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travelgirl2 Oct 6th, 2006 03:49 AM

Day 62 – Rome

DH goes out in the morning and brings back some croissants and yummy strawberries.

Thus fortified, we go out and run some errands. We are dismayed to run into several rude people. This is our fourth trip to Rome and previously we found people to be very nice. Today, the man in the grocery store gives a lady a hard time about telling her the price of something, rolling his eyes, sighing in disgust and sounding very irritated. The man at the cash register is brusque and starts sending the groceries of the man behind me immediately after ringing up ours, causing them to get mixed up. I ask the man at the post office where there is an internet café and he tells me there are some around but they may be closed. Well, that was not very helpful, so I tell him I am wondering where they are. He just shrugs and goes to help the next customer. The man at the internet point acts like we are disturbing him when we ask a question. Are these people upset because their friends have gone on vacation and left them in Rome to work?

Later in the trip, we will be staying at the Albergo del Senato. We stop in there to see if we can pay to use their wireless service with our laptop in the lobby. They say no. We explain that we will be staying there next week and we are told that the service has to be billed to the room and since we do not have a room yet, they cannot take responsibility for us using their internet. Later, at the internet café, our transaction is totally anonymous, leading us to wonder why the hotel monitors access so closely while the café doesn’t.

DH has some work to do in the apartment, so we don’t really do much today. In the evening, we watch a movie on the computer. It’s the first time we’ve done this. It works okay, but the computer is kind of small for four people to comfortably crowd around. And the volume is very low. Still, it is nice to watch a movie in English. I plan to pick up a couple of DVDs the next time I pass a music store.

job816 Oct 6th, 2006 03:18 PM

Just a thought . . . but I used to live and work in resort towns, which are very seasonal. Often by the end of tourist season my patience would run dry. Perhaps being August, the Romans have had enough. Not that you should be treated rudely, but sometimes when you live in place where everyone wants something from you, it's hard to be nice all the time.

I actually had a similar experience in Cinque Terre quite a few years back. My sister and I were staying at a popular Rick Steve's Pensione and one morning while the receptionist/barista is trying to check folks in (and make coffee), I decide to ask what the weather is going to be for the day. She answers in some rapid, inpatient Italian with a wave of her hand. My sister turns to me "What did she say?" And out pops out of my mouth; "I think she said shut up you fat American cow.":-)

Now really I have no idea if she said that, but I knew she had had enough. We actually get a kick out it every time we remember - and with age we are positive thats what she said. And being that at the time we were resorters ourselves, we didn't blame her.

Still loving this report - travelgirl!!!!

stragic Oct 6th, 2006 04:48 PM

Thank you so much for writing about the wonderful travels you were able to experience with your family. Looking forward to more...

travelgirl2 Oct 6th, 2006 06:51 PM

job816 - you just have to laugh, don't you? Your translation sounds like something I might have said.

Mab85 Oct 6th, 2006 07:13 PM

What an amazing trip! I've been reading for two hours and want more!

Pilates Oct 7th, 2006 08:39 AM

Job816: Funny stuff. Thanks for the laugh!

You know travelgirl, when Job wrote that, I was thinking the same thing...that it's the end of the season and they are burnt out.

It still puts a damper on things. I remember leaving Lipari after one night because the people were all (we did meet two nice people) so freakin' rude! I didn't understand it. We had been treated so well for the 3 weeks of Italian travel up until that point. Then, when we spent our last day in Rome, we had 3 people give us wrong directions to the Trevi fountain. Sending us in the opposite direction. One was a bus driver who told us to "get off here and go right". It didn't seem right to me so I studied my map and found it was further ahead and to the left! My husband was saying, "Why did he let us off way back there." Keep in mind I speak Italian and I'm accustomed to ask everything with a "mi scusi per favore...."

Having worked in retail for 20 years, I know we all have bad days. It just sucks when you run into half a dozen bad attitudes in a few hours.

Anxiously awaiting to read more of your adventure TG......


Italybound07 Oct 10th, 2006 07:14 AM

I'm dying heah...TG where are you?!

There can't be anything more important-like you know LIFE!-than keeping us up on your adventure.

LOL-come back soon!

