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Humorous Travel Tips (slightly outdated)

Driving in Italy

Italian drivers always seem to be in a hurry. Having said that, Italians, especially when driving on the highway autostrada, are among the best drivers anywhere. They are in total control of their automobiles at all times and actually use all their mirrors and directionals constantly. The left lane is for passing, period. If you do not intend to drive fast stay off the left. When driving on the left keep an eye on the rearview mirror. As you notice cars quickly approaching behind you, put on your blinker and move over, fast. Italian drivers will assume anyone on the left really knows the rules, and will be constantly scanning their rear. Fail to move and the car behind you will be within inches of your bumper in seconds. Get caught impeding traffic flow in the passing lane and you will be fined. Never, never pass on the right. It is just not done and its a surefire way to cause an accident. If you intend to keep passing, leave your left blinker on while overtaking other cars. This lets everyone know your intentions. Occasionally you may have to flick your beams a few hundred yards behind the traffic ahead, particularly trucks, to alert everyone ahead that you are travelling fast and intend to pass everything. This is useful to the cars and trucks ahead that were contemplating entrance onto the passing lane and usually prevents them from moving over until you've blown by.

Beware of trucks, especially when you see more than one travelling together. They are forever passing each other at a crawling 50 miles per hour to stay awake, feel they own the road and will think nothing of moving to the left just as you are zooming along flashing, honking and blinking at over 140 MILES PER HOUR! Posted speed limits, I'm told, are merely suggestions. Due to high rail costs, most of Italy's commerce moves by truck. Expect to see plenty on the roads during weekdays. Tunnels abound in Italy. You must turn on your lights whenever you enter one. Small signs prior to each tunnel give you it's name and length. Bridges, river crossings, rest stops and so on are similarly marked.

In fact, the Italian highway system is much easier to navigate than our own; exits, junctions, towns, restaurants, gas, lodgings, interesting locales, distances to major cities, routes, next exits, police, etc., are perfectly and continuously posted. Overhead electronic message boards provide constant time, weather and traffic conditions.

International Driver's License

I wouldn't go as far as to say that it is utterly useless, but on occasion when I've been stopped by Italian police, and have proudly produced my IDL, the typical response has been "Excuse me sir, but what is this? May I please see your drivers license?" It seems that someone may have forgotten to notify the Italian police force that thousands of Americans annually pony up real money for this nonsense. Since then, whenever I have to produce a license anywhere in western Europe, my Massachusetts DL seems to do just fine. In all fairness, there are so many different kinds of police departments in Italy that the one charged with monitoring the variety of chickens one may legally coop in a car without an official permit is probably also the special division on the lookout for your IDL. Unless you plan to raise exotic farm animals in the back seat, spend the money on something useful.

Blowing your horn

Before driving off, familiarize yourself with all the controls. You do not want to be fumbling around with switches and knobs while driving an unfamiliar car in an unfamiliar place. Some foreign cars are just that, foreign, and nothing is where you would normally expect it to be. Adjust everything to your comfort while still in the safety of the rental lot. Seat belts are the law. All European cars come with an adjustable headlights. This is especially useful when using your headlights in daytime conditions. Set it low during daytime and dusk to avoid blinding oncoming traffic. You will notice that during these same hours other headlights look as if they are underpowered. Readjust them for nighttime driving.

Roadside Restaurants

Roadside restaurants Autogrills are excellent value for your money. Italians love to eat here. The food is good, fresh and cheap by any standards. Cafeteria style, eat what you like, in the order you like without having to suffer sneering waiters. If all you want is a salad and a coke, or more than one entree, it ain't nobody's business but your own.

Autogrill food is particularly good at around 12:30 pm and 8 pm. Try the advertised Piatto Regionale (regional dish), usually meat or fish, and take home a free collectable plate depicting the region. On the way out pick up some essentials in the superette or grab a quick espresso at the bar. Clean toilets, working phones and anything else associated with highway travel is to be found at these frequent oases. Look for signs along the highway depicting a crossed fork and spoon. The coffee cup symbols are for stops o nly offering a bar. Keep on driving; there's bound to be an Autogrill just a few more miles ahead.

Back on the road. By now you realize how well kept and glas smooth the roads are. Where road maintenance work is in progress, the area is well marked, well in advance and you are edged over gradually. Tolls on the Italian highway system are expensive by US standards, but when you consider what you get it's a bargain.

