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L&B Italian Tours - Search results for: Florence
Friday, 04 December 2015 19:08

Wine Tastings

We partner with incredible wineries in every region in Italy. Enjoy excursions from Florence to the countryside, where our private chauffeurs will whisk you away through the rolling hills to a breathtaking winery with a panoramic view. There enjoy 5 premiums reds, the owner himself will walk you through their process while his wife will cook you homemade pasta. Or, enjoy a crisp bottle of prosecco in a castle a little north of Venice. If you prefer the south, perhaps a bottle of Grillo on the side of Mt. Etna? That’s just the tip of the ice burg, the options are limitless.

Published in General Pages
Thursday, 12 November 2015 19:26

Regions in Italy

So you’ve decided you are GOING TO ITALY! How Exciting! Many people dream of visiting Italy and experiencing la bella vita, and while you certainly can’t avoid it anywhere in the country, there are some things to think about before you take off that will make your time that much more enjoyable.

First, Italy is a large, and very diverse country. Traveling across regions is almost like traveling across countries themselves. The Italian people are very attached to their City, Region, and Country, in that order, so be sure to talk to locals wherever you go to get to know the intricacies of the very different regions of Italy.

Planning your trip’s itinerary won’t be easy since there is SO much to see and do, but a little background on the country’s layout is helpful when decided what it is you want to get out of your time: are you looking for sports? history? art? food? beaches? mountains? fashion? design? Italy has it all, but some places have it better than others!

Italy can best be divided into three geographical areas: north, middle and south, although again across those areas culture, food and tradition varies greatly.

 

Northern Italy: Alta Italia

Northern Italy is made up of the Aosta Valley, Piedmont, Liguria, Lombardy, Emilia-Romagna, Veneto, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Trentino Alto-Adige. It boasts such famous cities as Milan, Venice, Turin, Genoa and Bologna. The weather is cooler than the rest of the country due to the northern location and proximity to the Apennines and Alps. This area is traditionally the more wealthy part of Italy, and houses most of the country’s industry. Cities like Milan and Venice can be slightly more expensive than some cities in the central or southern parts of Italy. However, public transportation and tourism services are much more developed and functional than in other parts of the country!

The major airport for the northern region is Milan’s Linate International Airport. There are many other airports in the region however, including Bologna, Venice and Genoa, so do some price comparisons before booking your ticket. The climate in this region varies considerably, both depending on time of year and location. Venice gets extremely hot in the summer, while Turin and the Lake District (Cuomo) stay much cooler and tend to be flocked by Italians trying to beat the heat during the summer months. The Italian Alps begin their ski season as early as November in some places.

Northern Italy has many attractions and offers activities for everyone. Those who enjoy sport and the outdoors may want to visit the lakes for water sports, or go hiking in the Italian Dolomites. Everyone should see Venice at least for a day while they still can! Milan is great for anyone interested in design or fashion, and also has a wide selection of galleries and museums for those interested in both Renaissance and contemporary art. One can also visit the Italian Riviera for some great beaches.

The cuisine of this region is also quite variable, but generally tends to be no the heavier side of some of the traditional Italian specialties we normally think of. This is where Italians eat risotto with saffron, polenta, LOTS of parmigiano reggiano (from the Emilia Romagna province – an area that all foodies must visit), heavy meat dishes and stews, etc. Closer north near the Austrian border we see a lot of Austrian or Slovenian influence in the cuisine, as well as the wines. Prosecco is from the Veneto, and Gewürztraminer is from Trentino Alto-Adige. Think lots of nice white wines, and a LOT of grappa!

 

Central Italy: Tuscany and Rome

Central Italy is made up of the regions Lazio, Marche, Tuscany and Umbria. Geographically it also contains Abruzzo and Molise, but they are traditional grouped with Southern Italy due to cultural similiarities. This is where the rolling hills of Unbria and Tuscany call to mind Napa Valley. This is wine country. Central Italy is home to cities like Florence, Siena, Perugia, and of course Roma. Still quite wealthy, but more varied wealth across regions, central Italy is also extremely easy to explore via bus or train, so you can visit some little hill towns in the Val D’Orcia, or take a train and ride up and down the coast. This section of Italy is full of tiny medieval towns, and if you do your research ahead of time, you could get to participate in one of their on-going traditional medieval festivals!