Dejais Oct 10th, 2006 11:14 PM

We had the same experience with (continously)rude people in Italy on our last trip in 2005. We even experienced one of those infamous "rip off" cab rides from the airport. I have to say it was only in Rome, but it left a bad taste. We were there in late May so I'm not sure I agree with the whole tourist season theory.

This was a big reason I took my mother to Paris in September and not Italy. It's a shame to hear this as we used to love going to Rome. However, when we go back to Italy, Rome is the one place we will not travel again.

Anyway, need more Travel Girl! Post away.............

LowCountryIslander Oct 13th, 2006 08:21 AM

TG2...

I've finally caught up on all your posting. I starting following your adventures when you began in June. Now I am just back from a month long trip/holiday in Central Europe of my own and couldn't wait to log on and see all your trip installments I missed while I was away....you did not dissapoint in the wonderful postings of your travels. Now I just have to find the time to write my own trip report! :)

Loving every minute of your trip!

LynnieD Oct 14th, 2006 06:37 AM

Where are you travelgirl?

travelgirl2 Oct 14th, 2006 02:46 PM

I'm still here. I will finish this trip report, I promise. Have to finish my taxes first, then will get back to it...

ga9497 Oct 18th, 2006 05:42 PM

Great report

olive_oil Oct 18th, 2006 07:24 PM

Taxes, shmaxes...
Just kidding, but I am looking forward to the rest of the report.

missypie Oct 19th, 2006 06:09 AM

Okay, I figure the deadline for your extension was Oct. 15th, so your taxes must be in by now. Looking forward to more of your report.

travelgirl2 Oct 20th, 2006 05:33 AM

Day 63 – Drive to Tuscany

Today we pack up and get ready to pick up the grandparents at Rome’s Fuimicino airport. First, DH has to finish his work and then make a quick trip to the internet café to email it off. We have been unable to reserve a taxi at the last minute, so we hope to find one at the taxi stand. Luck is with us and we head off to the airport.

At the airport, we will be picking up a rental van at Auto Europa. The taxi driver can’t drop us off there, so he drops us in front of the terminal. It is an easy but somewhat lengthy walk - up an escalator, through a covered walkway and down several passages to the rental car area. There is a sign for a Hilton Hotel located there, adjacent to the airport. As we near the rental car area, there are several groups of people just camped out in the hallway with their luggage. It does not look good.

Once we get into the rental car area, we see that it is a round room, with various agency counters lining the edges of the room. There is a huge line at one agency, EuropaCar. For a minute, I think this is the agency we are using. I pull out my handy-dandy binder of all important information. Our voucher is for AutoEuropa. There is only 1 person in line here. Yeah!

We quickly get the keys and take our luggage to the van and lock it up. Then we head to the terminal to pick up the grandparents. They are all taking the same flight from New York: DMIL (dear mother-in-law), DFIL (dear father-in-law), DM (dear mother) and DMLIL (dear mother’s live-in-lover). We stand at the arrivals area, along with all the drivers holding signs with people’s names on them. We wait and wait. I am so glad I don’t have to do this every day. Eventually, I go off in search of a disposable camera, since we’ve left our rechargeable camera battery in Spain. I also purchase a few DVDs. After more than an hour of standing and waiting, the kids go to a nearby lounge to sit down. Of course, it is just five minutes later that the grandparents arrive. We are all so excited that they are here!

We give them the option of driving straight to Tuscany or making a brief stop at Ostia Antica, since it is ten minutes from the airport. OSTIA ANTICA it is. At the ticket booth, we are momentarily delighted to learn that children and senior citizens are free. Then, the ticket taker asks what country we are from and tells us the discounts apply only to EU citizens. Oh yes, I remember that from previous trips. Anyway, it is only 4 euros per person. We walk around for about an hour and a half, getting as far as the theater. It is a good introduction to Italy for the new arrivals. DFIL loves it and I am amazed as he scampers, bad hip and all, up and down every available viewing site.

We make a brief stop at an Autogrill for snacks. They have nice sandwiches, which they heat in a small grill machine. We like the chicken cutlet sandwich. Then, we stop at a grocery store and I run in to buy some food for dinner and tomorrow’s breakfast.

