Italy … by Land! – Sometimes to go deeper, you have to leave the sea behind.

Monday Mantra

Ciao Italia! … Ciao Italia! … Ciao Italia!

Italy … by Land!

Sometimes to go deeper, you have to leave the sea behind.

Soon, I’ll be off to Italy! And here’s the newsflash … NOT on a cruise. That’s the part that totally baffles my friends who seem to think that just because 99.99999999999999 percent of my travel has been aboard ship, I’m not allowed to explore the world ashore.

But, seriously, Rome wasn’t built in a day so how can you expect to explore it in one? A 12-hour call, particularly when you figure in that grueling 2-hour transfer from Civitavecchia, barely gives you enough time to digest your pizza and gelato, much less absorb the magnificence of St. Peter’s.

I’ll be traveling with Insight Vacations on one of its new Luxury Gold itineraries. What blows my dress up about Luxury Gold is that it offers all sorts of fancy-pants extras: a visit to the Sistine Chapel before it opens to the pesky public, a cooking class in Tuscany, and 5-star hotels and Michelin-rated restaurants. Bellissima!

I’ve visited Italy many times, always aboard ship, but I always sailed away feeling that I barely scratched the surface since, to be honest, I never really made the best use of my time during those calls. Like when I decided to wait for the earring store to open instead of visiting The Vatican because I simply HAD to buy the dual-finish textured-gold twisted loop earrings (and I’m sure I’ll burn in hell for that). And then another time I wasted about two hours roaming the streets in search of a gnocchi board similar to the one I saw Tyler Florence use on the Food Channel while whipping up his Ultimate Gnocchi (which really is the ultimate gnocchi, I might add). I finally found the little grooved board in a grocery store down a side street (it was 60 cents) and was elated about it — until I found out that real Italians use a fork to form their gnocchi.

And then there was the time Mary and I got hopelessly lost in Venice. We were rushing down dark alleys trying to find our way back to Piazza San Marco and our tender and since we were practically sprinting, I came thisclose to falling into a canal. (We ended up missing the tender that night and had to take a water taxi that cost about a million dollars back to the ship.)

But now, thanks to Insight Vacations, I’ll be able to enjoy Rome, Tuscany, and Venice at a luxurious and unhurried pace. And the next time I cruise to Italy, I’ll know a lot more about the country, its culture, its art, and its history than where to buy a gnocchi board.

— Judi Cuervo

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Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.