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Report 1396: Roman Holiday

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Fall 2007

Trip Description: My 2006 Slow Travel Prize was a week in an apartment in Rome. This evolved into twelve days in Italy, based in Rome, followed by two days in Paris in September 2007. There were four of us - Liz, Doug, Steve and Brad Phillips. We had a great time, including two GTGs, a Scavi Tour, a visit to the Galleria Borghese, and an abbreviated sojurn on Capri. Read on.

Destinations: Countries - Italy, France; Regions/Cities - Paris, Campania, Rome

Categories: Hotels/B&Bs; Vacation Rentals; Attended GTG; Sightseeing; Independent Travel; 3-4 people

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Page 1 of 16: Introduction and Preparations

photo by

BW at the Trevi Fountain. The coin trick worked before, way back in 1976. But it took until September 2007 for the magic to take effect.

Late in our 12 days in Rome in September 2007, I said to my older son who, along with his younger brother, Brad, joined us for two weeks of our 24 days in Italy and France, “Hey Steve, guess what I’m going to title my Trip Report on Slow Travel about this part of our adventure?”

“Roman Holiday,” Steve replied. “You’re so predictable, Dad.”

Originally I intended to call it “Four Travelers in Rome”, as an acknowledgment of my admiration of H.V. Morton, but Steve was right. And so, with a nod to William Wyler, Gregory Peck and the luminous Audrey Hepburn, Roman Holiday it is.

My name was drawn first in the 2006 Slow Travel contest, which presented my Beautiful Wife (BW) and I with a pleasant problem – which of the wonderful prizes should be select? After much deliberation, we decided on an apartment in Trastevere offered by Romepower.com. When I contacted Romepower with a few questions before making my selection, Marco Agretti offered us a second week at half price – which we accepted. There were several reasons for our choice, which included the opportunity to offer two of our four adult children the chance to visit Rome. Our two daughters were not able to make it, but our two sons were. Steve, a Mechanical Engineer, was able to arrange his holidays to coincide with the opportunity presented by Slow Travel and Romepower. Brad was a recent (May 2007) university graduate who was also able to arrange time off from his job in Ottawa.

Eventually we decided to spend 12 days in Italy (10 days in Rome and two days on Capri) and 12 days in France. Steve and Brad would join us for the first two weeks, with the last two days in Paris before flying home. BW & I planned to spend an additional 10 days back down in Provence.

With the help of many fellow Slow Travelers and our previous experience, I made all the arrangements from home in the months and weeks leading up to our end of August departure from our home in Eastern Ontario, including booking:

  • Montreal-Paris-Montreal flights on ZOOM and the connecting flights from Paris-Rome-Paris on Alitalia
  • shuttle service pickup and return at Fiumicino
  • a Scavi Tour for the four of us
  • a visit to the Galleria Borghese
  • hotel accommodations in each of Anacapri, Paris and the perched village of Saignon in the Luberon
  • TGV tickets from CDG to Avignon and return
  • a one-week return visit to Mas de Briançonceu, a rural gite between Menerbes and Lacoste in the Luberon

I distributed guidebooks among members of my family while I read H.V. Morton’s A Traveller in Rome (1960 edition), Alexander MacKinnon’s Things Seen in Rome (1927), Georgina Masson’s The Companion Guide to Rome (1965), and The Colour of Rome (1914) by Olave Potter. Masson’s book is elsewhere highly regarded, but I found it very slow going. I just skimmed Potter’s book, while I read MacKinnon’s and read and re-read Morton’s. I had been to Rome twice before, the last time in 1976. I had some residual memories and impressions, but it was a long time ago. Part of our plans included the opportunity to take part in four GTGs with mostly other Slow Travel members. Twenty-four days was by far the longest we had been away from home. We felt that we were very fortunate to have at least some of our family with us for part of the time. I have divided my Trip Report into two parts. What follows here is about our two weeks in Italy and Paris, accompanied by our sons.

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