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Old 08-06-2010, 10:19 AM   #1
abdmom
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Gateway Italy vs Viva Italia

After our DCL Med cruise a few months ago, I'm itching to go back to Italy. I like the ABD itinerary. We have taken one other ABD trip in 2008.

I've booked Viva Italia, but now I'm wondering about the Gateway trip. The Gateway is about $2000 less for two people, myself and dd12. The plan is to do the tour and then to pick up our cruise in Civitavecchia on August 10. The Viva Italia ends on August 8, but there is a Gateway trip that ends on August 10, which would give us less time on our own, which is probably a good idea. I'm not enthusiastic at exploring on my own.

Has anyone done either the Gateway tour or the regular tour and can comment on the differences or experiences of one vs the other?
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Old 08-08-2010, 05:21 PM   #2
glassslipper2004
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We did Viva two years ago and it was amazing. I don't know what they leave out to create the gateway tour, except to use different hotels. Our hotels were very nice, which gave us a good feeling of luxury and being on vacation - but they were not necessary to the trip. We did have a good mix already of time on our own to explore and structured touring. The group meals were good, but not excellent, although it was lovely to have such a fun group of people to eat with (I think I enjoyed the company more than the food, since the food was pretty much selected for you).

If you can identify particular things that are left out, I'm happy to give my two cents. Either way you will have a great time!
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Old 08-08-2010, 07:47 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glassslipper2004 View Post
We did Viva two years ago and it was amazing. I don't know what they leave out to create the gateway tour, except to use different hotels. Our hotels were very nice, which gave us a good feeling of luxury and being on vacation - but they were not necessary to the trip. We did have a good mix already of time on our own to explore and structured touring. The group meals were good, but not excellent, although it was lovely to have such a fun group of people to eat with (I think I enjoyed the company more than the food, since the food was pretty much selected for you).

If you can identify particular things that are left out, I'm happy to give my two cents. Either way you will have a great time!
First off, the Gateway trip is a day shorter, and can have a max of 50 vs 40 people. There's no transfer back to the airport. As far as the itineraries are concerned, in Rome, the walking tour to the Spanish Steps & Trevi fountain is optional for the Gateway trip. The Pasta making, time at the villa and Tuscan BBQ are not in the Gateway trip (that's the day that's "missing"), but the Gateway trip has pizza making in Florence. The Eurostar to Venice is 2nd class vs 1st class. The Gateway trip does not do the mask-making.

That & the hotels appears to be the main differences...

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Old 08-08-2010, 11:18 PM   #4
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The hotels are not as highly rated. The group is potentially larger. There is no villa in Tuscany or mask-making. Pasta making is replaced by pizza making.

So, to boil it down, I guess I'm asking - are the Viva Italia hotels and the villa in Tuscany worth $100-$200/day?
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:31 AM   #5
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I can't speak on the Gateway hotels, but the Viva Italia hotels were wonderful. The Bernini Bristol in Rome was very centrally located as you were in walking distance to both The Trevi Fountain (which we visited every day and night) and the Spanish Steps. The hotel in Venice (Dei Dogi) was also gorgeous. The only problem that I could see people having with the hotel in Venice is that it was not central, however, with that being said, much of the excitement in Venice is just walking around and getting lost, so I'm not sure being centrally located is a problem. As a matter of fact, I'm hoping to go back to Venice someday and would consider staying at this hotel again. The Villas are nice. After all the walking in Rome, it is a nice relaxing place to stay. The rooms are enormous (bathrooms not so much), but our bedroom was huge. There is not much to do at the Villa, so many times, people have wine parties or hang out at the pool if the weather is nice (it was early May when I went, so the pool wasn't an option).

Are they worth $100-$200 per day? That is for you to decide. I would research all the hotels and compare both places in each city. I'm sure the Viva Italia ones will be a little more high end, but if that is not a concern, then compare locations and see what is close to each place. Are they centrally located? Are they near the sights that you want to see.
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Old 08-09-2010, 04:18 PM   #6
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My family took the Gateway trip in June. Going into the trip I was a bit apprehensive (and more than slightly disappointed at not having booked early enough to get into the Viva Italia). My concerns were completely groundless. The hotels were all 4 star (the hotel in Florence was honestly spectacular). The Venice hotel rooms were a bit small, but the overall ambiance made up for that. While I can't speak to the pasta making, the pizza class was a pure blast! The guides (Vinnie and Cinzia) also do Viva Italia, so there is no difference there (they were both just wonderful!). While the literature said that the Eurostar would be 2nd class, we actually went 1st. Later in the trip (after ABD ended) my family happened to wind up in a 2nd class rail car - the only difference was that there was not a cart with free soft drinks (the seats and setup were the same). There were only 27 people in our group - likely because it was a new tour and I suspect folks are leary of it until more feedback becomes available. Overall, we were quite pleased with the way the Gateway trip turned out, and we used the savings to stay an additional 4 nights on our own - and because we stayed over, the lack of a transfer was not an issue for us. Best of luck with your decision!
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:53 PM   #7
glassslipper2004
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I would be a little sad to have the trip be shorter - it was too short already, of course - but as another poster said, use your savings to stay an extra few days and you'd be more than even.

I loved the villa and the time to relax there, but the Tuscan BBQ was just another dinner where we didn't get to select our food (again, not bad, but not perfect). The pasta making was fun but certainly not a must-do. Maybe do the Gateway but extend your time in Venice (I loved, loved, loved Venice, and we only had a short time there) and you can easily add-on the mask-making if you want to do that. I will warn you that it is expensive, as I had friends look into it, and you might well decide that shopping for masks and picking out already-made ones is just as good. Of course, we wound up buying and making masks!

It sounds like the Gateway trip is a great option, especially if you can add on a few more days so the trip doesn't seem too short. Unfortunately with my work schedule we have trouble going away for more than a week, so we are stuck with flying far away and not staying long enough - but 6 or 7 days is much better than none!
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Old 08-10-2010, 07:38 AM   #8
abdmom
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Thanks for the feedback. With the Viva Italia, we'd have a couple of days on the end to play with, as well as at the beginning. At the end, we'd stay an extra day in Venice and then back to Rome/Civitavecchia for a night's stay before our cruise. With the Gateway trip, we'd have to dash to the port the same day that the tour ended. For this reason alone, I'm leaning towards the Viva Italia trip. I'd hate to have to dash away from Venice before I'm ready.
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Old 08-14-2010, 10:26 PM   #9
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I just saw the Gateway itinerary and didn't realize it was in ADDITION to the Viva Italia itinerary (I thought it was a replacement). My initial reaction was that I was so sad for people taking this tour that they would not get to experience the villa in Tuscany! That was truly one of our highlights - that place was wonderful, and although you make pizza with the Gateway, we made pasta in Tuscany and it was a lot of fun for everyone. We didn't particularly care for Florence, so spending more time there would NOT be appealing to us (but everyone is different).
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