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Finally! Planning for RS South of Italy tour. Update to previous post.

Hi Everyone. First of all I want to thank everyone for their concern, empathy and help dealing with last year's stolen Trail of Lippizaners Tour. The thieving travel agent still hasn't gone to trial. None of us are getting any money returned to us according to the Denver DA and we can only hope she get jail time. It's now time to move on and go Italy.

I've mentioned before that I am hoping my sister-in-law will go with me. Talking to her last weekend, it appears she has a much love of travelling as her brother which is no love. Her family is trying to talk her into going with me. We'll visit her in a couple weeks during our month-long road trip to the NW. I want to have an itinerary roughed out to encourage her. If she doesn't want to go, then I'll ask a friend or travel solo.

The RS South of Italy tour starts in Rome and ends in Naples. Proposed tour dates either May 6-18 or May 13-25, 2019. Will you kindly review my proposed itinerary:

1) Fly into FCO, taxi to whichever hotel we like near the Pantheon. Spend 5 days in Rome to recover from jet lag and enjoy the city. Only plans so far are Walks of Italy Pristine Sistine tour and Eating Italy food tour either Testaccio or Trastevere. My plan is mainly to revel in the sights of Rome without stress, maybe get a Roma Pass.
2) Meet up with South of Italy tour group.
3) When tour ends in Naples, travel to Mongrassano Calabria where her grandparents were from . Take train to Paola. Rent car to drive to Mongrassano. The village is too small for a hotel so we'd stay in San Marco Argentano. Next day return car to Paola and take train to Naples. Stay overnight in Naples. (If SIL decides not to go, I won't do this leg of the trip.)
4) Take train to Venice. Spend 5 days in Venice. Stay in either San Polo or San Marco neighborhoods. Day trip to Lipica Slovenia to see the Lippizan horse breeding farm via train to Trieste, taxi to Lipica. This is not optional since this was part of tour that was stolen from me last year. Other Venice plans may be Burano/Murano, Doge's Palace and San Marco. Fly home from Venice.

Thanks for your insight!

Update (kind of redundant from a couple posts I've made in the past week): Sister-in-Law didn't say yes, friend couldn't go, so I booked the tour as solo. Signed up for May 6-18. I'm arriving in Rome 5/2 to give me time to adjust to time and be able to see sights not on the tour. After the tour I'm going to Venice for 5 days with a day trip to Lipica. Then flying home 5/23. I'm excited and apprehensive at the same time. Last trip to Europe was to Ireland in 1992 with a friend riding horses, then driving around on our own. I've never been on my own for this long. I've read all the posts about traveling solo and know I can do this and will have a great time.

Posted by
901 posts

Hi, Horsewoofie,

If you choose the tour ending on 5/18 we’ll be tour mates. I’m arriving only one day in advance, since I’ve spent a lot of time in Rome before, and since I’ll have nine days afterwards to play in Italy. But I would tell you that the Testaccio food tour is fabulous. You’ll be staying in Trastevere anyhow with RS, so will have a chance to look around there from your hotel. I’ve taken both food tours and much preferred Testaccio.

After the RS tour ends, I’m planning to stay a couple more days in Naples, then spend time in Bologna and Lake Como as I work my way to Switzerland, where I’ll be joining the RS Switzerland tour.

Posted by
5726 posts

In Venice consider staying in either Cannareggio or Dorsoduro neighborhoods.

Posted by
3378 posts

Hi Horsewoofie, I hope you have a fantastic trip which surpasses the expectations you had for the previous year’s plans.

We stayed at Hotel Cesare near the Pantheon and liked its location and staff. Breakfast was served on the rooftop, and you can go there in the evening to relax, also, with a beverage, etc.

I hope it works out that you can go with an excited friend or travel solo vs. taking a relative who isn’t enthusiastic to go.

Enjoy your time!

Posted by
1571 posts

I spent 2 exciting days in Naples after my 7 Days in Rome tour in April 2017. It was a fascinating place and I loved being there, on my own. If your SIL does not go with you, treat yourself to more time in Naples. You will do a lot there on the tour anyway.

My comment on going with a reluctant traveling companion who has to be talked into going:
drop the whole subject.

