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-   -   "We are not in the States anymore, y'all." An Italian trip report. (

xyz99 Jun 15th, 2014 05:17 PM

After seeing your pictures, I am almost sure we must've crossed paths. Or at least followed each other :)
LOved your cooking class pics, that's one thing we did not do this time, but will definitely do next time in Italy.
And the view from your hotel!

I don't even dare posting the link to my pictures, I just checked...800, ouch...and I was (gently) scolded last time for too many pics.

Kathie21 Jun 16th, 2014 02:36 AM

How can you have too many pictures xyz99?? I was just thinking that surely KayT had more than 210! Thanks for the lovely report Kay, I really enjoyed following along!

TDudette Jun 16th, 2014 04:33 AM

Loving the photos! Your hotel in a perfect location. I just looked back at the name and realized I hadn't commented on how neat Skyping for Italian lessons is. How was the noise level at your hotel?

sarge56 Jun 16th, 2014 08:54 AM

KayT- I'm still thinking that we are channeling each other. haha

1st, glad your daughter is ok. I dread those calls!
2nd, I took my nephew, last year, to the Capuchin Crypts because he so desperately wanted to see them. I thought the museum part of the crypts was well-done, but I walked straight through to the exit after that. I don't get it either!

Did you love St. John Lateran? It is one of my favorites.

And thank you for the recommendation on the restaurant with the cheese. It is a quest of mine to find the best cheese plates/trays in Italy (heck, in the US, too! haha). I put this one on my list.

Can't wait to check out the pics! Thanks for sharing!

LCBoniti Jun 16th, 2014 09:25 AM

KayTKay, we went in February and still felt like cattle herded through the Vatican Museum - and it was not a Saturday. It definitely put a damper on any idea of a future visit to the Vatican.

Everything else about a February trip was fantastic, though. Really, no crowds anywhere - not even Pompeii, which was a very important place for us.

Loving your trip report. Will browse the photos when I have time to give them justice.

Can't wait to hear about your Tuscany adventure. :)

Rostra Jun 17th, 2014 10:06 AM

In your photo;
"The Tree" I mention below is the lone tree on the left.
Scroll down to my 'Rostra' post on Mar 5, 14 and then to the section titled 'Julius Caesar Assassination Site'

KayTKay Jun 18th, 2014 07:36 AM

xyz - too many pictures? Impossible.

and Kathie21 - I have so, so many more. That's the way pared down version! Mostly the ones I thought D and P would want since I originally put that up for them.

TDudette - the noise level wasn't bad at all! We were on the 6th floor and there were wooden shutters that we could slide across the balcony doors at night (the only exterior opening) and we never heard a peep. I'm a very light sleeper, too. Don't know how it would have been on one of the lower floors.

sarge56 - I think you will really like the cheese shop! Let us know if you try it. I love going in the churches of Rome - my group got to the "not another church!" point, but I never did. Can you believe that I haven't been to San Pietro in Vincoli? I was determined to go there this trip and still didn't make it. Another reason to return. I have to see Moses!

LCBoniti - Seems like the Vatican museums are hit or miss with regards to crowds. I've never managed to hit a time when it was uncrowded. I've been when it was bearably crowded and when it was miserably crowded.

Rostra - thank you so much! I aways appreciate your historical notes.

KayTKay Jun 18th, 2014 08:15 AM

We drove our rental car from Termini out of Rome and although I wouldn't say that driving out of Rome is ever easy, it wasn't horrible either. There were a couple of white knuckle moments, but with my husband's great (agressive) driving and the help of a GPS we were soon humming along on the A1 chatting and laughing and enjoying the scenery.

About 40 minutes or so from the exit to Orvieto the car ceased to hum and started to stutter, gurgle, glug, brug, vrum. Not a pleasant sound!

We made it safely to the shoulder. The men, of course, had to look under the hood and tinker around a bit before giving it up as a lost cause. I called Hertz and was told that someone would be there in 30 minutes. 90 minutes (and several phone calls) later our tow truck arrived.

We all hopped out of the car fully expecting to ride in the cab of the tow truck. "No, No, No," the driver said in Italian, "you stay in the car." "No, No, No," we said in a mixture of English and Italian, "we ride with you." This went back and forth a while with the driver insisting that he did this ALL the time and us insisting that we didn't think it was safe for us to ride in the car on the back of the tow truck.

At some point we could tell we were fighting a losing battle and really, what cards were we holding? We were the foreigners, the ones with a broken down vehicle who really needed to get a new one. We resigned ourselves and climbed in the car while it was wenched up the steep incline and then leveled out to our new, much higher vantange point. My husband did climb out of the passengers side and sidled around the edge of the bed of the tow truck to make sure that we were well fastened on.

We all commented that we were definitely NOT in the states anymore as we were pretty sure that riding in a towed vehicle was illegal where we come from...when in Rome? We weren't totally convinced.

Convinced or not, there we were riding in a car on the back of a tow truck headed to Orvieto. At this point we all got a little giddy and began amusing ourselves in various ways. We listened to music and sang old songs loudly, I sent photos to our children of their dad texting and driving, reading a map and driving, driving with no hands...D took photos of the back of the tow truck.

Then our driver couldn't seem to find the Hertz place in Orvieto! We had 2 Ipads, 4 iphones, and a danged GPS in our vehicle. We knew *exactly* where it was. At each stop to ask directions we would roll down the windows and tell him we knew how to get there, but something was getting lost in translation. At still another stop D got out of the car, clamored down from the back of the tow truck and climbed in with the driver. Within minutes we arrived at the Hertz place near the train station in Orvieto. It was about 5:00. The rental car place appeared to be closed.

This was my worst moment of the entire trip.

