Super-Foods, Super-Wines & Natural Aphrodisiacs Worth Making a Trip to Italy For!

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Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, renowned throughout the world for its incredible culture, architecture, fashion and stunning landscapes; though Italy’s beauty is not just skin-deep.  Italy was recently voted as one of the healthiest countries in the world. The Mediterranean diet is one of the most nutrient rich and healthy diets you can follow, supporting a lifestyle that increases longevity, vitality and over-all quality of life.

Not surprisingly, food and wine make up a big part of the Italian lifestyle! In moderation many of the foods commonly found in the Italian diet are said to improve health in some astonishing and remarkable ways.

Let’s further explore Italian superfoods!

Tomatoes

Tomatoes are a staple in almost all Italian cuisine. Some studies have shown that tomatoes can aid in fighting breast cancer. So don’t be shy to throw in a can of tomatoes to your stews, soups and pastas. Not only this, but tomatoes are loaded with vitamin C and D.

Olive oil

This Italian staple helps to lower cholesterol, fight heart disease, reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, lower blood sugar level and can aid in getting rid of unwanted belly fat! Boasting tremendous anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, the phytonutient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofen in the body in reducing inflammation, therefore decreasing the risk of many health related challenges. It’s also wonderful as a hair mask and to apply on the skin!

Garlic

Garlic is the famous natural antibiotic and is an anti-inflammatory as well as high in vitamin C and A. Sulmona in the central region of Abruzzo, has 2 culinary claims to fame in Italy: sugared almonds and delicate tasting red garlic.  Not only is it delicious, but it contains the highest levels of natural antibiotics of any garlic or onion. In Abruzzo, a time-honoured cold and flu remedy is to simmer a couple of glasses of water with 5 slices of lemon, 1 bay leaf and 2 cloves of unpeeled red garlic as soon as you feel a cold coming on!

Onions

Like garlic, onions have been known since Roman times to have wonderful preventative properties and enhance the body’s immunity – Pliny the Elder documented 30 different ailments which could be treated just by eating onions!  Tropea in Calabria grows Italy’s finest onions, a sweet red variety which science has shown to have better diuretic, hypoglycemic, and anticancer functions than any other onions.  As well as being great for health, its delicate flavour means it is perfect for both cooking and slicing up in colourful summer salads.

Basil

Forget about addictive painkillers because basil provides symptomatic relief for inflammatory diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis.  Its fragrant nature makes it hugely popular in regional dishes throughout Italy, from pizza in Naples to pesto Genovese, Italians simply can’t get enough of it!

Peperoncino

Italian food isn’t known for its spicy dishes, but hot chilli peppers are the most famous ingredient in the southern region of Calabria where they are traditionally grown.  Here you’ll find them stuffed with tuna fish and preserved in olive oil, while further north in Rome, they are used in tomato sauce to make pasta arrabiata.  Their bright red colour means they are high in both vitamins and antioxidants, while the spicy kick stimulates the digestive system and circulation.

Tartufo / Truffle – Tuscany, Umbria, Piedmont, Le Marche

Since ancient times, truffles have been considered one of the best aphrodisiacs around. The scent of this fungus is very similar to the male pheromone androstenone, which is probably why truffles are considered to be effective as an aphrodisiac.  They have also been found to be effective in reducing depression and preventing early ageing and dementia – so definitely worth the extravagance.

Chocolate

For years, travellers to Italy  have been drawn to Sicily’s intriguing history, smoking volcanoes and famed cuisine, but somehow the island’s distinctive chocolate – made in the UNESCO World Heritage town of Modica and inspired by the traditions of the ancient Aztecs – has remained one of the world’s best-kept secrets.  Dark chocolate, flavoured with everything from chilli pepper to sea salt, can aid the circulation, reduce the blood pressure and, of course, do wonders for the mood.

Oranges 

We all know the great benefits of citrus fruits, from boosting the immune system to helping reduce cancer, there’s more than just the taste to recommend them and explain why spremuta d’arancia, freshly-squeezed orange juice, is such a popular order in bars across Italy.  For some of the best, head to Sicily where they grow very sweet blood oranges.

Lemons 

Like oranges, lemons are powerful at preventing and fighting illness.   They also make very good limoncello, a popular drink from Campania and very easy to make at home! Lemon water first thing in the morning is a perfect way to alkalize your system and promotes hydration. They’re great for your skin and work as a wonderful internal astringent! Lemons are known to aid digestion and support weight loss. Packed full of Vitamin C and anti-bacterial, they are even great in your homemade cleaners! Get your daily dose of lemons for luminous skin and a happy belly.

Fish Oil 

One of the pillars of the Mediterranean diet, which, thanks to almost every region of Italy having some coastline, can be found across the country.  Lower in fat than meat, fish is full of good oils which contain Omega-3 fatty acids that promote brain health and lean proteins that fuel the body without adding weight.  Fish oil also increases cardiovascular health and can aid in cancer prevention.

Red Wine

There’s no shortage of wines to choose from in Italy, and vineyards across the country happily open their doors to visitors.  Moderate amounts of red wine provide powerful antioxidants that heal the body at a cellular level, like quercetin and resveratrol.

Oregano (Origanum)  

Its name means ‘mountain joy’, revered as a symbol of happiness by ancient Greeks and Romans. The world wide tradition of newlyweds crowned with a laurel of oregano is attributed to this very symbolic belief! Oregano is native to Europe, North Africa, and parts of Asia, typically in mountainous regions. This is uncelebrated herb can be applied topically to treat a number of skin conditions, such as acne and dandruff. It’s further medicinal benefits include therapeutic effects for digestion and respiratory conditions. Loaded with antioxidants, it’s anti-bacterial and anti-viral– and naturally delicious! It’s known to contain vitamins essential for the body such as Vitamin A, E, C, & K- as well as iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium, folate, and B6!

Saffron

Close-up of a heap of saffron

The aphrodisiac Saffron is a spice that comes from the sativus flower and belong to the iris family. Dating back to Hippocrates, the medicinal benefits of saffron have long been boasted for coughs, colds, insomnia, and heart trouble among others. A primary use of saffron is for dyeing textiles as a single grain of saffron can color 10 gallons of water with its rich golden hue. Known as a very experience spice, there is a very good reason why! So what may that reason be? It’s still harvested and cultivated with it’s most ancient tradition: by hand. As for further health benefits, it’s super high in manganese which helps regulate blood sugar and metabolize carbohydrates. It also offers healthy doses of vitamin C, B6, magnesium, and iron. It’s aphrodisiac properties just make this magical and well revered spice a solid gem!

