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Old 06-11-2007, 03:23 PM   #1
mary1025
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Taste of Tuscany

I've been meaning to put together a trip report since we returned home, but haven't found the time.

Until I do find the time.... I'd be happy to answer any questions.

I can tell you it was one of the best vacations ever - I would go back in a heartbeat and HIGHLY recommend the Taste of Tuscany tour.

Ciao!

Last edited by mary1025; 06-12-2007 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 06-11-2007, 03:43 PM   #2
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I personally would love to hear your take on anything and everything about it. This is one of the ones we originally looked into

I would love to know the following -
hotels, food, free time, what you saw that was included and what you thought of it, enough time?
Do you think anything could have been done better?
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:34 PM   #3
mary1025
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Accomodations

Did you choose another trip instead? If you are still on the fence - GO!!!

Specifically to answer your questions, I'll do a few at a time.

The Empire Palace Hotel in Rome was wonderful. The room was quite large by European standards, very helpful staff, very clean, nice amenities in the bathrooms, turndown service and they even replaced the towels at turndown - very nice since it was quite hot and we showered more than once a day!

The Villa Belvedere in Tuscany was our home for 4 nights. Each room was different as it was a villa. The rooms are all equiped with A/C and a hair dryer (which were questions I had since it was a villa). Our "room" actually had a little kitchen area, living room, bathroom and bedroom. Others had a nice sized room and bathroom. Everyone was quite pleased with the villa. Our group was in two separate buildings - ours had a WONDERFUL patio overlooking the vineyards and you could see Florence in the distance. The grounds of the villa were gorgeous. The staff was so accomodating to our group. So many, many wonderful memories there.....dinners in the wine cellar, wine tasting on the grounds watching the Tuscan sunset, access to the espresso machine.....I want to go back.

More later......
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:39 PM   #4
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For the Villa Belvedere, I did a search and came up with different ones
Would you mind taking a look to see which one you stayed at?

http://www.villabelvederefirenze.it/index.php?Lang=2
http://www.villabelvedere.com/
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:46 PM   #5
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links

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joan1 View Post
For the Villa Belvedere, I did a search and came up with different ones
Would you mind taking a look to see which one you stayed at?

http://www.villabelvederefirenze.it/index.php?Lang=2
http://www.villabelvedere.com/


Actually it is neither of those...here it is... and it really doesn't do it justice at all.

http://www.villabelvederecampoli.it

and the hotel in Rome........
http://www.hotelempirepalacerome.com
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Old 06-11-2007, 04:58 PM   #6
mary1025
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Our Adventurers

We had 36 people on our tour - 30 adults and 6 Jr. Adventurers. It was a great mix of people ranging from a 4 yr old girl to a couple in their 80's.

DH and I left our DD8 and DS4 at home. And what a time we had........such fun with such wonderful people....... We knew no one when we arrived and left with lifelong friends.
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Old 06-11-2007, 05:29 PM   #7
mary1025
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Food!

The food, where to begin.

Well, first of all, we had a few Adventurers who follow a Kosher diet and a few Adventurers who follow a vegetarian diet - and it seemed their needs were always met. The literature does say they will do their best, but cannot guarantee food acommodations - but our group seemed well pleased.

Our first evening, dinner was included. It was in the restaurant Aurelia in the hotel in Rome. Dinner was preceeded by a welcome reception. The food was very well prepared and delicious - and glory be - included wine. Well now, I hadn't seen this in the literature, but all the better for us.

A side note, I hope you enjoy wine if you go on the Tuscany tour. If you don't, you might by the time you leave. We had some hard-core, "never touch a red" people that couldn't get enough Chianti Classico Reserve by the time we left. If you aren't a wine person - there were always other options (soda, water (still or frizzy), etc) included as well.

Day two (Roma) included breakfast at the hotel which had a wide variety of choices and was delicious! Lunch was also included at a pizzeria in Roma as well as gelato as a late afternoon snack. As they really like it if you enjoy the afternoon tour, they don't provide wine with lunch - soda and water are included. The pizza was delicious and served family style - a whole bunch of pizzas brought out hot and steamy right to our tables.

Evening (and dinner) in Rome was on your own.

Day 3 again breakfast at the hotel before departure for Tuscany. Lunch in Orvieto was on your own during free time.

