Frequently asked questions and answers about your Cortona experience!
Trenitalia English Version
Why choose Toscana Americana Workshops? We at Toscana Americana Workshops have one objective...to create wonderful opportunities for people from around the world to engage in their passion with fellow artists, crafters and creators in inspiring locations and cultures. Enthusiasm, caring faculty, guest service, attention to detail and overall value are our strengths. Add to that over 30 years in arts and entertainment and special event planning, love of travel and our familiarity with Cortona and its community. Talk is easy...we stand and deliver! Read testimonials from past participants and faculty about their experiences with Toscana Americana Workshops. Why enroll early? Early enrollment can ensure your participation in our small group programs. With group sizes usually limited from 8 to16 participants space can fill fast. Additionally, we are more likely able to fulfill your preferred Enrollment Plan choice. And though we have options for guest rooms with our hotel and accommodation partners we can actually reserve and secure needed rooms early with confirmed enrollment. Early enrollment can aslo be helpful regarding planning flight reservations...which may be made at cost savings when reserved early. We also create an email group among early enrollees which serves as a forum for introductions, finding travel partners and making travel plans. Accommodations Your accommodations are provided as part of your chosen Plan. Most Plans offer two-star or three-star hotel options. Four-star hotel options are quoted upon request. If your preferred hotel or accommodation Plan is not available at the time we receive your enrollment form we will notify you and offer you a comparable alternate choice. Participants are responsible for all room service, in-room telephone and other personal charges incurred as part of their stay. You will be asked to present your passport upon check-in as well as a credit card to cover additional charges, if any. Your passport may be held for a few hours and will be returned. Not all hotels/accommodations offer air conditioning. Some but not all also offer internet service free or at a minimal cost. Escorted Group Travel Escorted group travel from Florence may be included as part of your selected workshop. Note that when escorted group travel is offered it is offered as one-way from Florence to Cortona only on the date specified for your selected workshop. Meeting points vary depending on the workshop. Meeting point is usually at the Florence Petrola airport, however we may include Santa Maria Novella train station in Florence as well. We do not include escorted return travel from Cortona Florence, however, we do include the Corotna-Florence traqin ticket. Escorted travel service may be arranged for additional fees. Rome Fiumicino Airport to Rome Termini station via the "Leonardo Express" (and return to airport) At Rome Termini all the trains arrive and depart from platform 24. The Leonardo Express operates every day even in the event of a rail strike, from 6 am to 11 pm approx., every half-hour guaranteeing coordinated departures in both directions, with journeys lasting 31 minutes. The fare is 14 euro per person. Group Meal Plan The Group Meal Plan (GMP) is included with all “All-inclusive” hotel Plans or when the Group Meal Plan has been chosen and indicated on the enrollment form or if included at a later date. This plan provides Italian breakfasts (generally offered at your hotel), lunches, evening dinners, as well as daily aperitifs. Lunches and dinners are group style at restaurants in Cortona or at our day trip destinations (ie: Florence and Siena). Participants may order food from the food menu unless a prefix menu has been chosen by Toscana Americana Workshops. Local wine pre-selected by Toscana Americana Workshops is served with the meal as part of the meals. Individuals may choose to order other wines and they will be responsible for those additional costs. Catered lunches and/or picnic style lunches may be served at other than restaurants during certain workshops. Dining, Drinking & Tipping Cortona offers many cafes, bars and restaurants, several with outside table service. Try something new as you relax between workshop sessions. Coffees, wines, juices and other drinks and light fare are available. Unlike in Rome and the larger cities you may pay after your service by paying your server or bring your bill (il conto) to the register. When leaving tips, tip the wait person directly. The coperto, or cover charge, at restaurants generally contributes little to the wait staff. Though tips are not required, they are appreciated and demonstrate your level of satisfaction with the service provided. MYTH BUSTER: It is OK to tip! Here are a few nice locations: The terrace at Hotel San Luca; under the loggia at Teatro Signorelli; Bar Sport at piazza Signorelli; cafes at Piazza della Republicca; and on Via Nazionale. MYTH BUSTER: Not all, but many Italians drink cappuccino after noon and in the evening! So go ahead...enjoy a cappuccino anytime! Non-Participating Guests Non-Participating guests are included on the opening reception at La Saletta and on the day trips to Florence and Siena. Non-Participating guests who have chosen an “all-inclusive” plan or the Group Meal Plan (GMP)are also included in the wine tastings and meals. With advance notice and based upon availability other excursions and tours may also be arranged at additional cost. Available may be wine tours, golf, hiking, horseback or trails rides, bicycle rental, scooter rental. Day trips are possible to Arezzo, Orvieto, Assisi, Florence, Montepulciano, Perugia, Piensa, Montalcino Siena and Lake Trasimeno. Thursday is market day in Camucia, below Cortona. Val di Chiana Outlet Village is also open daily. Shipping Workshop Supplies and Materials to Cortona Due to delays in arrival of some shipments due to Italian Customs concerns we do not recommend shipping your art supplies. If you do choose to ship Cortona is served by FedEx, DHL and other shippers. Non-commercial items may be shipped to your hotel address. We will gladly provide addresses to fully enrolled Participants. Be sure to note the contents as "personal