Rome and Florence both have international airports, as does Pisa. Flying into Bologna is also an easy way to get to Florence as they are connected via both fast and regional trains. The weather in the region is quite temperate, with clearly distinct seasons similar to the weather on the mid-Atlantic coast of the U.S. The winters are cold, and although snow is uncommon it is not unheard of. The summers get quite hot, going up to one hundred degrees, and the air tends to be humid, especially inland.

Florence and Rome are the dominating destinations in Central Italy, and rightfully so. Rome as the capital and Florence as the birthplace of the Renaissance are not to be missed if possible. I would argue each city really deserves its own trip to truly get the most out of what they have to offer. Rome is a massive metropolitan center, filled with tourists all year round. The Vatican is a major destination, its museums housing some of the most beautiful and famous Renaissance artwork, as well as the Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel. The City of Rome of course has many ancient Roman ruins that would excite anyone remotely interested in human history: the Coliseum, Roman Forum, Palatine Hill, and the Catacombs, just to name a few. Florence on the other hand is the must-visit for anyone interested in Renaissance art or history, and is also a good base to explore some of the smaller towns in the region that will have you thinking of Under the Tuscan Sun. The Chianti region is full of tiny gems to visit and have an amazing meal at, as is the area between Siena and Rome. You’ll have to get to know the regional bus lines though!

Again, each region has its own traditional cuisine, but Central Italy has some of the healthiest, heartiest, what traditionally would have been peasant food but has now been elevated to an incredible level of International renown. Bistecca alla Fiorentina can only be truly enjoyed in Tuscany, just as Rome is the place to eat Saltimbocca or Osso Buco. Siena is famous for its sweets, traditionally eaten at Christmastime, and the Umbrian town of Norcia, in the Appennine foothills is where the best black truffles can be found, as well as some of the best pork products like prosciutto and salame. The hills are home to wild boar, which is cooked into many traditional stews or sauces. This is also wine country, so look out for Chianti, Montalcino, Montepulciano, and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. I could write a whole article about Tuscan cuisine, and I probably will, so check our blog frequently!

 

Southern Italy: Untouched

Southern Italy is where many Italian Americans origins are. It is the poorest part of the country, and encompasses the “foot” part of the boot of Italy, as well as the island of Sicily and some other Islands off the coast of Naples. It is made up of the regions of Abruzzo, Apulia, Basilicata, Campania, Calabria, Molise and Sicily. Due to traditional poverty and well-known corruption, transportation to many less-frequented yet extremely beautiful areas is difficult without a car of your own. The trains are regional and buses connecting cities are infrequent. We’ll talk more about renting cars in Italy later, but this may be the area to do so if you are up for the challenge!

The nearest major international airport is Rome, but there are two smaller airports on the east coast: Bari and Brindisi, both in Apulia. Naples has an international airport, and the island of Sicily may be reached via Palermo in the north or Catania in the south. The climate in the South is Mediterranean, so again variable across seasons but markedly warmer than the north or center of the country. The area is frequently overlooked as a tourist destination, so it is a nice respite from the throngs of Florence or Venice if you have the chance to visit. The beaches are spectacular, overlooking truly crystalline water. On clear days you can even see Africa from certain points along the coast.

While Sorrento, the Amalfi coast and the island of Capri are all beautiful places to visit, they are also the most famous tourist destinations in this area. If you are looking for beautiful vistas and country club style and treatment, these resort towns are a perfect place to pamper yourself or take a boat out. If you are more on the adventurous side, continue south and explore the towns of Calabria, famous for its spicy peppers and warm inhabitants. From Naples you can climb Mount Vesuvius and eat a traditional Neapolitan pizza. Matera, in the Basilicata region, is slated to be the European Capitol of Culture in 2019, and boasts what are thought to be among the first ever human settlements in Italy carved out of the rocks that make up its ancient city center. Those interested in architecture will enjoy the cities along the southern coast of Sicily, where due to volcanic and seismic damage, many buildings were rebuilt in a new Sicilian Baroque style.

