Palazzo Campo

Venice Apartment Introductory Price

Canal View from Dorato Terrace
Canal View from Dorato Terrace

Italy Perfect Vacation Rentals is now offering the newly renovated Dorato vacation apartment in the Cannaregio neighborhood.  Just a short distance from San Marco and yet tucked away on a quiet street away from the throngs of tourists.

This luxury vacation apartment is large, bright and features a roof-top viewing area as well as a terrace on the main level that opens up the living room to the sky and Venetian rooftops.  The many windows and terraces overlook the Venetian skyline from Murano to the Grand Canal. Dozens of churches and belfries punctuate the vista and their noontime bells ring out as they have for centuries. Three bedrooms and three baths, all just renovated, offer comfort and function in style.

Exclusive apartment and special price! 12% off the weekly price through August.

Venice canal and bridge
Venice canal and bridge

Walking the streets of Venice is like starring in the movie version of your life, stepping into a time machine, a romance novel or a painting by Tiziano.  With not a single car in sight there are no beeping horns or encroaching smog; nothing here moves faster than a human can walk or a boat can glide.  The iconic sites such as San Marco and the Rialto Bridge are so beautiful without a modern touch.  We invite you to experience these delights.

The 56th Venice Biennale is on now!

Strange lights illuminate the Swiss pavillion at the Biennale.
Swiss pavillion at the Biennale.

This is a great year to visit Venice. The Biennale Art Exhibit lasts until November 22nd. It is the largest contemporary art exhibition in the world, with curated pavilions, performances and installations in the Venice gardens and the old navy Arsenal, as well as private exhibits in palaces through-out Venice. For art lovers and explorers, this massive landscape of creativity is a destination that should not be missed.

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The ZTL – Avoid Restricted Traffic Zones & Fines in Italy

Are you thinking of cruising around in your rental car, pulling up to the doorstep of your vacation rental in the center of Rome or Florence, unloading your bags and then chancing upon a handy parking garage or, better yet, street parking? Think again…

Driving in Italy takes some careful planning if your route takes you through a major city. Before you book that rental car heed this advice because it is really, and we mean really, daunting to avoid the infamous ZTL, the limited traffic zones which throttle traffic in the city centers.

Watch For the Signs With a Red Circle

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To reduce air and noise pollution in city centers, Italy has established “Restricted Traffic Zones” (Zona Traffico Limitato – ZTL) with limitations on driving during certain days and hours. The nice thing about the limited traffic zones is that many city streets are now lovely pedestrian zones, where you can stroll and linger without being overwhelmed by traffic zipping past, honking horns and exhaust fumes. Vehicle access to these zones is normally limited to local residents, public transport, emergency services and specific permit holders. The entry points are normally clearly indicated by signs and are controlled by cameras that automatically read the registration numbers of all entering vehicles; the numbers are then checked against a list of authorized vehicles and, if no match is found, the offending driver is issued a fine of about €100 or more, which will then be delivered by mail or added to your rental car costs.

This can catch tourists by surprise because the boundaries of the ZTLs generally include most of the sites and monuments that you would like to visit.

Decoding ZTL Signs

ztl aHere’s a primer to better understand the signs. These photos of signs shows the hours of the days of the week when access to this particular sector is restricted. The “car” symbol indicates the restrictions that apply to private vehicles. The “man with the hand cart” icon refers to the restrictions that are enforced to commercial vehicles delivering goods to the businesses inside the ZTL sector. The “crossed hammers” signify working days (usually Monday to Saturday). Should restrictions be applied on Sundays and/or festivities, a Latin cross symbol is used.

In some zones, the restricted access time can be variable. In such instances, the ZTL sign is complemented by an electronic board signaling whether the ZTL restrictions are in effect/active (“ZTL ATTIVA”).

If you study the ZTL signs, zones and schedules ZTL3for locations of interest, you may be able to find times of day when you can freely drive through the areas. Each city posts their zones and schedules online. But general advice to short-term tourists is to either drop your rental car or to park it. It’s simply not worth the hassle, delays and fines to try to drive in the ZTL zones.

If you are going to stay within a ZTL,  plan ahead to turn in a rental car or to park it. You need a garage that is either outside the ZTL or that can register you for temporary access. If you are staying at a hotel and want to drive to it before parking your car, contact the hotel directly to see if they can get you temporary access and also ask them to copy you on their request in case of a future dispute. If  you are staying in an Italy Perfect vacation rental, please contact us and we will give you advice for your situation. We can tell you the closest rental car drop point or garage.

The ZTL in Rome

Roma ZTLMuch of central Rome is affected by traffic limitations.

In addition to the traffic restrictions defined by the ZTL, some areas of central Rome are pedestrianized. While strolling in the evidently pedestrian zones, you still need to keep your wits about you because vehicles still zip through either by special permission or by ignoring the law.

