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Best of Southern Italy tour report from May

Just a reminder to check you flights often.

We have been home for two days, but wanted to get this out before more time had gone by. Arrived a few days before the tour to see some more sights (Borghese, and St. Peter's and Sistine Chapel). No hiccups on getting there as I had been checking our flights often. Had arranged a car to pick us up knowing we would be tired from the trip...only 5 E more than a regular cab so worth it IMHO. Checked in to our hotel (same as tour hotel) and our room was already ready. Headed out into the streets to find most folks with masks on and more crowds than I remember. Pent up demand? who knows...the weather was much warmer than we expected it to be, and should have packed another pair of shorts - yes we checked before we left but stuff changes. Stayed up til about 8 and went to bed. Up early for our Borghese tour which was super. And we had food tour set up for the second night which was also a lot of fun and a perfect amount of samples of things (Twilight Trastevere). Up early again the next day for an early entry into the Vatican to see the Sistine Chapel. The door to St. Peter's is still closed so unable to access without going around - which we did only to find more folks in line for Security than I have even seen...and standing in the sun, so we left and went back to the hotel with a stop for gelato and maybe lunch. Tour started at 4 pm so we meet the guide, vac cards all checked (we did not have to show a test but know RS has added that back as a rqmt). All went to dinner and buddies were picked.
Great tour in all. As far as I know we all tested negative ( though as some are still traveling, it is hard to know for sure). Mask wearing enforced on the bus of which there was a fair amount of time on the bus. Also encouraged in crowds, and when we were indoors - most Italians are pretty good about it too. At least depending on the area.

Thanks to the RS sight I had seen the mess at the Amsterdam airport we were scheduled to route thru and managed to reach KLM customer service using WhatsApp and had our flight changed rather than attempt and get stuck. Flew from Naples, via Paris to SLC to Sacramento - traveled 24 hours to get home in all but smooth connections the whole way.

Great tour mates and guides (we had one to start and one to finish as the office is trying to keep everyone healthy and the guide we were to start with had some folks test positive on a previous tour so they juggled the schedule to be sure of a negative test and time period so the guides don't pass covid to new tour members. A great precaution.

All the hotels were find, meals were enjoyable and the amount of information and sights was amazing - especially moved by Matera, what a striking city - though the stairs are a beast after a bit and in the heat.
Testing in Naples was easy. Showed up at a Farmacia with our passports and 15 E and had the results in 15 minutes in hand. They did a throat swab and then up both nostrils. Our tour guide said that it may get harder to find places soon as they have been less used than before....YMMV so best be prepared. All in all we had a great time, learned a fair amount and took a lot of photos. And picked up some new scarves and shirts and olive oil! And a few pounds!!!
Planning our next tour already!

Posted by
2255 posts

We finished our southern Italy tour last Friday. It was a good tour and we were happy we tested negative to come home. I gained a little weight as well despite the 6 to 8 miles we walked every day. All that wine, gelato, pasta and pizza adds up. It was hot when we were there as well. I am glad we went when we did. I can’t imagine being there in the summer. Matera is really wonderful but yes all those stairs were a bear to be sure.

Posted by
94 posts

Hi Steph,

I'm curious as to your guides. Our guide was Ann Long. Was she one of your guides?

Posted by
13225 posts

Thanks Steph for taking the time to post! Sounds like an excellent time and good for you for being proactive about your flights home.

This tour has been on my radar but I'm not good with heat. What was your start date?

As far as you know did anyone on your tour test positive?

Posted by
2062 posts

Nice report. It makes sense that testing locations will probably start to diminish soon.

With your early entry into the Vatican, was that one of those early entry tours, or did you go in independently?

Posted by
170 posts

Thanks for the report. We're going on this tour in September and this is very helpful. I do have a question. The 'Twilight Trastevere' tour sounds interesting and we will have a couple extra days in Rome before our tour starts too. However, it sounds like it covers much of the same territory as the initial day of the RS BOSI tour. Was the Twilight tour a bit redundant?

Posted by
585 posts

Jim, we have chosen to do the other food tour run by the same company— Taste of Testaccio — on one of our free days prior to the RS tour. It has great reviews and covers a part of Rome we wouldn’t see otherwise. We’re going on a Friday because I thought it would be fun to see the market on a weekend rather than on the weekend.

Posted by
128 posts

yes, Ann Long was one of our guides and is doing the RS show next week I think....the food tour, Twilight was not redundant as it focused on food and drink, less history, and when I get back to Rome would happily stop in at a few of the spots again for food! Our Start date for the Tour was the 14th of May for those who asked and I don't think anyone tested positive before coming least not those I went to test with LOL...there were 7 or 8 of us who walked in together to get tested and we all were negative thankfully. It was warmer even in midMay than we bargained check and pack accordingly. We had a great time, just wish I had packed more shorts - at one point I even wanted my swim suit.