On The Road Again tours southern Europe

On the Road Again Tour Group stands outside of the walled medival city of San Gimignano in Tuscany, Italy, front row, from left, are Roberta Williams, Anne Pucci, Susan Wilson, Judy Ball, Carol Vitton, and Grace Wilson; back are Irene Ackerman, Debbie Curran, and Sue Gerber.

NORWAY — Nine members of the On the Road Again Tour Group enjoyed an amazing journey in May to Barcelona, Southern France, the Italian Riviera, Florence, and Rome.

While in Barcelona, the group had an opportunity to visit La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, designed by Catalan architect Antoni Gaudi. The church has been under construction since 1882, and Gaudi’s fantastic vision is slated for completion in 2026. The group also viewed more of Gaudi’s work at Park Guell and Casa Mila.

Travelers ventured outside of Barcelona to the ninth-century Monastery of Montserrat, which is built into the side of a mountain. They rode a cable car to reach the monastery and had the good fortune to view the statue of the Black Virgin of Montserrat.

Before leaving Barcelona, the group was thrilled by a dynamic flamenco dinner show, said group member, Judy Ball.

The following day, they headed toward the French Riviera with a stop in fortified city of Carcassonne. The following day they arrived in the Riviera by way of Nimes where they saw remarkably preserved Roman buildings, including the Arena of Nimes, the imposing Roman amphitheater where the movie “Gladiator” was filmed. Members had the unique opportunity to walk on the Pont du Gard, the mighty first century Roman aqueduct bridge. Then the group drove on to Cannes where some of them waded in the Mediterranean Sea.

While on the French Riviera they spent an afternoon strolling the streets of Nice, shopping in little boutiques, enjoying the scents of fresh flower markets, touring the medieval village of Saint-Paul-de-Vence, and indulging their taste buds with delicious French cuisine.

“Oh, what luscious desserts,” said Ball.

Their next destination was the Principality of Monaco. They arrived amid the excitement of the upcoming Grand Prix which was that weekend. Some of the members toured the Prince’s Palace, while others visited the cathedral and saw the tomb of Princess Grace, and some did both.

As they were leaving France for the Italian Riviera, the group made one last stop in France, and that was to a French perfume factory. “After all, who can leave France without French perfume,” she adds.

While in northern Italy, they discovered Cinque Terre, an Idyllic cluster of five villages set on the cliffs along the sea. The group traveled by boat along the coast marveling in dramatic cliffside views.

“We even stopped for free time to explore the villages of Vernazza and Monterosso,” said Ball.

As they headed south, the tour group had an unimaginable privilege of paying respects to fallen World War II American soldiers at the Florence American cemetery. Just two days before Memorial Day, they watched Boy Scouts placing American flags on the markers of these not-forgotten heroes.

The grand finale of the trip was visiting Tuscany, Florence, and Rome. Where they learned about growing olives and grapes and about wine making and even participated in a wine tasting. Further on down the road was the medieval village of San Gimignano, which still retained the flavor of the Renaissance.

In Florence members were surrounded by the art and the architecture of the Renaissance, including the legendary cathedral of Florence, Michelangelo’s statue of David, and the Ponte Vecchio. There they followed in the footsteps of the ancient Romans with a tour of the Forum and the Colosseum.

In Vatican City, they toured the Vatican Museums, stood in the center of St. Peter’s Square, and visited St. Peter’s Cathedral.

“Our group stepped inside the Sistine Chapel where we had our breathe taken as we gazed at Michelangelo’s finest masterpiece painted on its ceiling,” said Ball.

“The culture, the art and architecture, the delicious meals, the friendliness of the people, the opportunity to travel with friends old and new, especially our spectacular tour director, has made this trip one my fellow travelers and I will remember for our lifetimes.”

The On the Road Again Tour Group will announce further details as they will hit the big cities of the East Coast in September.

The group will also be traveling to the Canadian Maritimes — Nova Scotia to Newfoundland in July of 2019. Anyone who is interested in joining them can contact Ball at 906-563-9408, or Susan Wilson at 906-271-1040.