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Old 06-11-2006, 08:45 AM
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Is the train schedule for the ports of Livorno and Civitavecchia(Italy) on the web? Is it trenitalia.com?
Also when in Rome is it advisable to get a tour guide for the Vatican area and the Colosseum area? Or is that too much structure?
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Old 06-12-2006, 08:42 AM
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A private guide will get you into, around and out of the Vatican and anywhere else you want to go much, much easier and faster. You'll see more in the long run and you'll also learn about what you are seeing.
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Old 06-16-2006, 08:16 PM
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Taking Cruise in July. I was thinking of taking the train to the Vatican. Is it possible to get a private guide to meet you at the Vatican or do I need to book it from the Ship?
Do you recomend any private guide?
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Old 06-17-2006, 04:27 AM
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Tom Ogg's article on "Rome by Train, On Your Own" was very helpful as we planned our day in Rome and it can be found at http://www.europeportreviews.com/Rome2.htm. But we're not doing it on our own, we have arranged for a private tour guide who will meet us at the train station. I wish I could give you a personal recommendation but we haven't gone on our trip yet - we set sail June 28, Brilliance of the Seas! We are saving money by using this guide, will be able to move quicker versus moving as a large group, will have more flexibility and receive more personal attention. If you want to check out this guide, who I did receive a recommendation for from a previous client, go to his web site at www.rome-day-tours.com. And by the way, it is recommended that you buy a BIRG train ticket (9 euro adult) since it is good for all day using the subways & buses within Rome. You would buy it at the station in Civitavecchia. Once again, I have not yet done all this yet but just wanted to share what I've learned with all my research.
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Old 06-29-2006, 12:54 PM
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Check with the German Railways:

http://www.bahn.de

You can choose for schedule information in English and most European Railways Companies use their database for schedule information as they maintain it very well.

Have a nice trip!

Regards,
HeinBloed
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Old 07-11-2006, 10:21 PM
 
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The Italian train schedule can be found at
http://www.trenitalia.com/en/index.html
and this is the English site. You also should be aware that in Livorno you will need to find a taxi to get you from the port to the train station. The taxis on the pier may resist taking a local fare so you may have to wait a few minutes until you find a willing driver. The problem with the Vatican is that there are always long lines to get into the Museums (this is where you see the Sistine Chapel). If you want a guide you need to arrange in advance through the Vatican (not always easy) or hire a private guide which many find via the internet. It is possible to walk through on your own..although many seem to like private guides. You can also do the Colosseum on your own, or with a guide. Its all a matter of personal preference.
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Old 07-13-2006, 02:27 AM
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I responded to this question back in June and now that I've returned from my cruise, I'd like to give a follow up comment. Using the train was indeed very easy & in my opinion the best way to go. However, I'd like to retract my recommendation to check out Rome-in-a-Day website which touts the tour services of Rich Brunn. We had a most frustrating day with this guy who had his own agenda, ignoring our pleas to be more brief and allow us to see the Vatican and get back to the ship before it sails. Because he arranged for another to share our Vatican tour, he intentionally stretched out our morning ancient Rome tour giving UNENDING BORING LECTURES. He kept manipulating us so that his friend could shoot a video of him, making us listen to speeches for the benefit of the video and physically positioning us for the best shot. We had to be on a 4:00 train back to the ship (since delays often stretch a 1:15 trip to 2 hours) but from 2:30-3:00, no exaggeration, we listened to him pontificate about the Sistine Chapel, using a slide show! We finally interrupted and said we couldn't wait for him anymore, and left to enter the Chapel on our own. My art teacher husband was so distraught after we had to tear him away after only 10 minutes of viewing the art. We then had to race to get ourselves to St Peter's Basillica, spend 10 minutes then grab a taxi back to the station. We missed our train & had to take a 4:38 which indeed took longer than expected, and we had to run with my 68 yr old mom to catch the last port shuttle bus back to the ship. He ruined our day in Rome!

Oh, and he greeted us wearing raggy clothes and an egg mcmuffin hanging out of his mouth. So it started off wrong from the first moment.
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Old 07-13-2006, 07:28 AM
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Oh man! That sounds like a horrible day! However, the one time I did use a private guide in Rome, my experience was very similar. A group of 5 of us toured the Vatican Museum and only made it about 100 feet into the museum in the first hour. The guide spent her time discussing each image captured on the first tapistry that we came across. I was so frustrated that I wanted to scream. I finally told the others that I was going my own way and ended up having a great day seeing what I wanted to see and going where I wanted to go.

The other four suffered through the day and regretted not taking off with me.

The only way that I would ever use a private guide again is if they were highly recommended by a credible and reliable source, and even then, I would be crystal clear on what I wanted to see and do.

