Peter is a very nice and smart guy, working and living in Holland, but deeply in love with Italy and with Todi!
We didn’t meet in Todi, but in the Internet: thanks to Twitter I discovered that he has already been in Todi for 2 times! He came to learn Italian at the local Language School of Todi.
So I asked him to write a short post about his experience in Todi…and here it is!
MY EXPERIENCE IN TODI, by Peter Jonker
This year I’m back in Todi for the third time to try to improve my Italian. For 2 weeks I attend the La Lingua La Vita school. It’s a small school with very friendly, highly educated and very dedicated teachers. Through the school I also booked my appartment with complementary stunning views of the Umbrian landscape.
But why learn Italian in Italy? Well, first of all I love Italy, and everything Italian. But having been in Italy many times I don’t want to be a just a tourist. I want to be Italian! I want to be able to “blend in”, be part of Italian culture, tradition and everday life. In Rome, do as the Romans do. But then in Todi!
After the first course in Italy (which I took many years ago in Florence), I was amazed how much you can learn in just 2 weeks. All day long you hear Italian, you have to speak Italian, read Italian. Basically, you’re surrounded by Italian (and Italians!) all day long. Even after speaking your first shaky sentence, with many errors, you will get many compliments – “You speak Italian so good!!”. I’m convinced that you learn more in 2 weeks doing a course in Italy than in 2 years doing a weekly course at home. I do a standard course, which means class from 9:00 till 13:00. You can also choose for a more intensive course if you prefer. But for me it’s also my holiday, so I keep the afternoons free for trips.
Peter and Elisa on Piazza del Popolo
Personally I prefer a smaller school, like this one in Todi, to the bigger schools in Rome and Florence. There is more personal attention and classes are smaller. However, if you want to meet a lot of (young) people, you might prefer the big cities.
Now about Todi.
The thing I like about Todi is that it is not too touristy. Yes, there are quite some tourist during the day, but most of them leave at night. So you have the place for yourself again!
If you prefer, or only have time for, a one-day visit (still better to visit for one day than not at all!), you may want to consider hiring a local guide, like Elisa. Todi is small, and it’s a great way to see all the highlights and hidden gems that way. But to get a real intimate feel for the city, you should stay a bit longer.
Well, I’ve been in Todi 3 times now, so you might be hoping for some tips. You should know that I didn’t try all the restaurants (yet), and still haven’t seen everything yet. So the following is just a personal list. I may be missing some amazing restaurants I didn’t visit yet. Having visited many restaurants I found that the reviews on Tripadvisor provide a pretty fair assesment, so you might want to check their site.
First of all: for coffee and icecream I always go to Pianegiani. They’re always so friendly, serve a cappuccino with a heart, and have amazing icecream.
Peter at Gelateria Pianegiani
For dinner I often went to Osteria della Valle, which is (amazingly for Italy) run by a Scotsman with a passion for local food. Great atmosphere, superb food. It’s popular, and therefore quite often full, so you might want to book in advance.
On the other hand, if it’s full you could try the (even smaller) Enoteca Oberdan on the other side of the road, adjacent to the little park. They have a great selection of wine and very tasty food.
Also full? No problem, cross the street again and try Pane e Vino. Good food, and also here always very friendly service.
If you have a bit more to spend , you could try La Cantina del Mercataccio, which also has a terrace with stunning views.
For less money, go to the next-door Cavour pizzeria, not so much for the food (simple pizzas), but for the terrace with similar stunning views.
This year I went to Trattoria da Piero and Silvana a couple of times. A really traditional trattoria with simple, but tasteful food. And again: friendly service. I haven’t provided addresses, phone numbers, they’re easily found on the internet, or just ask someone in the street. They will know. Todi is small, so all restaurants are within a 10 minute walk.
I can’t give you any tips on hotels, because I have been staying in appartments (in my case provided by the school), which might be the best thing to do if you’re staying for a week or longer. There are some beautiful hotels in and around Todi, but I’d suggest checking Tripadvisor or contact Elisa.
There is another good thing about Todi, and that’s the location. There are a lot of beautiful little cities closeby (Orvieto, Spello, Bevagna, Spoleto, Montefalco to name just a few), and Perugia is about an hour’s drive. This year I brought a Michelin map (apart from my navigation system), and planned some trips using the green (scenic) roads. They are amazing. They have some experts working at Michelin! Another free tip: enter “Petroro, Umbria” in your navigation system. I won’t explain, just do it.
The area around Todi is stunning. But I would really recommend renting a car (there is no car rental in Todi as far as I know). Public transport is available, but it will require quite a lot of advance planning. If you book your car in advance, you might get a decent deal. For a 2-week rental at Hertz (Fiat 500, I always ask for an Italian car of course!) I paid 270 euros (may 2013). Roads can be in pretty bad condition, so don’t drive too fast. And why should you anyway?
So, that’s all very positive. There must be some negative points? I think it really depends on what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a vibrant nightlife, Todi is not for you. If you’re looking for diner at 6 o’clock, bring some biscuits (19:30 is really the earliest time to arrive at a restaurant). If you enjoy shopping, there’s really just a small selection of shops. If you have just one day to visit, don’t come on a monday, almost everything is closed then. Streets in Todi are steep, really steep. And narrow, which doen’t mean there are no cars. Parking within the city walls is nearly impossible. Best way is to park at the local supermarket (Conad) and walk up (steep) to the city centre. If you prefer not to walk, there is also a paid parking, with an escalator to the city centre.
But well, that’s all hardly negative, is it?
And saved for last, here’s my ultimate tip: come to Todi. Take your time. And enjoy!
Thank you Peter! Only one thing…in Todi there are two car rentals!!!