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Rome, Orvieto, and Florence with Eight Women

Rome, Orvieto, and Florence with Eight Women

Jul 10th, 2013, 09:18 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,441
Annie - great report, AND a great blog too.

where do you find the time?

you prompted me to check the carry-on rules for Cathay Pacific who are the main carriers for our 5 week trip from the UK to Oz and NZ later this year. unfortunately the max weight for carry-on for non-US flights on CP is 7kgs, which I suspect even you might find too much of a challenge.

annhig is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 01:11 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
Posts: 189
I love all of this feedback. Thanks, everyone!

Mama: I watch House Hunters International all of the time and I missed that one! I'll keep an eye out for the rerun.

Greg asked:
"Did you get push backs from your entourage before the trip whether it was reasonable to travel with only a carry-on luggage?"

Most everyone was nervous about packing, but had faith that it could be done with my coaching. The challenge of it added to the adventure!

annih: The weight restriction for Alitalia is 8kgs. But that is just for the bigger bag. I took a rolling 21" carry on and a small backpack instead of a purse. When my carry on was too heavy I crammed the backpack with some heavier items until I met the requirements. Things were hanging out of every compartment of my backpack, but I didn't care, they finally let me and my carry on on the plane!
anneeby is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 01:29 PM
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Join Date: Jun 2003
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Am I digressing? Sorry. I'll continue......


Luca dropped us off right in front of Hotel Europa, conveniently located just a few blocks down Via Cavour from the Duomo. I picked Hotel Europa because of the good reviews I read on Tripadvisor. I had stayed at Hotel Casci right across the street and I loved the area—so close to the Duomo, around the corner from the Accademia, and just a block or so from the San Lorenzo market. I really liked Hotel Casci and the rate is comparable to Hotel Europa, but I wanted to experience a different hotel this time. They are both two star hotels so neither is fancy, and both have a good breakfast and free wifi. Both offer a discount for paying in cash.

Here are links to both hotels:



Like Hotel Casci, Hotel Europa is in an old building with a tiny cage elevator that barely holds one person with luggage. The hotel lobby is on the 2nd floor (our 3rd), so we dragged our bags up the stone staircase. We were greeted by Robert and Miriam and showed our rooms. We had two triples and a double. The rooms were basic. The triples were next to each other at the end of a long hall, and the double was just below. We opened the big shutters and were able to talk to each other out of the open windows. It was fun to pop our heads out the windows and make plans! We couldn’t get wifi in our rooms so we had to go to the lobby to make calls and Skype.

Even though it was still raining, we had to get out and see some of Florence. We all agreed that our farmhouse lunch was so big that we would skip dinner and have gelato for dinner. All in favor, say I! I had been to Florence before so I led the way to what I thought was Grom, my favorite gelato place in Florence.

I am directionally impaired, so even though I was leading this group of 8 women, in the rain, though the streets of Florence at 8pm, I had no earthly idea where I was. I didn’t tell them that, but they began to be impatient and question where I was taking them. “Let’s just stop here!” several of them exclaimed, stopping at a small gelato stand near the Duomo. No, it’s just down one of these streets. I really thought I was going to be lynched if I didn’t find Grom soon! We kept walking, further from our hotel, down different streets. Finally, off on a side street, I saw people with ice cream cones. Grom? No, but a big, popular gelato store with tons of different flavors. I don’t remember the name, but everyone enjoyed their gelato very much, and gave me kudos for leading them there! I left it up to the ones with a good sense of direction to get us back to the hotel.

After a hearty breakfast, including hard boiled eggs, and great coffee, we gathered in the lobby at 9am to walk to the Uffizi for our 10am reservation. At my request, Hotel Europa had made our reservations for the Accademia and the Uffizi and had emailed me the confirmation numbers.

When we got to the Uffizi, there were several very long lines, all going into different doors. We felt very smug that we had reservations and didn’t have to stand in the long lines! The lines must be for the people who didn’t plan ahead like we did! I took out our confirmation and walked up to an official person and said in my best Italian accent, “re-ser-vay-she-own?” and he pointed to the long line across the walkway from the main entrance.

We waited in the rain. The line actually went pretty fast. I took our confirmation to the desk and read out the confirmation number. The clerk handed me back our tickets. We walked out and found another very long line of ticket holders and waited to be admitted. Thank goodness we got there early!

At the entrance to the Uffizi we had to go through a security screening. No big purses, no backpacks, no big cameras. One of us had brought a camera that she had to check. We all walked up the marble steps, finally ready to see the Uffitzi. At the top of the stairs was a person who checked tickets. I gave her ours and she said we couldn’t go in! She pointed out that the tickets were for the Accademia, not for the Uffitzi!


