Category Archives: Italy Blog

Starting an Italy Tour – Day 1

Picked up my group at Marco Polo Airport, Venice today. 38 new faces and I really am hoping they are nice and will enjoy the tour. The first day is always the most difficult for a Tour Guide as I do not know the clients yet and they don’t know me. First impressions are always important and on this tour I onlòy have 3o minutes from the airport to the hotel to impress.

Posted in Italy Blog | Leave a comment

Italy Tour Day 2 – Verona and Venice

Today we visited Verona, which is just an hour’s drive from Venice, but there was an accident on the motorway so it took 3 hours to get there. This has scuppered my plan for the day and I have had to rearrange things. The group will have half an hour less in Verona, half an hour less break at the hotel and I have a private boat to take us to St marks, which is now ordered half an hour later. Time made up.

Verona is between Venice and the a Alps and was settled by the Romans, as their first port of call after an arduous journey through the Alps. The largest Roman Arena outside Rome is here and the Arena is now used as the venue for opera on summer nights. The town is also home to Romeo and Juliet and was an independent city state in the middle ages before it became part of the Venetian Republic.

Roman Arena in Verona

After a rushed day we got to the boat station for our boat to St Marks and it turned up half an hour late. Never mind.

We have dinner in a restaurant just off St Marks Square (I won’t mention the name of it in case I get sued) but unfortunately like many restaurants near St Marks, the food is poor and the service even worse. The clients had to wait 45 minutes before they got a soggy salad.

Complaints all around and I really understand.

After dinner we had some free time at St Marks and the atmosphere is truly magical after dark and when most tourists have gone back to their hotels.

Posted in Italy Blog | Leave a comment

Italy Tour Day 3 – Boating Fun in Venice

Day three on my Italy tour and we have had the whole day in Venice today for a guided tour, glass blowing, gondolas and then free time to explore. Thankfully all uneventful.

Venice from the Water

I met the group at the end of the afternoon to take the Vaporetto (a water bus) to a place called Tronchetto, where our coach would be waiting to take us back to the hotel.

The Vaporetto is a great way to travel and there are many different routes. It is a way for the locals to get about and a single ticket costs 6.5 euros.

Vaporetto Water Bus

I had 38 people in my group and we were at the very front of the queue for this public boat. The boat arrived, I ushered my group onto the boat along with about fifty other passengers and then noticed that two men from my group have not moved at all. Not only that they have let all the other passengers pass them and have not got on the boat. The conductor on the boat said that the boat is full and wouldn’t let the two guys from my group on the boat.

Now, before getting on the boat, I had instructed my group to stay on the boat for 8 stops and get off at Tronchetto. In fact I had repeated these instructions several times, so I was not too worried about the two clients left behind. I shouted to them to get the next boat in ten minutes and repeated that they should stay on for 8 stops and get off at Tronchetto and that they would see me waiting there.

I arrived at Tronchetto with my group and sent them to the coach and explained I would wait for the two clients at the boat station. Some of the clients waited with me for the next vaporetto to arrive.

The next Vaporetto arrived and it is very busy. The two clients did not get off the boat and so I got on the boat to have a look for them. I spoke to the conductor first and explained that I was just getting on  to look for 2 clients and could he wait until I got off the boat please. He promised to wait but, as soon as I got on the boat, it started to pull away.

I tried to get off but it was too late and before I knew it there I was literally sailing off into the sunset, with half my group watching. And to make matters worse the two missing clients weren’t even on the boat. What a nightmare!!

My phone rang and it was one of the two missing clients – they had got off at the wrong stop. They had got odff at the railway station, so I told them to get a taxi to the hotel.

In the meantime I had my own problems – how to get off the boat and get back to my group. The journey to next vaporetto stop was only 10 minutes but seemed like and eternity. I phoned the coach driver and told him to wait and got the next boat back to Tronchetto.

When we finally arrived back at the hotel, the two AWOL clients were sitting at the bar, beer in hand. And of course it was all my fault they had not got on the boat with the group and that they had got off at the wrong stop.

What a day!

Posted in Italy Blog | Leave a comment

Italy Tour Day 3 – Theft in the night

Well, day 3 has already been quite eventful and it wasn’t over. I had dinner and went to bed early and was quickly in a deep sleep. I was dreaming that the phone was ringing and slowly realised that it wasn’t a dream and the phone was ringing. It was Franco, the receptionist telling me that there had been an incident and that someone had entered the room of a couple on my tour and unbolted and stolen the whole safe. It had happened while we were having dinner or after dinner while the clients were having a drink.

