Moore n’ more about People, Places and Things, December 2009

Whoever chose December-the final month of the year-as the time to celebrate the holidays, buy and wrap presents and cook for family and friends probably didn’t own their own business-and relaunch their website during the week of Italy’s first festa of the holiday season.

I’m just saying … the holidays could come at a better time of the year.

christmas in romePhoto: Viktor Kaposi

Oh, but who I am to Scrooge-up your holiday season? Forget about end-of-the-year invoicing, new year’s goals and the most generous of all holiday gifts-taxes.

The holidays have arrived, and that, in conjunction with the My Bella Vita relaunch, is why we’re giving away ItalianPod101 lessons, an 8X10 Italy photo of your choice and a free one-day custom itinerary.

Last week I asked my husband how he planned to contribute to the new site’s relaunch.

His response?

“I have an old pair of shoes!”

I mean, if you are into the shoes, then come on over and get them. Please.

Otherwise, read on.


A romantic weekend for two at Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast in Catanzaro, Italy and a Taste of Calabria welcome basket, complete with Calabrian specialties of the season and drinks.*

See details below. And now, on with the column …

With Christmas breathing down my neck and an international trip on the horizon, I’m lucky to find 20 minutes a day for my Mari Winsor Pilates. And in keeping with the good-will of the season and the new FTC rules for bloggers-I don’t get money if you click on that link.

Wink. Wink.

Speaking of time-consuming projects that pay, I was recently asked to update the Southern Italy section for DK Eyewitness Guide, Italy 2011. I’m thrilled with the gig and anxious to learn even more about my adopted area of the bel paese.

In keeping with the Calabria travel writer theme, Lara Dunston, travel writer extraordinaire recently asked her blog readers to share their worst hotel experience. Her post was prompted by a recent stay at a five-star hotel** where she and her husband returned to their room on their first night to find urine-soaked sheets and comforter. (Gah!)

People responded to her call for worst hotel experiences.

Erica of Travel Blissful reported smoky rooms that lack hotel-room essentials, Tess of Luxury Beach Escapes spoke of language mishaps-in a perfectly normal and charming way-and Mary Jo of Suzhou Mojo told of having a man sleep on her balcony and a literal hole-in-the-wall of the bathroom that led into the hallway.

And their stories got me thinking.

As bed and breakfast owners, my husband and I focus on the details of the guest experience and do everything in our power to make it positive. But some hotels don’t.

My worst hotel experience was at a bed and breakfast in the mountains of Calabria my husband and I chose for a weekend getaway. The room was musty, dusty and rusty, the towels were paper thin and tearing at the seams and the bathroom was tiny-even by Italian standards. Instead of a king-size bed, they’d pushed two twins together forcing us to sleep separately-newlyweds that we were-or fall into the crack between the beds.

The room was icy cold and they only offered housekeeping if you left your keys with them, a fact they didn’t tell us when we checked in.

However, it wasn’t a horrible experience because we spent time walking through the mountain trails, warming up by the fireplace in the sitting room and eating at the hotel’s surprisingly fabulous restaurant. I’m curious about your worst hotel experiences …

But now back to that giveaway!

There are five ways you can enter the drawing to win the romantic weekend at Il Cedro Bed and Breakfast and Taste of Calabria welcome basket.

1. Leave a comment on this post detailing your worst hotel experience.

2. Retweet this post. Be sure to include “@mybellavita” so I’ll see your tweet.

3. Subscribe to my RSS (either in a reader or via email) and leave me a comment telling me you are a new subscriber.

4. Post this on Facebook and either leave a comment on the My Bella Vita Facebook page or tell me in the comments.

5. If you do all four, you’ll receive a bonus entry-just for kicks!

Contest ends Thursday, December 17 at 5:00 PM, Italy time. Winner will be selected in a random drawing.

In bocca al lupo and Happy Holidays!

* The fine print: The romantic weekend at Il Cedro B&B is based on availability and must be booked within one year of notification. There are no refunds and prize can not be combined with other offers or promotions. The Taste of Calabria welcome basket accompanies the room nights and can not be shipped separately.

13 Responses
  1. joanne

    I really do enjoy your blog! Always informative and entertaining. I just became a new subscriber, and look forward to keeping updated.

    Thanks, Joanne! I hope you enjoy the updates. You are entered in the drawing!

  2. sheryl

    The worst hotel experience ever is still fresh in our minds. First night of our honeymoon in Mykonos at a hotel that had top tripadvisor reviews, room booked weeks ahead. Owner had promised us a room with a view as it was our honeymoon. First he forgets to pick us up at the airport. We call, and he says ‘there was traffic’. The hotel was < 10 mins from the airport. Then he realizes it's our honeymoon and tells us 'there's a problem' with our room. Long story short, we end up in a damp hole in the ground, zero privacy (we couldn't even open the window without other guests looking in), the saddest window-less bathroom, a handheld shower with no shower curtain, not to mention toiletries. Needless to say, we left first thing the next morning. Never again! Next time we leave immediately. đŸ™‚

    Oh no, that is just horrible, ESPECIALLY on your honeymoon. I hope the next place you went treated you better!

  3. Shayna

    I’m a new subscriber as well! I love whenever my google reader tells me you put up a new post. I really enjoy the personal stories from you, your friends, and other readers. Thank you so much!

    Thank you, Shayna! We are glad to have you here.

  4. amber

    Our worst was in Austria. But it wasn’t because the hotel was such a bad place, but because there was a complete breakdown in communication! They spoke German, and German only and not a single WORD in ANY other language. And between me and my counterparts we spoke four languages. (Sadly, none of which were German.)

