Hi All--My husband and I seem to have fallen in love with Rome and Italy in general, particularly the food, and are having trouble, as we plan our next trip this year, in getting ourselves excited about other options. We first went to Rome 5 years ago and loved the food and cappuccinos--no fine dining, just lots of trattorias and osterias and pizza rustica. We also thought the city was beautiful, and the chaos that many people don't love about Rome just made it all the better for us. Last year we planned our first international trip since having children and decided to go to Rome again. Once again, it was great. This year we're determined to go somewhere else, but are having trouble settling on a spot. Here's what we're looking for: 1) great food; again we won't be doing any fine dining 2) hopefully great coffee (but not necessary) 3)a food culture that can be enjoyed in the morning and afternoon and, if possible, before 8pm in the evening (our kids are young, and we won't have a sitter) and 4) a beautiful place--we tend to find medieval cities/quarters beautiful with crumbling old buildings and cobblestone streets. 5) a place that is relatively safe (we were pretty intrepid before having kids, but . . .). We are thinking Europe, but are certainly open to other countries/ parts of the world. We think we want to be in a city, but are open to rural areas. We like to go places outside of the tourist season--I hate to be in with a crush of other Americans when I'm somewhere else.
I know that "great food" is open to interpretation--what we mean is something fresh and well-made that reflects the country/locality and is generally not available in the U.S. In terms of the culture, we'd consider anything, but we tend to love vacationing in places where the overall culture tends to be more expressive/exhuberant/chaotic than straight-laced and reserved.
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! This is my first post--I've loved reading the boards for the past year, but have never previously registered. Feel free to tell me if I've breached any etiquette or anything--I'm not part of any other online communitites, so this is all new to me!