Prickly Pears (Fichi di India)

Figs, the sweet fruit with seeds and soft skin can be eaten both ripe or dried. Different varieties can have varying colors. Figs can be also used for jam and spreads, to make pies, puddings and preserves. Indian figs are found in the regions of Calabria, Puglia and Sicily. They are known to aid in moderating blood sugar levels, increase circulation, and reduce high blood pressure. They are rich in minerals such as magnesium, manganese, sodium, and calcium. They can help to strengthen bones and control diabetes. Also supporting eye sight, figs are a true superfood!! They are also great for skin and hair and used to treat a number of skin conditions. Don’t miss figs when they’re in season, your body and taste buds will surely thank you!

Pomegranate

Now how many of you have taken the time to cut open and marvel at the wonders of a pomegranate?! This fruit is truly remarkable. It requires patience to de-seed and it’s certainly worth it. Whether you eat the seeds alone, put them in a salad, or make pomegranate juice, every time I eat pomegranate I feel like I’m a part of some special secret. Loaded with antioxidants and vitamin C, they are very supportive of a healthy heart. Really good for digestion, they stimulate natural probiotic bacteria and therefore can fight bacteria growth. They are also anti-inflammatory and greatly support cognitive functioning with their polyphenols so they are a great brain food!

Pomegranates are a natural aphrodisiac. Many cultures has linked this fruit with fertility and abundance for centuries. Pomegranate seed juice is the source of grenadine syrup, which is well known for its use in the traditional nonalcoholic beverage, a Shirley Temple.

If not for the rest listed here, the antioxidant benefits alone are enough reason to enjoy pomegranate whenever possible.

Porcini Mushrooms

Also known as cepes, the scientific name for porcini mushrooms is Boletus edulis. A type of edible mushroom found across parts of North America, Europe, and Asia, it’s known for earthy flavor that can be used in a variety of plates. They are particularly beneficial for aiding in weight loss, promoting digestive health, a plant based source of protein, a high antioxidant count, and anti-inflammatory! Their high fiber content promotes healthy digestion, and just one ounce of dried mushrooms boast a high protein content of 7 grams. It’s often oven-grilled or roasted. They can be added to pasta and risotto! With it’s high iron content, it does make a great option even for meat eaters.

Eggplant

Eggplant (botanical name of Solanum melongena) rich in antioxidants, fiber, potassium, and magnesium, offers of variety of ways to enjoy it from baking, grilling, and broiling. They contain an impressive array of vitamins and minerals such as vitamin C, K, and B6. There are many different varieties of eggplants from small and white to larger and purple. First making their appearance across Europe in the 14th, they remain a staple items in a multitude of Italian dishes. They can aid in digestion, weight loss, prevent anemia, and improve bone health. Most certainly a super food!

We certainly hope that this enticing peek of delicious superfoods celebrated in Italy and among the Mediterranean inspire you to come experience the decadence first hand.

Why not delight your senses and palette with fresh local ingredients that are designed to not only nourish your body, but the spirit too!

We offer seasonal cooking classes and each one of our tours are designed to curate remarkable dining experiences where you personally experience the local fare of the region. Italy’s food practices and culinary expertise is for a reason— centuries of passed down recipes and farming practices that produce the very best of the best!

Email team@italyvacationspecialists.com for a list of our exclusive and affordable Food & Wine tours.

How to Tip in Italy

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We are frequently asked how much clients should tip in Italy and they are surprised and sometimes a little sceptical to discover that tipping is not compulsory here and it is certainly not a percentage of the bill!

Tipping is a little something extra, to thank someone who has given you great service.  Make sure it is always in cash, so you are sure it is going to the person you want it to, but remember that tipping is not considered part of the salary in Europe, and a few euros can go a long way.

RESTAURANTS

In restaurants you’ll see that cover charges have already been added at the bill (this may be disguised as servizio, coperto or pane – the bread that appeared on the table even though you didn’t ask for it!), so you are under no obligation to tip. Of course, this is going to the restaurant-owner and you may want to leave something for the waiter if service was exceptional, but think €1-2 per person as a small ‘thank-you’, not a percentage of the total. If you do want to tip, make sure to do it in cash so you are sure it goes to the server.

BARS

In a bar or a taxi, you could round up to the nearest euro or leave the change. Be aware that most bars, especially in tourist areas, have 2 price lists, one if you drink your coffee standing at the bar and the other if you sit down at a table. A coffee that is €1 at the bar, will probably cost €2.50 at the table. If you can see a monument from the table, expect the increase to be much higher. So you are already paying through the nose for your coffee, do you really want to tip on top of that?

HOTELS

Tipping hotel porters is the norm, but it would be strange to give them more than €5.  For cleaners, €5-10 if you are staying 3 nights or more, but just for a night it isn’t necessary.

PRIVATE GUIDES AND DRIVERS

You might want to leave a tip after a wonderful tour or give something to a private driver as an expression of your appreciation for great service. It wouldn’t be unusual to offer them €20-30, depending on the size of your group, but again it is at your discretion.

Think of tipping as your privilege as a consumer. If you have received exceptional service, you may want to exercise your right to reward the person who gave that service, on the other hand, if the service is below-standard, it is your right to withhold it.

Italy with Kids

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Italy is a great place to bring children. Not only is the entire country full of fascinating things for them to see, but Italians are generally very indulgent of younger family members. You will quickly notice many Italian kids out with their parents for the evening passaggiata or in upscale restaurants where the chef will happily prepare mezza portizione (half portion) for them. They also get in free to a lot of museums:-)

Some of our top choices in Italy for family vacations:

Rome

At any age, Italy’s capital has so much to captivate the imagination. Take a family tour of the Colosseum with a local guide who will bring the history of gladiators and emperors alive.

What child won’t be fascinated by the underground world of the catacombs? Explore these extensive burial sites and escape from the summer heat for a while.

While the Vatican and St. Peter’s might be a bit much for little legs and short attention-spans, nearby Castel Sant’Angelo makes for a great alternative. An ancient mausoleum transformed into a castle to protect the pope from barbarians and in the summer months you can visit the secret passageway built to help him escape.

For older kids, bike and Segway tours make fun and interactive ways to see the city.

Tuscany

Florence may not be the most interesting city for young children, so consider staying in the Tuscan countryside instead. Here you’ll find farms, cycling, horse-riding, delicious food and beautiful, clean Renaissance towns to run around. Siena in particular is great because cars cannot enter the center and the large central square is great space for letting off some energy!

