To help set the tone for this trip report, I’ll introduce myself.
I’m a 32 year-old girl (‘double sweet’ 16) who has been to Europe once – on a Mediterranean cruise with my family. That was great but didn’t give me much time in any particular place. I spent one day in Rome and one in Naples on that trip. I have never spent any time abroad as a student, nor had I made any trips to Europe on my own.
I work for an educational software company, in marketing. I’ve traveled all around the US for fun and work. I’ve lived in the DC area my whole life, and love it!
I have several good friends at work that I hang out with and visit quite a bit (one lives here, one near Tampa Bay, Florida). When each one independently mentioned to me that they were considering a trip to Italy in Spring of 2005, I not only asked if I could go, I suggested that we go together.
The three (me, SD and MD) of us had a few conference calls to discuss basic itinerary, Tuscany, and our travel likes and dislikes. Anyone could call it off through me with no repercussions, but everyone seemed to be on the same page, so planning began in earnest. The ‘group trip’ was to be for seven days. Then SD and I would take another week in a different part of Italy. Initially we thought the Lake region, but that would eventually change.
I’m somewhat of a control freak, so the girls were more than happy to hand off planning to me. Along the way, a 4th girl decided to join us from work (CD). I did a ton of research (Thanks Slow Travel!), and we eventually settled on a villa just outside of Florence in Settignano. It fit our requirements of being close to the city, yet not IN the city. It also had public transport within walking distance, which was a key requirement with four girls with different ideas of what kind of vacation they wanted.
In the end, we were joined for the week by another friend outside of our company (VG) who completed our group of 5. CD and I decided to do a few days in Rome to start the trip out. SD, SD’s mom, and I decided to do a week in Siena at a B+B. And interestingly enough, two other friends (boys this time – JK, JP) decided to crash with me on their spring break in Siena – more info on that later. 🙂
I set up several ‘planned’ activities for the trip, including cooking classes and specialty tours. I’ve listed the major ones below. MD and I wanted to see most of the major museums and ‘sites’ as we’ve never been to Florence. But the others were more interested in taking it slow, checking out the cafes, and maybe some day trips. So we left it open and often did our own thing.
Demographics? The girls and I all range from early to late thirties. The boys are both 21. SD’s Mom has a few grandkids.
Tuesday: Fly out of Washington, DC
Three nights in Rome: Wednesday thru Saturday, two girls – Context Rome tour of Villa Borghese for me.
Seven nights in Florence (Settignano): Saturday thru Saturday, five girls – Cooking Classes with Divina Cucina – Context Florence Michelangelo Seminar for me and MD – Several museum reservations for me and MD
Two nights in Florence: Saturday thru Monday, two girls and a Mom – Context Florence Fresco Class for me!
Four nights in Siena: Monday thru Friday, two girls, a Mom, and two boys – Day trip to Assisi
One night in Milan: Friday thru Saturday, Just me! Sleep in an airport hotel near Malpensa. Fly out Saturday morning.