Rome/Venice Trip - Thanks to Everyone!

Feb 28th, 2005, 03:12 PM
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Rome/Venice Trip - Thanks to Everyone!

Just returned from our Rome/Venice trip and wanted to thank everyone for their suggestions or subject-related posts that I could peruse for additional ideas.

Tours/Rome: Can't say enough good things about Scala Reale/Context Rome. We took their Arte Vaticana tour and found the 4 hours to fly by - in fact we were a bit disappointed when it ended. My friend who used to live in Rome was enthralled. We also used Rome Walks for the Colloseum/Forum tour which was terrific and equally top-notch. It might have had something to do with the tour guides we had, but we wouldn't hesitate in recommending them to anyone and plan to use them again upon returning.

Train/Italy: Particularly GAC for your invaluable assistance in booking our 1st class seats from Rome to Venice (r/t) for 29 euro each way. A huge savings when you consider that it's usually about 67 euro for 1st class one way - something we probably wouldn't have even considered, but for 29 it was irresistable. Normally we wouldn't have even considered booking in advance/on-line, but since it was a web only special we jumped at the opportunity and were glad that we did - thanks for the heads up.

Hotel/Rome: Also to bookchick (?) for the Hotel San Carlo recommendation in Rome - a huge thanks! We loved it and everyone at the front desk treated us so well. We had originally booked ourselves double rooms/single use for 95 euro. However, upon arrival they asked if we would mind being moved to singles - after seeing them we agreed and were only charged the single rate of 80 euro. Although the rooms had a twin bed and some layouts were a little quirkier than others (they look as if they had just been re-modeled), we each had our own bathroom, tv, phone, breakfast included - all this for a room near the Spanish Steps. My mother and friend (both ladies in their 60's) were quite happy with the hotel and its location. In addition San Carlo was able to accommodate my friend who has difficulty with stairs by putting her on the 2nd floor as she had requested back in September.

Hotel/Venice: We stayed at Pensione La Calcina in Venice and were equally as happy (have stayed here many times and have yet to be disappointed). My mother's room (#31) was only 85 euro (?) and I ended up in #26 for 75 euro. I began referring my room as Cinderella's room - since it is tucked back by the stairs. My only criticism and a minor one, is that you hear everyone passing by your door. However, the room was actually very comfortable and had a large bathroom plus a full length window (floor to ceiling) that opened out onto the small canal.

Delta/Bereavement Fare: This trip ended up being a little one point during the trip we found out my mother's husband had passed away (quite unexpected). Everyone at both hotels were fabulous in assisting us with the airlines, changing reservations, calling water taxis etc. etc. The gentleman at La Calcina who worked the night shift helped field numerous calls between the US and Italy and even stayed on longer to assure that my mother got into the water taxi in plenty of time for her newly booked flights.

Delta airlines were actually fairly accomodating in re-booking my mother. But due to logistics etc. etc. etc. we still ended up paying an additional $800 plus for her new return flights. I had understood that bereavement policies are very particular to each airline and was a little disappointed that what they could only offer my mother was a waiving of the $200 change fee. Not horrible, I suppose considering the circumstances but disappointing. Once my mother receives the official death certificate we plan to write a letter explaining her circumstances to see if we understand their bereavement policy or if it is possible to be reimbursed or at least receive some Delta dollars in a form of reimbursement.

Didn't mean for this to get so long-winded, just wanted to throw out some thanks and feedback. If anyone has any questions or if I can provide further information, please ask away.
kansas59 is offline  
Feb 28th, 2005, 03:34 PM
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Welcome back kansas! It sounds like a good trip except for your poor mother's situation. Did you all end up coming home early, or just your mother? That must have been terrible for her -- I'm so glad to hear how the La Calcina staff was so helpful to her. I am also a La Calcina fan.
Mar 1st, 2005, 05:53 AM
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awbaker: As it happened, due to availability, I was only able to adjust my mother's return flight. The rest of us kept our original return plans which only got us back a day later than my mother so all in all not too terrible a situation. And yes, La Calcina gets gold stars in my book for going above and beyond the call of duty.

I forgot to mention Piccolo Arnacio became our favorite restaurant in Rome - ended up going there several times during this trip since they treated us like family (it was recommended to us by Scala Reale/Context Rome & Sandra Gustafson). Also discovered a great wine bar near the Spanish Steps but will have to get the info (name/address) after I've gone thru my folder from the trip.
kansas59 is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 06:17 AM
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Oh, kansas59, I am so sorry for your mother's loss. It is definitely worth it to get a copy of the death certificate and mail a letter to the airlines. My brother had trouble getting to America from Canada a couple of years ago because my dad passed away right around 4th of July, but it all got sorted out in the end.

I am really glad the Hotel San Carlo treated you all very well! Yes, you are probably right--they have been in the process of remodeling the rooms. Alberto explained if they do a section at a time, it is more cost-effective than closing the whole place for a month. I think the location and custoemr service can't be beaten! I'm going back in May/June before and after a course I'll be taking in Bevano. I'll make it a point to get to Piccolo Arnacio on this trip, as I've never been there before.

Best wishes,
bookchick is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 06:40 AM
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Kansas-I really would advise you to contact the US DOT's Air Consumer Division, and send them an email concerning your problems with Delta's bereavement fares. All it takes is an email, and I can assure you, they WILL get back to you in an expeditious fashion, generally, not longer than two days (I know, I've tested them).

