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Montecantini I'll be back! long review.

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Hello from Detroit!!!

I must say one of the Most Beautiful places I've had the pleasure of visiting is Montecantini. I have been scheme-in and plotting on how to get back there ASAP.

Though I was there with 46 People (34 French/Spanish Students 9 Adults 1 tourguide) I had the most Special and Wonderful day there. Our tour bus was not allowed to go down the street of our Hotel so we all had to lug our suitcases down the very narrow sidewalks for a distance I was not prepared to walk dragging one huge suitcase, a carry on, back pack and large bag. But I made it. As I was struggling with being a Mule a crowd of school children shouted to Me in Italian, where are You from? And when I said Detroit they went nuts. They started cheering and clapping. I smiled and asked if they wanted to help Me carry my stuff....

Our Hotel was SO worth the trouble. We stayed at The Ariston and it is Beautiful and I would Highly recommend it to everyone. The front desk clerk was Wonderful, despite the fact that the Lobby was just invaded by 46 bodies. She handed out keys, sold us stamps for postcards, gave us Maps and advise. She also informed the Kids that this is a Quiet Hotel, use indoor voices at all times. The Lobby was furnished with Lovely couches and chairs. Lemon Tree's and I loved sitting there just people watching. I shared my room with another Lady Adult. Now it's kind of awkward sharing a room with someone you don't know. But this was our 3rd hotel stop and We really bonded. Especially when Your sleeping together. Ok take it easy. Let me clear that up, it was 2 twin beds pushed together. The first few nights I pushed the beds apart the best I could. But by the 3rd night I had no problem with sleeping so close and too tired to push the beds apart. But our room was Huge, with 3 windows with views of the Mountains and Town. The bathroom was just remodeled and all marble. The tub was big and it had a shower curtain Wa Hoo that was a plus. All the amenities included. Some of the Kids had rooms with balconies, those lucky dogs. However the Bible teacher, Soc. Studies teacher and Principal had a very small room with a cot. So us girls were doing the happy dance.

We had 5 hours of free time before dinner, so I dropped my stuff and ran out of the Hotel. Some of the Adults and Kids wanted to hang out with me but I had to be tough and say NO, I shop alone....I headed right for Hugo Boss to check out the clothes I'd seen earlier, I ended up spending more money in Montecantini than anywhere on our 10 day tour of Spain France Italy. I also hit a jewelry store (the one who has a swan for their emblem) and got a piece of crystal I had been searching for about 4 years. A crystal puzzle piece. I had bought 2 of them for Me and My Man here in the Detroit area, and His broke so I was on a mission to find another one. I had searched High and low all over for one, and BAM I walk in the front door of this shop, and of course I speak no French (other than the basics) and the Sales Lady starts off in French and I look at Her like a Fool and she starts speaking English. Yeah...So I ask Her if She has such a piece of crystal in Her shop, and She walks me over to a showcase and there in the case is the blue puzzle piece I had been looking for. So Me being the mushy type, tears start rolling down my face. She looks at Me in total shock, and then smiles and say something in French to the Man working there with Her and He smiles at Me too and He starts looking for the box the piece should go into to, I also buy some sweet looking earrings for My sister in law. I was on cloud 9 all afternoon.

In the Middle of town there is a Merry go round. Just Beautiful..I sat there for a long time watching the kids go round and round. I was jealous. Even the children can speak French. Next door to the Merry go round is a Restaurant I had read about on several internet sites, La Castia. I walked around the outside and entered the dining room to inquire about dinner hours. The Bartender was very nice, showed Me the Menu while He made me a Excellent cappacino. They serve dinner from 7:15 till 2 am. Awesome, I will be back for a bite. The coffee was only 1 euro, I left 4. I bought postcards, candy, shirts, sweater and fruit and headed back to the Hotel to change for dinner. When I walked into the lobby several of the Adults from My group were there talking so I sat down and filled out My postcards. My Brother in Law (dean of Students/Bible Teacher) asks if I'd like Him to drop off my bags in my room while He was going up to rest before dinner. So he took My bags, and I finished My postcards and chewed the fat with the Girls. My roomie came down ready for Dinner, So I went up to get ready too.

