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Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

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  • Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Tigerlily and I recently returned from a trip to Italy that was presented by “Adventures By Disney” (ABD). The “Viva Italia” trip that Disney offers is a 9-day trip that starts in Rome, goes thru the Umbria and Tuscany regions, visits Florence, and finishes in Venice.


    We had originally booked a 6-day “Taste of Tuscany” tour thru ABD, which we had intended to extend to Venice. But a couple of months before the tour, Disney contacted me and said that the “Taste of Tuscany” tour had been cancelled and they were willing to move us into the Viva Italia trip at no additional cost, including air fare changes. As luck would have it, our previous tour aligned almost perfectly with the new tour, so rather than change airline schedules, I asked if Disney would be willing to comp us a room in Rome a day early instead. They complied, so we flew in 24 hours early, which allowed us to get a head start on the jetlag adjustment.

    We landed in Rome on a Wednesday around noon. ABD had a driver waiting for us, so it was a simple task to wheel the luggage to the waiting Mercedes van outside the terminal and begin our trip into Rome. Little did I know, but that was the last time that I would lift our bags until we were dropped off at the airport nine days later in Venice.

    Driving into Rome started out mundane. Our driver didn’t speak English, and we spoke no Italian. It didn’t matter. We were so busy gawking at everything that the drive flew by. What was a real mind-blower was when we entered Ancient Rome and came upon the Palatine Hill ruins.




    Palatine Hill is a huge ruin situated on hill looking down on the Roman Forum.


    To it’s south is Circus Maximus, where the chariot races were held...


    ...and to it’s north is the Colosseum.


    We zoomed past these historical sites on the way to Barberini Square… home to the Triton Fountain, and the Bernini Bristol Hotel, our 5-Star address for the next four nights.


    Upon arrival, we were met in the hotel lobby by Tina and Marco, our ABD guides for the next ten days. They helped us get checked in and advised us of a pre-dinner cocktail party to be held on the roof of our hotel the following evening. After the reception, dinner would be in the rooftop restaurant.

    We got up to our rooms and collapsed. We had been traveling for 21 hours and we were exhausted. But we were hungry too. I walked outside the hotel and saw a man eating what looked like a very good sandwich. Of course he didn’t speak English (why, oh why, didn’t I listen to the “Learn Italian” tapes?) but I managed to convey that I wanted to know where he got his sandwich. He pointed up and across the narrow street. I walked up a half block and found a very small sandwich shop filled with nothing but Italian-speaking businessmen. I was in the right place. After observing the various sandwiches being made, I asked for 2 of “what he had”. I walked out with two focaccia bread, prosciutto, and buffalo mozzarella sandwiches.


    No mustard, no mayo, no peppers, pickles, salad dressing… nothing. Just 3 ingredients… bread, meat and cheese. It was the best sandwich I’ve ever had. It was a promising start to an unforgettable adventure.

    After lunch, we drew the blackout curtains and slept for about 4 hours. It was only then that we took a full inventory of our room. We had a window that looked out onto Barberini Square.




    The walls were covered in padded silk.







    The bathroom was all marble.


    Everything about this hotel whispered luxury. I was in heaven.

    After dark, we decided to take a walkabout to get our bearings and to see if we could rustle up some chow. We started walking west of the hotel. Within 15 minutes, we found ourselves at the Spanish Steps, a popular tourist destination in Rome.


    The Spanish Steps are a popular gathering place for folks to sit and people-watch. People-watching is big in Italy, and it’s a lot of fun too. There are all kinds of people at the Spanish Steps, so it makes for an interesting time… kind of like people-watching at Disneyland’s hub. But we weren’t feeling that close to the masses, so we decided to move on and find a restaurant.

    We walked down the precarious steps and walked right into Rome’s high fashion district.






    Every imaginable haute couture retailer was present and it was a lot of fun to window shop without the threat of having to actually go inside since they were all closed. Thanks God for small blessings!




    We were seated outside and proceeded to order some wine and antipasti.


    Darlene had crostini’s with tomato’s, basil, olive oil and mozzarella and I had a seafood salad. We then ordered pastas. I had spaghetti alla carbonara, and Darlene had spaghetti with a nice marinara sauce.


