Let's try something new:
In March 2022, I decided I needed to go somewhere before September, when my husband and I would take our Covid-cancelled trip to Northern Italy, so I signed up for the RS VIllage Italy tour that began on June 13. Then I began a slightly obsessive research phase, reading various tour scrapbooks, making packing lists, and fretting about the possibility that a positive covid test could put the kibosh on this adventure. As it happened, I had a mild case in late May and was able to get a recovery letter to cover any future positive tests on tour or when trying to return to the States.
Still, it was a relief when, just before my tour, the government stopped requiring the test to return home.
Here’s a recap. I’ve pulled most of it from my Book of Face postings during the tour. My apologies for the shifts between present and past tense.
Saturday/Sunday, outbound/arrival: I flew American’s flagship business class from Raleigh to London Heathrow (best flight of my life! Recently refurbished airplane, food that was actually delicious and a good five hours or so of sleeping.) Heathrow was its usual mess, with a crowded bus ride to another terminal and a five-hour layover (spent gratefully in the BA lounge) and finally an easy flight to Venice that landed in the afternoon. I had arranged a shuttle to Padova and after finally finding it, was on my way.
Sunday, arrival day: I checked in to the funky “art hotel” that Rick seems so taken with and, after consulting the handsome fellow at the desk, walked a few blocks in the early evening for pizza and vino at a nearby restaurant. And then went happily to sleep.
Monday in Padova: Welcome to the tour The next morning, I set off for the botanical garden and a little more walking around before finding lunch, taking my pre-tour covid test and meeting our guide, David Tordi, and fellow tour-goers at 5 at the hotel. We chose our tour buddies, received our Whisper devices, and set out for a quick walking orientation and a better than expected getting to know you dinner.
Tip: If you have wired, noise-canceling earbuds (I have the old Bose ones, which aren’t sold anymore), they can plug into the Whispers and provide better sound quality and ease of listening. Mine aren’t sold anymore, but I saw lots of choices starting at about $20 on Amazon.
Tuesday: In Padova, we visited the Scrovegni Chapel to see the Giotto frescoes, and they’re fantastic. Giotto is, I am told, the father of Italian painting. We also visited the anatomy theater at the University of Padova. I found it equally astonishing and creepy. We were free for lunch, the afternoon and dinner. I wandered through the very large basilica of St. Anthony and was struck by the wall of photographs from believers seeking intercession and had dinner with a handful of tour members. So, a lot in a day and change.
Wednesday, hello to the bus: I had my first “bag drag” experience and was sorry I hadn’t been more ruthless with myself about overpacking. We got on the bus and drove to Ravenna to see the mosaics in the Byzantine Basilica and Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, a highlight of the trip so far. (Look her up … amazing woman.) We had time to wander and have lunch and then we drove on into Umbria to the little hill town of Montefalco, where we stayed in an 18th century villa (Villa Pambuffetti, family owned and run) and were treated to a vigorous thunderstorm that brought a welcome break from the heat. At dinner I had an excellent local red wine called sangrantino, which was new to me. Most of us wound up at the same restaurant in this very small town and had a convivial evening with David, our guide, providing language services.
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