2021 Italy

A Grand Tour of Italy with 4 Options: (A) Rome-Bologna-Verona-Aosta–$4994; (B) Rome-Bologna-Verona–$4320; (C) Bologna-Verona-Aosta–$4320; (D) Bologna-Verona–$3500

The tour will include two meals a day, breakfast and either lunch or dinner, numerous entrance fees to all of the historical sites we will visit as a group, day excursions from Bologna, Verona, and Aosta, airport transfers, and coach transfers between the cities.


Saturday, 2 October – Groups A & B Fly from the USA

Sunday, 3 October –Arrival in Rome

Upon arrival in Rome, clear customs and follow signs to the baggage area. Note: These directions are for FCO. If you are arriving at Ciampino or coming in from somewhere in Europe, you are on your own.

For  four or more of you are arriving together: I will pre-arrange for van transfers for you. After exiting baggage area, look for a driver with a sign, Barker Tours. You will be driven directly to the hotel

For fewer than four, Follow these instructions to take a direct, non-stop first class train into Roma Termini the main train station of Rome.

While waiting for your bag to arrive, look for signs and a kiosk saying TRENITALIA. You will see ticket machines against the wall to the right of the kiosk. Use a credit card to buy a train ticket to ROMA TERMINI. The ticket will cost €14.00 and I will reimburse you.  After picking up your luggage and clearing customs, exit the baggage area and look for signs directing you to TRAINS. Walk straight for around 100 meters until you see a down escalator on your left which will take you under the street and then back up into the train station. Take the Leonardo Express into TERMINI. The journey takes 32 minutes. After you arrive, walk to the front of the station and exit to the left onto Via Giolitti. Once outside, look to your right and walk to the traffic light  and cross the street. You are now on Via Cavour and the Hotel Mediterraneo is on the right after one very short block.

Once you check into the hotel, the rest of the day is free. Optional: Join Dr. Alessi in the afternoon (time TBA) for an introductory stroll around our neighborhood.  Short meeting in the hotel lobby at 6:45 and then walk 3 minutes for our 7:00 pm dinner at Ristorante Imperium. (Antipasto, pasta, wine/water/soft drinks.) Overnight  at the Hotel Mediterraneo.

Monday, 4 October–Classical Rome with Dr. Alessi

Breakfast in the hotel begins at 6:30 every morning. Today you will be provided with a 3-Day Roma Pass, good for 72 hours of transportation (bus, tram & Metro) and entry to two museums. 9:00 a.m. departure from hotel to walk to the Metro. Take Metro to the Colosseum station. This morning we will visit the Imperial Forums and Trajan’s Market. After a short break for lunch at noon (independent) we will meet again at 1:00 to visit the Roman Forum and Palatine. Don’t miss this! Even if you have already visited the Roman Forum, new areas are now available for viewing . After  the tour, return to hotel independently. (Walk, Metro, Bus) Again meet in hotel lobby to walk to dinner at 7:00 pm at Ristorante Amedeo. (Antipasto, pasta, meat, dessert, wine/water/soft drinks.) Overnight and breakfast at the Hotel Mediterraneo.

Tuesday, 5 October:–Classical Rome with Dr. Alessi

9:00 am departure for visit to the Capitoline Museum. After lunch (independent), visit the Colosseum. The rest of the afternoon is free–time to visit the Trevi Fountain, Pantheon, and/or the Piazza Navonna on your own. Tonight we need to leave a little earlier for our 7:00 pm, dinner at  L’Angolo di Napoli.  (Antipasto, pasta, meat, dessert, wine/water/soft drinks.) Overnight and breakfast at the Hotel Mediterraneo.

Wednesday, 6 October, Groups C & D Fly from the USA

Wednesday, 6 October–Holy Rome

This morning we will take taxis to the Vatican Museums. I will make reservations in an attempt to avoid the long lines. When we get into the museums, don’t make a mad dash to the Sistine Chapel. Yes, you will want to see it, but there are many other attractions. Have lunch at the cafe in the museum, We will then visit St. Peter’s Basilica followed by independent return to the hotel. (Your transportation pass is still good–take any bus to Termini.)  OPTION: If you have “been there, done that” with the Vatican, plan to visit other museums. I will reimburse you for any entrance fees. Another very short walk for 7:00pm dinner at Ristorante Terme di Diocleziano(Antipasto, pasta, meat, dessert, wine/water/soft drinks.) Overnight and breakfast at the Hotel Mediterraneo.

Thursday, 7 October, Groups C & D Arrive in Rome

Follow directions above on how to get to the  Hotel Mediterraneo. The rest of your day is free. 7:00 pm, meet in lobby to walk to Ristorante Mensa di Bacco. (Pizza, beer & soft drinks.). Overnight and breakfast at the Hotel Mediterraneo.

Thursday, 7 October–Options to Join Paul or Bill on morning walking tours

This morning you have three choices: Choose to take a walking tour with either Paul or Bill, or explore Rome on your own; (Transportation pass provided.) Afternoon free. Meet in lobby to walk 7:00 pm dinner at  Ristorante Mensa di Bacco. (Pizza, beer & soft drinks.) Overnight and breakfast at the Hotel Mediterraneo.

