Literary Tour of Italy with Rainy Day Books

Dates: June 22 - July 5, 2015







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Exploring the beauty of Italy through the writings and musings of authors past and present.

Tour Dates: June 22 – July 5, 2015


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Rainy Day Books and Lisa Ball Travel Design go “Under the Tuscan Sun” with Frances Mayes!  The Literary Tour to Italy (June 22 – July 5, 2015) now includes a special, once-in-a-lifetime visit to meet Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun at her home, Bramasole in Cortona!
If you have dreamed of a chance to chat with Frances, and experience the inspiration for her beloved books, consider coming with us to Italy this summer!  We will spend time with Frances in Cortona, the town she has made famous!  Frances has her own wine and olive oil now as well, so we’ll learn about that.

“Italy’s siren call lures us more and more.”
Frances Mayes, A Year in the World: Journeys of a Passionate Traveller



*Itinerary subject to change based on availabilities of vendors and authors

June 22: Depart from the US on Delta Airlines to Milan (Kansas City to gateway US city then to Milan’s Malpensa Airport).


June 23: Arrive in Milan; a private charted bus meets our group

  • First stop: Verona, the romantic setting of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet! Time to explore this attractive city and lunch on your own.
  • Second stop: We arrive in La Serenissima – Venice! Our group will have four nights in this city that has captivated so many authors from John Ruskin, Henry James to Lord Byron and Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Robert Browning.       You will get to experience Venice over four amazing days and nights!

Our hotel in Venice is Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal. A 4-star rated privately owned property in a superb location on the Grand Canal. Our stay includes a lovely breakfast buffet each morning and porterage handling your luggage. (Note: additional water taxi porterage is included to/from hotel)

Tonight: Welcome to Italy Dinner at our hotel!


June 24, 25 & 26: In Venice!

Activities for Everyone while in Venice:

  • Exclusive Tour of St. Mark’s Basilica after hours! – It will be just our group inside this historic and beautiful cathedral in the company of local guide, Laura Sabbadin a native of Venice and one of the best city guides.
  • Exclusive Author Event – Dinner one night at a great Venetian restaurant with an author to be announced!
  • Literary Walking Tour of Venice – See the haunts of Byron, Goethe, James, and Proust and more in the company of your Tour Managers!
  • Venetian Cicchetti Pub Crawl – In Venice the locals hang out early evenings in local pubs where they try various appetizers paired with glasses of wine. Your Tour Managers will personally take you to some of these fun cicchetti bars. Keep in mind, no one is driving!       (Note: the cost of food and beverages are on your own).

Things to do on your own in Venice:

  • When the day trippers are long gone, you can wander the back lanes and bridges of Venice soaking up her mysterious beauty. Think about getting yourself lost in Venice; always remember you are on an island and you can never truly get lost!
  • Consider going to St. Mark’s Square at night and listen to the orchestras playing; maybe dance in the square; have a glass of wine and revel about being in one of the most romantic cities in the world. Café Florian, in St. Mark’s Square, is a famous landmark where the likes of Casanova and Charles Dickens hung out. Linger here with your wine or coffee and enjoy the atmosphere.
  • If you are in a romantic mood, take a gondola ride. At night or in the daytime, anytime is magical and an experience you do not want to miss while in Venice!

Optional Tours: There will be a few extra tours offered during our stay in Venice. These could include:

  • The Lagoon Experience – Coming to Venice you should consider seeing beyond the main island. Using a private boat and in the company of an expert guide you can visit some of the other islands such as Murano where the gorgeous glass is produced; Burano the colorful fisherman island where today the art of lace-making still prevails; and Torcello the island where the original Venetians built their community and took shelter and today you can visit their earliest cathedral.
  • Venetian Crafts – Venice has long been a place where artisans have flocked. On this tour you can see handcrafted masks and marbled paper created before your eyes!
  • Art of Venice – Go inside some of Venice’s spectacular churches where art is in situ, meaning where it was originally intended to be.
  • The Life, Art and Times of Peggy Guggenheim – Peggy was an American socialite and avid art collector. Go inside her eclectic home on the Grand Canal in the company of an art historian to see how she lived and see her amazing modern art known as the Peggy Guggenheim Collection.

“This was Venice, the flattering and suspect beauty this city, half fairy tale and half tourist trap, in whose insalubrious air the arts once rankly and voluptuously blossomed, where composers have been inspired to lulling tones of somniferous eroticism.” –Thomas Mann


June 27, 28 & 29: Tuscany! – We travel into the Italian countryside for our next adventure in Tuscany’s rolling hills and valleys.

We will spend three nights in Tuscany at Renaissance Tuscany II Ciocco Resort & Spa set in the landscape of the Serchio Valley overlooking the Apuan Alps and near the medieval village of Barga. Our accommodations at the Renaissance include a marvelous breakfast buffet each morning, access to the resort’s swimming pool and sauna, porterage and Dinner two of the three nights at the resort’s restaurant.

