Is it time for a Rick Steves’ tour?

We have been independent travelers to Italy since the mid 90’s.  We have flown to a variety of European countries from Seattle and figured out how to get to Italy from there. Once we arrive in Italy, we rent a car and do a lot of exploring.  My husband has discovered great places to rent in more off the beaten path locations.  In recent years, we have been based in Sestri Levante.

Over the years we have explored Verona, Venice, Rome, Florence (many times), Tuscany, Umbria, Lake Como, the Italian Riviera, Cinque Terre (today’s photo is me in Cinque Terre, date unknown), etc. My husband has explored even further afield on solo trips.

My husband is the driver and I am the navigator. We do take trains, but also drive quite a bit.

Our first European adventure in the early 90’s was a Mediterranean cruise on a small cruise line.  We stopped at several ports.  That cruise inspired our love of all things Italian.  We went back with our good friends in 1995 and explored Verona, Florence, Tuscany, and Venice with them.  We often talk about the magic of being in Venice for Valentine’s Day that year.

We have traveled to Italy almost yearly ever since.

We had our next Italian trip planned for April 2020, which got moved to September 2020, which got moved to April 2021, and now we are looking at September 2021 (still iffy).

While we now work with a travel agent on our main flights and any stopovers, my husband arranges the rest of the trip.  This includes apartment and car rentals for our stay. I am responsible for any miscellaneous hotels and making sure the home front is taken care of in our absence.

We love our independent travel, but the time might have come to get ‘real’. 

I recall a trip 3-4 years ago.  We flew to Amsterdam from Seattle, then took a flight from Amsterdam to Genoa where we picked up our rental car. We planned our return trip home through Paris and flew there from Genoa. We had only one night in Paris, which would have been fine except for the costly cab rides, expensive hotel, and charmless neighborhood. I didn’t even know there were less than charming neighborhoods in Paris!

The next morning the Delta counter and passport control at De Gaulle were particularly challenging and the lines were long.  Just in front of us was a couple who were a bit older.  Both of them swore by their New Balance shoes, so I will call them NB (New Balance). NB had been on tours before and this time had traveled by train (no rental cars) throughout France.  In front of them was a well-dressed foursome flying first class, so I will call them FC (First Class). FC had just finished a river cruise and were on their way home.  FC said they had done independent travel and trains, etc. but, at this point, they have chosen group tours so they can keep traveling.  During that entire long exchange, I kept thinking that we will probably need to go the group travel route at some point.

It takes a lot of stamina and can be stressful to be completely on our own.  The driving and navigating is getting to be more of a challenge. We think this next trip, hopefully in September, will likely be our last completely independent Italian adventure. 

I know there are some great group or guide options out there and we will need to explore them.  We are interested in options that are European based so we can feel like we actually ‘left Seattle’. Because, like FC, we want to keep traveling.

Have a good weekend and remember double masking ‘makes sense’.

See you on Monday.


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