January 18, 2018 at 6:30 AM
January 11, 2018 at 6:47 AM
January 2, 2018 at 8:38 AM
Italy is one of the most visited countries and it tops almost everyone's bucket list. It's a busy tourism place all year long. The hot spots are Venice, Florence, Rome, Amalfi Coast and Cinque Terre.
Positano is a precious little town with a finite number of hotels that sell out years in advance, particularly for groups of 6 or more. The same is true for other towns along the Amalfi Coast or Cinque Terre. If you are planning to travel to these towns in the summer or fall, it's not uncommon to plan and book a year in advance. Not only is space limited, but pricing is usually tricky. The further in advance that you book, the more accommodation options you will have at better values.
Italy is typically a destination you would not want to wait until the last minute to book.
Enlist the help of a professional when booking your hotel in Italy. A 5 star rating in Italy is not the same as a 5 star hotel in the United States, star rating in Italy may not be the best measure to go by when booking your hotel. Also, don't assume there will be air conditioning or elevators. Sometimes you may think you are getting a truly "luxury" experience, please pay close attention to the location of the accommodation. "Steps away from Trevi Fountain" does not mean there won't be a busy intersection between accommodation and Trevi Fountain. Hotels can be complicated ... wouldn't you prefer to work with professionals that have personally visited the hotels and know the staff.
Surely, you have heard that Rome was not built in a day and it can't be seen in a lifetime. Most travelers that I work with want to see 6 or more Italian cities in 8 days or several countries in 10 days. While you can sometimes fit it all in, I hope you will reconsider. Changing hotels every day or 2 days will leave you exhausted and you may well miss the most special things that make ITALY the best travel destination. Relax and enjoy the authentic parts of each city. Never underestimate how much time it takes to pack, transfer, unpack from one destination to the next--that usually takes about 1/2 day.
Tip 4: Allow enough time to book tickets well in advance to major sites of interest
Skip the line tickets to places like Vatican City in Rome, the Uffizi and Accademmia galleries in Florence and Cennacolo where Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper resides requires reservations approximately 6 months in advance, maybe longer if you are traveling with more than 4 people.
Tip 5: Private drivers and private tours
For groups of 3+ travelers, we recommend a private driver and private tours for the best experience. Many of our clients return to tell us all the tips and tricks their drivers gave them and how much it enhanced their stay.
Tip 6: Avoid the Tourist Menu
Part of the fun is finding cool little spots for dinner, but please beware. Big photos of pasta or multiple choices on a menu is a sure sign that it is a tourist trap. I would venture a couple block to the back and look for a restaurant with one main meal written on chalkboard in Italian. Where you dine, who you dine with and the neighborhood you dine in makes a big difference in your experience.
Plan on an hour or two for dinner. Scheduling in advance wine tastings and cellar tours with a "lite lunch" is a golden opportunity. You will not only dine, but have a truly cultural experience.
Tip 7: Know where to avoid driving
Some of the most popular cities are the most difficult to and dangerous to drive. I honestly can't think of any town on a first visit that I would recommend driving. Parking is very expensive (sometimes 100 Euros a day) and leaving your car unattended is not a great idea. It is very confusing getting around, even for the locals, and many areas prohibit driving, even locals. And never drink and drive, there is zero tolerance.
Tip 8: Know before you go
Cruises can be great fun, but consider what you want to see and do. After much discussion, most travelers realize they would like to have a more immersive, authentic experience while visiting one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Consider that you may only have 5 hours in a particular town along with hundreds of other cruise passengers all trying to see the same iconic sites at the same time.
For more relevant information about your next vacation, we would love to help you.
December 28, 2017 at 9:36 AM
Gondola Serenade: When you think about Venice, one of the first things you imagine is a gondola silently gliding on the water, and the silence of the Venetian canals at sunset. You will experience all this too, in the late afternoon, while enjoying the city from a different perspective during your 30-minute private gondola ride. This definitely is the best way to discover the enchanting scenery hidden amongst the canals of Venice, allowing you to admire this romantic city. Absorb the colors and the atmosphere, the noises of the city in the background and relax in this everyday means of transportation which has been used for centuries.
Amazing Vineyards: Val d'Orcia boasts some of Tuscany's most picturesque towns that have miraculously remained untouched by tourism. Your private excursion starts in Montalcino, a beautiful walled town known for its production of the precious Brunello wine. You will then continue to Pienza, a town famed for both its Renaissance perfection and its mastery of pecorino cheese. After a relaxing tasting of fine wines and cheeses, we will continue our trip to Montepulciano. There you will be able to explore distinguished wine cellars and taste the world-famous Vino Nobile di Montepulciano. We will also explore ancient underground Etruscan tombs and the town's medieval center, rich with history.
Papal Audience: Your expert guide will lead you through the huge crowds, directly to St. Peter's Square with individual headsets so you can hear your guide over the roar of the crowd. Once settled, your guide will provide an in-depth insight into the history and traditions of the Papacy and Papal Audience ceremony so you're fully prepared for the moment when Pope Francis I takes the stage along with his Cardinals. Understanding the rich traditions of the Papacy and background on the event itself will make this one of the most memorable experiences of your life.
