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Old 05-25-2009, 12:51 PM   #1
stultress
Earning My Ears
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Posts: 20

Viva Italia trip report - 4/30-5/8/09 (adults only trip)

My husband and I kept a travel blog for our family and friends, but it contains information about things that were "surprises" during the trip, and I don't want to spoil things for anyone. So here is the edited version for those of you who have an upcoming Viva Italia adventure or are thinking about booking this trip. Andiamo!

Day 1: Benvenuto

We made it! After 15 hours of traveling and 35 hours with no sleep, we have now made it to the end of our first day in Rome. I am happy to report that our bags arrived in Rome at the same time as we did, although they were a little worse for the wear. One of the outside zipper pockets on Daniel’s suitcase split open, so some kindly airport workers somewhere along the way taped it back together for him. My lovely green Eddie Bauer now has some unidentified black smudges all over the front. Daniel says it gives it character. Somehow we were able to slip right out of the Rome airport without going through customs. Disney magic, perhaps? I hope it doesn’t present any problems when we show back up at the airport to leave and we have no stamp showing that we ever arrived!

Despite the failure of our plan to sleep on the flight to Amsterdam (let me just say there was a German dance team involved), we sucked it up and went through with our plan to visit the Borghese Gallery today. We are glad we did. There was so much to see, but the Bernini sculptures and Carravagio paintings were by far the highlight of our visit. Daniel and I had a great time opining on Bernini’s artistic skill as well as his masterful engineering. Even though we had seen all of his sculptures before on TV, nothing could compare to seeing them in person. I was absolutely amazed by all the different textures Bernini used within each individual piece. Bernini’s work is famous for the action that it shows, as well as the “air” that is incorporated into each scene (as opposed to pieces that are just a solid piece of marble), but words really cannot describe how impressive each piece actually is. Genious comes close, but still it does not seem like enough.

After the museum we rested for a bit before meeting our group for our welcome reception and dinner. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there is another couple our age (just one, though), and they just happen to be from Clarksville, TN. There are 28 of us total, and I think it is going to be a fun group of people. We’ve got a full day tomorrow exploring ancient Rome, so now we’re off to sleep. More to come tomorrow. Ciao!

Last edited by stultress; 05-25-2009 at 06:53 PM.
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Old 05-25-2009, 12:57 PM   #2
stultress
Earning My Ears
 
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Day 2 - All Roads Lead to Rome

Some things I forgot to mention in my tired state yesterday. (I refuse to say that I was jet lagged since I spent $12 on my No Jet Lag tablets before we left home. I did feel dizzy/light headed last night, almost like I had been on a boat all day)….

From our lovely room at the Hotel Bernini Bristol, we have a view of the Piazza Barberini featuring Bernini’s Triton Fountain. Bellisimo!

On our way to and from the Borghese Gallery yesterday we unknowingly strolled one of the most famous streets in Rome – the Via Veneto. Apparently it was once the hangout of Sophia Loren and her famous friends, and was featured in “La Dolce Vida.” It’s right outside our door!

So on to today’s adventures…we began with breakfast at the hotel, and Daniel and I had our first cappuccinos here in Italia (actually, it was Daniel’s first cappuccino ever). After having our fill of eggs, meats, cheeses, fruit, and cereal, we were off. We started with the Colosseum, where we were able to completely bypass the enormous ticket line and walk right in, thanks to the magic of Disney. Oh, by the way, today happened to be a holiday in Italy – Labor Day. Not that we would know the difference, but according to our guides, everything was even more crowded than usual. I was afraid we were not going to have much time in the Colosseum, but we were actually there for about an hour to an hour and a half – plenty of time to see it all! After the Colosseum we walked to the Roman Forum, where we saw the center of the world. We saw the spot where Caesar’s body was burned, the temple of the vestal virgins, and many other ruins. Afterwards it was time for lunch in a local trattoria. After a salad dressed with the most delicious olive oil we have ever tasted (obviously) we enjoyed four different types of pizza. Our table won the award for the most pizzas consumed (five pizzas between the four of us – well four and a half really because one of them had some really stinky cheese on it. Hey, we gave it a shot. But Daniel almost threw up). It was a blessedly long lunch of leisure, capped off with our first shots of Espresso, again a Daniel first.

