Category Archives: Travel Planning

Where to go and what to do in Italy?

Planning a vacation in Italy is a wonderful puzzle and a delightful discussion with your travel companions. There are so many places to visit and wonderful things to enjoy, you should take into account the experiences and interests of your traveling companions.

Here are a few questions to ponder with input from our experts:

Countryside versus city vacations?

  • The marvelous countryside is best Spring through October. Most properties rent Saturday/Saturday.
  • Cities are welcoming year-round. Busy with tourists during peak summer months May, June, July.
  • To enjoy beaches in Italy, purchase a pass to a beach club with full amenities.
  • Country villas are designed for relaxing so day trips will take some planning and some driving. Evening meals easiest in the property, versus nighttime drive on dark country roads after some vino.
  • While in a city, you can pop in and out of your apartment to enjoy sights and meals.
  • Teenagers may enjoy exploring cities more than countryside stays. “Moooom, I’m bored, there is nothing to do, the internet connection is slow….”
  • Of course you can visit both cities and countryside. Talk to us before nailing things down for best sequence.

What do we want to do?

  • First timers often want to see the top 10 sights whereas returning travelers may want to visit fascinating sights that are on a longer list. For a mixed group, consider staying some place where folks can go in different directions.
  • Some travelers go deep into fascinating layers of Italy with explorations such as the history of concrete, walking the city walls, off-the-beaten path museums.
  • Getting around. Consider mobility issues. You end up walking a lot through the fascinating cities. Not all buildings have elevators.
  • Driving conditions vary. Do your group have a calm and confident driver used to a range of driving conditions? The road systems are excellent, but sometimes crowded, narrow, winding and hilly.
  • Do we want to just relax in a beautiful setting with a few day trips from a countryside property?

Crowds?

  • The popular locations and sights can be crowded during peak travel time. Some places are always mobbed. Consider:
    • early morning visits before the tour buses/ships arrive
    • hire a personal guide who can adjust the itinerary on the fly
    • going during the winter
    • avoid the top 10 sights, go deeper, the possibilities are infinite

Activities?

italy-perfect-ribbolita

  • Who wants to see the incredible art collections in Italy’s museums and palaces? Some museums are bigger than others, so even those somewhat allergic to museums can find small jewels.
  • Who wants to hike, bike and explore the outdoors? Advance planning required.
  • Fun with food. You can enjoy Italy’s marvelous food every day with just a little discrimination. Some prep required if you want to take cooking lessons or eat at top restaurants.
  • Art hunt. Masterpieces of architecture and art are found all across the country in palaces and churches. Nothing like finding a Caravaggio or Byzantine masterpiece in a spiritual cathedral.

Making Restaurant Reservations in Italy

Good restaurants in Italy book up for dinner during the busier times of year, generally from mid-March well into November. Don’t hesitate to make reservations so you don’t find yourself stumbling into a restaurant that has a waiter out front waving in tourists. It might be a good restaurant, but usually the best ones don’t need that effort.

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Italian Truffles: Pricey, Earthy Gourmet Indulgence

Truffles are one of those foods that tends to get a strong reaction. Like cilantro, Brussels sprouts and blue cheese, you either love ’em or hate ’em!

Truffles are intensely fragrant and hard to find in most places except Italy. They are the underground fruit of ascomycetous fungi.  The fruit spores are dispersed though being consumed by fungivores.  They are so rare they may be the most expensive ingredient you can indulge in at $1000-$3000/pound. Continue reading Italian Truffles: Pricey, Earthy Gourmet Indulgence

Orvieto, Hill Town Jewel, Easy Day Trip from Rome

Orvieto is a gem of a town in Italy. Perched high atop an Umbrian hill, it has beautiful spaces, dramatic views, famous art and dramatic history for visitors to enjoy. The old part of the city is a bit of window into the past because it is virtually traffic-free.

Only an hour-and-a-half north of Rome, the walled city of Orvieto is a great place to experience an ancient, important hilltown. It is convenient too, since it is fairly easy to reach from Rome or Florence.

  • Easy daytrip from Rome. You can even take the train. Or, for a relaxing outing we can recommend a private driver who will organize a day excursion so you can relax and take in the scenic views along the road.
  • Convenient drop-off point for a rental car when traveling to or from Rome, avoiding all traffic around the city…and you can visit the charming town and then hop on the train to Rome.
  • Stopping point for trips between southern points and northern ones. Nice to get off the highway and have a delicious lunch in the piazza.

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