We have just returned from 'doing' a Seven Cities of Italy tour in 7 days with Newmarket Holidays and stayed at the Hotel Royal for 3 nights. The tour is promoted as an 8 day holiday, but if like us you leave Aberdeen late afternoon on a Sunday, and spend the Sunday at the end of the trip waiting in a hotel near the airport for your return flight home at 18.30, I’d prefer to describe it as a 7 day holiday. It’s a bit swings and roundabouts though as some people from other UK airports arrived much earlier at the start, courtesy of having to get up about 3.30am, and had another ‘early hours of the morning’ rise for their return journey.
Having said that, this was a really wonderful trip! It is extremely hectic and exhausting, so certainly might not be for everyone, but what I’d say is that it shouldn’t take a lot of working out to know that if you book to see 7 cities - Verona, Venice, Florence, Rome, San Gimignano, Siena & Assisi - staying in 3 different hotels – in Riva del Garda, Chianciano Terme and Lugagnano – in a week, and know you’ll be covering 1,700 miles by coach, you must appreciate this will be a very full-on holiday before you set off!
It was a terrific way to see so many places in such a short space of time though, but you are rarely off the go, and you should also be aware the nature of what you’re trying to pack in does mean you may not have as long at a destination as you’d like. There are very early starts on 3 of the mornings, especially as the excellent value price of the holiday does obviously mean you’re accommodated further away from the large cities, and journey in and out and around a great deal. On the two days you transfer hotels, cases travel with you from the crack of dawn, so being very organised the night before is also essential. You will be away a full 12 hours on some of the excursions.
With the trip costing a bargain £799 per head, which included hotel transfers, 7 nights dinner, bed and breakfast and fully escorted visits to all the cities, the hotels were all perfectly acceptable in our eyes for the money, but most of the 52 of us in the group expected a higher standard of evening meal. However, given that these hotels were often catering for a few coach loads of tourists at a time, we made allowances for the slightly canteen-style service. There were a lot of true Italian dishes we didn’t experience though, and that was disappointing. Of course there are always breaks in the daytime activities to have lunch, or a snack, but nobody really wants to eat a full lunch, knowing they are returning to the hotel for a full dinner later. We did have a lunch out one day as we really wanted Cannelloni and Tortellini. At another lunchtime we had pizza and Tiramisu, not confident we’d be offered my favourite dessert at the hotel.
You have the option of doing your own thing or at some destination such as Venice and Rome adding on additional supplementary tours you pay for and both are well worth it, especially in Venice, where the Gondola ride is included in the additional charge, and to take a Gondola ride of your own accord would cost far more.
As if the holiday isn’t hectic enough in itself with long days and non-stop activity, some of the destinations are less easy than others for anyone disabled or who has mobility issues to negotiate – as other reviewers have said, you do have to be able to walk at a reasonable pace, and there are plenty hills and slopes to navigate. Quite a few people, including myself, struggled with the pace at times.
We were rather lucky with almost perfect weather - rain on our first day on the coach to Verona but it very kindly stopped when we got there. Our last day trip to Assisi was also rainy following a massive thunder storm during the night, (we were there the day after the Pope's visit and it had been dry for the pontiff and the 150,000 people there to see him), The five days in between were perfect ‘sight-seeing’ weather with temperatures around a very pleasant 72/74 degrees, and no rain. October temperatures suited us all very well, whereas May-September could well be a tad hot for accomplishing what we were doing without suffering from the sweltering heat, I think.
What can I say about the destinations? All the places were amazing, and so it is impossible to choose a favourite. Time is limited when you visit, but this is certainly a great way to get a taster for each city, and then decide you’ll return for 3 or 4 days at a later date. We’ve already agreed we’ll re-visit Rome. Don’t forget too that you’re seeing vast areas of Italy on the coach journeys, so it is just incredible that you see and do so much in just 7/8 days.
Our travelling companions were a friendly bunch – I don’t think it would work on such a tour to try keeping yourself to yourself. We’d very sensibly change coach seats daily, so you’d have different people to chat with everyday, as well at at the hotels in the lounge bar and at dinner, and there was an amazing amount of ‘looking out for each other’s wellbeing,’ almost from Day 1.
For us there is no doubt that our amazing Newmarket Tours Rep Diane and our terrific coach driver Simone really made the holiday as special as it was for us all. The amount of fascinating information
and willing help we all received from Diane was incredible, almost way above and beyond the call of duty at times, especially as there was a wheelchair used traveling with our party of 52, and this gave her additional logistical issues to sort out. Simone covered the 1,700 miles in a totally cool, calm and collected fashion and was always there to pick us up, load cases etc, etc, in a truly professional manner.
This is the trip for you if you can stand the pace of packing in the thrills of seeing 7 amazing Italian cities and a huge amount more - all in under 200 hours!!
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- Also Known As:
- Royal Hotel Riva Del Garda
- Hotel Royal Riva Del Garda/Nago, Italy