Friday, January 21, 2011

Travel Tip: What to pack?

Dear members of the La Canada High School Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, 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 neatly 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 list of the essentials, as well as a few things that we think are necessary in order 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 bag pack or small duffel.

A sample packing list:
*Passport and identification (you won't even be able to board the plane without it!)
* 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:
* 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)
* Rain jacket, maybe with fleece insert
* Umbrella
* 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: 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 a U.S. plug to fit into 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

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. The debit cards given by your bank 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 USD 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 with which you can refill.
· 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.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Travel Tips: Cell phone usage

Dear members of the La Canada High School Choirs, parents, friends and guests,
Incantato Tours discourages their travelers from bringing their phones to Europe on a performance tour because of the high costs of calls ($1/minute or more), text messages (50 cents and up) and data charges for online services. Therefore Incantato Tours will supply a free local cell phone for the tour director to use with free incoming calls and allowance for emergency outgoing ones.
If you would like to have more information on this subject, please check the "international section" of the website of your provider:

For T-Mobile:
WorldClass international service

For Verizon:

For Sprint:

For AT&T:

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Incantato Restaurant: Antica Biblioteca Valle in Rome

On Wednesday, April 6 the La Canada travelers will enjoy a special farewell dinner at the restaurant Antica Biblioteca Valle in Rome, located in the very heart of Rome, in a historical building beside the Teatro Valle (Valle Theatre). During the 1960s, the Restaurant Valle La Biblioteca played a leading role in the Roman Dolce Vita as a favorite meeting place for Hollywood stars such as Humprey Bogart and Vittorio De Sica, as well TV personalities and top Roman footballers. Today, the Antica Biblioteca Valle is a fashionable restaurant/wine bar characterized by a dynamic style and elegant ambience. The spacious dining rooms are decorated in a 1930s style with soft, warm colours that contribute to an intimate, welcoming atmosphere.

Incantato Restaurant: Ristró Roma San Pietro, Rome

Mediterranean and regional Italian cuisine awaits the travelers of La Canada High School on April 5 at the Ristró 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: Fattoria Il Poggio in Montecarlo

On April 2, the Incantato performance tour brings the La Canada travelers to the unique Fattoria Il Poggio in Montecarlo. The history of the farm "Il Poggio" is nearly as ancient as its land, which has always rewarded men's hard work with quality fruit. The fame of Il Poggio’s wines has been testified since 845 when it was acclaimed in the archiepiscopal archives of Lucca. At that time the estate belonged to the ancient farm of "San Piero in Campo". Today the farm, owned by lord Giancarlo Rossi, has been completely renewed and production of the wine and olive oil is now open to visitors with traditional Tuscan hospitality - Guests from all over the world are welcomed by ancient and delicious Tuscan recipes in a spaceless and timeless atmosphere. To learn more about the food served in the restaurant, please click here.

Incantato Restaurant: Al Giardinetto da Severino, Venezia

On April 1, the La Canada travelers will have dinner at Al Giardinetto da Severino in Venezia. In the Castello district, a few steps from Saint Mark's Square and the Rialto bridge, the restaurant has been offering typical Venetian dishes to its guests since the early twentieth century. In the beautiful frameset of Zorzi Palace, fifteenth century work by architect Codussi, you will try their specialities. The restaurant owns a wide courtyard - where, during good weather, it's possible to have lunch in the shade of a vineyard. The internal dining room was used as a chapel by the Zorzi family in the fifteenth century.

Incantato Restaurant: Finisterrae in Firenze

The restaurant Finisterrae in Firenze will serve the La Canada travelers on April 3. It is located on one of most beautiful squares in Italy, Piazza Santa Croce, and famous for its Mediterranean style. A real show-window, inspired by the Mediterranean Sea, transmits the feeling of being on a ship. The menu brings together all kinds Mediterranean dishes and specializes in Pizza.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Home away from home: Excel Roma Montemario & Villa Maria Regina in Rome

The La Canada High School Performance Tour will stay at the Excel Montemario or the Villa Maria Regina in Rome from April 4 through 7, 2011.

The 4 star hotel Excel Montemario in Rome has 97 bright and spacious rooms with private facilities, french bed, direct dial telephone, satellite TV and free WiFi. All rooms are accessible by elevator. The hotel is located outside of the city in the countryside, but not too far from the heart of Rome. At guests' disposal are a private park, a courtyard equipped with tables and chairs during the summer, three bars and a restaurant.

The Villa Maria Regina has four stars as well and was completely renovated in 2008. All 101 rooms are equipped with satellite TV, private telephone, air conditioning, mini bar, internet connection, and a bathroom equipped with a hairdryer. Each guest has access to a safe and a convenient closet to store his belongings. The hotel is close to historical, architectural, and cultural treasures of the Eternal City such as Foro Italico, Olympic Stadium, Auditorium Parco della Musica (a Renzo Piano project), the Insugherata natural reserve, the shopping area Vigna Stelluti and the renowned Ponte Milvio area.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Home away from home: Grand Hotel Plaza & Locanda Maggiore in Montecatini

The La Canada Performance Tour will stay at the Grand Hotel Plaza in Montecatini Terme on April 2 and 3, 2011.
The 4 star Grand Hotel Plaza & Locanda Maggiore is situated in the Montecatini Terme centre, near the thermal resorts and the main attractions. Housed in an elegant late 19th century palace, the property is equipped with all modern comforts and 3 meeting rooms, seating up to 100 people, as well as a garden, an Internet Point and a bar. Furthermore the hotel offers air conditioning, high-speed internet and hair dryers in the rooms.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Home away from home: Hotel Delfino in Mestre

Hotel Delfino - your hotel for the nights of March 31 and April 1 - is located in Mestre on the lively street Corso del Popolo and 5 minutes away from San Giuliano Park. Quality Hotel Delfino Venezia Mestre offers 126 guestrooms. Complimentary wired and wireless high-speed Internet access is provided along with direct-dial phones and in-room safes. Bathrooms include shower/tub combinations with handheld showerheads, makeup/shaving mirrors, bidets, and complimentary toiletries. Rooms also include air conditioning. Hypo-allergenic bedding, irons/ironing boards, and wake-up calls can be requested. The restaurant is convenient for hotel guests who wish to sample the local and international cuisine.