While in Tuscany everyone can participate in the following activities:

  • Cinque Terre – A day trip to the Cinque Terre, the Italian Riviera known for its five delightful coastal villages and the legendary Via dell’Amore, the scenic walk between the towns of Riomaggiore and Manarola. This full day excursion will include the Cinque Terre Card with access to more hiking trails in the Cinque Terre National Park and the local train going to each of the pretty towns. Those who wish will be in the company of our Tour Manager who will guide you through this vehicle-free area known for its picturesque vistas.
  • Lucca – An excursion to the charming Renaissance walled city where there are numerous Romanesque churches, shady piazzas and perhaps not as many other tourists!
  • Barga for Dinner – One evening we will venture out to the village of Barga and dine in a superb restaurant which may be combined with an exclusive author event!

Optional Tours: One noteworthy option is to go to Pisa for sight-seeing at the Field of Miracles containing the Duomo, and the ever-popular Leaning Tower as well as other buildings such as the Baptistery and the Camposanto Cemetery.

On your own, you could opt to stay a half day or full day at our resort and partake of the spa’s meditative amenities such as a massage, facial or other relaxing treatment.


June 30 and July 1: Florence – Birthplace of the Renaissance!

Our next two nights will be based in Florence. Here we will learn about Dante and Machiavelli, the birth and rise of the Renaissance, see the art and architectural masterpieces of Michelangelo, Brunelleschi and Botticelli.

Our hotel is the boutique 4-star Hotel Berchielli located on Arno River and near the famed Ponte Vecchio. Our stay includes an ample breakfast buffet each morning and porterage for your luggage.

Activities included for everyone while in Florence:

  • Literary Walking Tour – Includes a visit to the English Cemetery where Elizabeth Barrett Browning is interred along with other English authors such as Fanny Trollope as well as relatives of William Shakespeare!
  • Historic Walking Tour of Florence – Exploring the Renaissance architecture from the Duomo to the Ponte Vecchio and the dynasty of the Medicis and ending at the Accademia where the David is enshrined in all his glory.

Optional Tours: A few extra offered tours to enhance your experience in this city of art could include:

  • Uffizi Gallery – Housing the greatest collection of Italian paintings anywhere.
  • Artisans of Florence Tour – Discover the other side of the Arno and go inside studios of today’s master craftsmen and women where astounding artifacts are created in shops often not entered in by the average tourists.
  • Tuscan Cooking Class – Go to a private home of a Florentine resident and learn how to prepare Tuscan specialties.

Other activities you might pursue on your own while in Florence:

  • Climb the Dome of the Duomo for an up-close view of Brunelleschi’s architectural masterpiece
  • Go in inside the Baptistery whose bronze doors were called “gates of Paradise” by Michelangelo.
  • See the spectacular view of Florence and the Duomo from the Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset.
  • Consider visiting a lesser known museum such as the Galileo Science Museum or seeing the collection of art by the early Renaissance master Fra Angelico at the Museum of San Marco.
  • Be like Lucy Honeychurch in E. M. Forester’s A Room with a View and visit Santa Croce Church housing precious art and tombs of famous Florentines.

“Everything about Florence seems to be colored with a mild violet, like diluted wine.” Henry James


July 2: *After leaving Florence, everyone will visit the American Cemetery where 4,402 World War II soldiers are interred. Set in the beautiful Tuscan countryside, visiting the American Cemetery is a moving and memorable experience.

Later this morning, we will make a stop at the Umbrian hill town of Orvieto, known for its outstanding Duomo with its colorful façade and local producers of the crisp white wine. Enjoy strolling through the oldest part of town and while gazing at the Duomo, have a gelato or sip the local wine at an outdoor café. Lunch is on your own.


All Roads Lead to Rome!

By mid-afternoon we arrive in Rome and to our hotel, the 5-star rated Hotel Bernini Bristol located in the centro storico section of this storied capital city. Hotel Bernini Bristol is so named for the beautiful Triton Fountain situated in front of the hotel designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, one of the Baroque-era beautifiers of Rome. Amenities of the hotel include a delicious breakfast buffet each morning and porterage for your luggage.

July 3 & 4: In Rome!

Rome is a magnificent city full of places where the modern meets the ancient. On your own, take time to walk through the different neighborhoods like around the Pantheon or Trastevere, where the local Romans live. The city is full of churches, markets, cafes, gelaterias and shops, plenty of sites to keep you enthralled during the days and nights.

Activities included for everyone while in Rome:

  • Rome’s Literary Connections – A walking tour encompassing the former homes of authors such as Keats and then their final resting place at the Protestant Cemetery.
  • *Exclusive After-Hours Tour of the Vatican Museums! – Led by one of the top guides in Rome, Elizabeth Lev, this tour will first take you through St. Peter’s Basilica, the largest church in the world followed by seeing the treasures at the Vatican Museum after all the other tourists leave. This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience as our group will be the only people in the wondrous Sistine Chapel, seeing Michelangelo’s monumental work with the freedom to walk around and hear Elizabeth describe it in detail! Note: this exclusive event will be on July 4 beginning in the middle afternoon and into the early evening.
  • Last Night in Rome Dinner will be later in the evening of July 4 at our hotel’s fabulous rooftop restaurant, L’Olimpo with its spectacular 360-degree view of the Rome! Here we will toast our fantastic literary tour with Rainy Day Books and celebrate as we gaze over the Seven Hills of Rome! Note: This Last Night Dinner may also be combined with an Exclusive Author Event!

