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Recharge and Reconnect in Italy

Unifying Power of Trevel to Italy

Bringing Loved Ones Together Through Travel

As we look ahead to travel after the COVID-19 pandemic, intimacy is a key theme that will guide us from the early planning stages through the end of the trip. Working one-on-one with a travel specialist has always been the best way to handcraft an extraordinary vacation, and this will continue to ring true once we can travel internationally again. After having our worlds turned upside down and not being able to fully enjoy the company of close friends and family for over a year, tailoring a private travel experience to Italy can be a perfect way to compensate for lost time, re-embrace one another, and create new memories together without sacrificing safety.

Advantages of customized private travel

Have you ever dreamed of cruising through the Tuscan countryside with your loved ones on an iconic vespa? Or perhaps admiring the intricate details of the Sistine Chapel during an exclusive tour? Or even simply losing yourself in the history and charm of a medieval hilltop town?

All of these dreams and more can come true during a vacation to Italy tailored especially for you and those whose company you truly cherish. When you create a trip with a knowledgeable travel specialist, every detail — no matter how small — is carefully considered. From transportation logistics to skip-the-line entrance reservations and travel tips only the locals know, an individualized itinerary will always prove invaluable, especially after the pandemic. For an expertly planned vacation personalized to the needs of intimate groups that allows everyone to make the most of a once-in-a-lifetime trip, made-to-measure travel is the only way to go.

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Traveling in a private small group

You may be familiar with traditional big bus tours or independent trips, but what exactly does it mean to travel in a private small group? Simply put, you get the best of both worlds. Private small group travel combines the freedom of solo travel, such as time at leisure, with the benefits of group travel, such as shared transportation — except instead of traveling with a group of strangers, you’ll create memories with your family or closest friends.

Escorted group tours typically feature rigid itineraries with countless activities scheduled back-to-back. When you craft a private small group trip, you set the pace. Want to have a designated day at leisure in each destination? No problem. Looking for a variety of activities, from cultural tours to food and wine tastings, that’ll keep everyone engaged? Just describe your interests to your travel specialist, they’ll take care of the rest.

One of the best parts of a custom-made vacation is flexibility. While some members of your party may choose to participate in certain activities, others can take a different tour or enjoy time at leisure. This ensures that there’s always ample time to create memories together while still leaving room for independent activities.

As a private small group, you’ll have the opportunity to enjoy transportation exclusive to your party. This can maximize your time and allow you to see places you might have otherwise missed. For example, Rome and Florence are typically must-visits during a first-time trip to Italy, but there are plenty of lesser-known gems in between these two top destinations. During a personalized trip, you can make the most of your private transportation and stop in the picturesque hilltop town of Orvieto, or explore the Etruscan towns of southern Tuscany as you travel from Rome to Florence, or vice versa.

You’ll also enjoy private tours with local guides to truly immerse in the local history and culture. These guides have studied for years and are experts in their destinations. On top of a deep understanding of the history and culture of the places you’ll visit, the guides can also share hidden gems and spots favored by the locals. Plus, if you have special excursions in mind, such as visiting the birthplace of Leonardo da Vinci or tasting high-quality specialty food products in the culinary capital of Bologna these can be easily factored into the itinerary of a bespoke trip.

During your tailor-made vacation to Italy, accommodations will be hand-selected for your small group based on your personal preferences. In cities like Rome, Florence, or Venice, you can enjoy the advantages of city center hotels located within easy walking distance of major monuments, museums, shops, authentic restaurants, and other attractions. History lovers will enjoy spending their nights in centuries-old palaces, yet there are also plenty of choices for those who prefer boutique hotels or luxury experiences. In the countryside, consider staying at an agriturismo or country estate where the friendly owners will welcome you as part of their family and show you how local products are made. Regardless of the type of accommodations your travel party prefers, there are a wide range of options available to meet your needs.

The beauty of private small group travel is that any of your specific preferences or special requests for tours, excursions, hotels, or transportation can be factored into the itinerary during the planning stage, ensuring that your dream vacation becomes a reality just as you pictured it. While returning to travel post-pandemic might require some small adjustments, safety will always be a priority when tailoring your unique travel itinerary.

Creating lifelong memories with those who matter

Take a moment to envision yourself and loved ones enjoying a special meal with spectacular views of the Amalfi Coast under a lemon-scented terrace as the blue waves of the Tyrrhenian Sea crash against the cliffs below. This is just one of the incredible experiences you can share with your loved ones during a personalized vacation to Italy.