Tour from Positano to Capri Island: Take a boat trip around the beautiful island you will see many highlights as we drive through Faraglioni, three peaks emerging from the blue water pointing toward the sky. Stop for swimming and snorkeling and visit of all important grottos (Blue Grotto) –Admire caves and bays around Capri at a leisurely pace with various stops for swims.
Port of Capri: 3 hours on the Island to explore by yourself – on the way back to Positano stop for swimming. Take cable car up to see - ANA CAPRI for panoramic view of island; Walk around this charming island and you will be enchanted by the breathtaking landscape, natural treasures and picturesque rocky caves. and stroll around the famous Umberto I square, also known as “Piazzetta”, where you can enjoy a drink in one of its fashionable bars or do some shopping.
Agrigento & Valley of Temples: Almost 2,000 years ago, before the rise of the Roman Empire, Greeks ruled Sicily and left their mark with a series of important cities and sites. Where Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples are found today was the huge site of Ancient Akragas, a wealthy city of as many as 500,000 people and one of the most important in Ancient Greece. The city was founded in around 580 BC and prospered until it was conquered and destroyed by the Carthaginians in 406. Over the centuries the area was under Roman, Arab and Norman control, largely due to its strategic position overlooking Porto Empedocle and the Strait of Sicily. All left their mark at Agrigento and the Valley of the Temples shows evidence of all these civilizations.
Driving Around the Irish Countryside:Drive along the coastline of County Clare to view the Cliffs of Moher, one of the country’s most magnificent rock formations that rise to heights of almost 700 feet above the churning Atlantic swells. Pass through The Burren, an area of rocky limestone hills where a number of unique flowers thrive. This region also contains many dolmens, prehistoric monuments formed by large limestone slabs. Just outside Ballyvaughan visit Aillwee Cave, one of the most ancient caves in the Burren and perhaps in Ireland. The cave was formed millions of years ago by the melted waters of the prehistoric ice age when streams sinking underground on Aillwee Mountain started dissolving channels through the lines of weakness in the limestone.
Climbing the Syndey Harbor Bridge: Absorb a 360 degree panorama of Sydney as you journey to the summit on our original Climb experience. Like an exposed spine, the outer rim delivers you to the peak, as the sky remains just beyond your outstretched fingertips. Latching on in the Climb Base below the Bradfield Highway, you will walk on catwalks below the road-deck until you reach the South-East Pylon. Here you will ascend 4 ladders to the start of the upper arch, surrounded by the hum and buzz of Sydney’s traffic. With the summit in your sight, your journey continues along the Bridge’s outer arch on the Opera House side until you hit the top. After a summit celebration with your group, you cross the spine of the Bridge to the Darling Harbour side to make your descent to our Climb Base. This was one of the most ehilirating experiences I've been a part of in my entire life.
Catamaran Tour: 1st: Zip Line viewing the two peaks of the Piton Mountains. Lunch at Ladera Resort (Oprah's favorite) -Dasheen; hike a beautiful hillside nature trail offering a picturesque viewpoint of the water & mountains; Let's go off the beaten path to bath in the Falls & Mineral Bath that is a secret held by the locals. At the end of the day, return to the catamaran, snorkel along Sugar Beach and sail off into the Saint Lucian sunset. Pass through Marigot Bay for some amazing photo ops and get ready to have fun and dance to island rhythms.
Tour Glacier Bay: Covers more than 3.3 million acres, 18 glaciers reach the ocean, largest concentration of tidewater glaciers on earth. National Park was all solid ice, thousands of feet thick 200 years ago. Most shoreline of Alaska's 9 coastal National Park Service units with 752 miles of coast, not including islands. Home to diverse collection of wildlife, including large colonies of nesting seabirds, migrating ducks & geese, whales, and porpoises.
All of these are bucket list worthy for me, but what is your bucket list look like?
December 14, 2017 at 6:30 AM
December 7, 2017 at 6:30 AM
November 30, 2017 at 6:02 AM
From fields covered in tulips in April to December's decadent Christmas markets, hundreds of riverboats sail along Europe's abundant, historic rivers and canals, which span thousands of miles. A European river cruise is one of the best and most efficient ways to explore inland Europe, stopping at many ports, towns, cities, and villages that traditional big ships usually can't access.
What makes a river cruise so different from an ocean cruise is emphasis and immersion into the destinations visited. Every day a new port is featured so there are no days at sea. Multiple guided tours are included to go out exploring a new and enlightening city. With this focus, it's nice that river itineraries in Europe feature a diverse mix of intriguing ports.
Have an “in-Seine” experience in Paris sailing down the Seine River. Roll down the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Frankfurt. Drift down the Danube River to see the best of Budapest, or even take a merry little Christmas cruise.
