Smithsonian Journeys, 2023, Italian Riviera,

Janetta Rebold Benton

Sunday: Thirteen Americans arrived in Sestri,

Checked into the Hotel Vis-à-vis,

Unpacked only once for the week, happily.

We got to know each other over a delicious dinner,

And recognized that no one would end this trip thinner.

Monday: We drove to Santa Margherita, then sailed to Portofino--where some hiked up the hill,

Although huffing ang puffing still, they reported the view was a thrill.

Tuesday: We drove through the predicted rain,

The view so spectacular, no one could complain.

At Castello di Tagliolo, Lucca invited us for a tour, lunch, and wine,

His castle was splendid and the wine divine.

At the Bodrate Chocolate Factory our guide related,

How delicious candies are created.

Future generations will tell the story,

Of the American guests who depleted the inventory.

Wednesday: We departed early, but no one was sorry,

Because in Carrara we visited Michelangelo’s quarry.

In Lucca we saw many churches from the Middle Ages,

Combining Romanesque and Gothic, built in stages.

Thursday: At our cooking class, we learned to make pesto using the local ways,

And ate enough regional specialties to keep us fed - for several days.

At the Smithsonian Corner, we all got to know,

The luscious taste of lardo.

Friday: We used a variety of forms of transportation:

First a bus to Porto Venere, without hesitation.

Then on to Manarola among the Cinque Terre,

Where we found nothing could compara.

Next a boat took us to Vernazza, with the steepest stairs--

For architectural engineering, no other culture compares.

With an interesting day, no one could complain,

By the time we returned to Sestri Levante by train.

Saturday: A day without a schedule to keep

Perhaps to relax and get extra sleep

Or head to Genova on the train

Or do whatever was in our brain.

Throughout this past week, who watched over all of us,

Never lost his cool? Never made a fuss?

Never lost even one of us?

With everything and everyone, he took such great care,

His mood monitored by the height of his hair?

Everyone, please raise your glass in a toast,

To the Tour Director with the most!


Please join me next summer, Smithsonian Journeys trip

May 29 – June 4, 2024, The Life and Work of Vincent van Gogh in France