Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Lost Luggage, Undies In The Window, Burning Hair, Missed Trains, Marco The Venexian, Bovine Pills and Finally A Shower I Can Stand Up In!!! The trailer to the "6 Coworkers Take On Bella Italia" trip report!! (

pantelia Oct 21st, 2006 06:54 PM

Lost Luggage, Undies In The Window, Burning Hair, Missed Trains, Marco The Venexian, Bovine Pills and Finally A Shower I Can Stand Up In!!! The trailer to the "6 Coworkers Take On Bella Italia" trip report!!
For those of you who have glanced at, read and responded to my many questions regarding a trip with 5 coworkers and myself to Italy, I have kept true to my word and will be posting a most amusing trip report.

This, however, is just a teaser...I literally just got home and showered. Up 25 hours and I am beyond ready for bed.

The title barely scratches the surface of what was 10 days of laughs, laughs and more laughs.

It was our first trip to Italy, and as soon as I post this, I'll be looking into airfare to go back for 4 or 5 days in January (Marco the Venexian will be my private tour guide of Venice for those few days!).

(Keep in mind, I'm very tired, so please excuse any and all typos!!).

In a nutshell, we left the States on Weds the 11th, arrived in Rome on the 12th. The late-comer to the trip's luggage never made it to Rome, and we had decided that we would wait for her to arrive, and book the shuttle to the hotel for her arrival time. The other 5 of us were delayed a bit, so it 'shouldn't' have been a big deal. We would have only had about an hour to wait for her. 3 hours later, and extra 30 Euro to the shuttle driver, and we were on our way (her luggage arrived the next day).

We checked into the Grand Palazzo Carpegna on Via Aurelia 481. It's a beautiful hotel, I believe it's also called teh Duomus Mariae (sp?).

We tackled the Vatican (minus St. Peters) the first day. We were advised against this, but it worked well for us. After the Vatican, we took the metro back towards the hotel and ate dinner at Joseph's.

***I do another post in a few days with the specifics of all the meals and costs, we kept pretty good record of them all, and I belive we've got business cards from all the restaurants. We decided at dinner the first night that since there were six of us, and we were eating similar things, it would be much easier just to split the bills six ways for all of the meals. This worked very well for us****

pantelia Oct 21st, 2006 07:07 PM

The coffee I got at Dunkin Donuts on the way home from the airport tonight must be kicking in...I'll keep typing until I drop!!

Day 2

Keep in mind that "SI"'s luggage didn't make it to Rome with her. She didn't follow all of the tips and neglected to pack a change of clothes in her carry on. I had packed a few pair of brand new undies, so I gave her a pair of those along with a pair of track pants and a shirt. The night before, she decided to wash out the undies she had been wearing and the rest of us in the room thought it would be funny for her to wake up and see them drying in the window. This was the first of numerous funny things this week involving "SI".

Back to the morning of day 2. Half of us were downstairs eating breakfast, two more came down and told me that "SI" couldn't get her curling iron to work, so I ran upstairs and helped her, and went back to my breakfast. A few minutes later, "SI" comes down and has her curling iron in her purse. She whips it out and says "Look at's the remnants of my hair". The curling iron had black charred hair on it. The she turns around and she's missing a big chunk of hair from the top of her head, and what's left is brown, where the rest of it is grey! I lost most of the eggs that were in my mouth and almost lost a contact I was laughing so hard!

We gather our composure, finish breakfast and head to the Basillica San Clemente to meet Mauro, our guide for the morning. I booked Mauro (Scarpati) through It was the best money we spent in Rome. Mauro was fabulous. I can't say enough nice things about him. I think we paid 240 or 260 Euro for the 6 of us, for 3.5 hours. He got a nice hefty tip as well. I wouldn't hesitate to use them again, and would highly recommend them to others. With Mauro, we did San Clemente, The Colluseum and the Forum.

After we finished with Mauro, we headed over to the Trevi Fountain and Spanish Steps. We stopped for lunch along the way. Between my limited Greek and even more limited Italian, and "K"s fluent Spanish, we managed the language barrior just fine.