Southern Italian cuisine is what most Americans think of as Italian cuisine: eggplant parmigiana, pizza, calzone, spaghetti, maccheroni, and the list goes on. The region is big on short, dry pasta, as opposed to the soft egg pastas of the northern, wealthier regions. Mozzarella is from this area, as is ricotta, made light and fresh. San Marzano tomatoes are grown in the volcanic soil under mount Vesuvius, and are used ubiquitously. Many of the dishes served in the south have Italian-American counterparts due to generations of Italians emigrating to the US from these regions due to extreme poverty. This part of Italy also of course produces much of its own wine, but the wine tends to be drunk young and domestically, rather than bring preserved and shipped. So come here if you are okay with some chilled red table wine or a beer with your pizza!

This has just been an EXTREMELY brief overview of what you might expect as you plan your trip to Italy. Every part of the country has its own secrets, cuisines, and traditions, but if you can’t move there, these generalized descriptions should help you tailor where you want to start and end your visit to the big boot. Once you determine your itinerary, be sure to check seasonal weather charts so you can pack accordingly to where you will be visiting. Read on for more about the items that you will need to bring with you to get the most out of your Italian vacation!

Published in Tips & Tricks

Duration: Three hours (1-hour boat ride and 2-hour walking tour)

Type of Service: Florence River Cruise on a Traditional Barchetto on the Arno River

Experience by boat the “Cradle of the Renaissance” on the river Arno, passing under bridges and drifting along the water. 

We recommend this tour right before dinner for the perfect setting. See Florence from a different point of view and come on board this “Florentine Gondola” powered by a “renaiolo” with their single long paddle.  Hop aboard your boat and enjoy a 1-hour cruise down the scenic Arno River. Translating to ‘little boat’ in Italian, the barchetto was used centuries ago to transport building materials down the river for Florence’s city walls. As you journey across the water, learn the stories behind the architecture and grand palaces that you pass. Cruise under the Ponte Vecchio and get a riverside view of the Uffizi Gallery. You will hear about the secret passageway of the Vasari Corridor, connecting the Palazzo Vecchio to the Palazzo Pitti so that members of the Medici family could travel stealthily through the city. You’ll also pass the brilliant Baroque design of the Corsini Palace and the Santa Trinita Bridge.  Not many visitors to Florence get the opportunity to cross under the unique Ponte Vecchio bridge, widely known as the symbol of Florence.

After the Boat Ride on the Arno River, we will tour the main squares to see the city. Enrich yourself in the architecture, history, and culture of the city with our local guide to create an unforgettable experience.

Things to know:

  • Your tour will begin in central Florence, where you’ll meet up with your guide.
  • Travel through the bustling Piazza della Signoria, home to the impressive Palazzo Vecchio, and see the exterior of the Uffizi Gallery before approaching the Ponte Vecchio, Florence’s historic bridge
  • 1-hour Florence boat ride aboard a traditional barchetto, one of only four originals still operating in Florence
  • Cruise down the Arno and pass under the Ponte Vecchio 
  • Pass beautiful Florence attractions like the Uffizi Gallery and the Corsini Palace
  • Narration by tour guide on boat
  • Boat Tour is offered 7 days a week and must be booked 10 days in  advance
  • Boat Tour times are at 5:00 pm and 6:00 pm
  • Private Tour Walking Tour / Semi-Private Boat Tour
  • Meeting Location - The guide will meet you at your Florence hotel or central location

 

 

Additional Info

  • Region Tuscany
  • City Florence
  • Duration One hour boat ride and two hour walking tour
  • Highlights

    One hour Florence boat ride aboard a traditional barchetto, one of only four originals still operating in Florence and a two hour guided walking tour that takes in the most important monuments of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

     

  • Pricing & Booking

    $155 USD per person with a minimum of two. Group discounts available for four or more.

    GROUP SIZEDISCOUNT %$ DISCOUNTFINAL PRICE
    03 - 04 20.00 % $ 24.40 $ 97.60
    05 - 06 30.00 % $ 36.60 $ 85.40
    07 - 08 40.00 % $ 48.80 $ 73.20

    An estimate based on the daily exchange rate with the Euro. Due to the fluctuation in the Euro, the prices are subject to vary by up to 5% (usually a decrease, occasionally an increase). The precise price is confirmed upon booking following the procedures below. Please be sure to review the pricing upon booking.

