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L&B Italian Tours - Search results for: San Gimignano

Duration: 12 hours

Type of Service: VIP Tuscany Grand Tour: one-day Best of Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa and Chianti - small group tour 

 In the 17th and 18th centuries young European aristocrats and cultivated Americans used to set off on a voyage of learning through Italy, birthplace of Western history and all art, a lifetime milestone known as the Grand Tour. Experience the fascination of this legendary journey!

Comprising visits to the most remarkable ancient towns and to the rolling Chianti hills, memorable views and flavorful culinary and wine experiences is what our Small-Group Tuscany Grand Tour allows you to discover, the the heart and soul of gorgeous Tuscany. 

Depart in full comfort aboard our state-of-the-art minivan, with your dedicated English-speaking driver and tour escort, and reach Siena. Set in a beautiful landscape, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, it is one of the most enchanting medieval cities in Italy.

Led by a knowledgeable English-speaking guide you will discover the town's most striking sights, admire the marvelous Piazza del Campo - where twice a year dashing horses compete in the heart-rendering Palio race - and enjoy a flavorful surprise: a tasting of a local specialty. 
Then travel on to San Gimignano, UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most splendid examples of an ancient walled town. Renowned as “the city of beautiful towers” or "Tuscany's Manhattan" it boasts an exceptional skyline. It is one of the and most well-preserved, towns in the whole of Italy and has been used as a background in many movies. 
Stroll the maze of quaint cobblestone streets at your leisure, discover the tall towers, which characterize the town. Breathe in the authentic atmosphere and then set off across the vineyard-clad Chianti hills for a scrumptious Tuscan lunch and wine tasting in the charming premises of a boutique winery.

Sample authentic Tuscan flavor and enjoy the privilege of a private visit to the estate's wine cellar. After lunch, you will visit a fascinating village of Impruneta to learn all about its extraordinary terra cotta production, and then travel on to Pisa.
In Pisa discover the airy majesty of Piazza dei Miracoli (the Miracle Square), which consists of the leaning tower, Romanesque Duomo, and baptistery. The ever-fascinating Leaning Tower, bell tower of the Cathedral, has been proposed as one of the seven wonders of the modern world and is truly a sight to see (tickets to climb the tower are not included).
At the end of the visit travel back to Florence in full comfort, as your eyes and heart rest upon the day's marvelous enchanted sights. 
Our Tuscany Grand Tour is more than a tour, it is a memorable lifetime cultural experience.

Things to Know:

  • VIP small group tour of 16 people or less
  • Discover the Best of Tuscany in a day
  • An incredible journey through Middle Ages and Renaissance art and history
  • Visit Siena, San Gimignano, Pisa with its Leaning Tower (tower tickets not included)
  • Enjoy a relaxed escape from the crowds, visiting a prestigious winery and its cellars
  • Learn about Tuscan wine production and taste the Chianti wines
  • Savor a delicious typical Tuscan lunch in a boutique winery in Chianti
  • Magnificent views of Tuscan landscapes
  • Wear comfortable walking or tennis shoes
  • Tour is offered year round
  • Tour offered 7 days a week based on availability
  • Tour departs at 8:00am / Tour check-in at 7:45am
  • Meeting Point Location:  Piazza della Repubblicca - more details are provided upon booking

 

Additional Info

  • Region Tuscany
  • City San GimignanoSienaPisa and Chianti Winery
  • Duration 12 Hours
  • Highlights

    The best of Tuscany tour: a magnificent journey through the Middle Ages and Renaissance, exploring Siena and San Gimignano, gazing in awe at the world-renowned Pisa Leaning Tower.

  • Pricing & Booking

    $250.00 per person to include transportation, lunch, and wine tasting fees. The prices listed above are 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.

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

  • Price 250.00 per person
Published in Other Cities

Duration: 8 hours

Type of Service: VIP Small-group Siena and San Gimignano day tour from Florence with dinner - small group tour

 A fabulous and exclusive all-round Tuscan extravaganza! 

Spend an enlightening afternoon visiting Siena and San Gimignano, two of Tuscany's "jewel cities", and top the day off with a sunset and dinner in a boutique winery in the rolling Chianti countryside.

