September 19, 2007 thru September 30, 2007 Trip to Italy
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This page is to review our impressions of our Globus Escorted trip to Italy. To find the details of the itinerary you can look here
First of all let me say that we had a wonderful trip. We got to see some of the major sights of Italy with a wonderful group of people. Our tour director, Ornella, made sure everything ran smoothly, kept us all organized and was a font of knowledge about Italy. Our only disappointment is that our hotels in Rome and Florence were not located within a close walking distance to the major areas.
So, in no particular order here are my impressions of things.
- The major tourist spots in Italy are crowded. They are a major destination for tourists from all over the world. Be prepared for it and you can still have a great time.
- An Escorted tour is the best way to get in to see the major sights such as the Vatican, Academie d'arts in Florence and the Doges Palace in Venice. The line for individuals is long and moves very slowly. The escorted tours have their own entrance and the lines move quickly.
- You can see them with a tour company such as Globus or you can travel on your own and book the escorted tour from a local tour company just to the individual sights.
- Our impression is that the guides that Globus and the organized tours have lined up are the best. Alexia in Rome, Andrea in Florence and Frederika in Venice were all wonderful. Andrea especially had a passion for Art and it made seeing Michelangelo's David all the more special.
- We booked an independent tour to see Tivoli and the guide was good but the tour was multilingual so she had to describe it in English, then German and then Spanish. We did not get as much information as the English only tours from Globus.
- Never drive in Italy. It is impossible. You can travel on your own from major town to major town by using the train system and getting transfers or a taxi to your hotel.
- Things are expensive, especially with the current exchange rate.
- Pickpockets in the major cities, especially Rome is high. Never carry very much cash.
- Use your ATM Card to get cash. Be sure to check with your bank before you go to make sure you card is authorized for foreign transactions.
- Italian food is fantastico. They prepare it much simpler than we do and the end result is just that much better. (see item above)
- Feel free to ask the waiter for suggestions, however make sure you know the price before ordering. We got burned twice. Once he recommended an antipasto appetizer with a couple pieces of cheese, a couple pieces of salami, some grilled zucchini slices, some grilled red peppers - 28 Euro. Another time I asked for a half bottle of red wine, he recommended Brunello, I said OK - 30 Euro.
- Frequent the bars in Italy. They are not like ours. In Italy the Bars have a stand up area for ordering Expresso, Cappucino, panini, etc... They also serve croissants, rolls, prepared sandwiches, small pizzas, etc... The larger the bar the larger the food selection. If you prefer to sit down the food and/or coffee price goes up a lot.
- Save room for the Gelateria...
- Be prepared to give up coffee and drink either Expresso or Cappucino. You can order Caffe American and it is very bitter. Caffe Latte is just bitter Caffe American with cream in it.
- Most restaurants have a menu posted outside. Make sure it lists dishes in English.
- At the bottom of the menu look for Cover Charge and Service Charge. The Cover Charge is added to the bill on a per person basis. Usually around 2 Euro it would 8 Euro to the bill for a party of 4. The Service Charge is usually between 105 and 12% of the total bill. You can find restaurants that do not have these charges.
- Most Italians are friendly, willing to help and speak some English. Please try to make an effort to learn a little Italian before your trip. Bonguorno, grazzi, prego, buona sera, quanto costa are not hard and are appreciated.
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