What the heck is that image above?
Could it be Tuscan
DNA or a new kind of pasta... Actually it's an old hand rail attached to an old
building, without the old building.
Should we buy
Yes... This is another subject you should discuss with
your travel agent. Travel insurance could cover
the cost of your airfare and your rental fee at
Il Rifugio should a last minute cancellation of
your travel plans be necessary. Check out the Travel
Insurance category on our Links page.
Will we need
to rent a car?
No... It isn't necessary to rent a car to participate in the workshops. We will provide all workshop related transportation while you are here, including transportation to and from the train station or Cortona on free days. Pick up at the train station on arrival day and drop off at the train station on departure day is provided. Special arrangement for pick up and drop off at an airport can also be arranged for a fee.
How is the public transportation?
Good... The train and bus service is excellent. There are
two train stations close to Cortona and both are
less than 15 minutes from Il Rifugio by car. A train
ride to Florence is little over an hour and to Rome
a little over 2 hours. Busses are available that
depart from Cortona to much of the surrounding area.
we need a special license to drive in Italy?
Yes... If you decide to rent a car for travel before or after the workshop, you need to have an International Driving Permit
(IDP) to drive and in most cases to rent a car in
Italy. The IDP is a translation of your driver's
license so you need to bring your actual drivers
license when you go to get your IDP. You can get
an IDP at the AAA (Automobile Association of America).
It is good for one year. Here
is a link to the AAA web site about obtaining
What kind of clothes
should we bring?
Comfortable... Unless you plan to attend a formal function, it
is best to dress comfortably. It has been my experience
that Italians are very fashion conscience but non
judgmental and besides, they are not traveling.
It is probably a good idea to bring clothes that
you can layer such as a sweater in the Spring and
Fall season, light clothing during the Summer and
some worm clothes in the Winter. It's always a good
idea to have a compact umbrella on hand just in
case of rain. A good comfortable pair of walking
shoes are essential.
What will the weather
Seasonal... Tuscan has four distinct seasons, and in general
the weather is delightful, especially in spring,
summer, and fall. Expect a certain amount of Mediterranean
heat in July and August, sporadic rainfall in October
and November, and cold winter nights with an occasional
dusting of snow (lasting no more than a day or two
on the ground) from January through March. Each
season, too, has its delights: waves of wildflowers
all spring, a toasting sun in summer, the olive
harvest in autumn, and the silent beauty of winter.
Are arrival and departure
Yes... We aren't control freaks. It's just that we need
the time from departure of one party at 10:00 AM
to the arrival of another party at 3:30 PM to completely
clean the house, change all the linens
and restore order.
That being said we do understand that problems
beyond our control happen all the time and we want
to do our best to accommodate you. Please keep us
informed of any changes in your schedule as soon
as they happen, and we will do everything in our
power to help you in any way we can. If you do arrive
very early or very late, our best alternative may
be to find a hotel room for you until we can get
you back on schedule.
Is a house phone or
cell phone available?
Yes... There is a telephone at Il Rifugio and we provide international calling cards for your use at no
charge. We only ask that you be reasonable about use. We also have a cell phone available.
Is there Internet access
at Il Rifugio?
Yes... If you bring your laptop with you, in most cases
you can set up a normal dial-up connection to the
Internet. We do not charge for use but we do ask that you be considerate to the others in the workshop and be reasonable about use.
Should we bring any
necessary... We provide all of the necessary electrical adapters.
Unless you have some special needs you should be
there screens on the windows?
Most... All the bedroom windows and some of the other windows have screens.
Is there air-conditioning
at Il Rifugio?
No... It is very rare to find air-conditioning in a private
home in Italy and this is true for Il
Rifugio to. If the weather happens to be hot while
you are staying at Il Rifugio, you can follow this
time-honored tradition: close all doors, windows
and drapes during the day to keep the sun out. In
the cool of the evening, open up everything again
until morning. This works especially well in the
country with houses such as Il Rifugio, where the
tick stone walls act as insulation from the heat
in summer and the cold in winter
we bring our own towels?
necessary... We provide you with plenty of clean wash cloths,
bath, hand and kitchen towels. Save some room in your suitcase for any purchases
you may like to take back with you.