Take Italy’s millenary history, combine it with one-of-a-kind artistic treasures, natural scenery that varies from the snowy peaks of the Alps to verdant rolling hills and sunny beaches, and the most incredible food and wine you’ve ever tasted, and the possibilities are truly endless.

Families with children can bond during a hands-on pizza-making class, while a group of close friends might enjoy an intimate wine tasting at a family-owned winery in the Umbrian countryside. During truffle season, you can join a truffle hunter and forage through the woods for Italy’s most prized tubers. Active groups may wish to hike together along the coastal trails of the legendary Cinque Terre National Park or snorkel through the crystal-clear waters off the coast of Sardinia.

Of course, this is all without mentioning the history. Italy has the largest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites on the planet. From Prehistory to Classical Antiquity, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Late Modern Period, and everything in between, Italy has it covered. Imagine exploring the preserved remains of the lost city of Pompeii, standing in awe at the sheer majesty of Michelangelo’s sculpture of David, and floating down the canals that generations of Venetians have navigated for centuries — all in the same trip.

Private small group trips also allow you to slow down and truly engage with the local culture. Feel free to take the backroads and discover the places only locals know. From family-owned restaurants with incredible food to hidden churches with jaw-dropping artistic gems and panoramas that must be seen to be believed, you never know what you may stumble across.

No matter your interests, Italy offers an extensive array of unforgettable and one-of-a-kind activities that promote group and family bonding as well as a highly rewarding travel experience.

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Travel adventures have the inherent ability to bring people together. Whether you’re looking to travel with an exclusive party of friends, your family, or both, a meticulously-crafted vacation allows for intimate experiences and opportunities to spend quality time together that all of you will treasure for years to come. If you envision Italy as a destination for your post-pandemic travel bucket list, contact Trips 2 Italy to begin working one-on-one with your travel specialist and create your unforgettable Italian vacation of a lifetime.

Top 5 Activities to Experience in Italy with your Family

Make Happy Memories with Family
Make Happy Memories with Family

Top 5 Activities to Experience in Italy with Your Family

Traveling to another country offers unique opportunities not only to unwind, but to bond with travel companions during culturally enriching experiences that can’t be replicated anywhere else. Italy’s varied landscape coupled with a vast selection of cultural, artistic, historic, and culinary offerings makes this scenic peninsula the perfect place for a post-pandemic family vacation. Continue reading to discover a variety of uniquely Italian activities that will encourage families with children of all ages to reconnect and relish in fond moments that will be cherished for a lifetime.

1. Meet Ötzi the Iceman at the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology in Bolzano

In 1991, on an Alpine glacier at an elevation of more than 10,000 feet, a pair of hikers stumbled upon Europe’s oldest natural mummy. Preserved in ice for thousands of years, Ötzi the Iceman was discovered with his clothing and tools intact. Today, curious travelers of all ages can visit Ötzi in the Northern Italian city of Bolzano.

A trip to the South Tyrol Museum of Archeology allows families to step back in time and learn about what it took to survive in the frigid temperatures of this part of the world more than 5,000 years ago. The museum offers a specialized audio guide to help children immerse in the exhibit and get to know Ötzi and his story. The permanent exhibition outlines Ötzi’s discovery, provides an in-depth look at the objects found with the mummy, and offers a reconstruction of Ötzi’s possible appearance during his lifetime. Over the years, many museum visitors have been left in awe by the determination and skill of our Stone Age ancestors.

After visiting the museum, be sure to explore Bolzano’s remarkable historic city center with characteristic medieval architecture and an Alpine atmosphere that places the city at the crossroads of the Mediterranean and Germanic cultures. Take a break from sightseeing and enjoy a merenda in one of the pastry shops where you can indulge in the local strudel or an authentic Sachertorte. Surrounded by the vertiginous peaks of the Dolomites, Bolzano is also renowned for its outstanding natural beauty. There’s plenty to do in the surrounding area including exploring the stunning mountains, enchanting lakes, historic castles…the list goes on!

