It is definitely true, you don’t need to go on a food tour in Italy to be exposed to some incredible Italian products because they are right in front of you every time you sit down in a trattoria, stumble across a morning market or find yourself examining the shelves in even the smallest alimentary grocery shop while you wait politely for the conclusion of a morning social exchange between customer and seller. Italy and food go together, it’s a given that you will find fabulous food available everywhere, but remember, it does pay to make sure you get away from the crowded tourist areas where people gather in the main piazza, usually too tired and hungry to go another step, and therefore falling into a seat on a pavement and chomping on disappointingly dry pizza. Any Italy Food Tour is going to bring you into close contact with amazing products, perhaps Parmigiano Reggiano, or Traditional Balsamic of Modena, or Prosciutto from Parma – all three among world class products produced around the charming city of Parma, but whether you are on a food tour or not you can still sample all those delicacies wherever you travel in Italy.
Your Personal Food Tour in Italy
A glorious time to travel in Italy, the grapes are under harvest, the summer heat is over and Italians have returned home from their seaside holidays. The season subtly changes and olives are ripening, chestnuts, too, and after the first falls of rain, well worn mushrooming baskets are retrieved from the cantina and mushroom hunters venture into the forests at dawn, the earth is still warm, and the rains bring porcini mushrooms up, and the truffles grow underground.
In Autumn 2017 I’m travelling into chestnut territory during one of the major chestnut harvests. Its a fun festival, there will be plenty of long wooden ladders propped against huge branches hanging low with ripe chestnuts, and beneath the trees, scatterings of the first to fall, and the braziers already smoking. Lunch of chestnut pasta is aromatic and delicious, and so is turkey with chestnuts and honey!
When we mention Tuscany, you imagine an Italy Tour that takes you through the rolling hills, passing ancient stone farmhouses and olive groves, eating delicious Tuscan food every day, but thinking about a trip to Tuscany also prompts you to think about whether you will go to Florence.
Maybe you’ve been to Tuscany before, and to Florence. If you have an interest in the art of the great Masters, you cannot miss Florence, but even if you don’t, you know that no Italy Tour is complete unless you’ve been to Florence. Have you wandered around galleries of art and sculpture and dragged yourself blinking and frowning as you exited? Lots of people do that on a trip to Italy and if I ask what they’ve seen the response is often – “Everything – we went into every room!
If you remember a blur of Madonna and Child paintings, and if you were in front of Giotto, Donatello, Michelangelo and da Vinci – what have you taken home with you from your Italy tour? Did you ‘get’ what the Renaissance was really all about? If you think the Renaissance was all about art and sculpture, you might have missed the whole darned point!
One of the greatest pleasures of the guided wine and food tours in Italy, perhaps the greatest, is that you get to experience genuine Italian cooking, pairing honest uncomplicated food, prepared with love, with the local unpretentious wines made from grapes grown incredibly close to wherever you are.
One of my favourite Tours in Italy is the Villages & Vineyards tour, because we stay several nights in small hamlets or villages where nothing is hurried, and where a couple of hours relaxing in the sun with friends, uncorking a bottle of a wine and learning the art of understanding the wine itself – its connection traditionally and historically to the people who have grown it for hundreds of years – rather than unthinkingly drinking it, makes this Tour in Italy a truly memorable and educational experience.
Sometimes we follow a known wine trail, other times our Villages & Vineyards Italy tour is about exploring the food and wine culture of Italy region by region. A question I’m often asked on any of my Tours in Italy is why such a relatively small country has so many regions, so many cuisines and so many wines. People are curious to find out why Italian food and wine culture became the number one and most exported foreign food represented in every country in the world.
Probably Tuscany is the most popular of the food and wine trails in Italy, but my Villages & Vineyards Tours in Italy to Piedmonte, Veneto, Umbrian and Calabria are Tours in Italy where we get the greatest pleasure pairing genuine Italian cooking with delicious wines in some of the most splendid and enchanting villages in Italy.
The last few years has seen an explosion of Italy tours and it seems every celebrity, artist, chef, author or anyone who has a following offers Italy Tours to Tuscany or Umbria.
