A Travellerspoint blog

Where We Stayed: Semma Lombardo

Idea Hotel Milan Airport

I think I got so excited to write about where we ate in Italy that I forgot about the last hotel where we stayed on our trip. The Idea Hotel Milan Airport is located in the suburb of Semma Lombardo. It is very close to the Milan Malpensa airport, about a five-minute drive, which makes this location good for the night before a flight. On the other hand, it is rather far from the center of Milan, so this location is not the best choice for exploring the city.

The room itself had a decent design and layout,
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but it wasn't very clean.
We found somebody's half-empty water bottle on the floor. Granted, the bottle was somewhat hidden by the curtain, so maybe housekeeping didn't see it, but we also spotted a few ants in our room. I realize that the room was on the ground level and thus could be more susceptible to having ants come in from outside, but seeing them in combination with the bottle did not make me feel good about the room's cleanliness.

Breakfast: The complimentary buffet included pastries, yogurt, cereal, eggs, and potatoes. There was a sign saying that people with early flights could get breakfast to go.
Bathroom: shower only
Elevators: yes
Internet: free wifi in lobby, as well as a couple of workstations for guest use. We didn't try it on their computers or ours. In-room wifi is available for a fee.
Nearest playground: not sure
Recommend to families with young children: only if word from other reviewers makes my experience seem like a fluke
Recommend to families without kids: same as above
Website: http://www.ideahotel.it/web/en/idea-hotel-milano-malpensa-airport

Posted by amikulski 22.02.2014 17:49 Archived in Italy Tagged children hotels italy Comments (0)

Where We Ate: Arona, Italy

Ristorante Il Calicanto

I'll start this entry by saying that Arona--or at least the part of it that we saw--was not what we expected in terms of dining. I thought that there were going to be lots of restaurants on the water. Maybe it was the side of town where we parked or what happened to be open on a Sunday. However, the waterfront options we saw consisted of stands where you could buy fried foods or lemonade. We wanted something a bit nicer for our last night in Italy, so we headed away from the water and found Calicanto a few blocks away.

Calicanto has no view of Lake Maggiore, but it is pleasant, located in a big house with gardens. There is outdoor seating as well. Trains pass nearby, but the gardens help muffle the sounds and hide them from view.

My daughter and I enjoyed our pizzas, and the heart shape was a bonus for her.
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We also liked the desserts that we tried.

Website: http://www.ristoranteilcalicanto.com

Posted by amikulski 08.02.2014 10:52 Archived in Italy Tagged lakes children food italy Comments (0)

Where We Ate: Tuscany

San Gimignano

Trattoria Pizzeria il Fosso
We ate here a couple of times during our stay. Their location is convenient because they are just outside the town walls and a short walk away from one of the visitor parking lots. They also have a high chair available. The food was good, too. We enjoyed their pizza salchicca (with Tuscan sausage) and Tuscan antipasto (with local prosciutto, pecorino, pears, and honey). Their spaghetti carbonara was good, though not quite up to the level of what we had in Milan.
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Ristorante da Pode
This place is a couple of kilometers outside the walled center of San Gimignano and a short walk from our agriturismo. Everything we ordered here was good. My husband ordered pasta with wild boar (cinghiale),
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and I had ravioli with wild mushrooms,
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but my favorite was my daughter's pasta in meat sauce.
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Website: http://www.dapode.com/en/san-gimignano-restaurant-tuscany-italy.asp

Taverna Paradiso di Scialo' Raffaela
This small restaurant is located in the walled town between the south entrance and the main square. I tried the local pasta, pici, which is like hollow spaghetti. I ordered it served with a sauce of sausage with truffle cream. Yum! The dish is called pici alla Norcina, and it was one of my favorite meals in Italy.
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My husband enjoyed the wild boar pasta he ate,
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and my daughter liked her cheese ravioli.
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Gelateria Dondoli
Located in one of San Gimignano's main squares, this place is famous for its multiple awards.
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Many celebrities have stopped for gelato there, and the walls have the photos and newspaper clippings to prove it. We tried some flavors and were pretty impressed ourselves. Our faves were chocolate grand marnier, pear, and rosemary baby (raspberry and rosemary), but everything was good. We also enjoyed pistachio, pink grapefruit + champagne, and mixed berry.
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Website: http://www.gelateriadipiazza.com/english/master-gelato-maker.html

Florence

La Bambola
My cousin took us here during our day trip in Florence. It sits on Piazza Santa Maria Novello, so the outdoor seating is good for the view and people watching. We shared some pizza and antipasti, which were very good. The desserts were fun, too: pineapple gelato served inside a hollowed-out pineapple, or coconut served inside a hollowed-out coconut. You can't go wrong either way.
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Volterra

Ristorante Da Beppino
This place offers a good combination of pizzas and pastas.
Website: http://www.dabeppino.com/en/

Posted by amikulski 08.01.2014 19:16 Archived in Italy Tagged children food italy Comments (0)

New year, new addition, same blog

Happy New Year! I've fallen behind in my posts, but I do have lots of trip notes that I intend on turning into posts as soon as I get the chance.

