When I traveled to Istanbul in 1996, I had heard that a new Four Seasons Hotel had recently opened...at the site of an old prison. The hotel is built on the site of the Sultanahmet Jail. The jail, built in 1918/1919, had great historical significance to Istanbul history. Therefore, when the site was picked for the hotel, all efforts were made to incorporate the prison history into the hotel. The best part about the hotel though is its location. It is minutes from the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace. But the downside is all of the tourists swarming around. Read more...
The hotel we stayed at in Rome, the Boscolo Palace, a Marriott property, is in a prime location. Our concierge gave us a great 4-5 hour walking tour and included a fantastic restaurant for lunch. Within walking distance is the Trevi Fountain, Spanish Steps, The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the Coliseum and a myriad of freshly unearthed ruins. The restaurant was the Hosteria Romana. Only 3-4 blocks from the Trevi Fountain, we were the only tourists in there and the pasta was outstanding. The Boscolo Palace is right across the street from the US Embassy. The Boscolo Palace is not your typical gilded cage as so many Rome hotels are. It is noveau, small and caters to the discerning guest. The staff was incredible.
Rome. You can't shake a stick without hitting a ruin. If in the past you've been to the Coliseum, you would know that for years it has been under renovation and cleaning. Well, now the scaffolding is down and you can see the full spectrum of the spectacle. My husband and the other guy in our party kept wondering where Sparticus and Crixus (sic) were. They are Sparticus (the show) fans. Where would Sparticus do this? What would Crixus do? Boys. Anyway, if you want the "true" Coliseum effect, you can have your picture taken with a faux Roman guard. You can now go below the Coliseum and see where the gladiators were held, as well as the animals etc. It's a 90 minute tour and has to be booked with a private tour company (ask your concierge or any reputable tour book). There are PLENTY of faux guides, pssst, you looking for a guide? types. I would suggest not traveling to Rome around Easter (unless you want to do the Easter service with the Pope, which I've had the pleasure of doing, along with thousands of others) or during the Italian school spring breaks. We were there April 17-20 and the lines for sites were 2-3 hours long and the ferries around Capri, packed. Sorrento was mobbed (that pun was accidental).
This was really really disturbing. If you went to any of the sidewalk souvenir shops or newspaper stands, they had pin up calendars of...priests. Now I'm going to assume they were faux priests. I didn't look at the back of the calender but I'm sure that the Vatican didn't have anything to do with this but please. For American Catholics who have dealt with the child abuse scandals, this was over the top for me. I had to remember I was in Italy after all...My first trip to Italy, way back when, I was in a disco in Florence and there was a strip tease game show on the over head TV. It was something to see for a girl from a Texas town population 900.