…And we’re back! Italy was the first country in Europe to shut down, so it felt particularly satisfying and a little poetic that it was one of our first countries to welcome Untourists this summer. The Lorenzis and the Moormans were our first guests in Italy, the first Untourists to return to Italy since 2019.
In talking to them before and after, it was clear they are just the breed of traveler to enjoy Europe in this early and in-between phase of re-open. Italy, and Europe as a whole, will reward travelers who are open, optimistic, flexible, and prepared.
These guests were all of the above and had a grand time. Here is their report.
Tuscany Travel, 2021
Gloria and Edward Lorenzi (above, right) have traveled with us to Italy once before, in 2016, and visited the Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. So the trip they planned for 2020, with their friends David and Terri Moorman, was to be a reprise. Of course nothing was happening last summer. Like hundreds of other Untourists, they had to reschedule their trip.
Tracy (left), our on-site Untours host in Tuscany, was eager to meet them and was thrilled to welcome her first guests in 21 months. And we were eager for news of how things were going. Gloria checked in by emails with us in the US to share photos and tell us they were having fun, but we wanted to hear more.
“To be honest, orientation went great,” Tracy reported. “It was just as it has always been. Lovely people, ready to soak it all up and just really happy to have made it in the present climate.”
“As far as I know there haven’t been any problems. In the orientation meeting we went through the Italian COVID rules and I told them honestly about the situation as is.”
The happy group is photographed above with Tracy at her orientation and welcome event.
They enjoyed a fairly quiet Siena. There were people, but not the usual crowds one might normally find throughout Italy in high summer season. And everyone seemed very happy they were there, from shopkeepers, to waiters, and staff at local sites.
Of course they enjoyed the views and the clean air of the countryside, touring Tuscany by car. The Lorenzis had traveled there before and were happy to return. They enjoyed visiting wineries, eating well, and exploring some of the region’s prettiest hill towns. They also became regulars at Buonconvento’s Bar Sport.
There were some fun and exhilarating backroads adventures, including some adventures worthy of a Fellini film when on their way to a wine tasting. A wrong turn can lead to real adventure!
Gloria told me how much she appreciated the Untours way of travel. “It’s like the banner we were holding in the photo. (above) You feel like you are experiencing a place and its people, like you are understanding someone’s story.”
Ed said he appreciates how Untours run, and how they were able to plan their own time in Tuscany and Amalfi both, but with the support of Untours staff. “You do this with the behind the scenes, hands on guidance and protection of a local Untours rep who is always there for you, but not leading you by the hand.”
Amalfi Coast Travel, 2021
After Tuscany, it was on to the Amalfi Coast. Here the ladies pose with our Amalfi Untours host Rosa (center), who was thrilled to welcome guests once more. “The arrivals went very smooth,” Rosa reported. “They love their apartments in Atrani, as all do! They are the best!”
The Lorenzis report “Rosa was great from start to finish, we had a lunch so enjoyable, it lasted 3 hours! We toured Amalfi with her and she pointed out many things we missed on our last visit. She supplied names for things we wanted to see and visit, and gave us a few calls during the week to see how things were going.”
Of course the page 2 headline of this summer in Europe was the heat wave, so the Moormans and Lorenzis appreciated air conditioning in those apartments as daytime highs neared 100.
During their week on the Amalfi Coast, the couples spent time in Positano, Manori, Ravello, Capri, and of course Amalfi. They report that bus service along the Amalfi Coast ran regularly and buses were not overly crowded or problematic.
Boat service was running as normal too, and the gang took a ferry to the glamourous island of Capri. They reported tourism was in full swing there, and it didn’t look like there was much impact on the usual summer crowds.
Nonetheless, they enjoyed the island’s natural beauty and especially a boat trip into the Blue Grotto. You can see where it gets its name. The luminous cave provided a respite from the heat and sun, and of course one heck of a photo opp.
Gloria and Edward also planned a return to make mozzarella with a cheesemaker they had met on their last trip, a connection Rosa helped them make in 2016. Having stayed in touch with him on social media, they were greeted with hugs and treated like old friends.
“We ended up spending two evenings with him and his wife,” Gloria told me. “Such priceless memories! And get this, he gave me his new business card and our picture from 2016 is on it!”
You can see why the Lorenzis are not only poster people for cheesemaking but for travel in general. The photos they shared brought some of us in the office to tears, so joyful we were for a return to travel and a rebounding Italy.
We have had Untourists in a handful of other destinations since the Moormans and Lorienzis returned, and we have a nice, diverse collection of bookings for this fall in Europe. There is still space and time to plan a trip for this fall to Tuscany, the Amalfi Coast, and all of our other Untours destinations. Most of our Untours are ready for 2022 bookings as well.
Editor’s note: As we share trip reports from Untours guests this year, they are meant to help give you a view of what is happening in Europe. Each post is a snapshot of a specific place in time. The situation is fluid, the one constant being the need for flexibility.