La Dolce Vita


Gallery of Photos


Our day-by-day (minute-by-minute) trip schedule.

Saturday, Sep 2


11:00 AM: Alexandra leaves SNA for Chicago


5:02 PM: Alexandra arrives at O’Hare on United Flight 730


7:00 PM: Takeout pizza from Lou Malnati’s


10:30 PM: Early to bed!


Sunday, Sep 3


10:00 AM: Church services in Kenosha; drive home.


12:15 PM: Pre-arranged Limo pickup from home to O’Hare; take packed lunch materials from home


1:00 PM: Arrive at O’Hare and go through international security.  Eat lunch in food court.


5:35 PM: Depart O’Hare on British Airways Flight 296 for Heathrow

Monday, Sep 4


7:20 AM: Arrive at Heathrow


8:00 AM: Breakfast at Pret a Manger inside Heathrow.  Buy snacks for afternoon.


11:05 AM: Depart Heathrow for Milan’s Malpensa Airport on BA Flight 576


2:00 PM: Arrive in Milan


3:00 PM: Take Malpensa Shuttle from Terminal 1 area to Milan Central train station, leaving every 20 minutes (4.50 Euro each)


4:15 PM: Train from Milan’s central station to Varenna, arriving at 5:19 PM, 4.70 Euros each. (Or at 5:02 PM, arriving at 6:19 PM) (Look for trains heading towards Sondrio or Tirano at station.)  Sit on left side of train for best views of lake.  Correct stop is “Varenna-Esino”—get off quickly; it’s a short stop at Varenna!


5:30 PM: Check into Hotel Du Lac (1 double w/extra bed (230 Euros/night), 1 superior double (180 Euros)—both w/balcony and lake view, 10% cash discount), overlooking Lake Como.  (, Via del Prestino, 4 – 23829, Tel. +39 0341 830238)


6:30 PM: Stroll to ferry dock and back along lakeside passarella, passing lakeside villas, along to the harborfront in town.


8:00 PM: Dinner on the terrace at Albergo Milano (25 Euros for 3-course dinner, closed Tuesday,


9:30 PM: Evening stroll along lakeside promenade.  Have gelato at La Giazzéra, Lungolago (take out only)


11:00 PM: Sleep!


Tuesday, Sep 5


9:00 AM: Continental breakfast at the hotel overlooking the lake


9:35 AM: Ferry to Bellagio, the “Pearl of the Lake  (Get all day mid-lake ferry pass for 8 Euros each—cheaper if taking three or more rides per day).  Ferry runs 7AM – 9PM.  Pick up tourism info at TI at passenger ferry dock.


10:00 AM: Use TI brochure for self-guided walk in town, including walk past the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni and to park at Punto Spartivento (lookout w/benches toward the Alps).  Window shop in high-end tourist shops in Bellagio. 


Option: Visit gardens of Villa Melzi in Bellagio, open 9-6 (5 Euro admission)

12:30 PM: Lunch at Trattoria San Giacomo (Salita Serbelloni, 45, great local specialties (Tel +39 31950239), no reservations taken) OR Del Punta Ristorante in the Punta Spartivento park OR at a café on Piazza Mazzini (  Lunch served 12-2:30PM.


~2:00 PM: Ferry from Bellagio to the Villa Carlotta (ferry stop is called Cadenabbia), a neoclassical palace overlooking Lake Como.  Admission: 7 Euros each, open 9 AM-6 PM (Ferry leaves from Bellagio and Varenna every 20 minutes)


6:00 PM: Ferry from Villa Carlotta back to Varenna.  Sit on terrace at hotel and enjoy view, or walk up to source of Fiumelatte river in town.  (From Piazza San Giorgio in Varenna you turn right and after about 200 m you get to a tarred road, which leads to a little square near the cemetery. On the left side of the square there is a steep stair-way which leads on to a path. The path follows a picturesque route half way up the mountain slope parallel to the lake. After about 1 km you arrive at the Source of Fiumelatte.)


7:00 PM: Dinner at Vecchia Varenna, Contrada Scoscesa, 10 –local fish, risotto, meat (, closed Monday)


9:00 PM: Gelato at La Frulleria (, open until 2 AM, with harborview seating.


11:00 PM: Sleep!