Depart Florence for Siena in full comfort aboard our state-of-the-art minivan, with your dedicated English-speaking driver and tour escort, and reach Siena. 
Set in a beautiful landscape, surrounded by vineyards and olive groves, it is one of the most enchanting medieval cities in Italy.
Led by a specialized knowledgeable guide you will discover the town's most striking sights, admire the marvelous Piazza del Campo - where twice a year dashing horses compete in the heart-rendering Palio race. Explore quieter backstreets and learn everything about the Contrade (the 17 medieval city districts that compete against each other in the Palio) and enjoy a flavorful surprise, a tasting of a local specialty. 

Then travel on to San Gimignano, UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most splendid examples of an ancient walled town. Renowned as “the city of beautiful towers” or "Tuscany's Manhattan" it boasts an exceptional skyline. It is certainly one of the most well-preserved towns in the whole of Italy and has, in fact, been used as a background in many movies. During your free time here, stroll the maze of quaint cobblestone streets at leisure, discovering the many tall towers, once homes, which characterize the town. 

Breathe in the authentic atmosphere and then set off to admire the sun setting over the vineyard-clad Chianti hills and savor a genuine Tuscan dinner and wine tasting in the charming premises of a delightful boutique winery.
Enjoy the scrumptious flavors of an authentic typical meal splendidly paired with different excellent wines, as well as the privilege of a private visit to the estate's wine cellar.

Leaving you free to relax in the morning, and leading you into the heart of Tuscan beauty and heritage in the afternoon and evening, our VIP Small-Group Siena and San Gimignano with Dinner in a Chianti Winery provides a quintessential Dolce Vita Tuscan experience which you will never forget.

Things to Know:

  • VIP small-group tour for 16 people or less
  • Avoid the crowds leaving in the afternoon
  • Gaze in awe at the Tuscan countryside at sunset
  • Enjoy a delicious typical Tuscan dinner with wine tasting in a fascinating ancient cellar
  • Transportation IN/OUT Florence by comfortable Minivan
  • English speaking driver/tour leader
  • Guided walking tour of Siena with professional English speaking guide
  • San Gimignano visit with free time for shopping
  • Wear comfortable walking or tennis shoes
  • Tour is offered daily between April – October
  • Tour offered 7 days a week based on availability
  • Tour departs at 2:00pm / Tour check-in at 1:45pm
  • Meeting Point Location:  Piazza della Repubblicca - more details are provided upon booking
  • Tour is offered for children ages 6 - 12 years old and must be accompanied by an adult or guardian

 

Additional Info

  • Region Tuscany
  • City Siena and San Gimignano
  • Duration 8 hours
  • Highlights

    Enjoy this small-group tour which will let you discover the beauties of Siena, San Gimignano and the Chianti countryside, before admiring the sunset on the Tuscan hills and tasting a typical dinner in a fascinating location.

  • Pricing & Booking

    $198.00 per person/adult and $105.00 for children ages 6 to 12 years old to include transportation, lunch, and wine tasting fees. The prices listed above are 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.

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

  • Price 198.00 per person/adult and 105.00 for children ages 6 to 12 years old
Published in Other Cities

Duration: 8 hours

Type of Service:  Discover San Gimignano, Wine Tasting at a boutique organic producer of Vernaccia di San Gimignano Wine and Silversmith Workshop - small group tour

 You will begin your day with a visit to a boutique organic producer of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, that is the only white wine in Tuscany with DOCG certification. You will enjoy a guided tour of this beautiful farm, followed by a delicious homemade light lunch with wine tasting in a characteristic Tuscan peasant museum of art and traditions.

Afterward, enjoy relaxing walk in the medieval village of San Gimignano. This magical location is famously known for its array of medieval towers that can be seen from miles away. You will enjoy a relaxing walk through the traditional shops and streets, and will also visit an interesting silver workshop there, where Matteo, a young and talented silversmith, will show you how he can transform shapeless silver into marvelous objects.      