Dinner was the welcome dinner at the villa in the wine cellar - a long, delightful, wonderful meal - with yes! wine. Villa Belvedere is a vineyard and winery - so we enjoyed their Chianti with the meals there. Dinners are typically 4 or 5 courses, not rushed and a wonderful way to vacation.

Day 4 Breakfast at the Villa included - again a wide choice of freshly made breakfast foods. Lunch at the Villa (included) was preceded by a pasta making class and a cooking demonstration where we watched them making our dinner which was then served to us on the lawn of the villa....sigh..it was wonderful. Dinner was included at a great restaurant in San Gimigiano - wine wasn't included, but we were welcome to purchase our own - and we did!

Day 5 Breakfast at the Villa. Lunch was on our own in Florence - which due to a rain and hail storm - was spent with another couple from the tour having WONDERFUL lunch 5 course lunch with....yup...wine. Dinner was back at the villa - a Tuscan BBQ - it was delicious. the meat course was 3 types of bbq'd meat - so delicious! More chianti - included and plentiful.

Day 6 Breakfast at the Villa. Lunch was on our own in Siena. Dinner was back at the villa. Our farewell dinner. 4 courses...we were in the wine cellar again as our poolside dinner under the stars was moved indoors because of rain.

Day 7 - breakfast and then farewell.


Typically, courses would be:

*some kind of antepasta - usually a selection of meats, sometimes cheeses
*pasta - almost always meatless, at our welcome to the villa dinner we had the most amazing lasagne which had meat, but typically, it was a big delicious bowl of pasta
*meat - sometimes pork, sometimes beef, it was an amazing sea bass at the hotel in Rome- always prepared freshly. Sometimes served with a side dish of potatoes or other vegetable.
*dessert - all type of freshly made desserts, sometimes blueberry, sometimes gelato, sometimes almond, sometimes lemon, sometimes I don't remember.

Certainly to us, the food was part of the experience. We were able to taste authentic flavors of Tuscany.
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Old 06-12-2007, 08:47 AM   #8
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Mary, thank you, enjoying your review
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:52 AM   #9
mary1025
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Intro to inclusions

What is included? Is it worth the price? Why?

Great questions. Questions I myself had - but couldn't really get answered in advance since we were the very first official Taste of Tuscany Tour.

Well, perhaps a little background on us would be helpful. DH and I have both been to Europe a number of times - but never Italy. We've never been "tour people" and were pretty sure we weren't "tour people". So why a tour? Time, my friends, time. We each work full time, moved last year and have two great little kids....doesn't leave much time for planning. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE to plan my vacations. I have my ADR's made when my 180 day window opens - I'm that girl. But I thought I would try to leave the planning to someone else this time.

How to describe what's included is tough - because it is the tangibles to be certain, but also the intangibles that you can't put a pricetag on. What is the value of the dollar you spend with ABD?
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Old 06-12-2007, 11:56 AM   #10
mary1025
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Photo taken at the villa

still working on it....

Last edited by mary1025; 06-12-2007 at 04:09 PM.
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Old 06-15-2007, 03:39 PM   #11
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is it worth it?

yes is the only answer!!!

we went on the viva italia tour sept 2006 and loved every minute of it. we felt that the entire trip was an extremely good value and very well organized.
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Old 06-15-2007, 03:42 PM   #12
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yes is the only answer!!!

we went on the viva italia tour sept 2006 and loved every minute of it. we felt that the entire trip was an extremely good value and very well organized.
I agree wholeheartedly. They really do think of everything to make it a spectacular stress free vacation!!
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Old 10-18-2007, 08:55 PM   #13
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Taste of Tuscany

Any comments on how much kids enjoy the Taste of Tuscany trip?
We have 2 girls who would be 9 and 8 at the time we are considering
a trip and wondering if they are too young vs kids of this age have
a great time and would benefit from this sort of trip given the expense.
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Old 10-18-2007, 10:54 PM   #14
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I loved the Villa to. I was on the Viva Italia tour year from sept 30th to october 8th this year.
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Old 10-19-2007, 06:15 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrosen View Post
Any comments on how much kids enjoy the Taste of Tuscany trip?
We have 2 girls who would be 9 and 8 at the time we are considering
a trip and wondering if they are too young vs kids of this age have
a great time and would benefit from this sort of trip given the expense.

I would love to know this too. I've been looking over this trip, along with the other Italy trip, and this one seems more adult oriented and laid back than the other. I would be interested to know if someone who experienced it felt it was kid friendly.
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