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2. Attend the Donkey Palio in Alba

Each year on the first Sunday of October, the city of Alba in the Piedmont region hosts what many consider to be Italy’s silliest historic event: the Palio degli Asini. The origins of this event can be traced to a medieval feud between Alba and neighboring Asti. As opposed to other medieval races still held in Italy, the Paglio degli Asini is lighthearted due to the temperament and antics of its protagonists, the donkeys.

The event opens with a historic procession complete with music, choreographed flag wavers, and elegant medieval costumes. The procession is organized by the locals and all nine of Alba’s borghi (historic neighborhoods) participate by representing a scene or an aspect of medieval life, such as the harvest.

The Palio itself consists of two rounds plus a final race to determine the overall winner. Amongst the fervent cheers of the locals, spectators of all ages will share plenty of laughs while watching the jockeys attempt to coax their stubborn, and often uncooperative partners, around the track and across the finish line. The sights and sounds of this immersive event promise a memorable experience that visitors to Alba will live alongside the passionate locals.

The Palio degli Asini also marks the start of Alba’s International White Truffle Fair, which is the city’s most important annual event. The fair attracts truffle lovers from across the globe for tastings, cooking shows, a truffle market, and more. The week following the Palio, the locals continue to celebrate food with a medieval food fair featuring an array of beloved traditional dishes, such as porchetta.

Thanks to its rich history, picturesque location in the Langhe hills, and exceptional local cuisine characterized by Barolo wine and white truffles, Alba is a superb family destination no matter the time of year.

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3. Play Knights at the Castello di Gropparello in Emilia-Romagna

The Gropparello Castle, located approximately 50 miles south of Milan in the province of Piacenza, is literally one of the most enchanting locations in Italy. This genuine medieval castle perched over a ravine is part of a one-of-a-kind park where kids and their families are transported into a fairy tale. The woods surrounding the castle provide the perfect setting for knights, ogres, elves, fairies, witches, and wizards. In this real-life fairy tale, kids are the protagonists as they make their way through the magical woods with swords in hand to defeat the forces of evil and rescue a kidnapped fairy.

The Fairy Tale Park’s mission is to go beyond standard guided tours aimed at adults, and create an unforgettable cultural experience for children allowing them to truly engage with history. Led through the park by guides dressed as knights, all kids will be amazed as the fairies and other enchanted creatures of their imagination become reality. While the kids have fun, parents will appreciate the intent behind the park, which aims to foster teamwork, communication, creativity, and self-esteem.

Adults are also invited to join in during certain activities, resulting in fun for the entire family. After making their way through the enchanted forest, families can share a meal at the Castle’s tavern, which offers a fine menu of traditional recipes made with fresh, local ingredients — the perfect ending to a fairy-tale family adventure!

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4. Treasure hunt in Ancient Rome

A vacation to Italy just wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the remarkable history of one of the world’s most ancient and powerful civilizations. For a special kid-friendly activity, families can embark on a unique treasure hunt through the most famous landmarks of Ancient Rome — the Colosseum and the Roman Forum. With a treasure map in hand, kids will channel their inner archeologist and solve clues with their family leading to a special prize. This unforgettable experience is sure to foster a new appreciation for history and ancient architecture in kids and adults alike.

As the largest and arguably most famous city in Italy, Rome needs no introduction. The charm of the Eternal City lies in the many layers of the city’s past. In addition to a treasure hunt through Ancient Rome, families may also enjoy exploring the authentic Trastevere neighborhood, admiring panoramas of Rome from the rooftop of the Vittoriano Monument, or taking an excursion to the Ancient Roman and Renaissance villas of Tivoli. There’s truly no better place to watch history come alive than Rome.

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5. Make Pizza in Campania

After learning how to make authentic Neapolitan pizza in the region where this classic Italian staple was born, your family pizza nights will be forever transformed. A hands-on pizza cooking class is an excellent way to learn how to make Neapolitan pizza while fostering precious moments with your family. From picking fresh ingredients to the right oven temperature, all the secrets will be revealed during this fun and engaging class. Follow along with the local chef to learn the basics and work as a team to craft the perfect pizza. Once your pizza is ready, you’ll taste the fruits of your labor and share a traditional Italian meal with your family in an authentic setting, completing your engrossing cultural experience. It doesn’t get much better than this!

The sun-kissed region of Campania is an excellent starting point for families to get to know Southern Italy. From the millenary history and culture of Naples to the iconic beauty of the cliffside towns of the Amalfi Coast and the allure of the lost city of Pompeii, the Campania region is nothing short of magnificent.