Dinner is usually in a local Restaurant. This time it was right in the Hotel. So that was easy. I didn't have to bust butt to get ready. All 46 of Us along with our bus driver headed to the dining room, where we got Outstanding Service and Excellent Food. I own a Restaurant and I know how tough it is to serve so many people at once. Not only was our group there, but so was another. It was Italian Highschool Kids on a Field trip like Us too. So the Staff served approx. 150 People in 1 hour. We had Spaghetti with Tomato sauce, Great Italian bread, Pork with melted cheese and ham on top with a side of Sauteed Spinach. And for Dessert a sponge cake of some kind with whipped cream and coffee soaked into it. It was so good, I had 2 pieces. After sitting around for an hour talking with some of our group I decided to go to my room and get my stuff ready for our departure the next day. Our tour guide warned us we must be out of the hotel and in our bus no later than 8 am other wise we would be stuck in the city until 10 am. Why? The city won't let tour busses in while the Kids are being bussed to school. They are worried about a mix up or something with the Children. Makes great sense to Me. So as I'm packing My stuff, I can't find the jewelry bag, I'm tearing up all my stuff and relooking in the bags My Brother in Law dropped off. I was totally freaking out. My roomie was in the shower and she could hear Me saying over and over OH NO OH NO and got so worried. I in the meantime ran down 4 flights of stairs to the Lobby, and looked around trying to find the bag. No Luck. I go to the front desk and the same nice lady is still there working. I ask her had someone turned in blue bag with a swan on it. She gives Me this funny look, and starts asking me how big is the bag, what color, how many boxes are inside, after I awnser all the questions she reaches under the counter and pulls out the bag. I wanted to Kiss Her. She said She was sorry to ask Me all these Questions, but She wanted to make sure the right owner got the bag. Talk about sweating it. When I walked back into the room, my roomie comes running out of the bathroom and says what's wrong..I told Her..

Because some of the Italian Girls from the other group had invited some of our Boys to the Disco that night, we had some of the Adults in the lobby to make sure no one was going anywhere. I don't think the boys would go, and I know the Disco's don't start hopping until after midnite, and I can't see how the other Groups leaders would let their Kids run around to the Disco at night, but I may have been wrong. I ran into several of the kids. They were smoking, going in and out of eachother's rooms, being loud and some of the girls were dressed in itsy bitsy outfits. So maybe I was wrong, maybe that's OK for the Kids to do what they wanted. I didn't see any of their chaparones, and the Hotel Management was reprimading them alot that evening. But I must say alot of the Italian boys were very nice, and wanted to talk to our Group. There was a crowd of them and Us in the Lobby comparing The American way to the Italian Way. And they wanted to compare their muscules to our boys. And they talked about Basketball and stuff like that. We all got a kick out of that.