Tom
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Old 07-13-2006, 11:32 AM
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Yes, I wish we weren't so "nice" and just cut ourselves loose early on. We felt like we were taking a college course instead of enjoying our tour. Oh well, lesson learned and hopefully we can make it back there to spend a few days in Rome.
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Old 12-09-2006, 08:35 AM
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It's funny that this page is still even up. This woman Lori had posted a very similar series of text on another site and in realizing how much she exagerated, she herself actually contacted the site and it was removed. As she wrote this on the public forum, I'm sure that she will not mind receiving any number of emails at lapappas@adelphia.net from people willing to check this out. Here is basically what I wrote her:
Here is my assertion: My WEBSITE and EMAILS are an important starting point because you'll find that you got EXACTLY what was advertised and YOU ASKED FOR and AGREED to. For example, did I not specifically ask if doing any video at all would be ok? Did you not specifically agree to it? If any of the following is incorrect in any way, I would very much appreciate you letting ME know exactly how and I will honestly attempt to correct it.

By the way, when I was a freshman in University, I was personally annoyed that the school was starting a "distance" learning program and so was recording all of the one course I was doing that did at times involve technical stops and starts etc. I didn't mind that they were recording in and of itself, but I did feel as though the teacher was not "teaching" so much as "communicating" with the audio recorder, so I completely understand if you also got that impression with me. But as opposed to my University experience, I not only specifically asked you, but I also shortly stopped after I realized it was a problem.
By the way, I got some fantastic video with other groups that should be available soon!!

Technical things: Did I not get us directly into the Colosseum and Vatican? I have us walking right into both locations on video with no wait at all. Can't I at least get a bit of credit for that? Call it luck in the Vatican, but a combination of past experience, keeping track of the Vatican schedule and knowledge of "How things work" at the Vatican allowed me to plan doing that visit in the afternoon. How many other groups do you think waited in long lines early at the Vatican that day because they didn't realize it would be open in the afternoon as it is NORMALLY closed on Saturday afternoons and how many people did we ourselves witness waiting in probably at least an hour long line at the Colosseum?

I really was quite upset that you did not contact me directly about this ahead of time and I'm sure we could have cleared everything up. Heck, I would rather not even have taken any money from you at all rather than have any less than a completely satisfied customer. I actually discovered your postings because a client who I will be touring for soon passed the link on to me. Before your posting I did have a VERY good google name that you will still notice if you type it in (other than yours) that comes from years of satisfied customers.

We started off on the wrong foot with our touring and due to distractions such as Amanda and the attempted video I was unfortunately not able to offer you the same sort of personalized attention that I would normally. I can only say that I like to think that I try my best. Unfortunately this is not always enough, but I try. When you utilized the public forum, it has already been weeks since I then responded on the public forum, but I'd rather we try to clear this up one on one. I know you were all upset, but please at least try to see my points.

First off: I assume that you never saw the video I linked to above.
By having myself Bearded in this video I'm trying to AVOID people coming with me who are too focused on appearance.
If you had seen this video you would probably have decided to tour with somebody else/ or at least not have criticized my clothes as I am wearing a VERY similar shirt in the video.
If you had seen this video you would probably have noticed me obviously eating a sandwich and drinking a coke while touring and probably not minded the fact that I had been in the midst of eating a sandwich when we met. By the way, I am diabetic, so it's important for me that people don't mind if I NEED to eat, so sorry if my NEEDS offended you.
If you had seen this video you would have seen a foretaste of EXACTLY what you got in the Vatican and if you didn't like it then you really should have gone with someone else (who by the way would have done the exact same thing).
Am I wrong to assume that you didn't see this video? If I am wrong, then what is your justification for the use of such "hurtful" language?

Second: I have now gone through our video together, for which you only stayed a grand total of 45 minutes of footage and left at exactly 2:40 PM.
If you are going to quote times, you should at least be precise.
At exactly 2:30 I had only covered the Sistine Chapel for a total of 12 minutes and I have myself on film looking at my clock saying the following, "How are we doing on time, are you guys ok? It's 2:30. You have plenty of time. A whole hour. We'll finish here in 10 minutes and we'll even be able to do the Raphael Rooms."
On video I have that your group actually started walking away from me after almost exactly 10 minutes which fits your voice perfect of you saying at 2:40, "It's 20 to 3".
You wrote "from 2:30-3:00, no exaggeration".
So if you are going to EXAGGERATE, that I have good video evidence of you doing in this case, then why claim that you're not.

