ITALY. In celebration of its tenth anniversary, The Magellan Travel Club is offering a deluxe tour of Italy in the spring of 2020. The itinerary includes accommodations in three of Italy’s most popular 5-star hotels: The Hotel Bernini (Florence), the Hotel Santa Caterina (Amalfi) and The Hassler (Rome). This 11 day adventure in Italy also includes three lunches and two dinners prepared in four of Italy’s finest kitchens. The almost indescribable settings for each feast are located in Amalfi, Positano, Ravello and Rome.
Guided tours in Florence, the Chianti country of Tuscany and the famous ruins of Pompeii are part of the tour package. If time permits, we may also arrange a tour of the Sistine Chapel as well as St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.
In addition, Magellan Travel Club participants can enjoy day excursions to Positano, Ravello, Capri and La Posta Vecchia, the former villa of John Paul Getty. Yet with all of those activities, there will still be ample free time for individual sightseeing and shopping. And, of course, relaxing.
How is it possible to do so much, and still have free time left over? Simple. Meticulous planning, experience and knowledge of the destination combine to create a Magellan Travel Club tour that’s at once leisurely yet packed with must-see destinations and events. Add a group of enthusiastic, flexible and compatible travelers to the mix and, voilà! You enjoy a surefire, once-in-a-lifetime travel experience-filled memories of Italy you’ll never forget.
From Rome to Florence
Our tour begins with a motorcoach transfer from Rome’s Fiumincino Airport to Florence, the city of Michelangelo.
True, a bus transfer takes a little more time than the hour and a half journey by high speed train from Rome. But it also eliminates the hassle of jet-lagged travelers schlepping their luggage to connect to a transportation mode unsuited for dealing with the multiple bags of group travel.
Arriving in Florence in mid-afternoon, we check-in to Hotel Bernini, rated one of ten best lodging establishments in the city. The remainder of the day is free for self-orientation.
*TIP: Stay awake, if possible, eat a light early dinner and retire about 8:30 or 9:00 pm. You’ll sleep like a baby and awaken refreshed and with no jet-lag after effects.
When in Florence
All breakfasts are included on this 10th Anniversary Magellan Travel Club tour of Italy. So fill up at the buffet next morning before heading on a guided morning walking tour.
*TIP: A guided tour is always a better way to do sightseeing, especially on a first visit to a destination — especially true if you are traveling with a group where you can share the costs. Professional guides are licensed and will keep you on schedule without losing time on your own by getting disoriented. Knowledgeable guides can also answer many of your questions accurately and immediately. Best of all, guides have the authority to bypass lines. That’s a huge time-saver over independent travel.
Additional shopping and sightseeing
After the tour, the afternoon is free for personal exploration and shopping.
For shoppers in Florence, we suggest looking for leather.
Recommended sightseeing are stops at the Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens, the Brancacci Chapel and the little known Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella (Pharmacy of Santa Maria Novella).
At twilight, go across the Arno River for a relaxing drink before dinner at Piazzale Michelangelo. Here you can view ever-changing patterns of earthtones and mist at sunset.
But the adventure has only just begun.
Tuscany and wine country and thence to Amalfi
Day two includes a guided motorcoach tour into Chianti country for a wine tasting or two, plus visits to some popular Tuscan villages such San Gimignano. This location was featured in the 1999 movie Tea with Mussolini.
Now that we are savvy, rested travelers, it’s time to tackle the Italian high speed rail system which will whisk us through Rome and on to the main railway station in Naples where will be picked up and transferred by coach to the delightfully friendly ambiance of the 5-star Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi.
Amalfi and environs
In Amalfi, we immerse ourselves into all things lemon, including the popular local drink known as limoncello.
*WARNING: Amalfi is addictive, as is our hotel. You may never want to leave! We assume no responsibility.
After a free afternoon of exploring Amalfi and Santa Caterina on your own, we suggest you rise early for a spectacular included breakfast buffet. Breakfast happens on the veranda, which boasts a perpetual face toward the sea thanks to its southern exposure.
