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A New Zealand woman travelling solo in Italy in August – a trip report.

A New Zealand woman travelling solo in Italy in August – a trip report.

Old Aug 20th, 2006, 12:31 AM
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 6
A New Zealand woman travelling solo in Italy in August – a trip report.

I have been visiting Europe for 2 months and, having used these forums for information, I would like to share part of my journey with you.

I was looking for the ideal location in Italy for a relaxing retreat after travelling through France and Germany. I wanted to be close to a town and in a part of Italy which had majestic scenery, small hilltop towns and castles and good wine and food. As I have been to Tuscany before and knowing it would be packed with tourists, I chose Piedmont - reading some of the Fodors postings and it being a more convenient drive from Germany were influential factors.

After reading the (very detailed and very long) jgg-family review, I checked out Baur B&B where they stayed, but the price was well beyond my travel budget, so I chose Villa Sampaguita located just outside Asti, which turned out to be fortunate choice. The rooms with their antique furniture were just superb and the views were spectacular - I will always remember sipping the complimentary wine made in casa, on the balcony with sunset over the tree and vine-covered hills. My hosts, Tim and Rina, could not have been more helpful or more friendly. They shared their knowledge so willingly of local places to visit, restaurants (their names ensure excellent service and they made my bookings and provided detailed maps and directions); their friendliness and openness made me feel completely at home. Rina’s incredible cooking, which she served at a guest dinner party while I was there, was the highlight of my stay.

Asti is a lovely city, easy to get into and so conveniently located for exploring Piedmont and further. I made a number of day trips, including nearby Barolo and Barbaresco to wonderful wineries recommended by my hosts, Turin which I loved and only 30 minutes away and worth more then one day, a trip to Val di Susa where the Winter Olympics were held, including a stop at the old Abbey of San Michele perched on a crag over the road, where the movie “Name of the Rose” was shot and an absolute “must see”, a day trip to Aosta in the Alps and another to Liguria, where my hosts sent me to one of their favourite resorts, Noli, a little over an hour’s drive. (I went on a weekday, so the summer crowds were not too bad.) I had stopped at Lake Maggiore on the way to Asti which was also very close, quite easy to reach for a day’s excursion and quite magical. I did plan to go to Milan, which is also only an hour away from Asti, but after Turin, I decided to leave it as I ran out of time.

How much more relaxing and convenient to stay at one location as a base – no packing and unpacking and trying to find the next place to stay – and have some rest days with visits to nearby towns (I love market day in Asti) and some day trip excursions, rather then a day here, two days there. Quite an antidote to my busy city life.

Now I am handing in my car and heading to Florence by train, I will add my comments from there later.
Kiwi_chick is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2006, 01:01 AM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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Kiwi, why don't you post all of your European trip with us rather than just the part of your trip in Piedmont at the Villa Sampaguita. I am sure many Fodorites would be interested in hearing about your time in France and Germany also. And of course we will all enjoy hearing about your time in Florence.
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2006, 05:44 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
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Absolutely! I am in agreement with LoveItaly.

I am in hopes of seeing Italy and am wondering whether I dare try it in a way, other than with a tour group. I have only been to Europe once, and that was with a Tour Company.

Please...any info shared will be enjoyed!
Mycuppajava is offline  
Old Aug 20th, 2006, 06:05 AM
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Hi Kiwi-
Thanks for posting this trip report which is wonderful so far! As another solo traveler, I often find stories by soloists really useful and sometimes more interesting! I hope you will share more about your travels!!
Old Aug 21st, 2006, 01:35 AM
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 199
Kiwi chick,

So great that you had a wonderful time with Tim and Rina. Their place and our place are different from eachother but we both try to provide the kind of experience which people can remember for a long time. The most important thing is that we both share a love for Piedmont which we try to share with our guests, for the food and the wine and the atmosphere. I am happy you had such a lovely time!!

bellacqui is offline  
Old Aug 21st, 2006, 02:47 AM
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Thank you Kiwi for your kind words and we really adored having you as our guest and so happy we could introduce you to Piedmont. We look forward to hearing about your stay in the convent in Florence and all about Wales and and the (English) lake district.
Sampaguita is offline  
Old Aug 21st, 2006, 04:13 PM
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cobbie is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2006, 10:21 AM
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At last time for another report!

Travelling to Florence on my own was a learning experience in the transport department. I was fortunate that Tim of Villa Sampaguita took me in to Asti Station and also that a young geologist befriended me on the train and helped me to sort out train and bus travel.

But first lesson. Seats are booked on long journeys and my mistake was not to book, as I wanted to choose a window seat on the coast side and did not want to go through the explanation in my less than fluent Italian at the ticket office. The train was full before too long (Italian Holiday Fortnight) so I stood for several hours on the leg to Pisa. However, my geologist gave up her seat to talk to me and, before too long, the rusty Italian was beginning to improve; we safely navigated the change of train. On the return trip, however, when the Turin train was swapped to a different platform five minutes prior to departure and with only one announcement in Italian, it became clear that you have to be very much on the alert. It pays to look at the tiny signs on the platform rather than relying on the central arrival/departure boards.

