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Tours in Italy for Senior Citizen parents


Jul 12th, 2016, 07:46 AM
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Tours in Italy for Senior Citizen parents

Hi Everyone,

My fiance is Spanish and I am American; due to his parents' ill health, we need to have our wedding in Spain next year, but while my mom jumps at the chance to travel, my father (Italian American but rarely stepped outside his native Pittsburgh!) needs to be...shall we say...convinced.. that international travel is fun

Since the only place my father has ever expressed an interest in seeing is his parents' homeland, Italy, I thought I might surprise him by plotting out a trip to Italy first, then arranging to have them pop over to Madrid for said wedding. While my fiance and I have plenty of experience getting older/less fit folks around Spain,so that half is covered, I would want to get my mom and dad a tour. They are relatively healthy, and while my mom can go for miles, my dad is 68 & diabetic, so he cannot walk long distances, needs to eat regularly, needs rest/slower pace (i.e. my knowledge of the country as a 20-something backpacker isn't helping me plan for them!)

I would be so grateful if anyone has suggestions for a company that does good senior-paced tours in Italy? One that knows the less-experienced travelers' needs?

I know he would love to see the country and would love to give him this chance while they are still fit enough to do it!

Thanks so much,
roby_D is offline  
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Jul 12th, 2016, 08:11 AM
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There may be a disconnect.
While most tours tend to attract older age group with less self planning experiences, they are usually regimented. Early morning wake up calls and must follow dictated itineraries including walking. There is only so far the tour buses can go. The tours tend to visit popular tourist destinations in rush rush way which might be incompatible with where he might want to go if the homeland in Italy is in a less visited remote region. If he is already ho hum with an international travel, a rush rush tour to destination he does not care for would be just the wrong thing to do. Of course, there are more leisurely travel or with more free time. However, they are either high end premium tours or a free form hotel and transport only arrangement where you plan the rest.
You can provide him with a itinerary within his capability modifiable as you find out what he can/cannot do, want/does not want to do by doing it on your own also in Italy.
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Jul 12th, 2016, 10:21 AM
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What you want to do is very generous, but I caution the surprise element. If your objective is to have both your parents present, healthy and happy for your wedding in Spain, perhaps sending them on a tour of Italy prior to the wedding is not the best idea. Travel is exhilarating and exhausting; your father has mobility issues and is reluctant to travel. Even a tour will have them moving around a lot, getting up very early in the morning for departures, sleeping in many strange beds, etc. Please include them in the planning if you move ahead with this idea. Perhaps Italy after your wedding should be considered.
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Jul 12th, 2016, 10:53 AM
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First, love what you want to do. Very kind, loving and generous.

With your Father's health issues (I am older than your parents and also have health issues), I would not want a tour.

Are there any other family members who would want to go with them? Might be reassuring for them.

On their own, help them choose two or three places they most want to see. I like apartments, but being their first time in Italy and age and health, book them into hotels in city centers. Read reviews and make sure it is a friendly hotel staff. Book local guides for the things they want to see. Be sure the guide understands the limitations.

Buy insurance that would cover car in Europe and medical evacuation.

In each city they will be based in, locate a Doctor and hospital they would be comfortable with should they need it. Overkill, I know, but an extra comfort in case.

Have them use taxis to and from the airport and for longer distances from one place to another in cities like Rome.
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Jul 12th, 2016, 11:04 AM
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Definitely have the wedding first! Definitely forget the average tour.

You might look at this: http://www.untours.com/italybroker.html

Or I think that Gate1 has tours where they book the transport and hotels, but you are on your own aside from that. For someone with mobility issues, much, much better to go at their own pace.
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Jul 12th, 2016, 11:19 AM
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Wouldn't he be more interested in visiting the villages/regions his parents came from? Maybe you could even contact someone from the town hall, if you are lucky they may want to show him around.

If his parents were Italian and he has Italian citizenship he'll be ok if anything unexpected happens. They'll treat him for free.
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Jul 13th, 2016, 04:33 AM
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I'm with Ticino on this.

Everyone I know who has returned to the village where their families originated has found it an enormously rewarding experience at all kinds of levels, some positive, some negative. I don't know anyone who has returned to the Big City where their family originated. Maybe they hated it!

I am a couple of years older than your father and have the same health issues and maybe a few more. I travel a lot. I am successful because I never push myself or allow others to push me into more than I can do. I know what I want to see and let others go to catacombs and Christmas markets. I usually do Something in the morning and Something in the afternoon. I take a nap after lunch -- as many locals do -- and quit early for an aperitivo and watching the passeggiata.