About 11 pm I took off to have a Cheese Plate, dessert and coffee at the Restaurant I had checked out earlier. I think the Teachers had the kids in check so I was able to take off on my own. I walked into the courtyard of the Restaurant hoping someone may be dining outside so I could too, but no one was eating outside. I walked in and no one came over to greet Me. So I did have to use the little girls room, so I followed the restroom sign but couldn't find the door. Suddenly the wall slide open to reveal the Ladies restroom. How cool is that. After doing my business, I went back to the dining room and stood at the door waiting to be greeted. Still no eye contact or Hello. So I seated myself in the Bar area. Finally after about 5 minutes a Young lady came over and handed my a Menu, not the one I looked at earlier. She asked for My drink order, and off She went. The menu was a bar menu, not what I was interested in. So when she brought My Bottled Water (with Gas) I asked for a Dinner Menu. She came right back with a Dinner Menu followed by an Elderly Gentleman. He put a table cloth down along with silverware and plates. He smiled at Me the whole time. I had to look away. It was not a bad thing, just shy I guess. After looking at the Menu and sticking with what I came for, The Gentelman took My order. He didn't speak English and My Italian was very Limited. He tried to get Me to order a Glass of Red Wine with My Cheese. I relied No Thank You, He tried again. I told Him I don't drink Wine (Or anything for that matter) He looked very hurt and disappointed. After setting down the most delicious bread basket and Cheese Plate the Waiter gave Me this huge smile and stood there looking at Me. I said Thank You in My best Italian and He just stood there smiling. So for like one minute we stared and smiled at eachother. He finally told Me to enjoy and off He went. The Cheese Platter was very nice. Fresh fruit, Dried Fruit and 5 diff. kinds of Cheese, all Local. I really enjoyed it. I ate every piece of bread too. When I was done, My Waiter appeared again to see what else I wanted. Now as I sat there I noticed several Beautiful looking salads, so I ended up passing on Dessert for Salad. And I was happy I did. More Bread this time with breadsticks, and a Huge salad with Hard boiled eggs, tuna,anchovies,tomatoes,onions and olives. He also brought the usual Vinager and Oil. But that's what made the Salad. The Olive Oil was Fantastic. So rich and nutty. By the time I was done, there was no way I was getting coffee. While eating My salad the place started hopping. Thank God You can't smoke in Restaurants here in Italy, They would have killed My lungs. But there sitting next to Me were 10 Italian Men. Young Men. I tried not to make eye contact with them. The Waiter was more than I could handle. But the Men stared and talked about Me in Italian. Not bad stuff, but it was very plain to see I was a tourist and the place was all Locals. After asking for the Bill, and paying cash, I had to get up and part this crowd of Men to get to the Door. I'm not shy what so ever. However, I am chaparoning a Group of Christian School Students and there was no way I was going to cause even one second of problems. I did not feel frightened or threatened at all. Just awkward. But as soon as I stood up and put My jacket on and slung my Purse over my shoulder, the Men stood up and moved the chairs and tables out of My path. I felt like a giant compared to them. I'm tall and these guys were about 4-5 inches shorter than Me and I did find that funny. They all stood there and smiled and said Good Evening and there holding the door was My Waiter. We shook hands, and off I went back to My Hotel. It was late and some of the Kids were still in the Lobby talking with the Italian Kids. 2 Teachers were there of ours, so I said good night and hit the sack..

We had breakfast in the Hotel too. I was up really early as usual. I could smell coffee as I took the elevator to the lobby with My suitcases. There I met up with 2 other teachers and we headed down for Breakfast. The Man attending the Breakfast room was very nice. The Food was good, but no Salami and I was very disappointed. The Coffee looked so good, and smelled good, but did not taste good. We even had warm frothed milk, but it didn't help make it taste better. I noticed several of the Adults at our table didn't care for the coffee either. And I looked in the bottom of the pot that was placed at out table and I could see that it was instant coffee. There was still sanka crystals at the bottom of the pot. What a Drag.. The kids were drinking hot chocolate, so I joined them on that.

Our bus could not pick us up at the Hotel. We had to walk down the street a little ways. But not too bad. We actually were loaded and ready to roll out of the city at 7:45 am. It was a record. Our next stop...Florence tp see David and then the Leaning tower of Pisa.

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    stanjudy, I've actually stayed twice at the GH Ambasciadori which is down the street from the Vittoria. Serveral close friends have stayed at the Vittoria and loved it. It is where the President of Italy stays when he's in Montecatini. It's lovely and they have a small spa in the basement so if you want treatments be sure to book as soon as you arrive (or by e-mail beforehand). The hotel backs up to the Thermal Park - beautiful. There is a pool and dinner is top notch so if you're on the meal plan, you'll enjoy it. If you are like some (me:) ) and are interested in spa treatments, I'd recommend the Excelsior Spa in the thermal park - it is also referred to as the Borghese spa as, yes, the Madam Borghese cosmetics originate here. Prices are incredibly reasonable compared to the USA. Try to take the funiculare to Montecatini Alta (the old town up above M. Terme) it's a treat at sunset with a coctail or cafe!

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    David David David It was all about David while in Florence. All the Ladies on our field trip were making fun of Me because I had mentioned My Girlfriend told Me wait till I see the Hands on David, so real and so Beautiful. They thought I was just saying that instead of refering to to to Well You know. So when We finally got to where David is I was so excited to see Him, and so were the other Women...And Lo and Behold there He was in all His Glory..We had a local tour guide and He was giving Us all the low down on the Muesum and blah blah, and I couldn't keep My eye off David. We were finally able to walk up and get a closer look, and My Girlfriend was right, His hands are Huge and Beautiful. So life like and the detail was Awesome. I stood there like a fool forever just looking at His face and body. I couldn't wait to see Him from Behind. And He was just as Beautiful from behind. I fell in Love with Him. And I got a little emotional and so did some of the Teachers (men too)especially when You think of what David went through in His life for God, and What Mich.Angelo went through in his tortured mind and life. And the talent He had, and I don't think He was really appreciated for His eye to making art that has lasted this long out of a piece of rock. No Model, no design, just a dream.