Truffle-hunting is always popular with young visitors who love following the dogs through the woods. Afterwards, the whole family can enjoy learning to make fresh pasta with truffles to enjoy for lunch – a great day to remember!

Veneto

Although fascinating, Venice can be frustrating when you get stuck trying to navigate tiny streets and have to wait to cross narrow bridges, especially with a pushchair. But Venice is not the only town in Veneto which is built on canals. Treviso is a small, walled town where 2 streams meet and flow in and out of the houses. The town also claims to be the birthplace of tiramisu and you can spend a happy afternoon learning the rules of making this simple but delicious dessert with a local chef.

Veneto is also the gateway of the Dolomite mountains which can be seen in an easy day-trip or used as a base for a great outdoor vacation. There are plenty of opportunities for hiking and sports throughout the year and kids are welcomed everywhere. The rope ladders and bridges of the Adrenaline Center will keep your family occupied for hours as they climb through the trees, the Little Train of the Dolomites is a fun way to see the mountains and for new mums there are pushchair-friendly routes.

On the boarders of Veneto is Italy’s biggest lake: Lake Garda. It’s easy to drive round the lake, or there are frequent boats between both shores. You’ll also find lots of water sports for all ages, castles and islands to visit and Italy’s adventure playground ‘Gardaland’ nearby.

Naples and Pompeii

Like Rome, Naples has wonderful castles to climb and underground worlds to explore, plus an imposing volcano and the best pizza ever!

The ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum are easy day-trips from the city (we recommend going with a private driver, not taking the local train which can be a bit of an ordeal!), where local guides will tell you all about the destruction of the town and show you what happened to the people who couldn’t escape the eruption of Vesuvius. At the moment the volcano is safely sleeping and you can take a ride up the mountain, look out over the Bay of Naples and visit the crater.

Jump on a ferry boat for a day on the island of Capri or a private tour of the Amalfi Coast by boat can be a fun way to escape the city.

Puglia and Matera

Down in the heel of Italy’s boot, stay on a local farm (massaria) or in an ancient trullo for a different sort of vacation. Puglia has beautiful countryside, amazing food and incredibly friendly locals. Must-see places include the city of Matera caved out of rock, where kids will enjoy going up and down the steps and in and out of the little houses and churches that make up the ancient town.

Puglia is famous for its ancient cave systems and Grotte di Castellana are some of the most extensive and beautiful. The tour 70m underground to see stalagmites and stalactites, fossils and caves which are millions of years old brings a sense of wonder to visitors of all ages.

There are also amazing beaches, fascinating hilltop towns like the white city of Ostuni, the intriguing trulli of Alberobello, the wonderful Castel del Monte, which anyone who has seen Wonder Woman might recognise and two incredibly clean seas to choose from.

Supporting Sustainable Tourism in Rome

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Although the Italian Capital isn’t renowned for its environmental credentials, it is slowly embracing the idea of tourism which satisfies visitors while protecting the city’s heritage and environment, safeguarding it for the future.

Here’s how you can help and still have a wonderful vacation:

  1. Don’t buy bottled water

    Since ancient times, Rome’s water has been piped into the city from natural springs in the surrounding hills, meaning Rome enjoys very high quality drinking water. Around the city are fountains where drinking water is freely available, so why waste money and plastic by buying bottled water? Outside the Colosseum, there is even a free water dispenser offering a choice of chilled still or sparkling water to encourage visitors to reuse their bottles.

    In the museums run by the city council, buy a reusable water bottle for €2 and take home a souvenir of your contribution to Rome’s future.

  2. Avoid taxis

    Anyone living in Rome will tell you how awful the traffic is, even in the city center where access is meant to be limited, so why go to the stress of getting stuck in traffic?

    Rome’s metro service is limited (there are only 2 lines), but depending where you want to go, it can offer a time-saving alternative at just €1.50 per trip as well as taking you right up to monuments like the Colosseum and Spanish Steps.

    Rome has finally started to phase out the horse-drawn carriages which used to take tourists from the Colosseum to the Pantheon and the Vatican all day long in temperatures frequently reaching 100ºF, replacing them with zero-emission, rickshaw-style taxis.  There are also plenty of places to rent bikes, including electric ones to conserve your energy on hot days and 4-person ones for a fun day out with your friends.  And unless you are rushing through in one day, remember that Rome’s historic center is small and incredibly beautiful and walking is by far the best way to appreciate all it has to offer!

  3. Support local businesses

    People come to Italy for the food, right? So why would you settle for a frozen pizza and industrially-produced ice-cream? Search out local businesses – places where Italians are eating and there are no pictures in the menu is usually a good start, look for signs which say ‘kilometre zero’ or the red, Slow Food snail. The Slow Food Movement was started in Italy to prevent the loss of local culinary traditions and to make people more aware of what they are eating and the snail is a good sign that locally sourced, traditional products and recipes are being used.

    Unemployment is high in Italy, so help support the community you are visiting by using local guides, local drivers and local businesses.

  4. Visit alternative sites

    Rome has an overwhelming number of beautiful sites to visits, but sadly most visitors limit themselves to the same ones. You’ll have a far more enjoyable, authentic experience if you venture off the tourist trial a little bit. For example:

    – There are 13 Christian and 6 Jewish catacombs in Rome (not all are open all the time), but most visitors go to the ones on Appia Antica where the huge number of visitors means tours have become quite rushed. On the other side of the city, the Catacombs of Sant’Agnese are in a lovely quiet complex just off Via Nomentana. There are regular visits in English and while you are waiting in case anyone else wants to join, visit the basilica which commemorates ones of Rome’s young martyrs, and behind it, the former mausoleum of Costanza, daughter of the emperor Constantine, which is now a lovely circular church.

    – Rome has 4 papal basilicas, so don’t limit yourself to St. Peter’s. Yes, it’s the most famous and ornate, but the quieter St. Paul’s, dedicated to Rome’s other patron saint, shows you what the early churches looked like and retains a peaceful atmosphere where you won’t feel jostled and rushed.

    – Want to really experience local food and wine in a lovely setting with cooler temperatures? Then head to the town of Frascati, 30 minutes away in the hills that overlook Rome. Here you can enjoy some Roman home-cooking, locally produces cheeses and porchetta (roast pork which is a local tradition), as well as the fresh white wines of the Castelli Romani vineyards.

Don’t let wine tasting ruin your vacation!!

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With high temperatures all over Italy this summer, what better way to escape the heat and relax than by visiting some of the lush, green vineyards and cool wine cellars that you can find scattered throughout the country; from the slopes of the Dolomites to the coastal towns of Sicily.  Wine producers across the country happily welcome visitors to tour their properties, learn about wine production and taste their wines, along with other local goodies which they are proud to share with you.

