JUNE 2017: FLAVORS OF ITALY With Capital Public Radio



Rome * Amalfi Coast * Sicily

With Capital Public Radio Insight Host Beth Ruyak

June 16 – June 28, 2017


“You may have the universe if I may have Italy.”
Giuseppe Verdi




Dear friends, please join me, Beth Ruyak, Insight host for Capital Public Radio, and a like-minded group of curious travelers for a one-of-a-kind culturally rich, mouth-watering journey to Italy’s Deep South. 

Along the way, we will savor Spaghetti alle Vongole, fresh buffalo mozzarella and Sicily’s rich olive oil. We’ll travel by ferry out to the gorgeous island of Capri; enjoy a classical music concert in Ravello, stroll through ancient Greek temples, elaborate Roman villas, Medieval Norman castles and colorful Moorish markets.  Also included, an evening sunset cruise from the Naples to Sicily, wine tastings with the producers, colorful gardens and more!  Join me, Capital Public Radio host Beth Ruyak, for what promises to be an extraordinary journey to Sicily & Southern Italy!  Space is limited.



1 Night  Historic Rome
3 Nights Ravello, Amalfi Coast
1 Night  Sunset Cruise from Naples to Palermo
2 Nights Palermo, Capital of Sicily
1 Night  Agrigento, Valley of the Temples
3 Nights Taormina, the Jewel of the Adriatic



Tickets to the Ravello Classical Music Festival  • An evening stroll through Rome • Ancient Pompeii • Naples’ stunning Archeological museum • the glistening Amalfi Coast • Three nights in the village of Ravello • Ferry tickets to the island of Capri • Taormina and her perfectly preserved Greek theater • An expedition to Mount Etna • The Roman mosaics of the Villa Casale • Sicily’s towering hill towns • Palermo’s colorful outdoor markets • The Byzantine/Norman mosaics of Monreale, Sicily’s grandest monastery • Historic walks with local guides • Wine and cheese tastings • Intimate dining experiences An interesting small group of fellow Capital Public Radio travelers.



  • With Beth Ruyak, Insight host for Capital Public Radio
  • With savvy Italian guide, Natalia Mandelli
  • Eleven nights of accommodation in charming hotels and historic monasteries
  • An entertaining & informative cooking classes (followed by either lunch or dinner)
  • Private guided tours to spectacular museums and archeological sites
  • All breakfasts and twelve multi-course meals (featuring local charming trattorias) 
  • Transportation by private air-conditioned bus
  • Cruise and private cabin from Naples to Sicily
  • An excursion to towering Mount Etna in Sicily
  • Entrances to castles, Greek temples, museums and other special events listed in your itinerary.
  • Historic walks with knowledgeable local guides
  • Gratuities for your guide and driver and local guides
  • Wine, olive oil and cheese tastings
  • Entertaining & fun language lessons en-route
  • Regional and city maps, reading and video lists



13 Days/12 Nights (Including overnight flight)
*$4,499 per person in a double shared room (land)
$949.00 Single Supplement (waived if you are willing to share and a roommate is found)
Group Flight Departs the USA on June 16, 2017
Your journey begins in Rome on June 17, at 6:00pm
Your journey culminates in Sicily on June 28, after breakfast
*Per Person based on double occupancy (land only)
* Save $200 Reserve before December 31, and save $100 + travel alumni always save $100


GROUP FLIGHT OPTION: $1,870.00 (includes all fees + airport transfers in Italy)


 Click here to view a printable version of this detailed itinerary.




“My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four unless there are three other people.”
– Orson Welles




DAY 0: June 16 – Optional Group flight departs for Italy


DAY 1: June 17 – Tour begins tonight in Rome at 6:00pm
All roads lead to Rome, which happens to be perfectly located to begin our drive into southern Italy. Your guide, Natalia Mandelli, and Capital Public Radio’s Beth Ruyak will be your hosts this evening for a welcome feast fit for Caesar himself. This evening enjoy a stroll through Rome and see the highlights including the Pantheon, Trevi Fountain and Piazza Navona.

