Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page > 17 amazing days in Tuscany, Positano and Rome – June 2014!
Notices

17 amazing days in Tuscany, Positano and Rome – June 2014!

Reply

Jul 19th, 2014, 06:01 AM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 730
17 amazing days in Tuscany, Positano and Rome – June 2014!

We had such a good time on our trip to Northern Italy in 2012 that we decided to plan another trip to Italy with our friends for a couple of weeks during the spring of 2014. We wanted to go in May but because of all the grandkid’s graduations we couldn’t fit it in until June. We like to do a lot of research and we eventually came up with an itinerary of a week at an agritursimo near Siena, two nights in Florence, then four nights in Positano and finishing with four nights in Rome. We made reservations for all the places we were going to stay, the car rental and all limo services. We bought tickets online for the Accademia, the Uffizi, the Borghese Gallery and a Vatican Museum tour. We also bought our train tickets online.

We rented a car at FCO upon arrival and drove to our agriturismo (we were in Apt. Le Logge http://www.lucignanosecondo.it/ ) with a stop in Orvieto for several hours on the way there. We turned the car in at the Florence airport at the end of the week and took a taxi to our B&B (http://www.ladimoradegliangeli.com/map-bb-florence.php ) near the duomo. When we left Florence, we took an Italo train to Naples and had a limo service meet us at the train station to take us to our hotel (http://www.edenroc.it/en/ ) in Positano. When leaving Positano, we had the same limo service take us back to the Naples train station and took a Trenitalia train to Rome. We caught a taxi from Termini to our apartment (long story but we EVENTUALLY ended up staying at this apartment which was NOT the one we had reserved ( http://mymagicrome.com/stelletta-ii.html ).

This was our seventh trip to Europe (fourth to Italy) so you would think we would know what we were doing right? Well it turns out we made a few mistakes on this trip. The worst was thinking that the temperature would be somewhat close to the average temperature for that time period - so we did not make sure we had air conditioning in the agriturismo where we stayed. Bad Mistake! It was HOT –the temperature was in the mid to high nineties almost every day of the week we stayed there. We liked the place a lot but it was HOT! I think it was a near record heat wave for that week and it was HOT! Did I mention it was HOT!

Our group ranges in age from early to late sixties. Another mistake we made was thinking we were all still in our fifties. We didn’t think we had a very aggressive itinerary planned – drink lots of wine, eat lots of food, a hike here and there, walk around a few hill towns, go to a few festivals, tour a few museums – you know – easy stuff. Well we did all that stuff but we were totally exhausted when we got home. Even though we took lots of water, wine and coffee breaks throughout the day and we really enjoyed everything we did - we needed to have spent more time just chilling out at the places we were staying. I think the terrible heat took a lot more out of us than we wanted to admit but we all just kept soldiering on.

As I said earlier, we really enjoy the planning phase of a trip and we thought we had this one nailed. We had about a year and a half to plan the trip and we had done a lot of research on things to do at each of our locations, travel logistics, restaurants - you name it and we had researched it. We had done a LOT of research on where we wanted to stay (both the place itself and the area it was in) and picked places that we thought would fit our travel style. Everything worked out pretty well until the taxi dropped us off at our apartment in Rome. As we walked towards the apartment, a girl met us on the street and told us she was the apartment greeter. She said she had good news and bad news. The bad news was our apartment was completely flooded and was unlivable. The good news was they weren’t going to leave us on the street – they had an upgraded apartment we could have and it was not too far away.

I’ll get in to the details later but the bottom line is we walked about 1.5 kilometers to the other apartment. Every so often the girl would turn toward us and say we were very close (which was complete fiction) and that we were such good sports. Hey, 1.5 kilometers is not far UNLESS it is on crowded uneven cobblestone sidewalks in the rain with lightning and thunder all around AND you are pushing/pulling all your luggage (and we don’t travel lightly). What a nightmare! We were not such good sports by the time we got there.

We were wet, exhausted and not at all satisfied with the “upgraded” apartment. Their web site makes it look way better than it actually was. So much for all the planning we did to find our perfect apartment in Rome – but like I’ve said many times on our trips – what are you going to do? So we made the best of it and did not let it spoil our enjoyment of Rome. Even though we were not happy with the situation, if the flooding story was true I think we were lucky they found another place for us on such short notice. I keep telling myself it could have been worse – they could have left us on the street. Eventually I hope we will look back on it as a great adventure but that horrendous walk is still too fresh in our minds.