Gasoline

Here's a phrase you will be saying often: "Il pieno per piacere" (fill 'er up). Gas stations on the Autostrade generally accept credit cards such as Diners and AmEx and are open throughout the day and well into the night. In towns and cities the use of plastic is on the increase but do not be surprised to see a friendly VISA logo to be told later that only Bank America Visas are a ccepted. Gas up before noon, since like all else Italian, service stations close for long lunches and reopen late in the afternoon only to close soon thereafter.

Increasingly there are many gas stations that sport an Aperto 24 Ore (open 24 hours) sign, but alas there is no one at the pump and all the lights are off. Don't despair. The station is open 24 hours but only to cash customers using the automated pumps. Sure they work, but only if you watch someone else use one first. Its not too hard to put money in one of these gas dispensers and still end up on "E" after leaving a nice donation for the next car. Make sure to have lots of 5 Euro notes since the machines are particularly fond of these.

Most cars you will be driving use unleaded gasoline, so remember to look for green signs over the pumps and the words Senza Piombo that stand for something like "four bucks a gallon." Don't bother to pack your gasoline credit cards. Even when you see familiar service station logos, not one will take your card, so leave it home. Remember gasoline sells by the liter.

Buses

I'm afraid that I'm not of much help in this department. I don't use it here, so why would I think of using it there? For starters, you buy your ticket elsewhere. Hmm, maybe the tobacco shop across the street. Yup, that makes a lot of sense. Then you have to find the date/time stamping machine on the bus. But first you have to enter the bus from the correct door. Somehow I rarely see Italians stamping their tickets or even buying them for that matter. But the moment I hop on that bus lugging that big flashing neon sign that says “Howdy folks, I'm a Dolt” they all come swinging off their safety straps screaming 'Multa, multa, grande multa' (Fine, fine, big fine). How did they know I missed a step in the process? By now the driver knows there is a bozo on this bus and it's time to jump out of any door and catch a cab.

Trains

Occasionally, VISA cards not issued in Italy, may present a problem at the train station. Cash is king. Having said all that, train travel is relatively inexpensive when traveling alone or as a couple, even so you must consider the bag-dragging schlepp factor.

The 2nd class fare from Florence to Bologna, for example is $10 on a slower train. Add an $8 'Supplemento' for a faster Pendolino train and another $10 plus for the cab to your destination. If cabs are not your style, try taking the bus for about a dollar. (see the bit on buses).

Finding the station is easy, look for the FS signs, not to be mistaken for Fast Service but for Ferrovie Statali (state rail). On trains, by each six seater cabin there is often a slot with sheets designating reserved seats. Failing to heed this you may end up having to rise at the last minute, especially when all other seats on board are taken.

Train lovers take heed, ciuccio the Italian word for donkey sounds very, very close to Choo choo!

Money Exchange

Travellers checks in US dollar amounts can be difficult to deal with. Banks in Italy will often charge more money to cash them and merchants may get creative with what they consider a fair rate of conversion. Either way you can lose. On the other hand, ATMs offer the best deal. Whether you use your bank card or a Visa, MasterCard or Amex/Optima with a PIN, the actual rate of exchange is often much more favorable than those posted in banks.

Converting about $100 before you go is a good idea. You can exchange dollars into foreign currency while in the US at any commercial bank. Be careful of currency exchange shops in any country. The rate you get is often lower, and many of these shops charge high commissions and handling fees as well.

Read the signs carefully and ask before any transaction what other charges may exist. By all means follow this procedure with banks as well; since everyone competes, charges and rates vary from place to place.

A general rule of thumb is that rates are usually the worst in the most heavily trafficked tourist areas. Often better deals are to be had in the banks outside congested areas. If there are no signs outside a bank offering exchange, Cambio in Italian, it is still OK to go in and investigate.

Getting in the bank, that is through the door, is tricky. A) Open the first door. B) Step in. C) WAIT... for the first door to close before attempting to open the next. A green light tells you it's okay to enter. Repeat this on your way out. It gets more difficult when trying to fit your whole family in the tiny space between the doors. Banks, like most businesses in Italy, keep peculiar hours. They usually open in the morning, close around noon or one, reopen after three, and close soon after. Do your banking early. Have your passport handy as it is required when exchanging money.

If you plan to buy some of the wonderful bargains in Italy, shop wisely for your money first. It may end up being the best bargain you get. One last word about banks: if you are allergic to smoke you may be in for a surprise. Tellers often smoke and it is not uncommon to have a teller poring over your paperwork with a three inch ash precariously dangling from a lit cigarette. To their credit, I have never had one of those extra long embers validate my passport.

