Italy has always been on the top of my "to do" travel list so I was thrilled when I joined a Globus Tour last November.
To be honest, I had envisioned myself cruising along the Italian coastline rather than traveling through the country by motor coach. The mode of transportation did give me pause...on a bus...for a week...but, this was a great itinerary to see an amazing place. So, off I went, packing my hesitations with me. When I arrived in Rome, the Globus experience "touched" me immediately in the airport. After a quick trip through customs and baggage claim, I saw a Globus representative holding a sign for me before I even had time to think about what I had to do next. There is nothing better than having someone waiting for you when you step off a long international flight into a foreign country.
The first full day was an early one so we could gain early entry into the Vatican museum before the crowds arrived. It was worth it. When our tour was done (a couple of hours later) I glanced back at the entrance to see a line that looked to be at least a mile long. Nick, our Tour Director, was great at pointing out which shops were the best and warned us to not buy any religious items claiming to already be blessed by the Pope because that was not allowed. Instead, a few shops around the square will have your items blessed after your purchase them and deliver them to your hotel. A fantastic insider tip from Nick!
The Coliseum and Forum were next on the list. Our local guide was able to arrange for us to enter the Coliseum down the same path the Gladiators walked. Once inside, we were able to spend about 15 minutes "on stage" to appreciate the view and grandeur of this nearly 2,000 year old structure. These little extra experiences are a trademark of Globus. By 1p.m., we were back on the motor coach and headed to the hotel for an afternoon of free time.
I spent the afternoon wandering the streets of Rome, eating delicious local pizza and gazing upon The Parthenon, The Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain. I could not believe I managed to see all the major sights in one day.
The trip to Pompeii was a two plus hour drive from Rome, and unfortunately, on the way, there was a traffic accident which added time to our trip. In an instant, Nick was able to call ahead and rearrange our entry time. This was critical so we wouldn't be mixed in with the large cruise crowds that often descend upon the ruins. Another great plus of traveling this way. At the same time, Jennifer from Globus and Nick had decided that a drive to Positano would be a much better experience for our group than a day in Naples. Without any fuss, Jennifer and Nick made this change seamlessly (including arrangements for a drive along the Amalfi coast). The change was met with overwhelming applause.
In Pompeii, we met another well-versed local guide. I began to understand why it's so important to not just have a Tour Director, but also local guides if you really want to learn about your destination. These guides are experts in their subjects and they are completely devoted to your group. The time in Pompeii was just enough to feel you had a good understanding of what happened here.
Sorrento was a short drive away. It's a beautiful, small Italian town filled with delicious scenery and even more delicious gelato and limoncello. Nick arranged for us to visit a local shop where beautiful inlaid wood was being created by a sixth generation craftsman, then we were treated to a private gelato making and tasting - thanks to a friend of Nick's who owned a gelato shop.
Our next adventure was driving along the Amalfi Coast to Positano. I am so thankful we were able to do this. While the drive is a little nerve-racking if you don't like heights, it was thrilling to me. The scenery cannot be matched. We had time to walk down to the beach and enjoy Prosecco in a seaside eatery.
The great part about having as a stop on your itinerary is you get to slow down. Spending time in the countryside is vastly different than the feeling of the big city of Rome. I appreciated the lazy breakfasts and lingering dinners that Globus arranged. Strolling the streets of Alberobello to admire the unique cylindrical houses called "truilli" gave you a sense of another time. Nick came through once again - he knew a man in the town who would let you tour his truilli home. Stepping inside the little house that looked like it came from a fairy tale was a treat, but listening to the man who lived there talk about raising a family inside that little beehive structure was truly memorable!
Aside from the amazing trip and sights, what did I take away from my adventure with Globus?
Traveling with Globus allowed me to see a lot more of Italy than I would have been able to do on my own. On my first full day in Rome I visited The Vatican, the Coliseum, the Forum, the Parthenon, the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain.
It's great to have someone else handle the challenges. The Globus Tour Director will make sure your group is accommodated if there are unexpected delays or changes (horrible Roman traffic) and you never have to worry about it!
The "extras" that Globus arranges (the craftsman, gelato tasting, truilli homeowner) are the experiences you remember forever.
The Globus motor coach is a beautiful thing. I was able to travel comfortably from place to place, with Wi-Fi, which helped me feel rested and relaxed.