We ended the day at St. Peters where "SI" had another mishap. We were standing outside by the post office, and she called me over, being the smart ass that I am, I just assumed I had said something to piss her off, she was being very serious. I make my way over to where she was and she looked at me and said "I think my bra is unhooked". Thank goodness I didn't have food or drink in my mouth this time. The others formed a barrior around us, and I managed to hook her bra for her. We're not quite sure how it got unhooked, but we're pretty sure it wasn't St. Peter!!!

Dinner that night was at Gustomundo or Gustosando (something like that, right across the street from Josephs).

Back to the hotel for drinks at the bar, and off to bed.

pantelia Oct 21st, 2006 07:15 PM

Day 3--

Breakfast at the hotel, and shuttle back to the airport to pick up a 9 passenger Mercedes Vito van. We had originally planned to take the train to Florence and pick up the car there, but we were only able to find the size van we wanted in Rome.

We drove up the coast and cut over near Cecina. This is where the "Bovine Pills" kicked in. There are, of course, Bonine pills for motion sickness, but, I'd never heard of them before, and for most of the week, I was wondering what in the world everyone was taking "COW" pills for. OK, I drank lots of vino, so that's my excuse!

We made our way to Poggibonsi and stopped at the Pam supermarket for supplies.

Our first night in the villa we had dinner prepared by the owners wife. It was a really nice meal. I was slightly traumatized by the chicken though. I'm certain it was very fresh, and I'm not sure why, but I think she boiled it, whatever it was, I wasn't real impressed with it, and didn't eat chicken the rest of the week. The rest of the meal was delicious, and after dessert, she popped open our first of many bottles of Limoncello!!!

The next morning, we kind of just got up whenever, and once everyone was ready, we headed out to Pisa. We spent a few hours, between the tower and market stalls, and then headed to dinner in Marina di Pisa. I can't remember the name of the place right now (that must be in someone elses notes) the service was terrible, but the food was great! When we sat down "E" asked for two more menus, since there were only two on the table for six people, the waitress came back with two beers instead!

pantelia Oct 21st, 2006 07:22 PM

Day 4 (Monday the 16th) was the dreaded "Day Trip To Venice" day.

I booked tickets on trenitalia, and we missed the 630am train by two minutes! No problem, we took the next train and arrived an hour later than we planned.

Go ahead and say "I told you so" now...we didn't have time to do Venice any justice at all.

(lack of sleep is staring to kick in, so I'm going to wrap up for tonight).

Our 8pm train back was fine until we got to Bologna, where the train to Florence was delayed an hour and a half. This is where we met Marco! We chatted for quite a while, and he ended up being in the next compartment from us on the train (once it actually arrived). We chatted some more, and then Marco pulls out a bottle of limoncello that his dad had made. I think it took all of 5 minutes to polish off that bottle!

That was the first of many meetings with Marco...and on that lovely, yummy note, I'm off to bed!

More over the next few days. Now that I'm back in the states, I have this little task of moving into the house I purchased two weeks before we left for Italy!!!

tuscanlifeedit Oct 21st, 2006 07:25 PM

Great report so far, pantelia. I love trips where everyone can laugh.

By the way, does "luvbucs" refer to the Pirates, by any chance?

pantelia Oct 21st, 2006 07:27 PM

Thanks tuscan! We most definately laughed!

As for the luvbucs...I'm almost ashamed to admit but it refers to the Tampa Bay Bucs!!!!

tuscanlifeedit Oct 21st, 2006 07:32 PM

Makes perfect sense and no need for shame!

LCBoniti Oct 21st, 2006 08:24 PM

Great start! Looking forward to more -

Scarlett Oct 21st, 2006 09:31 PM

This is great! Waiting for more, go drink some more coffee and get to work :)

julia_t Oct 22nd, 2006 05:23 AM

Your title makes a great hook to reel us in...

Lots of laughs so far, now I want to know MORE about the ROMANCE with Marco!

SusanP Oct 22nd, 2006 06:57 AM

I love reports that make me laugh out loud! Looking forward to more...

Dayle Oct 22nd, 2006 07:18 AM

Hi Pantelia,

Thanks for taking the time to report. I've been very interested to hear how things went! So what did you see and do on the Venice "day trip"???

travlintoes Oct 22nd, 2006 07:24 AM

Loving your report!! Bonine-Bovine. That's understandable. A few years back when I hadn't heard of Bonine pills, my mom kept talking about "Bonnie" pills--couldn't figure out what she meant--guessed they were "pretty" little pills! Several years later, yes, I use the pretty pills for motion queezies too.