Your experience will be dragged down by being with someone who had to be convinced to go on this exciting itinerary. Thinking about whether she is happy, content or irritated will inevitably diminish your enjoyment.

Patricia, the poster from Oregon, will be your tourmate if you go on the earlier May tour. She's a frequent poster on the forum, and I'm sure will be a more congenial companion. As well as your other tourmates! I've been on 5 RS tours and the friendly people are a big draw to me, usually a solo traveler.

Posted by
7683 posts

"My comment on going with a reluctant traveling companion who has to be talked into going:
drop the whole subject.

Oh YES!! 100%

Trust me on this...there is nothing that can kill a trip quicker than a companion who either doesn't want to be there, is scared to be there OR who is completely uninterested.

Anyone who has to be talked in to travel is probably not going to be fun. You'll wind up with responsibility for planning and executing everything and that burden can be great.

You will have a fabulous time on any RS tour on your own!

Posted by
5019 posts

Those suggesting you simply drop your more-than-reluctant potential travel partner are probably right. No need to let someone else ruin your trip (in a way, I think you already had that happen once). To make yourself feel better about possibly doing that, try this: sit them down, make your case for why this will be fabulous, then read them the riot act: get on board - fully and with enthusiasm, no whining, no moping - or get outta the way. Give them a day or two to come to terms with it, then if they choose anything other than to sincerely embrace it, let them off the hook, and move on without looking back.

You are going to Italy in May (with or without that other person). You will want to start looking into air fare soon and doing other detailed planning. Don't waste your time on dragging a reluctant partner.

Speaking of detailed planning: it looks like you are planning to go from Naples to Venice by train. That's a long train ride, even on a nice train. You might want to investigate flights instead. Flights within Europe are generally cheap (sometimes incredibly cheap) and flying could save you half a day, which you could enjoy in Venice rather than sitting on a train.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
2429 posts

I totally agree with Judy B and Pam. Listen to them!

You don't want to travel with a hesitant person just so you aren't alone. Solo travel is great fun. It is hard to explain unless you experience it. Do not mention it again to your sister in law. You don't want to be her tour guide or have the pressure of being responsible for her just doesn't work. You will have a great time on the RS tour traveling solo...but pay the single supplement for a good night's sleep. When you are not on the tour you will be amazed at how many conversations you have with other people because you are traveling solo and you will find the pure joy of traveling on your own!

Posted by
871 posts

I'm going to join the chorus regarding reluctant travel companions. Having done this in the past, the trips are notable for the times when I spent extra effort and time trying to convince my unwilling travel companions to have a good time and feeling guilty when I wasn't able to.

Travel magnifies and intensifies both pleasure and displeasure. Lord knows, I have enough disagreements with my willing travel companions without the stress of dealing with someone who just doesn't want to be there. On the one time we decided to bring our best (and reluctant) friends along for a European vacation, our misadventures ultimately ended the friendship, period. Strangely, I don't miss them because the travel experience showed them in their true light.

Life is too short. Embrace it with joy and share that joy with others who feel the same way. BTW, I have looked at some things to do in Naples and stumbled across Teatro Bellini, I have never heard it discussed, but it looks amazing, with old theater boxes all around the walls.

Posted by
6230 posts

Understand the comments about dragging along the unwilling. Finding the magic spot of providing enough of a nudge vs shoving someone, is a delicate balancing act.

Kind of like taking a child on their 1st roller coaster ride. Most probably have an understandable reluctance, but also enjoy it afterwards. Some will be terrified the entire ride and refuse to ever do it again.

Any chance of taking your reluctant traveler on a ( short) 'test trip' domestically to see how it may work out?

You look to have a good schedule roughed out. Present it , offer to answer any questions she may have and accept her decision

Posted by
2336 posts

How to invite someone to travel with you: ask once. If the answer is not “hell yes!” forget about it. We had a couple on our Loire RS tour who talked another couple into coming along. The asking couple were experienced RS tour participants. The other couple were not. They complained about everything and it was so obvious they were impacting their friends ejoyment (as well as others within earshot). Don’t try and talk anyone into this. You’ve had your share of travel related misery with the theft, why set yourself up for heartache?