Your journey truly begins tomorrow morning at 8:30am after a traditional Roman breakfast. Sleep in Rome (D)


DAY 2: June 18 – Rome to Positano via Naples and Villa d’Este gardens
The Villa d’Este in Tivoli, with its palace and garden, is one of the most remarkable and comprehensive illustrations of Renaissance culture at its most refined. Its innovative design, along with the architectural components in the garden (fountains, ornamental basins, etc.), make this a unique example of an Italian 16th-century garden. The Villa d’Este was an early model for the development of European gardens.  After our guided visit we drive south to the Amalfi coast and our village home, Ravello. Sleep on the Amalfi Coast in the village of Ravello (B, D)


DAY 3: June 19 – Explore the towns of Amalfi and Ravello 
Towering over the Amalfi Coast, Ravello is one of the prettiest towns in all of Italy. It is also off the beaten tourist track. After breakfast you may wish to explore the town’s magnificent gardens or visit one of Ravello’s family-run ceramic factories. In the afternoon you may choose to go the beach or take the little public bus down to the historic town of Amalfi for lunch.  This evening enjoy an included  classical concert in Ravello.  Sleep in Ravello (B)


DAY 4: June 20 – A free day on the Amalfi Coast or… catch a ferry to the Isle of Capri!
Oh…. decisions, decisions. Shall you play the part of Emperor Tiberius and stroll the island of Capri, or meander through the little alleyways of quaint Ravello? This is a great day to practice the art of far’ niente (doing nothing at all). Or, join us for a full day excursion to the island of Capri where the magnificent Gardens of Augustus, founded by Caesar Augustus himself are as beautiful today as they were 2,000 years ago.

Many say that Capri is Paradise on Earth, an Eden with more than 800 species of flowers and plants preserved on this one small island. Sleep in Ravello (B, L)


DAY 5: June 21 – The Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Naples Archeological Museum 
Not to be missed is the coastal town of Amalfi. In the 10th century, the maritime state of Amalfi was an economic powerhouse. Her numerous ships plied the waters of the Mediterranean Sea in search of commerce and new conquests. In the Middle Ages every city (if it was of any importance) required a relic which would bring good fortune to its inhabitants. Not to be outdone, Amalfi chose Saint Andrew, who is now buried beneath her remarkable cathedral.

After lunch, relive the splendors ancient Pompeii and then enjoy a private tour of the National Archeological Museum. In the early evening we’ll board our ship for our sunset departure to Palermo, Sicily. Sleep on board the ferry to Sicily (B, L)


About Pompeii: The eruption of Vesuvius in 79 AD was a disaster for the citizens of Pompeii. Yet it was a boon for garden historians: about 500 domestic gardens were preserved. The 1942 bombing of Pompeii was a tragedy for historians. Still, much survives and more is being excavated each year. Pompeii had been a Greek city and it was colonized in 80 BC by another Italian tribe, known to us as The Romans. Many Pompeian buildings pre-date the Roman conquest.


DAY 6: June 22 – Colorful Outdoor Markets, Stunning Cathedrals
From the 9th to the 12th centuries, Palermo was an unrivalled city of learning and famous for her wealthy court. Our day begins as we arrive in the port of Palermo. After disembarking we’ll be transferred to our hotel by private bus. Once there we’ll enjoy breakfast and then set off to explore the capital of Sicily. Our highlights include a walk to a nearby market where you may stroll through endless alleyways brimming with fish stalls, fruit stands and bakeries. Sleep in Palermo (B, L, D)


DAY 7: June 23 – Explore Palermo’s Norman Roots
Our exploration continues today as we visit the core of Palermo’s Arab and Norman roots with a visit to Monreale. The cathedral of Monreale is one of the greatest examples of Norman architecture in the world. It was begun in 1174 by William II, and in 1182 the church was dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Today the cathedral is on the UNESCO’s World Heritage List.

After the occupation of Palermo by the Arabs, the Bishop of Palermo was forced to move his seat outside the capital. The role of the new cathedral was assigned to a modest little church, Aghia Kiriaki in the village nearby which was later called Monreale. After the Norman Conquest in 1072, Christians got back the old city cathedral. Probably this role as temporary ecclesiastical centre played a part in King William II’s decision to build his famous cathedral here. 

