When I first started thinking about how to best write a trip report, my initial idea was to write a report that followed us day by day on the tour. I’m not sure now that that is my best option because the daily itinerary is more or less posted through RS about what’s covered on the tour.
So let me tell you a few of the things we learned from doing this trip.
When we travel with a tour group, we always schedule our arrival 1-2 days before the actual tour begins. This time we arrived two days before the official start of the tour. We flew Delta from our home airport, changing planes in Atlanta to fly the overnight leg on Delta to Rome. Then in Rome we changed planes to Alitalia and flew to Palermo.
For those people used to claiming their luggage and going back through security when arriving in the US from abroad, the luggage process was different for us on arrival in Rome. If your luggage is booked through to Palermo, then you do not have to retrieve it in Rome. You just go through customs (which took us less than a minute), and then you find your next gate.
When we arrived in Palermo, we did have to search for our luggage which did not appear on the main baggage carousel after the flight. Apparently luggage arriving from an originally international destination is delivered to a separate room. We found our luggage there. Then it went through an X-ray machine, and then we left the airport.
It’s important to me to stay hydrated. I always refilled a water bottle at every hotel which had potable water (only one did not, and they provided bottled water), but water bottles were also available for purchase on our bus for one Euro/bottle. This was often easier than trying to find a market when we were short on time.
All of the hotels were lovely. Some of the breakfasts were better than others, but that’s to be expected wherever you travel.
Remember that when traveling in Italy, you may need to provide your own toilet tissue. Also remember that toilet seats are not always available in the restrooms.
Our flight back home departed from Catania at an insanely early hour. Because we were unable to check in online, we made sure we arrived early to take care of the issue and go through security. (Our check in issue wasn’t a security issue. Apparently it had something to do with the original ticket booking, but the gate agent for Alitalia was gracious and reassured us multiple times that it was a computer issue and not a problem with our tickets.)
On both legs that we did with Alitalia, many carry on bags were gate checked. Boarding started with priority boarding and then from the back rows to the front rows. (Aka - get in line early.) We lucked out and our carry ones were stowed overhead, but this wasn’t the case for everyone.
Packing light will be your friend on this trip. There are many hills and lots of steps. The less you have to carry, the better. Definitely wear a sweater on the airplane. Then you do not have to pack it.
Take along your sense of humor and your sense of adventure, and this will be one of your favorite trips of all time!