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Old 09-23-2008, 11:27 AM   #1
eva
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WOW - Just Back From Viva Italia 09/14-09/22

What a fabulous trip! Just thought I would give everyone a few highlights of the trip.

The people on this tour were amazing! The CM's were awesome! I can't say enough about Tina and Cinzia. They really made the trip. I can't believe the energy and patience they demonstrated with all of us. The local guides that they had in each city were a wonderful surprise. Stephano in Rome was the best! Sit by him at lunch and ask about his background. Wow, what an interesting man. If you get a bus driver named Marius, tell him he is like Luke Skywalker. That will get him going! He was so hilarious! If you get a chance, sit in front of the bus and video tape the climb up to your Tuscan Villa. Marius will give you quite the thrill.

The tour was mostly adults, but we did have 4 children that probably ranged from 8 to 12. Everyone was so nice. And I think that at least 75% of the tour was made up of DVC members. So we all had a lot in common. We even met another couple from Peoria, IL. What a small world. Everyone seemed to gather in certain groups after a couple days. But DH and I really circulated at dinner and events and got to know everyone before the end of the tour. It was great seeing the history and adventures though younger eyes. So I don’t regret not making the adult only tour at all.

We also had a number of chances to go off on our own for a bit of romance. Strolling through small alleys and finding out of the way cafes really brought home to us the real Italy. We had a wonderful dinner at restaurant along the Grand Canal near the Rialto Bridge in Venice. How romantic! One of our most romantic days was the day in Florence. It was the only day that it rained. After the group walking tour we ventured off and found a beautiful restaurant across from the post office on a small side street. We had the best meal of the trip, sitting outside under the awning of the restaurant watching the rain, with hardly a person in sight. If you find Ristorante La Posta, be sure to try the tortellini soup and the grilled veal with a bottle of Chianti Classico. We sat there for hours talking and drinking wine. The owner was very friendly and did all he could to make our meal memorable.

I guess that brings us to the food. On the tour I felt it was a bit hit and miss. The breakfasts were very good. I didn’t hear any complaints about those. They were all buffet – European/Continental style and included meats, fruits, breads, and some mornings with eggs and bacon. The lunches were pretty standard. The only one that was very memorable was the one after the pasta making class. The pasta with wild boar that they serve there is excellent. When it came to dinners, I felt that the ones we did on our own were much better. The dinners on the tour were not exactly what we were expecting. Two of the dinners that we had at the villa in Tuscany were very good. But the rest were more average to poor. Most of the others agreed. So hopefully it will improve after a few of us mention it on the review.

But I sure wouldn’t let the food keep you from going on this tour. None of it was truly bad. It just wasn’t all up to our expectations for Disney. Definitely it was the only thing we felt needed a bit more improvement. Everything else was absolutely fabulous! We are starting to decide which adventure is next for us. These tours will certainly be in our plans every couple of years.
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Old 09-23-2008, 01:09 PM   #2
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I completely forgot to say something about the hotels. All three were very nice. Our room in Rome was our least favorite, but still nice. The rooms at the Hotel dei Dogi in Venice were fabulous. We had a room with a canal view, a great sitting area and a marble bath with separate shower and very deep tub. But the grounds and laid back atmosphere in Artimino (Tuscan Villa) were the best. They have a wonderful pool. Too bad it was too cool to swim. One thing to note - All the beds in all three hotels are extremely firm (hard). We have a Sterns and Foster memory foam pillow topper mattress at home and this really took some adjusting to. For TV, all hotels have CNN in English. The TV in Rome also has one movie channel in English. But you really have to pay attention to find it. Most of the commercials are in Italian, so you can easily miss the channel. Please let me know if you have any questions.
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Old 09-23-2008, 04:13 PM   #3
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Glad to see you made it home safe!! We are enjoying our time in Scotland.

I agree with Eva. The food on the tour was very hit and miss. I feel the hotel meals (aside from the Villa) were the worst meals. I am glad we had the option to get our own meals some of the time. It really gave us the opportunity to try more food options. Food and wine are important in Italy and I am glad I got to try a lot of them!!

The beds were very firm. I can tell you that it is true so far in Scotland. I will have to see if the trend continues when we get to London and Frankfurt.