Your afternoon is free to further explore the many fascinating sites of Palermo. Sleep in Palermo (B, L)


DAY 8: June 24 – Palermo to Agrigento via the Ancient Greek city of Segesta
Leaving Palermo behind, we drive south towards Agrigento. Along the way we’ll take in two of Magna Grecia’s most fascinating sights, Segesta!  Take time to admire the grace and ingenuity of Greek architects. Our drive today culminates with a stunning view of the Valley of the Temples. Let’s sample some of her spicy dishes tonight and then set out for a stunning evening drive through the illuminated Valley of the Temples.  Sleep in Agrigento (B, D)


DAY 9: June 25 – The Roman Villa Casale
Roman exploitation of the countryside is symbolized by the Villa Romana del Casale (in Sicily), the center of the large estate upon which the rural economy of the Western Empire was based. The villa is one of the most luxurious of its kind. It is especially noteworthy for the richness and quality of the mosaics which decorate almost every room; they are considered are the finest mosaics in the Roman world. Sleep in Taormina (B, L, D)


DAY 10: June 26 – Taormina and environs
Situated below Mount Etna, overlooking the sea, is an antique Mediterranean jewel. Taormina was founded by the Greeks in the 8th BC, and later, in the 19th century, became a popular haunt for the English aristocracy. Men like Oscar Wilde and D.H. Lawrence, who was inspired to write Lady Chatterley’s Lover from his experiences here, flocked to Taormina in order to escape the doldrums of conservative London.

After an introductory guided tour through the Greek theatre and town center, you’re free to lose yourself in streets lined with flower-filled balconies and surprisingly tranquil piazzas. Catch a glimpse of the ocean through palms and bougainvillea. Sleep near Taormina (B, L)


DAY 11: June 27 – Mount Etna and an Outing to a Nearby Wine Estate
Belching hot lava and smoke, Mount Etna towers over Sicily. Standing at nearly 11,000 feet her flames and frequent eruptions were famous even in Antiquity. Virgil, in the 570 BC wrote about her power and the Greeks believed that Vulcan, God of fire, lived within her crater. According to a local legend, the soul of Elizabeth I of England now resides in Etna; a deal she made with the devil in exchange for his help during her reign. This morning, we’ll set off to explore Mt. Etna and then enjoy lunch and a tasting at a local winery before returning to Taormina. Sleep near Taormina (B, L)


DAY 12: June 28 – Tour over after breakfast
For those travelers on the group flight, there will be an early morning flight to Rome where we connect for the return flight to the US. Those of you staying in Italy you may consult your guide for post-tour planning assistance. Buon Viaggio!


Buon Viaggio!







When Beth Ruyak landed her first job as a reporter more than thirty years ago, she knew she had found a career.  What she couldn’t have imagined, is the people she would meet, miles she would travel and how curious the journey would be.

Beth’s first boss called her the “neophyte newsie,” but he taught her the basics of broadcast writing and how to take the work one-interview-at-a-time.  She found her way from newsrooms in Minnesota to California, and still, the career kept her moving.  Covering news, sports, science, health, arts and entertainment, Beth worked as a reporter, anchor, producer, and writer.  She hosted daytime television, magazine shows, special events and live coverage.  Among the highlights of her career: sideline reporting from 5 Olympic Games and Super Bowl XXV, traversing Europe for 3 Tour de France bicycle races (becoming the first woman television journalist to cover the event), co-hosting “The Home Show,” and guest co-hosting “Good Morning America.” Her news, sports and health reporting have earned Emmy awards and opportunities to interview, learn from and tell stories about people all over the world.

As host of “Insight” Beth delights in the opportunity to communicate and converse in the region she calls home.  People ask her about the differences between television and radio broadcasting; she says she tries to fill in the visuals with language, sounds, voice and imagination.  To Beth, being part of the Capital Public Radio team is a privilege, an adventure and a great reason to go to work everyday.  Of course, so is the dance as she calls it, with the guests and audience on “Insight.”


Your guide, Natalia Mandelli, holds degrees as Interpreter and Translator in English and German and has been a tour manager for fifteen years. Born and raised in Rome, she is passionate about dancing, cooking, and the history of her home city. Natalia has passed the first level of certification to become a sommelier.





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