Italy…Great food , great wine, wonderful people...Al Hague
Italy is a country made up of many regions distinctly different in terrain, culture and climate. The first step is to decide what region you would most like to visit, based on the sights, culture and perhaps the food if you are a foodie. Next comes what time of year will give you the best opportunity to enjoy your trip the most. Experience tell us that high tourist season is mostly June through August which also happens to be the hottest time as well. The month of August, virtually the entire country is on vacation. Manufacturing comes to a halt and many if not most businesses close for the month. In most high tourist areas stores remain open but do close for extended periods of time during the day for their version of a siesta. The ideal time is either May or September. In May spring is a great time to travel. Flowers are blooming and farms are bustling with crop preparation. The winemakers are working the fields and the mornings are cool but the day warms quickly. Tourists have not filled the streets and museums quite yet, so seeing the sights is a bit easier and your accommodations have not raised their prices for the high season either. The other best choice for a different reason is September when the grape harvest is in full swing and “festas” are happening in the villages everywhere celebrating the harvest time. Most of the tourists have left and the streets are once again passable and prices have receded a bit as well. There is a wide choice of accommodations that will allow you to see the main interests in day trips from a central location such as a village or agri-tourismo that are much less costly than three and four star hotels. Day tripping is so easy in Italy and it is nice not to pack your belongings every couple of days. However, if you have the energy for moving around, it is also easy to see more than one region in a trip of eight days or more.
Many of the regions derive their culture from the food that is native to the region. In Italy food is selected and prepared fresh each day, therefore it is common to make all meals from those foods that are readily available in season. For example, the Veneto region is heavily influenced by the sea where the Tuscany region is more influenced by agriculture.
The most popular region of Tuscany has different fare than southern Italy. The sauces and the make up of the dishes are very different. However, they are all delicious. Tuscany is very popular as a grape growing region, although every region in Italy has fine wines with characteristics unique to that growing region.
All disciplines of art are found in every city, village, church and building in Italy. Statues, frescos, fountains and buildings will keep you in a constant state of awe. Florence in itself is at a minimum two days of visiting the famous places such as the Duomo and the Uffizzi. It is wise to spend some time researching the different cities and regions to be able to have a good idea of whats most important to see in the time you have allotted to spend in Italy. Exploring the many hill towns that dot the country landscape is an adventure in time travel. While the buildings are certainly ancient the shopping is amazing and the quality found in the more remote areas is top shelf.
Live the culture…
Traveling and staying in hotels regardless of level can often help you miss an important part of the experience. To enjoy the culture ask your travel agent to find you an apartment or home to stay in. It is often much more affordable, the accommodations are very comfortable ,safe and clean and you can even prepare some of your own meals. Visiting the local markets is a great way to eat fresh and what is in season just like the locals. The shopping experience itself is fun and interesting. Download a translator program to your smartphone and the language barrier disappears, plus you will eat amazing food. However, if hotels are your preference focus on the location to make it easy to get around and if in the summer be sure to ask about air conditioning. Not all hotels have it. To be sure the higher level hotels can be quite pricy.
Traveling throughout Italy is a joy only understood by those who have done it. It is a lot easier than one might think. The autostradas ( main highways) cover the country and signage is quite plentiful once you get to know what to look for. However if you really want to see the country do your best to take the smaller roads and highways which are not like ours. Most are very narrow, curvy and traffic tends to move much faster than Americans are used to. The back roads will certainly take you to the most interesting and wonderful places. Don’t be afraid to stop anywhere and dine at any roadside Ristorante (restaurant) for the food and drink will be amazing even if you can’t speak the language. It is amazing how easy it can be to communicate and understand the Italian menus. For the most part menus are in both Italian and English for our benefit.
As you move around the country you will discover a common theme of pride everywhere. The simplest baristas wear starched coats and ties and take enormous pride in their work .
There is no doubt that it requires multiple trips to Italy to really see it and enjoy the culture and you can believe after every trip you will come away with an appreciation for the simple and important things in life. Let us help you have the experience of a lifetime….contact us today and get started.