Optional Tours: Additional Optional Tours will be offered to round out your experience in Rome. These could include:

  • Bernini’s Rome – See more of Bernini’s master works at the Borghese Gallery and at churches near our hotel.
  • Ancient Sites of Rome – See one of the ancient wonders of the world up close as your guide leads you through the Coliseum and also the Roman Forum.

 Italy Literary Tour inclusions for everyone:

  • Services of full time Tour Designer & Director: Lisa Ball and Tour Manager: Johann Hauser
  • Round-trip airfare to/from Kansas City to U.S. gateway city to Milan; from Rome to U.S. arrival city to Kansas City. Please note: with advance notice, the tour director can arrange flights from other cities to the U.S. gateway city to Milan
  • Comfortable and competent ground transportation aboard a private chartered motor-coaches from Italian company and Munich-based Autobus Oberbayern (includes airport transfers)
  • Hand-selected hotels in Venice (Carlton Hotel on the Grand Canal 4 nights); in Tuscany (Renaissance Tuscany II Ciocco Resort & Spa 3 nights); in Florence (Hotel Berchielli 2 nights); and Rome (Hotel Bernini Bristol 3 nights). All hotels offer top-notch service, amenities and locations. Porterage will be included at all hotels
  • All Taxes and Gratuities applicable to airfare, hotels, ground transportation and group meals; all gratuities for hired guides and bus drivers; and all daily City Taxes collected by the hotels
  • Sight-seeing venues and excursions included in the base tour (based on availability):

While in Venice: All activities outlined above including an excursion to Verona; Exclusive After-Hours Tour of St. Mark’s Basilica; Literary Walking Tour of Venice; Venetian Cicchetti Pub Crawl; and Exclusive Author Dinner

While in Tuscany: All activities outlined above including full day excursion to the Cinque Terre; excursion to Lucca; and visit to medieval village of Barga for Dinner (could be an Exclusive Author Event)

While in Florence: All activities outlined above including a visit to the Accademia to see the David included as part of the Historic Walking Tour of Florence and a Literary Tour of Florence

While in Rome: All activities outline above including Rome’s Literary Connections Tour and the Exclusive After-Hours Tour of the Vatican Museums including seeing the Sistine Chapel and proceeded by a tour inside St. Peter’s Basilica and Last Night Dinner in Rome which could be an Exclusive Author Event

  • Optional Tours: In each location a few Optional Tours will be offered to enhance your experience.       The Optional Tours will be made available to all travelers by February.
  • Meals: All breakfasts will be included at each of the hotels; Dinners included: Welcome to Italy Dinner at Hotel Carlton on the Grand Canal in Venice; Author Dinner in Venice; Dinner two nights at Renaissance Tuscany II Ciocco Resort & Spa; Dinner one night in Barga; Last Night Dinner in Rome at Hotel Bernini Bristol.


Base Tour Cost: $6,300 per person based on double occupancy. The single supplement is $900 per person.

Deposits and Payments: A deposit of $500 per person will secure your spot on this tour due immediately at sign-up.

Payment #2: $2,900 due April 27, 2015

Payment #3: $2,900 (plus any Optional Tours and Single Supplement costs) due May 11, 2015.

Please note: Tour costs do not include travel insurance as this cost is based on the traveler’s age and individual health. If you have a pre-existing health condition and you wish to obtain travel insurance, you must do so within two weeks of paying your deposit to Lisa Ball Travel Design.

Payments may be made via personal check, as well as VISA or MasterCard through PayPal available on the Lisa Ball Travel Design website. Click on the “Pay Now” button at PayPal does charge a 3% fee and if you choose to pay via this method, please add 3% to your payments. Credit cards are only accepted via PayPal.

Cancellation Policy: If you must cancel your participation with this tour, the tour director will strive to reimburse as much of the trip costs you have paid as possible. The amount of reimbursement depends though on the timing of a cancelation. If you cancel after the final airfare ticketing process, (this date will be communicated to travelers) your deposit will be automatically retained and the remaining amount you receive back in reimbursement will be determined based on the timing of your cancellation and what has been outlaid on your behalf. If you purchase trip cancellation/interruption insurance the tour director will work with your insurance company to provide the necessary paperwork so you can receive a reimbursement from the insurance company. Please note: some tour costs affect the cost of others going on the trip and those items cannot be refundable. These items include the ground transportation, hiring of guides, group meals, and sight-seeing venues where fixed, timed tickets have been purchased.

Tour Meeting and a Movie Night: A fun, informative tour meeting offering history and cultural insights as well as travel savvy tips will be scheduled. In addition, every traveler will be invited to a Movie Night featuring a literary film set in Italy. The meeting and Movie Night are complimentary and optional and a great way to meet your fellow travelers!


Open my heart and you will see Graved inside of it, “Italy”