At Italy Wine Specialists, we can customize tours for you no matter where you are in the country or what kind of wine you are interested in tasting to make your Italian vacation extra special.

The only catch is if you are planning on hiring a car to do this, as Italy has a strict drink-driving policy and just one small glass of wine (the kind Italians have with lunch) will put you at the limit.  That’s the equivalent of 0.5mg blood alcohol!  The penalties for being caught over the limit vary depending on the circumstances and age of the driver, ranging from a fine to confiscation of the vehicle.  If you are lucky to just receive a fine, it’s advisable to pay it straightaway, but really it isn’t worth the risk to get behind the wheel in the first place.

The solution?  Wherever you are, we can arrange a private transfer for you so that you can enjoy your wine tasting, whether you are interested in a full day tour of the Chianti Valley or a vineyard stop on your way back from Pompeii, talk to our experts about the safest way for you to enjoy your holiday this summer: tours@winetoursitalia.com

Important Information for Groups of 6+ Planning on Traveling to Italy

What to know when bringing a Group to Italy
Italy is one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, renowned throughout the world for its incredible food, wine, culture, architecture, fashion and stunning landscapes. With so many amazing cities and regions in one country and dozens of beautiful islands there are many reasons why Italy is considered to be one of the most romantic destinations in the world and in fact in 2018, Italy has been one of the most visited countries in the world, drawing over 33 million visitors.

To say thing are getting busy over here would be an understatement and as a country we are grateful for having so many visitors to Italy, though for those planning groups at the last minute, finding space in half-decent hotels or even any space at all, even six-months out is becoming problematic particularly in the most popular areas here in Italy like Florence, Venice, Rome, the Cinque Terre, Amalfi Coast, Taromina and Capri.

No doubt about it, all of these destinations are all wonderful and beautiful, but make not mistake about it, they are flooded with visitors and make sure to refer to our recent article about “Italy’s Biggest Tourist Traps” and how to avoid them:

Italy’s Biggest Tourist Traps & How to Avoid Them

Particularly for groups, which we consider to be more than 6 people traveling together, space can get tight here in Italy, even 1 year out and so if you are thinking about bringing a group, it really is best to start planning well in advance and start communication with us or your travel professional who can assist you with the most up-to-date information.

Unfortunately a lot of guide books right now are out of date and have not been updated and in many instances are not even relevant for groups.

Here are a few key important and key recommendations we have if you are taking a group to Italy, even if you do not book through us:

I) Book well in advance if you are traveling with a group and if you are considering group travel of any kind, which includes more than 4 participants in any given party, make sure you plan well in advance. 

2) Wanting to see the art cities like Florence, Venice and Rome?  Have a careful look at our previous articles relating to travel in Italy and consider traveling to Italy in the winter months or shoulder seasons if you are traveling with a group and make sure you understand what the high seasons are in Italy, since they might be quite surprising!

Have a look at our article as to why Italy makes such a great winter destination:

Wonderful Winter in Italy

3) Consider staying outside of the major art cities and traveling in for day trips:

For example:  Wanting to visit Florence?  Consider Fiesole, Imprunetta or great towns and cities just outside of Florence.

4) In so far as the Amalfi Coast is concerned, don’t go for the big names like Positano or Sorrento.  There are many smaller towns around these more well-known areas that have incredible venues at a much lower cost.

5) Consider organizing your group with a common subject in mind.  Subjects can include: Food and Wine, Art and Sculpture, Engineering an Architecture, Romance and Love, Philosophy,  Fun and Nightlife – or a combination of all.

The more you understand the various individuals of your trip, the better of you and your group will be planning activities.

We really recommend all groups coming to Italy to consider group transportation from place to place as a possibility for sightseeing and we encourage you to read our article about how you can use transfers as sightseeing activities here:

https://www.italyvacationspecialists.com/blog/using-transfers-opportunities-incredible-experiences-cost-less

Traveling Alone in Italy: It’s All Good, It Just Depends Where and in Many Instances Joining a Small Group May Be Your Best Bet!

Traveling Alone in Italy
Venice

Over 16 years of arranging travel experiences in Italy we have learned a thing or two about how to organize tours. Having worked with thousands of people and organized thousands of tours one of the questions we often get is: Can we do it on our own? 

The fact of the matter is that the answer depends.  Sometimes you can, sometimes you should and sometimes you definitely should not.

In fact, now for groups of 8+ traveling outside of the major tourist areas, we often recommend to employ the services of a tour escort and some non-Italian tour leaders have learned the hard way that the right tour escort can really make a world of difference.

Here’s why:

Language 

In many of the more touristic places in Italy, some people speak English, but many do not.  Ferry operators, even taxi drivers and many waiters do not speak English and in some of the most beautiful areas in Italy outside of the major city centers, most people do not speak English and so you definitely do want an escort for larger groups or an English speaking driver guide who can help make your experience much better.

Knowledge

Local knowledge and insight about the places you are visiting are really second to none and can make a huge difference during your trip.

Peace of Mind 

Traveling with a group can be stressful especially when you don’t know anything about the place, the people, the local customs and the time it takes to get from one place to another!  An escort or guide can give you the possibility to actually ENJOY YOUR vacation and provides an incredible amount of Peace of Mind! Enough said!

Ease and Efficiency 

Knowing where the ticket office is at the Vatican, getting there in the first place or figuring out how to get to the most beautiful gardens in Ravello on the Amalfi Coast is not as simple as it might seem and if you don’t know it can sometimes take hours to figure it out.  Having somebody who knows the area, speaks the language and knows their way around can help you enormously!

Ordering at Restaurants 

You want to enjoy the best restaurants in Italy in a variety of regions outside of the tourist traps, GREAT! If it weren’t for the fact that so many of the best restaurants don’t really cater to tourists and often don’t have menus in English.  Not only this, but Italians have a totally different way of eating than the rest of the world. They have multiple courses and side dishes are all served separately.

Having someone just to translate the menu in and of itself is a HUGE asset!

Dealing with Locals & Local Temperaments 

Italy’s largest industry is the tourism industry and this said you would think people everywhere would be extremely friendly to tourists…. however unfortunately this is not the reality in so many places.  Dealing with language issues and stressful situations is not easy and an escort or guide can truly help in making things go much more smoothly.

There are many components that go into making a tour run smoothly from start to finish, perhaps more than you realize, so for groups of 8+ we really do recommend having a local Italian escort help facilitate your journey in Italy.  It really does make a huge difference!

