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Italian Espresso review
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- 20 responses so far
1. All our hotels were really far, they were at least a 30 minute ride and usually a 1 hour bus ride. You’re lucky that your hotels were close!
2. Hotel quality was not good..I’m not picky! When I checked in on the first day, the bed had broken glass all over it. Another hotel, one of the shower walls were missing. I did a lot of research on the hotels before I went on the tour so I was expecting terrible, but not broken glass and missing shower walls =(
I booked this trip for my daughter two hours ago for her 21st birthday present and have only just read this review.
I am so worried it is going to be awful – this will be her first solo trip to Europe. Now I am seriously reconsidering!
@Befree I have done a European Contiki and have now booked an Australian one because I enjoyed my first one so much.
I haven’t done the Italian Expresso (mine went to italy) but have talked to people that really enjoyed it. I would say that a lot of peoples complaints (not all) are because people have not done there research so they don’t know what to expect. There are some that do have bad experiences but I do not think that is usually the case.
On my tour the hotels were basic but clean, the included meals were also pretty basic but not bad and not all hotels were in the city center but they were close to the metro etc. I had a great experience and it was my first time over seas.
@kelsey and shannon – Thanks for the feedback – good to hear and yes, i would like to be in contact with some specifics.
Well I must say, having the itinerary is definitely helpful! I’ve booked this tour and we leave in a week. I am very excited. I studied Italian in college, and I’ve done plenty of research, so I’d say I am well prepared. It’s helpful knowing what to skip, as I was on the fence about a few of those demos, etc. I’d much rather experience the ‘real’ Italy as much as I can, however going through Contiki and having it semi-structured is definitely helpful especially with this being my first time to Europe! I am looking forward to it and will try to post my thoughts as soon as I get back so that you can all have the most up to date perspective on this tour! Ciao!
Hi Lainey, I am so glad people like you take the time to write reviews. Couple of questions for you. Below I made a list of things that you have recommended to skip
Skip dinner and karaoke bar in Florence (what do you recommend instead)
Skip leather making demonstration Florence (what do you recommend instead)
Skip Tuscan feast Florence (what do you recommend instead)
Skip wine tasting Florence (you recommended Cinque du Terre)
Skip glass demonstration Venice (what do you recommend instead)
Can you please highlight some of the things that were good, for example I am really interested in visiting the Vatican and Collosseum; were those two guided tours any good? Also do you have any of the hotel names and restaurant names (this way I can skip those dinners) because I am going in May and they have yet to release any of the hotel names, if I know the hotel names it will be easier for me to plan my nights etc.
I’m dying to take a vacation to either Italy or France, but I’m worried about “safety”, security issues. I saw you wrote that in Italy everyone speaks English…how did you manage to make sure you didn’t end up in the “wrong place at the wrong time”. I’m a girl who will be traveling on her own and have never been outside of the states. Any comments, help would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks a bunch! :)
Shannon: I suggest that you don’t go on a tour, and book walking tours instead.
NOTE: I still had an AMAZING time because it is Italy. Do not get me wrong, I had such a WONDERFUL time, but it’s not because of the tour, but because I was in Italy!!!
Kelsey: I did my research and tried to ignore the complaints about the hotels since most people are very picky. I am NOT a picky person. As long as it SEEMS relatively clean, a bed (even if it was as hard as rock I wouldn’t care, which it was close to XD), I don’t care. But broken glass, missing shower walls (so the water from the shower head spew out onto the washroom floor, which btw had no drain. Had to dry everything up with towels) is completely unacceptable =(
Natii612: Definitely skip some things and walk around yourself!
Skipping dinner and karaoke bar in Florence: Go find a nice place for dinner instead and walk around yourself! The night is BUZZING in Florence! You will have to find a way to back to the hotel though.
Skip leather making demonstration: Walk around Florence yourself, or visit the museums! Go see the David in person, the Pitti palace, go inside the Duomo cathedral, walk up the tower, eat at the amazing cafes or restaurants on the street…these are NOT included in the tour!
Skip Tuscanny dinner in Florence: Like the above, do the things in Florence that you wouldn’t have time to do if you followed the tour around all day.
Skip Glass demo in Venice: Walk around yourself! There is a GORGEOUS Doge palace that you have to pay to get inside (not included in tour either), and just wander around and get LOST in Venice, it’s part of the experience (and you will get lost, trust me LOL).
The guided tours for Vatican and Collosseum: Recommended, go to booth.
For the hotels, you have to stay in the same hotel. Even if it is crappy, that is what I suggest because the bus will pick you up there, or you take the bus/subway/train together from there.
Explorer1233008: That is EXACTLY what contiki is. LIMITED things are planned through contiki and you don’t go along, but with people. But this is not ENTIRELY true. A LOT of the tour people wandered a lot on their OWN and ditched the tour for the reasons I explained above. You can find other people to chill with, but they may want to do different things from you. Good idea for opera in Venice, I wish I could have done that!