I also wanted to share why I will be keeping the same blog name, even though my daughter is now 4.5 years old and no longer really a toddler: she will soon be a big sister! Little sister is scheduled to arrive at the end of January. Although we haven't made any travel plans for ourselves as a family of 4, we will be back in the world of packing diapers, strollers, and other baby/toddler gear once we do. I want to use some of our down time before that first trip--wherever and whenever it may be--to catch up on my summer entries and share experiences from some of my oldest daughter's travels from before I started blogging.

Thanks for reading! I wish you all a happy and healthy 2014!

Posted by amikulski 20:10 Comments (0)

Where We Ate: Verona

Gelateria Patagonia
We visited the location on Via Mazzini, a pedestrian-only shopping area in Verona. In addition to the typical flavors, they also had some fun ones like Bacio di Romeo and Bacio di Giulieta (Romeo and Juliet's kisses, respectively). Although you can get cups and cones here, they also have some fancy sundaes that are worth checking out.

Loacker Moccaria: this is a combination gelateria and coffee shop. It is affiliated with the Bolzano, Italy-based Loacker wafer company, so there is also an adjacent cookie and candy store. The Moccaria is a find if you want a place where you can sit down indoors, have access to a restroom, and eat your gelato. Their half-dozen flavors are not as many as you'll see in other gelaterias, but they still have a variety of sundaes, floats, and other ice cream desserts--all garnished with a Loacker wafer, of course.
Website: http://www.loacker.it/moccaria/index.php?siteurl=eng_583.html

Pizzeria Leon d'Oro
As the name implies, this place specializes in pizza, but they do have a couple of non-pizza dishes. I tried the lasagna bolognese and thought it was really good. My husband and daughter enjoyed their pizzas as well. Leon d'Oro is a good choice if you're traveling in a group that can agree on toppings because they sell pizzas not only in the typical 1 person size, but also in a larger (3-4 person) size; it's the only place on the trip where I remember seeing that option. If the weather is nice, there is a pretty courtyard where you can eat.
Website: http://www.pizzerialeondoro.com/en/index.html

Pizzeria ponte Navi
This place offered other dishes besides pizza, so it can offer variety for family members who want different things. The menu noted that some out-of-season items are heated from frozen, but never specified which items they might be. We found it a little off-putting that we might be eating reheated food, but I guess I appreciate their honesty; I'm not sure I've ever seen a restaurant in the US admit to that on a menu. None of our food seemed reheated. I ordered Penne alla Cubana, which I had never heard of before. It was good, even though my Cuban cousin who lives in Italy said that it is not authentically Cuban or even a common dish in Italy.

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Note: Normally I wouldn't mention a restaurant's bathrooms, but I know they can be important when your young child announces that they need a potty break. This is what happened with my daughter at Ponte Navi. When we reached the bathroom, we saw that it only had a squat toilet. I tried to explain it my daughter, but she refused to try and claimed she could wait until we got home. Fortunately, we were already done eating, so we paid, left, and averted disaster. The bathroom situation is something to consider if think your kids may have the same issue.
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Taverna di Stella
Our Frommer's guide listed this place as one of the best "down-home Trattorie and Osterie" in Northern Italy, so we decided to check it out. There are a couple of traditional dishes on the menu that had horse meat in them. We opted to be less adventurous in our pasta choices, but they were still very good.
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Although there was no children's menu, they offered to make my daughter pasta in a mild tomato sauce (as opposed to the diavola on the menu).
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There was also a food selection of wines by the glass. In all, I don't know enough to confirm whether it's among Northern Italy's best, but I do know that we enjoyed our dinner here.
Note: The women's bathroom had a standard toilet but the men's had a squat toilet, so you may want to plan accordingly just in case your child needs a potty break.
Website: http://www.tavernadiviastella.com/

Posted by amikulski 10.08.2013 11:38 Archived in Italy Tagged children food italy Comments (0)

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