Bus tickets are purchased at a newsagent and can be bought for a specified number of days. Like train tickets, they are activated from the time they are validated in the appropriate box on the bus and give limitless travel for the specified time. Bus travel is regular and extremely reliable, following the timetable on every bus stop but. Annoyingly, no map of routes or stops is available. Also, buses with the same number not far apart at the terminal can go in quite different directions as several other foreigners and I found to our cost!

The convent, Suore di San Giovanni Battista, in Via di Ripoli, was not within walking distance but very convenient for buses and the nuns were most kind. The buildings are delightful, with antique furniture and ornaments; ceilings with plaster decorations and a huge library. My room, although small, had an en suite bathroom with a healthy shower and the gardens are extensive. There is also plenty of secure parking within the grounds. The only drawback was the street noise well into the night. Breakfasts were basic.

Being Italian holidays, booking for the Uffizi, although more expensive, was essential. I would recommend visiting Florence either much earlier or later in the year to avoid the crowds. But there is much to see and do in Florence let alone just enjoying the beauty of the Arno River, the town and the surrounding countryside. I particularly loved The Boboli Gardens and the exhibition of Deredia statues.

It was a relief, however, to return to the serenity of Villa Sampaguita for a night and to Tim and Rina’s now familiar friendly faces before heading for London. But that, along with walking for four days on Offa’s Dyke path is another episode…..
Sampaguita is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2006, 03:38 PM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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I find it quite interesting that the first half of this trip report was written by the screen name of Kiwi_chick, sings the praises of Villa Sampaguita, and disses the prices a competitor in the area.

Notice, dear Fodorites, that the Villa Sampaguita then responds, thanking kiwi_chick for the kind words.

Then, finally, the second half of the trip report appears, but it is not written by kiwi_chick, but by Villa Sampaguita.

Word of advice. When planting false trip reports, try not to get the screen names confused...
faredolce is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2006, 04:14 PM
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"having used these forums for information, I would like to share part of my journey with you. "
Odd too! Only thread Kiwi Chick ever posted on is this one.

Wow! Tim must have been hitting the Barolo pretty hard and on a bender.
StephenG is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2006, 04:32 PM
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And, I was about to print it out to enjoy at leisure.

Faux Trip Reports?!?! Oh, no!
starrsville is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2006, 04:46 PM
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i know lots of people post under more than one name. are "we" sure it's not just that?
suze is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2006, 09:38 PM
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I take offense at those who think I am writing as Kiwi chick, who incidentally has become a good friend an almost part of our family. True I did suggest that she might want to write a travelogue in, what nowadays appears to be, the common Fodor's style of continuous threads, i.e. someone posts a long thread praising various places they stayed at along their route, instead of individual ones for every place. But I have no control over the editorial content. And I am way too busy to post under multiples, this is our busy season with the Palio d'Asti and it's hard to find any time except to occasionally scan the forum.
Sampaguita is offline  
Old Sep 13th, 2006, 10:46 PM
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But, but...Kiwi_chick first and only post starts the thread. Than she states that she is going to Florence at the end of her post. And than Sampquita posts about the trip to Florence. How amusing..Kiwi, do you want to add anything, lol!!!
LoveItaly is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2006, 12:39 AM
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I definitely find it weird that the second part of the trip report is posted under Sampaguita's screen name. I think there is some sort of screen name mix-up happening, like farefolce said...
sharon1306 is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2006, 01:09 AM
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How unfortunate! I wrote the above report in Wales after my walk on Offa's Dyke and will be reporting on that soon on the English Forum with a link now that I have a respite from some busy travelling. I am now back in the Villa Sampaguita as a guest of Tim and Rina for the Palio Week and having a little dfficulty with the guest PC I purloined Tim's computer and forgot to log on as myself! My apologies to all but especially to Tim.
Kiwi_chick is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2006, 01:21 AM
Join Date: May 2005
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"Author: Kiwi_chick
Date: 08/20/2006, 03:31 am

I have been visiting Europe for 2 months and, having used these forums for information, I would like to share part of my journey with you. "

How long will you be travelling? If I understand your above quote correctly, you started in June and are still travelling today, three months later. That's quite a trip.
kleeblatt is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2006, 03:01 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
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Yeah, I think the best thing to do in this case, is to simply stop protesting too much. Nobody here is stupid.

You got busted trying to give yourself a glowing review. The internet has that kind of allure...

Now, just stop. It winds up being very unfair to the people who really use and enjoy this community. Besides being just plain not right.
faredolce is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2006, 04:34 AM
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TTT almost as much fun as the I hate cruises thread...
Dukey is offline  
Old Sep 14th, 2006, 07:36 AM
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I'm giving benefit of the doubt on this one. I know my computer stays logged on to Fodor's under my screen name. Similar could certainly happen borrowing a public computer.
suze is offline  

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