Credit Cards

VISA, MasterCard, AMEX and Diners Club are the most accepted cards in Italy. Merchants overwhelmingly favor VISA/MC since these cards charge lower merchant rates. Gas stations are more apt to accept Diners Club. Hotels of at least three star category take all.

Photography

Film in Italy is expensive. Plan to buy enough before you go. It is recommended that your camera be able to function in low light conditions without a flash. Most museums and churches will not allow the use of flash cameras.

My sympathies go to video fanatics. They will have to wait until they return to see what they actually never experienced with their own eyes.

Museums and sights

You will find too many museums closed on Mondays. Save your admission tickets, they are colorful and make nice additions to your scrapbook. Space out your museum visits and church explorations. Resist the temptation to get "churched out."

True, there are thousands of art treasures in the multitudes of churches and sanctuaries that abound in Italy. Will you remember them all? Pick up a good guide book and plot out a few interesting ones and save a little time for lesser known sites. Moderation is the key. Poco e bene. I once overheard a Spanish couple who were appalled by the barbaric display in San Domenico's church in Siena. St. Catherine's head rests in a glass jar, on the altar along with her thumb and her self-flagellating whip. St. Anthony's tongue rests in a glass beaker next to his jawbone in Padova. The list is endless. In every town, in just about every church, someone, or better yet, pieces of someone, are proudly displayed.

There was once a crisis in Italy when there were not enough body parts to go around. It is hard to imagine a saint on his or her deathbed with everyone else standing around waiting for a piece of the action. Today, with a coin you can activate the church lights for your flashless camera, snap a photo and "ecco" your own relic.

Shopping

Shopping in an Italian supermarket is lots of fun. Remember to take a 1 Euro coin if you wish to push a shopping cart. This deposit is retrieved when you return the cart to its proper place. Where carts have not yet been prepared to take Euro, ask inside for a 500 Lira coin. Once inside you will marvel at the varieties of pasta and olive oil, and the deli will absolutely floor you. Five to ten varieties of prosciutto, more of salami, olives, buffalo mozzarella: real honest to goodness Italian food.

If you are on a diet, simply inhale the fragrance and eat a piece of bread later. The aroma will linger in your mind for days to come. When ordering from the deli you will notice that Italians will order by the etto or tenth of a kilogram. One or two 'etti' is a sufficient measure, and you can always come back.

If you love veal, Italy is the place to try it. Free range, pink, thinly sliced and delicious. Supermarkets along with most other shops are closed on Sunday. Store hours vary during the rest of the week and some will even be closed on Saturday afternoons. It is not uncommon to find supermarkets open until 8 pm, but plan to shop earlier during the day and try to visit the open-air markets that come to town for local color. Outdoor markets open early in the morning and close shortly after noon.

Chiuso means closed and you will see these little signs often enough during your travels. In a pinch, you can always do a quick shopping any day of the week at just about any hour at the many Autogrills along the Italian highway system.

If a shopowner feels comfortable with you, he or she may ask you if you wouldn't mind accepting a receipt for less than the actual amount. It is a tiny way in which they get even, they feel, with an unjust tax system. Shopowners will go on to explain that this is of a benefit to us as well, since US citizens are not allowed to bring back goods worth more than $400 per person without paying additional duty at US Customs when re-entering the states. This is illegal. Even when purchasing an ice cream cone, you are required to take your receipt.

One of the many police organizations in Italy and perhaps the most feared is the Guardia Della Finanza, a sort of uniformed IRS gestapo, that without warning can stop you as you exit any establishment, check your receipts versus goods purchased. The rest you would rather not know.

Discounts

When trying to negotiate a discount you will generally get no more than 5 or 10% off if paying with plastic, less if paying with AMEX, the most if paying in Italian Lira. Some will argue that asking for a break at any place other than an outdoor market is 'sfacciato', pardon my Italian.

Haggling is almost expected from Americans nowadays. Long gone are the days of American supremacy and most Italians will tell you that the vision America represented now happily resides in Italy. US shoppers are viewed as shrewd, savvy bargain hunters. It will be up to you to reinforce or stray from this tradition.

Tiplets

Tiplet #1 - Always agree on the fare before taking off in a taxi.

Tiplet #2 - Purchase a regional map with a scale no greater 1/250,000, before you go.

Tiplet #3 - UHT milk does not require refrigeration until opened. It's sold unrefrigerated!

Tiplet #4 - Males over the age of 10 should never wear shorts in public.

