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Old 06-18-2014, 05:51 PM   #1
pihanettie
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Day 4 - Italy Trip Report 6/8-16

As we left Rome, we sang “Arrivederci Roma”. The bus was very nice with leather seats, a bathroom and WiFi. Actually the WiFi did not work when they picked us up but they fixed it at the stop in Florence.


Our guide, Troy is in the background.

We drove to Orvieto in an hour or so. After a bathroom break, we were told the funicular was not working and we would have to wait for a bus to take us up. When we arrived the guides treated us to some gelato and then we had time to explore this lovely city and do some shopping. The guides recommended a terrific toy store with handmade toys but the store was closed the entire time we were there. At this point, with the store being closed, the funicular broken, the inability to go on the stage at the Coliseum and the closure of the Trevi fountain, I was quite disappointed in the timing of our trip. Oh well, just more time/money to spend at the ceramics store the guides recommended. And if you spend 300 euros there, they will ship for free to the US, insurance included.


Ceramics store


Waiting outside the (closed) toy store


Gelato!



We then returned to the bus for the short trip to Relais Gil Ulivi for a terrific lunch with a view of the Tuscan countryside. Afterwards there was time for some swimming in their pool for the kids. We saw a small cooking demonstration (how to make an Italian cake) and my son played some soccer with the guides and fellow explorers who did not feel like swimming. Again, I would have loved this except for the oppressive heat (if it is more than 90 degrees outside with no wind, for goodness sakes please provide a fan or something, or give the option of eating indoors with some good A/C). I would have enjoyed the meal so much more if I was cooler. Everyone was sweating but enjoying the food. Again, unlimited sodas and white and red wine included.


Lasagna


Gnocchi


View of lovely terrace with pool in background


Steak, chicken and sausage with potatoes


Veggies

So much food. Forgot to take pictures of the dessert, didn't care for it (too sweet and creamy) but they also provided some delicious cherries.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:03 PM   #2
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We then boarded the bus for the trip to our second hotel, Borgo di Cortefreda. When we arrived they had some drinks and appetizers waiting for us.








View, including what remained of our reception

Then we met for a wine tasting and a lovely dinner (much cooler now!). The kids and adventure guides went downstairs for an Italian soda tasting (3 sodas, which they ranked), had dinner and watched Bedtime Stories.


Lovely fountain on the property


View from the front of the hotel


The grounds were beautiful. They had an herb garden and some cherry trees. We enjoyed picking them but made sure to leave some for others!


View from the pool to the hotel



I guess I forgot to take pictures of dinner. We had a lot of food and it was all delicious, esp the ravioli. Again, white and red wine included. This was my favorite day of the trip so far.
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Old 06-18-2014, 06:09 PM   #3
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Oh, and I like wine but wasn't thrilled with what was presented at the wine tasting. And with a price tag of 70 euros to ship 6 bottles, I did not purchase any.
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Old 06-18-2014, 08:32 PM   #4
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If it makes you feel any better, the Trevi Fountain is actually undergoing a massive, long-term restoration, and parts of it will be blocked off for the next year and a half. You got to see more of it than people traveling later in the year will be able to see. The restoration is set to finish Fall of 2015. So you'd've had to wait a long time to have "better timing" for that!

The hotel in Tuscany looks beautiful!

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Old 06-18-2014, 08:48 PM   #5
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We had traveled in April and had gelato from the same store as you. And my wife had purchased a platter and olive oil "jug" from one of the stores near the cathedral. She promised herself she would return someday and sure enough she did. Our tour we took a tour of the Orvietto underground. It was something to see. We LOVE the food and unlike the U.S. when we sat down we ate smaller plates of food yet felt more full than those huge portions we are use to here. Love the pictures.
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:03 PM   #6
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Honestly, you didn't miss much in the toy store in Orvietto. If you had kids with you it's probably for the best because there were some "risque" things inside for sale you might not have wanted them to see.

How awesome was the host Maximo at the hotel in Tuscany? That guy has some serious happy pills hidden away!
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:10 PM   #7
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Honestly, you didn't miss much in the toy store in Orvietto. If you had kids with you it's probably for the best because there were some "risque" things inside for sale you might not have wanted them to see.

