Most Inspirational Moment
Seeing members of my group who were struggling with the terrain conditions, steadily make it up steep muddy slippery dangerous embankments and over rocky paths in the pouring rain. It gave me the courage to press on to reach our destination.
Thoughts on Group Leader
She was a good driver in the rain along twisting roads with frequent racing cyclists sharing it. I felt safe in the van when road conditions were poor. I do not want to go on a trip again where the guide is also the driver and is required to run all the way back to fetch the van while we wait in a town for her return. Our driver was quite the athlete. After lunch and a look around the town, some days we had an hour or more to kill waiting for the van, as we hit the hours in Italy where shops and museums are closed. We could have made much better use of our time and the guide's time if she hadn't also been our driver. Had I known this was the arrangement, I would have chosen a different trip. I chose a guided trip expecting the guide to arrange for little extras besides wine tastings in the afternoons.
Advice for Potential Travellers
Think long and hard about signing on for this particular itinerary. READ ALL THE REVIEWS of recent travelers before you book. The Villa Casalta is not up to Exodus standards for the kind of trip you think this is: walking and wineries attracting those who want hiking plus culture. The Villa is a cold drafty place, rather dungeon-like place, not deserving of the word Villa. We all thought it would have been better if we could have sat on the terraces. But rain and cold didn't allow and it was mid May. Also, the pool was freezing and filthy. No matter, unheated so couldn't be used as advertised. The breakfast buffet was not replenished daily so by week's end, there was three-day old cake were still offered. The espresso machine didn't function properly most days and we were in a rush to start our hikes. The dinner meal varied in quality. Pasta uniformly filling, meat course ranged from OK to overcooked to downright inedible brochettes. Fortunately, we had a terrific group of high-spirited good humored people who kept things lively cracking jokes about the Villa. The owner showed up when we arrived and never appeared again. He was miserly and absent, like when it came to our day off, allowing us to use the glassware for our wine and cheese party but no plates or cutlery. Odd. He was completely stingy. The staff are trying their hardest but without the owner onsite or dropping in, the staff have their hands tied and can't do anything to help. Some people froze in their rooms at night even with extra blankets. No heat. The owner couldn't manage but one heater for one person. It was ridiculous that we were paying to stay at this haunted house outside of the village. Too dark at night to walk into town or a little too far to wander in in the late afternoon. So you're basically stuck at the Villa between excursions. If you fancy that, this is the trip for you. Best of luck!
Buyer beware. Ask Exodus more questions after reading the reviews. Perhaps I'm an outlier with my concerns about the Villa Casalta and with how Exodus tasked our guide to be our driver, but I don't think so, having talked all week with others in the group.
We would like to thank you for your review and are so pleased to hear that you gelled with your fellow travellers, as we always wish for harmonious groups on our trips. On the other hand, we were sorry that you were disappointed with some other aspects of the tour. We should emphasise that the trip has been designed and planned specifically to be led by a driving guide and has been running in this way for many years. This has been done in compliance with all safety regulations, including proper resting time both in terms of driving and working hours without impacting on the itinerary itself and clients’ overall experience. General previous feedback on this aspect has been positive. However, our product team will certainly bare your comments in mind during future discussions about this tour. We also realise that comfortable accommodation is a major factor in our customers’ overall enjoyment of a trip, so we are sorry that the Villa Casalta fell below your expectations. The heating issue you brought to our attention strictly relates to the uncharacteristically inclement weather that affected several areas of the region this Spring. This coincided with the legal regional requirement to turn off central heating systems from 15th April. The average temperatures for this time usually mean that guests enjoy sitting outdoors and do not require heating during the night and whilst we are confident that your experience was a one-off, we are looking into contingency plans with the management team should this type of weather become more common. There are, in fact, indoor seating areas but we were not aware that these were temporarily not accessible to our clients as had always been the case before. Once the issue was raised, we immediately asked the owner to unlock the communal spaces. The food at the villa had historically been good and to guarantee the expected high standards after the first post-pandemic season under new management, our product team asked the local team to commit to significant improvements, which was agreed to. One of the strategies involved sourcing a new chef and upgrades to meals and we were confident that this would have resolved any issues; we, therefore, regret that you were still unimpressed. Please be assured we are actively investigating and considering further measures to address any outstanding issues that may impact on our future guests. We sincerely hope that your experience on this trip has not discouraged you from booking with Exodus again as we would like the chance to regain your trust on a future tour.