Written on: 30/05/2008
We have just returned from Archer's" Medieval Italy" The holiday cost us £1000 for the two of us. This included air travel, transfers, trips each day and bed, breakfast and evening meal apart from the last night which was an optional dinner/tour. The tour was excellent value for money in asmuch as we could not have seen all the places and booked the hotels for the price we paid. We stopped in three hotels. Each one was spotlessly clean with good shower facilities. Meals were basic and times were not flexible. Not once were we offered salad or fruit with evening meal....but not a problem to go to the shop and buy some. We had an excellent tour guide and a very steady driver. We visited San Marino, Assisi, Ovieto, Todi, Lake Trasimeno, Montepulciano and Pienza. We stopped in Chianciamo at the hotel Angiolino, a small hotel in the centre. The first day we arrived at lunchtime and were transferred to Hotel Il Burchiello which was in a quiet suburb. Absolutely nothing to do or see around the hotel and we were hungry. The only eating place was a hotel opposite which was booked with Sunday diners and did not cater for snacks. We managed a coffee and a beer but could not buy a cake etc to accompany them. Dinner in the evening at Il Burchiello was very poor. As a cook I found myself costing the meal and came to the conclusion that allowing for fuel and staff to wash up, the whole meal would be no more than 2 euros a head. Very disappointing. Also we were stuck at the place for lack of transport. A day wasted. It was very noticeable at Hotel Angiolino where we stayed for five nights, that the non coach party guests were having buffet meals with choice and flexibility of time. We had to sit at the same table each evening. Fortunately the other travellers were friendly but this might not always be the case and some people have reasons for not wanting to share tables. We did find a bar on the last evening which had a key-board player. Otherwise not much to do except have a walk around and an early night.....we had some early calls in the morning. Although we saw some magnificent scenery we also had two very long days on the coach where we saw a lot of flat boring landscape. The last night a dinner and a trip to Venice for 54 euros was on offer. We declined because the whole trip would not have given us enough time to look around. We made the right decision because the tour bus did not arrive to the hotel until 5.15. We rushed and were out and on the local bus to Venice by 5.40. Only 10 euros return for the two of us to Vencie bus station. We shared an Italian pasty and a drink and walked to all the well known places which we would not have seen on the tour trip. Very straightforward.
The things I disliked about this otherwise value for money holiday were wasting the first day out in the sticks with nothing to do, too much travelling on first and last day, not enough pre-information in the brochure about difficulties that people with mobility problems might face going up and down the slopes and steps in the places we visited and finally Archers book sent just before departure, recommending that we should give 48 euros to share between the driver and the tour director. That is 96 euros a couple....a lot of money with today's exchange rate. Why was this fact not pointed out before you book? I would not do this trip again because I have seen and done it ( not got the T shirt !) Although everything is taken care of for you on a coach trip, the use of the internet and budget airlines can give you great flexibility.
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