Friday, 8 October–Train to Bologna

 8:45 depart hotel for very short walk to Roma Termini. Take 9:20 train, arrive Bologna at 11:30. We will take cabs to the Art Hotel Commercianti. Our rooms may not be ready, so I will guide us to the very nearby Medieval section of Bologna where there are many, many places to grab lunch (independent) After lunch, return to the Hotel Commercianti and settle into your room. Depart as a group at 6:45 to walk for 7:00 pm dinner at Trattoria Nonna Gigia. MENU: Two Pasta tastings with: Gramigna with Sausage and Passatelli with Culatello and Porcino mushrooms; Main–Stinco di Maialino alla birra w/Baked potatoes and Grilled Vegetables; Dessert–Coffee Sorbet; Drinks–Mineral Water,Wine (1 bottle every 3 people) Sangiovese Superiore “Terre della Pieve” or Pignoletto frizzante DOCG. Return to hotel for overnight in Hotel Commercianti.

Saturday, 9 October–City Tour, Pasta Demo

Breakfast begins at 7:00. Morning (9:00 AM) depart hotel for half day walking city tour of the main monuments of the Bologna’s city centre with the following itinerary: Piazza Maggiore, the Fountain of Neptune, Palazzo Re Enzo, Palazzo d’Accursio, the Basilica of San Petronio (church dress code), the Archiginnasio, the Medieval Market and the Loggia dei Mercanti, the Complex of Santo Stefano-the Seven Churches (open donation), and the two Towers.
Guide: Giacomo Caliciuri, mobile ph.+39  335 5484978. afternoon free. At 6:45, depart for Pasta Demo and dinner at Cantina BentivoglioIncluded will be the preparation methods and the techniques for “pulling” a good sheet of pasta, illustrated by a real Bolognese “Sfoglina”. This will be followed by a brief digression on the broth, ragù Bolognese sauce, the typical products that are used in recipes. Dinner Menu: Tastings of Pastas (Strichetti with vegetables, Traditional Green Lasagna, Tortelloni filled with ricotta cheese with butter and sage, Tagliatelle al Ragù), Vegetable Pie in Parmigiano sauce, Dessert: Cup of Mascarpone with Cocoa and Parmigiano cheese, Mineral Water, Wine (1 bottle every 3 people), Coffee. Our dinner will be in the Music Room, with live Jazz music from 9:30. Return to hotel for overnight in Hotel Commercianti.

Sunday, 10 October–Parma excursion

09:15 am depart hotel for full day excursion to Parma including a visa to the Rocca di Fontanellato followed by an included lunch. After lunch we will have a city tour of Parma, entries included. After the city tour we will visit the Torrechiara Castle. At 06:30 pm and end of activities, we will head back to Bologna, arriving at the Hotel Commercianti at 08:00 pm. Dinner, if you are hungry, is on your own. Return to hotel for overnight in Hotel Commercianti.

Monday, 11 October,–Food Excursion

Tour/Tasting of Parmigiano Reggiano D.O.P., Traditional Balsamic Vinegar of Modena D.O.P., Prosciutto di Modena D.O.P. and Prosciutto di Parma D.O.P., Lunch included. Return to Bologna in late afternoon. Evening free, dinner if somehow you are still hungry is on your own. Return to hotel for overnight in Hotel Commercianti.

Tuesday, 12 October–Laundry, Catch up

Free day in Bologna. Time to sleep in, rest up a bit, catch up on laundry. I have found two laundromats, plus there is a laundry nearby that will do a load for you for €30. (A laundromat will cost less than €10, but there is some walking involved.  Dinner at La Capriata. Burratina soft cheese w/Caponata, Green Lasagna w/Bolognese Sauce (small portions with option of having seconds), Braised seasonal vegetables, wine, water. Return to hotel for overnight in Hotel Commercianti.

Wednesday 13 October–Bologna to Verona

9:00A Coach transfer to Verona with a stop at the Olio Redoro for a presentation of olive oil production. Continue on to Verona and check into the Hotel Accademia. Rest of the afternoon free. Dinner at Piscaria.(Fish dishes)  Overnight in the Hotel Accademia

Thursday, 14 October–Verona city tour

Morning walking tour with a local guide. Afternoon free, 7:00 dinner at Osteria Casa Vino. This will be a major feast–3 starters, 3 pastas, 3 main courses, plus dessert, wine and water. Mercifully, it will be served family style–they will put the food out in the center of the table and you take only what you want.) Overnight in the Hotel Accademia.

Friday, 15 October–Vicenza & Padova Excursion

Full day excursion to Vicenza (Teatro Olimpico) and Padova (Scrovegni Chapel, Basilica Sant’Antonio) Return to Verona Dinner at Giulietta e Romeo. (Polenta starter, after which you choose your own pasta and main courses from the menu. Dessert. Wine, water, soft drinks.) Overnight in the Hotel Accademia.