And for people who are not traveling with a group of friends or family, some couples and single travelers can really benefit by taking an escorted tour rather than doing Italy on their own.

Having the possibility to move around easily and not have to worry about some of the very real and very annoying aspects of travel in Italy will allow you to actually have a vacation rather having to worry about logistics. Not only this, but taking escorted tours can often be MUCH LESS expensive than you can do it on your own.

We have some great guaranteed departure tours with fine tour escorts that run all over Italy.

Take a look at some of these here:

https://www.italyvacationspecialists.com/signature-small-group-tours-italy.html

For more information about planning a great trip in Italy get in touch with the experts: team@italyvacationspecialists.com

Mass Tourism & Why it Matters: For your Upcoming Trip to Italy & for The Environment

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For years now, as a company we have been trying to do things a little bit differently.  Against all odds most days.  The best of days, we-re still out in the countryside or coastal areas wanting, trying and designing new programs, yet those precious moments are far and few between now.

We are an Italian based tour operator and we have been writing, talking  and trying to educate tourists and travel agents about the reality of the situation in Italy for over sixteen years.  Unfortunately, so it seems our words have fallen on deaf ears, though we keep trying.

If you have seen recent news reports about Venice, it is not a great situation, but it’s not just Venice and the ironic thing is, its not tourists who are to blame.  In fact we think tourists to Italy could actually help improve the situation in Italy and contribute to a better world and a much more healthy and transparent economy in Italy.  In this article we outline how.

Firstly, it’s important to state that the situation has evolved to the point in Italy where it is now, because the vast majority of travelers are simply unconscious and so unknowingly tourists to Italy are contributing to the problem yet there is a solution and some pretty easy ones for those that care to take the time to learn the reality of the situation in Italy before buying into the same old tourist traps.

The sad reality is that cities like Venice, Florence and Rome’s historical centers seem to have become little more than an extension of the profit-driven hotels and in areas like Capri, Sorrento, Positano and Cinque Terre see so very many tourists the entire cultures of many of these areas have been completely annihilated and employment in sectors not pertaining to tourism activities no longer exist and so working in tourism offers young people very little alternative opportunities in many of these areas.

‘Well that’s great for the local economy, isn’t it?’ you might ask ‘Isn’t that great for jobs and local business’?

It would be if it were sustainable, which it isn’t and if were in fact good for the local economy, which it isn’t.

The only people mass tourism is good for, where it’s a win-win situation are the super rich multi-national hotel chains.   If you want to feed into that mechanism, that’s wonderful, yet you and yours are probably missing out on Italy.

All the while…..  you may very well  want to reconsider all those beautiful photos of Venice and other places you might be seeing all over Instagram and start to question where and why you might be seeing image after beautiful image of Italy.

The fact of the matter is that  mass media outlets and the tourist areas themselves  want to keep the crazy tourist wheel spinning until it bleeds itself to death to keep the profits coming and in the process obliterate culture which has withstood not only the fall of the Roman empire, but numerous historical defeats for millennia.

The profit-driven mass tourism game is all profit driven and it’s globalized Italy and the tourist states to such a point where it is now difficult to find an Italian waiter in a restaurant in Florence or Venice. The majority of staff in the bulk of the hotels and restaurants in these areas and others are now from the Philippines,  India, Egypt  or other countries and it’s not because they are trying to help the ‘immigrants’ new to Italy.  No way.  The staff is brought in, with existing skills in English and hospitality management, but they ask less in terms of wages and so the restaurant can pay them less than they would a salaried Italian waiter.

Not only this,  now the  vast majority of locals have been pushed so far out to the peripheries of their city’s,  with the rise of Air B&B which allows locals to rent out their homes to tourists for profit, what’s the point to stay in they city any more when they can make money?

‘Tourist states’ in Italy are driven by sheer profit, by both local business owners and publicly traded companies where foreign investment and the constant drive to please shareholders are now the driving force behind Italy’s overall globalization and it’s not stopping any time soon until travelers to Italy choose to do things a little bit differently than they currently are.

It’s a situation which is completely out of control to the point where it’s no longer even good for the tourist themselves coming, never mind the locals but in a way, all the superficiality is leaving everyone half-satiated unless they can get off the hop-on-hop-off bus and somehow find interaction with the community.

Driving Factors in Mass Tourism, Image Jesse Andrews, 2018

Top 10 Contributing Factors to Mass Tourism in Italy & How to Save your Next Trip

Pay close attention to Hotel Booking Engines  

Know the reality of what it means to book with Big Booking Engines Like Booking.Com,  Expedia, Viatour, Travel Bound and other on-line sources.  

Pay extreme attention to where and who you are booking with, for most of the big booking engines are based in California, Silicone Valley and the engineers who run them wave carrots in front of property owners who simply want to rent their rooms.  No doubt you can rent any room anywhere…. but if you are doing it with a booking engine, you are no longer contributing nor even engaging with the local economy.  You are engaging with California.

Meanwhile, Italy is getting obliterated and we try to explain below how it works:.

In order to work with the big booking engines like Expedia, or any of the big networks – the hotels must  provide what is called ‘Allotment’, i.e. a certain fixed rooms that Expedia essentially owns for a lower cost than the hotel would provide to you directly or even a travel agency.

Hotels in Italy now often do this with a variety of booking engines, meaning that you might not be able to book the hotel through the hotel’s website itself, but rather through a third booking engine and this means, that for small groups of friends, finding accommodation together at a hotel through the hotel direct is getting more and more complicated.

What this meas for you:

  • You are no longer dealing with the hotel directly
  • Hotels prefer to go through multi-national big conglomerates

To summarize modern day hotel booking practices: 

In fact, you are no longer dealing with the hotel in Italy per-se with regards to your reservation, but rather a multi-national tech company.  Sadly, this is taking the personalization and hospitality out of travel in Italy and it’s putting Italy’s hospitality industry into major international for profit corporations that are driving Italy’s local culture towards collapse.

The travel industry, particularly major travel agent conglomerates & consortiums who get more commission kick-backs from larger multi-national tour operators usually backed by international investors 

Make no mistake about it, most travel agents at least in the USA work for major agency consortiums like KHM, Travel Leaders, Signature Vacations, American Express or other big conglomerate companies that are doing billions of dollars in business.  These companies essentially dictate to the agents who they have to book with, so that in addition to getting a percentage of the travel agent’s commission, they are also getting major kick-backs every year from deals they have with the local Italian tour operators.