We then take a boat to Positano and disembark for shopping and browsing through narrow streets and alleyways filled galleries and boutiques.
The once sleepy fishing village now thrives with energy after author John Steinbeck fell under its mesmerizing spell and wrote about it.
Steinbeck wasn’t the only celebrity to become enraptured by the hypnotic allure of the Amalfi Coast. So too, did Greta Garbo, Gore Vidal, D.H. Lawrence, Richard Wagner, Brad and Angelina and Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor among dozens of other international celebrities.
Hillary and Chelsea Clinton even “roughed it” one night when they stayed at Santa Caterina.
Our next destination: The ruins of Pompeii
Our included lunch will be at the spectacular invisible Hotel San Pietro, just a mile and a half down the coast from Positano.
San Pietro is recessed into the rock, making it almost “invisible” from either the road or the sea, unless you know where to look.
After a breathtaking mid-afternoon transfer back to Amalfi along the coastal road, the remainder of the day is free for a swim in the pool, a nap or a stroll through the hotel’s lemon groves.
The following day includes a guided walking tour of the ruins of Pompeii. Note, Pompeii is quite large, so don’t expect to see it all. It will also be about ten degrees warmer here than Amalfi.
Upon our return, head to the village for shopping and/or gelato. Or just chill out at the hotel before enjoying the first of two included dinners at our hotel.
Ravello to the Isle of Capri
Ravello, with its stunning views and pair of villas, Ruffalo and Cimbrone, are next on the agenda. Stay as long as you like and return to Amalfi at your leisure.
Lunch is included at Hotel Palumbo, a one-time medieval palace dating to the 12th century. Believe it or not, the views from Palumbo are among the most stunning on the Amalfi Coast. Also be sure to thumb through the pages of the guest book — you may never wash your hands again.
*TIP: Upon arriving in the main square of Ravello, most people turn left to stroll past shop after shop of ceramics. Unless you take time to visit Vietri, Ravello is the best place for ceramics. That said, we suggest that you walk in the other direction as well. Many visitors do not, and shoppers miss some of the best bargains and highest quality ceramics in town. Sightseers also risk bypassing some of the most majestic scenery along the Amalfi Coast.
Our last day in Amalfi includes an optional full day boat excursion to Capri, once the decadent playground of Roman emperors. Tiberius and Caligula, in particular.
Today, however, Capri is a home for decadent shopping instead. Non-shoppers may want to visit the famed Blue Grotto. We also suggest that you also take the local bus up to Anacapri, the highest point on the island.
Those who stay back can enjoy the hotel, do last minute shopping or ride along the coast to Atrani for ceramics or Vietri for tiles.
Tonight we enjoy a scrumptious included four-course farewell dinner at the hotel.
From Naples to Rome
If you can tear yourself away on the morrow, we have an early morning transfer to Naples where you can catch the high speed train to Rome.
Our last hotel is the Hassler, which is to Rome what the Waldorf-Astoria is to New York. The Hassler however, sits at the top of the Spanish Steps.
Our reason for leaving Amalfi early: The tour allows as much free time as possible to explore Rome to explore the Eternal City on your own.
*TIP: Since dinners in Rome are on your own, we recommend doing at least one of them in Trastevere. Situated on the other side of the Arno River, this is the place where locals hang out. Just ask the concierge for a suggestion or two.
Our final outing is a short bus trip to the former villa of John Paul Getty. Getty discovered and excavated ancient Roman ruins beneath the floor of La Posta Vecchia (Old Post Office), thereby literally turning his home into a museum.
We can browse the grounds before and after our included lunch prior to returning to Rome for last minute shopping and dinner.
Finally, we say Arrivederci to Italy, knowing full-well each of us will return even if we didn’t toss a coin into Trevi Fountain.
Particulars of the tour
Deposits of $500 per person are due by Friday September 6. Space on this 10th anniversary tour of Italy is limited and our extra hotel reservations must be released by September 20.
For details click on this link at Magellan Travel Club
Even old Magellan would likely have enjoyed this trip so much that he might never have taken that voyage around the world.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
His goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.
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