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Rome, Orvieto, and Florence with Eight Women

Rome, Orvieto, and Florence with Eight Women

Jul 5th, 2013, 09:22 AM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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Cahinjoetown: You couldn't do this with just any random group of women. We had all known each other for a long time (except one) and even though they all had strong personalities, they were all very positive people. The snafus became the adventures that we laughed about later. You are correct, since I was the organizer of the trip I felt like it was my job to try to turn lemons into lemonade! Instead of the women complaining that things hadn't gone perfectly, they were so appreciative of all of the hard work that went into the planning.

Thank you all for reading.....here's more:

We took taxis to Termini (the main train station in Rome). We bought our tickets (2nd class) and made our way to the platform. It was very confusing and I was glad we had a former New Yorker with us to lead us to the right train. Suddenly several men all in matching tee shirts eagerly offered to help the women with their bags. Before I could warn them, they were handing over their luggage. The men efficiently took the bags on the train and then aggressively demanded a tip. When they weren’t satisfied with the tip that was offered, they wouldn’t leave. Finally, after everyone strongly said “NO!” they got off the train. Lesson learned.

I was so excited to arrive in Orvieto. None of the other women had been there and it is one of my favorite places in Italy. And CasaSelita has to be one of my favorite places to stay. It didn’t disappoint. CasaSelita is an old farm converted to a charming B&B on the outskirts of Orvieto in the middle of the gorgeous Umbrian countryside. Selita and her husband Ennio run the pristine B&B. (You can read my review here.) For those who can’t decide between staying in town or out in the country at an agriturismo, CasaSelita is a perfect blend of staying in the country with easy access to town.

Now we will pause for a brief advertisement from the Orvieto Chamber of Commerce.

Not really……although I should probably be appointed an honorary Orvieto ambassador. To me, Orvieto offers such a rich travel experience. An easy hour train ride from Rome Termini (no longer than many Americans’ commute to work every day), Orvieto is an ancient town that sits majestically on a hill overlooking the Umbrian countryside. There is a car rental agency right down the street from the train station for those who want to explore Umbria and Tuscany by car. If you are based in Orvieto, you can enjoy excellent restaurants, interesting history, a gorgeous Duomo, cooking classes, bike riding, and shopping. If you are into wine, the Orvieto area has some of the finest wineries. If you didn’t get through your bucket list of things to see in Rome, you can hop on the train, explore Rome all day, and be back in Orvieto in time for a relaxing dinner away from the crowds. And staying in Orvieto is much cheaper than a hotel in Rome.

And now, back to my report.

Since we were such a large group, Ennio and Selita picked us up in two cars at the train station. When we arrived at the B&B, we drew names to see who would pick out their room first. Everyone checked out the four rooms carefully. Each room had a different layout but all were exquisite—down comforters, ironed sheets, modern bathrooms, and a private outdoor sitting area. The beds can be king or separated into two twins—I had requested all twin beds for this group. I went first and selected a room next to the main “living room” that opened to the backyard. The yard was filled with roses and rosemary. What a view!

Here is a link to my pictures of CasaSelita. http://bit.ly/15ksSG8

Selita made us coffee and we relaxed, unpacked, and admired our surroundings. The peaceful countryside was such a culture shock from the crowded hustle bustle of Rome! Selita showed us the path behind the B&B up the hill through the olive trees to town. We couldn’t wait to explore our new “hometown” for the next four days, so all eight women climbed up the hill to the base of Orvieto. As we climbed, we would turn around and admire the gorgeous view of the countryside below. Once in town, everyone enjoyed exploring the ceramic shops, the clothing stores, stopping at the ATM, and taking a much needed gelato break.

We ate dinner at Trattoria del Moro. Thank goodness I had made a reservation because they were packed. The food was some of the best we’ve ever had! It was a lively, fun night of eating off of each others’ plates and trying local specialties like the wild boar and the truffle pasta. Magnifico! It was so good we made a reservation for the next night!

We left Trattoria del Moro full of good food, Orvieto wine, and tired from our journey from Rome. But we had to see the Orvieto Duomo. As we rounded the corner, it took us by surprise. Breathtaking. The 14th century Duomo stands majestically in the middle of this little town. It is hard to describe if you’ve never been there, but the Orvieto Duomo is worth an unscheduled stop in Orvieto, if for that alone.

