Vacation Experiences

Neil Russell


Elsa and I just returned home to London from a 15 day escorted coach tour called "Insight Travel's Country Roads of Italy."  Some may find it strange that we returned to the land where we lived for three years, but that was in 1979 to 1982.  Others may question why an escorted coach tour. One reason, this old guy with a cane appreciates someone else carrying the bags.  Also, from two similar tours, "Eastern Europe" and "Country Roads of France" we learned that a good tour conductor knows a lot about the history, culture and current conditions, saving hours of research.  Further, if you have interesting/compatible fellow tour members, they can add a lot of interest and fun.
This year we were happy in most respects.  The tour started and ended in Rome.  It first headed south to Sorrento [three night stop] with side tours to Monte Casino and Positano.  Then north, stop at Castel Gandolfo [the Pope was there, but he didn't greet us] to Orvieto, the hill top town in Umbria [one night].
On northward to Perugia [two nights] from where we visited Cortona and Frances Mayes' [Under the Tuscan Sun] villa [She was there, and we greeted her as she and husband were setting out in their small car].  Onto Venice [Two nights], not our favourite city, but different.  Back southward to Pisa, a lunch on a farm, and on to Florence [two nights].  Via San Gimignano and Siena [escorted tours] to Chanciano Terme [two nights] from where we visited the beautiful Tuscan countryside.  Finally, with a stop a Tarquinia [views and talks about the Etruscans] back to Rome [Two nights] with escorted tours of the Vatican and Roman ruins.
Our tour guide [female] was perfect, well organized, knowledgeable and pretty.  Our 38 fellow tour members were a good mix of middle class professionals, Canadian, Aussie, American and two nice Brits.  Hotels used by Insight are supposed to be "four star", some were less, but "OK"   One caution...buses can't get into towns like Assisi, Siena and Orvieto...there can be hard up hill climbing.  The weather was sunny and hot, adding to the challenge.  But we did it...returning home with about 600 pictures, and lots of updated knowledge and memories. 
From a sampling or three, Insight Tours are recommended for those who want to travel, see new places, but may be beyond the self fly and drive capability.