Monday, February 28, 2011

Home away from home: Hotel Leonardo da Vinci, Florence

 The JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir performance tour will stay at the Hotel Leonardo da Vinci in Florence on April 2 and 3, 2011. 
Recently renovated and refurbished to enhance character, comfort, and taste, the Hotel Leonardo da Vinci is located in a modern palace bordering Florence’s historical center. All tourist, cultural, and commercial attractions are a brief ten-minute walk away. The hotel's 71 guest rooms come equipped with air conditioning, direct-dial telephone, satellite television, safe, and private bathroom with shower/tub combination.  
Recent reviews note the wonderful condition of the spacious, comfortable and quiet rooms, the convenient location near all the local attractions, and the friendly and helpful staff who all speak English very well. 

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Home away from home: Hotels La Pergola and Sabina, Magliano Sabina

The JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir performance tour will be split between Hotel La Pergola and Hotel Sabina in Magliano Sabina on the nights of April 4 and 5, 2011.
One of Incantato's trademarks is to take our groups slightly of the beaten path for a day or two during their performance tours for a full immersion into the country they are visting. When the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir stops for two nights in Umbria en-route from Tuscany to Rome, half of the group will stay at the country hotel "La Pergola" and the other half in the nearby Hotel Sabina, both near the charming hilltop towns of Orvieto and Calvi dell'Umbria. Standard guest rooms in both hotels come equipped with air conditioning, satellite television, telephone, iron and ironing board, and en suite bathrooms with shower/tub combination. Recent reviews complimented both hotels on their helpful service and comfortable accommodations.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Home away from home: Hotel Casa Domitilla, Rome

The JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir spend their nights in Rome, April 6 through 11, at the Hotel Casa Domitilla.

Hotel Casa Domitilla was founded by the Congregation of the Brothers of Mercy of Mary Help of Trier, and is open to all guests, both pilgrims and those traveling for business or pleasure. The hotel specializes in offering hospitality and assistance to guests planning their stay in the Eternal City.
Located near the Appian Way, Hotel Casa Domitilla offers double and single rooms in an
ideal location particularly suitable for tourists.
Guest rooms come equipped with satellite television, wireless internet access, hair dryers, and air conditioning. The Hotel Casa Domitilla also offers 24-hour access to their private chapel, as well as a tranquil flower garden.
The hotel’s restaurant offers both international and traditional Italian cuisine.

In recent reviews, guests praised the hotel's impeccably clean guest rooms, quiet and welcoming atmosphere, and friendly and reliable staff. 

Friday, February 25, 2011

Travel Tip: What to pack?

Dear members of the JSerra Catholic High School Chamber Choir, parents and guests,
As your departure for your 2011 performance tour comes closer and closer, Incantato Tours provides you with different travel tips to make it easier for you to get ready for your trip.

For most people, packing for a trip is the most difficult part. The solution for many is to just pack as much as you possibly can into your suitcase and backpack, but as a colleague explains it: "You'll be thanking me later when you don't break your back from having to carry everything on your own. Don't do it!" Her advice: "Pack as lightly as you can. The best way to get it all to fit nicely into your suitcase is to fold it nicely and then roll it tightly. It can all fit into your bag like a puzzle."
Keep in mind, however, that many cathedrals have a dress code and will not allow you to walk in if you are wearing tank tops or shorts. A scarf is a good solution to this code. And shorts should always go to your knees (both for Ladies and Gents).
Here are a few things that we think are essential to have to be comfortable with what the weather brings and with the weight of your bag - remember, we allow only one checked bag per person and a small carry-on such as a back pack or small duffel.

A sample packing list (just a suggestion!)
* Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
* Umbrella
* An adapter plug/converter (if bringing electronic devices)
* Camera and batteries or charger with adapter
* At least two pair of jeans/pants, ladies may want to bring a couple skirts or dresses too
* A sweater or two
* Plenty of shirts, including a polo or two, and at least two dress shirts (Europeans dress much more formal than Americans)
* Plenty of undergarments and socks for daily changes
* A watch, make-up and jewelry if applicable (carry on any valuables)
* Choir music and attire
* Don't forget shoes, we recommend a maximum of three pairs (tennis shoes, good everyday shoes, dress shoes). Bring nice concert shoes, but make sure that you will be able to walk long distances in them. Europeans do not wear flip flops other than to the pool or at the beach.
* Put all liquids that are in your carry-on into a zip-lock bag. And remember the 311 rules:
* All scissors, fingernail clippers, etc. are better packed in your check-in luggage along with liquids over 3 ounces. Bring enough contact lens solution and prescription medication that you may need for the whole duration of the trip.

If you forget anything there are plenty of shops where you can by shampoo, toothpaste, etc.

Travel Tip: Money matters

Dear travelers, Money is a delicate subject. The best way to use your money during your upcoming trip is to have a debit card; this allows you to withdraw money from any ATM machine with only being charged a small withdrawal fee. The fee differs between banks. Be sure to call your bank before your departure to tell them where you are going and for how long so they won't freeze your account. Debit cards given by banks have the compatibility of Visa, MasterCard, etc., however Visa is the most widely accepted worldwide. If you bring cash, you can exchange it but you will lose more money as they charge for their services. Most places in Europe won't accept traveler's checks anymore. Also, be prepared to pay for water and a little fee for restroom use. Last but not least, there are no free refills on soft drinks in Europe which is why most Europeans ask for little to no ice in their drinks.
We suggest you have some spending money available and our recommendation is around 20 dollars per day for the meals not included, snacks, drinks, postcards, and some souvenirs. It is not imperative that you have this amount of money. There are many ways to lower your expenses:
· Most restaurants have menus outside so you can check their price range.
· Venture off the main roads to find a restaurant. These usually have more character, better food, and better prices.
· Bring your own water bottle. Most places have safe tap water for refills.
· Buy food from the "convenient" stores. You don't have to sit down in the restaurant for every meal.
· Shop around for souvenirs; many stores have the same things on sale for very different prices.

Last but not least, remember that your Incantato Tour Manager is with you pretty much 24/7. The guide is there to help you make the right choices.

Travel Tip: Socket Adaptors

Dear travelers,
To charge your digital cameras, laptops, etc. in Europe during your Incantato performance tour, you will need an adapter. The U.S. plug (2 or 3 prong here in the U.S.) will not fit in a European socket. In most cases the European socket takes a plug with 2 round prongs.
The adapters allow an U.S. plug to plug in to the back of the adapter and the front of the adapter plugs into the European socket. You'll find adapters at stores like Radio Shack, Walmart or online at

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Incantato Restaurant: RistrĂ³ Roma San Pietro, Rome

Mediterranean and regional Italian cuisine awaits the travelers of JSerra High School on April 8 at the RistrĂ³ Roma San Pietro in Rome. The air conditioned restaurant is located in the heart of Rome, on the street that connects Castel Sant'Angelo and the Vatican City. In the historic building that houses the Auditorium of the Conciliation, guests are welcomed at any time of the day - from breakfast to dinner. The restaurant is part of the "Ristra Project" that started in 2005, when a small number of employees invented the brand and a new way of mixing gourmet foods, wine, art, music and entertainment.

Incantato Restaurant: Agriturismo Iacchelli

On Saturday, April 9 the JSerra travelers will stop for lunch at Agriturismo Iacchelli. The traditional Italian farm offers accommodation and a restaurant serving local cuisine with pizza from a wood oven and other homemade dishes – from products growing directly on the farm grounds! If you would like to take some local fruits or vegetables with you as a snack, then visit the market that combines Italian tradition with modern production standards. For more information, please have a look at the their website (in Italian) or facebook page.