There was no sign of a break in and one suitcase was also missing – the perpertrator had obviously put the safe in the suitcase and rolled it through reception.

We called the police and 5 policemen arrived and took all the details. The clients had all their valuables, including passports, money, jewellery and credit cards in the stolen safe. I did my best to calm the clients down and cancelled the stolen cards. Got back to my room at about 2 am – all in the day of the life of a tour guide.

Posted in Italy Blog | Leave a comment

Italy Tour – Day 4 On the Move

Checked out of the hotel today and headed to Florence via Ferrara, a beautiful renaissance town and Bologne. By now the rest of the group have heard about last night’s theft and are pretty shocked.

During the break in Ferrara, I devised a plan to sort things out for the clients who had their safe stolen. It was Sunday (things always happen on a Sunday) so not much could be done today. Firstly we needed a police report, so I would take the clients to the police station in Florence the next day, while the rest of the group were on a tour with a local guide. I would also phone the British Embassy in Rome to find out what was needed to get temporary passports, so the clients could travel home.

The rest of the day is uneventful and the clients seem happy, but I am worried about checking into the hotel in Florence as it isn’t very nice and I know I will get loads of complaints.

Miraculously no one complained about the hotel – they all seemed happy with it. Early night tonight after last night’s events.

Posted in Italy Blog | Leave a comment

Italy Tour Day 5 – Florence

As a tour guide, I work not only in Europe but also all over Asia and the place I suffer most from mosquito bites is definitely the hotel in Florence. I awoke at 4 am and my lip felt strange. I looked in the mirror and realised that I had a moosquito bite right on my upper lip. It had swollen up and I looked like I had been in a fight. This is all I need – hopefully it would go down before I had to meet my group at 8.30. It didn’t go down and I really felt very self conscious about my swollen lip. It is absolutely throbbing and I felt like my whole face was swollen.

I left the group with a local guide and off I went with the couple whose safe had been stolen to the police station for an official police report, which was needed for that temporary passport and the insurance claim.

The police were very nice and the report completed in an hour. They couldn’t believe that someone had just walked in and stolen the whole safe.

Had a free afternoon in Florence and then picked up the group and took them back to the hotel.

Tonight we have dinner in a nice restaurant in the old part of Florence, but the only thing is that it is impossible for the coach to drop us there. In fact the coach can go only to two drop off points in the centre of Florence and not at all into the old town. Our restaurant is a good 20 minute walk from the coach and it is pouring with rain, some of the group complained all the way to the restaurant.

Dinner was great and wine included, so after a few drinks the complainers are happy.

Posted in Italy Blog | Leave a comment

Italy Tour Day 6 – Leaning Tower

The Field of Miracles in Pisa with the Baptistry, the Cathedral and the famous Leanin Tower.

Easy day today. Off to the medieval walled town of Lucca, just an hour from Florence and then on to Pisa. Pisa is more than the Leaning Tower – it used to be a powerful maritime Republic in the Middle Ages. The Field of Miracles (pictured above) is the site of one of Italy’s most beautiful Cathedrals and a magnificent baptistry. And of course that Leaning Tower.

Returned to the hotel to find that 120 cyclists have checked in and taken the whole place over. Will be glad to get out of here tomorrow.


Posted in Italy Blog | Leave a comment

Italy Tour Day 7 – All Roads lead to Rome

Early start today for a fairly long day. Breakfast was chaos, as the whole restaurant was taken over by the 120 cyclists who have a big race today and are therefore demolishing kilos of pasta each for breakfast to set them on their way. No chance of a cappucino then. The porter took ages to bring the luggage down but we got away by 8am

Most of the group are really nice and enjoying the tour but about 4 couples have got together and decided it is up to them to complain and speak for the rest of the group. They are also pushing the nice, happy clients to complain. I have decided to try and put a lid on it today.

I told the group that I understood if they wanted to complain to me and that I welcome their feedback, but that they could only speak for themselves individually and not the whole group. I also pointed out how much is included in the tour and that even though they did not particularly like the hotels or food, the tour was actually good value for money, so good in fact that I had sent my parents on the tour. I finished my saying that, I was doing my best to show them beautiful Italy.

We breaked at Lake Trasimeno and some of the group came up to me to say what a great job I was doing and some looked sheepish. Maybe my talk worked.

Now off to Rome via Assisi, home of St Francis the patron saint of Italy and Orvieto pretty town built on top of a volcanic rock.

St Francis Basilica in Assis

Hills of Assis

Posted in Italy Blog | Leave a comment