Italy May 2022
Please enjoy a recent travel review from Jeanette Williams, an agent here at Travel Brokers.
A few days before my trip started I filled out the DeltaFlyReady app online and uploaded all the necessary information (this is a great way to find out information about different countries' rules.) Even though I did this I was still asked for my vaccination card in Detroit. That is the last time I showed that card to anyone on the whole of our trip.
My journey started with two good flights from DTW-JFK and then JFK-FCO with Delta. The staff was very attentive and professional.
When we arrived in Rome & cleared customs, our next stop was to meet with the transfer company to take us to the hotel, we followed the instructions on our travel documents, but the kiosk where we were supposed to meet was closed. We called the number on the documents, the message was in Italian so no use. I left my husband with the bags and ventured outside where I found a woman holding a sign with my name on it. This could actually be an issue if you are traveling alone and toting bags around, so do not panic and look outside
The taxi drivers although speaking broken English were very helpful and polite. They wore masks the whole time, and more importantly, we arrived safely at the hotel (if you have driven in Rome you know that's a plus.) We did tip them 5 euros, which they were very happy with.
The hotel was a little further out of the city than I would have liked in a quiet area, it was a 20-minute walk from the Trevi Fountains and 40 minutes from the Colosseum mostly on cobbled streets, which is tiring, or you could take a taxi for 10 euros.
I reserved the Jr Suite room, the decor is a "little over the top" with very bright red and gold accents, Roman paintings, and very long red drapes on the windows and entrance arches to the bedroom. We did have a jacuzzi in the room but only used this to soak our aching feet.
The room was very clean and comfortable with plenty of space.
We ate breakfast every day at the hotel in their screen rooftop breakfast room, the view from that space was great, overlooking Rome. The food selection was good for a continental breakfast, meats, cheese, pastries, cereal, and even bacon and eggs.
We did find plenty of restaurants around the hotel to eat dinner serving traditional Italian foods, one of the restaurants was owned by an Englishman, and at another restaurant, my husband struck up a conversation about football (soccer) with a guy who was from Farmington Hills.!
Walk's Tours company:
I cannot express how excellent this tour company and its guides are, the guides are all accredited and actually have to go to school to gain certification to be a tour guide, they are friendly, knowledgable, and speak a variety of languages. Please use this company, they also do tours in parts of the US.
We took two tours in Rome:
Firstly, Gladiator's Gate Special Access with the Arena Floor also included Palatine Hill and The Forum. This tour was about 3-1/2 hours long with lots of walking on cobbled streets and climbing many steps in the Colosseum. Our guide made the tour very interesting even for kids, he was respectful, so full of knowledge, and he answered any questions with enthusiasm, they just love their jobs!!
Did you know that Gladiators were not 6ft tall and very muscular? They were actually quite short and stout! The reason for this is: more fat easier to sew wounds, quicker recovery and back to the arena, time lost was money lost!! Plus, the ladies loved them lol.
Also, did you know that the Colosseum is not the original name? When the structure was first built the name was Amphitheater Flavium. Over the years the name changed to what we know it as today. The Colosseum only opened its doors for festivities about 100 days a year, as the games would last for sometimes days or weeks and were very expensive to run. Any Roman citizen could attend the games for free. Many exotic animals were used in the games including crocodiles, ostrich, lions, etc the meat was actually given to the Roman people but not the Empera.
Second tour-Pompeii tour from Rome with Amalfi Coast Drive:
Again an excellent tour with a professional guide who accompanied us on the coach, we then switched to another tour guide in Pompeii who was an actual historian.
Pompeii has been on my bucket list for so many years, the work which has already been done is amazing, just to see the artifacts that have already been uncovered from the ash and pumice that covered it for almost 2000 years. Marble floors still have the original vibrant colors as if they were laid yesterday and cobbled and stone streets are still visible. The massive stone pots used to cook at probably the first fast food/take-out place known to man. From these pots, the historians were able to find out what food the Pompians ate.
Amalfi Coast is so beautiful. As you follow the winding road down to the town you see lemon trees at the side of the roads and orchards with the biggest lemons I have ever seen! You see cars parked on the roofs of people's houses (that's right on the houses, they have been reinforced with concrete and steel.) The town of Positano is built into the mountainside looking down onto the Mediterranean sea. The town is very quaint with lots of shops and restaurants serving some of the best seafood. The beach is small with black sand which feels like small pebbles under your feet. The Lemonchellio is magnifico!!
Roma Termini (Train Station):
The train station is quite large with lots of people coming and going. I would suggest using the trains in Rome to arrive at least 20 minutes early and keep a close eye on the departure boards. We almost missed our train to Florence, as the train number changed without any advanced notice.
You were required to wear a mask on the train and any other public transportation. The high-speed trains are comfortable and clean, we used the Trainline. I would suggest downloading the train app which is very easy to use and easy to access your ticket.
We rented a car in Florence as our B&B was 3 miles outside the city. The Hertz rental car pick-up was easy, the office was about 2 blocks from the train station down a side street.
Florence is so different from Rome, it is very green with rolling hills and mosquitoes
The B&B was so quiet and relaxing after the hustle and bustle of Rome. We did have a few adventures in the countryside. On one of our days we took a ride to the Chianti Regin (wine country) we stopped at a few wineries and small villages. I would suggest that if you wish to do a winery tour book in advance as there are usually only a couple of tours per day. Especially if the winery is also a private residence. We stopped at the Verrazzano winery.
A short history of the B&B. The I Parigi Corbinelli is composed of a large complex, the ancient core of which dates back to the end of the 14th century. The structure has been maintained intact and the architectural features of its medieval tower are still visible to this day. Initially a military control tower for the territory, in 1427 it became the residence of Tommaso, son of Parigi who belonged to the Corbinelli family, an ancient noble family whose crest remains on the structure's doors to this day. The structure changed hands a few times over the years. Currently, the property has been in the same family since 1918, who turned 11 rooms into a b&b in the '90s.
Florence is a big city that is very clean and mostly pedestrianized, the best way to see all the sights is to use the "hop on/hop bus" to get your bearings, the best overview of the city is at Piazzale Michelangelo.
We visited the Michel Angelo Galleria which I actually found some of the paintings to be a bit disturbing at times. We also saw the statue of David (not really my cup of tea, I like to see historical buildings.)
The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore in the center of Florence is huge, again I would book a tour in advance with skip-the-line access if possible. There is always something to see and do in Florence, there are street performers, people selling paintings/prints on the street, many restaurants, and of course Gelato!
I must say that the people of Italy are so friendly and happy. We never had a language barrier, they were always happy to help. One thing to remember is to never barter with a taxi driver though, it offends them and they tell you to get out of the taxi.
Please be aware that the temperature was 88 degrees at the end of May, as the summer progresses the temperature goes up. Rome and Florence are walking cities, well broken-in comfortable shoes are important! Fashion gets old when your feet hurt!!
One last thing, not many people were wearing masks and if they did they were KN95, Surgical or FFP2.