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Trip Report Trip Report: My November trip to Rome and Bologna with Mom and Sis

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I’ve never done a trip report before, but thought I’d give it a shot since I am so very grateful for all of the info I gleaned from these boards as I made preparations. I also love reading trip reports and wish more people would write them, and don’t want to be a hypocrite! So, here goes and hope it isn’t a total stinker.

We left NY on 11/3 and spent 4 days in Rome followed by 5 days in Bologna, including day trips by train to Orvieto from Rome and Florence and Ravenna from Bologna.

Players: The happy travelers for this trip were my sister (I shall call her K), Mom (M) and me.

K and I travel together about once a year and make excellent travel partners. We both like cities and enjoy exploring them, like art but have a museum cap of about two hours before reaching saturation-point, and love good food, wine and coffee. We had been to Italy two years ago (Rome, Florence and Montepulciano) and couldn’t wait to visit again. I have been taking Italian lessons since our last trip and was looking forward to assaulting the ears of the citizens of Italy with my new language ‘skills’.

This was Mom’s first trip to Italy (we had taken her to Portugal for her first European trip a few years ago). She is a devout Catholic and was especially excited to visit the Vatican museums and St. Peter’s. M is 69 and in excellent physical shape, and I was frankly a little concerned about my ability to keep up with her.

Planning: I love to plan (some may say overplan) trips – I think it makes the vacation last longer and I can’t soak up enough information. I did most of our planning and took TONS of notes from all of you Fodorites. I left with over 35 pages of excel spreadsheets and google maps full of restaurant ideas, addresses/hours for museums and churches, train schedules and anything else I thought would be useful. Honestly, though, I’m not as uptight as you might think if you looked at my carefully mapped out itinerary. Once on the ground, I’m much more go-with-the-flow and more than happy to ditch a scheduled activity if something more inviting comes along.

I booked a few things in advance – the Vatican Scavi tour, the Borghese, the Coliseum underground (hypogeum) tour and a Food Tour in Bologna. I also made a few restaurant reservations in advance, but in hindsight that probably was unnecessary.

We all had assignments. K was in charge of navigation since she excels at map-reading, and Mom was in charge of fitness as she was very concerned (and rightly so, as it turned out) about our food, wine and gelato intake. “Fitness” entailed carrying a pedometer and calling out the number of miles walked throughout the course of the day. I, of course, was the Planner.

Flights: I live outside of Philly, M in Connecticut. and S in NYC, so we decided to all fly together from JFK. The direct flight to FCO on American was fine, though it was my first international flight where we had to pay for cocktails, and check-in was so DIY that I was surprised we weren’t also asked to clean the bathroom or help with the landing, but we didn’t mind b/c we were officially on vacation!

The return flight on Iberia (Bologna-Madrid-JFK) was also fairly uneventful, which I was very grateful for as on our return last year from Prague, we had to make an unexpected stop in Newfoundland due to smoke in the cockpit. The biggest stress this year was dashing thru the Madrid airport to make our connecting flight to NY – terminal 4 is ginormous - but we made it and all was fine. The flight was really very nice AND we even had complimentary wine.

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