It features a number of “exam” questions that, in a humorous way, are designed to get you thinking about whether you’d rather spend this January in Italy — on their 10-day tour of Rome and Naples called “Fundamental Italy” — or back home in the U.S. in the dead of winter.
Illustrated with photos old and new, the exam asks you to choose between, among other things, shoveling snow or standing in the sunshine overlooking Rome’s Tiber River; having a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee or a cappuccino; eating American fast food or Italian pasta; and viewing a smoggy American city or what looks to be a dreamy photo of the Isle of Capri from your hotel room.
Italian Journeys turns out to be the passion of two women, Libby Lubin and Nancy DeConciliis, who are longtime friends.
While spending a year in Rome with her family, Libby spent a good deal of time exploring the Eternal City with Nancy, who was a longtime resident of Italy and still lives in Rome.
As Libby puts it, “Together we combed the city, from one remote corner to the next, while Nancy regaled me with stories of saints, painters, emperors and politicians. Our treks were transformative for me and hardly the sort of thing I could walk away from at the end of the year.”
And so Italian Journeys was born.
Small Group Personalized Journeys
Italian Journeys’ guided tours — which also cover Sicily, Puglia, Venice and environs, the hilltowns of Umbria, and other regions — are small group affairs that weave art, history, cuisine, and culture together, exploring their interconnections as well as distinctions.
On their website, Libby and Nancy pose some thought-provoking questions: “Why do the Tuscans eat beans while the Romans eat pasta while the Milanese prefer rice and Sicilians like couscous? And what gave rise to Florence’s renaissance in the 15th century while Palermo flourished in the 12th century and Genoa in the 14th century?” And yes, they know the answers (but you’ll have to take the tour to find out).
If this type of learning experience gets your travel juices flowing, you’re a good candidate for their tours, which draw plenty of baby boomers. Most of their customers are age 60 and over, with a sprinkling of younger folks, and some have been traveling with them for years — one couple has taken 17 tours. Maximum group sizes range from 14 to 18, depending on the tour.
Since that first year in Rome in 1990, Libby and Nancy have led more than 60 tours, exploring art galleries, palaces, monasteries, wine estates, farms, and more. Nancy is the main guide, while Libby handles the initial organizing and management on the road.
The journeys are very personalized, reflecting their detailed knowledge of the country. “We’ve rummaged through the ruins of abandoned ancient cities, clambered through mystics’ caves, hiked to secluded necropolises, and talked our way into private palaces,” Libby notes.
Sometimes the groups even stay overnight in palaces, farms, or monasteries. When they use hotels, they try to book into the best available, almost always three stars and up. Breakfasts and one other meal per day, usually lunch, are included in the rates.
Besides the guided group tours they have listed on their site, they will also put together a custom tour for you and your group, whether you’re a solo traveler or accompanied by family or friends.