After lunch we walked to the Spanish steps, although we really couldn’t see any steps due to all the people sitting there. Apparently, today is the only day of the year that there are flowers on the steps, so we lucked out there. Next we saw the amazing Trevi fountain and tossed in our coins, ensuring that we will one day return to Roma. Then it was on to the Pantheon, where it was much easier getting in than out. Finally, we strolled to the Piazza Navona, where we enjoyed Bernini’s Four Rivers Fountain and our first of what will surely be a lot of gelato. All of this was before 6:00, and I must say that I wasn’t even tired. Hooray for Disney, and hooray for Espresso!

After a few hours rest we are now ready to hit the town once again for pictures, shopping, and maybe some vino. Tomorrow we’ll visit another country – Vatican City – and have the afternoon to explore on our own. It’s already going by too fast. We’re having a great time and can’t wait to show everyone the 350 pictures we took today. I’m not kidding about that. Ciao ciao for now!
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:08 PM   #3
stultress
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Day 3 - Let's Be Civilized

After breakfast and cappuccino we boarded our coach, bound for the Vatican. We began by visiting the Vatican Museum, although what we saw was only a very small fraction of the treasures there. Of course, nothing could compare to what we saw next – the Sistine Chapel. I had no idea what to expect, but it really was incredible. I had forgotten that the chapel was actually Michelangelo’s first attempt at painting; he was a sculptor first. I guess it’s a good thing he started small. Certainly no words of mine can do justice to what we saw, so I will just say that once again my mind was blown. It is just so amazing to me that someone can have that kind of talent. But what’s even more amazing is that men like Michelango and Bernini were incredible painters AND sculpters. In my mind it seems impossible that someone who is so exceptionally gifted at painting could also produce unbelievable sculptures. It almost seems unfair! One thing of which I am certain, though, is that such talent is a gift from God, and I have now seen it with my own eyes.

Before we ever entered the museum our local guide, Christina, gave us a lot of information on the artwork using an informational board outside. She was very entertaining, and I am happy to say that I got it on video. I haven’t talked about Christina yet, but she was with us for both of our full days in Rome. She is simply a fountain of information about Rome and all of the different things we saw. I know I missed a lot of what she said during those two days because I must say that I had a hard time listening and looking at the same time. I love the way she talks, though. I think I could just listen to her voice all day long.

After the Sistene, we got to bypass the ridiculously long line and walk straight into the Basilica. Boy, did we get some dirty looks. Once again, it was not what I expected. You walk right in, and there is Michelangelo’s Pieta. There was so much to see inside I almost forgot to look up at the dome. Despite all the relics, the altarpiece, and everything else, I finally remembered where I was – in the heart of Christendom – and, realizing that I may never have this opportunity again, said a short prayer of thanks for all of God’s blessings.

Next, we spent some time in St. Mark’s square and took some pictures, then we took a short walk to the Ristorante Venerina for lunch. Four courses later, it was back on the coach then to the hotel for a few phone calls home before enjoying the rest of the day on our own. We were a little confused when our first phone call was met with an answering machine at the Turners’. We couldn’t figure out why no one would be there to answer at 7:30 a.m. It wasn’t until I heard the confusion in my mom’s voice when she answered that we realized it was actually Saturday, which meant mom and dad Turner were in Heber. We really have had no concept of days/dates since we’ve been here, but we really don’t have a reason to, either.