    So after getting all the Kids onto the bus and then we were off to Pisa. What a pain in the butt that was. You can't take tour buses into Pisa either, so We got off our bus and onto a shuttle, like along with 1000 other people. Alot of pushing (I'm getting good at it too) to get our group of 46 on the shuttle. But we did it, even though other groups were trying to shove past us even though we were in line first. The kids thought I was being rude some of the time, but after a few days of People shoving past them and taking cuts, they were sorry about calling Me rude. I knew they'd learn. They are good Kids, but You have to stick up for Yourself, or You'll be walked over Your whole life.

    The Tower was Awesome. The whole view of it and the surrounding buildings. What a sight to behold. I really was excited to see it. The tour was really nice to. There was a woman there in one of the Churches that sang/chant and it would echo for 15 seconds, very cool..
    I was on a mission. Spaghetti with Meat Sauce. And I found it. I had to fight past the vendors, but I got there to a cafe and sat down and ate till I was about to bust. 2 Women approached me asked if I spoke English, and were very relieved when I said Yes. They wanted to know how to tip while in Italy. I told them I tip just like I would at home. If the service is good so is the tip. My Waiter was happy to hear about that. The Girls were from San Fran and it took them 20 Hours to get to Florence, and they looked like it too. I asked them had they gotten any sleep and they said no, their bodies and mind didn't know how to react to the time change. Sorry, I couldn't help with any advice, I brought sleeping pills to make me sleep at night, and it worked. I learned in November My body has it's own clock and I had to fool it somehow.

    After gathering all the kids and their purchases we got on the shuttle and met out bus across the street from a Government building. Off to Rome, it's going to take 4 hours if traffic is moving good. I'm not looking forward to this butt numbing drive. But I am looking forward to the Water Closet stop. The truck stops in Italy are Fabulous. Fresh foods, Fruits, Coffee bar, Restaurants and a Bathroom with toilet paper and soap and water...Now that is what I'm talking about...

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    Oh My God! It took forever to get to Rome, My A** was killing Me. We finally got our Water Closet break, and I ran to the Bathroom. I was shocked there was a Man in the Ladies room changing His Baby, Hey that's cool seems no changing tables in the Men's room. I Loved to watch how sweet this scene was. He was so tender with His Baby, and He also has a toddler with Him. I kept thinking where's the Mama? I looked around (ok hanging around)to see If She was around. Nope I didn't see a Mama. We only had 20 minutes to do our business. I wanted to stick around and be noisey.

    Finally We got to Rome, right in the middle of Rush Hour. And once again our Bus couldn't get down the road to our Hotel. So we had to lug our suitcases up the street, and I'm really hating this. The Lobby is small and it takes forever to get everyone to the rooms, cleaned up and out for Dinner. Our Guide called the Restaurant from our bus to let them know we were running late. Our Room was very nice, small but clean and neat. Once again Me and My roomy just left the twins together. We were getting comfy sleeping so close. I told My Honey it's the only time I'll sleep with a stranger of the same sex again. HA HA..

    Got all 38 Kids and Adults down and outside to walk to Dinner. The Restaurant was ready for Us and was bring the food on fast, and I was happy. I don't eat too much meats, so I had a triple Salad. Let Me tell ya, the Italain Waiters want to see you eat, and I mean eat, I order just Salad and they go nuts, but they give it to Me and 9 times out of 10 they dress it up really nice, add veggies or Tuna with V&O and some Parm, I'm in Heaven. I sit with all Adults and we just can't seem to shut up, we talk through out the whole meal and stay another hour drinking coffee. We are all to meet in the Lobby of the Hotel later for a night tour of Rome.

