Okay, our internet is back up, my laundry is done, and the lawn is mowed! So I guess I've run out of excuses and need to post the promised tour report. I'm going to have to do this in stages, and will post some reviews of hotels and restaurants in the appropriate parts of the Forum.
Just as a lead-in: We were on the June 26 - July 9 Village Italy tour. Our guide was Tricia Brady. There were 24 people on the tour, ranging in age from 16 to 76. And the group was very diverse, in terms of age. I think there were 3 people in their 70s, 3 or 4 in their 60s, the aforementioned 16-year old. The rest ranged from (I'd guess) mid-30s to late 50s. A nice mix. There were 7 couples; one mother-daughter pair; one aunt-niece combo. The rest were singles, and all were women! There were only 7 men on the tour. It was a great group; I don't think any of the singles felt left out, although of course I don't know that. A couple of them did seem to prefer heading off on their own on our free time, but nobody was ignored or shunned during meals and group activities. I hope.
All the hotels had air conditioning, and most had elevators.
Day 1: Our group met at the Hotel Fagiano, near St Anthony's Basilica. We all introduced ourselves, and met wonderful Patricia (Tricia) Brady, our guide. Tricia is from Scotland, of Irish and Italian heritage, and has lived in Italy for 30 years. She told us that she doesn't like the name of the tour, Village Italy; she would prefer it to be called "The Italian Experience." And that's just what she set out to give us over the next two weeks. Oh, one of the best things? Wine will be included at (almost) all group dinners!
We headed north toward the center of town to Ristorante Il Corte del Leone, for our first group dinner. Dinner was good. One of the recurring threads throughout the tour was that at most restaurants, the antipasti (starters) and primi (first courses) were always more interesting than the secondi - second or main courses. That was certainly true here. We had a zucchini and fish starter - delicious, and a combination few of us would have considered; the first course was spaghetti with olive oil, black olives, dried tomatoes, and garlic. The secondo was braised veal, with spinach and potatoes, and the dessert included strawberries. (I may be rather vague about the desserts, since I don't eat sweets. Sometimes I noted what people had, but not always. I was always served fresh fruit.) We wandered back to the hotel rather late. The included wine may have had something to do with that....
Oops, gotta go. I'll be back later.