Despite the beautiful weather we had enjoyed all day, at some point during our break it began to pour down rain. Not wanting to waste our last afternoon just because of a little rain, we broke out the umbrella and set off for a nearby church, Santa Maria della Vittoria, to see Bernini’s St. Theresa in Ecstasy. This is one of the churches/statues featured in Angels and Demons, but it was much smaller than I would have expected. After paying our respects to the body of Santa Maria, we bought a calendar and zipped past the lady who was pretending to take donations at the door.

By the time we left the church, the sunshine had returned, so we continued with our plan to take the open air bus tour. We just missed the first one that came by, so after a short wait we hopped on and grabbed our seats up on the roof. The tour took us past many of the sights we had already seen and some we hadn’t. It was a great way to get video of the sights, although anyone who watches it may want to take some Dramamine beforehand. I had fun trying to capture the essence of traveling within Rome, where there are no traffic lanes (and apparently no rules) and buses and pedestrians peacefully co-exist. We were highly entertained by the indifferent demeanor of the locals as the buses barrel toward and past them.

We ended our bus tour at the Piazza del Popolo, where we intended to check out the Berninis, Carravaggios, and Rafaels inside Santa Maria del Popolo. Unfortunately for us, it was time for mass, and the Chigi Chapel was being restored, so we caught only a glimpse before we had to exit. The organ music provided a chilling soundtrack for that part of the video, though! We decided to take the Metro back to the hotel, so we were glad we had ridden the subway so much in New York and had an idea of what we were doing. It took a few moments to figure out the ticket machine, but once we did it was smooth sailing from there. We got back to the hotel and tried to make a withdrawal from the ATM, but it wouldn’t read our card. We got a little worried by this, but we decided to try another machine just up the street. That one worked, so we loaded up on cash for our trip to Tuscany. We had seen a tavola calda during the bus tour that looked like it would be a good spot for dinner, so now that we were pros, we hopped back on the metro and zipped up to the area of the Termini train station. For antipasti we shared three different types of bruschette that were all delicious. Then Daniel had his first plate of authentic Italian spaghetti and I had some yummy tortellini. We were sitting outside, so we were approached a few times by people trying to sell things, but by this time we had learned not to engage and after a short “non” they left us alone. I am still trying to figure out why anyone would be selling a stuffed dog that sings Shania Twain, but I haven’t come up with anything yet.

After a metro ride back, we hit up a souvenir shop and then I talked Daniel into getting some gelato. As we crossed back to the hotel, we saw “the Texans” Stephen and Kim taking pictures in the piazza, and they told us that they and “the New Yorkers” would be hosting a wine tasting on the roof at 10:00. With a plan in place to do some packing and upload our pictures from the day before joining them on the roof, we headed back upstairs. And that’s what disaster struck. For some reason we cannot explain, Daniel had lost 100 pictures, including the ones from Vatican City. I had my camera, of course, but like Daniel said – my pictures are my experience and his pictures are his experience. So it was still a hard blow, and I can understand that. After the initial shock wore off, we did join the folks on the roof, and we were so glad we did. With the great wine, fantastic company, and one of the best views in Rome, how could we not have a fabulous time? By the time we got to bed Daniel had gotten over his disappointment, and we were both looking forward to our time in the country.
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:14 PM   #4
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Day 4 - Etruscan Roots

With our time in Rome at its end, we got in our Mercedes to travel to Orvieto. Okay, it was a Mercedes bus, but that’s still a Mercedes. After our guide, Mara, paid for us all to use the restroom, we took a funicular up to the ancient Estrucan town of Orvieto. An uphill climb to the center of town revealed the outstanding Duomo – truly a sight to behold. Orvieto, while still not big, was bigger than I thought it would be. I was expecting there to be maybe four or five shops there, but there were way more shops than we ever could have seen in two hours. I also didn’t expect there to be so many people there shopping and sightseeing, but apparently Orvieto is the place to be in Umbria. After a photo op at the overlook, we were on our own to shop and explore the village.

