Sunday, April 3

Tante Belle Cose: April in Rome & Italy

March may herald in gorgeous spring weather, but the best part about March is the preview it gives us on April events across the boot. March means we are treated to an onslaught of information about what’s in store once the trees are in full bloom and the wisteria & jasmine scents make you feel as though you're in a lovely perfume shop.  But once you've gotten your head out of the clouds and around the mis-marketing of those events, and maybe figure out how – if ever – to reserve a place online, you’re really good to get there, if not good to go in and enjoy them firsthand.

In Rome, April truly kicks off the tourist season – especially with so many making their pilgrimage to Vatican City for Easter. This month, a whole host of events surrounding Pope John Paul II’s ‘Santo Subito’ Sainthood – on May 1st are planned.  And, to make things easier, they’ve even devised a ‘Pope Pass’.  Fittingly called the PJPII PASS (and not the Italian, PGP...) it entitles you to unlimited transport on buses, a city tour on the ORP's yellow guided tour bus (just ignore the crummy audio) and other treats. Check out http://www.jpiibeatus.org/it/site/specialPass for more information.*

April 4-10 marks the ‘We’ve Named it in English so it Must be Good’ Week…or rather, ‘Restaurant Week’ [actually, I've been informed that it's an int'l organization thus the name]. You can enjoy 3-course gourmet meals provided by select restaurants for a fraction of the cost.  You can find info on participating ristoranti – errrr restaurants  – make that dining establishments at www.diningcity.com or www.restaurantweek.it .

**But, since I spent 40 minutes trying to make a reservation on DiningCity.com, save yourself the time&energy, & and simply follow my instructions-for-use posted in the comments below.

April is also the month we get a Week of Culture at Italy’s State-Owned Museums (usually, the Biggies – like the Colosseum or the Uffizi). Enjoy Free Entrance to the – WTF?! – most popular museums April 7-10th – A welcome event, sure, but one of those obtuse non-marketing practices whereby we don’t get enticed to discover the treasure troves of the little-known places filled with great works, but rather get to join the already-obscene crowds at the mobbed-on-a-slow-day-in-midwinter mass market houses of art.

As for me, I’ll try my luck taking in Agri-Culture that same week at the Fiera dei Cavalli, a showcase of thousands of horses, equestrian events, and all things ippo-related…Note to self: take an anti-histamine before leaving the house!

April wraps up with Rome's Birthday Celebrations (April 21st) and the Nation's Liberation Day festivities (April 25th) - see my blog entry about the tempest in a tatsa over this now-controversial festa.

But as for Belle Cose this past March, we were treated to Chocolate Festivals across the country. Hard to explain this right smack dab during lent, when probably everyone you know (well, at least women) has given it up. Yet another indication of the marketing prowess of my paesani. It's just one more sign from above as to how far astray the flock has in fact, strayed.
And so this March we were treated to the Cioccolatò Festival in Torino, featuring an entire country of monuments created in pure dark ambrosia, and in the spirit of equal time, another in the South – held in Vulcano Buono di Nola. And for those (most likely men) who gave up alcohol for lent, never fear – the devil awaits to tempt you at the 45th edition of Verona’s VinItaly held before Easter as well.

Perhaps it’s actually some sort of test of your willpower or a way to pay for indulgences – As for me, as I indulge in my umpteenth chocolate truffle, it certainly makes me think of the Divine...


* And for those of you daring enough to descend on Vatican City this April, don't forget to download my Audioguide narrated by the inimitable Art Historian Nun, Sister Wendy Beckett - for a complete tour of St. Peter's Basilica, the Vatican Museums & Sistine Chapel  www.touringtracks.com

4 comments:

Francesca Maggi said...

I was forewarned - but I still didn't think it would take 20+ clicks to make a reservation. So, here's my quick&easy user's guide to - attempting- to navigate thru www.diningcity.com , so you won't be left with a bitter taste in your mouth:

1) Ignore entire website except the groovy - Check Restaurants - right at the very top

2) Pick your date and up will pop an entire listing of available places

3) Click to make your reservation

Some places (and it's almost impossible to know what they are, but let's just say, the fanciest of them all) will charge 35 euro per person and not the 25 as advertised.
You might want to call the place and ask which they are before reserving, unless of course, you want the top establishment.

Francesca Maggi said...

I wrote a complaint letter to the folks at DiningCity.com and they took the time to post me an indepth response, replete with stats.
So, I stand corrected on many issues (read his comment below)

DiningCity said...

1. We’ve Named it in English so it Must be Good’ Week:

We (diningcity.com) call it Restaurant Week almost all over the world, The Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Singapore, and in Shanghai China, only in Austria we call it restaurantwoche.

I do not think we should call it “La Settimana della Ristorazione”

2. Don’t try looking up 'Restaurant Week' to find the deals

Actually, it comes up in the first slots on google.

3. Clearly, they’re after the Tourist Trade

The restaurant week is an event for the local population, we already bring the restaurants plenty of foreigners through

http://www.diningcity.com/italy/rome/index.html

In 2010:

- We brought 5816 foreigners from all over the world to restaurants in Rome

-1181 Italians from all over Italy to restaurants in Rome

- November 2010 the Rome Restaurant Week saw 6022 Italians, probably from in & around Rome to restaurants in Rome

4. To find us, just type in the google “restaurants in rome” you will find us on the very first entry.

In Italian you will not find us yet because we just changed our portal – we are working on the SEO for the Italian, Belgium. Chinese, French, Spanish, Hungarian, Austrian, pages

- 20 clicks per scoprire come si prenotata (finendo per desperazione sui FAQs)???!!!

Up to now 5000 persons have booked for the Restaurant Week, so it must be relatively simple to book.
I counted 5 clicks to make a reservation

- Clickando 25 o 35 euro? mi arriva lista di solamente quelli di 35 - non prenotabile ovviamente da li'

Its obvious that the other restaurants are at 25.00 Euro and we have not had any complaints yet from any of the 215.000 visitors so it must be clear to them

- Trova ristorante - la prima volta risulta nessuna pagina

Could it be your PC or Mac?

- 25 o 35 euro - con parziale lista si riferisce a 15-21 novembre ????

We are changing it thank you for letting us know

- la diciatura 'si puo' prenotare solamente dal sito - home page' e' sbagliato in quanto per prenotare devi cliccare ancora...

No comment

- Cliccare dal Home Page - Lista Ristoranti Aderenti si passa alla scelta Milano/Roma (daccordo - ma sempre meglio scegliere direttamente dal HomePage) -

Cliccare Roma si finisce nel laberinto da Harry Potter:

No comment

Best regards,
Robert Schmits
Managing Director

Francesca Maggi said...

While I did not know it was an int'l event, and remain impressed, the stats to me simply indicate either:

a) how many people - especially in Italy - are used to the Suduko game which is website navigation before hitting the jackpot (as I did myself)
or
b) most likely ended up like me on the FAQs (not labeled as such) to figure out how to reserve. Nice & easily explained, which could have been fostered by just labeling -

Look for a Restaurant & Reserve Here!

As for his 'No Comments', if he's happy, I'm happy...But no, if you click on 25 or 35 euro and get a listing of some spots of 35 euro, wouldn't it be easier to simply say, "Top Restaurants for 35 euro" and allow you to reserve there??

Or, if you click Find a Restaurant in Rome, and it opens to Choose Between Rome & Milano and then you click on Rome, and it then offers an unclickable listing of restaurants, so you still can't get a reservation, and have to Pass GO and not collect your Spaghetti alle Vongole, well, then, I have No Further Comment.