Adventure Travel in Rome, Florence and Venice and Conducting Major Business
We booked this trip with our friends Mike and Katie well over a year.
As I begin this blog post, we’re on a train going from Florence to Venice.
The post will be completed on the flight back home.
Here’s the itinerary:
Day 1: Depart LAX (Los Angeles) and fly to Philadelphia. Then fly directly to Rome. Kelli is using the time to put the final touches on her new book.
Day 2: Technically still day one but we lost part of a day flying east. Our private driver takes us to our hotel – Hotel D’Inghilterra Rome. We spend the day recovering from the flight, walking around town and eating great food and drinking incredible wine. We work for an hour using the hotel’s wifi (about a 6 on a 10 scale). Internet access is 46 Euros for 3 days regardless of the number of devices you have.
Day 3: We get up to do a workout in our hotel room. We are met by our private tour guide who takes us to the Vatican for a detailed tour and history lesson. It’s like nothing else in the world. The art and the is beyond words. The day is hot and humid, and a nap is required when we return to the hotel. After a nap, we work for 2 hours on a variety of projects. Then we walk through the city, seeing the sights and having dinner al fresco.
Day 4: This is the day I’ve been waiting for… We get up early and do our now-almost-perfected hotel workout routine. It’s a combination of bodyweight exercises, suspension training, bands, tubes, yoga, Pilates and shadow boxing. It gets the job done. After breakfast at the hotel, we meet our private guide for a walking tour of Rome. We see every imaginable historical Roman monument you can remember from your history classes. The afternoon brings on a 3 hour nap. Yes, 3 hours. And, it was glorious. We then work for 2 hours and solve about 12 “issues” including a water leak at our house. That was fun. It’s a good thing our house sitter was there, or it would have been really bad.
Day 5: A free day in Rome. We started with a workout, then breakfast, then shopping, then napping, then working, then dinner and a nighttime walk through the city.
Day 6: We sleep in a bit and take a taxi to the train station in Rome. With tickets purchased months in advance, we get on a high speed train to Florence. The train is very comfortable.
The pressure in your ears when going through a tunnel at high speeds… not so comfortable. When we arrive in Florence, it is considerably cooler and less humid. We quickly get a taxi and head to our next hotel – Hotel Bernini Palace. This hotel is beautiful (and had an incredible breakfast included). Internet access is free regardless of the number of devices you have. A unique code is given for each device. We spend the day touring the city, eating the best damn food you’ve ever had, napping and working for an hour or so.
Day 7: We do an intense but short 30 minute workout. We meet our private tour guide for a walking tour of Florence. We visited the burial site of Michaelangelo among others. After seeing a wide array of historical landmarks and shrines, our tour ended with a visit to the museum that houses the original statue of David. Another nap was had followed by 2 hours of work.
At night, we had wine, cheese plates, and gelato. God bless gelato. This is one of the single best inventions of all time.
NOTE: Although I was always told I can get two flavors, I always chose lemon. There was always shock on the face of the person serving. I felt I was dishonoring a national tradition. Okay…. I’ll have two. I’ll take lemon and lemon.
Day 8: We did an extended workout after a great night’s sleep. Today is a special treat. We went wine tasting in the Tuscany countryside. It was as if you’re living in a movie. Wine and food pairing is always fun and full of surprises. How can the combinations of food and wine create so many flavors? It just does. After drinking a fair share of wine, our guide took us to an incredible village founded in the 13th century and perched atop a hill with views of hill, valleys, vineyards, farm houses and relic building from a time gone by. They best imagineers from Disney couldn’t get close to this. Impossible. Today, the wine, food, walking up hills, workouts and… did I say wine?… caught up with us. We crashed, and crashed hard. We barely woke up for dinner which was light with no wine, but lots of water.
Day 9: We slept in a bit more, had a great workout, ate and took a cab to the train station. Today we travel to Venice to stay at Ca’ Sagredo Hotel. We spent the afternoon eating, drinking and walking all over this crazy place. We did about an hour or two of work.
Day 10: We started the day with a 1 hour workout. Breakfast followed. Our private guide gave us a walking tour of Venice and a detailed history of the islands, the politics, the empires, the famous families and the buildings. It’s a rapid induction of knowledge like The Matrix. After 4 hours of walking, we took a nap, did 2 hours of work and prepared for Dinner. Obviously, we had cheese, wine and gelato.
Day 11: We began the day with a 30-minute workout. Another incredible breakfast at our host hotel followed. Today our guide met us “early” AKA 9:00 AM. It was a day of rain. The temperature had dropped about 15 degrees. We were met by our private boat to tour the nearby islands and get a private tour of the Murano Glass factory. We watched these highly skilled craftsmen make art out of melting glass. INCREDIBLE! Then, we toured the archives and museum of Murano. I was afraid to get near anything. Some pieces were well over $75,000. Next, we went to another small island where we had cappuccino in a small coffee bar. Then we watches a lady make lace. So talented. I was more interested in this incredible mask on the wall. I bought it. By nighttime, the rain made me glad I packed one pair of jeans. When we returned to our hotel, took a nap, then went out to drinks, food, and, yes….. gelato.