Daniel and I walked down (and sometimes up) some side streets before getting back to the main road to spend some cash. First we picked up some wine and olive oil, not thinking that we were going to have to carry all that around with us for the rest of the day. The purchase made, we went back to an art gallery I had noticed on the way up. The gallery was that of Umberto Verdirosi,(www.verdirosi.com), a charming man who tried his best to tell us about his work, although he doesn’t speak a lick of English. Ladies and gentleman, I now have a favorite artist. For some reason his work really appealed to me, and Daniel said he has never seen me light up like that about art. After much deliberation, I decided on a numbered lithograph, and I talked Daniel into getting the framed watercolor he had been admiring. Our purchases made, we asked Verdirosi to take a photo with us, and he happily obliged. I would describe Verdirosi’s style as surrealist, although I’m not sure if he would. Anyway, I am really excited to find a spot in our house for my unique new piece of art.

I managed to ask Verdirosi if we could leave our bag there until our way out since we had to trek back up to the top to meet the group, and he said it was no problema. So we lightened our load and climbed the cobblestone hill once more. We decided to pick up two panini con porchetta (wild boar) to enjoy on the bus before meeting up with the group. We took another “family photo” with our group in front of the duomo, and then it was time to leave for the villa. We picked up our bag on the way back down and said a final arrivederci to Verdirosi, who was working away on a new piece at the time. Back down the funicular and onto the coach, we only had one more stop before our Tuscan destination. Although my eyes did not want to stay open, I told myself to enjoy the view of the countryside until we reached the Autogrille. It’s basically a gas station and convenience store. It was somewhere between a fancy 7-Eleven and a mini-Walmart that sells wine and cheese.

The ascent to the villa was an experience in itself. Luckily, our driver Marius has had a lot of experience maneuvering the narrow roads that wind up to the top where the villa is. Once we arrived, we enjoyed a light snack in the courtyard while Tinkerbell took care of our luggage. After a few minutes to freshen up, we got back on the coach for the two-minute ride to the cantina for a wine tasting. The sommelier, Alberto, presided over our tasting of two of the different wines that are produced right here in Artimino. Once we were finished we headed upstairs for dinner and, of course, more wine. Another four-course meal ended with a plan for everyone to bring their newly purchased wine to the courtyard. Our group from the night before grew to include a few more people, and we all hung out in the courtyard until it got too loud and we got “kicked in” to the bar, where the fun continued. Even though everyone was “done” before we left the courtyard, somehow three more bottles of wine were consumed after we got inside. Needless to say, another great day was followed by another great night.
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:15 PM   #5
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For anyone who happens to find this in the next few hours, I will finish cutting and pasting later tonight!
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Old 05-25-2009, 01:55 PM   #6
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Thanks for the report, can't wait to read more!
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Old 05-25-2009, 06:35 PM   #7
stultress
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Day 5 - Tuscan Holiday

The villa at which we are currently residing was once owned by the Medicis, and the view from up here is astounding. My sweet husband let me sleep in today while he explored the estate. We have a corner room with two windows, but let me tell you, they know how to shut out the light when they want to. I got up at 9:00, but it was so dark in here that I probably could have slept until noon. After getting ready at my own leisure, I grabbed a quick breakfast and then Daniel and I sipped cappuccinos in the courtyard as we waited for everyone to arrive for our pasta-making activity. The chef taught us how to make dough using spinach, flour, eggs, olive oil, and salt and then how to roll it through a machine until we ended up with fettuccini. I thought it was a fun little activity, and a nice touch on Disney’s part that most people who travel to Tuscany don’t get to experience. Of course, Daniel could have stayed there all day playing with the dough. Not satisfied with just fettuccini, he was the only one who also made spaghetti.

