Saving Money On Car Rentals

Car rental rates have soared in the last several years.  Even using  sites like Kayak and Priceline you tend to get some high rates.  Some time ago I saw a reference in the New York Times to a site called Autoslash.com.   I tried it earlier this summer and was able to get a very reasonable rate for the July 4th week in Hartford, Connecticut.   previously my best rate for the week was about $400. I ended up paying $241 and got the car from Hertz. That was a substantial savings thanks to AutoSlash.

I have booked a 21 day rental in Sicily and did quite a bit of shopping.  I searched Hertz, Auto Europe, and Avis.  Each gave me rates that were in the  $800 range. AUTOSLASH 2 2017-08-11 at 4.04.39 PM.jpgAUTO SLASH SAVINGS.jpg Hertz got down to about $760 and it was looking better. I got a quote from AutoSlash and found that they could get me a $747 rate for the same period and they would continue to search for updates to the rate. Hertz is the provider.

Now  for the really good news! We leave on Tuesday and today I got an email saying they checked rates and it went from $765.51 to $305.89.  This is a substantial savings.  Note the original quote I got was $747 but Hertz raised it. When I brought this to the attention of AutoSlash they contacted Hertz and got the rate reduced.

Give AutoSlash a try and compare with other search engines. Hotwire, Hotels.com, Kayak have been helpful to me in the past, but not have reduced the rates after booking.

You do not pay up front!  Also keep in mind many credit card companies will cover your CDW which can save you several hundred dollars on a rental.

I have no affiliation with any site mentioned above. P1010826.jpg

Always good to have some tape. In Palermo a driver strayed into my land and hit the mirror. He then continued as if nothing had happened.  Luckily I had some tape and we survived.  I rented with Europcar and got it through InItaly.com.  They covered the damage  but still charged me $100.   That is why credit card CDW is better. BUT read your credit card agreement throughly.

 

Papal Audience Tickets

After searching and searching  I found the following site which will allow you to get tickets to a Papal Audience. I hope you find this of use if you are going to be in Rome this year.

On most Wednesday you can attend the public audience in St Peters Square in front of St Peters Basilica.  You can request the tickets  by email and there is no charge. You will be directed to the web site to St Patrick’s American Community in Rome.  All the information you will need can be found on this page.

Saint Patrick’s American Community in Rome

Once you are on the page, the ticket link is on the right side  of the page. Allow two to three weeks for a response. You must pick up your tickets in Rome the day before the audience.

 

Here is a copy of the reply I received for my request:

The St. Patrick’s Catholic American Community of Rome is happy to assist you with 2 tickets for the Pope’s General Audience on Wednesday  September 13,  2017 at 10:00 AM in St. Peter’s Square – Vatican City. While the Pope begins his presentation at 10:00, the gates open at 8:00 and the seating fills up quickly.  We strongly recommend arriving early.  The audience usually lasts for one hour. Please check  www.vatican.va  under info/Prefecture for any change in the program.

 

Reserved Tickets can be picked up on Tuesday afternoon, September 12,  2017 between 4:30 and 6:30 PM ONLY in the Foyer/Sacristy of the Church of St. Patrick (San Patrizio a Villa Ludovisi), Via Boncompagni, N. 31 (near the corner of Via Boncompagni and Via Piemonte) near the US Embassy and the Via Veneto. The Church itself will open at 4:00 PM, and you are welcome to come inside.  However, we do not begin the distribution of tickets until 4:30 PM. And if you would like to stay and join us, our weekday Mass in English at St. Patrick’s is at 6:00 PM.

 

If you are unable to pick up your tickets on Tuesday afternoon, on Wednesday morning between 7:30 and 8:30 AM you can go to the Bronze Doors – St. Peter’s  Square – Vatican City –  and ask the Swiss Guards for tickets to attend the General Audience.  

 

Please Note:   The tickets are Free of Charge, but we ask you to consider making a free will offering of 5 Euros or 5 U.S. Dollars per ticket so that we can continue to offer this service.

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Saint Peters Basilica, Rome

Into the Heart of Sicily by Julien Zolli

Here is another video by Julien Zolli. He capture the sights, sounds and tastes of Sicily. From cities to tiny villages, Sicily never fails to charm a traveler. The beaches help one escape the heat that has plagued Europe this year.  If you visit, renting a car is the best way to get around. The roads are good and the views are amazing.

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The gentlemen of Ericie, Sicily.

 

Sicily Land of Myth from Julien Zolli

I found this wonderful video on Facebook and could not stop watching. it is short about five minutes but conveys the emotion my wife and I feel when we return to Sicily.

Julien Zolli is a French film maker who can be found on Vimeo and YouTube

Here is the link to this amazing video from a very talented individual. You can Google him to see more videos he has produced.

 

Oh crap, the canceled my FLIGHT!!!!

