Italy with Francie Rich and John Hodge

FLORENCE, Arezzo, Chianti, ROME, Tivoli

April 29-May 10 2019 Round trip from New Orleans $5697*

This is our Farewell Tour, our first “farewell” tour

SIGN UP:   tour number 219121


We were lounging about after one of John’s delectable culinary creations, watching the sunlight dim through our overzealous garden while musing on our next guided tour when our eyes locked in mutual realization…”OMG, this could be our last rodeo,” John exclaimed, using an uncharacteristic rural analogy.

“Italy!” Francie shot back.  “If this is our first farewell tour, it has to be Italy!”

Our most requested destination since we started leading tours in the 1980s, Italy feels like home to us after so many visits. In fact, Francie has been to Italy more often than any grocery store.  Why Italy? The landscape is stunningly beautiful; the architecture remarkable, the art spectacular, the food delicious, the waiters scrumptious, and the heavenly gelato alone is worth the airfare.  Did we mention the shopping –the leather is divine—and let us mention the food again – cappuccino, pizza, pasta; and people-watching is an art form in Italy.

We have been organizing and leading European tours for 39 years, but this may be our last. We aren’t getting any younger and Europe keeps getting more expensive. The airfare alone is now more than the entire tour when we began in the 80’s.  So, to all those who have said, “one day we will travel with you,” that “one day” has arrived….

This tour is designed to appeal to our repeat travelers and friends, as well as first timers.  Our focus is on using only two hotels, both in great central locations, with a combination of planned tours and ample free time, some group dinner reservations, and some nights free so you can wander about.  We think it’s a winner of a trip!

We include a personalized artisan perfume studio tour, an antique silk workshop in Florence and guided visits to palazzos that we have never included before.  We will facilitate anyone’s desire to visit must-see museums and historical sites.  We are including a visit to Arezzo, a charming town famous for its fabulous monthly antique market, as well as a wine tasting and lunch at a breathtakingly beautiful vineyard in Chianti.  From Rome, we’ll move on to Villa d’Este, Tivoli Gardens and Hadrian’s Villa.

Fulvia, our Rome-based multi-lingual friend and guide of many years, will take us to Trastevere to explore parts of the ancient city that tour groups seldom see.  Italy has more UNESCO World Heritage sites than any other country, including the historic centers of Florence, Rome, Vatican City, Hadrian’s Villa and Villa d’Este.

We start off in FLORENCE, a Renaissance and medieval masterpiece.  Our hotel is just off Piazza della Repubblica in the heart of the city.  The building is a beautiful example of Gothic architecture. Like the French Quarter, Florence is flat and walk-able.  Art by Renaissance masters, Donatello, Brunelleschi and Ghiberti salt this amazing city.  Every church is a museum.  Shopping ranges from extraordinary flea markets to Gucci, Prada, supple leather, 18k gold, and everything in between.

Our tour dates were designed to get us to the monthly antique market in AREZZO (and because Conie Abernathy, repeat traveler, has a wedding at the beginning of April).  The official website of the Arezzo market describes Arezzo this way:

“The ancient Tuscan city of Arezzo, with its Roman ruins, medieval walls, Renaissance architecture and incomparable Piero della Francesca murals, has always been a magnet for art lovers.  The monthly Antiques Market with its 500 exhibitors and about 100 little shops open all year round, is, since 1968, an added incentive to visit this art-laden city. The fair takes advantage of the extraordinary scenery of Piazza San Francesco, Piazza Grande and the Logge del Vasari, but the stalls spread over the side alleys and squares across the historic center, transforming the character of the city for the Antique Market. Exhibitors come from all over Italy”.

Next, the vineyards of VIGNAMAGGIO in Chianti await our arrival.  Vignamaggio is said to be the birthplace of Mona Lisa and was the location for Kenneth Branagh’s film, Much Ado About Nothing.  In the heart of Tuscany, famous for its rich, red Chianti Classico, we will tour the wonderful vineyard, sample the wines, and linger and laugh over a sumptuous lunch.

ROME follows Florence. Our private coach will whisk us effortlessly, God willing, to the eternal city.  We love Rome, more each time we visit, and are captivated by its 2000 years of living history with layers of its past literally built one atop another.  We will walk the ancient Roman ruins juxtaposed by Byzantine, Renaissance, Baroque architecture, and high-end designer stores. The city is a symphony of sights and sounds, ancient and new.

All the churches in Italy are museums, featuring works in their original settings for which they were commissioned.

Rome is famous for the Pantheon, the best preserved building from Rome, now a Catholic Church.  Other churches were built atop Roman houses and modern bakeries and are photo worthy.

Rome has it all; the Colosseum, Vatican City (the smallest country in the world, with St. Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel), the Spanish Steps, Trevi Fountain and more gelato, fabulous food and people-watching than imaginable.  We will be there on a Wednesday for those who want to attend the weekly papal audience.  (There are now bobble-headed Pope souvenirs and calendars featuring handsome priests, if you’re so inclined. Just sayin’.)

We will have a walking tour of Trastevere with its amazing churches and neighborhoods.  We have found that Rome is actually very walkable.  We can walk to the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and the Spanish Steps.  We will take an excursion to HADRIAN’S VILLA, VILLA D’ESTE and TIVOLI GARDENS to marvel at its more than 500 fountains.

Space is limited and interest is high, so don’t dawdle, sign up NOW.
Tour price *$5697 if paid by check / $5797 if paid by credit card
$500 non-refundable deposit may be paid by credit card, sign up online at  Tour number is 219121

Tour price includes:

  • Airfare in and out of Rome
  • Private transportation within Italy\
  • Centrally located 4 Star hotels with full breakfasts, based on double occupancy.  Guaranteed single is an additional $830

Land only price $4385

  • Private coach to Vignamaggio with tour, wine tasting and lunch
  • Tour of Antico Setificio Fiorentino (antique silk factory)
  • The Perfume Universe Tour at Centre of Lorenzo Villoresi
  • R-T coach transportation to Arezzo for antique markets
  • Entrances and guided tours of Palazzo Medici Ricardi and Palazzo Davanzati
  • Transportation and entrance to Villa d’Este, Tivoli Gardens and Hadrian’s Villa
  • Bus tour of Rome with guide and entrance fee to Centrale Montemartini
  • Guided walking tour of Trastevere
  • Airline taxes, hotel taxes, tips for guides and drivers
  • Custom made tour guide booklet and Nancy Mullen says, “Don’t under estimate this”

Your tour requires a $500.00 deposit with a second payment of $1,000.00 in 30 days.  The final tour payment is due 70 days before departure, February 18, 2019.


Francie Rich, John Hodge


John: 985.630.0070

Francie: 985.705.0080