Next came a lunch of three different pastas, salad, and dessert. Although I thought that was going to be our only activity for the day, our adventure guides announced that they had a couple more activities lined up that we could choose whether or not we wanted to participate in. I chose to sit by the pool during the first activity, which was a tour of the Estruscan museum that is here at the villa. I joined back up with the group afterwards for a trip to town and a tour of the winery. So now it is 6:37 p.m. and I need to get ready for our Tuscan barbecue. In case you haven’t noticed, life is very different here at the villa as compared to the hustle and bustle that is Rome. Case in point, my descriptions of our activities have gotten longer because I’ve actually had time to sit here and write about what we’ve done over the last three days. I’m looking forward to another good night’s sleep. Tomorrow we travel to Florence, birthplace of the Renaissance. Until next time, buona sera!
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Old 05-25-2009, 06:39 PM   #8
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Day 6 - Romance and Renaissance

After riding the Tuscan tower of terror back down from Artimino, we were off to Florence. We met up with our guide, Ellena, outside of the Academia and started on our guided tour. Have I mentioned that there are no lines with Adventures by Disney? We walked right into the museum and within a few minutes we were gazing into the eyes of Michelangelo’s David. Once we finished admiring the original Renaissance man, we began our walking tour of the city. We saw the Baptistery and the Duomo with its magnificent dome and tried to ignore the weird girls with the white face paint who were trying to sell roses. After stopping for a quick group photo in front of the Disney store, we took a leisurely stroll up to the Piazza della Republicca, then past the small market to the Ponte Vecchio. From there, we moved on to the Piazza della Signoria before taking a break for lunch. Once we were finished with our daily espresso, we were free to explore on our own.

Daniel and I chose to visit the Duomo museum, and we are so glad we did. This museum is really a secret treasure, even though it is right there beside the hustle and bustle. We practically had the whole place to ourselves, and we were free to spend as much time as we wanted checking out statues by Donatello as well as some of the original bronze panels from the doors of the Baptistery. The museum contained many of the statues that originally adorned the Duomo and the Baptistery before they were deemed too Medieval, as well as some really interesting models of the church and the dome. We also saw ancient relics such as St. Peter’s chains and the finger of St. John the Baptist. By far the highlight of our visit was Michelangelo’s Pieta. It is very different from the one that is on display at St. Peter’s in Rome, and it features a self-portrait of Michelangelo in the guise of Nicodemus. A great thing about this museum is that they allow photography, so we were able to get some wonderful pictures there, and we are excited to share them with everybody.

After the museum we took some more pictures of the Duomo and the Baptistery before setting off to do some shopping. I was determined to buy a leather purse, and I was ready to haggle. We tried the large San Lorenzo market first, but it was a little too big for our tastes, and I really didn’t see anything I was crazy about. So we backtracked to the smaller market we had passed earlier, and three vendors later I had my purse and 35 fewer Euros. It was marked as 70 Euros, so I was satisfied that my efforts had paid off. We picked up a new wallet for Daniel at the same stand and we were good to go. Next we decided to climb the bell tower for a 360 degree view of Florence and an up-close look at the dome. 500 steps later we did just that. After all that work, we took our time at the top taking pictures and video, and I finally broke out the binoculars for the first time.

The climb down was much easier, but we were ready for some dinner after that. We grabbed some mozzarella and tomato sandwiches at a little place recommended in my guidebook since we didn’t really have the time or the patience for a fancy meal. We ran into our fellow Tennesseans, Jeff and Laura, on our way to find gelato (not that it’s hard to find), and they asked us to join them and help them finish up their pizza. Being the helpful people that we are, we did just that and then we all got that gelato we had been looking for. By that time, it was time to meet the group. After one last pit stop we began the hike out of the city to the spot where buses are allowed to pick up.

Now our bags are packed and tomorrow we will be traveling to our final destination of this unbelievable adventure - Venice. This trip has flown by so quickly, just as I knew it would. For now, I am going to call it a night and enjoy my last night as a Medici. Until tomorrow, buona notte!
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Old 05-25-2009, 06:42 PM   #9
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Day 7 - Venetian Fantasy

After three nights at the villa, it was time to say goodbye to Artimino and head north to Venice. Once we reached the train station in Florence, we also had to say goodbye to Marius and our luxury coach. We boarded the Eurostar, where we had first class seating, and left Tuscany behind. About three hours later we were in Venice – la serinissima (the serene one). Venice is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of Rome and Florence. Life moves more slowly here, and that’s okay because there are no cars, buses, or bicycles here to run over you. There are only water buses, water taxis, and gondolas. Daniel and I agree that Venice has been our favorite place so far. It is definitely more our pace.