The ZTL in Florence

florence_ztl_mapWith only about one ninth of the inhabitants of Rome, beautiful Florence is a much smaller city, but equally packed with artistic and historical treasures, especially, as you would expect, in its ZTL. The good news is that, the city being so much smaller, the ZTL is too, and can mostly be explored on foot.

If you are coming to Florence just for the day or are staying outside the ZTL, you can park at the Santa Maria Novella train station underground car park  or at the San Lorenzo car park at the central market and then walk from there.

No ZTL restrictions in Venice

Venice is an exceptional city, also in the sense that it is the exception; there is no ZTL in the city: there just is no road traffic at all.

Italy Perfect hopes you find this information helpful. With a bit of advance planning you can have a safe and smooth trip!

Feature photo by Kim (CC)

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Indispensable Italian Coffee Primer

The caffeine landscape in Italy is rich with ritual and tradition. The espresso is as much a staple as pizza and wine.  Italy is very traditional in its choice of coffees; popular American and British brands have never really made their mark here. So the Starbucks vocabulary such as latte and venti, while they are Italian words, don’t mean the same thing in an authentic Italian cafè. And don’t expect to come across your usual choice of Starbucks, Caffè Nero, Peet’s or Tim Horton’s.

Cafe_Florian

First of all let’s get our terms straight: There’s the cafè and then there’s caffè. If you ask an Italian barista for a caffè, you will be served an espresso, while a cafè is the place where you go to drink coffee, however most Italians refer to a cafè as a bar as in ‘snack bar’.  These family owned bars are bustling hot-spots for the pre-work crowd.  The baristas are centers of their neighborhood community, they brighten up the morning with a tiny cup of espresso served with a smile; and they keep up-to-date on local gossip!

If one shot of caffeine is not enough to get you moving, you can always ask for a caffè doppio, which is two espressos served together in a larger cup and guaranteed to wake you up and keep you buzzing!

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The ubiquitous cappuccino is one of the most popular coffee styles in the world; it is an espresso infused in a tea-sized cup with hot frothy milk. The name cappuccino, by the way, is derived from the Capuchin Friars, whose habit is brown and white like the beverage with an alternative explanation that the cup with its ring of foam looks like the monk’s tonsure (shaved top of head).  If you want equal parts of coffee to milk, ask for a cappuccino chiaro (light colored cappuccino).

The locals, by the way, probably won’t be ordering either type after 10am. Italians are very protective of their health, and the thought of having to digest coffee with milk after morning time can send them into spasms of worry. You can get away with sipping a caffè macchiato (literally meaning stained, as you stain it with a drop of milk); akin to a mini caffè latte.

Caffe_cornetto

Italians do not take their coffee to-go in a big paper cup, but drink it rather quickly standing at the bar. The price is higher if you take it to a table or have it served there. That said, we have lately seen a few tourists carrying their big paper cups of coffee on the streets of Italy. Some smart bar owners have figured out how to appeal to the Starbucks-addicted!

Caffe_corretto

You will find Italian coffee served in all sorts of varieties and all sorts of proportions besides the aforementioned beverages. Here are some of the most popular styles of Italian coffee:

  • Caffè ristretto, which has the same amount of coffee but brewed with less water, and the caffè lungo, a slightly more diluted espresso still served in a small cup
  • Caffè corretto (literally, coffee that has been corrected with a shot of alcoholic beverage, normally sambuca or grappa), caffè Borghetti, an espresso served with a splash of Borghetti liquor (popular with soccer players and consumed at break time),
  • Caffè con schiuma (froth), prepared by either lightly beating it or blowing steam through it, caffè schiumato with its splotch of frothy milk, the caffè con panna, an espresso with a dollop of whipped cream
  • Caffè freddo, an iced coffee normally served in the summer
  • Gran caffè speciale, a delicious creamy double espresso only served at one of Italy’s coffee holy places, Rome’s Sant’Eustachio coffee bar
  • Caffè latte, usually just called a white coffee in England and traditionally a home-made Italian breakfast drink of coffee with heated milk added to it
  • Caffè Americano is the Italian take on American style coffee.
  • Caffè Hag, which has become synonymous with all decaffeinated coffee (Hag is a brand of decaf). Either ask for a caffè Hag or a deca, the result will be the same.
  • Two new coffees snaking their way into Italian life; the mocaccino, a mixture of coffee and hot chocolate, and the caffè al Ginseng, said to enhance virility.
  • And, saving the best for last, the granita di caffè con panna. This yummy coffee slushy is served with whipped cream or even without.
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5 Stunning Roman Rooftops

It is a true Roman virtue to relax in the afternoon when the sun is shining. From spring through autumn, Rome is blessed with many sunny days and temperate weather. Drink in the timeless skyline and feast on the panorama of golden-hued history.

These 5 rooftops are a few of our favorite relaxing spots for morning coffee, sunset drinks, and cityscape-gazing in between adventures in Rome’s historic center. Continue reading