Posted by
943 posts

Thanks all for the advice about SIL. I think Joe hit the problem head on. Reluctance due to fear. After being married to her brother for almost 50 years, I know her well. She’s very amicable and nice. I’m a planner so like all my ducks in a neat row. I have no problem making the decisions or giving her a choice of 2 things to do, just like Joe’s analogy.

When we’re in WA, she and we will talk more. The decision to go is her’s. It’s up to her to tell me before we leave town. Her decision won’t change my plans and I need to get my trip booked.

My bucket list needs to be checked off. That’s why my horse is in sidesaddle training while we’re gone so I can take a couple sidesaddle lessons when we get home then check it off my list.

Posted by
943 posts

Patricia, you’re the best reason for me to book the tour ending 5/18.

Suki, why not San Marco or San Polo in Venice? Those areas appear to be close to everything.

Posted by
901 posts

Judy B and Horsewoofie —. I’m blushing 😊. Seriously, as a single traveler I’m always happy to meet new friends and I agree that a reluctant travel companion makes your trip less than optimal. After all the issues you had with the travel agent for your last trip, you deserve a really fun one.

I’ll be seeing the Lippizaners in Vienna in November!

Posted by
11154 posts

Nothing in Venice is too far, as long as your in one of the main six districts (i.e., not on Giudecca, or the Lido or Mestre). San Marco is very crowded with tourists much of the day, and is also usually the most expensive for hotels, with no particular upside for the higher prices.

Dorsoduro is quiet and restful, particularly away from a few "tourist spots" like the Peggy Guggenheim Museum. Walking around there, you can really get a feel for what Venice might have been like before mass tourism. There are also businesses to serve locals, not just tourists. I remember passing a shop that refilled ink cartridges, and another that sold socks (not shoes, just socks). In San Marco, it's hard to find a store selling anything but masks and glassware.

I don't really know San Polo, but that should work well too.

Posted by
4022 posts

Woofie, #MeToo! Please don't keep urging your SIL to go. We had a couple on our recent RS tour. The woman was cheerful, excited, and eager to try new things. Her hubby was ... not. It made the trip difficult for her, and not quite as much fun for the rest of us.

You are going to have a wonderful time. One of these years I want to do the South Italy tour. It's actually the only Italy tour we haven't yet taken that interests me. We're already booked for France in 2019, so maybe 2020...

Posted by
943 posts

I forgot to say that I gave my SIL a very easy, peaceful way
out. She and her hubby are celebrating their 50th anniversary in Sept 2019. I suggested they may way to take a special trip together.

What ever she decides is OK with me. She just needs a nudge either way. The dog can’t be more important than experiencing life.

An aside: my dad, RIP, bought a goldfish when he was between dogs to use as an excuse not to go anywhere. He’d say he had to stay home to feed the goldfish. It’s now the “goldfish syndrome”.

Posted by
7683 posts

"He’d say he had to stay home to feed the goldfish. It’s now the “goldfish syndrome”."

That's hilarious! I'll probably giggle over that the rest of the day.

Posted by
614 posts

I agree with the other posters that traveling with reluctant or uninterested people is stressful for the person planning. That is also true if you and the people traveling together have different travel styles. If you wind up traveling solo, you can still have a great time, even on the portions when you are not on the RS tour. I travel internationally for work and often time on the trip to experience the country on my own and have come to really enjoy solo traveling.

Here are three tips that help me for solo travel:

  • Arrange an activity that you are with other people. For me, in each country I visit, I take a cooking class. I not only learn about the culture through the food, but sometimes meet other English-speaking folks to hang out with. Walking tours on a topic you are passionate about is also great as you connect with people with the same interest. I once took a tour in London and met a father and his adult son. The son wanted to go the Tate the next day and the father didn’t, so the son and I went to the Tate together and then I met them for dinner.
  • When you eat out, try not to take a book or phone and engage with other folks. If there is bar, rather than table service, it is a great way to meet other solo diners or engage with the bar tender. I was in Jeruseleum once at a restaurant with bar service, great food and the bar staff spent a lot of time talking with me, sharing local favorites, even got a free welcome Arak drink.
  • Enjoy the freedom of doing what you want, even if you wind up traveling with your friend, agree in advance that it is okay for solo time. When I went to Spain last October with my husband, he didn’t want to go to one more museum. I went by myself, he relaxed and we met up later. We both had a better time.