So after leaving the train station, we boarded gondolas, which took us to the spot where we were starting our walking tour. The gondola ride was delightful. I found myself thinking, “this feels like a Disney ride.” Then I realized, that’s because it was a Disney ride, and the ultimate Disney ride at that! Move over, Expedition Everest. I have a new favorite. Our guide for our walking tour was Laura, and I found her to be quite lovely. One of the adventure guides pointed out that each of our local experts has had a personality that matches their particular city. Laura has a voice and demeanor that makes you want her to read you a bedtime story. I’m sure I could drift off peacefully as she spun a tale of saints and sinners, explorers and entrepreneurs.

We ended our walk in us to St. Mark’s square and the incredible basilica there. With its onion domes and mosaics, it was unlike anything we had seen up to that point. We were able to go inside and see the floors that roll like waves as a result of its location in this floating city. Next, we boarded water taxis for the ride to our hotel.

By the time we reached our room, Tinkerbell had already delivered our luggage, so we freshened up a bit and set out with only a map and a hankering for some sushi. I had read about a place in one of my books that is in a great location on the grand canal, just up from the Rialto bridge. After a short wait, Daniel and I were able to snag a table right on the canal where we could watch the “traffic.” While we waited for Jeff and Laura to join us, I enjoyed the best view I’ve ever had while sipping a Bloody Mary. Daniel and I split an antipasti called “Fantasy of Crostini” and a big plate of sushi. I must say: the sushi was to die for – very fresh tasting, melt-in-your-mouth, perfectly Holly-sized sushi. Most people who have been to Venice encourage you to get lost here. After all, you are on an island, so you can’t go too far. During a leisurely stroll back to the Hotel Dei Doge, we did just that.
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Old 05-25-2009, 06:48 PM   #10
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Day 8 - Carnevale!

We got to sleep in today before meeting up with our group for a trip to the Tragicomica mask shop. Our excursion involved our first traghetto ride, a quick and easy way to cross the grand canal, since there are only 4 bridges that cross it. After a brief orientation to Carnevale and the art of mask making, it was our time to try it for ourselves. We were all allowed to choose our style of mask and decorate it any way we wanted. Daniel was the most ambitious of the group, choosing one of the long-nosed masks and setting to work “antiquing” it. I am glad to say that I found a shape of mask I really liked, and I too was struck by inspiration. Two hours later, I had a Tiffany blue and silver creation, which the shop master told me was molto elegant and “bellisimo.” After that, we were free to spend the afternoon as we pleased, so Daniel and I found a sweet little café on Campo San Polo and grabbed a table overlooking the square. We split a plate of buffalo mozzerella, tomatoes, and avocados before digging in to pizza Margherita and Erbe (vegetables). After lunch we finished up our shopping, scoring several pieces of Murano glass, before heading back to our dinner spot from last night for one last cup of gelato.

When we got back to the hotel we decided to take a stroll through the garden. It was a really fun walk – past a “grotto,” through a cave, over a wooden bridge, through the two story columns of the mini villa, until we found ourselves right on the lagoon. Afterwards, I headed back to the room to rest up before dinner, while Daniel walked around and took some pictures. A little while later, someone buzzed our door, and it turned to be one of the hotel staff with a bottle of champagne and two glasses. The attached note let us know it was from our travel agent, Ginger. It was a sweet surprise on our last night, and we enjoyed it as we finished getting ready and then finished the rest in the lobby while we waited for the group to assemble.