Take for example, the multi-national investor backed American Express Travel Group who has multi-million dollar driven deals with the big names like Trafalgar tours or Globus Tours in Italy,  the agent will be told that their preferred supplier is GLOBUS tours and to book as many tours to Italy as possible with those ‘preferred companies’ , getting a commission not only by way of the travel agent, but above and beyond in terms of kick-backs.

Consider this:  You go to a travel agent and you ask for a holiday.  The agent sets you up, most of the time unknowingly on a big-bus tour, they think will be just perfect for your family.  It may be a ‘Disney Vacation to Italy’ or a Globus tour.  Undoubtedly, the package holiday will cost anywhere from 2000 – 20,000,00 EURO, depending and you are aware that the travel agent selling the holiday will get  a commission.  What most people, including the agent never knows is that the company they are working for at the end of the year will also get a huge commission on however many agents they have booking under them. Tae American Express has had say 2000 agents book 200,000 trips with Globus at say a rate of 20% to the agent per trip, in addition to this travel agency commission, American Express will also get by way of contract a kick-back of anywhere from 5% to 15% depending on the nature of their business arrangement.

For the big companies, dealing with tens of millions of euro in business for trips to Italy, a kick back of say 5% on ten million is no small lump of change.  Be wise.  

See our list below for how to interview your travel agent and important questions to ask.


  • Social Media & Mass Media 
    Social media and mass media often give this picture-perfect post-card image, which is of course what they want, the pictures do not reflect what is beneath their surface image, which is in fact not such a pretty picture and in almost all instances, completely in authentic, for Italian hotels and tourist establishments have adopted a ‘get them in – get the out’ type of mentality.

Not only this, but the rise of the ‘blogging industry’ is also significant for the dispersement of a lot of articles that go viral about Italy, because bloggers too are advertisers, they want to be paid, are often paid to travel and get free perks and many are paid by the hotel industry for the dispersement of their message.


  • Lack of education about the reality of the situation – When you don’t know better, you can’t do better.  Like drinking and driving or smoking was not considered a real danger decades ago, The vast majority of travelers to Italy don’t know that mass tourism is a real danger to Italy and are not aware the reality of the situation in Italy and would probably be choosing to travel differently if they were made aware in advance.  The issue is mostly the dissemination of information, the lack of knowledge and accessibility of easily accessible viable alternatives.

WHEN WE KNOW BETTER, WE CAN DO BETTER 

How Not to Fall Pray to Mass Tourism in Italy 


1) Read & Educate Yourself before you go.

There are no shortage of resources on-line or inprint or on You Tube. You can and you should learn about other areas in Italy that you might not have heard about other than the touristy places.  You can easily find out on the Internet, explore all the regions and destinations we cover on our website, or go on You Tube or other mediums to discover alternatives.

2) Interview Your Travel Agent & Find out about their backing company, Experience in Italy & if they work with Locals in Italy 

Travel agents, good ones, are incredible resources and we love all the travel agents we work with all over the world, yet we feel it is important for the general consumer to understand that in hiring a travel agent, just as you would a lawyer, doctor or any other professional you ask questions about their background.

It is important when coming to Italy, you make sure to interview your travel agent and find out what associations they may belong to and if they use Travel Bound, this is a particularly dangerous company for mass tourism that over 80% of agencies in North America and Australia use to book tours to Italy.  This booking engine caters mostly to travel agents who can gain a huge commission off of the bookings they make here and they have made it very easy and commission friendly for agents who book with them, meaning for the end-use however you are getting the same-old-same-old.

Make sure to Interview your travel agent to find out if they have the right knowledge to help you planning and the level of education / associations they may belong to and if they use Travel Bound.  Once you know that, you know a lot!

Important Questions to ask your Travel Agent:

  • What company your agent is affiliated with, i.e. conglomerate like Signature or other host agencies which many home based travel agents are  part of.
  • What education about Italy they have had other than the major touristic areas
  • How many times to Italy they have have been in the past two years
  • What types of feedback they have had from travellers to Italy in the past two years
  • If they have done any educational fam or other types of resource training in Italy where they have learned about the various regions in Italy

3) Stay Longer than You Think in One Place & Don’t Try to See Italy in One Single Trip 

Plan to stay longer in one place and don’t plan to visit cities like Venice for less than 3 nights/4 days, because if you are only going for 1-2 nights per location, you have no time to get to know it in the first place.

  • Plan a trip a local winery, restaurant or travel group might be planning with a local in Italy
  • Use local drivers and guides and do private tours rather than big bus, hop-on-hop-off tours, which are never a good idea anyway.

 Use local drivers to do sightseeing en-route from location to location so you don’t have to back-track into say Tuscany from Florence.  Your train will be going through Tuscany, so use a driver to take you into Tuscany on your way from either Florence or Rome.

5) Go in the off-season

Winter is one of the very best times to come to Italy.  Less crowds, lower prices, happier service staff.  The off-season is not the ‘low’ season anymore in Italy.   It’s the happy time.

Italy is busy all year round, yet the winter in so many places remains so much more relaxed and wonderful in so many ways.

Experience wonderful Winter in Italy.

  • Stay in an Agriturismo or use private villas in the countryside as a base and stay close to towns where you can have interaction with the local communities and farmers
  • Get away from towns and cities only accessible by train where most of the masses are staying.
  • Don’t stay in the big chain or multi-national owned hotels like Mariott or internationally owned conglomerates
  • Seek out alternative programs and tours that are focused on health, wellness and local producers.
  • Follow industry leaders who promote sustainable tourism initiatives and are not promoting the same old things on a variety of circuits
  • Use caution and question social media.  When following social media assume that if you are seeing a picture of one place on Instagram that millions of other are too and they are all going there.
  • Use eco-friendly properties that may cost a little bit less, but have a way less damaging impact on the environment and usually their in-house staff is treated much better.
  • Consider cycling or walking tours.
  • Don’t do excursions from your cruise ships into Florence or Rome.  Get into the countryside or go up the coast where your cruise ship docks.  Get into nearby gardens, visit the local towns and wine or cheese producers.  Don’t get suckered into an excursion into the major tourists cities.  Use a local driver guide who can show you the local territory.
  • Consider the top 10 most touristy places in Italy and seek alternatives.

From north to south, here are the most touristic places in Italy:

VENICE
VERONA
BELLAGIO, LAKE COMO
CINQUE TERRE
FLORENCE
SIENA
ROME
CAPRI
SORRENTO, AMALFI COAST
POSITANO, AMALFI COAST
ALBEROBELLO, PUGLIA
TAORMINA, SICILY

Consider alternatives to these areas of which there are so many of us, we couldn’t create a list.  You can even access the major touristic sites, but also have access to real culture, lower priced restaurants and usually friendly and authentic services!