Saturday, 16 October–Bolzano

Full day  excursion to Bolzano to see the Ice Man at the Archaeological museum. Time for lunch (independent)  with a stop at a winery, Maso Martis,  on the way back. Return to Verona. Dinner at La Greppia.(A mix of starters including prosciutto, sopressa–a local salami, lonzin0, sfilacci w/rocket salad and parmesan cheeses, polenta, and local cheese and vegetables in vinegar sauce; Two pastas: Risotto with amarone wine & pumpkin, and Fettuccine with smoked ham, leeks, and smoked ricotta cheese; Dessert–Diplomatico cake with mascarpone cream and fresh fruit. Water, Valpolicella  and Soave Wine and bread included (soft drinks if someone doesn’t drink Wine.) Overnight in the Hotel Accademia.

Sunday, 17 October–Sirmione

Morning free to take in a museum or two. Afternoon excursion to Sirmione, a charming town on Lake Garda. Return to Verona for dinner at Da Pino (Pizza or whatever you order.) Overnight in the Hotel Accademia.

Monday, 18 October-Groups B & D to Milano/Malpensa

Transfer with the group and get dropped off at First Hotel very near the airport.

Monday, 18 October–From Verona to Aosta via Milano/Malpensa

Coach transfer to Aosta with a stop in Milano/Malpensa. We will then continue on and arrive in Aosta in time to check in, stretch your legs a bit before walking to dinner at either Osteria La Vache Folle  or the hotel restaurant. (I’ll decide later.) Overnight in Hotel Duca D’Aosta.

Tuesday, 19 October-Group B flies back to the USA

After breakfast, use the free hotel shuttle to transfer to the airport for flights back to the USA or elsewhere in Europe. (B)

Tuesday, 19 October–Aosta

Morning city tour of Aosta with our local guide, Anna Careggio, assisted by Paul Alessi.  The tour includes the Cryptoporticus and Roman Theater, plus some interesting Medieval sites. Lunch is on your own. In the afternoon, plan to use the rest of the ticket that was provided for you to visit the Archaeological Museum and/or the Chiesa San Lorenzo. We will leave the hotel in plenty of time to walk to a 7:00 dinner at Trattoria Degli Artisti Pam Pam  The restaurant specializes in the local cuisine which is a delightful mix of elements of Italian, French, and Swiss cooking. Menu: Sfogliata con cotechino e fondue; Risotto al lardo cavolo verza e fontina; Capriolo in “Civet” con polenta; Dessert choices from menu; Water and wine (1/3)  Overnight in Hotel Duca D’Aosta.

Wednesday, 20 October–Cogne

Morning departure for an excursion into the mountains. We will first visit the Pondel Roman Aqueduct, built three years BC., then visit Valnontey in the Gran Paradiso National Park, In case of bad weather, we will instead visit a typical mountain house, Maison Gérard-Dayné, now a museum. We will then have lunch at the Belvedere Restaurant, a panoramic restaurant above Cogne.  View of Gran Paradiso, the highest wholly peak in Italy. MENU:Bruschetta, vol-au-vent con fonduta, tomino capra, pane nero miele lardo; Ravioli con fonduta e crepes; Scaloppa con funghi e purea; Crema di Cogne. After lunch, we will have some free time to explore Cogne. Return to Aosta in the afternoon. Lunch was included so dinner is on your own. Overnight in Hotel Duca D’Aosta.

Thursday, 21 October–Monte Bianco, transfer to Milano/Malpensa

Morning check out of the hotel. If it is a clear day, we will visit Monte Bianco (Mont Blanc). If it is cloudy, it would make no sense to go up since we wouldn’t be able to see anything. Instead, we will visit some special castles. After the visit, we will work in a lunch stop (independent) and then continue on to the First Hotel near Milano/Malpensa airport, arriving in late afternoon. Dinner at the hotel restaurant (Order either a pasta or a pizza, add a salad or grilled veggies, and a drink. Three or more can share a bottle of wine, or you can order by the glass). Overnight in the First Hotel.

Friday, 22 October-Arrivederci Italia

After breakfast, use the hotel shuttle (prepaid) to transfer to the airport for flights back to the USA or elsewhere in Europe. Plan to schedule your van departure at least three hours before your flight departure–there are some long walks involved at the airport.

Group A (Everything) Arrival Departure
Paul Alessi  Single
Bill Curtis & Milt Oster Twin
Larry Hanna & Carol Thompson Double
Ruth Smith & Catherine Russell Twin
Laurence Barker Single
Carrol Smith & Carol Boyd Twin 2
Paddy Irvin & Rebecca Marti 3 Oct Twin 22 Oct
Scott & Merri Plummer 3 Oct Double 22 Oct
Greg & Judy Parks 3 Oct Single 22 Oct
Ron Jenkins & Dale Fleishman 3 Oct Double 22 Oct
Group B (No Aosta)
Scott & Michele Harriage Double 1
Group C (No Rome)
Xavier & Polly Pena 7 Oct Double 22 Oct
Cindy Abbott 7 Oct Single 22 Oct
Jim & Sharon Fox 7 Oct Double 22 Oct
Kelly Clark & Gretchen Quinn 7 Oct Twin 22 Oct