It is only a matter of time untill something like that happens. It happened to us twice. Once in Vienna, and the last time in Rome. We were on vacanza, so it was not the end of the world, but it involved extra costs.  In Rome we had to stay an extra three days  ( so hard to take).  The airline had a bogus reason but never went into details.

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As we were in the airport to leave my wife found a notice in the airport regarding the rights of passengers in the EU. Click the link below to bring you to this page.

EU Passenger Rights

Much has been written on this subject, but if your are delayed or have your flight canceled check this site. Also check it if your baggage is lost or delayed. Last year Air Berlin would not let us bring our suitcase as carry on even though our connection was only an hour. Our baggage did not make it.

We went back to the airline (Eurofly USA div of Meridiana) through our credit card company and saved almost $1000. They did not contest our chargeback through the credit card company.

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With all our trips to Italy, still like Alitalia the best.

 

The site below may be of help also:

Air Help

May the help be with you!

 

 

 

Il mio sogno…… My dream was to bike the hills of Tuscany

People that know me know I love bicycling. Add that to my love of Italy and you have my dream vacation. I told my wife about it, but she did not wish to go back to Italy again so soon, especially as our last trip was an 18 hour affair which was diverted from Miami to Freeport in the Bahamas! For several years I was getting brochures from Vermont Bike Tours and the ones in Italy really intrigued me

fullsizeoutput_729.jpegSo I signed up and started practicing  climbing the hills in Vero Beach, Florida. Well not quite, there are no hills here. Best I could do is keep going over the two bridges that the connect the mainland to the barrier island.  Add a  back pack and some weight and it was a start.

Our trip began in San Gimignano and ended in Pienza. Each day we biked 35-45 miles. By the end of our trip we have climbed more than 10,000 feet. fullsizeoutput_529d.jpegThe crowded roads we traveled on!

P1040828.JPGOlives and Grapes

fullsizeoutput_743.jpegQuick stop.P1040846.JPGAlways  beautiful views.

P1040852.JPGEach morning Claudio and Elena would give us a briefing on our ride for the day.

fullsizeoutput_3321.jpegfullsizeoutput_3323.jpegEach day brought new sights and some tough climbs.fullsizeoutput_529e.jpegfullsizeoutput_529f.jpegfullsizeoutput_14a5.jpegSo much beauty. I stopped frequently to take photos.

fullsizeoutput_25c0.jpegfullsizeoutput_52a0.jpegMonteriggioni, a beautiful walled village.P1040915.JPGfullsizeoutput_70d.jpegLoved the shirt Elena was wearing.

fullsizeoutput_702.jpegTorre del  Mangia, Siena

IMG_5341.JPGFrom the top of the tower, this where the Palio is held. P1040921.JPGfullsizeoutput_19f7.jpegOur rides took us through the town and alleys.fullsizeoutput_6f5.jpegAnother amazing duomo.

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One of our rides from  SanGimignano  to Siena.

IMG_5349.JPGIMG_5350.JPGfullsizeoutput_6d4.jpegfullsizeoutput_6d1.jpegAs always when I am in Italy it is the Food. Fresh produce that has not traveled 3000 miles in a refrigerated truck. Always items that are in season. This was the best bruschetta I have ever had. The tomatoes were RIPE!

fullsizeoutput_6d6.jpegI passed by a couple of locals and they volunteered to take my photo. This was on one of those roads where we hardly ever saw another auto.  This trip was really a sogno!! I can not recommend Vermont Bike Tours enough. Every aspect of the trip was perfect. Can not wait to do another ride in Italy.   

Off the Beaten Path: Capo di Ponte

Another little town we happened upon unexpectedly,  Having left Lago Iseo and trying to further up toTesimo in  northern Italy we happened upon this small village. CIMG5212.JPG

There was nothing special about it, but upon further investigation we found the  hotel Cumili in the center of town that just opened.  Next we found that  there were prehistoric rock carvings close by.

CIMG5232.JPGCIMG5238.JPGCIMG5244.JPGfullsizeoutput_5229CIMG5252.JPGfullsizeoutput_522c.jpegIt is an easy walk to get around the park. Signs are very informative and the views from high up on the hiltop are amazing. fullsizeoutput_5228.jpegThe styles are Tyrolean as we are approaching the northern area of Italy.  Switzerland is a short ride from here. Capo di Ponte.jpg

Map of Capo di Ponte and the surrounding areafullsizeoutput_522e.jpegAs we left heading north top Tesimo, there was still snow in the hills as we passed a ski area. This photo was taken on July 14th, 2008.

Some more information from Wikipedia

The stone carvings of Val Camonica (Camonica Valley) are located in the Province of BresciaItaly, and constitute the largest collections of prehistoric petroglyphsin the world.[2] The collection was recognized by Unesco in 1979 and was Italy’s first recognized World Heritage Site. Unesco has formally recognized more than 140,000 figures and symbols.