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Country Roads: Epilogue
Country Roads:

Story and photos by Tom Weber

Insights Vacations' coach driver Carlo

t's been a little over a month – real-time, not virtual – since I was aboard Insight Vacations' motorcoach, reclined in my business-class legroom seat, rolling through Umbria and Tuscany wondering what I'd see, smell and taste next.

Part of a group of international media, 23 travel writers and photographers, I was invited along this premium-escorted journey to sample firsthand a portion of one of Insights "Country Roads of Italy" itineraries and was pampered every kilometer of the way with a healthy dose of the three Cs: culture, cuisine and [wine] corks.

a room at the Hotel Bauer, Venice

Traveling on Insight's euro, not mine, I was "drafted" to experience what paying guests get for their money, and it's quite a lot: five-star luxury hotels, fine dining, expert art-history local guides, arrival and departure transfers, all local transportation, baggage handling, surprising "signature moments" when you least expect them, and, most importantly, one sterling tour director-slash-storyteller, named Belinda, who kept our band of merry media on schedule and well-informed with her flawless narrative.

country scene around San Gimigniano, Tuscany

A subsidiary of The Travel Corporation USA, Insight lived up to its billing of giving its guests a taste of what it's like to travel in style around the Bel Paese.

You have to be pretty proud of your brand and bold enough to invite the press along, whose job it is to criticize, good or bad, the services you're promoting. And from the invited scribes and lens crafters aboard this eight-day journey, it looks like thumbs-up all around for Insight.

a zucchini and herbs flan underneath a pecorino cheese fondue at teh Osteria di Fonterutoli

With over 35 years of experience in the travel industry, Insight seamlessly took care of everything, from first arrival to final departure, with nary a hiccup in between. You really are in good hands with Insight.

So, how much does this "traveling in style" cost, you ask? Well, luxury doesn't come cheap, but John Boulding, Insights' Global CEO, who was along for the ride part of the way, explained that when you break the total per-person price down to a per-day cost, the journey's an excellent bargain at only 220€. Still not convinced? One of the gold-level properties we stayed in charges between 900-1,500€ per night for a standard room, and that's obscenely higher than Insight's quoted per-diem rate for an entire 24-hour journey experience.

facade of The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption, Orvieto, Umbria

For those of you who tagged along with me virtually, you already know how much fun I had. But, for those of you who didn't, here's what you missed.

scenes from Rome, the Vatican, Orvieto, Perugia, Assisi, Spello, Cortona and Fonterutoli

My band of merry media experienced Rome by night; received the VIP treatment in the Vatican Museums; learned how to make homemade tagliatelle with the Etruscan Chef; touched the colorful sky in Orvieto; went underground in Perugia; toured saintly Assisi; found a real virgin in an olive grove; whiled away an entire afternoon-into-evening around la tavola in Spello; meandered under the Tuscan sun in Cortona; visited a world-renowned Chianti winery; and, lunched with an Italian nobleman and toured his "humble" abode.

But, wait, there's more!

We went back in time to Medieval Manhattan; were humored by a world champion gelato maker; tasted superlative grape and ate just like the locals during a dark and foodie night; fell in love with a bevy of redheads in Maranello; walked underneath the porticos of La Rossa; were mesmerized by La Serenissima; witnessed glass turned into works of art; dodged the infamous acqua alta; and, glided through a narrow riello and into the sunset on a gondola.

For detailed information on Insight's 12 Italian premium and luxury-escorted itineraries – complete with surprising, behind-the-scenes "signature" moments – and over 100 journeys throughout Europe, just click HERE, or call toll-free (888) 680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

This was my very first experience as an imbedded journalist and it could not have gone better, thanks, in large part, to having Insight as my "patron" – similar to Michelangelo and the Medici – for the maiden trip.

Look, someone has to tag along, document the experience, write about it and let the paying public know. And, those duties might as well fall into the lap of this independently minded wordsmith rather than somebody else's, don't you think?

I look forward to receiving my next invitational travel letter from Insight Vacations, or any one of the other travel brands of The Travel Corporation USA, that, collectively, operate in 60 countries out of 35+ offices with more than 10,000 experienced team members at the disposal of 1.5 million+ guests annually.

Hey, my bags are already packed. I'm ready to go. Just put me back on that motorcoach. PLEASE?

Related Articles:
La Rua: Vicenza's Wheel of Fortune; Piazza dei Signori, Vicenza; The Little Village Atop the Hill (Castelluccio di Norcia); Norcia, Umbria

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

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Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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