Ahhh, the “Italy” that comes to mind for most people when they imagine a visit to this bucket-list country – quaint medieval towns, beautiful landscapes, fantastic specialties like wine, cheese, olive oil and balsamic vinegar, amazing meals and warm welcoming locals. We had this same experience during Europe Your Own Way’s organized tour this past May. However, this time, unlike our previous organized tours, we included a few days of sight-seeing in the “must-see” cities of Florence and Rome since our group had never been in Italy before. Our well-balanced (and very flexible) itinerary included sight-seeing in Florence, Pisa, Lucca, San Gimignano, Siena (with a few hours visiting some fantastic wineries in the Chianti region) and Rome. If this sounds like something you might enjoy, contact me for details about the next trip currently possible for October 2019 (if there’s enough interest). We could do a similar itinerary to the May trip with adjustments as requested. October is also an interesting time to visit wineries, if that’s your thing – it’s the grape harvest which allows a peak into a portion of the wine making process that you can only see during this season.
Why to go: Do you really need me to tell you why to go to Italy?! 😊 There are so many reasons – history, art, architecture, language, scenic views, religion, food, wine, the people and maybe it’s your ancestral homeland….
When to go: I always tell people that September/October and May are, in my opinion, the best times to visit because it’s not high tourist season (smaller crowds and lower prices), and the weather is generally comfortable. We didn’t have the best weather for our May visit this year – it was kind of overcast and we did have to dodge a few raindrops here and there. But the temps weren’t too bad and we still had a fantastic time.
How to go: For this trip, we met up at Fiumicino Airport in Rome and took a train to Florence to start the tour. Rome and Florence are connected by frequent trains taking only about 1 ½ hours. Arriving/departing from Rome can be a good option for more economical flights and more options for flight itineraries.
Where to go: The tour can be designed to meet the desires of the group. One of our previous groups was interested in stopping as frequently as possible for tastings: wine, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, etc. Another recent group wanted to balance out the tastings with visits to the beautiful towns along the way. And the most recent trip included wine tasting but also guided walking tours of Florence and Rome (which we hadn’t done with previous groups). All of the trips experience fantastic meals and an incredible cooking class not far from Montepulciano that we love to repeat! On some itineraries, we finish the week at a resort town on the Adriatic coast before heading back to the city. And usually our final stop is in Rome for an opportunity to visit the “eternal city” which is always a highlight for me.
Potential optional detours:
- A hike through the Cinque Terre before the organized portion starts.
- A visit to the Montefalco wine region of Umbria instead of or in addition to Assisi and Spello.
- More time exploring Siena for those not as interested in visiting Chianti.
- Soaking in the thermal baths in the Tuscan spa town of Saturnia.
- Arrive a few days early and soak up the culture in Florence and/or stay a few days longer to fall in love with Rome.
- Or, is there a city on your bucket list that you want to include? Let me know and I’ll see how we can fit it in!!!