    1. In the hotel restaurant, we ordered Salmon. We received Hot Dogs.

    2. In the rooms, we asked for King sized beds, we received Twin Beds.

    3. When we wanted to rent bicyles, we were told no. But every one else was allowed to rent.

    4. When we asked for the heat to be turned UP, they turned it OFF.

    5. Oh and for breakfast, we Asked endlessly for Austrian coffee and they would only bring us capuccinos. After all, we are Italian!

    It was a nightmare. We couldn’t wait to leave.

    Is it wrong that your description of some of these events made me smile? Yes, ok, then. I’m sorry!

  5. diana baur

    Oh Cherrye!! The site looks fabulous!!! I am so happy for you that it’s up!!

    My worst hotel experience.

    hmmmm. In Piemonte. We were here on a house hunting trip. We had decided to wing it, because it was January, but it turned out to be pea soup fog. We got to a town called Mondovì and pulled up to said property after a cop told us where there was a hotel. We should have just turned and run? But it was 11 pm.

    Let’s see. I have blocked this out of my mind so I have to think about it.

    One fluorescent light in the hallway, and the hallway was painted dark grey. Blood red carpet with ripples.

    In room: orange shag carpet, one lamp with 1 – 7 Watt energy saver bulb.

    Shower door busted. Shower was 70×70 so with no door the entire room got wet.

    Pillows were about 1 inch thick.

    Paper thin walls, snorer in one neighboring room and a one night stand in the other.

    Was not completely sure that sheets had been changed. Slept fully clothed (rather laid there, who could sleep?)

    Breakfast: week old croissant and american coffee.

    I thought, man, I think we have a niche here. We were pretty sure we could do better than this. đŸ™‚

    Wow. That was bad. You know it is bad when there are THAT many things working against them!

    .-= diana baur´s last blog ..Gratitude Friday: Friends =-.

  6. K

    A motel on the side of a highway in Ohio…the cleaning people actually walked right into while we were sleeping!! No knock knock knowck..Housekeeping!! AND it was the type of room that was so small the door opened right to the bed area, no small hallway to protect us from their peering eyes!!! On top of that, the sheets and towels were thread thin, and the carpet was disgusting! Thank goodness we were only there long enough to get some shut eye and hop back on the road.

    Oh dear. I have to say walking in on someone is my worst innkeeper fear.

  7. Chrissy

    My worst hotel experience was just this summer in Las Vegas. The hotel itself was very nice, but around 4am each morning we were awakened by the loudest talking people in the room next door. You could every word of their obviously very intoxicated conversation. It was impossible to fall asleep and our jet-lag was made much worse. Luckily the rest of the hotel experience was nice!

    Looks like I entered the contest 4 ways now. Thanks!

    Yea, loud, obnoxious neighbors is never a good thing! You get a bonus entry! Auguri!

  8. Dana

    Hi, Cherrye

    OK, now I’m an official subscriber, even though I’ve been reading your blog for months.

    Keeping my fingers crossed . . .

    Buon Natale!

    Thanks, Dana. In bocca al lupo!

  9. Okay… I want to do all 4 things, but I’m one lucky traveler: i’ve never had a “worst hotel experience” that was really really awful enough to be memorable and worth writing about!! Although actually, on our honeymoon in Sicily, we stayed at hotels run by a chain of upscale business hotels. In Agrigento the place was right on the beach, so I thought we could swim. But the “beach” was blocked off by a metal fence, while on the shore was washed up trash, some of which may have been toxic. There was a view onto a parking lot. Agrigento sucked; we had booked 3 days and left after reluctantly spending one night in that hotel. At that point we abandoned our plans and reservations for the rest of the trip.

    I subscribed to your RSS in my Netvibes; tweeted (@arttrav), facebooked… and hope I win! I’ve never been to Calabria.

    PS Like you, I was recruited for the DK Eyewitness guide too! (Florence and Tuscany) Very forward thinking of them to be hiring us travel bloggers.

    Yea, that is awesome about DK. Can’t wait to compare notes with you after it is all done. Good luck with the prize drawing!

    .-= Alexandra´s last blog ..Oblate Library: open till midnight, has bar, wifi, and special exhibit! =-.

  10. My worst hotel experience was in Marina di Carrara, November 2007. Our original B&B (name forgotten unfortunately) never answered the phone, their emails, or the door when we knocked, so we needed to find another hotel for the night. We happened upon the Santa Margarita hotel, which didn’t look too bad from the outside. 70 euros seemed OK and then they took us to the room. Ugh. Dark, ugly, old furnishings which were NOT elegant, NOT clean, NOT welcoming. The proprietor assured us that the heat would be turned on, and left us in the icy dark room. He wasn’t lying… the radiator did start popping and clicking very soon. Unfortunately no heat ever escaped it’s metal housing. We laid down on the bed fully clothed, put our coats over that, and then the “blanket” that was provided. I doubt it ever got above 40 degrees Farenheit in that room. The bathroom was scary too – cold of course! and the tiles were all cracked, the shower too grimy to contemplate using, and the mirror was dirty. We shivered through the night, beat it out of there in the early morning, and went directly to the Mediterraneo to beg for a room. We thought we would save money but after the Santa Margarita, the extra 30 euros a night seemed like the best deal we ever found. We checked in (they even let us in early), took a nap, and luxuriated in warmth and cleanliness. I understand the Mediterraneo is being rebuilt now, can’t wait to see the new version!

    I’d love to win the free weekend! We haven’t spent much time in Southern Italy, but the next trip has vague outlines already – starting in Sicily (side trip to Malta I think) and then onto the mainland, driving north and seeing the “foot” of the penisula.

    That is a horrible experience, I HATE being cold. Sounds like a good game plan to head through the south. Hope to see you here!

    .-= AmyEmilia´s last blog ..Will it snow? =-.

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