Fortunately, a local knew where the young woman running the store was and tracked her down. She had gone to grab a coffee. I was relieved to realize that I wasn't going to have to pitch a hissy fit in my non-native language. ;)

Soon we were on the road again in a car with only 1200 kilometers on it.

LCBoniti Jun 18th, 2014 11:34 AM

Oh, my goodness! That is absolutely crazy! Fun to hear about now, though. :)

sarge56 Jun 18th, 2014 11:41 AM

KayTKay- I was in Rome for 3 weeks last year and must have done well over 30 churches. It was fantastic. (Only 270 to go!) :) I never get "churched out" either.

St. Peter in Chains was not quite what I expected, but besides Moses, the chains themselves are fascinating. (I kind of like relics.. just not the "body part" relics!)

When I first started coming to this forum to prepare for my first trip to the European mainland, I was told by many that the most important lesson to learn <i>before</i> going was that something bad/unexpected <u>would</u> happen... we just needed to "get over it" and move on, lest our entire trip be ruined by it. It was great advice when we woke up to find the Louvre closed due to a transit strike. :( I cried for 10 minutes and then we moved on and had a beautiful day.

Thereafter, missed trains, wrong trains, closed doors, etc became, "How bad can it be... We're in Paris/Rome/Venice!" :))

It sounds like y'all may have learned that, too, with your tow truck antics. :)

xyz99 Jun 18th, 2014 12:22 PM

KayT, that is beyond crazy! Definitely not in the States anymore :)

We did not drive at all this trip, and that worked well with us. Seeing the way they drive in Rome and Amalfi Coast, we were happy we decided to use trains and taxis. But I have to admit, we never had a car problem in any country we decided to rent a car. I don't count the flat tire in Ireland as a "problem". It was fun to drive on the tiny donut tire, made for a great picture.

I did not count the number of churches we visited in our 8 days in Rome, but they were quite a few, and I never got "churched out" either. I loved them all.

Looking forward for Orvieto, we did that too, but by train.

Rostra Jun 18th, 2014 12:38 PM

<<<KayT, that is beyond crazy! Definitely not in the States anymore :)>>>

Then again it's only been a few decades that when I started driving that it was perfectly fine just to hook a rope or chain to a broke-down car and have a friend or relative tow you home:-).

annhig Jun 18th, 2014 01:25 PM

Then again it's only been a few decades that when I started driving that it was perfectly fine just to hook a rope or chain to a broke-down car and have a friend or relative tow you home>>

you mean you can't do that in the US?? last time I looked it was legal here. [but I may be out of date, it's a long time since I read the Highway Code in anger].

Kay - being carried in your car on a tow truck is obviously quite a different kettle of fish. WHat an adventure! I'm so pleased that it worked out so well, all things considered.

Rostra Jun 19th, 2014 12:24 PM

<<<you mean you can't do that in the US?? last time I looked it was legal here. [but I may be out of date, it's a long time since I read the Highway Code in anger].>>>

Wow you're Right! I just always assumed it was illegal back then and now but a quick google check shows it is pretty much OK as long as you stay off the Interstate-type roads with the high speed limits.

<<<being carried in your car on a tow truck is obviously quite a different kettle of fish.>>>

Actually it seems pretty safe, as you are physically connected to the tow truck plus secondary 'safety chains' as a Failsafe.

KayTKay Jun 24th, 2014 06:07 AM

Sarge56 - One of the things that I had told D and P in our many emails was that something would go wrong. When the car broke down that was the first thing they said, "this is our something!"

It ended up being the only real problem for the whole trip and in the scheme of things was quite small. Although we laughed about it, we didn't feel particularly safe on the back of the tow truck. Knowing that if there was an accident we could go flying off with no way of controlling anything - well, we just tried not to think to much about the possibilities.

We ended up not spending time in Orvieto as originally planned, it was getting late and we still had a drive ahead of us.

Pietramonti estate and country house - This was where we stayed in Tuscany. It is near Pienza, in a glorious location off of one of the white roads that radiate from Montichiello. It has astounding, quintessential Tuscan views. I highly recommend this small bed and breakfast. The rooms and bathrooms are large and clean, the beds and bedding are extremely comfortable. The breakfasts are delicious and the views from the covered breakfast patio are stunning. Is that enough superlatives?

This is one of those places that encourages complete relaxation.

The owners and hosts are Charles and Peter, two guys from London who chucked it all to open this place in Italy. They are hardworking, hospitable, and have a way of making you feel completely comfortable and welcome. We all enjoyed visiting with them, hearing their stories of getting this place started, working with the Italian authorities and the difficulties they encountered. We really enjoyed the fact that they didn't present a rosy colored, pie in the sky picture of making a living in Italy. They were very honest and that was pleasant.

P is a dog person through and through and she went crazy over the dogs of the house (Harold and Maude).

I am not a dog person. In fact, bigger dogs scare me a little, a fear that, just maybe, borders on phobia. I appreciated that Charles and Peter didn't assume that you would automatically adore their dogs. They don't allow them to roam and greet guests. They are only brought around on request. I was quite grateful for this!

Arriving at the estate, getting settled in, chatting in the bright and airy kitchen with a glass of prosecco and, of all things, pringles was such a balm!

We were here for four nights and loved every minute of it!

KayTKay Jun 24th, 2014 06:12 AM

By the way, I'm currently surrounded by packing boxes and the moving truck and movers are scheduled to show up on Friday.

Someday I might finish this tome.

Sorry. Didn't mean for it to be so long and drawn out.

annhig Jun 24th, 2014 12:29 PM

good luck with the move, Kay, and do come back and finish this soon.

joan Aug 19th, 2014 01:49 PM

HEY KayTKay!!! Still waiting for you to finish, want to hear more about your adventures in Tuscany, and your experience dropping the rental car in Venice...please come back!

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