Walking back to the B&B made us feel like we had the best of both worlds, the ancient town and the peaceful Umbrian farmland.
anneeby is offline  
Jul 5th, 2013, 10:19 AM
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Brava! This sounds wonderful and the B&B lovely.
TDudette is offline  
Jul 5th, 2013, 12:10 PM
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The "8 Women" in the title pulled me...now I'm along for the trip report ride!
LowCountryIslander is offline  
Jul 5th, 2013, 12:37 PM
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Well, I'm ready for Orvieto. Sounds wonderful.

You are inded fortunate in your friends!
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Jul 5th, 2013, 12:41 PM
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Make that "indeed"

B&B photos are gorgeous.
Cathinjoetown is offline  
Jul 5th, 2013, 01:30 PM
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Thanks, everyone, for your comments.

kybourbon, sorry I didn't answer your question earlier. No, each person made their own flight arrangements, so I was working with everyone's separate confirmation numbers. When we booked originally we had 2 hrs, 40 minutes between connecting flights. Our Delta flight was an hour late. None of us checked bags, so all we had to do is go from Delta (domestic) to Alitalia (international). At JFK there is no easy way to get from one terminal to the other. We arrived at the Alitalia desk 25 minutes before take off, but they would not let us board.
anneeby is offline  
Jul 5th, 2013, 01:35 PM
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Oh, and our airline tickets were all booked through Delta, round trip from the US to Rome.
anneeby is offline  
Jul 6th, 2013, 05:42 AM
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So glad you loved CasaSelita! Our extended family stayed four nights last June and just loved it and the fabulous owners. Ennio arranged a wine tasting in their garden which everyone really enjoyed. Alas, I had to miss out on that one as we found out we were expecting baby #2 the day before we left on the trip!
TexasAggie is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 04:03 PM
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TexasAggie: Congratulations! I hope you can get back to Orvieto someday.

Now, where was I? Ah, yes, Orvieto.....

The next three days in Orvieto were perfect for eight very independent women traveling together. We began each day with a leisurely breakfast at the big French table in the main room. There were fresh breads with jams made from the figs and fruit grown on the farm. Selita taught us how to eat the yogurt as a topping for the granola as customary in Northern Italy where she grew up. We had fresh juice, good strong coffee (is there any other kind in Italy?) and even homemade cakes. Ennio, who is the sommelier in the area, often joined us for breakfast and even offered to have a wine tasting for us one evening.

After breakfast everyone did exactly what they wanted to do. A few took a car and explored Lake Bolsena and the ancient town on the eroded hill, Civita di Bagnoregio. Founded by the Estruscans over twenty-five hundred years ago, the hilltown only has 15 residents and is accessible by a long walking bridge from Bagnoregio, the town next door.

Some of the women drove to Assisi to see the home town of St. Frances. It is only an hour and a half from Orvieto and a beautiful drive. Others chose to stay at CasaSelita, reading, napping, and Skyping family and friends back home from the lounge chairs in the sunny back yard.

We all frequently climbed the hill to town to explore, tour the Duomo, visit St. Patrick’s well, walk the scenic walkway, tour the Estruscan caves, and of course, eat gelato.

After four days in Orvieto, we were all ready to stay for the summer! But we still had a few days in Florence to experience. At first we were going to take the train straight to Florence, but we decided to splurge on a driver/guide. I hired Luca from Hills and Roads (www.hillsandroads.com) to drive us through Tuscany, with a stop in Sienna and a fabulous lunch at a farmhouse out in the county.

Luca picked us up at CasaSelita right at 9:00am. Unfortunately, it was a cold, gray, rainy day. Luca had planned to take us to some of the little villages along the way, but since the weather was awful we went straight to Sienna. Sienna is Luca’s hometown so he was a perfect person to show us around. His knowledge of the region made it so much more interesting than if we had gone by ourselves. After Sienna we drove to a farm out in the country, where we were treated to a special lunch prepared from food grown on the farm. The dining room, originally the barn for the cattle, had old wood floors and a big window overlooking the countryside. The first course was a large plate of homemade pasta and tomato sauce. We heartily ate every bite. Then, to our surprise, came another course. The food just kept on coming—fresh ham and salami, grilled vegetables, breads, cheeses, and of course, wine. We were stuffed, but couldn’t resist dessert!