Having said all these things about what went wrong on this trip, we really had an amazing time and met fantastic people every place we went. If you’ve read any of my other trip reports you are probably cringing now because you know what will eventually follow are way too many gushy details of what made this such a great vacation for us.
john183 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 06:19 AM
  #2
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 5,888
"Gushy details" are what make reports like yours fun. I am looking forward to every paragraph. Bring it on!
TPAYT is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 06:59 AM
  #3
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,199
Well, I am hooked! I look forward to every wonderful detail of your Italy trip!
2010 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 07:19 AM
  #4
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 30,492
The pics of the Rome apartment don't look bad and the location is decent, but don't know where you originally planned. Perhaps not as convenient to the things you planned to do?
kybourbon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 08:05 AM
  #5
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 354
Ready to read more!! Thank you in advance for every bit of minutiae!
paris1953 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 08:15 AM
  #6
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,275
sounds as if you were very good sports about the apartment switch. the greeter was silly not to put you in a cab though - in that sort of circumstance, she really needed to make things as easy as possible. She was lucky that you didn't revolt!

looking forward to reading more about your adventures.
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 07:02 PM
  #7
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 730
TPAYT, 2010 and paris1953 - thanks for the encouragement. Life has been crazy busy and it is tough to find the time but I really enjoy writing these things.

kybourbon - the pics do look good online but the apartment itself had some problems. It was really dirty which was a big problem for our group. And despite the bright online pictures it was very dark inside day and night. One of the bedrooms did not have a door - it was open to the living room. One of the bathrooms was TINY - especially the shower. The location was actually great but we did not know that when we arrived. We were just led around several streets in the pouring rain until we got there and really had very little idea of where we were. Once we had a chance to scout a little, the neighborhood was great.

annhig - we thought a cab would have been the thing to do too once we finally figured out it wasn't as close as she led us to believe. When we got to the other apartment, she turned us over to another greeter and left before we even saw the inside.
john183 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 19th, 2014, 07:04 PM
  #8
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 730
Airfare Craziness!

We had been checking airfares for nonstop Delta flights between ATL and FCO from the first day they became available for the dates we wanted to fly. The fare hovered most of time around the high $1800 mark (sometimes creeping as high as $2000 but never lower than about $1850) per ticket which we thought was too high. We would check just about every day but the fare never went down. One evening I was in an important meeting out of town when all of a sudden my cell phone started going crazy. My wife and both of my friends sent me texts and emails asking me to call them right away about our Italy tickets.

It took a while to get to a point in the meeting where I could leave so by the time I was able to call back, it was fairly late in the evening. It turns out that even though the fare had not changed when I checked it in the morning, when my friend checked it in the evening it had gone down $600 per ticket. We all agreed it would probably not get any better so we bought them that night. The fare went back up to about $1900 the next day and never came back down again (we continued to check it periodically).

I’m not sure if it was a computer error or some kind of 1 day special but we were sure glad to have that $2400 in our pocket and not on Delta’s P&L. It was prime flying season to Rome and both flights were completely full so Delta really had no reason to lower the fare. Airfare craziness!!
john183 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 02:53 AM
  #9
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 3,926
Don't you love checking the ticket prices afterwards to see the price never goes back down? I had the same experience with the exact same initial price range and same price drop one year. I'm still happy about it. Craziness!

Looking forward to the rest of your report.
kwren is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 07:52 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 730
Podere Lucignano Secondo – 7 days

Podere Lucignano Secondo (Day 1)

This trip started much the same as our 2012 trip. Our friends came to our house, we had some celebratory cava and took a limo to the airport. The difference was only one limo showed up this year and we had no worries about it breaking down before we made it to the airport – it was nice and so was the driver. Easy through security and again just like 2012, we went to One Flew South for wine and sandwiches (my duck sandwich was great). And just like the last trip, our One Flew South experience was a good omen for our trip. We had good food, good wine and a very fun server.

The plane boarded and left on time. Had a glass of wine and watched a movie using the personal on-demand feature Delta has at every seat. I keep saying I’m going to do this but before our next trip I’m really going to buy some good noise-cancelling headphones. Eventually had a typical airline dinner then several hours of ambien-aided sleep. There’s a lot of debate about how to best avoid jet lag and I believe people should do what they are comfortable with and what works for them. For me, 10 mg of ambien seems pretty tame compared to what all was going on in the seventies when I grew up! LOL! Had breakfast on the plane, landed on time and it was easy getting through customs. All our luggage showed up so we headed towards the car rental area.

It’s sort of a long trek to the Avis counter but we made it and were given a nice size Ford Mondeo wagon. It was slightly larger than the Mercedes wagon we had in 2012 and all our luggage fit nicely in the back. It was fairly powerful and the six speed manual transmission made it really fun to drive on the winding hilly Tuscan roads. Easy to get out of FCO and on to the highway. We stopped at an Autogrill for a coffee and were disappointed. We had stopped at this Autogrill in 2001 and really liked it but it was very run down now.