Consider these as equally beautiful yet way less touristic:

Heading to Venice? Consider staying on the Brenta Riviera which is a beautiful area in the Veneto, only about 30 minutes from Venice. In fact, this is where all the Venetians use to have their summer residences and it’s absolutely beautiful.

Thinking Verona, consider the Valpolicella wine district or Lake Garda

Thinking Amalfi Coast?  Think the Cilento Coast or the Coast of Maratea

Rome – Consider the Castellin Romani, Lake Bracciano, Fregene or Ladispoli on the coast of Rome

Thinking Taormina, you may want to stay in one of the towns in the valley between Taormina and

Thinking Florence and Tuscany?  Think Piedmont

Thinking Cinque Terre, you might want to consider Monte Argentario in Tuscany or the Aeolian Islands in Sicly

17) Get in touch with us or have your travel agent reach out to learn about our sustainable and healthy tourism initiatives and itineraries which take you off the beaten tourist trap routes where we  engage you in the local community and making you a part of the solution!

We are one of many tour operators in Italy dedicated to providing authentic and community driven experiences. Our team of ecologically conscious travel experts is expanding, attracting and facilitating co-creative experiences with local community members, because we ourselves are a part of the community here in Italy.

We believe that many travelers want alternatives to the vicious circle in which so many get caught up in when traveling to Italy and it all starts with education, hence the creation of the Italy Education Center where we educate travel professionals and visitors about the dangerous trends in the tourism industry here in Italy.

When you work with us, we make you a part of our green family!

Email anytime: team@italyvacationspecialists.com

Jesse Caitlin Andrews, October 31, 2018

 

About the author

Jesse Andrews is the owner of World View Consultants group of companies which include the Italy Vacation Specialists, Wine Tours ItaliaItaly Education Center.  Born and raised in Vancouver, BC, Canada with strong ties to the community & environmental initiatives in British Columbia, Jesse is a two-time graduate of McGill University.

Jesse’s passions and studies include Environmental Sciences, English literature and Humanistic Studies and for most of her life she studied to become an Environmental Lawyer.  She holds a joint honors in English Literature and Humanistic Studies as well as Masters in Communications.   In 2003, Jesse moved from Montreal to Praia a Mare, Calabria, Italy where she has lived for sixteen years leading, guiding and designing travel experiences in Italy for tens of thousands of people.

Italy’s Biggest Tourist Traps & How to Avoid Them

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Over the past decade, Italy has become one of the world’s most visited destinations attracting over 50 million visitors annually. It’s a shocking number considering that Italy’s entire population is only 60 million and geographically speaking Italy as a country doesn’t even occupy half the state of California.  Yet, what is more shocking still is the fact that the vast majority of visitors to Italy (over 80% of travelers)  are visiting the same six places:  Florence, Venice, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, the island  Capri, and the Cinque Terre.

No doubt, all of these destinations are extraordinarily beautiful and nowadays, many of these destinations in Italy are continuously blogged about, Instagrammed about, Tweeted about and talked about. Often times, the art cities like FlorenceVeniceRome  are showcased  with their empty piazzas and the coastal areas and islands with their pristine beaches, vacant roads and untouched hiking trails, but what so many people leave out of the equation is that once you get here, especially to places like Positano on the Amalfi Coast, or the island of Capri, especially now during the peak seasons, you can find yourself there with thousands of other people and that is something the vast majority of companies or social media outlets in Italy fail to mention or educate their clients about.

Tourism is a wonderful renewable and sustainable resource if managed with sustainability in mind and tourism has in fact helped the economy in Italy enormously, however when tourists start to outnumber the locals, when towns and cities cater entirely to tourism, it’s not always certain if this is the best case scenario for local communities and visitors themselves.

The fact that so many areas in Italy have turned into tourist states where tourists outnumber local residents and the vast number of businesses cater primarily to the needs of tourists and not the local communities, means that the big six destinations in Italy (those mentioned above) by their very nature are tourist traps and we’re not saying they’re not beautiful to see – of course they are, but they are primarily driven by mass tourism and it’s best you know before you go and make no pretense about it, and if possible to learn some of the facts about traveling to some of these areas well in advance, particularly when it comes to knowing when the peak season is in Italy is and some other surprising facts which may alter your decisions in terms of what you decide to purchase in terms of experiences during your next vacation to Italy.

Not only can arming yourself with up-to-date information about travel in Italy, save you money, it can all save you a lot of aggravation in terms of waiting in long lines, traffic, grumpy staff experiences and other details that we think make the difference between planning an average trip and a truly excellent one.

Below, we have prepared some important information that can help you in planning your upcoming trip to Italy and avoiding some of the major pit-falls, so many visitors to Italy fall into and one of the most important things to consider is when the peak-seasons for travel are.

  1. Know when the peak-season is

Many first time travelers want to know when is the best time to visit Italy, and the answer may surprise you.  Peak season for travel in Italy is not what most people consider.

Peak-Season Italy

The peak seasons for travel may not be what you expect, for example October is one of the very busiest times in Italy, particularly in Florence, Venice, Rome, the Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre and you may be shocked to know that  June, September and October are considered peak season in Florence, Venice and Rome, but it’s getting tobe busy now all year round and so it’s important  important to reserve well in advance to get the best prices for accommodations, otherwise if you wait  you end up paying more and finding less options the closer you get to the date of departure.  It’s a matter of supply and demand. It’s a small country with a limited supply of hotels in areas like the Amalfi Coast, Taormina, Venice, & the Cinque Terre, supply is often less than the demand, hence prices are going up all over Italy during the peak season and scarcity is driving the price-hikes.

2. Avoid Travel to the sea-side areas from August 10 – 18 if you can avoid it and for some of the best deals in Italy consider visiting Florence, Venice and Rome in August where you can find the best deals!

August 15th is Ferragosto and around this time of year almost all of the public workers in Italy are allowed a one week holiday, so quite literally tens of millions of Italian tourists themselves are on the move around the 15th of August making traffic horrendous and hotel prices, particularly near the sea-side sore.

Generally speaking during this time, the local residents pour out of the cities like Florence and Rome and all head to cooler climates, make Rome and Florence ideal to visit if you can stand the heat!

If you don’t want to deal with the August temperatures, consider visiting Italy in the winter months which is a surprisingly great time to visit Italy and may be a pleasant surprise for all that this country has to offer in terms of natural hot-springs, great culinary experiences, wonderful scenery and access to the museums and galleries without the hassle of the masses during the spring and fall months!