OK, time to take a break from your unpacking and treat us to more of your Italian adventure! Just kidding-- realize getting settled into a new home is an adventure in itself!

sundowner Oct 22nd, 2006 07:41 AM

Looking forward to hearing more of this trip!

SeaUrchin Oct 22nd, 2006 08:19 AM

Great so far!

Funny, but a couple of years ago on that same train we met a man who had a bottle of wine from of his father's winery which he shared with us. We kept bumping into him after the train ride too. I wonder if it is the same guy.

LoveItaly Oct 22nd, 2006 12:02 PM

Hey SeaUrchin, one smart Italian fellow.. constantly ride the train between Venice and Florence with a bottle or two..great way to meet women, lol.

Pantelia, love your title and can hardly wait for more of your fun trip report!

SeaUrchin Oct 22nd, 2006 12:19 PM

That is what I was thinking when I read it! Sounded familiar. He invited us to the "vineyard", I wonder if he was going to show us his etchings....

OK, pantelia, more reporting, please.

LoveItaly Oct 22nd, 2006 12:45 PM

SeaUrchin, a vineyard sounds more romantic then the invitation I visit the guys cornfield. And I am allergic to corn, lol!!

pantelia Oct 22nd, 2006 04:57 PM

Thank you all for the words of encouragement...I'm exhausted, but got online to check email, so I'll write a little more! Luckily, the house I purchased is only 2 1/2 blocks away from the house we've been renting for three years. I managed to move all but one desk from my son's room and a dresser from my daughter's. Didn't get to my room or the dining room, that's going to be during the week. Bought new living room furniture before I went to Italy, that's being delivered on Tuesday, so I don't have to move that. Dining room tomorrow and my bedroom on Tuesday, then I'm done! In between I'll do my best to finish this report.

As a side note...I will be posting a very detailed report with the food info etc, probably next week sometime. One of the coworkers took detailed notes about 'everything', so I'm waiting for her to email them to me.

Julia---the 'romance' consisted of lots and lots of flirting, I'm going back in January for a private tour of Venice, not sure if I'll be able to post a report about that one though, it might not make it past the editors!!!!!

Dayle---The 'day trip' to Venice consisted of lunch at the Savoia (or something like that) hotel, walking around St. Marks Square, a gondola ride, and a quick trip to the casino! "SI" and myself went to the Casino, while the others did more shopping. I felt like I was in a '007' movie with that casino. I'm used to Atlantic City and Vegas, this was a very odd place, lots of different rooms, having to go through velvet curtains etc. I felt as though I was sneaking around!!

And now...back to the show!

After going the wrong way on the Autostrada, we finally made it back to the villa around 3am (on the Venice day trip day). Needless to say, we were all tired and went right to sleep.

A quick mention about driving in Florence. I don't think we ever drove the same way to the train station any of the times we went (we parked at the train station on several occasions), but we always managed to make it there! I was the co-pilot, "M"s husband "K" was the pilot. God bless him, he was the only man on the trip, and he was a trooper!

The next day was an easy day for us, we headed into Poggibonsi to do some laundry (it was easier to go to the laundromat than deal with one washer at teh villa and no dryer). We get all loaded up and a couple of us go for a walk down the little strip mall and lo and's a shoe store!!! Several pair of boots and shoes later and our laundry was done!

In between loads, I called Marco to make plans to meet for dinner. We arranged to meet him outside the Duomo, and when he walked up, he had this strange little growth on his arm...That would be the 'friend' who's there for a semester in Florence. I must have mentally blocked her name! He took us to his favorite place (of which I can't remember the name of right now). We had the tuscan appetizer and the BIGGEST steak I've ever eaten in my life!! After dinner, the 'friend' had to go back to her apartment because she had an exam the next morning, and the rest of us, Marco included, headed off to Slowly (a bar near the Piazza de Republica I think). Several drinks, lots of flirting and a quick little dance in the hallway near the bathrooms and it was time to leave, the pilot was getting tired, which meant the co-pilot had to stop flirting for the night! ***Quick note here...the flirting was mutual, I'm not into the homewrecking thing!***

We made plans to go to the restaurant where Marco tends bar, he got my cell number, and we exchanged email addresses.