Since we originally bought our ticket, Delta kept changing our flight times to an earlier and earlier arrival time. We actually arrived at 7:30 AM and could not check in to our agriturismo until about 4 so we decided to stop in Orvieto for a few hours. My friend had bought a new garmin gps and it worked great everywhere in Tuscany. We plugged in the address of the parking lot Campo della Fiera and it took about an hour (not including our Autogrill stop) to drive there. We parked with our luggage in the boot and it worked great. We found a spot next to a concrete wall, backed in right up to it making it impossible to open the hatch and felt like it was very safe.

We spent several hours walking around the town, visiting the duomo and having a very nice lunch at Ristorante Antico Bucchero that we came across on one of the side streets. The owners are two young brothers who are a lot of fun plus their food was good. We took a ton of pictures and highly recommend a visit to this picturesque hill town even if it's only for a few hours.

We continued on to the very rural Podere (took about an hour and fifteen minutes - the gps directed us right to it) and were met by one of the owners. We immediately loved the place. After exploring the apartment and the grounds, we decided to go to a COOP near the train station in Siena for groceries. For some reason the gps (which by now we had named Daniella) could not find this COOP – it found others that were farther away. So I used dead reckoning to go towards where I thought the train station should be (thanks to that year and a half we had to do research, I had an idea of which way to go). Well I kept making turn after turn and getting more and more lost until I finally figured I better pull in somewhere and ask for directions. So I pulled in to a big parking lot to get our bearings and unbelievably it was the COOP parking lot. At first I did not see the sign and did not believe it but sure enough, my dead reckoning worked. The term “dead reckoning” became a joke whenever I decided to strike out for somewhere with no gps guidance.

The COOP was crazy busy – not sure why but it was a normal Thursday afternoon and it was wild. As usual we are pretty clueless in European grocery stores so it took as an hour to find just a few things. We plugged in the address to the Podere and made it home easily. We had some wine, cheese, grapes and crackers on the terrace- it was PERFECT and GORGEOUS. We could hear pheasants and doves in the distance and the temperature was perfect.

We had decided to have dinner at home the first night because we weren’t sure how we would do with jet lag. We cooked some pasta with asparagus and porcini – delicious. After dinner, we unpacked, caught up on my journal and went to bed very tired at about 11:30. An excellent first day at the Podere!
john183 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 07:53 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 30,492
>>>when my friend checked it in the evening it had gone down $600 per ticket. <<<

What a bargain for tickets to Europe these days!
kybourbon is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 07:56 AM
  #12
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 730
kwren - My usual luck is the other way around so I'm very happy it worked out in our favor this time. It takes a little bit of the sting out of paying the credit card bills when you get back. LOL!
john183 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 08:12 AM
  #13
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 730
kybourbon - we were happy with what we ended up paying. Of course less would be better and I'm really curious how it happened that the price was lowered for only a few hours.
john183 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 01:12 PM
  #14
 
Join Date: Sep 2005
Posts: 3,926
I shouldn't complain no matter what - we had 5 (!) free tickets through United frequent flier miles and when it went decreased by $600 to $1250 even one ticket seemed like such a bargain.

The advantage of having 4 kids is that the miles pile up quickly!

Recently I've been flying from JFK through Dublin to Rome and have found prices under $900! Makes that $1250 seem like a rip-off!
kwren is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 01:51 PM
  #15
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 1,199
I am amazed by your stamina to fly, pick up a rental car, drive, stop at Orvieto, make your way to the agriturismo, pick up groceries and prepare dinner all on your first day! I'm afraid that the rigors of travel are not as appealing as they once were for us. But the arrival at our destination marks the start of our trip and that is exciting!

Looking forward to Day 2 and more!
2010 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 02:26 PM
  #16
 
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 50,275
me too - and no bed before 11.30 pm - amazing especially after all that shopping. That would have finished me off!

looking forward to more.
annhig is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 05:49 PM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Aug 2003
Posts: 730
When I take regular ambien (not the time release kind) on the plane, I get about 5 hours of good sleep. I wake up refreshed and ready to go - no grogginess or fog at all. I don't seem to have any side effects from it and it really makes the first day productive. Like I said it probably isn't for everyone but it works for me.
john183 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 06:44 PM
  #18
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 1,855
I'm ready for more, this sounds like a great trip already. We just got back from Rome and Positano, so I'm very curious about what you did and what you liked there. We loved it all

Tuscany is probably our next trip to Italy, so looking forward for details.
xyz99 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 20th, 2014, 08:49 PM
  #19
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Posts: 166
Sounds like a great trip. Looking forward to more of your report.
Paqngo is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jul 21st, 2014, 06:10 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 7,600
Jumping on board.. hope my trip report helped a little!
flygirl is offline  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:04 AM.