Day 12: Time to head home. No real workout today. We just stretched because we knew the flight was going to be long. We met our personal assistant in the lobby. Her job was to ensure we get to the mainland and get on the right plane. She had a private boat waiting. We flew across the channel to the mainland to the outskirts of the airport. NOTE: Taking a boat to the airport is a unique experience. We were met by another assistant who took our bags to a waiting van. The van took us to the terminal. Another person helped us check our bags. We got through security quickly and had a cup of coffee. The first leg of the flight is roughly 9 hours. We landed in Philadelphia with 2 hours to get to our connecting flight…. no problem.
Due to the U.S. government’s excellent use of it’s financial resources, there are 15 customs agent windows. However, there are only 3 which are staffed. It took us nearly 2 hours to get through. We then had to recheck our bags and get on the next plane. The doors closed 5 minutes after we boarded. Many people missed their connections. 5 Hours later, we landed in Los Angeles and had our driver take us home. We had been traveling for about a day. Tired is an understatement.
Overall, the trip was a 9.5. Ironically, the only issues took place within the U.S.
BUSINESS NOTES FROM JOHN: During this entire trip, I analyzed the fitness market in Italy. I looked for gyms, fitness equipment stores and anything else I could learn. Since my fitness businesses are global, I want to expand into different markets. Italy is more about lifestyle and not hardcore “fitness” unless you count cycling and soccer. During the trip, I edited my next book “Collaboration Economy.” I outsourced work to about 10 contractors. I communicated with my office. I blogged. I answered emails. I took no phone calls. I really don’t talk on the phone any more. My agent emailed me with a gig to appear on the Bethany talk show as an expert on sleep and health. I said sure. The next morning, they said it’s on hold. That’s typical of media. Ya can’t get upset about it.
TECH USED: Macbook Air and iPod
During my amazing holiday, I sold an investment property in Australia, maintained a membership site, marketed my live event “Design Camp”, ordered office furniture for my 25,000 square foot commercial project and prepped for my next TV show…. Oh yes of course, had leisurely breakfasts, daily private tours of Rome, Florence and Venice, napped and spent wonderful evenings with friends over dinner and vino. How you ask?
Technology. Half the battle of Travel Trepping is knowing the exact tool for the job. Just like every a-list contractor I hire, the right tool is key to any project.
Iphone – free Wi-fi based texting and phone calls via Viber. (and of course, fabulous panoramic pics!)
Ipad – mobile emailing and reading of documents. (plus a few hours of light reading and solitaire on a long flight)
MacBook Pro – I choose my pro for this trip simply because I can do everything on it! I was very easily able to edit, download and post videos to my membership site.
Add logos, photoshop speaker headshots for my upcoming live event, Design Camp and edit my upcoming book.
Not to be an ad for Apple but truth is, it’s the best platform for my creative careers.
Now kudos to my ancient yet modern Italian hotels. Simply asking my concierge to print and fax paperwork to Australia so I may complete my sale, was just that simple – I asked and it was done. I had no idea an offer would be made or or deal struck while traveling through Italy but that’s exactly why when researching your hotel stays be sure to inquire about their connectivity and policies about printing, faxing, etc. It was seamless and profitable.
The ease of my technology is what afforded me so much time to truly enjoy Italy, the sights, the food, the wine and people. Meeting wonderful new friends and knowing you can simply say hello again via email, facetime, or text makes travel so exciting and our worlds so small. No more goodbye, just “Ciao, talk to you soon!”
FROM MIKE AND KATIE:
As neophyte world travelers, and very tied to all of our technological devices, you might imagine our mild pre-departure anxiety. While we tried to convince ourselves we could toss our iPhones and iPads aside for two weeks, we knew it would be difficult to do so entirely. Aside from the subconscious impulse to check email or surf the web every five minutes, there were some very practical reasons staying connected (to a degree) would be important. For my wife, Katie, she is enrolled in an online Ph.D. program, currently mid-semester. Daily review of course material and posting weekly content is mandatory. In my case, going two full weeks without communicating with my two children who live in Atlanta was not an option.
For Katie, securing an Internet connection would be essential. We had pretty good luck in doing so at each of our hotels. At Hotel d’Inghaleterra in Rome, the Internet connection was pretty reliable, but it cost $40 for three days. In Florence at Bernini Palace, and in Venice at CaSagredo, the Internet was free. Bernini Palace was the only connection I would consider “high speed” – similar to my Time Warner cable connection at home. In all instances, the service was sufficient for Katie to get her work done, enabling her to enjoy her trip.
My only tech-conundrum occurred day one, and it took two days to figure out the problem. I was trying to connect with my daughter via FaceTime but I was unable to get through. I had verified we were both on wi-fi networks with strong and fast enough connections. Still, no luck. I was trying to initiate the connection from my iPhone 5 to her 5th generation iPod, but no luck! Finally, I navigated to “Settings” on my iPhone, and then to “FaceTime”. I realized there were options to how my iPhone was choosing to initiate the FaceTime call; it is possible to FaceTime via your phone number, or your email address (or addresses) you have associated with your iCloud account. I simply choose to connect via my email address (the default connection method was my phone number) , and a moment later, I saw the smiling faces of my 6 and 10 year old daughters! Next time you travel, don’t forget this extremely convenient (and free) way to communicate for business or pleasure…….
Mike and Katie (John and Kelli’s travel buddies)
REFERENCE: Our trip was incredible because of our talented travel agent. You can hire her, too. Here is her email: [email protected]