Option if we don’t see Villa Carlotta: Afternoon walk through gardens at Villa Monastero and Villa Cipressi in Varenna (adjacent to each other, open 9-7 daily).  Combo ticket 4 Euros each available for access to both gardens.

Wednesday, Sep 6


9:00 AM: Breakfast at Hotel du Lac on the terrace


10:20 AM: Train from Varenna to Venezia (Venice), arriving at 2:53 PM (transfer in Milan at 11:30 AM) (25.51 Euros each)


3:00 PM: Take Vapoeretto" N° 82 from train station in the direction of San Marco and get off at Valaresso stop.  Check in with Riccardo at Corte Campana B&B at Calle del Remedio 4410 (, 220 Euros/night, cash only).



4:00 PM: Stroll St. Mark’s Square, climb top of Bell Tower, etc.


7:00 PM: Dinner at Antica Secrestia, a local institution, at Calle della Sacrestia, 4442, 2 blocks behind St. Mark’s Square – see Steves map, dinner 6:30-10:30, 14.50 Euros for self-chosen antipasto plate and pre fixe menus, reservations recommended ( OR Da Sandro, San Polo 1473, Campiello dei Meloni –great pizzas


9:00 PM: Take gondolier ride (~200 Euros total for gondola for up to six people w/music)



10:00 PM: Coffee on the sidewalk at Caffé Florian, Europe’s first and grandest coffee house, where Charles Dickens and Lord Byron ate ( 


Thursday, Sep 7


9:30 AM: Breakfast at the hotel


Meet at entrance to Royal Gardens in San Marco Square to take pre-arranged  VENICE IN A DAY” tour in two parts  (


11:10 AM: Part One, the Original Venice Walk

A two-hour walking tour that features all the important monuments from San Marco Square to the Rialto Bridge.  Along the way we’ll pass through the non-tourist side of the city to discover the hidden Venice and hear the legends of Marco Polo and Casanova.  Includes a stop at Marco Polo’s house and entrance to the Basilica without a wait.


1:30 PM: Take Vaporetto #1 to Osteria La Zucca for lunch (on Rio del Megio Canal, on San Giacomo dell’Orio 1762 Calle Larga, Santa Croce – canal-side seating, veggie friendly, reservations recommended for canal-side seating– 041/5241570 – Use Vaporetto #1, Ria di Biasio stop).


or picnic from foods at produce market near Rialto Bridge and/or snack shops/bakeries/cheese shops on nearby side streets. 


Take Vaporetto to Rialto stop and walk to best gelato in Venice at La Boutique del Gelato at Salizada San Lio, Castello 5727, Vaporetto Rialto, open 10-9 daily).  Walk back to entrance to Royal Gardens in San Marco Square for…


4:30 PM: Part Two, The Grand Canal Tour (70 minutes): “Limited to a max. of eight people so everyone can sit outside to take photos, this guided tour features a cruise along the Grand Canal, followed by a journey through a labyrinth of smaller canals through which we take you on a fascinating tour of the lesser known areas of the city.”


6:00 PM: Progressive cicheti dinner at Enoteca al Volto (Calle Cavalli, San Marco, closed Sundays –est. 1936) and Osteria al Bomba (near Campo S.S. Apostoli, 1 block off Strada Nuova on Calle dell’Oca

or pizza on benches in Campo Manin from Pizzeria l’Angelo, Calle della Mandola, San Marco)


9:00 PM: 90-min. Vivaldi Concert – find a good concert from “A Guest In Venice” newsletter available at TI, ~20 Euros each


10:30 PM: Stroll San Marco Square


11:00 PM: Overnight at Corte Campana


Friday, Sep 8

8:00 AM: Breakfast in the hotel


9:00 AM: Check out of room and store luggage.


9:30 AM: Tour the Doge’s Palace (Palazzo Ducale) Open 9-7.  Take “Secret Itinerary” tour including private rooms.  12.50 Euros each + 5.50 each Secret Itinerary


1:00 PM: Lunch at Trattoria Alla Rivetta, a haunt of gondoliers at Ponte San Provolo Bridge behind St. Mark’s Square (Castello 4625, on Salizzada San Provolo – near hotel)


2:30 PM: Last-minute shopping and strolling.  Pick up snacks for dinner on train.


5:45 PM: Pick up luggage at hotel.  Take Vapporetto #1 to Santa Lucia train station.