Things to Know:

  • Pick-up and drop-off service from your hotel; pick-up time between 9:30am-10:00am
  • Small group tour of 8 people
  • Private transportation with a private tour leader service
  • Visit Vernaccia di San Gimignano winery with tasting plus a light lunch
  • Vernaccia-based wine from San Gimignano has a long history. Since the Renaissance period it’s been considered one of Italy’s oldest and most noble wines. Its fame has no doubt been strongly connected to its region of origin, San Gimignano – an ancient Tuscan town famed for its medieval towers.
  • Visit a silver workshop with a demonstration
  • Free shopping time in San Gimignano
  • Wear comfortable walking or tennis shoes
  • Tour is offered daily between April – October (based on availability) Monday - Friday

 

 

Additional Info

  • Region Tuscany
  • City San Gimignano
  • Duration 8 hours
  • Highlights

    Discover the beautiful town of San Gimignano and its towers, enjoy a gelato and wander through some of the charming artisan boutiques. Visit a silversmith workshop and enjoy tasting the unique Vernaccia di San Gimignano, the only DOCG white wine in Tuscany.

  • Pricing & Booking

    Starting at $234.00 per person to include transportation, lunch, and wine tasting fees. The prices listed above are 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.

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

  • Price 234.00 Per Person
Published in Other Cities

Duration: 8 hours

Type of Service: San Gimignano, Siena, Chianti Wine Tour and Lunch

With your driver/guide, you and your small tour group of 4 -7 people, will leave from Florence city center at 9:00 am.  From there you’ll drive through the gorgeous Chianti countryside. The first stop is at Siena, a beautiful Tuscan hill town with its famous Piazza del Campo ( Campo Square ), where the famous Palio, a horse race, is held twice a year - spend time in Siena touring the city and experiencing its medieval narrow streets. 

From Siena, you’ll then drive to a well-known winery in the Chianti area, spending two hours or so there. You’ll be able to find out a little about how the popular wines from this region are produced. And then, it’s time for lunch! You’ll enjoy a selection of Bruschetta, salamis, and cheeses accompanied by three superb Chianti wines plus VinSanto. 

After lunch, you will then travel to San Gimignano, one of the most charming and picturesque Tuscan hill towns. It boasts medieval towers that were built for the richest families of that period. You can visit the cathedral, climb the ‘Torre Grossa’, take pictures of the stunning scenery which will be surrounding you and enjoy gelato in Cistern Square. 

After leaving San Gimignano, the tour returns to Florence via the Chianti area once again. We will stop at the medieval and charming villages of Castellina in Chianti and Monteriggioni, one of the most important and preserved walled castles in the area. Such was its importance – it was mentioned in Dante Alighieri in his most famous work - the Divine Comedy.

Things to know:

  • The first stop is at Siena, a beautiful Tuscan hill town with its famous Piazza del Campo, where the famous Palio, a horse race, is held twice a year - spend time in Siena touring the city and experiencing its medieval narrow streets. 2-hour tour with a licensed guide in Siena
  • From Siena, we’ll then drive to a well-known winery in the Chianti area - lunch at a Chianti winery
  • 1 full wine tasting with light lunch in a selected winery in the Chianti area
  • After lunch, you will then travel to San Gimignano, one of the most charming and picturesque Tuscan hill towns.  You will have free time to visit the cathedral, climb the ‘Torre Grossa’, take pictures of the stunning scenery shop or enjoy gelato in Cistern Square. 
  • After leaving San Gimignano, the tour returns to Florence via the Chianti area once again and you will stop at the medieval and charming villages of Castellina in Chianti
  • Air-conditioned Mercedes vehicle or similar make
  • Local expert English-Speaking Driver Guide
  • Tour operates with a minimum of 4 and maximum of 7
  • Tour operates on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday
  • Tour begins at 9:00 am  (8-hour tour)
  • This tour is not fully accessible for wheelchair users or people with walking disabilities. However, please contact us directly and we will be able to take you on alternative routes suitable for you.
  • Meeting point location - Piazza Republica (more details are given upon booking)
  • Wear comfortable walking or tennis shoes

Additional Info

  • Region Tuscany
  • City FlorenceSan GimignanoSiena
  • Duration 8 hours
  • Highlights

    Enjoy a small group food and wine tour of the Chianti wine area featuring a 2-hour tour of Siena, lunch and wine tasting at a Chianti winery, and the visit of the famous hill town of San Gimignano.

