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**TRIP REPORT** Oh my I turned 50 but did it in Tuscany, June 11 to 22nd

**TRIP REPORT** Oh my I turned 50 but did it in Tuscany, June 11 to 22nd

Aug 27th, 2007, 07:15 AM
  #1  
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**TRIP REPORT** Oh my I turned 50 but did it in Tuscany, June 11 to 22nd

Chapter One/ Day One

OK – so my trip report is way overdue but does “better late than never” apply?

First and most important – thank you all that helped me and offered advice. My 50th birthday celebration was unforgettable.

We were in Italy June 11th through June 22nd.

Well, here goes…

Day 1 - We arrived at Logan airport on Monday morning with time to spare, took a short flight to JFK and boarded our Air France flight. Using frequent flyer miles, we were seated in business class. Woo hoo. New York had severe weather and we later found out our flight was one of the last to leave New York but not before we sat on the runway long enough to miss our connection in Paris. I have never been served dinner before take-off! The seat converted to an almost flat bed and I was able to sleep for almost 6 hours – without a sleeping pill. In the morning, the flight attendant gave me a bottle of wine and said happy 50th birthday. Too bad security confiscated it – hope they enjoyed it but it was the thought that counts. We were lucky enough to catch a flight from CDG to Florence almost immediately after landing, which is why our luggage was not in Florence when we arrived.

Let me set the stage – I am an accountant and anal about many things. One of my biggest dilemmas for the trip was what type of luggage to use since we were flying Delta, Air France and Alitalia during the trip. Since Alitalia would only allow one bag, and only one bag, and it had to weigh 10 lbs or less I needed to be careful.

Am I boring yet? I finally decided to bring a rather large backpack – High Sierra Passport, a 25 inch very light weight Eagle Creek rollerboard and my gym bag to use for the Alitalia flight.

To make a long story short, I packed assuming my luggage would be lost or misplaced on the way to Italy and it was.

So no tears from me, I was prepared. Our luggage did not arrive for 3 more days.

My carry on for Delta/Air France was packed using a couple packing cubes and a packing folder and zip-loc bags: packing cube – 11 rolled tops, packing cube – all my bras and underwear, zip loc bag – allowed toiletries, zip loc bag – camera, small binoculars. Packing folder – 3 knit dresses for Rome, two pairs Capri’s, dressy cotton shirt, linen shorts and a shawl to cover my shoulders in Rome.

Once we reported our missing luggage, we proceed to the Hertz rental car window – what little cars! We had asked for a GPS but I had the Chianti region detailed map and the Italian Touring Club map with me. Good thing – as Murphy’s Law would have it the GPS did not work! What a treacherous ride to Radda in Chianti – the town that would serve as our home base for the next 6 nights. Also good is that I am good with directions and know how to read a map!

We finally arrived at our hotel, Relais Vignale, about 4pm. What a wonderful hotel and town to use as a home base. During our entire Tuscany visit, we never saw a hotel we wished we were at in its place. Staff was wonderful and even handled ensuring our luggage was properly directed. Our room faced their own vineyard and olive orchard. The room was clean and spacious and the bathroom shower had wonderful water pressure.

We did not nap but instead headed down to a local restaurant I read about either on trip advisor or Fodors. As it turned out, we ate here 4 of our 6 nights. I tried so hard to write everything down and my thoughtful daughter even gave me a journal. I was not successful. My hat goes off to those of you that manage this feat! I believe the place was Pizzeria Michel. Just down the road a bit but here is the thing – the deck outside overlooks the most spectacular view and sunset. The pizza is not like anything we eat here and I ordered it every time.

We headed back to our hotel rather early and slept wonderfully – overslept actually but I had allowed for that likelihood.

More to follow unless I am boring you!



pmuzzy17 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 07:20 AM
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I should add that the checked 25-inch suitcase was practically empty, as it would have to hold most the backpack and its contents for the Alitalia flight. This suitcase contained a couple more shorts/Capri’s and my jeans, larger size toiletries and all the medicines (not prescriptions) I thought we might need. (ALSO ANOTHER STORY)

I forgot to add that I did carry on my prescriptions, just two plus a very strong antibiotic just in case!
pmuzzy17 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 09:48 AM
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pmuzzy-

What a great way to celebrate your birthday!

You're off to a good start with the report. I'm in the middle of writing one for our June trip too.

Looking forward to more.
Momof3sons is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 09:52 AM
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hi, muzzy,

thanks for posting - not late at all.

looking forward to more,

regards, ann
annhig is online now  
Aug 27th, 2007, 10:35 AM
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Ahhh.... You're bringing back wonderful memories for me, since we stayed at Relais Fattoria Vignale, and also ate nearly every possible meal at Pizzeria Michele! By the way, did you meet Michele? He is quite a showman, and made every meal special for us. Anyway, enjoying your report. More, please!
Weadles is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 11:30 AM
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Weadles - I think it was you!! I think it was your trip report I got that suggestion from actually. Yes, met the whole family. Thank you for that wonderful suggestion. We never wanted to be on those windy mountainous roads at night - especially after drinking wine.
pmuzzy17 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 12:52 PM
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Chapter One/Day One – Lowlights

No one ever seems to include in their trip report any drama with his or her traveling companions. We had a minor bit of drama when the plane landed in Florence – even before knowing we had lost luggage – Our drama had to do with my wanting to take his picture and his not allowing me. Guess we were tired – it was brief!

Chapter Two/Day Two (actually day three due to time difference but…)

We attempted to use a travel agent to help us plan our trip but, although she is great for U.S. travel, I was not satisfied with letting her plan our trip. I have planned all of my trips taken with my daughter and, since I am particular, decided to plan it all myself. I only had one request of my boyfriend – read the SlowTrav website information of driving and parking in Italy. And, most importantly, to be sure to ask Hertz what type of gas to put in the car!