The next day we slept in a little later than we had anticipated, we never did make it to the winery, but did spend a nice afternoon in Cortona, shopping and eating gelato. We drove back to Poggibonsi and had dinner and then headed back to the villa for an early night.

The next two days were spent in Florence. I woke up the first morning sick as a dog, and almost didn't go into Florence with them, but decided I could just be sick when I got home! I didn't spend all that money to stay in bed (alone at least!) We did the Academia and the Ufizzi, and did more shopping (which was an everyday occurence on this trip). I purchased my "Divorce Ring" at the Ponte Vecchio, I bought another pair of shoes, and a couple of handbags too! We went to Sesame (where Marco tends bar) and had drinks and appetizers. I would have loved to have eaten dinner there, but one of the people on the trip is very picky, and it was a French/Morrocan fusion type of place. There was lamb, beef, chicken and couscous on the appetizer plate, and it was out of this world! I'll post the address of Sesame when I get the business cards from "L", she's the one who took meticulous notes. I was still feeling very ill, but managed to get a little flirting in! This is where I made plans to return in January for my private guided tour! We said our goodbyes to Marco and headed back to the villa, only to return to Florence on Friday to guessed it...more shopping!

Now, I consider myself to be a very patient person, but I could have easily beaten those idiots in the market with my umbrella (we had beautiful weather the whole trip until the last two days in Florence, it rained at about 3-4pm each day)! If I say I'm just looking, then I'm just looking...If I say I'm not interested, then I don't care how low the price gets, I'm not interested. I realize that in most cases, they usually make the sale if the price gets low enough, but jeez...following me the length of the market was a bit much!

We had a nice big lunch in Florence on our last day, and headed back to the villa to finish up all the snacks etc that we had purchased at the Pam.

This is no where near as detailed as I would like it to be, but I do promise a very detailed report soon.

A few lessons learned and comments...these are my opinions, and you know what they say about opinions!!!

I was underimpressed with the Sistine Chapel, I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but what I got just didn't cut it.

I was very moved with the Vatican as a whole, I'm not Catholic, but felt almost a spiritual calm while I was there, of course, that could have been jetlag too!

St. Peters...WOW! I've been many Chuches and Cathedrals, but, WOW! Can someone please tell me what the two black windows are near the Popes apartment? Are those the windows from John Paul's apartment, or are those Benedict's???

As much as St. Peters impressed me, San Clemente was my favorite.

How on earth did I eat so much, yet lose 4 lbs this last week? Must have been all that damn walking we did!! Thank the Lord for my ankle brace!

People really look silly taking pictures trying to hold up the Leaning Tower!

You come out looking like a hero when you say "That's ok, I won't climb the tower, I'll stay down and take pictures of the rest of you at the top", you don't sound like a scared chicken who suffers from claustrophobia!!

What in the world is that six legged thing on the Agip gas station signs?

I never realized there were so many hot bald men until I went to Italy!

If Mythbusters ever goes to see David, they will have to do a show on busting the myth about a man's feet and hand size (enough said about that!).

I was probably the only person in the world who didn't know that David was based on the David and Goliath story.

The Ufizzi has lots and lots of steps.

Rome has lots and lots of steps.

No matter how hard you try, you just can't get your hair truly clean when you're holding the shower in one hand!

Roosters will crow at 4:00 am if you aim the headlights to the van in their direction!

The farmer will get a little upset when the roosters crow at 4:00am because the headlights to the van were pointing in their direction!!

Limoncello and gelato make a good breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Did I mention the hot bald Italian men?

The (I know I won't spell this right) Carabinieri (police) will stand around with their hands in their pockets when the drunk old man falls out of his seat in the waiting hall at the Bologna train station. And when the other polizia come, they will put their hands in their pockets as well.

When you have to go to the farmacia, you'll be happy with whatever they give you, even if it is nasty, licorice tasting, cough medicine (which really, really worked by the way).

Italian men will flirt, even when their (God, what was her name) 'friend for a semester' is there!

Newly divorced American women like it when Italian men flirt!

OK's time to hit the shower and pack a box or two.

Be on the lookout for the detailed report.

Happy Travels!

pantelia Oct 22nd, 2006 05:00 PM

I think I'd have to pass up the invitation to the cornfield too! Not a thing about that sounds romantic!!!

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