Though most river cruises have the reputation for being adapted to the elder generations U by Uniworld is changing the game offering a cruise line geared toward the younger generations with an age range of 21-45 years. This new line will market and intrigue the next generation of travelers to expand and broaden what experience they can enjoy without the backpacks and hostels. They’ve thought of everything in that you can even rent mobile hot spots for the day so no more outrageous international data plans to worry about. No need for a special converter either because the ship is outfitted with European, American, and USB electrical outlets.
The excursion choices vary depending upon activity level, interests, and destination. Most of the adventures and tours are complimentary, from an evening bike ride along the Danube, a “Midnight in Paris” evening stroll, a canal cruise in Amsterdam, vineyard hikes, castle visits, and so much more. Also if you’ve adventured a little too much or stayed out a little to late and don’t want to explore around the port a certain day there are numerous on board activities offered. Sip wine while you paint on the top deck, take a mixology class and concoct something just for you, relax and center yourself with a yoga class, or have a special culinary experience with the chef’s cooking class.
To travel is to fully immerse yourself in another culture. What better way to do that than by trying out authentic port specific foods? River cruising many of your on board meals will be inspired by the local fare of the cities you’ll visit, made from ingredients that were sourced just miles down the road. If you happen to be hungry for something a little closer to home you’ll have classic options, comfort food choices and plenty of vegan, vegetarian and various healthy dining choices as well. Uniworld steps it up a notch with their partnership with VizEat to enhance the authenticity to eat like a local and taste the city and share a meal in the home of a U Host. It’s where authentic home cooking meets immersive travel.
I’m hoping this will open the market to other river cruise lines gearing some of their boats to younger generations as well. These cruise itineraries are great for college graduation gifts, girlfriend getaways, young groups, and even the solo traveler with the social and intimate feel of this smaller boat and crew.
November 24, 2017 at 7:00 AM
Montepulciano & San Gimignano
Enjoy breakfast at your hotel then meet you English speaking driver and sommelier. Enjoy your day of wine tasting and exploring Tuscany's hilltop towns. You will be surrounded by enchanting views of the valleys dotted with vineyards, cypress trees and rolling green hills.
Enjoy free time exploring the charming stone streets to this historic Tuscan town. Savor a light lunch paired with a private tasting of regional wines at a small batch winery. Enjoy a guided tour of a historic family-run vineyard with a member of the family followed by a tour of their spectacular estate and cellars.Montalcino & Brunello Wine
After breakfast, meet your private driver and transfer to Italian region of Piedmont. Along the way, stop at one of the most influential wine-producing family wineries. Enjoy a private visit through historic vineyards surrounding the estate and go behind-the-scenes accessing the cellars typically closed to the public. Tour concludes with a wine tasting and light lunch featuring regional food products. Continue on to your hotel and pause for free time in a seaside town along the spectacular Italian Riviera in Liguria. From your deluxe accommodations, enjoy sweeping views of the vineyard-draped valleys and snow-capped Alps in the distance. Settle into your rooms and enjoy a welcome apertivo - including local cheeses, salumi and prosciutto.
After breakfast. Meet your private driver and wind through the enchanting hills and valleys of the Langhe wine country.
Your first stop will be at a winery recognized as producing some of the finest wines in Piedmont.
Your day continues on to the scenic city of Alba, located high on a green hill, overlooking the vineyards below, Alba is famed for its prized white truffles and fine foods. Stroll the stone streets to enjoy a lunch at world renowned Michelin-starred-restaurant. Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour the restaurant's kitchen after the meal. After lunch, enjoy free time in Alba before heading back to the hotel to relax before the evening hands-on cooking class. Meet local Italians -- learning about their culinary traditions and passion for slow food. Learn how to make fresh pasta from scratch as well as some other Piedmontese delicacies. Enjoy your creations for dinner --paired, naturally with local wines... transfer back to accommodation.
Barolo and Barbaresco
November 16, 2017 at 6:45 AM
November 9, 2017 at 6:30 AM
Sip Chianti and break bread in family-run wineries' private cellars, or vineyards. Taste pecorino cheeses at the farms they are made. Stroll ancient paths while mesmerizing these medieval towns. Or partake in a cooking class with a local nonna.Monteriggioni (Siena)
Radda in Chianti (Siena)
Relax and enjoy the sun setting in the comfort of the veranda of your private Tuscan villa while a real-live nonna prepares, cooks and serves a delicious Tuscan meal. Explore the countryside on bikes or have a driver pick you up to explore this charming town encircled in medieval walls and winding stone streets with panoramic views of the Tuscan Wine Country. Radda is easily reached from Florence or Siena and is a perfect scenic stop on wine tour or an idyllic base to explore the surrounding countryside.
Picture-perfect Barga in the mountains of North Tuscany is perched between snow-capped Apennienes (Tuscan Alps) woods and rushing rivers. Active travelers enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking and skiing. History lovers will enjoy its perfectly-preserved Romanesque church, while others will cherish this sweet escape surrounded by natural beauty. Barga is a day trip from Lucca, but worthy of a stopover.