    Both dishes were excellent, which was something we would come to expect in Italy. The food in Italy is something to be savored, celebrated and enjoyed. We had more incredible meals there than we’ve ever had… anywhere.

    A partial view of Piazza di San Lorenzo...


    After dinner we walked thru the narrow streets of Rome. Scooters are quite popular...



    We eventually arrived at the Trevi Fountain...




    ...a beautiful water feature by one of Romes most famous sculpture’s, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini also sculpted the Triton Fountain which was located in front of our hotel.


    There were tons of people at the Trevi Fountain, so we didn’t stay too long. We knew we’d be back in a couple of days with our tour group. We soon left and walked back to our hotel for more much-needed sleep.


    Tomorrow: We ride Romes subway, visit Palatine Hill, home of Caesars (real) Palace and meet our fellow Disney Adventurers.

    CLICK HERE FOR DAY 2 OF OUR ADVENTURE!
    Last edited by Circarama; 11-01-2008, 10:14 AM.

  • I Heart Disneyland
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    I just sat down for over an hour to read this whole report, Charlie. I'd looked at the photos before and had forgotten about it. I saw it today and decided to go back and read it all. Best trip report EVER! I love the sights, the friendships made, the food, the SHOPPING, the happy faces on you and Darlene. What an amazing anniversary adventure!

    I have to ask...did you bring home pottery? That is my downfall...Italian pottery (and, pretty much colorful pottery from anywhere in the world). I LOVED the pottery photos!

    Bravo! Bravo!

    Leave a comment:


  • Circarama
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    It was a BLAST!! I can't wait to go back. If you go, make sure and post a trip report for us.

    Leave a comment:


  • DLRP_bopazot
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    thats an amazing Thanks for sharing now i need to book a Ryanair flight from Paris to Roma or Milano . Only 2 hours away from here .

    I hope you had a great time in Italia and i'm glad you didnt get the chance to drive there because Italian drivers are totally insane and crazy lol that's italia dude .

    Leave a comment:


  • neha
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    hi,

    Thats Looks like an amazing trip so far!


    Last edited by Disneykat; 02-12-2009, 01:41 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • NeverNeverland
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Wow... seems like you had a lot of fun! What an AWESOME trip report! Thanks so much for sharing!!

    Leave a comment:


  • rj1980
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    WOW! That really was a great trip report! :bow:

    Photos, video, and commentary throughout each and every day.

    That was fantastic Charlie, thoroughly enjoyable and the new benchmark for future trip reports. :thumbup:
    Last edited by rj1980; 11-15-2008, 01:39 AM.

    Leave a comment:


  • Stitchy
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Originally posted by Circarama View Post
    It was easy! The cool thing about the trip was that we were free to participate (or non-participate) in as much or as little as we wanted. Our ABD guides were very helpful if we needed any info on museums, restaurants or shopping, or even helping us with dining reservations.

    The best part though, was knowing that everything was already taken care of for us. We didn't have to worry about getting tickets to the attractions, or transportation to the sights, or hotel ressies, or train tickets, or... anything! It was ALL taken care of! ABD took the stress out of a European sight-seeing vacation, which allowed me to come back home (believe it or not) rested and relaxed.
    thanks. That's really why we wanted to go on our own. We thought it would be dull to be around people we don't know and being dragged around to places we didn't want to see. Knowing, now...that we can pick and choose, and that the people get to know each other....it seems nice. I REALLY like the idea that everything is done for you. Just to be able to see the sights AND relax? Seems too good to be true.

    It looks like you had a remarkable time. I don't think my husband would allow we to go near the leather goods and jewelry.....or if I did....I don't think he's ever pull me away.

    It must have been amazing to see the David in person. WOW.

    Leave a comment:


  • snorkeld
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Thanks for the great report, ABD should hire you asap. I'm going to check out their website right now.

    Leave a comment:


  • Fairy Godmother Travel
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Thank you so much for sharing your adventure with us! It was a trip from which you will keep many wonderful memories, and I know it made me want to explore the world more.

