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Posts tagged ‘Walking Tours’

When In Rome………….

 

Rome

I Loved the Umbrella Trees!

As we finish up the Traipsing Through Tuscany tour, I learned two things on this trip to Rome. First, always ask how many flights of stairs there are to the abode you plan to stay in and two, never cut in line when it is raining and there is an older Italian woman waiting in an informal queue or in the shadows. Well, it is never proper to cut in line, but first know if there is a line and where it might actually be. I did witness the results of such a blunder or was it simply a tired wet Italian woman not to be put off?

Arriving in Rome, we took a cab to the B&B.  Pushing open the heavy oak door, after being buzzed in, there were immediately two flights of stone stairs to reach a plateau area of tables and chairs on the roof of the building we had just walked up. The hostess met us here and took us to our room, in a remodeled villa, up another four flights of stairs, in another building. So everyday in Rome it was up and down six flights of stairs twice and sometimes more. I did not look forward to the end of the day and since we had opted to stay out a little further in the “burbs” there was also a trek each day to the metro station before the exploring began.  The B&B room was new, elegant and very chic, but I would take the room with the nuns at Santa Brigida Convent over this. (See “Off to Roma” post)  https://cadyluckleedy.com/2013/04/30/off-to-roma/

We took several walking tours with Art Viva; “Rome in One Glorious Day,”  the “Masterpieces of the Vatican and St Peters Tour” and “The Original Walking Tour.”  BEWARE, wear your most comfortable walking shoes! We walked well over ten miles, the first day, during the tour alone! I would also take the tours over several days with rests between. They were EXCELLENT and we learned a lot, but we were really pooped at the end of the day and then there were those “STAIRS” to look forward to! 

After one day out, exploring, touring, eating, and walking, it started to pour.  We looked to hail a cab and got in a queue behind a group of six at a taxi stand.  A cab stopped, the six piled in and out of nowhere an elderly woman flung herself at the back cab door, pulled it open and in no uncertain terms, in rapid fire Italian and gestures, ordered the occupants out of the cab. When they didn’t get her message she flew to the front door of the cab and told off the cab driver as well. The cab driver told the occupants they would have to get out, and they did.  The old woman with her wet, soggy pull-cart of groceries jumped into the cab and off it splashed. We left the queue and walked in the rain to the metro station, realizing it might be easier just to take the metro. Soaked through and through, my shoes squeeking, I again had the STAIRS ahead! We did enjoy our time in Rome, but would to do it differently the next time!  Live and learn! That’s what traveling is all about! Here are some of my favorite pictures of Rome!  Enjoy!

 

For more information on Art Viva Tours Look HERE!

TTT, Traipsing Through Tuscany

Today starts a new Series in Italy, called TTT, Traipsing Through Tuscany.  Traipsing through the hill towns to be exact. Getting off the beaten track has been some of our best excursions! A bit of advice, we flew into Florence where we took a cab into the city. So we will begin in Florence. After spending a week here we went back to the airport and got a rental car to drive on through Tuscany and the hill towns.  We spent  a week in Montepulciano. As a home base it was perfect.  We explored surrounding hill towns, always coming back to Montepulciano in the evenings, and then we drove on to Rome. We dropped the car off at the Rome Airport and took a cab into Rome, where we stayed another week.  Much easier!  You could not pay me enough to drive in the bigger cities and spend a great deal of time just looking for a place to park.  There aren’t any parking spaces to be found! Save yourself the headache!

Florence, by far is my favorite biggish city in Italy.  It is easily walkable, with museums, restaurants and shopping galore. If museums are not your thing, there is plenty of beautiful outdoor art such as sculptures, icons, buildings, bridges and churches to keep you interested. One of the rituals, near our hotel, was a woman artist who sketched daily with colored chalk on the pedestrian-only street. This was truly a street scene because her sketching would cover a large section of ground. She would work on it all day. It was beautiful!  Very early the next morning between 4am and 5am the street cleaners would come through with their brushing machines and  brooms and wash it all away. Around ten in the morning she would start again with a new scene. Unbelievable!

To see the highlights of Florence we took walking tours that also included the museums. We tried for months to get tickets for the major museums and there were none to be had online. They were available through tour groups. In the end it worked out well because we never had to stand in line to get in the museums, and there were long, long lines. The downside is WE could have spent more time IN the museums, hours and hours. The tour group went to the major and most appealing exhibits, and that would be fine for most. The four tours we took were offered by Art Viva. They were the Original Florence Walk, the Masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery Tour, and the Original David Tour.   These walks are long, at least three hours each with additional time added for the museums! Wear comfortable shoes! The English speaking walk leaders are very knowledgable, and we stopped occasionally for a cuppa, (wine, coffee, tea) always at good locations for people watching! We took three tours in one day and I was pooped, but from then on we knew where everything was and went back to the areas we wanted to spend more time in on other days.  On another evening we took the Original Evening Walk in Oltrarno, which included a wine and olive oil tasting!  We had a wonderful time on these walks and there are many to choose from!

On this visit we stayed at the Hotel Davanzati, a small boutique hotel located near the Uffitzi Gallery and right across the street from where the Original Florence Walk started each morning. This was good because we didn’t have to walk a great deal before we started the walk. Entering a doorway in the historical area there are a number of stairs to climb to reach a tiny elevator that takes you to the reception area and then to the upper room floors of the Davanzati Hotel.  The owner and his son were there everyday to recommend restaurants and sights to see, provide maps and answer any questions we had.   The breakfasts and late afternoon wine/happy hour gatherings were a big hit. The rooms were tastefully decorated and immaculate. After a lovely week in Florence we were in a rental car and on our way to Montepulciano, to get a taste of the countryside, the hill towns, and the slower pace of Italian life. See you in San Gimignano!

 

For more information about Hotel Davanzati see: http://www.hoteldavanzati.it

For more information about the Art Viva walking Tours see: http://www.italy.artviva.com

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