6:32 PM: Train (Eurostar) from Venice to Rome, arriving at 11:05 PM. 


11:15 PM: Check in at Hotel Sonya at Via Viminale 58, across from Opera (1 quintuple for 170 Euro/night w/ special Rick Steves rate and cash discount—includes breakfast)


Saturday, Sep 9


8:00 AM: Breakfast in hotel


8:30 PM: Take Metro from Termini station to San Pietro stop (change at Colosseo stop).  Stand in line for tickets to Vatican Museum.  Visit to Vatican Museum, including Sistine Chapel, open 8:45 AM - 1:45 PM, closed Sunday (12 Euros each).  Exit museum through shortcut exit at rear of Sistine Chapel (to save 10 min walk back to entrance) to St. Peter’s Basilica.  Take self-guided tour of Basilica using Rick Steves guide.  (also free 90-min. English-language tour available at 2:15 PM or 3 PM)  Open daily 7-7. 


1:00 PM: Walk down pedestrianized Borgo Pio to Castel Sant’ Angelo, ancient burial tomb for Hadrian and backdrop for film location in Roman Holiday.


1:30 PM: Walk across Ponte S. Angelo and have coffee at Caffé Sant’Eustacio (, one of the two best and oldest coffee houses in Rome, near the Pantheon—famous for “gran caffé” w/sugary flavor & creamy foam.  Coke Light and snack from Antica Salumeria (grocery store on Pantheon square—Eduardo speaks English) for Alexandra. 


2:00 PM: Walk over for comparison coffee AND granita di caffé (sweet frozen coffee in whipped cream) at Tazza d’Oro at Via degli Orfani, 84, just off Piazza della Rotunda.  Have gelato at Gelateria della Palma, Via della Maddalena 20, just off Piazza della Rotonda near Pantheon-100 flavors including semifreddo mixed w/whipped cream.


(Other option: Lunch buffet at Restaurant Coco at Piazza delle Coppelle 54 near Pantheon (served 12:30 - 3:30 PM, 10 Euros each for large plate, indoor and outdoor seating).)

3:00 PM: Tour inside of Pantheon (free, open until 7:30 PM, 5:30 on Sundays).


5:30 PM: Take the self-guided Rick Steves “Dolce Vita Walk” – stroll with the fashionable locals, from Piazza del Popolo (Flaminio station) to Spanish Steps

7:00 PM: Dinner at Ristorante il Gabriello at Via Vittoria 51 (3 blocks from Spanish Steps, reservations smart (tel. 06-6994-0810) OR at Ristorante Alla Rampa (100 yards east of Spanish Steps at Piazza Mignanelli 18, no reservations, 9-Euro self-service antipasto buffet) OR L’Archetto –113 kinds of spaghetti, Via del Archetto, 26, or at Trattoria Monti at Via di San Vito, 13 - 06 4466573

10:30 PM: Have gelato at Gelateria alla Scala, Piazza della Scala 51, Travastere—fantastic pistachio flavor.  Second gelato at Il Gelateria di San Crispino, Via della Panateria, open til midnight, closed Tuesdays—widely considered the best gelato in Italy—no artificial color.


Sunday, Sep 10


8:30 AM: Breakfast at hotel.


9:15 AM: Church in room.


10:35 AM:  Take Archeobus from Termini train station to last Appian Way stop (Take bus 714 from Termini to the stop at St. John Lateran Square (Piazza di S. Giovanni in Laterano), then bus 218 and stop at Fosse Ardeatine. The entrance to the Catacombs is opposite (n. 2 on the map).)  Walk down Appian Way, stopping at Catacombs of San Callisto for a tour (5 Euros each, open 8:30-12:00 and 2:30-5:30), and other tombs and ancient road markers along the way. 


2:30 PM: Buy tickets to Colosseum (frequent English guided tours, 4 Euros each + 10 Euro entrance fee) at less crowded ticket stand near Forum.  Tour Colusseum.


4:00 PM: We do the Caesar Shuffle!  With Colosseum as starting point, follow Rick Steves’ self-guided walk around ancient Rome, including…a stop at the Roman Forum, then over Capitol Hill to the Pantheon.