    Ah Roma at Night. It was great. Yeah it was tough getting everyone on the Metro and taking the public bus back because it was so late the metro stop running.
    Took the Kids to the Trevi, P

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    Let's start from where We took the kids to the Trevi, Piazza Novena and some other little tourist area's and of course one or two stops for Ice Cream. It was hard keeping the group together. It's spring break and Rome is Jammed. We ended up taking 2 buses back to the Train Station because We had way to many people to get on one bus. Even the Public bus was jammed.

    Funny Part....Now as I said I am with a Christian School, and everywhere You go in Italy Couple are Kissing and Feeling all over one another, this totally digusted some of the Adults and Kids, I on the other Hand Love, Love! I am only bothered by this because My Man ain't with Me to Kiss and Feel on. Our tour guide Geraldo tries to explain that the place where most Italians live are very small and they do most of their living out and about, they are sidewalk people. And on a Beatuiful night as this why would they be cramped up in their Apts. when they can be out and about the City. Makes Great sense to Me, but it don't pentatrate some of the hard heads with Us. Hey this is their town not ours.

    We don't get back to our Hotel until after Midnite. I have been dying to get to bed, I know in the Morning We have to be up early. We are going to the Sistene Chapel and The Vatican and much much more. My Roomie and I don't care that we are sleeping together anymore. No way are we bothering with moving the twin beds apart. We are laying in bed talking and laughing most of the night. We are great room mates, and laugh when someone complains about the people they are rooming with. Finally after getting all my clothes ready for our tour in the morning set out, I hit the sack at 1:30 am. I am too old for this stuff...

    I'm up and down to the Breakfast room by 6 am. I smell coffee and the front desk Guy takes pity on Me when I ask in my best Italian if I can get some of that coffee I smell. I am the first one downstairs so when the breakfast room opens I'm able to relax and drink My coffee in Peace and read a english newspaper, I feel like I died and gone to Heaven.

    By 7am the Breakfast room is jammed with our group and another. It's a Madhouse and I'm glad I got to eat and relax, because by the time I got up to give My seat to a girl in our group the food had run out and they could'nt get it out fast enough to feed the masses. I go up to my room, get my back pack and head to the lobby. I have to go upstairs and knock on doors because some of the kids are not downstairs yet. So I hoof it up the stairs, which now I'm not happy about doing. I bang on the doors until they get out of bed and open the door so I can make sure they are all out of bed and have 20 minutes to get their butts downstairs. They don't like Me for this, and I could care less. I am not their to be their friend, I'm there to make sure they don't get lost, hurt or kidnapped. I'm beefin' at them big time and making them hustle. Now I have to go to a room of 2 Adult women, and I have to stand there and bang on the door forever, and I don't have to say a thing because when they open the door and see Me standing there, they freak out and rush to get ready. I go back down to the lobby to start a head count. Great now we have to get on the metro and go to the Vatican, this is going to be fun...

    We do make it to the Metro with no problem, and the line to the Sistine Chapel is around the corner and on to the next block. Our guide there for the day Heidi is Excellent and I learn some new facts I didn't know, so that was very cool. But our Group is a little upset when Heidi makes the comment She believes in Science not God, well that goes over like a Lead Zeppelin. Our group is so quiet you'd a thought someone died right there. I let it go, because once again I am not there to judge anyone, and most People including our Guide Geraldo that we have run into are not Believers, I say Let's pray for them and move on, our group get distracted by this for awhile, but Heidi is too good of a guide to deny not listening to Her and loosening up.

    Now My Brother in Law and I had just been to Rome in Nov. and We had made arrangements with the other Adults that after the Sistine Chapel He and I were going to take off on our own to shop and Eat and would meet back up at the Spainish Steps in the Evening before Dinner. So we break away from the Group and go to the Mall to by Chocolates and Stuff. I eat like 4 pieces of Pizza during our shopping spree and about 5 cups of coffee, I'm on overdrive now. After about 5 hours of shopping we take a cab back to our Hotel so our choc. won't melt. We were going to walk but it was all up hill and hey we are both pooped. So we get back to the Hotel, we have 1 hour to clean up and rest. We meet in the lobby head across the street to a store to get water and fruit. Outside of the store is this very young lady with a child about 4 years old, and they are begging. I never give money, only food. So He and I buy sandwiches and candy and water for them. I bought some Easter Candy for the child and He just went crazy over it. He was jumping up and down and asking His mamma could He eat it now. He told Him to say Thank You which He did, and I was in tears. The boy was dirty and very neglected. I felt just awful about it. After asking them if they needed us to pray for them about anything, they asked to pray for Health and security, well I became a wet rag at this point, Thank God for My Brother in Law who is the Rock of all Rocks. He began the prayer in English because our Italian sucks, and once again the international smile did it all. And off we went to meet our Group.