How awesome was the host Maximo at the hotel in Tuscany? That guy has some serious happy pills hidden away!
You are so correct about that!
Thanks for the info about the toy store. I feel much better now.
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:13 PM   #8
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Oh, I forgot to mention at this hotel, at least in my room, they turn the AC off at night. Every night I woke up around 4 am to see the temperature was 28 degrees Celsius. The second night I went downstairs in my pjs to ask if they could make it cooler and they could not. One woman opened up her windows to cool off and did not recommend doing that because they had a lot of mosquitoes in their room. Luckily, there was no problems with the AC in the hotel in Venice, though it was much cooler there than in Rome and Tuscany.
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:32 PM   #9
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Oh, I forgot to mention at this hotel, at least in my room, they turn the AC off at night. Every night I woke up around 4 am to see the temperature was 28 degrees Celsius. The second night I went downstairs in my pjs to ask if they could make it cooler and they could not. One woman opened up her windows to cool off and did not recommend doing that because they had a lot of mosquitoes in their room. Luckily, there was no problems with the AC in the hotel in Venice, though it was much cooler there than in Rome and Tuscany.
We had the same exact problems in Tuscany, but they told us they were having an electrician come out because they were having problems with the system. Someone else on our tour found out they did have something at the front desk that could put it back to its standard setting but lowering it was not an option. Like you said though, Venice was the only place that we had full control over the AC system and their beds were beyond the most comfortable!
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Old 06-19-2014, 01:36 PM   #10
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We had the same exact problems in Tuscany, but they told us they were having an electrician come out because they were having problems with the system. Someone else on our tour found out they did have something at the front desk that could put it back to its standard setting but lowering it was not an option. Like you said though, Venice was the only place that we had full control over the AC system and their beds were beyond the most comfortable!
The first two nights when I went downstairs they told me something must be broken and they would get someone to come and repair it during the day, but each day around 8 a.m. the AC would come on so I told them there was no need to get an electrician. After the second day I remembered my Dad told me when he traveled to Tuscany his hotel would turn off the AC at night to save money, so I figured this is what they were doing as well, but wouldn't admit it.
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Old 06-21-2014, 10:15 PM   #11
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If they are intentionally turning off the air at night, or past future/-ABD groups experience the same, that is unacceptable and ABD should find a new hotel. That is lower end European hotel junk that has zero business on an ABD itinerary. So long as you are in the hotel room, the a/c should be running. I'm surprised ABD doesn't just stay in Florence anyway. Your food however looks really tasty!
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:21 PM   #12
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Actually Cousin Orville, it is uncommon for hotels in Italy to have air conditioning, let alone ac like we are used to in the states. And for ABD to find a hotel exactly like we are used to would be next to impossible and super expensive which would make it too much money. Also, we are in Italy right now and did not experience the problem with the ac shutting off at night SO LONG as you keep your hotel key in the slot at night. When it is out of the slot the electricity is turned off to conserve energy.
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Old 06-24-2014, 04:32 PM   #13
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Actually Cousin Orville, it is uncommon for hotels in Italy to have air conditioning, let alone ac like we are used to in the states. And for ABD to find a hotel exactly like we are used to would be next to impossible and super expensive which would make it too much money. Also, we are in Italy right now and did not experience the problem with the ac shutting off at night SO LONG as you keep your hotel key in the slot at night. When it is out of the slot the electricity is turned off to conserve energy.
We just traveled with Tauck to Rome/ Florence / Venice on a similar trip as ABD and all the hotels we stayed had AC running 24 hrs. The hotel in Florence as well as Rome were in the top 75 hotels in the world as voted in Travel and Leisure magazine. We are traveling to Germany with ABD and the fact that some of the hotels have no AC make me nervous. We are on vacation and want a little pampering.......we looked at travel with Rick Steves and his company offers a lot of venues that have no AC.....deal breaker for me.
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Old 06-24-2014, 06:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kanadar View Post
Actually Cousin Orville, it is uncommon for hotels in Italy to have air conditioning, let alone ac like we are used to in the states. And for ABD to find a hotel exactly like we are used to would be next to impossible and super expensive which would make it too much money. Also, we are in Italy right now and did not experience the problem with the ac shutting off at night SO LONG as you keep your hotel key in the slot at night. When it is out of the slot the electricity is turned off to conserve energy.
I've stayed at both ends of the hotel spectrum in Italy. Once I had a lower 1 or 2 star hotel turn off the heat off (not ac as it was in the winter time) while I was in the room at certain points during the day. I haven't experienced a high end Italian (or any European) hotel lacking AC or shutting it off (while keeping your key in then slot). In their marketing they talk about staying in the best hotels. I would hold them to that. I'm half way expecting someone to chime in saying this was a fluke and the hotel had some unexpected and unfortunate maintenance issue.

The ABD itself sounds awesome. The VIP colosseum tour, the private Sistine Chapel tours, the mask painting, and the kids art hunt in the Doges Palace sounds amazing. I wouldn't hesitate to do the trip, but maybe there's room for improvement.
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Old 06-24-2014, 09:03 PM   #15
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Actually Cousin Orville, it is uncommon for hotels in Italy to have air conditioning, let alone ac like we are used to in the states. And for ABD to find a hotel exactly like we are used to would be next to impossible and super expensive which would make it too much money. Also, we are in Italy right now and did not experience the problem with the ac shutting off at night SO LONG as you keep your hotel key in the slot at night. When it is out of the slot the electricity is turned off to conserve energy.
I am a single adult and was given 2 keys so I kept one on my person and one in the slot the entire time. The first night when the AC went off I went downstairs around 7 am and the person at the front desk asked if I opened the window. I said I did and he informed me that that was why the AC was turned off. But I only opened the window to look at the view around 5 pm and then closed it. So that didn't make sense. I had breakfast, went upstairs to wake the kids and the AC was back on. The second night I awoke at 4 am and was so frustrated I went downstairs in my pjs to complain. The man at the front desk went upstairs to my room to check on it and agreed it was off (he checked the windows). He said he would have the electrician check on it in the am. Around 8 it came back on so I told the front desk it was now working and they didn't need to send someone. It was at this time I knew what they were doing and I told the front desk I assumed it was going to happen again the third night, which it did. It was also warm in the hallways went I again went downstairs to complain after waking in the middle of the night. It is what it is and I understand AC is not what we are used to in the states. I know this was the hotel for the standard Italy trip but not the hotel used in the now defunct "signature" trip. I did look up that hotel and I think it was about a thousand dollars more. Very expensive. I just checked this hotel - a random Friday night in August and September has my room at 83 Euros/night, including breakfast.
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