3. Consider towns and cities nearby some of the more popular areas.  

Take for example the Cinque Terre.  This is a stretch of coastline on the Italian riviera that is shouldered by some other tows and regions towards the north and the south.  Check out one of our recent articles on the Cinque Terre national park:

Let's Get Away Ad

https://www.italyvacationspecialists.com/blog/thinking-staying-cinque-terre-italy-may-want-think

And it’s not only for the Cinque Terre we have recommendations, its for everywhere in Italy close to the major centers and even this fall we are gearing up to show some of our colleagues the area around Rome which is so fascinating!

4. When taking a group tour confirm the number of participants before the tour. 

Some tour companies offer huge group tours where you are with head-sets and walking with anywhere from 40-60 people.  If this sounds like your idea of a good time, great, but a lot of people find these types of group sizes overwhelming.

5.  Rail between cities like Florence and Rome may seem inexpensive, but at what cost?

If you are arriving into Florence and need to take another tour to get into Tuscany, consider taking a private transfer and seeing some of the Tuscany region en-route between Florence and Rome.  Have a look at one of our articles about using private transfers as great sightseeing experiences and knowing where and when not to use them.

Save Money & Use Private Transfers as Opportunities for Incredible Experiences & Sightseeing

6.  Use a travel professional who knows the ins and outs of Italy.  Know the facts about using a travel consultant and hire a good one who really knows the ins and outs of Italy!  We know quite a few excellent agents and can certainly recommend one in your area! 

You may think that using a travel agent or travel professional is more costly, but this is in fact a complete misconception.  Travel agents are paid a commission off of products that you wouldn’t have access to otherwise, so they are not making money off of you but rather the suppliers or hotels that they may be recommending to you based on a great experience. It’s their intention to give you the best experience and believe us, organizing travel details and make things go smoothly from start to finish is a big task. 

Sure, maybe you can do it yourself, but definitely not with the same level of expertise and safety that somebody who specializes in this can do. 

7.  Big travel sites like Expedia, Viatour,  Booking.com, Hotelbeds are catering to the masses of tourists coming to Italy, so if you want to be away from the big crowds and you are booking sightseeing tours and experiences on any of these sites, be prepared to be bulked into the mass experience.  

Many of these large multi-national big name internet travel companies dominate the web and their big group tours the streets of these major cities in Italy – but you don’t have to fall into the herd-type travel.

Explore other options and get informed before you go!

Private Drivers & Transportation for You and Your Tribe Here in Italy

8. Use private guides, local drivers and / or companies who employ them and specialize in boutique experiences, even if its not us!

Often times private guides are very reasonable and you can use private guides and drivers often at the same cost as what doing a large group tour costs!

We are guides and drivers here in Italy and many of our colleagues specialize in specific areas and they can truly bring may of the areas to life for you and ensure your comfort and safety during your experience here!

9. Look for boutique tours or consult with friends and plan your own private tour for the same cost as some of the big tour companies offering the same standard stuff.

Many of the large tour operators like Trafalgar, Globus, Perillo and Gar Tour are offering cookie-cutter tours with bus-loads of 20+ participants. For generic, first time tours to Italy these might suite you just fine, however these tours can be expensive and tiring, since you have to always go at the pace of the slowest group member.

There are many alternatives including planning your own custom tour with friends or family and the price you would pay for a big bus tour is often the same as customizing your own experience.

10. Come to Italy once and see the major sites, then come back and see some of the off-the beaten track places!

There are 20 regions in Italy and within those regions there are provinces. From the north to the south each region varies considerably in terms of cuisine, language, architecture and cultural influence. Sicily for example was strongly influenced by the Arabic, Turkish and Greek cultures while the north has long standing traditions with the French, Austrians, German and Swiss. With such a compelling position in the Mediterranean, Italy is ancient country with a deep military, political and cultural influence that is evident in numerous locations.

We can assist you by providing you the very best up-to-date information about travel in Italy and steer you away from the mass experiences so many visitors to Italy fall into, to a personalized one for you and your loved ones!

We love Italy and want to see that it is well preserved and its environment, culture and traditions respected for years to come!

Join us today in discovering Italy in all its beauty with an authentic heart-centered team of local experts! 

Tuscany1

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Email: team@italyvacationspecialists.com  TOLL FREE 1-866-779-2565

Direct in Italy / Whatsapp: + 39 338 351 6912

Private Drivers & Transportation for You and Your Tribe Here in Italy

Transportation in Italy: How it Works!

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One of the very best things you can do for you and your tribe while visiting Italy is to employ a driver-guide.  It is MUCH LESS EXPENSIVE THAN YOU THINK! 

Relax and actually enjoy your holiday, while our professional drivers bring you to the truly breathtaking areas of Italy outside of the major tourist centers.  Get into the heart of Italy, where you can experience so very many more sites that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise, either from a big tour bus or the train.

You may think taking the train is cheaper, but at what cost if you are missing so many of the highlights of Italy as you wiz-pass? And, if you drive yourself, get ready to learn that your car is not even allowed into the center of so many towns in Italy now!  You need special permits, which are drivers have.

So, instead of having to worry about hair-pin turns, falling off a cliff, or the numerous pedestrian only and restricted driving areas  that so many towns and cities in Italy have, make the smart decision!  Sit back, relax and enjoy yourself with a professional and legally insured driver guide.

change of heart

We have now created an area of our site where you can book transfers and hourly service on-line! It’s so fantastic and we know you will love it! 

https://italyvacationspecialists.my-limo.com/

Belmond Entrance

With great knowledge of the areas we serve in Italy (all 21 regions) and with our in-depth knowledge about each region (Check out our Destinations in Italy), our local guides know all of the roads, offer great restaurant recommendations, fun photo stops, various wine tastings and local foods you can taste en-route, are just a few of the reasons to consider a local driver-guide on your next holiday to Italy and use city-to-city private transfers as incredible sightseeing experiences!

ExclusiveDriving Frame

There are quite literally hundreds of destinations in Italy we operate in and we do recommend you always get in touch with us if you have any questions at team@italyvacationspecialists.com

Please make sure to refer to other relevant articles we have about driving in Italy:

Places to Avoid Driving in Italy

Places to Avoid Driving in Italy

Excursions from Your Cruise Ship: What to Know Before You Go!

Save Money & Use Private Transfers as Opportunities for Incredible Experiences & Sightseeing

Important Information for Cruise-Ship Passengers Coming into Major Ports in Italy

Fatal Mistakes You or Your Travel Agent May Make When Planning A Visit to Italy & How To Avoid Them