After lunch, we piled into the car. It was still raining and our bellies were overly full, so it was very easy to fall asleep as we drove through Tuscany on our way to Florence.

anneeby is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 05:13 PM
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You had me at Orvieto! Really savoring this report. Isn't Luca a delightful person?
elnap29 is offline  
Jul 7th, 2013, 05:59 PM
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Saraho is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 09:48 AM
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I am so enjoying this report of your wonderful trip - grazie!
NicolettaLuciana is offline  
Jul 8th, 2013, 09:54 AM
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anneebe - just found this!

what a great trip you planned for your group; I'm really enjoying reading about it.

Brava! Keep it coming.
annhig is offline  
Jul 9th, 2013, 11:07 AM
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Before I tell you about Florence, let me take a brief moment to talk about our packing situation.

When I started organizing this trip, years ago it seems, all of the women knew that I am a “carry-on only” kind of gal. (I even wrote an article about traveling with just a carry on.
http://bit.ly/y4VC0x ) I don’t have many rules, and believe everyone should be able to do what works for them, EXCEPT when it comes to carry ons. I don’t want to wait while someone looks for their huge suitcase on the turnstile. And I sure don’t want the drama that unfolds when the airline loses someone’s luggage. But most of all, if you stay in great little inexpensive B&B’s, you will probably be dragging your own luggage up a few flights of stairs.

Having said that, before the trip there was much discussion among all of us about what we were bringing for 10 days in Europe in May. I’ve been in Rome during a heat wave and it is not pleasant. I encouraged the women to take tank tops, tee shirts and a couple of things to layer over them, very light pants and capris. I also told them that, for me, a thin jacket with a hood is better than an umbrella, because my umbrella always seems to be in the room when it starts to rain. Just before we left we looked at the forecasts for Rome and Florence—hot, hot, hot.

The weather in early May can be unpredictable, so I brought a combination of clothes for cooler nights and hot days. I also packed a couple of colorful scarves to extend my limited wardrobe. At the last minute, I added a hoodie and a pair of long yoga pants for relaxing in the room and going down to breakfast. Plus, I was going later to the Amalfi Coast by myself, so I threw in some long “beachy” skirts and sandals.

As I said before, “We plan, God laughs”.

Out of 10 days, we had maybe 3 sunny, warm days. The rest were rainy or overcast, in the low to mid 60’s.

So, with just our 18”-22” carry ons, we never wore half of our clothes! We wore our jackets with hoods, our one or two long sleeved shirts, our scarves tied warmly around our necks, and our long pants. I was so cold I wore my tanks under my long sleeved shirts, the hoodie, AND my jacket. I wrapped the yoga pants around my feet at night to keep them warm!

We were able to do a load of laundry at CasaSelita, which was a big help. (I always ask about laundry facilities or services wherever I’m staying.)

After the trip I asked everyone what they could have done differently. They all said they could have easily taken less stuff. Most said they brought too many “must have” toiletries. Everyone agreed that the light weight hooded jacket and the scarves were the most valuable items. Personally, from now on I will always have a pair of yoga pants and a hoodie!
anneeby is offline  
Jul 9th, 2013, 11:49 AM
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Great report! With a group this size, you were wise to plan a few "down" days where everyone could do their own thing. Important for keeping the sanity of everyone in the group (especially your own!) Sounds like a lovely time!
msteacher is offline  
Jul 9th, 2013, 02:24 PM
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jw518 is offline  
Jul 9th, 2013, 03:29 PM
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Thanks for sharing. Orvieto looks amazing.
SusannahT is offline  
Jul 9th, 2013, 04:29 PM
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Enjoying the thread, Anneby. Sounds like the secret to your success as a group is bringing together travelers who are fairly independent and don't need a lot of hand holding.

If you want to imagine yourself back in Orvieto, there is a House Hunters International episode on tonight (July 9, 10:30 EST).

"Mother Knows Best in Orvieto, Italy"
mama_mia is offline  
Jul 9th, 2013, 04:40 PM
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Regarding taking less stuff, those who have not done it, or those who have traveled heavy yet did not do accounting on what they actually ended up using, it seems traveling 10 days with a 22 inch carry-on only "cannot be done" as opposed to "don't have a motivation" even with empirical evidences that you could have done with even smaller luggage. Did you get push backs from your entourage before the trip whether it was reasonable to travel with only a carry-on luggage?
greg is online now  
Jul 9th, 2013, 05:37 PM
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Beautiful photos!

Successful trip, too.
Oaktown9 is offline  

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