    Booking Procedures and details: Upon hitting the “book now” button, you can choose your date and time, and look over the cancellation policy (terms and conditions), and preview the precise pricing. Once you have entered your details, L&B Italian tours will request your credit card number. We will not charge your credit card until we have confirmed the details for your reservations, this usually happens within 24-48 hours for tours and up to 4 days for trip packages. Once the card is charged your reservation is confirmed. Along with the confirmation, you will get a complete recap of your booking that includes maps, meeting places, times and contact numbers.

    Please note: L&B Italian Tours has an on-call operator in Italy, in the event that anything changes or you have problems in Italy, you can contact us easily. 

     
  • Price $155 per person
Wednesday, 04 November 2015 19:47

Gavi

My friend and I vacationed in Italy for a week and visited Venice, Florence, Rome, and Pompeii with the help of Hali at L&B Italian Tours.

Her planning and knowledge of the touristy and not so touristy attractions was exceptional. Hali recommended visiting the Grand Bazaar, which we found rather easily to navigate to with the rail system leaving directly from the airport.

Once we arrived in Italy, she suggested various restaurants and some main attractions. Additionally, she was great help on
finding the best deals for connecting trains between the cities, quality places to stay though Air BnB, and booked us tours that included “skip the line” passes so that we could avoid long lines at major attractions like the Vatican and the Coliseum.

We found her overall knowledge of the cities, transportation and room and board to really give us an incredible trip abroad without breaking the bank!

Published in Testimonials
Wednesday, 04 November 2015 19:47

Jeff and Ali

Our excursion to Italy….In one word was “PERFECT”!

We had an amazing time visiting several places in Italy and Hali’s suggested itinerary and careful planning made for a great holiday without any drama!

Her knowledge and experience of connecting us with amazing tour guides, wonderful accommodations and orchestrating the travel between each city, was very well organized.

Hali listened to our long and complicated bucket list which included everything from art & history in Florence, biking in Lucca, getting to the top of the Tower of Pisa and hiking Cinco Terre, all while staying in beautiful accommodations and eating AMAZING food, and she was able to pull it all together without a hitch!

Thank you Hali for making our visit to Italy a very memorable experience!!!Grazie Mille !!!

Published in Testimonials
Wednesday, 04 November 2015 19:47

Missy & Mark

In May of 2014, my husband and I experienced the trip of a lifetime to Italy. L&B Italian Tours arranged the entire trip and we just showed up.

It was fantastic! We experienced fabulous food, scenery straight out of a storybook, and wine. Oh, the wine!

One of the best parts of the trip was our tour guide – Silvia. She showed us Florence, Greve, the beaches at Viareggio and various vineyards in the Tuscan and Chianti regions that we would never have found on our own.

The trip was first-class in every way and we can’t wait to return!

Published in Testimonials
Wednesday, 04 November 2015 19:47

Robert and Susan

Our L&B tour guide Silvia provided us a wonderfully unique walking tour of Florence. Her vast knowledge of the city and her fun, personable nature made our day an incredible experience.

Silvia knows the places to go, whether it is visiting the major sights, enjoying local foods, or shopping for quality Italian clothing, leather goods, or perfume. Our boat trip on the Arno River floating under the Ponte Vecchio at sunset created a magical addition to our already awesome day!Since we had been to Florence previously, we wanted to explore the city from the perspective of a local.

Silvia tailored the tour specific to our requests and provided us an outstanding experience that made the day uniquely different from any of our previous trips. Absolutely fantastic way to explore Florence!

Published in Testimonials
Wednesday, 04 November 2015 19:46

Sharon B.

We loved your tours - Wonderful - meraviglioso / Fantastic - fantastico

 My family and I had an amazing time while in Italy. We visited Venice, Florence, Rome - Thank you L&B Italian Tours!

Your tours, tour guides, and customer service were excellent.  I will highly recommend you to all my family and friends.

We will be ready to go back in 2 years and I look forward to using your services again.  

Published in Testimonials
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