We continue our drive to Tuscany, finally arriving at around 7 pm. We are staying in Castellina in Chianti, at a villa – TENUTA DI LILIANO. This will be our third time staying here. When making the reservation, I had called Tenuta di Liliano directly to make the arrangements. The man told me to call the rental agent in Italy. That rental agent gave me the number of an agent in the US. I spoke to the US rental agent and arranged to rent a two villas; one villa which was all on one level for 6 of us and a second villa for DM and DMLIL.

Two years ago, we stayed at Tenuta Di Liliano with MR. DF and MRS. DF from Stockholm. MRS. DF had just had knee surgery, so they had a one-level villa which was right next to ours. This was the villa I wanted and in speaking with the rental agent, it is the one I thought I reserved. I told her that I would be traveling with some elderly people who really couldn’t take too many stairs. She said there were some stairs to get into the villa, but once inside it is on one level.

When we arrive at Liliano, Cosimo meets us and takes us to our villa. We go right past the villa I thought we were renting. I am slightly concerned, but decide to wait and see ‘our’ villa. As we arrive at the front of the villa, I am startled to be looking up at a terrific flight of stairs. There are over twenty stairs. Built hundreds of years ago, they are jagged and uneven. They are very steep. There is no railing.

I have a little talk with Cosimo, about how several of our party simply cannot negotiate these stairs several times a day. He is sympathetic, but tells me that all the other villas are booked. The one I thought we were getting has been reserved for two weeks by some Austrians. Iolanda, the housekeeping manager, comes over and we discuss the situation some more. Well, she only speaks Italian, so Cosimo helps us translate. Nobody really has any ideas about what to do. Iolanda and Cosimo have to run off and let some other people into their villa. They promise to come right back. While DH and I try to come up with something, everyone else sits patiently at the pool or in the other villa. DH and I start to really stress out over this.

Finally, I decide to explain the situation to the Austrians and ask if they would possibly consider switching villas with us. I know this would be incredibly inconvenient for them, since they would have to switch back after 1 week. But, I don’t know what else we can do. So, DH and I go to talk with the Austrians. The men are outside. I throw myself on their mercy, trying not to beg and plead too much, as I explain our situation. I say I know it would be inconvenient for them, but I would appreciate if they would consider it. I tell them I didn’t think we could stay there, with those steep stairs. They say they will have to wait until their wives come back.

Soon, Iolanda and Cosimo come back and call Francesca, the property manager (I think). Francesca calls around and tries to find other properties with openings. She finds us one possibility - two apartments near each other. They are available the following day, so we’d have to spend tonight at Liliano in any case.

DH and I hear the Austrians leaving their villa, so we run over to talk with them. The man simply says, “We do not want to change places”. Neither of the two men nor their wives seems in the least bit sympathetic or sorry. DH and I are crushed. We know that we would probably have agreed to help someone out like this. At least, I like to think we would have. From this point forward, we refer to these people as ‘the evil Austrians’. Well, I do, even though I know it’s wrong and DH tells me it’s not nice and we really couldn’t expect them to move.

After all of this excitement, DH is fairly upset (unusual for him) and I am beside myself. I have worked so hard to make these plans because I wanted everyone to have a wonderful trip to Italy. DM has been before, but it is the first time for DMIL, DFIL and DMLIL. It would have been far easier to handle a mix-up that affected just the four of us. I really wanted everything to be perfect for everyone.

With no other options, we have everyone traipse up and down the stairs of both villas. Our villa for 6 has the steep stairs outside, but once you are upstairs, the entire villa is on one level. The second villa for 4 has a smaller, but still steep, set of stairs inside, leading up to the bedroom/bathroom area. DM and DMLIL are fine with their villa. DMIL and DMIL say they can manage the outside stairs. Still, I am so worried that someone could easily fall on those outside stairs.

Cosimo and Iolanda continue to periodically hang out with us, trying to help us figure out what to do. Finally, they help us carry our luggage up the stairs, since we will be staying here for at least one night. They suggest that we go see the properties Francesca found. So, DH and I leave everyone at the villa. We follow Iolanda to a small part of town and Francesca meets us there with her baby. We see two apartments. One is okay and one is very low budget. They are a bit away from each other, on a residential street (not a beautiful farm!). There are children loudly playing and crying in the yard next door. There is really nowhere for the 8 of us to congregate. This is not what I imagined our Tuscany agriturismo vacation to be!

