Arrivederci, Italy

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August 16th 2011
Published: June 13th 2017
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Geo: 45.4345, 12.3384

DAY FIFTEEN (8/16) — Venice

Arrivederci, Roma ... and all the other lovely places we've visited.

We departed early morning, by water taxi, for the airport. The ride was beautiful, with the early morning sun hitting the pinks and yellows of this city's ancient buildings.

We checked our bags, filed for VAT tax refund and headed through security. Because we flew business class, we spent our last hour in Italy in the Skyway lounge where I had a farewell cappuccino. Arrivederci.

The flights home (Venice to Atlanta, Atlanta to St. Louis) were uneventful, which is a good thing. We had a lovely view of snow-capped Alps before we crossed the Atlantic. I watched "The Lincoln Lawyer" and "The Adjustment Bureau"; and I read some of “The Girl Who Played with Fire”.

Our Tauck Travel Director: Len Pacitti

This is our third Tauck tour and probably our 10th trip outside the USA on some sort of formal tour. Len Pacitti is by far the best we have encountered. His knowledge of the area, the art and the people is astounding. His command of the language, his contacts and his sense of humor are much appreciated. He went above and beyond what Tauck promises in their brochure
… giving us personal tours and introductions to each area. He was a delight. And all this despite the fact that he was dealing with physical infirmities (bad back, blood clot in the leg) and, I just learned, the death of his brother some time after we left Rome. It is mind-boggling that he could be so good in the face of such obstacles. He is a true professional.

Other Notes about Travel

- WEATHER: We had no rain; it was sunny all but one day. It was hot in Rome and on several other days, but we caught a break from the “normal” August weather for the most part. It was actually delightfully breezy in Florence.

- ELECTRICITY: Converters and adaptors have changed significantly since we last traveled to Europe in 2006. Newer computers can operate on the European voltage so long as you carry an adaptor to convert the plugs. I was able to plug my laptop into the hotel rooms, but was not successful on either transatlantic flight because the plugs there are no longer the kind you plug into the “lighter” in a car, but rather have a small space under the arm rest where I couldn't get the adaptor I had to fit. Suggest you contact or other retailer before departing.

· EATING: What you can eat … basically everything. No one got sick on our trip, although a few people took falls, looking up to take pictures, not down where they were stepping.

· DRINKING: What you can drink … again, everything. As usual, the Europeans were stingy with their ice so water was often at room temperature when you bought it from a vendor (1-3 Euros per bottle, depending on the location). It was usually chilled at restaurants and in the hotels; and the iced bottles in Rome were worth celebrating. By the way, water was served with meals; the Europeans expected you to order wine (it was sometimes included by Tauck); and coffee and cappuccino were available AFTER a meal but were hard to come by with a meal. (The Italians never drink cappuccino after mid-morning but make it available for those crazy tourists. And there are no Starbucks in Italy.)

· PHOTOS: Are there photo restrictions? As I mentioned in my diary, there were many museums that either didn't allow flash or didn't allow use of cameras or cell phones at all. If you were fast
(i.e., took the photo immediately upon entering) or sneaky (I would fall into the latter category), you can come away with the contraband photos you need.

· SHOPPING: Tauck typically isn't too big on shopping but on this trip there was plenty of time. The demonstrations (leather, jewelry, glass, etc.) were from reputable stores and many folks bought from them, rather than try their luck with unknown quantities.

· PACKING: Going TO Europe, we each checked a 50-pound bag and took a carry on and, in my case, another smaller piece. I packed a piece of luggage made of parachute silk, which I filled with dirty clothes in order to create room in my solid luggage to protect the items I purchased. So returning, I had an additional piece to check, but there was no charge since we flew business class.

· SECURITY: Italy is known for its gypsy pickpockets. I bought two items from Magellan's specifically for Italy travel which will come in handy for many future trips. One was a fanny pack that has airplane cable inside the belt so it can't be cut off your waist. The second was a large bucket bag (they call it their Safe Passage Tote) that held my laptop and other essentials. It features lockable fold-and-clip corners, steel mesh fabric, steel cable reinforced shoulder straps, and carabineer clips that attach to any fixed object. Inside, it's padded.

· BATTERIES: I brought 20 rechargeable NiMh AA batteries (my camera uses 4) and I'm glad I did. As the days lingered on, the converter/adaptor took its toll on the batteries – they are always hot when they are removed from the charger. Suggest you bring more batteries than you can imagine. And an extra memory card or two.


Although I enjoyed Italy immensely and the new friends we made, Patrick and I are both very aware that 14 days is our outside limit in terms of travel endurance. We are tired of museums and churches, and are physically tired as well. Our knees ached and we survived on many, many Ibuprofen.

I look forward to returning to my Golden Retrievers, my own bed and pillow, the food I'm used to and an unlimited supply of Tab. I look forward to stretching my legs out in my own car and abandoning the motorcoach life. It was good while it lasted, but there's no place like home.

P.S. We both threw coins in the Trevi Fountain, hoping to return to Italy some day.

August 22, 2011 Postscript

Received the following from Halvorsens today:

Guess what arrived today on our front porch? You got it! Doug's suitcase. It was shipped to New York, then Norfolk, VA, Atlanta, GA, then Charlotte. The best part of all of this, all his clothes are clean. No laundry. Ha! Ha! Hope you all are doing well.

Link to my photos:

Link to my digital scrapbook:


18th August 2011

I'll miss the daily visits to favorite haunts in Italy and your priceless photos and great observations. Already looking forward to the next trip you take... wherever it is.
19th August 2011

Glad you are home safely and that you had a wonderful trip. We should get together for dinner sometime - after you've recuperated!!!!!
25th August 2011

Fzbulous pictures and commentary. Joe and I visited alot of those places when Joey was there for a year in college 10 years ago, so it was so fun reading all your notes and seeing the pictures. What a great trip you had. See you soon.

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