Did the ticket person give us the wrong tickets? How could this happen? I pulled out our confirmation. Then I realized….there were two confirmation numbers and I had given them the one for the Accademia.

Go ahead and say it. “We plan, God laughs.”

My group could have been fussy but they were very understanding. They would wait by the elevators on the bench while I ran with one of the others back to the end of the line at the ticket office.

It only took us twenty minutes or so to wait in the two lines to get into the Uffizi. We reunited with our group and presented the correct tickets to the person at the top of the stairs. Then we all decided to go our own way at our own pace. Since it was a rainy day we canceled the bike tour we had planned for the afternoon (ibikeflorence.com), so we had plenty of time.

I shared my iPhone and one ear bud with one of the women and we listened to Rick Steves’ Uffitzi Tour (downloaded before the trip through the Rick Steves Audio Europe App). It was entertaining, but it was the same tour I listened to during my 2009 trip. Some of the paintings had been moved and it was hard to follow. Plus we had to walk around like Siamese twins to be able to both hear the tour. In hindsight I should have given her the iPhone and rented the audio tour for myself. Or, I wish now that I had hired a tour guide for our group.

After the Uffitzi we found a little place to sit and eat lunch. I had the ribollita, or bread vegetable soup. For those not familiar with this wonderful Italian soup, it is always made with local vegetables and good Italian bread. When I don’t know what to order, or I don’t want a big meal, I order ribollita.

During lunch we talked about our “bucket lists” for Florence. One of the women wanted to see Michelangelo’s home, another, the jewelry stores on the Ponte Vecchio. Everyone wanted to explore the Duomo and go to the San Lorenzo market near our hotel. It was (another!) rainy afternoon. We all walked over to the market so we could easily make it back to the hotel if we were cold and wet.

Stall after stall after stall after stall…..leather, scarves, more leather, purses, jewelry, people trying to get you to “look lady, do you like my purses? How much do you give me?” When you are carry on only you have to be picky about what you buy. Is it important enough to check your bag? Do you need to buy another bag just to hold your purchases?

At first it was fun and lively, then it got old. Too many people hawking their stuff. We looked, we touched, we bargained. One woman bought a very nice briefcase for her husband. Another woman bought a gorgeous red leather purse.
anneeby is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 01:30 PM
Join Date: Jun 2013
Posts: 89
I looked a day trip to Orvieto - I decided that it looks too nice for a day trip, and am saving it for a possible return stay!

Thanks for the great report - I am so enjoying it!
CatchK is offline  
Jul 10th, 2013, 02:37 PM
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Did the ticket person give us the wrong tickets? How could this happen? I pulled out our confirmation. Then I realized….there were two confirmation numbers and I had given them the one for the Accademia.>>

lol, and lol again.

though it has to be better than forgetting to look at what time the flight leaves.
annhig is offline  
Jul 11th, 2013, 06:04 PM
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I love your report!
nyellie is offline  
Jul 11th, 2013, 06:16 PM
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Loving this report. And you can include me as one of the less-than-impressed-with-the-Scavi-tour folks. Our guide was just too hard to understand. Disappointing.
azzure is offline  
Jul 12th, 2013, 04:17 AM
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What a great report.
Good for you that you were able to plan such a fun trip for 8 women.
tdk320n is offline  
Jul 12th, 2013, 06:46 AM
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Tagging to read later! We are doing a similar itinerary in September except we are starting in Florence and ending in Rome!
2010 is offline  
Jul 12th, 2013, 10:24 AM
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Yes, Man proposes, God disposes. Really enjoying this TR.
TDudette is offline  
Jul 12th, 2013, 11:42 AM
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love your trip report. I did this also with eight people, seven females and one man. It can be done! Four of us flew early and went to Cinque Terre for two nights and then we all met in Florence on Saturday for our rental in Florence for one week. We had two baths and each had a bed room to share. Beautiful views of the Duomo but cheap enough that we did an overnight in Montepulciano with a backpack. We spent the last two nights at the Beehive in Rome. I planned most of the trip but my sweet mom died while in Florence. Being surrounded by good friends was beyond helpful. We went to the Duomo for mass and lit candles for my Mom. I was able to get a flight out of Rome two days later so left my sweet friends. Trip insurance is a must. I have to say they even paid for the 240 euro hilton hotel at the airport. I would do it again in a heartbeat. You just have to set up some rules, You pack it you haul it is my number one rule but you still help when running to different platforms to catch a train! I so want to go to Orvieto now. I saw it from the bus on my way to Rome.
flpab is offline  
Jul 12th, 2013, 12:56 PM
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I haven't been to Orvietto but a good friend from Sweden who lives here introduced me to some pretty fine white wine from there!