Tiplet #5 - Peperoni in Italian means peppers. Remember that when ordering pizza! If you want a pizza with the US kind, ask for "salame piccante", or in some places "an American pizza"!

Tiplet #6 - Worried about driving in Italy? Worry about this instead: When was the last time you heard cars went on strike in Italy?

Do you have a Tiplet? Let us know...

Getting settled

As much as you will adore your rental home in Italy, you need to be aware of few things.

1. With very few exceptions homes are not air conditioned. Older homes were built to be cool in summer and retain heat in winter. You will notice that in warm periods everything is shut and shuttered from late morning to late afternoon. This works well if you go out during these hours for your explorations

2. Many homes do not have screened windows and, according to one Italian, Screens restrict the free flow of air. Italians prefer a small plug-in contraption the size of a night light that burns noxious little pellets of insect repellent. It does work, in a fashion, mosquitoes come in, the fume gets them drunk, they don't bite when drunk and when they can't stand it any longer they fly out. Got it? You can purchase these pellets & burners at any supermarket.

3. Bring a flashlight and/or a couple of candles in the event of power outages.

4. Matches, even if you don't smoke, are useful for lighting pilotless stoves and the candles in your suitcase.

5. If you use salt, sugar or pepper, why not bring some along. You can avoid buying 5 pound bags of each at the supermarket and leaving them behind for the caretaker when you leave. This message was brought to you by the Caretakers Association of Italy. They are overloaded on salt, sugar and coffee. It's OK to leave them a tip.

6. Do not expect to find toilet paper or bars of soap in your home.

7. Linens and towels are provided. Do not expect towels to be of the thick and fluffy kind. Beach towels are not provided and using a blanket to lay poolside is a no no. Face cloths are not in general use so bring them if you need them.

8. Many properties do not have phones. If you decide that you need a phone during your stay, please call us to reserve an International Cellular Phone.

9. Don't expect your high powered hair dryer to work well. Even with the aid of a transformer you will probably not be able to coax more than a low power setting. Be alert to electrical consumption. Most Italian homes use little energy. If you plan to turn on all the lights and appliances at once, you can trip the circuit breakers. Same with hot water. Try not to have everyone shower all at once and run washing machines and dishwashers simultaneously.

10. By following simple precautions and respecting the differences between our cultures you will have a great time. Remember to pack your sense of humor, adventure and of course, your appetite for Italian food.

More things to pack

  1. Umbrella
  2. Electrical adapter
  3. Low speed hairdryer
  4. Cassette tapes
  5. Calculator
  6. Portable reading light
  7. Sewing kit
  8. Friends & family (optional)

Things to bring back

  1. Wine
  2. Grappa
  3. Leather goods
  4. Ceramics
  5. Fine linens
  6. Fashions
  7. Antiques
  8. Friends & family (optional)

Customs

Returning to the US you are allowed to bring up to $400 per person in goods obtained while traveling outside the country without paying Duty Tax. Anything above that amount is taxable. Entering Europe is usually a breeze and rarely does anyone stop to check your bags.

Coming home is quite adifferent story. After that big "Welcome to the USA" sign, customs agents, hidden cameras and trained dogs really put out the welcome mat. Avoid making eye contact with any member of the home team, including the dog, and head for the nearest exit, even if the only thing you're packing is the in-flight magazine.

Being stopped at US Customs is no fun. Your own spouse will deny knowing you as your dirty socks, in full view of passengers, are fished out of your bags with a stick. What's worse is that you are left to repack the mess yourself and without the stick.

Sneaky travelers usually put the good stuff in one bag, throw it on top, wear the rest and throw out all the receipts. "Oh, this Prada bag? I only paid $3 for it." But be careful, nobody's that stupid.

Trickier still is getting a porter. It seems that these guys know all the Customs agents and realize that part of the $20 they earn as a tip is to whisk you through hassle free.

Remember, dogs are looking for fresh produce and those homemade sausages Ninja Nonna stuffed in your bag last night. Fido loves her cooking and when he decides to wag his tail and sit in front of your bags, your goose is cooked as well.

Safety

Compared to living or working in a large metropolitan area in the States, one can feel extremely safe at any hour most anywhere in Italy just following some sensible precautions.

Picture this: The all-too-famous tour bus pulls up to one of Italy's national treasures and begins to disgorge loads of tourists in jogging shoes and exercise pants (often worn by types that do neither). This alone attracts unwanted attention in a society that prides itself in style and fashion.