7:30 PM: Dinner with outdoor dining at Ristorante La Cabonara on Campo de’ Fiori (closed Tuesday,, or at Di Tirambo  (, Piazza della Cancelleria, 74-75; or Filetti de Baccala, one block off Campo de’ Fiori at Largo dei Librari 88 (open til 11 PM, no credit cards)


9:00 PM: Take the self-guided Night Walk Across Rome, from Campo de’ Fiori, one-mile stroll starting at Campo de’ Fiori, then through Piazza Navona (gelato stop at Tre Scalini café on Piazza Navona, home of world-famous tartufo, order to go for 4 Euros and sit in front of) The Four Rivers Fountain, Pantheon (gelato stop at Giolitti’s –ask for it con panna—at Via Uffici del Vicario, 40 for most famous gelato in Rome, available in coppetta: Follow Via Del Pantheon, on right side of Pantheon, facing away from its front, which after 100 m becomes via della Maddalena. About 200m further you will get to Via Degli Uficci del Vicario. Turn right, you'll find Giolitti on your left, near Piazza Montecitorio), Spanish Steps, and ending at Trevi Fountain


Take the Barberini Metro stop back to Hotel.


Monday, Sep 11


 8:00 AM: Breakfast and check out. 


9:00 AM: Walk down riverside to Mouth of Truth at Church of Santa Maria (From the Colosseum take the Via di San Gregorio VII until you meet the Via dei Cerchi on the right hand side, this leads to the Piazza Bocca della Verita)


Optional: Cross river to visit Trastavere (medieval) area of Rome.  Or visit Emperor Nero’s Palace (mandatory reservations for 50-minute tour, open 9-7:45).  Or explore Villa Borgese park.


11:30 PM: Walk to Snack Bar Gastronomia at Via Firenze 34 (Greek yogurt w/fruit and honey, sandwiches, salalds) for to-go lunch for train.  Walk to hotel and pick up luggage, and walk to Termini station.  (Or lunch at deli in Termini station off of Via Marsala.)


12:45 PM: Train to Naples, arriving at 2:30 PM.  Use underground passageway from train station to smaller Circumvesuviana train station for Sorrento, leaving at least every 30 minutes (67-minute journey, a few Euros each, get off at last stop)


4:45 PM: Buy tickets for SITA bus to Positano from tobacco shop in train station.  Board bus leaving every hour (1.30 Euro each) for Positano—40-minute trip, leaving from the square in front of the train station.  Sit on right side of bus for breathtaking view.  Get off at Sponda stop in Positano.


5:30 PM: Check in at Albergo California at Via Cristoforo Colombo 141 – 84017, Positano.  Rent quadruple room w/one extra bed (two bedrooms, two baths, 300 Euros/night).


6:00 PM: Stroll town, enjoy view.  View inside of cathedral, with Byzantine artifacts.


7:30 PM: Dinner at La Cambusa, on the Piazza Amerigo Vespucci—fresh fish dishes caught that morning in the bay, with large windows overlooking sea


Tuesday, Sep 12


9:30 AM: Breakfast on the terrace at Albergo California


10:30 AM: Get picnic lunch materials from Delikatessen in Positano to go


~11:00 AM: Water taxi from Positano to Amalfi Town, 30-min trip, 9 Euros each, with stunning coastal views.


11:30 AM: Stroll/shop in Amalfi.  Have our picnic lunch on a bench.


~2:00 PM:  15-min (each way) walk to Atrani, small rustic town outside of Amalfi with pretty town square and sandy beach


~6:00 PM: Water taxi back to Positano.


~7:30 PM: Dinner at Bruno or Caffe Positano or Santa Caterina or da Vincenzo or Da Giorgio or pizza at da Contantino at Via Montepertuso, 107, or Chez Black (below)


Wednesday, Sep 13


8:00 AM: Breakfast on terrace at Albergo California


9:05 AM: Take water taxi from Positano to Sorrento on Metro del Mare, arriving at 9:50 AM (10 Euros each).  Arrives at Marina Piccola, then 10-minute walk to Piazza Tasso, main square.  Another 5-minute walk to train station.


10:37 AM: Catch Circumvesuviana train from Sorrento to Pompeii, arriving at 11:06 AM.  (Leaves every 30 minutes.) Get off at Pompeii-Scavi Villa dei Misteri stop.  Shops and restaurants there.  5-minute walk to Pompeii entrance.