In general, for Tuscany we had a Wednesday through Friday for day trips. I left 3 days unplanned but had plenty of ideas and options. I wanted us to be able to experience some spontaneity.

During dinner Tuesday night, we reviewed our options decided to visit San Gimignano for our Wednesday journey – partly because it sounded charming and mostly because it seemed closer than other choices – we might be tired .
By now, we knew our GPS did not work so we reviewed the map(s) and the guidebooks that I had brought with us. (These were in my boyfriend’s carry-on so I did not go over the weight limit.) The best map is the Chianti Classico free map we received via the internet. Very detailed and helpful especially since unlike in the U.S. where signs indicate North, South, East or West, in Italy you had to be aware of what town/city to head towards – learned this by being well read in advance of the trip. As I said, I am good with directions and map reading. Remarkably, we never actually got lost nor did we argue over directions or driving. However, on several occasions we did circle the “round-about” more than once to get our bearings. Several times we went around an extra time just because we were laughing so hard.

Since we overslept this first full day in Italy, we started off on our adventure without coffee or breakfast. We stopped in a little grocery store and bought some water and bread to sustain us on our journey. The scenery overwhelmed us! We took so many pictures during our trip (718 on my camera and another 250-ish on his).

As we drove toward San Gimignano we kept saying to each other how amazing everything was and how we could not believe we were finally here in Italy. We had planned this trip for almost a year!

I am not much of a shopper and buy little on trips. One thing I really wanted to buy in Italy, and I figured it would be in Florence, was a brown leather backpack and I had an idea in my head of exactly what it would look like. I found it in the very first place we looked in San Gimignano. My boyfriend suggested I wait because I might find something I liked better but I knew it was perfect! We never did see one I liked better or made me regret my decision.

We ate lunch on a little side street on a fairly steep hill. I wish I remembered the name but alas – I had good intentions but never wrote it down and I am too “lazy” to search through my receipts.

Highlights – one of the best parts of being in Italy was being able to eat outside and we did for almost all of our meals.

This is a charming town and a perfect place to get your feet wet. I cannot recommend Radda in Chianti enough for a home base. Our travel was like the spokes of a wheel and we went in almost every direction.

We had lunch, walked around, sat and observed, stopped in a small café and had a drink, walked around some more and drove back to Radda.

Amusement of the Day – Have any of you been stuck on those windy roads behind a very slow/cautious driver and needed to go to the bathroom? Well it happened to us, or more specifically, it happened to my boyfriend. We got to the hotel and he was so desperate that he parked the car in the check-in parking, left it running with me in it and ran to the room. I was laughing so hard I thought I would die!
Once he returned to the car, we parked it properly, dropped our things in the room and went to the bar in the hotel for a drink. The hotel has a nice assortment of appetizers for quests daily and the brushetta is wonderful. (I had brushetta for lunch many times.)

Dinner was once again at the Pizzeria Michele (thank you, Weadles for the proper spelling). Dinner was again pizza - the pizza is huge and the crust is as thin as pita bread. We had a lovely bottle of Chianti Classico Riserva – from what vineyard I could not tell you.

We happily finished and proceeded back to our hotel to sleep and prepare for day three – which was my 50th birthday.

pmuzzy17 is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 04:07 PM
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I like the personal side of your trip. Can't wait for more.

I don't know how the others get all those restaurant details and remember them!
GranthamMommy is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 04:23 PM
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you know that if you have your 50th birthday in tuscany - you automatically get to deduct 15 years off your age!!
great report, thanks.
nanabee is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 04:25 PM
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Dear pmuzzy, thank you for your sharing your enjoyable report. Your place in Radda sounds wonderful.

We leave in 25 days and I am envious of your "business class" seats, ha ha! We are flying "coach" and I have yet to sleep on a over-nighter...hope springs eternal though!

I too, am eager for more--keep those installments coming! gt;
lovesroses is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 04:32 PM
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This is great. Keep it coming. And yes, I've had that bathroom experience but mine was while walking in Paris. Had to run back to the hotel because of "Madame la Peepee".
SharonG is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 04:55 PM
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pmuzzy17, I hope you had a wonderful birthday! I love reading trip reports about Tuscany, or actually, anywhere in Italy. Looking forward to more!
Samsaf is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 05:03 PM
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pmuzzy, your report is great. Can't wait to hear more details. Going with Alitalia from Boston in October.
ljc4creb is offline  
Aug 27th, 2007, 06:15 PM
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keep it coming
rhkkmk is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 02:41 AM
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wonderful report!!!!!!!!
AmanteDelLimoncello is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 03:36 AM
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Thanks for the report! Looking forward for more.
marigross is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 05:57 AM
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I am so pleased that you are enjoying my story! Many of you write such detailed reports including specific names and prices and what was ordered. I was intimidated and almost didn't write since all my information is from my wonderful memories.

Love that I am 35 again. Great idea, Nanabee!
pmuzzy17 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 06:40 AM
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Did they deliver your bags to Radda?
Thanks for the report.
Did you eat at Fattoria Vignale's restaurant? We thought about eating there a couple times before,but so far have not.
jabez is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 06:52 AM
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My bags arrived Thursday night in tact although my new luggage was damaged (Eagle Creek replaced it with a new one).

We didn't care for the menu at the hotel so we did not go there.

pmuzzy17 is offline  
Aug 28th, 2007, 07:52 AM
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Enjoying this so far, can't wait to hear about your birthday.
bfrac is offline  

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