To add to the insult, herds of pullman marsupials, and we'll get to that in a second, proceed to trash the site with their droppings in short order. By the end of the day jewels like Venice and Positano are ankle deep in Coke cans, burger wrappers, empty film boxes, etc. The only consolation left, if any, is the conspicuous and easily detachable money pouch motor coach cowboys wear like kangaroos. Even honest merchants are tempted to overcharge when confronted with this motorized outbreak.

Be sensible, dress comfortably yet be stylish, don't wear a belly pouch, a hidden money belt or such is fine and invisible, and above all respect the culture. You will blend in perfectly. Italy is a fascinating place. A little common sense and you will feel safer than you've ever felt, and be fascinated too!

Italy's new found wealth has led to a tremendous increase in illegal immigration. Rome, Milan, Florence and other large cities are a haven for the less fortunate aliens. Expect to find Albanians, Senegalese, Slavs and a host of other nationalities, including some Italians, engaged in anything from selling fake Gucci bags to begging and pickpocketing. As in any large city, anywhere in the world, keep your eyes open, don't flash your valuables and never, ever wear a belly pouch.

Standing in line

There is no such thing as a line in Italy. Perhaps with the exception of you, at the very end. Italians jostle, cut and cajole their way through lines. Checkout counters can become mob scenes as everyone forms their own line with themselves at the head. Knowing or feigning to know the cashier gives greater weight to the shoving that ensues. Of course this is theater and no one gets truly upset in the warm chaos of Italy, no matter how far the veins in their necks appear to pop out.

However, be on alert for the Ninja Nonnas. Diminuitive grandmothers dressed in black are born with titanium elbows, wear steel tipped booties and swing a mean pocketbook. Attempting to interfere with one as she goes about cutting in front of you is dangerous unless you foresee the move and assume a proper blocking stance. Never mind that she is probably a wonderful cook and if given a chance she would open her heart and home to you. Give her an icy stare and prepare to parry her thrust.

Tipping

There are two schools of thought on the subject of La Mancia (the tip). Tip the person providing you with service as you would at home or follow local customs for certain instances. For hotel services or cabs you should tip as you normally would.

Restaurants are an entirely different matter. Most restaurants in Italy include a service charge of 15%. Many add an additional cover charge for place settings and bread of $2 or more per person. Yet, if service has been good one opinion has it that you should add 15% more to the bill in cash for the waitstaff. Italians will generally leave a few Euro (two to five dollars) extra in cash for reasonable service. You decide.

When having a quick espresso at the counter it is customary to leave a coin or two in the little plate.

Language

Italian is one of those languages that everyone loves but few speak. Italians on the other hand usually take English in school as well as a few other languages. With a little patience on your part, communication is not a problem.

However most Italians have never heard of the Speed Speaking for the Loud course that some of us pay big bucks for prior to taking a trip. Speak slowly. Use simple words that have common latin roots. Don't yell. Contrary to popular belief increasing the volume doesn't aid comprehension. Learn some words, but be careful when you master entire phrases. I made the mistake of learning how to ask a few simple questions in German and can utter them flawlessly. The only problem is that I have no clue as to what the answers mean.

Public Toilets

Bathrooms in Italy are a form of business. Prices or tips can range from 10 to 30 Euro cents per person per use. Once at the Venice train station, well twice, I'll explain, I experienced the facilities. The first time I paid 500 lira (now worth about 30 Euro cents) was given a ticket and led to my stall, where the efficient attendant proceeded to dust the seat and spray some air freshener, hand me some tissue and wish me luck. I honestly don't know if she was hanging around for another tip, but I gave one anyways just to get her out.

The following year, anticipating the ritual, I confidently walked in, change in hand and to my surprise no ticket, no charge, no stall, freshener or attendant, just a bunch of guys standing around staring at a hole in the ground. Well! I thought. Here goes Italy, down the drain.

Only after exiting did I notice that I had walked in the "other" door to the "public" restroom. I have learned that in Venice it is easier to hop on a train. Train stalls are large enough for only one person, hence no attendant, no huddle and the difference in the cost of a ticket is worth the ride.

TV

It is not by accident that my views on Italian Television follow a discussion of toilets. I have watched game shows on Italian TV where whether or not contestants get the answers right, they will at some point be asked to disrobe. Cheap sex sells, and programming and advertisements are full of it.

US reruns dubbed in Italian are funny for the first 30 seconds as you watch and listen to familiar faces speaking out of sync, in different voices and in another language. However, it is sad to discover that Italians have grown up beleiving that John Wayne sounds like Popeye. Worse still are Italian script changes to US shows. We all know Bart Simpson of The Simpsons says: "Eat my shorts" The Italian version has been edited to say "Suck my socks". Why?