effects/personal items for art vacation". Most insured packages will be inspected by Italian customs. You may be responsible for import duties assessed by Italian customs. Plan on at least 21 days for your shipment to arrive in Cortona. Also add "Hold for "Your Name Here"" on the shipping carton. Telephone and Internet Public telephones are found near Hotel San Luca (at Piazza Garibaldi) and outside Porta Colonia. It is best to purchase a phone card for the appropriate destination at any of the Tabacchi shops. Internet is now available at most hotels, hours limited. Your hotel may also offer Internet services at additional charges. Participants are responsible for all use of the phones in their respective rooms. Using a fixed landline allows more actual minutes of talk time. Cell phones tick away minutes about twice as fast. Electric converters If you intend to use electrical items be sure to purchase an adapter for Italy before you leave. If you forget they may be purchased in Cortona. See the grounded and non-grounded samples at: http://www.globalconnections-int.com/lewis_n__clark_adapters.htm Weather Spring and Autumn weather is generally warm during the day and cool at night with chance of some precipitation. Summer months can have extended periods of very warm to hot days with comfotable nights. The sunlight can be brilliant and clear days will provide views across the valley toward Montepulciano and Mt Amiata. Extended stays If you need travel assistance we can help arrange day trips, excursions & extended travel as well as ticketing and accommodations. What to bring/packing Note: Do not pack prohibited items in carry-on luggage! They may be confiscated. See http://ricksteves.com/plan/tips/womenpacking.htm for packing ideas, tailor them to your style and intentions. Money and Security Moneybelt: Passport, plane ticket, debit card, credit cards, traveler's checks, railpass, international driver's license (if you're renting a car, may be obtained at AAA offices in USA) Security: Bury copies of your passport, plane ticket, and prescriptions in the bottom of your luggage Inform your credit and debit card companies of your travel dates and destinations to avoid problems Packing • Pack light, buy it if you need it. The basics are available in Cortona. • Preferably your pack should no more than 20 pounds. • Limit yourself to one carry-on size bag: 9" x 21" x 13". • Pack your bag as a trial run before your trip with everything you think you want to take to be sure it is not too heavy or unmanageable! Currency – the Euro Euros may be obtained at self-service ATMs at the airports and in Cortona using a bank or debit card. You may also purchase euros from your bank or financial institution before departure. For ease of use think of Euros as dollars (euros) and cents (centissimi). Italy, as part of the European Union, uses the Euro. Coins include 1, 2, 5, 20, and 50 centissimi (cents)and one and two euro values. To see examples of the coins see: http://www.euro.ecb.int/en/section/euro0/coins.html Paper currency includes 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, 200 & 500 notes. For more info see: http://europa.eu.int/euro/entry.html Travel Be sure to inform us of your travel itinerary. Also, be sure to keep the address and phone number of your hotel in Cortona in the event you are separated from your luggage. Also, it is a good idea to bring a carry-on with essentials you would like to have should your luggage be separated from you. Also note the Toscana Americana Workshops number in Italy: Patrick at 329-07-77-215. For may helpful ideas regarding travel, packing, safety, health, guidebooks visit: http://ricksteves.com/plan/tips/tips_menu.htm Prohibited items The list of prohibited items on airlines changes. Visit http://www.tsa.gov/interweb/assetlibrary/Permitted_Prohibited_8_23_2004.pdf Passports Valid passports are for entry to Italy by any non-EU person. Many US Post Offices now handle passport applications and photos. For more info about US passports visit: http://travel.state.gov/passport/passport_1738.html Customs Read about US Customs at: http://www.customs.ustreas.gov/xp/cgov/travel/ Phone numbers for American Embassy? Embassy of the United Statesvia Vittorio Veneto, 119/A00187 Roma, ItalyTel. (+39) 06.4674.1 (switchboard)Fax (+39) 06.4674.2356 Local hospital? -Hospital Of Santa Margherita in Fratta Tel.0575/6391-Emergency Aid Dial 112 What is the average temperature? April/May Days 60’s to low 70’s. Nights 50’s to mid 60’s Where can we get our laundry done? How much might it cost? There are no laundry services in Cortona’s historic center other than those provided by hotels for their guests. Turn-around times vary from one to three days…depending on weather! Dry cleaning is available with a 2-3 day turn-around. Laundry services may be found in Camucia, 2-3 day turn-around. Will we be able to purchase toiletries such as toothpaste? Molesini’s Despar Market and the Farmacia Centrale both offer toiletries, a larger selection at the pharmacy. English spoken at the pharmacy. Found on Via Nazionale. Will we be able to purchase art supplies? Nocentini’s sell art supplies and books. Found on Via Nazionale. Also in Arezzo, Florence & Siena. Is the water safe to drink? Yes, the water is safe to drink, though many people prefer to buy the mineral waters and waters with gas. Is there a bank close by? How should I change my money? There are several banks in Cortona’s city center. We recommend using ATM cards/Debit cards because of their ease of use and the possibility of getting cash anytime of day. Info your banks that you intend to travel and use your card abroad. All ATMs (Bancomats) have English language directions. Will most people speak English? About half of the local business people speak some degree of English. Many other locals do as well. If you know any Italian the locals are pleased to hear you speak it! What is the physical activity level for getting around Cortona? Cortona is a real Tuscan “hill town”. Other than Via Nazionale and the two piazzas the stone-paved and cobbled streets go either up or down. There are always gentle alternate routes for getting most anywhere intown. Florence (Firenze) State Museums interactive website: http://www.firenzemusei.it/index2.html