    Leave a comment:


  • H2E
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    I will miss the updates, but thanks again for sharing your vacation with us. I will really have to consider Adventures by Disney for our vacation next year.

    Leave a comment:


  • All4dISNEY
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    BRAVO!!! Charlie thank you and Darlene for sharing such an amazing trip! You've a real talent for bringing the reader in. Only things missing for me are the jetlag and the loot. LOL

    Best TR of the year!!

    Leave a comment:


  • BFJen
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Those masks turned out amazing! What a neat adventure you all had!!!! Thanks for helping the rest of us experience it!

    Leave a comment:


  • Circarama
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Originally posted by Missviolet View Post
    I think you need to go on awesome vacations more often so that we can read, what I'd say are, the best Trip Reports in Mice Chat.
    Let's hope someone from "Adventures By Disney" reads your post and follows up with me... I'd love to be there "Trip Reporter"!

    Originally posted by Pratt55
    This report was wonderful Charlie and Darlene and I appreciate you taking the time and effort to post all of the great pictures with commentary. I am very sad now that it has ended.
    Thanks for the props Lisa! I'm glad you enjoyed it so much. Sorry you're so sad about it ending though... sounds like someone needs a trip to Cabella's for a little "happy time"! )

    Leave a comment:


  • pratt55
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    This report was wonderful Charlie and Darlene and I appreciate you taking the time and effort to post all of the great pictures with commentary. I am very sad now that it has ended.

    Leave a comment:


  • Missviolet
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    Bravo! Bravo!

    I think you need to go on awesome vacations more often so that we can read, what I'd say are, the best Trip Reports in Mice Chat.

    Fantastic, Charlie and Darlene. Thank you so much for sharing.

    Leave a comment:


  • dsnylndmom
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    What an absolutely fantastically, spectacular TR. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Thank you so much for sharing it with us! What a wonderful trip you two had.


    And Darlene, your mask came out gorgeous!

    Leave a comment:


  • Circarama
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report



    Thursday morning was the beginning of our last full day in Italy. We had breakfast and gathered with our fellow Adventurers at 9am in anticipation of the days events. Marco and Tina led us on a walk thru the narrow streets of Venice as we wound our way towards the Grand Canal. As we walked, I snapped away at anything and everything that caught my eye.








    We eventually came to the Grand Canal, but there was no bridge. Hmmm… now what.

    As luck would have it, there was a traghetto station right in front of us. Traghetto are a gondola-type boat that is used to transport people cheaply across the Grand Canal. It usually costs €.50, and folks who are crossing usually stand while doing so. Of course, all of us flat-landers were holding on to each other lest we fall in one-by-one, but we made it across.


    Once across, we were at the morning vegetable, and fish markets. They are right next to each other which makes it easy to do your shopping.












    I didn’t see any supermarkets in Venice… only the fish and vegetable marketplace, some small stores, and specialty shops, like the butcher…


    the bakery…






    … and the spice shop.


    We even caught this guy running beef from a delivery barge to the butcher shop a few blocks away!


    Eventually we came upon Tragi Comica an amazing shop where they make, paint, decorate and sell Venetian masks.











    Minnie's popular 'round the world!

    They also have mask-painting workshops... that's why we were here.

    After hearing the history of the Venetian mask…


    … we were led out of the store and around a corner into a narrow alley, with an open door at the end of it. Next to the door was a table with around 50 different masks, all plain white in color. We then chose a mask that we liked, and were led upstairs to a room with tables and chairs.


    We were then introduced to Erica and Walter. They would be helping us to personalize our masks. Erica mixed whatever paint colors we wanted, and then she provided pointers on how to paint the masks. She was great! We then were left to our own devices as we let the creative juices flow.




    Once we had them painted the way we wanted…




    …we then took them to Walter who helped us out by adding things like beads, jewels, feathers, or foil trim to our masks. He was also very adept at adding small details that made the masks POP!