Third: I do benefit from "Constructive Criticism", and I also DID take on an ARROGANT attitude, but it was not in response to a question!
There are a lot of simplistic ideas floating out there. I was once waiting for a group underneath St. Peter's basilica and a man came up to the Italian guard I was speaking with and asked him, "Are the bones of St. Peter in that box?" The guard said "Yes." This gentleman then walked away satisfied as he received a rather simplistic answer. After the man left, I said to the guard, "But don't you know that there aren't even any bones at all in that box?" The guard then said "Yes, I know, but I'm not about to waist my time explaining things to people."

Sorry, but I feel as though I do have the right to be arrogant about the bones of Peter. Maybe you didn't notice my resume that I actually graduated from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. While there, I did take an entire class on the Bones of Sts. Peter and Paul.
Am I wrong to assume that you didn't look at my resume?
Was John rude to me by interrupting my casual comments? He is your husband, so I would only expect that you defend him, but I did not perceive his comments as being very nice. My ARROGANT attitude was a RESPONSE to John's simplistic ideas concerning the bones of St. Peter that he so rudely interrupted me to share. Maybe he's more qualified!!

Here are some additional point by point responses to various quotes that I'm sure you will recognize from what YOU placed on the PUBLIC forum:

"Because he arranged for another group to share our Vatican tour"
Ok. You got me there... I "arranged for another group to share", but I don't have a clue as to why this would even be mentioned as this woman in her email of first May 17th wrote "We would not mind sharing you with another small group who also want the same itinerary.", and then again on May 20th specifically wrote "Again, we are willing to share the tour with another small group."

", he intentionally stretched out our morning ancient Rome tour"
I generally find that any one of the individual itineraries such as ancient Rome or the Vatican that I suggest are usually best done in about 4-5 hours. That's hardly a secret as I basically have that written right on my website of:
http://www.rome-day-tours.com/Walkin...html#RomeTours

So it hardly seems as though I was "stretching" anything out at all to do ancient Rome (Colosseum, Forum etc) in only 3 hours. Add to this the fact that I already had their specific approval to add others at a specific time for the afternoon, so it would not have benefited us at all in the least to try to chip away any more of our already limited time with ancient Rome before we met up with the other group, unless they were really hoping to "waste" that time before starting their afternoon.

"giving UNENDING BORING LECTURES."
If you'd like an example of what it means to take part in one of my "UNENDING BORING LECTURES", I invite any of you to watch a bit for your self:
http://www.rome-day-tours.com/Walkin...ideo_clip.html

"He kept manipulating us so that his friend could shoot a video of him, making us listen to speeches for the benefit of the video and physically positioning us for the best shot."
First off, the name of my "friend" is Amanda abarone@umich.edu and before becoming my summer intern for a limited time (two weeks), she had already toured with me through Rome and the Vatican on 3 separate occasions with her family from the summer of 2003-2005.
I think that their idea of "manipulation" was actually my "suggestions" for the morning of a very hot July 1st that they may like to stand in the shade more often so they would not burn out so quickly. Amanda has for the most part done a fantastic job of capturing high quality video work of most of my tours throughout Rome during her limited stay with a number of different groups who have "almost" all (except for this group) been enthusiastic about the idea. This has at times involved a very nominal amount of "additional/wasted" time of me briefly "suggesting" to both Amanda and my groups as we'd walk from site to site which angle would probably look both best for the video camera and them for appreciating the sites. As to how I apparently "made them listen... for the benefit of the video" is an "interesting" way of viewing what happened as I did specifically ask them if this would be ok when we met up with Amanda in front of the Colosseum. By the way, the whole "attempted" video thing only lasted such an incredibly short time (only about 40 minutes before I myself decided to stop) that it is hardly even worth mentioning. But it was at least nowhere near as distracting for either me or them as how they literally both 1. interrupted me with "know it all" type comments and then 2. walked away from me mid response. I did at least get this behavior of theirs towards me on tape.

"from 2:30-3:00, no exaggeration, we listened to him pontificate about the Sistine Chapel, using a slide show!"
If you'd like to actually watch a short example of what apparently these people referred to as me "'pontificate' about the Sistine Chapel", a video clip has been right on my site of basically this exact same process for years now, so if it is not the type of thing that people like, it's simple, but they should never have signed up to tour with me to begin with. Here it is:
http://www.rome-day-tours.com/Walkin...ideo_clip.html

"I know that nothing he can do at this point can give you back the time you wasted."
If learning about things such as the Sistine Chapel in the exact same manner as the teaser trailer on my website shows is what is considered in this case "wasted time", then I stand guilty as charged AND advertised!!

"We had a most frustrating day with this guy who had his own agenda, ignoring our pleas to be more brief and allow us to see the Vatican and get back to the ship before it sails". AND "We finally interrupted and said we couldn't wait for him anymore, and left to enter the Chapel on our own."
Once again, they were the ones who agreed to share their private touring experience and they also left much before the time we agreed that they'd break off from the other group while at lunch. So I ask, if they did not want to hear about what they were going to go and see, then why did they want to have a guide and especially why then go so far as complain about getting exactly what was advertised.