Italian TV talk shows are all undecipherable, up to a dozen guests all speaking, shrieking, yelling, arguing and gesturing at once. I think they are saying: "Turn it off!"

Even CNN International Wolrld News (on cable, yes there is cable in Italy) gets a bit overwhelming. The same news story repeated a gazillion times in a day. Especially, if the most important story on the entire planet (in CNN's somewhat myopic view) happens to be a visit to an Idaho nursing home by the local drum and bugle corps. Well, if Nero fiddled while Rome burned, what's the difference if CNN blares "Pomp and Circumstance" in Boise.

Sky News, the British counterpart of CNN, on the other hand, continuosly reports rain in Scotland. This is just slightly better than CNN's up to the minute weather that boldly proclaims: "it's cloudy over Africa today", if only for the accent.

The only redeeming quality I have been able to discover on Italian TV is channel surfing between 6:30 and 8 AM when some US newscasts from the previous night are rebroadcast on local Italian channels and of course, MTV.

Phones

Many pay phones do not work. The majority of those that do, no longer accept coins. The most sensible approach to using pay phones is to stop at a Tobacco shop and buy a phone card. Ask for una carta telefonica they come in four flavors: 1, 2.5, 5 and 7.5 Euro. Snip off the perforated corner and go find a phone!

Most Italian phones do not use tones so it will be very difficult to access your voice mail back home. You could always rent one of our Italian cellular phones. In addition to making us very happy, you will be able to get your voice mail back home, use it in your car and most of all you will look Italian.

Italy enjoys the highest per capita cellular penetration in the world. It's fun to hear them go off in restaurants and watch everyone start patting themselves to feel what's ringing. If it wasn't for the tell tale sound, one would swear that a colony of fire ants was on the loose. Should it be the ants, reach out... and touch yourself, dial 113 to call the police and keep your IDL (see page 1) handy.

If where you are staying has a phone and you wish to give out that number to friends, relatives or coworkers make sure that you give them proper dialing instructions. Then again... Let's say that you are staying near Siena in Tuscany and your phone number is 0577 22 22 22. The area code for the Siena province is (0577). The area code must always be used even if dialing a number within that code. So from the US, your caller must dial in this manner: 011 (to get out of the country) 39 (Italy's country code) 0577 22 22 22. To get a call out of the Italy one first has to dial 00 followed by the country code, which for the USA is 1 then the area code followed by the phone number.

Don't fret if some Italian numbers and area codes are longer or shorter than others. This is done merely to confuse people.

Bo-rrrring. It's Bob, your long lost... cousin, the one you've never recalled meeting, but somehow can't forget you. He got your villa number from your mother-in-law. Remember? The one you didn't invite but you had to leave your number with in case of an emergency. What a surprise, an emergency just came up! Cousin Bob got some time off and is coming to visit you with his entire family.

Shucks, your place in the vineyards isn't big enough, but you kindly volunteer to help him find a hotel nearby. If nearby is as close as Milan, four hours away, the area code changes to (02). Alas, the closest thing you could find for the Bobs happens to be in London, country code 44 and area code 171.

Sometime later you decide to let your favorite mother-in-law know just how much Bob's visit has meant to you. To reach out to ATT or MCI from Italy you must dial 172 1011 or 172 1022 respectively, but you realize that both of these automated voices charge up to $3 just to connect your international call.

Well! You don't plan to talk for long. You just want to let her know she's on your mind, constantly. The line is busy, she's probably already gotten a hold of Dreaded Uncle Freddy. Why did you need a phone in the first place?

One last thing

By now you have seen our catalogs, web site, talked to us, read our literature and realize that the most important thing to us is that you have an outstanding vacation, that you fall madly in love with Italy and be really, really happy with us and our service. Please remember that a villa or an apartment is not a hotel and that you have a responsibility to yourself and those with you to follow simple procedures.

When you arrive at your home make sure that everything works and is to your satisfaction. (It usually is!) However, if it isn't or something goes wrong during your stay tell the caretaker or the owner immediately. At the same time call our local agent – their number is on your “directions” page – and let them know too. If whatever it is, big or small, isn't quickly resolved, call us. Don't let a small thing turn into a larger one. We can't help you if you decide to tell us after you've left the property. We have ourselves, local agents, caretakers, property managers, and owners in place as layers of assurance and assistance to you. So remember: should the need ever arise, we're there.




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