I also have to say that I agree with Eva with regard to the adventure guides and the other adventurers. It was AWESOME to meet all of the people from many backgrounds and different states. The people (including Cincia, Tina and Marius) are what took the tour to the next level. It wouldn't be the same without them.
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Old 09-23-2008, 04:23 PM   #4
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We are thinking about taking this trip -- or some incarnation thereof -- in 2010 and we had heard that a lot of people get car sick traveling to Tuscany and also that this trip entails a LOT of walking -- did you find this to be the case?
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Old 09-23-2008, 04:50 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Christyvoltron View Post
We are thinking about taking this trip -- or some incarnation thereof -- in 2010 and we had heard that a lot of people get car sick traveling to Tuscany and also that this trip entails a LOT of walking -- did you find this to be the case?
Yes! And Yes! The bus ride in the hills of Tuscany can be a bit trying for some. One of our guides was even popping Dramamine. But most people were just fine. I would suggest that people that get motion sick easily should take some precautions the first day you set off from Rome. Then see how it goes from there. I was more frightened of the heights. The bus is right on the edge of the hill quite a lot. And walking is the name of the game on this tour. The first day in Rome was probably the toughest. We were literally on our feet from about 8:00 am to 4:00 pm that day. I should say that we did break an hour for lunch and could sit then. My feet were pretty tired and a bit sore most days. You are walking the majority of every day. But it was all worth it!
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Old 09-23-2008, 04:54 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by whayes View Post
Glad to see you made it home safe!! We are enjoying our time in Scotland.

I agree with Eva. The food on the tour was very hit and miss. I feel the hotel meals (aside from the Villa) were the worst meals. I am glad we had the option to get our own meals some of the time. It really gave us the opportunity to try more food options. Food and wine are important in Italy and I am glad I got to try a lot of them!!

The beds were very firm. I can tell you that it is true so far in Scotland. I will have to see if the trend continues when we get to London and Frankfurt.

I also have to say that I agree with Eva with regard to the adventure guides and the other adventurers. It was AWESOME to meet all of the people from many backgrounds and different states. The people (including Cincia, Tina and Marius) are what took the tour to the next level. It wouldn't be the same without them.
Great to hear that you are having a great time in Scotland. Steve is dying to go there some time. It must be all of Europe that has the hard mattresses.
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Old 09-26-2008, 04:12 AM   #7
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We just returned from the Taste of Tuscany tour, which goes 2 days to Rome & 4 days in a Tuscan villa.
Our tour guide in Rome was also Stephano!! They must use him for all the walking tours they do in Rome......and it's obvious why......
I completely agree with you.....he is the best!!! He was so knowledable & passionate about his history! We absolutely loved him. And we thought he looked a little like an Italian Billy Crystal! LOL
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Old 09-26-2008, 07:03 AM   #8
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We just returned from the Taste of Tuscany tour, which goes 2 days to Rome & 4 days in a Tuscan villa.
Our tour guide in Rome was also Stephano!! They must use him for all the walking tours they do in Rome......and it's obvious why......
I completely agree with you.....he is the best!!! He was so knowledable & passionate about his history! We absolutely loved him. And we thought he looked a little like an Italian Billy Crystal! LOL
Isn't he wonderful! I did ask him if he did all the ABD tours of Rome and he said there were a number of them that they pull from. So you were lucky like us.
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Old 09-26-2008, 09:25 AM   #9
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Hello Eva! So glad you guys had a fab time on your ABD - I'm delighted Italy didn't disappoint. We would love to try one sometime - I think we might go for the Costa Bella one if we don't manage to book one of the rumoured DCL European cruises in 2010...

Sorry to take you a little off-topic but I just wanted to say "hi" and remind you that this time last year we were all on the Magic - tomorrow is the first year anniversary of our vow renewal... Happy days...

Karen x
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Old 09-26-2008, 10:28 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by CustardTart View Post
Hello Eva! So glad you guys had a fab time on your ABD - I'm delighted Italy didn't disappoint. We would love to try one sometime - I think we might go for the Costa Bella one if we don't manage to book one of the rumoured DCL European cruises in 2010...

Sorry to take you a little off-topic but I just wanted to say "hi" and remind you that this time last year we were all on the Magic - tomorrow is the first year anniversary of our vow renewal... Happy days...

Karen x
Karen, so glad to hear from you! That was a great cruise last year! Hope you enjoyed your Mexican cruise. We are taking another one in May. This trip to Italy was the best. We are anxiously awaiting the cruises for 2010. If they go anywhere in Europe, we will be going. If not, we will probably do another ABD. Maybe we will see you again on another cruise.
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