So? Maybe next time I'll see the village. Probably won't remember it much...all that wine!
sueciv is offline  
Jul 13th, 2013, 06:20 PM
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The next day in Florence was a whirl wind. We said goodbye to two of the women who took the fast train to Rome to fly back to the US. Another was flying out that night to visit a friend in Paris. The rest of us had one last full day to do everything we wanted to do, including a visit to the Accademia to see “The David” (with the correct tickets!), and purchase any last minute gifts and souvenirs.

We gathered at breakfast and walked around the corner from the hotel to the Accademia. The lines were long, but by this time we were experts at finding the right entrance. We agreed on a time and meeting place and each went our separate way. I had the Rick Steves audio tour on my iPhone.

I went straight to The David. How is it possible that Michelangelo carved this magnificent sculpture out of a raw piece of marble? How can a raw piece of marble take on such life-like human characteristics? The eyes gaze. The expression is determined. The body is….well, pretty darned extraordinary.

After studying The David for several minutes, I went to the partially finished sculptures. These are almost as intriguing to me as The David. They look as though the figures are literally trying to break free of the large boulders of rock from which they were sculpted.
After the Accademia the other women went exploring, and I went back to the hotel to pack and pay our bill. Tomorrow the remains of our group were going to Rome for one last night, and then flying back to the US from Rome. I was going to the Amalfi Coast for a week by myself. I needed to look at the train schedules to Naples and figure out how to get to the little coastal town of Praiano from there.

I just had one thing left that I wanted to do—go to Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset for the beautiful view over the city.

We splurged on a taxi to take us to Piazzale Michelangelo. We drove over the Arno River, through the residential area. Next time I come to Florence I think I’d like to stay on that side of the river for a totally different experience. The taxi let us off at what looked like a parking lot. I led us over to the ledge where several people had congregated to get a good view. Couples were handing their cameras to strangers to take their pictures with all of Florence in the background. It was sprinkling intermittently, but we didn’t care. It was our last night in Florence, our last night together as travel buddies.

At 8:00am the next morning, the taxi came right on time to take what was left of our group to the train station. I bought my ticket to Naples, they bought theirs to Rome. They walked me to my platform. I was about to embark on a new adventure—my first solo trip, one week on the Amalfi Coast. I must admit I was scared, not of traveling solo, but because actually getting to the Amalfi Coast seemed confusing and precarious.

We said our good byes, knowing we would see each other “back home” with stories to tell and enough private jokes to keep us laughing until our next travel adventure.
anneeby is offline  
Jul 13th, 2013, 07:29 PM
Join Date: Feb 2011
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It can be done and we did a facebook group page to plan. We would post different tours and apartments and places to eat and it helped us all to voice our opinion. We all took different pics and we are going to get together and do a picture, wine and dinner night. I love traveling with my friends, So glad you had a fab time. I do think if you want to do some down time alone that is ok. I did a cooking class alone. We didn't always eat together. We grocery shopped and ate some meals in our apartment and always had wine, cheese and snacks for evenings on our terrace.
flpab is offline  
Jul 13th, 2013, 07:33 PM
Join Date: Jul 2013
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Loved your trip report. I just got back from Rome and Florence as well. I'm glad that you went to Piazzale Michelangelo. We almost didn't go, but ended up visiting on our last day at sunset. Oh boy, it was a glorious moment. Though in general I don't enjoy touristy places so much (PM is one of which), but it was so beautiful up there that the throng of tourist wasn't a big deal.
confused20s is offline  
Jul 13th, 2013, 07:52 PM
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I enjoyed your trip report. I'd love to explore Orvieto on our next trip.
bxl4373 is offline  
Jul 15th, 2013, 04:45 PM
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Thanks for the great report. I am saving it for reference for my next trip. I don't know if I could find seven friends to go, but it sure sounded like fun!

Now I want to hear all about your solo trip to the Amalfi Coast! Is that trip report coming soon, I hope?
nyellie is offline  
Jul 16th, 2013, 07:16 AM
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Lovely. Can't wait to read about Praiano. Know you did/will do fine!
TDudette is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2013, 12:38 PM
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I just started the trip report for the second part of this trip that I took solo to the Amalfi Coast. You can follow along at http://bit.ly/133liuz.
anneeby is offline  
Jul 22nd, 2013, 03:19 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Just now found this wonderful trip report . . . can't wait for the next part from the Amalfi coast. I wish I were one of your eight! (I can go so if you need anyone . . .)

Sandy (in Denton)
sandy_b is offline  

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