    I have to be honest here folks. When I heard we were gonna do this mask-making, I seriously considered blowing off the whole thing and seeing another museum, or going shopping. I’m so glad that I didn’t. This was one of the most enjoyable things that we did on this trip! It was an absolute blast to just let go, imagine and create! I can’t thank Disney enough for including this in the tour, and I can’t give the fine folks at Tragi Comica enough praise! They were very patient and very kind. Disney has picked a wonderful "edu-tainment" partner in Tragi Comica!



    We decided at lunch that we had some shopping to get done before leaving Italy, and this was really our last chance. So off we went in search of scarves, glass rings, gloves and other trinkets for the kids back home. While Darlene shopped…


    …I hung around outside and took some interesting pictures and video.







    Click to view video.

    I even caught a Venice ambulance on the way to a call.

    Click to view video.

    By mid-afternoon, we were getting pretty tired… time for espresso!!


    After our espresso‘s, we slowly worked our way back to the hotel, and laid down for awhile before getting ready for our farewell dinner. Dinner was to be in a large tent they had set up outside the lobby of the hotel, but we met some of our fellow Adventurers in the bar for a cocktail before dinner.

    Around 6:30, Tina and Marco called us all into the main lobby. Once we were assembled, a masked gentleman named Pantalone came in and explained that his character is commonly referenced in the Italian comedic arts. He then went on to tell a few jokes which the group loved.


    Then he asked for a volunteer… I was in the back taking pictures, but he looked at me and I knew I was a goner. He came thru the crowd and escorted me to the front, where he had a good laugh at my red face.


    He then proceeded to say that he had a cure for me, and he pulled out the worlds biggest syringe.


    Of course, I had to then “take the shot”, which, naturally, got a big laugh!


    Pantalone then excused himself and we were asked to go outside to see our finished masks.








    We were all really impressed with the final products, and it was cool to see how everyone had decorated their masks.






    We then sat down and dinner began. I was just settling into my second glass of wine , when I was asked to give a toast to Marco and Tina. Luckily I pulled it off, even though I was beginning to feel the wine!

    For dinner, we had quite a feast which began with a raw veal appetizer, followed by a delectable pasta, a salad, and either a seafood plate, or a beef plate. Dessert was one last chance to eat tiramisu in Italy, and we didn't miss the opportunity.

    After our meal, we were surprised by another performer who came in and asked us to move into the salon for a special performance.


    The trio of ladies in period costume who had been playing music for our dinner party had moved into the salon and we were introduced to some dancers who were going to display a traditional “Il Minuetto” dance.

    Click to view video.

    After that, we were invited up to do the “bowing” portion of the dance. We then received a certificate in the fundamentals of “Il Minuetto”

    Click to view video. (Sorry about the camera being turned sideways!)

    Our celebration then ended and some of us went back to the bar for a nightcap before calling it a night.



    The next morning was a whirlwind. We packed, got our bags to the door by 7:45 and were eating breakfast by 8:15. Tina and Marco then called us to leave at 8:45. We went outside and saw our transportation to the airport.






    We loaded in along with Tina and some of our fellow Adventurers and we cruised out of Venice’s waterways into the open lagoon for a speedy trip to the airport.






    Once we were at the airport, we said goodbye to some of our fellow Adventurers, and chatted with the ones that were on our flight. Couple by couple, we continued our goodbyes as we touched down in various cities on our journey halfway back around the globe.

    We had just enjoyed an amazing vacation, and even after we got home 21 hours (and nine time zones) later, we were still recalling all of the wonderful events we had been a party to in Italy. I want to personally thank the “Adventures By Disney” staff and the entire “Viva Italia” team for an awesome vacation. It truly had been the trip of a lifetime… one that Darlene and I will fondly remember forever!!
    THE END!
    Last edited by Circarama; 11-06-2008, 09:25 PM.

    Leave a comment:


  • BFJen
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    They may have fixed the canal system - it used to be part of the sewer system as well. Not the best smelling.

    I am loving every minute of your report though!! Thank you guys for sharing it all!

    Leave a comment:


  • pratt55
    replied
    Re: Viva Italia!! Circarama's "Adventures By Disney" Trip Report

    This report just keeps getting better and better. By the way Tigerlily I love this shot of the motorcycle guy, too bad someone's head is behind his.

    Leave a comment:

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