Italy 2003

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Italy 2003

In August of 2003, my wife and I went on a week-long vacation to Italy.

View my "Italy in 2003" picture gallery

We had looked at our options and decided we wanted to do the boneheaded American thing: join an organized tour with 42 other Americans on a bus.

This may make you think of "If It's Tuesday This Must Be Belgium," but in fact we chose the tour operator and the tour itself very carefully. Since this was our first trip to Italy, we knew very little about what we would want to see or do. But we also knew we would want to have lots of time on our own, and we also didn't want to pack and unpack too often. We found a tour with Globus that looked like it had just the right combination of organized outings, free time, and mult-night stays in one place. Roughly speaking, there were three days in Rome, two days in Venice, and two in Florence, with trips to Tuscan hill towns and such. It turned out just great for us.

Our guide was very good. The guides on these trips have to herd everybody along, give advice and answer questions about the areas you're in, and also deal with both the common administration tasks of the tour and any unusual events that happen. In our case one tour member injured herself and had to go to the hospital, and the tour guide managed this (with plenty of follow-up) without causing a big disruption for the rest of us. (It helped that the injured woman spoke Italian.)

I love that European tour guides are increasingly using radio systems to talk to their tours. This makes it easier to hear them without crowding close, and it makes everything quieter since you're not hearing a dozen other guides shouting at their tours at the same time. This wasn't listed as an element of the tour we took, but almost every location with a guide used them. I think everybody should do this.


This page was last edited April 26, 2008.