I have a harder time managing my diabetes in the summer because dehydration raises my blood sugar. If you haven't set the wedding date yet, this might be a consideration. I try to stay places where I can get protein for breakfast instead of coffee and a cornuto. Hotels with lots of North European guests are great for this, as are apartments. I eat my main meal midday and usually pretty lightly at dinner.

I would much rather see your parents visit a few high spots rather than See Italy. High spots? Rome, Florence and Venice off season, the Veneto, the region if not the town where the family originated. I would like to see them travel by train or bus rather than by car for Reasons. If you need a car to go to a village, hire a car and driver.

The keys to an enjoyable trip are (1) letting go of the idea that everyone has to do everything together and (2) letting go of the idea that if you aren't doing something every minute you are waiting time and money.
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Jul 13th, 2016, 05:34 AM
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That's "wasting time and money."
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Jul 13th, 2016, 06:04 AM
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Ackislander, I think you meant coffee and a cornetto. (Cornuto has a very different meaning.)

I agree that including a visit to the town of his ancestry would add meaning to the trip. While your inclination might be to sign up your parents for a tour to many places because this might be a one-time trip, your father's disinterest in travel might call for a simpler approach. He might enjoy five or so nights in one city in Italy, with a day trip or overnight if feasible to the ancestral town. Less rushing about, greater feelings of control over the situation.
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Jul 13th, 2016, 06:06 AM
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Ackislander has clearly stated what is best for your parents. Tours are exhausting, up and out early and going non stop all day would not be a good choice.
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Jul 13th, 2016, 08:48 AM
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Thanks all, good ideas overall.

As a note, it would not be a TOTAL surprise (I'm going to consult with them) but I would like to give him the experience, if possible, and since the most annoying part to him, I am sure, will be the transatlantic portion of the flight, I thought better to combine the two (wedding & Italy) in one. Whether we do before or after, I know wedding will be very low key (just 10 of us) and relaxed, and I think keeping Italy that way will also work.

Perhaps I might have them do Rome and/or Florence, then send them off to Calabria. (but with access to some type of driver? The main concern is the large amounts of walking, but I know they can pace that if I pick a good hotel in Rome or Florence, which I know well enough.)

Calabria, however, I don't know at all. Anyone have good contacts or sites there? Especially perhaps getting a driver, as I know from friends who have done the ancestral homeland trip that drivers really help.

Thanks again!
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Jul 13th, 2016, 09:03 AM
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I had a feeling it was going to be Calabria--or somewhere similarly difficult! Can you find pinpoint the village or town? I would seek out Calabria and ancestry-specific sites to see what you can find. good luck!
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Jul 13th, 2016, 09:40 AM
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This is exciting, see these:

I am sure you are busy planning your own wedding and honeymoon so it is wonderful for you to do this for your parents.
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Jul 13th, 2016, 12:44 PM
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Ellenem is certainly correct that I meant "coffee and a cornetto"! Too many operas, too little focus at 0730.

I could make a lot of jokes about who has coffee with a cornuto, but I think I'll quit while I am ahead!

Ackislander is offline  
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Jul 13th, 2016, 04:13 PM
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I was just concerned that someone, based on your post, would walk into a bar, ask for coffee and a cornuto, and not understand the shocked looks or hysterical laughter.
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Jul 13th, 2016, 05:13 PM
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Getting a private driver/guide would be much better IMO that any organized mass-market tour. They are just soooooo regimented and exhausting.

Creating an personal itinerary and having a driver would make it easier to change plans if they just need a down/rest day. Including Calabria plus maybe some of Sicily would be one option.
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Jul 13th, 2016, 06:00 PM
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Agree that a tour is not for your parents. Tours move at the pace of the group with early starts every day, lots of time sitting on a bus, but when they arrive at the sight they need to move with the group, keep up a reasonable pace and if they can't they will be left to sit in a cafe waiting for the others to come back.

I would talk to your parents about this and IF they are interested figure out a trip that would take them where THEY want to go, timing based on their abilities and with support along the way to help them get what they want from the trip.

And I wold defiintely do it after the wedding and not before.
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Jul 14th, 2016, 04:23 AM
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Referring back to thursdaysd's earlier post, I have friends who have used Gate1 to set up this kind of independent travel -- train, bus, hotel, car, driver, local guides, etc. They were pretty happy with it.
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