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    kybourbon I went back to the Rome trip report and read it to the end. I forgot how Wonderful the trip really was. I didn't get that kind of downtime this last trip with the High Schoolers..

    As We got off the Metro to meet the group at the Spanish Steps I was in disbelief, the crowds leading up the streets to the Steps, and the Piazza surrounding the area was like a wave of people. You could walk on their heads and get somewhere faster. How in the bleep will we find our group? But we did and right away too. Of course not everyone was there. It was just a crazy Mob People from all over the world, how cool is that. Suddenly the crowd starts cheering and just going nuts. We find out why, A Bride and Groom! They just got married on the steps and the entire wedding party came down the steps with a Gladiator Escort. Tourists were scrambling to get their pictures taken with the Happy Couple.After some brain stormin we decided to get out of there while we can. It wasn't night time yet, but I knew it would just get worse. Now our group is together and We have to fight through the crowd and the streets to walk to The Restaurant for our Last dinner in Rome..

    The Restaurant is ready for Us as We invade the Place. Everyone is on High Gear and Loud. What can I say. The restaurant staff were going right along with Us. We were having a blast. Huge bowls of Pasta starting coming out of the Kitchen, bread, oil,cheese and some of the best salad yet. I was lovin it. Chicken and Potatoes was our main meal and it was Excellent. For Dessert they served a White cake with whipped cream and strawberries, I have to say one of the best desserts ever. I was scraping my Plate when the waiter came back with another piece for Me bigger than the first. Ahhhhh and I got a cappacino and sat back and relaxed listening to the kids. As we exited the Restaurant the staff all came to say good bye, very sweet, and there was a line outside waiting to come in and eat.

    Back to the Hotel. I'm really starting to sweat the fact I was worried about fitting everything in my suitcases. I have more than I started with, and I swear to God, dirty clothes weigh more! My Roomie bought another suitcase to bring all her stuff back. I didn't buy a bunch of junk to bring back. I did buy some clothes and chocolates. I already had 2 suitcases packed, my roomies had 2 huge one too, but Her son was there on the trip and being 17 He can get away with a duffle bag of stuff for 10 days, that lucky dog. So He could check her new suticase stuffed to 44 lbs. I managed to get everything packed and ready for our departure. 4 AM yep, 4 AM that's going to be a chore. I'll worry about it in the Morning. No sleep for Me tonight.

    We all meet in the Breakfast room that evening for a group meeting. To share our experiences, give our tourguide Gelardo gifts and everyone was to either alone or in groups act out their favorite Art, Act or whatever. It was a night to remember. Just listening to all the Kids tell their stories of what they have seen and experienced. Then it was time to act out our parts. Some of the Kids did some very cool stuff. Acting our scenes from the Sistine Chapel. Some doing plays about how one of the Teachers who was almost pick pocketed of His money and passport. Me and one of the boys did the Statue of the Blessed Mother with Jesus in Her Arms at the Vatican done by Mich.angelo. Two boys (one my room mates' son) did a rap about our trip and it was Awesome. One of the Girls who I got to know very well on this trip got up and sang an Italian Opera Song. We were all blown away. She was Fantastic. We had tears in our eyes, it was just a Beautiful moment. The Teacher that almost lost his Passport got up and told everyone how he had never had a crime commmited on himself, and how much it shook Him up. He quoted a Minister from the Late 1800's, and it went something like this...
    I am grateful to be stolen from.
    I am grateful not to be the one stealing. For that person really needed it and I had it. Whom is the unlucky one?
    There was a little more, but I can't remember it good enough to put it too words, but His speech was very moving and made Us all think twice. Everyone got up and said or acted something out. It was one of the highlights of the tour. Most of Us had gifts for our Guide. All of them came from Home and most had to do with Detroit. And He loved the stuff We all had given Him. He went nuts for the superbowl hat and shirt one of the Adults gave Him. The Italians and the French Love the Detroit Pistons! So the Piston stuff was very popular and He said He'd be the envy of His Friends over the Pistons stuff. By the time we were done it was midnight.