11:30 PM – 4:00 PM: Explore Pompeii with self-guided Rick Steves tour and/or local English language live tour.



4:16 PM: Catch Circumvesuviana train from Pompei to Sorrento, arriving at 4:47 PM


5:30 PM: Bus back to Positano


8:00 PM: Dinner in Positano at one of the places listed above.


11:00 PM: Overnight at Albergo California


Thursday, Sep 14


10:30 AM: Relax in our room and/or in Positano, check out before noon and hold luggage at front.


11:30 AM: Buy dinner snacks at Delikatessen (for eating at train station)


12:00 PM: Take free motorboat to Da Adolfo restaurant across main jetty to have late lunch.  Shellfish dishes and mozzarella in lemon leaves, etc.—reasonable prices.  Eat large meal (no real dinner today).


~4:45 PM: Buy tickets for SITA bus to Sorrento at Bar Mulino Verde on Via Colombo.


~5:00 PM: Catch SITA bus from Sponda bus stop in Positano to Sorrento (1.30 Euros each), arriving at 6:00 PM).


~6:30 PM: Circumvesuviana train from Sorrento to Naples (leaves every 30 minutes, 70-minute trip, 3.20 Euros each).


~7:30 PM: Eat packed dinner in Naples train station.


8:36 PM: Overnight train from Naples to Milan, arriving at 7:15 AM (non-stop) on Friday.  One 3-bed and one 2-bed compartment.


Friday, September 15


7:30 AM: Breakfast at cafeteria in train station


8:00 AM: 5-minute walk to Hotel “The Best” (Via Benedetto Marcello, 83) (rent one quad and one single) (  Store luggage until checking in later tonight.


12:00 PM: Lunch and shop at the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, glass-covered shopping arcade built in 1870, next to the Duomo.  Consider lunch at Bar Zucca in Galleria, former haunt of Verdi and Toscanini.


Or lunch at Luini ( bakery on Via Radegonda, 16, near Duomo, for traditional panzerotti foldover sandwiches; or at Ciao, a bakery chain across from the Duomo (Piazza Duomo, 24).  Or at Latteria Cucina Vegetariana (grocery store w/tables, just off Via Gtorina at Via dell’Unione 6) or at Pastarito Pizzarito (pizza and pasta in large portions, Via Verdi 6).


1:30 PM: Stroll through Piazza della Scala with statue of da Vinci.  Walk down Via Speronari (one of Milan’s oldest and most charming streets) and window ship at the Quadrilateral haute coutre area.


3:00 PM: Take 3-hour live guided bus tour of city by Autostradale, departing from Piazza Duomo.  (   Guided tour includes Cathedral - Gallery - Scala Theatre and Museum - Brera Gallery - Sforza Castle - Leonardo Last Supper (visit assured).  Fee: 47 Euro each, includes entrance to all monuments—credit cards accepted, reserve in advance.


6:00 PM: Peek into “Peck,” an aristocractic deli/coffee/gelato/grocery shop at Via Spadari 9, open until 7:30 PM.


7:00 PM: Dinner at Ristorante Bruno (RS, Via M. Gonzaga, 6 – self-service antipasto buffet, outdoor dining under fascist columns) OR L’Assassino (Via Amadei 8,


9:00 PM: Gelato from Odeon Gelateria on Piazza Duomo (next to McDonald’s), open daily until midnight


10:00 PM: Early to bed

Saturday, Sep 16


7:00 AM: Continental breakfast at the hotel. 


7:30 AM: Check out of hotel and walk 650 feet to train station.


8:00 AM: Catch STAM bus from train station to Linate airport (3.20 Euros, 3 per hour, 20-minute journey), arriving around 8:30 AM.  OR TAKE A TAXI FROM HOTEL TO AIRPORT (ABOUT 15 EUROS)


11:30 AM: Flight 565 to Heathrow, arriving at 12:30 PM. 


1:00 PM: Lunch at Est Est Est or Giraffe and shop at Harrods store at Heathrow.


4:05 PM: Flight 299 to O’Hare, arriving at 6:30 PM.


7:30 PM: Call for limo pickup to drive home.


Sunday, Sep 17


10:00 AM: church services in Kenosha or Palatine


12:00 PM: Lunch at Walker Brothers Pancake House


4:50 PM: Alexandra flies back to California on United Flight 645, arriving at 7:11 PM.