  • Note

    We will provide a private chauffer to drive you throughout the day.

  • Pricing & Booking

    Starting at $258.00 per person.  Inquire within about special rates to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  The prices listed above are 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.

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

  • Price $258.00 Per Person

Duration:  Time Varies

Type Of Service: Luxury Helicopter Tours in Tuscany

 See the Tuscan countryside like never before, high in the sky with your own Private Helicopter Tour.

On this flight, you will see the Tuscan Countryside like never before, with some of the best views of the soaring towers of San Gimignano, shining like a star in the surrounding landscape of Chianti.  You will enjoy the view of the beautiful countryside, covered with vineyards, olive groves, and fly over the Prestigious Winery, vineyards and surrounding property.  You will be connected with headphones to the pilot to receive information on the moments and visions on this amazing tour.  Once you are done soaring the skies, you will head inside the Winery.  You will enjoy a traditional Italian lunch, paired with over 10 wines throughout the region and dessert!  An experience of a lifetime, filled with good food, good wine, and great conversations.

Things to Know:

  • The flight time is 20 minutes
  • Delicious Tuscan lunch with dessert
  • Wine tasting of various wines
  • Departure from San Gimignano location
  • Maximum number of passengers:  5
  • Must be booked 30 days in advance
  • Private Transportation provided from Florence to San Gimignano

 (See Additional Helicopter Tours available in the Tuscany Region)

Tuscany Helicopter Tour:

The most beautiful and fascinating Tuscany towns seen from a unique perspective. Flying over the Tuscan hills, exploring the origin of Chianti area, San Gimignano, Siena, and Florence from the sky.

  • The flight time is about 50 minutes
  • Departures from Florence or Pisa
  • Maximum number of passengers:  5

Chianti Castle and Helicopter Tour:

The Heart of Chianti Tour over the beautiful hills of the Tuscan countryside is where one of the most famous wines in the world the "Chianti” is produced. Flying over the Chianti hills, San Gimignano admiring the Town and its enchanting Towers, and landing at a beautiful Castle for a quick tour and wine tasting.

  • The flight time is 45 minutes
  • Lands at famous castle for tour and wine tasting – 1 hour 45 minutes
  • Departures from Florence or Pisa
  • Maximum number of passengers:  5

Florence Helicopter Tour

Florence from the sky. Tour over the Tuscan capital of the Renaissance, admire the most famous Artistic Masterpieces like Ponte Vecchio, Basilica di Santa Croce, Piazzale Michelangelo, Palazzo Pitti and Boboli Gardens, Palazzo Vecchio and Piazza della Signoria, Santa Maria del Fiore, Brunelleschi's Dome and Giotto's Bell Tower, Fortezza da Basso and Cascine Park. 

  • The flight time is 40 minutes
  • Departures from Florence
  • Maximum number of passengers:  5

 Helicopter tours take off at several locations: Siena, San Gimignano and Florence.

 

Additional Info

  • Region Tuscany
  • City FlorencePisaSan Gimignano
  • Duration Times Varies
  • Highlights

    See Tuscan countryside like never before, high in the sky with your own Private Helicopter Tour.

  • Note

    Helicopter tours take - off at several locations; Siena, San Gimignano and Florence

  • Pricing & Booking

    Please inquire to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and ask about promotions and special rates for different group sizes.

    The prices listed above are 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. 

    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 starting at $1,200 and up
Published in Other Cities

Duration: 3 hours

Type of Service: Cooking Class in Siena with Jul's Kitchen

Your private cooking classes are held in Jul’s Studio, located in a traditional country house in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, a few miles outside of Siena.  If you like traditional, seasonal food, the Tuscan countryside and a genuine approach to life, you’re in the right place!

You will cook a complete menu, from appetizer to dessert, using only the freshest seasonal ingredients. Every dish will be introduced by a family story or a local tradition, you will learn to cook as Tuscan nonne (grandmothers) and moms do every day in their kitchens for their family.  Choosing a class with us means escaping for a day to the countryside, far from the charming buzz of Florence and Siena. Slow down and be ready to live a day as a local. Hearty homemade food is included with lots of fun and laughter.