    I did get a couple hours sleep. I was down in the lobby by 3:30 AM, and the Man at the front desk offered Me coffee..What a Guy.. We were on the bus at 4 am sharp, truly shows miracle can happen. Don't forget 45 People and 90 suitcases and back packs, swords, bagged breakfasts from the Hotel for all of us and God only know whatelse. But we got to FCO and unloaded at to our gate.

    Our Tour Guide! I can't tell you how priceless He was. This is My second trip to Europe with the School and both times We have had this Guide, and He is just Fantastic. He Hugs all the Kids Goodbye and I know they will never forget Him. He is with NETC which specializes in Student Tours. I Highly recommend this Tour Company and they are online.

    Thanks for taking the time to read this. And if You get the chance to take Your Kids on a school trip ANYWHERE do it. Your Kids will cherish it forever....

    Theresa From Detroit

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    Please, someone tell me more about Montecantini! Leaving next Saturday the 27th for 8 days. Skipping Florence and Pisa have been before. Want to go to Lucca, Siena San Gimignano, possibly the coast. It is my understanding that it is very easy to travel via Tranitalia!!! Should the weather be warm and comfortable. Live in New Jersey so can I compare to our May/June weather. Staying at Ambascatori, anyone else stay recently and can give me some ideas about this hotel? Will let everyone know my views when I return on the 5th!

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    It truly is a Beautiful City. Not a big City by any means, but perfect. It was not at all Touristy and I hope it's the same for You.

    We were there right before Easter and the Weather was Great. They have Seasons like Yours and Ours here in Detroit. They don't get the snow like We do. Mountains surround the City, so maybe a little cooler at night.

    If you get the chance try the Restaurant next to the Merry go round. I think the name is La Casatina, the food was Great. There is a alot of little stores for shopping, and designer store's too.

    I would do anything to be there for 8 days. You Lucky Dog. Have a Great time.

    Theresa from Detroit...

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    Theresa -

    I can't believe I missed this when you originally posted it! Thank you, kybourbon, for the link from the Rome trip report!

    I would love to be your roommate anytime! You are such fun and know how to enjoy yourself and where you are. Thank you for sharing this and please write anytime. Truly a breath of fresh air!

    Happy travels!

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    HI Linda!

    Thanks for the compliment. I really enjoyed my room mate this time around. The first one on our first trip to paris and madrid had some issues, but hey god put me in that room for a reason. We had some long talks about teenagers. Her 16 year old daughter was on the trip and pulling that whole teenage thing. I told her I was brought up in a big lebanese family and if you got out of line, well, there could be a palm print on your face for a day or two. And I had already been through that whole teenager thing with my thomasina and I was tough on her big time. And it worked out perfect. She's a wonderful kid and has made excellent choices, and I take pride in the fact she flinches still when I walk by her. Just kidding. My thomasina was telling a bunch of us girls on waitress night out that while her friends were getting tatoo's drinking and getting high she wouldn't. She knew I'd beat her ass if I found out. And she was right, I would have. Funny thing, when I was growing up My girlfriends were getting these crosses or hearts on their knuckles and I wouldn't do it. They called me all sorts of names, pussy, chickenshit and other stuff, but I was afraid of my mom and dad, they would have killed me if I did such a thing to my body, I've seen some of those girls through the ages and seeing those tatoo's on their hands make me thank god I was a leader and not a follower. OK I was a chickenshit, I didn't want my mom giving me the ring finger across my face for a week.

    I know this is kind of late for the ? from Peeky about the french. But for some reason there were quite a few shops there in Montecantini owned by french people.

    I also got a christmas card from the Hotel Ariston too. I wrote them a Thank You card and not long afterwards I got a Christmas card from them.