Explorer1245672: I suggest to wear one of those money belts underneathe your shirt. I put my passport and most of my money in there. And I carried 100 euros in my purse. So if someone stole it from me, it was only 100 euros, toilet paper, and snacks. Whenever I went to the washroom I would refill my purse if needed =D But generally, I felt VERY safe. You will be in touristy areas, it is so busy, so the worst thing that could happen is someone steal from your pockets or steal your purse. I saw the police everywhere watching the crowds so it generally felt very safe.
@Lainey….No where did I say that you had not done your research or that you were a picky person so I don’t know where you got that from. I was responding to a question from BeFree which is why I started my post with @BeFree.
What I had said in my original post was that a lot of peoples complaints (NOT ALL) are because they haven’t done there research. I also acknowledged that while I had a great time on mine there are people that do have bad experiences. (For example some of your experiences).
I wish I saw this before. I already had a feeling the tour would be sort of rushed and that excursions like the leathermaking and glass blowing stuff was very contrived and just to promote buying souvenirs— I am also planning to stay a few extra days in the country after the tour is over to spend a day or 2 in Cinque Terre—- how did you get there? Did you book any train tickets or hostels/hotels ahead of time? I was planning on just playing it by ear and taking a train from Venice to La Spezia. If you have any suggestions on the best way to get to Cinque terra from Venice, I’d appreciate since I don’t want to leave Italy without going there!
Also, I am dying to see the Uffizi Gallery—- is that an optional tour or separate? Its been a life long dream of mine to see the uffizi as well.
I also look forward to exploring on my own and finding local bars/restaurants to hang out in. I know this tour won’t accomodate that, but at least most of the transportation and tourist attraction-planning os taken care of for you. Most of all, my roommate and I are interested in meeting new people to enjoy the tour with so reach out if anyone’ll be on the tour from May 20-28!
RGG: Cinque Terre is GORGEOUS! I purchased the tickets at the station….recommend you look up the train times first, we just had to wait an hour before hopping on! Customer service helped us explain the route to us since there were transfers and times that certain trains stopped running. And they spoke English..otherwise it’s confusing.
Cinque Terre is GORGEOUS. YOU WILL NOT REGRET THIS. This was one of my FAVOURITE places to go to! Go to all of the villages in Cinque Terre, hike and check it out!
I never got a chance to go to Uffizi Gallery and regret it since I went to the stupid Tuscanny dinner that took up half of the day.
A note to others: Cinque Terre is NOT a part of the tour unfortunately. I skipped the wine tasting tour (which was apparently terrible, I never went), took the train and went to Cinque Terre instead. Best decision, ever.
Hi Lainey, Thanks so much for your review, knowing on what to be prepared for when i go and what to skip to make the trip much better is very helpful. Just a few questions.
Day 1: the only thing bad you sad was the dinner, How was the walking tour? From the locations you have said they go to it would sound like it would be amazing.
Day 2: The walking tour of the Coliseum and the forums, after that there is some free time, if we skip the pizza dinner, From noon to whatever time would be free?
Day 3: The Vatican Tour, you said this was something that is recommended, which is good to hear. After this tour of the Vatican, if we choose to skip the dinner and karaoke bar, would be free time to do walking tours? (as you suggested as something you would have done)
Day 4: Leather demo, you suggest skipping, this would give us free time from morning to 4pm to do as wish? Do you recommend the Tuscany Dinner? Or do optional things in Florence?
Day 5: You say we should skip the wine tasting, best to explore Florence on our own instead?
Day 6: After the our of the Tower of Pisa, and the drive to Venice, Did you do anything in the afternoon as you said you didn’t have anything planned? Anything recommended?
Day 7: Walking Tour of Venice, was this good? or something we should just skip, with the glass blowing demo and wonder around our selves for more free time? Do you recommend skipping the 8pm departure and staying later?
Thanks for your help, i am really excited to go and want to plan this to make it the best i can.
I have been reading so many mad reviews lately that its got me really nervous for my trip in July…
I’m so relieved for the advice because I was going to do all the optionals but now I know better.
I’m even more relieved that they didn’t delete this post (or at least reposted it haha)…I will defitinitely take your advice Lainey and thanks again for your review…
@Explorer1232720.. what dates in July are you going on your trip? I am also doing the Italian Espresso July 15th and was trying to find others who are going to be on my tour!
This discussion has been so useful. Thank-you for all the input. My daughter heads off on her Italian Espresso tour soon well armed with fantastic advice re what to avoid and how best to make the most of her time in that beautiful country. Ciao!
@BeFree: Oh cool! :) I’m going on the June 25th-July 2nd one.
I found this blog that reviewed Contiki Europe tour – but just the food/restaurants …some good advice !
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