"My art teacher husband was so distraught after we had to tear him away after only 10 minutes of viewing the art."
This was the same "John" who in my opinion appeared rather distraught from practically the beginning. So I ask another question: Why is a art teacher even going on a tour to begin with?

"We then had to race to get ourselves to St Peter's Basillica, spend 10 minutes then grab a taxi back to the station. We missed our train & had to take a 4:38 which indeed took longer than expected, and we had to run with my 68 yr old mom to catch the last port shuttle bus back to the ship."
As mentioned, we calculated out together at lunch how much time they'd need to give them ample time to make their destination on time and on top of that they left me at least half hour before we had discussed, so this can hardly be considered my fault that they both missed their train and that their train was also late on top of that.

"Oh, and he greeted us wearing raggy clothes and an egg mcmuffin hanging out of his mouth. So it started off wrong from the first moment."
As for the "raggy clothes" see the video link above to judge for yourself, and as for the "egg mcmuffin" see up above once again for my "short_video_clip" to determine whether I did or did not give a bold enough example of what they could have expected on my tour as I have a coke and sandwich right on that video, right along with the words, "and yes..., I love eating and drinking..." So if they were offended by me eating as they walked up, I'm sorry, but is that really something to complain about. Sounds like somebody who is just being picky.

"he definitely sensed we were not happy b/c my husband didn't hold back. When we said our goodbyes, Rich said he hoped we were happy...but my huz said "no, I could have been inside the Sistine Chapel for the past 30 minutes instead of listening to you."
Yes. Now this was one of the phrases that me, Amanda and the other group were shocked most about. Ok, so why in the world would anyone higher a guide to talk to them about sights if they really just wanted to go inside without hearing anything? Hum...

Maybe I "ruined" there day, let's see, by doing such dreadful things as:
1. having a bit to eat as I waited for them.
2. explaining things like I advertise I'll do.
3. finding shade for them on a day as hot as July 1st.
4. calculating the amount of time I know to be appropriate for each location based on years of experience.
Oh yeah. I ought to be ashamed...

"based on his arrogant attitude at times when we asked questions, he will probably not benefit from my comments."
I think what this person is trying to say is "I'd much rather rant about things on some message board behind this person's back because most of my criticisms such as how the guide had the nerve to be eating when we met are really just lame."

"We will hopefully return one day - and see it all on our own!"
Yes. That sounds like a very good idea.

So that is where my letter officially ended.

But what a more perfect way to use this as a way of advertising. Here goes:

Goal: The goal is to provide you and your family or friends great tours while you are in Rome that can be personalized however you like, that help to make the History of Rome come alive! Experienced, educated, bilingual Rome Resident and Native American/English Speaker,... although Rich Brunn used to just have this site up for himself, things ended up going so well in 2004, that by March 2nd 2005, (on almost exactly the 5th year anniversary of when I did my very first official teaching/tour for my old University in the Forum), Rich Brunn decided it was time to expand. Usually all licensed guides can give superb tours in their native languages, but expanding well for me involved taking some time to connect with some of the most impressive American scholars and licensed tour guides that I had gotten to know over the years during our various itineraries throughout the city, to insure that I would only be using a very selectively chosen group of personable American Scholars and officially Licensed Tourist Guides that are also able to tour in english very well!

Rich Brunn has worked now in the area of Roman teaching/ tourism since spring of 2000. Rich Brunn has now received his Masters and is very content to have begun putting his education to further use by teaching Roman Topography (Ancient) and Medieval/ Rennaissance Roman and European History, which both take advantage of Rome's role as a key documentary city for these phases of History as a member of St. Stephen's high school History faculty in Rome. Along with this, as of the last two days of February 2006, Rich Brunn has also passed his examination to become an offically licensed "Accompagnatore Turistico", which can be variously translated as "Tourist Companion" or "Tourist Guide".

Whether for my students or the “tourists” who I “taught”, before, during or after the 2003-2004 academic school year, when I (Rich Brunn) was replacing someone on sebatical I have always considered my "tours"/teaching to actually be a way of "teaching" according to my historical specialization, experience and official Papal certification which has come with my Masters degree and historical focus with high honors from the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas. Rich Brunn has always used Rome and the Vatican as teaching aids in the same way that a history professor in the states may use slides, but as people are often on limited schedules to experience Rome in person, whether you have only a few hours or several days, me and my selective group of personable American Scholars and Licensed Tourist Guides will help make your visit to Rome the memory of a lifetime.

Be sure to check out the site www.rome-day-tours.com so that you too can get the most out of what Rome has to offer.
 
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