Chef Daniel Bonanno is always thinking about how he could improve on what he just ate. And did we eat. During our 10-day small-group visit to Tuscany and Umbria in October 2017, we cooked with one of Italy’s rising young chefs and joined legendary butcher Dario Cecchini for lunch, among many other singular culinary experiences.Read More
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Over time we've recognized a few things that can make a trip to Italy far more enjoyable. To start: Slow down!
- You can’t possibility do it and see it all in Italy. There is so much beauty to see and experience. I’ve been traveling to Italy for years and I still haven’t seen it all.
- When planning a trip to Italy keep try not to travel to more than 2-3 regions in a two-week period. If you can, limit it to just one.
- Take your time to explore and get to know a place. For a better experience – adapt to the slow pace of Italian life.
Always build in time for exploration on your own or for relaxation. Don't overbook your time! Rush = stress.
Do your homework
Once you’ve decided on your Italian destination, spend some time researching the place. Unless you have the luxury of spending weeks or even months in a place, you’ll want to arrive prepared to make the best use of your time.
Check out history, things to do, the best restaurants and easiest ways to get around. (Of course, if you travel with us, we take care of the details. You can focus on your free time!)
Research ideas using travel and food blogs, travel magazines, or travel shows that might be held nearby to your home.
Again, don't overbook your time with a strict day-to-day itinerary. You’ll want to have some downtime to explore, meet people, be spontaneous -- or just recharge.
Connect with Italians
Italians are kind and patient people. Take the time to get to know them. Language need not be a barrier. Even in smaller towns, many will know English. Language barriers will be inevitable -- but don't be embarrassed to try to connect.
Especially in the many family-owned hotels and restaurants, the owners and staff will appreciate your effort to understand them and local life -- and you'll learn a great deal about Italian culture just by chatting. And you'll go home with memories more special than you'll find on any group tour or at any tourist attraction.
Some of our most enjoyable mornings have been spent doing nothing but sipping cappuccino at Bar Sole on the main street in Priaino, an Amalfi Coast town between the big tourist destinations of Amalfi and Positano. Some of our most enjoyable afternoons have been spent sipping spritzes (a drink mixed with Aperol and prosecco, the happy-hour drink of Italians) at the beachside Bar Nadia in Levanto, a small town just north of the famed attractions of the Cinque Terre.
Eat the local food
This, plus sampling wines, is the whole idea! Be adventurous in your food choices. There is no such thing as "Italian food" -- each region has its own dishes and specialties. Italy is a food lover's paradise. Don’t be afraid to try food that might be outside your comfort zone.
Octopus? Yes, plenty of times. Eel? Maybe. Next visit, I want to try sea urchin in Puglia.
Avoid traveling to Italy in summer
Of course, it’s not always possible to travel outside the tourist season in Italy, especially when you’re traveling with school-age kids, if you’re a teacher or your work has seasonal demands.
But keep in mind summer is the most crowded, the hottest and the most expensive time of the year in Italy. Flights and hotels will offer no discounts. And Italians, who love their own country and travel widely within it, tend to schedule their vacations in August, exponentially adding to the press of tourists in all major destinations.
Still, if your group has no choice but to go in high season, please contact us for a consultation to help you find the best deals. We have good contacts outside the major cities that will help you find an authentic experience.
Find the unusual
Plan to get away from the tourist sites and try a different activity. Get out of the city into the more rural areas of Italy and explore!
Our memorable experiences
- Spotting wild boar roaming a hillside during a truffle hunt near Pettino in Umbria.
- Joining a sailing excursion into the Adriatic Sea from Polignano a Mare in Puglia.
- Horseback riding at Il Borro in Tuscany.
- Wandering olive groves on a hike above Prato near Florence.
- Biking, hiking, sampling food and wine. And, so much more.