If there is a celebrity on your Italy tour, all his/her tour costs, including hotels, meals, activities, transport, are added to your tour cost. It’s common for a celebrity host to expect a “fee” of often thousands of dollars for being on tour. A celebrity name is there to attract you and can bump up the price dramatically. Would you rather travel in Tuscany or anywhere in Italy with an expert who can answer your questions and tell you enriching stories, bringing Italy to life for you?
Lots of people travel Italy independently, and it isn’t hard to do because Italians are great people and they want your Italy Travel to be a happy encounter. But there comes a time when people who Travel Italy independently realize they are missing way too much, even if they love Italy, and even if they haven’t argued with their partner for 24 hours trying to find a hotel, or parking, or to get on or off the highway, although they have probably gritted their teeth through a mediocre lunch when they just KNOW Italian food is fabulous!
Every Trip to Italy means great food, fabulous countryside, unique wines and a never boring history which left a trail of masterpieces in art, sculpture, architecture and sheer enchantment that nobody should miss on any Trip to Italy. Scholars agree that life is not complete until you have made a trip to Italy, and one life does not seem long enough to capture it all – you need more Trips to Italy to understand why it is so enriching.
Trip to Italy and Rome
On your first trip to Italy it’s likely you are going to land in Rome, so get ready to be amazed – even though you’ve seen it all on TV – at the relics from the Roman Empire. For hundreds of years this city ruled up to 50 million people, spread all over the continent – you have to be in awe, especially when its your first Trip to Italy. We don’t even have to mention the specific monuments – they are household names!
Trip to Italy and Florence
Next stop is likely to be Florence and you are are going to be blown away. Totally different to Rome, but jam packed with incredible sights, enough to make you pause and realize that this Trip to Italy is a lot more than a Trip, its a kaleidoscope of art in all its forms and even if you hadn’t intended this outcome, you are automatically being educated by taking part in a Trip to Italy where you find yourself in a city that changed the culture of the world.
Trip to Italy and Venice
People might say, “Don’t go to Venice, its dirty, it smells, it’s expensive, it’s not worth it.” But to miss Venice on a Trip to Italy is to cheat yourself. People who say they “don’t like Venice”, have no idea what Venice is all about – don’t be a closed minded tourist. When you take your first step off the vaporetta, you step into an unfamiliar world, a world of fantasy, of masquarade, where greed and vice prevailed, and, if you are open minded, you’ll find yourself falling under its spell. Ask yourself, Is this the Real Venice? or, Is Venice Real? You will never want to take a Trip to Italy without including Venice.
Have you skipped through heaps of guides trying to isolate where you want your next Tour of Italy to take you? You’ve set yourself a mammoth task – there are so many wonderful places to visit, but often the best of Italy is not only to be found in the biggest cities. The big three, Rome, Florence and Venice all must be seen, and you might love all three, or puzzle over one or two of them…but no-one can deny the richness they offer every traveller on a Tour of Italy.
We find Italy of decades past! Family run hotels with a handful of rooms, trattoria with mamma in the kitchen and babbo at the cash desk, proud to serve lunch from their garden and wine from their rows of vines. We don’t find queues when we visit the castle of the Stupor Mundi, King and Emperor Frederick II; we wander peacefully among cobbled alleys in some of the most stunning white washed villages in the whole world. We eat and drink locally – there is not enough tourists for the mega food chains to cash in on our presence, and instead we lunch with the farmer and his wife. You can be sure that a Tour of Italy to the South is going to be an unforgettable treat.
Have you returned from an Italy Holiday and reached home feeling you haven’t actually had a holiday? You probably noticed how laid-back Italians are and wondered, like many visitors, how come they stroll around the piazza half the day, relaxed and chatting, and then arms linked they stroll into the bar for coffee. Don’t they actually work? If you don’t get it right it can seem as if they are the ones on an Italy Holiday and not you!
You’ve decided you want a tour to Italy, maybe you think you might join one of hundreds of Italy Tours described on hundreds of web sites, but now you need to find an Italy tour that will take you to the places you dream of visiting, with plenty to see and do, offering good value for money, without being rushed through your Italy holiday.
Do you have special interests, specific reasons for coming to Italy? Do you want an Italy Tour to discover more about the delicious food and wine, or are you a history buff? Do you want to see Renaissance art on your Italy tour because you want the chance to stand in front of masterpieces – or do you want to soak up the atmosphere in small villages and towns, slipping into the relaxed rhythm of simply being in Italy?