Now for some recommendations for your trip.

  • Rome: we stayed in mid June at the ALBERGO DEL SENATO. It is a bit more expensive than the normal RS hotels, but it is right across from the Pantheon and our room on the 4th floor looked right at the Pantheon. They have a gorgeous roof top bar and excellent service. On the Eating Italy tour, we did the Trastevere tour and it was amazing. Our hotel was only a 15 minute walk from Trastevere and we went back there a few times to eat and explore. Also in Rome, I would highly recommend the Galleria Borghese It is a beautiful museum and in a great park. The english docent tour was fantastic.
  • Venice: I agree with some of the posters to stay outside the San Marco region. Venice is diluged with tourist and the majority congregate there. If you are in a area like Cannaregio, you are within a 10 minute walk of the Rialto, but in a neighborhood that provides a better feel of Venice. We stayed in an appartment in that region and it was a welcome break from the crowds. RS book on Venice is great, but I also used the recommendations from Skye McAlpine, a food blogger, and cookbook author The bar tour by Allesandro is fun (more drink than food) and you will run into a lot of RS folks there as well.

I hope you have a wonderful trip.

Posted by
943 posts

Thank you Sandy and everyone else for recommendations of what to do and where to stay. I very much appreciate them.

Hubby and I are leaving tomorrow for a month long road trip, circling from Phoenix to Washington and back home. It's his 50th high school class reunion so it'll be nice to relive memories and catch up on the present. Fortunately I can follow the forum on my phone. What did we do without smart phones? Oh yeah, we found a pay phone to call people and computers were the size of a room.

Posted by
3320 posts

After the problems with the Denver crook last year you'll want this trip to start off on a really good note. With that in mind you might want to think about using a private car service rather than a regular taxi to get to your hotel. After a long flight, some jet lag, and not being familiar with the area, there is nothing better than having a private driver meet you inside the terminal and whisk you to your hotel. No hassling with the train system, no fending off the privateer cabs, waiting in the regular taxi line, or just having a "lost" feeling. It is not the cheapest way, but it is definitely the best way and only cost slightly more than a regular taxi. We can not say enough good things about Rome Cabs. It is a private car service and not a cab company despite the name. We always use them and have always been very pleased. Go to and see what you think. We usually send an email and they answer us with a quote within 24 hours. You do (or did) have to pay cash (Euros) and the end of the journey but not in advance. I think they might now accept credit cards.

For a change of pace in Rome, consider a day trip to Ostia Antica. Easy to get to using public transit and quite unique compared to Rome. Get an early morning start and you'll probably have the place to yourself most of the day. Shouldn't take more than three quarters of a day to see it all.

For a change of pace in Venice, perhaps a day trip to Verona and Vicenza. Easy to get there by local train, and with an early start and a late return you'll be able to see all the highlights.

Just some things to consider. Oh, do let us know what happens to the Denver agent.

Posted by
925 posts

Woofie - I am so excited for you taking this tour. It is definitely on our bucket list along with the Sicily tour and then ending with extra days in the Naples area. Visiting Ostia Antica is high on my personal list. dh doesn't like to ride bikes so that would be out of the question but the directions to reach it look fairly simple. I really like that you are spending several days in Rome pre-tour. We were there mid tour and missed having the time to spend just tooling around outdoors, catching the sights, enjoying a gelato while strolling, etc. You go for it girl, whether you have a travel companion or not. We made great friends with two singles on our RS tour and they spent a good amount of time with us eating and doing things during free time.
I want to say that not only should the OP person traveling with you be gung ho about the trip, she needs to take some ownership of it and research/make a list of things she wants to see, how to use transportation, etc. - speaking from experience about that.

Posted by
4022 posts

I want to say that not only should the OP person traveling with you be gung ho about the trip, she needs to take some ownership of it and research/make a list of things she wants to see, how to use transportation, etc.

Nance, that's a great point.