Things to Know:

  • Three-hour hands-on cooking class
  • The cost of food and wine are included in this class
  • Enjoy the final lunch or dinner prepared
  • Each person will receive a Jul's Kitchen apron
  • (Jul's) Giulia has been living in the Tuscan countryside her entire life in the same house where her father and her grandmother were also born.
  • Her passion for the best locally sourced ingredients will allow you to share in the intense spirit of cooking, eating and celebrating — Tuscan style.
  • Juls’ Kitchen is located in the countryside near Colle Val d’Elsa, one hour from Florence and 30 minutes from Siena. Near many of the nicest location in Tuscany, such as San Gimignano and Montalcino, Volterra, Pienza, Lucca, Montepulciano, Greve in Chianti.
  • Author of five cookbooks 
  • These are very popular cooking classes and advance registration is necessary
  • Cooking classes offered Monday through Friday - based on availability
  • Small group classes with 6 people or less
  • A private driver can be arranged on request for pick-up and drop-off (price not included).

Additional Cooking Classes Offered: Gluten-free Tuscan Cooking Class, Vegetarian Tuscan Cooking Class, Market visit and Tuscan Cooking Class, Cooking Class and a visit to a Pecorino Cheese Farm and Cooking Class and a visit to a typical Tuscan Farm

Additional Info

  • Region Tuscany
  • City Siena
  • Duration 3 Hours
  • Highlights

    Private cooking classes held in Jul's Kitchen Studio located in a traditional country house in Siena; the heart of the Tuscan countryside.

  • Pricing & Booking

    Starting at $172.00 per person for a small intimate private cooking class for 6 people or less. Please inquire with This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

    The prices listed above are 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. 

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

  • Price Starting at $172.00 per person
Published in Other Cities

Duration: 4.5 - 5 hours

Type of Service: Truffle Hunt with Lunch and Wine Tasting - day tour from Florence to San Gimignano

Visit a unique Winery located outside the medieval town of San Gimignano, in the province of Siena. The Giachi Family has been producing wines since 1720. You will spend an amazing time as your host teaches you to taste all the wines produced at this estate and hunt for truffles with dogs who are trained to seek black and white truffles.

Located at the entrance of the Valley of Chianti, in Tuscany, about 45 minutes from Florence. This winery, is a place of relaxation and fun with food and wine. It’s the ideal place to enjoy wonderful wines and Italian specialties. A most precious delicacy of the region is the exquisite, world famous black and white Truffles. You will partake in a truffle hunt with dogs for 60 minutes and then enjoy a Tuscan lunch that includes appetizers: Tuscan salami and cheeses, Bruschetta (Bread with Olive Oil). First Course: Truffle lasagna with meat sauce. Second Course: Roasted meat with potatoes and vegetables. Dessert: Cantuccini with Dessert Wine and the tasting of over 12 wines.

Things to Know:

  • You will enjoy a truly authentic "truffle hunting", accompanied by an expert truffle hunter with dogs, through the flat Tuscan woods
  • In the private truffle land in Tenuta Torciano, you will find precious white and black truffles
  • Learn to identify the different species of trees and the ideal habitat for the growth of truffles
  • Enjoy a 4-course lunch with dessert and wine tasting
  • Hotel pickup and drop-off from Florence Hotel
  • Luxury Vehicle with English-speaking driver/guide
  • Tour offered Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday (March - November)
  • Tour begins with hotel pickup at 9:30am
  • Wear comfortable clothing and walking or tennis shoes

Additional Info

  • Region Tuscany
  • City Florence
  • Duration 4.5 Hours
  • Highlights

    Enjoy a private one-hour Truffle hunt with a professional guide that will teach you the technical information about white and black truffles, followed by an authentic lunch and wine tasting at a wine estate in San Gimignano.

     

  • Pricing & Booking

    Price varies according to the number of people in your party. The tour includes round trip transportation from Florence with an English-speaking driver, truffle hunting with trained dogs, wine tasting fees and lunch. 

    The prices listed above are 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.

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

  • Price Prices varies according to the number of people in your party
Published in Other Cities
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

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