Once the entire group had arrived, we were led out into the garden to enjoy dinner. Outside we found our masks waiting for us, complete with ribbons so that we could now wear them. We all donned our creations and took one final “family photo.” Our adventure guides, Mara and Heidi, joined me and Daniel, Jeff and Laura at the “kids’ table” as we dined. It seemed like Rome was so long ago! This was a really fun night, but after our tiramisu, hugs and exchanges of e-mail addresses, it was time to say goodbye. Okay, a big part of the group adjourned to the hotel bar for one last cocktail, but after that it really was time to say goodbye.
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Old 05-25-2009, 06:51 PM   #11
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Day 9 - Arrivederci

This morning we got to sleep in a bit before breakfast, then we boarded our water taxi bound for the airport. Nineteen hours and four swollen feet later we landed at the Tri-Cities airport, and now I am sitting in bed at the AmericInn in Jonesborough, Tennessee enjoying my vacation from my vacation.

Daniel and I had a fabulous time on our trip and can’t believe that, after ten years of talking about it, it has now come and gone. We are so glad that we chose Adventures by Disney, and at this point we can’t imagine having done it any other way. This trip was totally stress-free as far as the logistics go. From the point we arrived in Rome, we never had to worry about how we were getting anywhere, and we never had to bother with our luggage. We never had to check in to a hotel, either. On the day that we left each hotel, we simply placed our bags outside the door and “Tinkerbell” whisked it away so that it would be waiting for us in our next room when we got there. The adventures guides handed us our key and told us our room number, and told us to let them know if there were any problems with our room. As far as the group excursions, I never once heard the words “hurry up” from the adventure guides. If I ever got behind the group taking pictures and tried to quickstep it back, Heidi was there telling me “no worries” and “take your time.”

We never waited in any lines or had to worry about getting tickets. There is no way we could have seen so many things in so little time if we had done this on our own. There was always someone there to take our picture when we wanted one. The adventure guides had a seemingly endless supply of bottled water and snacks for us each time we got on the coach. We had fun little surprises each day, but I'm not telling! Heidi and Mara even knew the best bathrooms for us to use, and provided the change for us to “go” when it wasn’t free. We were well taken care of (spoiled may be more like it), and all of these things made the trip totally priceless for us. The most stressful part for Daniel and me was when we had meals on our own, since we don’t speak Italian. Luckily, we didn’t have many of those, and with our group meals it was never an issue. Either we all got the same thing (which was always delicious), or Heidi and Mara would give us a couple of choices the day before and ask us which one we wanted. If we added it all up, with the five star (for Europe) hotel rooms, private transportation, meals, and all the little extras, I’m sure we got way more value for our money than if we had done this trip any other way. We would recommend Adventures by Disney to anyone looking to take a tour of a foreign country, or even here at home, and we can’t wait to do it again.
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Old 05-25-2009, 07:12 PM   #12
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My favorite spot is right in front of Italy
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All I can say is WOW! Thank you so much for taking the time to share all of this and documenting your travels.

The Viva Italia ABD vacation is a once in a lifetime dream vacation for my wife and I, and we hope to be able to enjoy it someday.

Thanks again... sounds absolutely stunning!
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Old 05-25-2009, 07:51 PM   #13
dsanti4550
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What time was lunch over in Florence? I would like to reserve a ticket for the Uffizi Gallery and not sure what entry time I should choose. Thank you for the post. It really gave me a lot of information.
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Old 05-25-2009, 11:06 PM   #14
sayhello
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Great trip report! You so make me want to take this trip! It's high on my list. (I seem to say this a lot, but some of these trips sound just *so* spectacular!)

Are you going to post any pictures? I'd love to see some of what you described.

Please be sure & post a link in the Sticky! Everyone needs to read this!

Sayhello
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Old 05-26-2009, 12:33 PM   #15
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Thank-you for the great trip report. Our family will be on this same trip in July and your report was very informative and very entertaining as well!!
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