Italy Alive Tours
Custom tours are available for groups of 8 or more!
Our next group tour will be in May 2020 (dates to be determined).
Below is a brief description of each city and what we will be doing there. I will be describing what makes each city unique and what "off the beaten track" activities we will be doing.
City #1 - Rome - 3 Nights
"Roma, non basta una vita!", literally translates to "Rome, one lifetime is not enough!". Rome, of course, was the center of the Roman Empire, and therefore it would take a lifetime to truly see all she has to offer. But together we will see the highlights and step back in time to experience her ancient glory.
We will enjoy a wonderful group "welcome meal" in the heart of Rome. There the waiters are brusque, the atmosphere crackles with energy, and the interior is covered in graffiti – tradition dictates that diners should leave their mark in a message on the wall.
We will take a walking tour to see such sights as: The Colosseum, The Forum, The Pantheon, The Trevi Fountain, The Spanishs Steps, Piazza Navona, and The Mouth of Truth (As see in the famous movie, "Roman Holiday")
On another day, we will visit Vatican City, where the Pope resides, which includes St. Peter's Basilica. You will have the option to visit the Vatican Museums and the Sistine Chapel which houses Michelangelo's famous ceiling.
We will also visit the Catacombs, which were underground burial for the early Christians. The catacombs are extremely important for the history of Early Christian art, as they contain a great majority of examples from before 400 AD, in the form of frescos on the walls.
Another unusual site we will visit will be the Crypt of the Cappuccini Monks. It contains the skeletal remains of 3,700 bodies believed to be Capuchin friars. The Catholic order insists that the display is not meant to be macabre, but a silent reminder of the swift passage of life on Earth and our own mortality. And I can tell you, it is quite effective.
Rome, known as the "Eternal City" is so special and magical that I even named one of my daughters after it...Roma Elizabeth Ellenberg!
City #2 Florence - 3 Nights
What can I say about Florence except that it is one of my favorite places on earth! This is the city where I studied architecture for a semester, where I came back to live for two years and where I have friends here for over 20 years.
While in Florence we will take a walking tour to see such sights such as the main cathedral known as the "Duomo", the Baptistry, Palazzo Vecchio (The old palace), the Pitti Palace, Piazza Della Signoria, and an abundance of amazing Renaissance churches.
We will also visit the wonderful outdoor market of San Lorenzo where everything leather can be purchased and haggled for.
We will visit the quaint hilltown, Fiesole, that is on the outskirts of Florence for a group meal like no other! Perched up on the hillside overlooking Florence, you will have a view of the city you will never forget! And the food just keeps coming!
We will also have a tour of two wineries in the heart of the Tuscan wine country. We will also have wine tasting and exploring of these medieval towns. You will think you stepped back in time!
And lastly, I will bring you to visit a friend of mine with whom I used to sing in a band. He owns a wonderful home in the historic center of Florence. After purchasing it many years ago, he discovered a spiral staircase that lead down into a "cantina", an underground series of rooms that run below the streets above. These were used during the time of Dante. My friend, being an architect, restored these spaces and has since been using them as a rehearsal space for his band and also for art showings and parties. This is a true "insider's" location in Florence :-)
City #3 Levanto "The Italian Riviera" - 3 nights
Levanto is a town that is near and dear to my heart. This is the town where my father grew up that lies in the heart of the Italian Riviera. Of course, back then it was just a sleepy fishing village. Today it is a wonderful resort town that is a great spring board for nearby locations.
We will begin with a walking tour through the town to see such sights as the Church of Sant'Andrea, their main church that was built in the 1200s, an old castle, and an ancient portico. I will also show you my favorite places to shop and eat.
This is the region of Italy where "Pesto" comes from and I grew up eating pesto before it was cool to eat pesto. It was my favorite pasta dish growing up, and at one of our predeparture meetings, I will show you how to make some!
Another typical food item from this region is called "Farinata", made from chick pea flour and olive oil. It is cooked in the oven and is very easy to make. It is a great finger food! At another predeparture meeting, I will show you how to make it. And once in Italy, I will show you where you can eat both of these two famous dishes in Levanto :-)
Levanto is also a great location for hikers. The "Cinque Terre" are right next door. They are five small fishing villages that some years ago were discovered by tourism and now are popular tourist destinations. They are pretty much as they were for hundreds of years, and the hiking trails between them are famous.
They are a string of centuries-old seaside villages on the Italian Riviera coastline. In each of the 5 towns, colorful houses and vineyards cling to steep terraces, harbors are filled with fishing boats, and trattorias turn out seafood specialties famous in Liguria.
Since Levanto is on the beach (main website photo), you will have the opportunity to take a wonderful walk to a small neighboring town called Bonassola, that gives you some beautiful views of the ocean.
Before leaving Levanto, we will have our "farewell group meal" in a local restaurant. It is a really suggestive building with a gothic-romantic style, located in the historical centre of Levanto. And the food is unsurpassed with courses of fresh seafood that the Ligurian region is known for.