They may well take up the issue of your excessive bereavement fare with Delta on your behalf-but at an absolute minimum, they will give you well researched advice as to how to proceed, but they may do much more than that. Understand that the office has been specifically created to deal with various types of problems encountered in air travel, and your bereavement fare issue would definitely qualify.

email address is as follows: [email protected]

website: [email protected]/problems.htm
Spygirl is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 06:59 AM
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Kansas59, I'm glad to hear you enjoyed the Piccolo Arancio, which was actually the most disappointing meal of our trip last year. Actually it was just my husband who wasn't happy with his meal, a roast which arrived as just a couple of slices of cold veal which appeared to have been sliced off a pre-cooked roast and inadequately reheated. We were seated in a back room accessed past the kitchen with only our table in it, which may have made the setting a little less festive.

I'll be interested in your impressions, Bookchick.
Nikki is online now  
Mar 1st, 2005, 07:21 AM
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Keep in mind that breavement fares are completely voluntary by the airlines. Some don't offer such fares at all, and very few do on international flights.

Also, breavement fares that are offered are discounts off the highest price fare for a particular flight--usually 50%-75% off. This will usually be higher than the usual advance fare discounted prices.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 07:34 AM
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Welcome back kansas59. We also just returned yesterday from Venice and Rome and had a great time. Also had a great meal at Piccolo Arancia! That's funny. We tried to go on the Colloseum tour, but got lost getting there and missed it (we got headphones instead).
I'm very sorry about your mother's loss.
I'm typing up my trip report now, and my son has already downloaded his photos. I brought my espresso maker up from the basement since we were craving cappucino this morning...I still feel like I'm in Italy!
carolv is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 09:13 AM
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Thanks for everyone's kind thoughts and suggestions. By the way, my mom was very impressed that anyone had even read my post, but then she hasn't experienced Fodors yet.

Bookchick: I forgot to tell you that I was shameless enough to mention your name while checking in and they seemed to be very enthusiastic that we had come upon your recommendation - I'm sure that's why we were treated so royally! When we returned to stay with them again at the end of our trip, they were kind enough to not charge my mother for her last minute cancellation due to the circumstances (I believe they normally have a 7 day prior cancel policy). I just couldn't get over the value of the San Carlo for such a fabulous location. And I appreciate the encouragement to follow thru with a letter/paperwork w/Delta. Although has Rufus T. Firefly mentions bereavement fares are completely voluntary by the airlines.

Spygirl: I also plan to follow-up on your suggestion re: contacting US DOT's Air Consumer Division concerning our problems with Delta's bereavement fares. Thanks for providing all the pertinent info.

Nikki: Sorry to hear about your experience w/Piccolo Arancio - we actually ended up sitting in both areas of the restaurant and in our case felt that we had the same quality of service. Also tried different dishes each time and found that sticking with the specials was a good way to go - although all their pasta dishes were right on the money (believe they were all homemade). They seemed to be very accomodating whenever we made any special requests. That said, I too have followed people's glowing restaurant recommendations and haven't always had the same response as they have. Look forward to Bookchick checking it out on her own. Note: they have an autographed picture of Helen Hunt on their back wall next to the kitchen.

Carolv: How horrible to have missed the tour - our guide (Carla) was wonderful, hope you'll be able to hook up with them some time in the future and I look forward to hearing about your trip.
kansas59 is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 09:49 AM
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kansas -- was Enoteca Antica the wine bar you went to near the Spanish Steps? We went there, thanks to a post by Surfergirl, and really enjoyed it.
Mar 1st, 2005, 12:59 PM
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awbaker: Enoteca Antica sounds right...I'll have to look at the card I grabbed, it's still floating around the bottom of my trip/travel folder. We passed it so many times when we first got to Rome and had made a mental note to stop in. It wasn't until we returned at the end of our trip that it was finally raining hard enough to drive us into the joint...and we were only sorry we hadn't stopped in sooner.
kansas59 is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 01:23 PM
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Kansas59, don't be shy about mentioning my name, it's fine. They treat me like royalty, too, so I've said if I ever write my autobiography, it will be entitled "The Queen of the Hotel San Carlo"!!!

In terms of the airlines: yes, they do extend the bereavement discount rather at their own discretion. However, it would be terribly poor form, not to mention awful PR (which not a single airline can afford these days) not to do as much as possible for their clientele in the hour of their most dire need. Any smart business person (and I'm beginning to think perhaps there's a dearth of them in the airline industry these days) would understand the true value of doing all they could for a grieving and desperate client. The old saw about an unsatisfied customer telling 28 people about their problem has been multiplied exponentially now since the advent of e-mail and use of the internet.

Best wishes,
bookchick is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 01:33 PM
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It never hurts to ask.
RufusTFirefly is offline  
Mar 1st, 2005, 04:06 PM
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Hi Kansas,
Thanks so much for taking the time to post! My family and I are staying at the same hotels - and taking the same tours! - in May, and your input is fantastic.
I'm so sorry for your mother's loss. I just saw an article in the Washington Post today about the withdrawal of bereavement fares by many of the airlines. A real shame! In any case, I'm glad to hear the folks at the hotel were so accomodating. The airlines could take a lesson from them. =)
dana_q is offline  
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