How do we deal with
ways... There are two ways you can handle your laundry
needs:Do it at Il Rifugio or take it to a laundromat. There is a
state-of-the-art washer and dryer at Il Rifugio;
just be aware that washing machines in Italy, and
Europe in general, take up to 3 hours to do a load.
is handicapped accessibility?
so good... Handicapped accessibility is not as prevalent in
Europe as it is in the US. You should be aware that
most public buildings such as museums typically
do not have wheelchair accessibility. In addition,
city centers and train transportation can be extremely
difficult. If you must travel with a wheelchair,
consider bringing the smallest, narrowest chair
possible as doorways often have small openings.
In addition we suggest you have someone who can
carry you up or down stairs in an emergency. If
you have a handicap of any kind please let us know
so we can inform you of some of the challenges and
do what we can to help you overcome them.
the store hours the same as in the US?
No... This can really get tricky and could make you crazy
if you don't pay attention. In general all shops
except restaurants close at 1:00 PM every day and
reopen between 4:00 PM and 5:30 PM, depending on
the shop, the time of year and the whim of the shop
owner. There are also seasonal half-day closings
on Wednesday, when certain shops stay closed for
the rest of the afternoon.
For future reference, it is best to jot down store
hours of any shop that interests you as soon as
you can. These are typically posted on the door
or a window of the shop. However, we suggest you
avoid critical planning based on the accuracy of
the posted hours, especially with the smaller shops.
What can we do that
doesn't cost much?
Lots... I'm glad you asked! Of course not everybody will
be thrilled with the simple things that entertain
me, but if you are interested please check out the Things To Do page
on this web site. Here you will find a list of simple,
free activities while visiting Il Rifugio or exploring
Cortona. And just remember, for the price of a cappuccino
or a glass of wine, you can watch the world go by
on Via National, in Cortona.
it difficult to communicate?
No... The local people in Cortona are very friendly and
patient with foreigners. They will do their best
to make themselves understood and to understand
you. Actually, many shop owners and younger people
understand and speak English quite well. You may
want to take an Italian language course while in
Italy, for your own pleasure or for more in-depth
conversations and ease of reading museum labels,
etc. If you are interested, please mention this
when you book Il Rifugio as we can arrange for group
or hourly private lessons.
pets allowed at Il Rifugio?
No... Although we have a pet and understand the attachment
people have to their pets, we do not allow pets
to stay at Il Rifugio. There are several reasons,
ranging from our belief that long-term travel is
hard on most animals to the fact that you may be
jeopardizing your pets health by bringing it to
an area where there are potential health and safety
issues (insects, wild animals, etc.).
We therefore ask that you leave your pets at home
while staying at Il Rifugio. Send them a post card
once in a while and bring them home a souvenir and
I'm sure they will forgive you.
What is a Cinghiale?
Pig... A cinghiale is a wild boar that roams the countryside.
Cinghiale are highly sought after by local hunters
and many Tuscan recipes, including the pasta dishes
with "cinghiale sauce" found in local
restaurants, feature cinghiale meat. Don't worry,
even though cinghiale are in the neighborhood of
Il Rifugio, they are basically shy, nocturnal animals,
as eager to avoid you as you are to avoid them.
In other words, you are less rather than more likely
to have a cinghiale-sighting during your visit.
Is it difficult to
No... This can be done at any bank in Italy or better
yet, you can use a 'bank-o-mat' (auto teller...
Cortona has at least 3) to draw money from a credit
or debit card. With the change over to the Euro
(€) for currency, money transactions are much
easier to understand these days. It's a good idea
to have some Euro currency with you when you arrive.
This will be useful to hold you over until you can
get to a bank. Most banks in the US provide a currency
exchange service (for a fee) but you might try a
local coin shop. Some coin shops have enough foreign
currency on hand to meet your needs and often charge
a lower transaction fee than the banks.
What does the Euro
currency look like?
What are the national
January 1 - New Year's Day
January 6 - Epiphany
Easter Sunday & Monday
April 25 - Liberation Day
May 1 - Labor Day
June 29 - Saint Peter's and Saint Paul's Day
August 15 - Ferragosto (The Assumption of Mary)
November 1 - All Saints' Day
December 8 - Immaculate Conception
December 25 - Christmas Day
December 26 - Santo Stefano
What does a Cinghiale's
breath smell like?
Bad... Just want to see if you are actually reading all
of the questions.