a few recommendations though, so enjoy!

    By the way, if you get up really early you can walk through empty streets to the beautiful Piazza San Marco, and stand alone with the pigeons in the early morning sun light. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but when you wade through the crowds and stand in long lines, you’ll wish for a moment of quiet solitude!

    CJ

  20. The best gelato I ever had was from a chain store called Blue Rabbit (or something) in Rome. The chocolate gelato tasted like a premium dark chocolate bar. There’s also a good gelato place near the crystal roof thingy in Milan. Two scoops for 1.75 E.

  21. Dear Adam, please try to stay away from the crowded touristy places as much as you can (Campo dei Fiori is beautiful but picture postcard Rome, really). A few suggestions of places where you will find few or no tourists, most are not in the center, but they are a small number of the very many restaurants where we Romans (my friends and I) go for dinner:

    -trattoria Monti, Via S. Vito 13a (S. Maria Maggiore) closed on Sunday evening and Mondays, tel 064466573 very good cuisine from the Marche region, family run, great service

    -Hostaria degli Artisti, via G. Sommelier 6, tel 067018148, interesting traditional Neapolitan food including ancient recepies

    -Pommidoro, piazza dei Sanniti 44, tel 064452692 good Roman food, I used to live there and see the owner arrive in the morning with his jeep stacked with self grown produce. It is also a restaurant where Pasolini often ate, including his last meal before being killed. They may or may not seat you, totally according to their whim.

    -Vinando, piazza Margana 23, 0669200741. This is a sort of wine bar smack in the center, between the ghetto and Piazza Venezia. For lunch you can have a great light meal with fantastic cheese and hams and salamis

    -Margarì, via Coronelli 30, 0621700650, a pizzeria quite far from the center of the city, actually in a part of the city where no tourist ever sets foot, if you want to see what living in Rome really means. Very good neapolitan pizza. Apparently Roberto Benigni is a regular here (I met him once).

    -Uno e Bino, via degli Equi 58, tel 064460702, closed on Mondays, a very good experimental small restaurant, accurate choice of wines, booking is highly recommended, in the same student quarter as Pommidoro.

    -Betto e Mary, Osteria alla Certosa, via Savorgnan 99, 0624305339, Thursdays closed. The ultimate Roman restaurant experience, and I’m not talking of the food, just go and see for yourself, I’m not sure your parents would appreciate but I’m sure you would.

    VERY IMPORTANT: forget all the other ice cream parlours, the place to go is GELATERIA S. CRISPINO, there is one behind the Fountain of Trevi.

    Enjoy and do let me know when you’ll be around, if I’m in Rome we might go for that ice cream together!

  22. ps: I just remembered the Betto e Mary phone number is a false track, you just have to go and hope for the best. It might be worth it!

  23. A few other suggestions for Venice: great masks are available at La Bottega dei Mascareri, which is located in the San Polo sestiere – cross over the Rialto Bridge and it’s #80 – a tiny cramped shop with incredible handmade masks (they have a larger studio elsewhere in San Polo). They did the masks for Eyes Wide Shut and have some true works of art.

    On Spedaria in San Marco near the Piazza is a little pastry shop called Pasticcera Marchini that has fabulous little bags of cookies and chocolates – great for gifts.

    Second the Cantino do Mori suggestion and going to the Piazza San Marco at dawn – no one there except a few street cleaners and some pigeons.

    Webcam:

    http://www.comune.venezia.it/webcam/piazzasm3.asp

    We’re supposed to do a family cruise next spring, but my husband and I might ditch it for another 3 weeks in Bella Italia

  24. Dear Adam,

    New to your site…love it. My two favorite things in the world in one place: food and humor.

    I was in Venice last year for two weeks and there was a cafe down the street that had incredible coffee and expresso and tea. It was called Caffe Del Doge. Here’s the website:

    http://www.caffedeldoge.it/

    Have a great trip, look forward to reading your posts!

  25. Adam, I just know you’re going to have a glorious time. I’ve been meaning to respond to this post and tell you that while in Venice, you might like to see the islands of Murano (famous for glassmaking) and Burano (famous for lacemaking). You can get some beautiful gifts for people there, although don’t buy at the glass factories on Murano, since they are priced way over the top for tourists. Buy at the little tiny shops on the quay where you take the boat back to Venice. Make sure you don’t try to get a late meal in Venice — there’s almost nothing open after 9:00 p.m.! I was shocked by this one night, since my experience of European cities is the opposite — midnight dinners in Madrid, etc. Travel safely and enjoy every minute! Can’t wait to hear all about it…