We have just returned from these two back to back tours so I am combining them and sharing some of my thoughts with you. We did the Sicily tour April 26 to May 6 and the Southern Italy tour May 9 to May 21. These were our 4th and 5th RS tours. We chose RS over other tour companies because of the itineraries.
Our guides were Tomasso Pante (Sicily) and Caterina Moore (Southern Italy). Both did an excellent job. This was Caterina’s first tour since the pandemic.
We were on our own in Rome before the Southern Italy tour from May 6 to May 9 and really needed that time to catch our breath between tours. Both of these tours were quite strenuous with lots of hills and stairs. We averaged 5 to 8 miles of walking a day per my pedometer.
The temps ran from the 70’s in Sicily to the low 80’s on the Southern Italy tour. At times it was a bit humid. The only rain of any note was experienced one evening in Rome pretour and some overcast days in Trapani, Erice and Agrigento. It was quite chilly (low 50’s) on our stop at Mt. Etna so bring a jacket or sweater. I had a denim jacket and wished I had something warmer but we were only outside for a brief period so it was fine. There was a lot of clouds and it was a bit windy.
Wildflowers were abundant and the poppies were spectacular.
For those concerned about the food choices on the tour, don’t be. If you have a dietary restriction or aversion such as fish for example, tell the guide. They will accommodate you and find alternative choices. You paid for meals on this tour and shouldn’t be expected to starve. Just be reasonable and not demanding. I really appreciate Tomasso and Caterina accommodating me on these tours and sometimes my meals were better than the rest of the group. On both tours, copious amounts wine was included in all shared meals which was unexpected as we paid for most of our drinks on our previous 3 RS tours. Tomasso called this “rivers of wine” and Caterina said she considered wine to be a “food” so it was included. There was a lot of food and we felt guilty not eating all of what was presented. There were multiple courses and the antipasti itself would have been sufficient. But wait there was more. Despite all the walking, I gained 5 lbs on this tour. All the pastries at breakfast, wine and gelato took their toll although I truly tried to restrain myself. At the water buffalo farm, there was a lot of buffalo mozarella at the shared meal which left many groaning. There was also yogurt and gelato made from the buffalo milk. Caterina treated us to something called “pocket coffee” at one of the rest stops which is a tiny juice box type of thing with chocolate and espresso and sfogliatelle in Naples. Delicious.
Masking was required on the bus - KN95, N95 or FFP. No cloth or surgical masks. We also wore the masks when in museums or in close quarters. You can dispense with the mask when out in the open and at shared meals so in hindsight I am not sure of the wisdom of wearing them on the bus as you are exposed when in an enclosed restaurant. I didn’t love wearing a mask especially when it was hot and humid but at some points on the tour we forgot we were wearing them. We took way too many masks with us and 10 or 12 each would have been enough for a month. Sometimes the ear straps broke on the masks when we were out and about and always had a couple extra in our day bags. We wore the masks as required. We did our best to be sure to test negative for the return trip home.
This is the first tour that I used my cellphone (Samsung A32 48 megapixel) for photography and found myself using my Nikon DSLR far less. The only time the cell phone was difficult was when the sun was in a position to make viewing the screen difficult compared to the DSLR viewfinder. The quality of the cellphone photos was fine for my purposes as I will be using them to create a photo book on Shutterfly. My husband took way too much camera gear IMHO but it was his trip and he had to carry it.