    One other thing if you want to know. When we got to Rome and was unloading the kids and luggage to start our trip up the street to the hotel, I heard our bus driver screaming, I freaked out and came running from behind the bus ( I was always one of the last to the hotel trying to make sure all was off the bus and kids were accounted for)I thought one of the kids got hurt or something. I heard him yelling at our tour guide the wonderful Geraldo. Seems he was really pissed off about the tip our group put together for him. See your supposed to tip the bus driver and that's cool with me, I mean he had been driving us from Nice to Rome and did a great job and got us through some very tight spots that I think some of you may know what I'm talking about. And got us everywhere safely. He seemed super friendly and I had coffee with him several times, but he was a maniac about this tip thing. He was made because it wasn't enough and worse of all it was in american dollars. We all had discussed this at our meetings in america with the parents about tipping the bus drivers, tour guides and etc. So another 20.00 was added to each person's trip amount so 46 x 20 = 920.00 and we split that 3 ways and his share was like 300.00 American, and he was sooooo not happy with that. I took offense to it. But I didn't say a word and let our guide handle him, I had to shoo teenagers away from the colorful italian words our lovely driver was using.

    That night I was sitting in the lobby for a minute alone when our guide (who I am totally in Love with) sits down and explains the busdriver thing. He said he was shocked. Never in all this guide groups had he have someone act like that. He was going to inform the NETC company that set it up of his behavior. I said I felt bad for the guy. I thought maybe it wasn't enough tip after giving it hard thought. But our guide said no that was a good tip and he does get paid, and our group does pay for his meals and room. I didn't realize that was part of the tour price. I told our guide I got through some hard times in my life with tips, and most people depend on that for a decent living. Well, the europeans look at things much different that Us. Ok 310.00 in Us = about 248.00 Euro. So maybe it wasn't enough. But I think His reaction was overboard, but hey you know those Italians. I'm married to one.

    Have a great day. I'm watching my grandbaby taking a nap. so I can get caught up on internet stuff. Because I can't clean or do anything while she's sleeping, I don't want to disturb her.

    God I had such a blast on this trip, I'm going to try and uload these pictures I have and let you all know where to go find them.

    Big hugs and kisses to everyone.

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    Theresa -

    What you did with your Thomasina (and what your mother did with you) was set standards and stick to them. Parents need to be parents while children are still children (and that includes teenage years) and be friends after they have their own children and find out what real life is all about. Still, you are always the parent and merit respect. If you don't get it, demand it. OK, enough about my parenting philosophy. :) A better topic for the Lounge, perhaps.

    Anyway, very interesting about the bus driver tip. I remember your husband is Italian. My husband is Italian, too, but I'm from No. European stock, so I can calm him down somewhat. I can only imagine the fireworks between Lebanese and Italian! :*)

    Take care!

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    Hi Linda!

    Fireworks, NO more like Shock and Awe.
    Just joking. But I have to say, My parents really instilled for us to be independent, question authority if it didn't feel right in the pit of your gut. Lebanese Women came to America and were able to thrive and be strong. I don't want to take it for granted all they sacrificed to get here and live that dream. But on the other hand it's hard for some to swallow, and my husband has choked more than once. But He knows in his heart I'm true to Him and Believe it or not I know when to stop, and pick and choose the Arab/Italy world war...I lost count.

    I'm staying at my Daughters and Son in Laws. Helping them out with stuff. They are leaving for Cancun Jan 13 for 7 nights. It's taken me 10 years to get my Kid to go there. I have begged Her. Finally they are going. I want them to get addicted to Cancun so I can take my grandbaby there. I really have a dream to settle there for at least most of the year when I retire. So keep you all keep your fingers crossed my plan works. I have been here 2 nights and enjoying my grandbaby. She and I slept on the couch together last night and I was in heaven. But getting to the computer to do anything is impossible. I forgot how tough motherhood was. And the best, My Daughter has been pretty humble to me about how hard it is to juggle life with a child. Ah, now I like that. But I do tease my Daughter a lot. I was much much younger when I had Her. And no way did I have the set up she has. Husband, House, Backyard, kitchen table with chairs that match, bedroom set and walk in closet and I could go on and on. But I am so Thankful she and her husband are doing so good. They work very hard and I'm so proud of them.

    My Son in Law loves my cooking. And I Love to cook for them. I made some major comfort food last night. Fried Chicken, Mashed potatoes, Broccoli and a huge salad and Fresh Fruit plate for dessert. They tore it up. Best part, they cleaned the kitchen. I like that!

    Have a great night everyone. And who ever is going to Italy (or anywhere for that matter) You Lucky dogs, you must tell us all about it.

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