So we go back to the villa. I say I will call Francesca tomorrow morning and let her know what we decide to do. Everyone has made dinner while we were gone, so when we get back at 9:30 pm, we sit and eat together. Everyone is pretty quiet, as it’s been a long day with a stressful ending.

missypie Oct 20th, 2006 05:42 AM

Who knows - maybe you DID reserve the right villa, but then the Austrian's saw the stairs onthe theirs and switched to yours before you got there...There is always so much pressure on the trip planner.

olive_oil Oct 20th, 2006 05:58 AM

This is an ominous cliff-hanger....I will stay tuned...Now I am worried for Travelgirl and her family...

job816 Oct 21st, 2006 01:03 PM

Totally agree . . cliff hanger. Just when you think this story can't get any better. . .

travelgirl2 Oct 24th, 2006 03:47 AM

Day 64 – Tuscany – Castellina in Chianti

When we wake up, I know that we will be staying at the villa. The apartments just won’t cut it. DMIL and DFIL insist that everyone will be fine on the stairs. I ask DMIL if she will please allow one of us to escort her up and down the stairs and she agrees. I have to say that DMIL and DFIL are the best in the entire world. They are such wonderful people and are extremely flexible and great travel companions.

We spend the morning getting settled in to our villa. Everyone sleeps late and then lazes around. We don’t have too much food, so everyone picks and chooses from the little that we bought the previous day. The grocery stores nearby are closed today (Sunday). Later I find out that some of the further towns may have stores open on Sunday.

Some people hang out at the pool. DS1 learns how to play cribbage with DM and DMLIL. DM and DMLIL love card games and they spend the morning teaching the kids to play ‘Trash”. Various people go for walks. I love spending some time reading a Robert Ludlum novel.

This is such a beautiful setting. As we look out our windows, or gaze out from the front porch, we gaze out to the pool and then acres upon acres of farmland, planted with row and rows of vines. The plantings are done in a patchwork arrangement that reminds me of a quilt. It is tranquil and lovely.

In the afternoon, DM and DMLIL lock themselves out of their villa. Iolanda is nowhere to be found and I really don’t want to call her (it’s Sunday!), after she drove us around until 9:30 pm last night. I disappear into our villa and hope that someone can work something out. (Once in a great while, I have to run and hide because I feel that my head will explode if one other thing goes wrong! Usually, someone else makes the problem go away and I feel better.) DS2 runs up a little later to tell me that they found a rickety ladder in one of the storage areas and DH climbed up to the second floor of the villa and boosted himself into the tiny open bathroom window. Four people were holding the bottom of the ladder to steady it, because it was so rickety. I am so-o-o glad I missed that. DM tells me the sight of DH’s bum as he climbed into the window was just hysterical.

In the evening, we go into CASTELLINI IN CHIANTI. It seems there was some sort of festival going on today, which is in the process of closing down. We walk by the winery and make a reservation for a tour later in the week. We walk to a square and make a reservation for dinner. Some people climb partially up the tower, where there is an art exhibit. They wave to those of us who remain in the square.

For dinner, we go to ANTICA TRATTORIA “LA TORRE” in Castellina in Chianti. As we arrive and are being seated, we see the Austrians being turned away. Karma? (Sorry, not nice…) Anyway, this restaurant has been owned by a family for nearly a century and run by four generations of the family. I have been there a couple of times and thought it was okay. This time, we all thought it was very good. I think the difference is that some members of our party asked for an English menu. In the interest of ‘blending in’, I would never have thought to do that, preferring instead to struggle with the Italian menu. This time, with full knowledge, I picked a boiled beef dish with onions. It was really good. Everyone else ordered either a stew or roasted meat (they agreed the pork was the best). We also tried an appetizer of sliced polenta with mushroom sauce.

We walk around a bit after dinner. It starts drizzling, so we ask someone about gelato. They direct us to a gelateria with a huge ice cream cone outside. It is the first time trying gelato for most of the grandparents. I am glad that they really like it. Who wouldn’t, right? My chocolate and nocciola (hazelnut) gelato is great.

We head back to the villa, where everyone trudges up the stairs and heads off to bed.

missypie Oct 24th, 2006 06:40 AM

Ah, a day lazing around a villa in Italy...how idylic (until someone locks themselves out....) Well, I envied MOST of your day!


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