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Did the activities and places listed above inspire you? If so, this is only the beginning! From the northern edge of the country all the way down to the heel of the boot, Italy is filled with one-of-a-kind activities that bring families together. No matter where you travel to in Italy, profound experiences full of priceless moments — and an endless supply of pasta and gelato — are guaranteed.

Top 5 Activities to Enjoy with Friends during a Trip to Italy

Our Top 5 Activities to Experience in Italy with Friends

Whether you’re working together to navigate the streets of an unfamiliar city or sharing a meal at a small, authentic restaurant favored by the locals, the intimate nature of travel allows for unparalleled bonding experiences among friends. Thanks to its millenary history, vast cultural wealth, legendary food and wine, and breathtaking art, Italy is an excellent destination for spending quality time with special friends. Not sure which places to visit? Take a look at our list below to learn more about the one-of-a-kind activities Italy can offer, each one ideal for a party of close friends looking to deepen their connections while venturing together.

1. Attend an opera at Verona Arena

Set in the evocative Arena — an Ancient Roman amphitheater that dates back to 30 AD — the annual Verona Opera Festival is one of the most revered music events in the country. From June to September each year, this already impressive amphitheater is transformed into a magnificent open-air opera venue unlike any else in the world. The origins of the festival date back to the early twentieth century when the heavenly acoustics of the arena were first discovered.

The festival was officially inaugurated in 1913 with Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida, an opera that continues to have a special connection with the festival. Thanks to the Arena’s breadth and majesty, the venue lends itself to one-of-a-kind performances of monumental operas, meaning Aida often appears on the festival’s lineup together with other grand operas, such as Turandot, Tosca, and Nabucco. Over the years, the festival has hosted performances by the biggest names in opera including Maria Callas, Luciano Pavarotti, and Plácido Domingo. For fans of opera, music, and live performances in general, an evening at the Arena with a group of friends is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

In addition to the opera festival, visitors to Verona have plenty more to explore. The city itself is renowned for its iconic cultural sights including Piazza Bra, Piazza delle Erbe, and Castelvecchio. As the hometown of Romeo and Juliet, couples will delight in the romantic atmosphere of Verona while visiting Juliet’s balcony or sharing an aperitivo at a local outdoor café during twilight.

What’s more, Verona is well-positioned with easy access to other highlights of the Veneto region including the vibrant city of Venice, the tranquil shores of Lake Garda (Italy’s largest lake), and the picturesque Valpolicella wine region. During a trip to Verona, the hardest part will be deciding what to see next with your friends.

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2. Enjoy wine tasting with dinner under the stars at a countryside wineyard in Tuscany

Picture a scenic drive through Tuscany’s iconic landscapes as the late afternoon sun shines over rolling hills and cypress trees. Admire the rich scenery and historic vineyards before arriving at an estate in one of Tuscany’s renowned wine areas, such as Chianti or Val d’Orcia.

Breathe in the tranquility of the countryside as you explore the grounds. Then, when the warm air gives way to cooler temperatures, share a wine tasting aperitivo with your party of friends just before sunset. Surrounded by the spectacular beauty of the Tuscan countryside, you’ll learn about the winemaking traditions passed down from generation to generation that have shaped the area’s most renowned wines.

As the sun descends over the horizon, enjoy a dinner among the best of friends surrounded by the vineyards of the wine estate. Savor the flavors of Tuscany’s legendary cuisine and the freshness of locally-grown seasonal ingredients. This intimate dinner under the stars is the perfect opportunity to spend quality time with good company. By the end of your evening, you could even add wine connoisseur to your list of accomplishments.

Whether you prefer to stay deep in the heart of the Tuscan countryside, or in the cities of Florence or Siena, surrounded by a wealth of art, history, and incomparable architecture, you and your friends can live the Tuscan countryside experience of your dreams.

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3. Visit Sicily during the colorful Caltagirone Infiorata and evocative Feast of San Giacomo

The charming town of Caltagirone located on the island of Sicily may be small, but it hosts two of the region’s most fascinating cultural events. Caltagirone is best known for its ceramic art and the famous Scalinata di Santa Maria del Monte, a staircase composed of 142 steps, each decorated with hand-painted maiolica tiles. The staircase, which spans just over 425 feet, dates back to the seventeenth century and was built to connect the newer and older parts of the town. Though this unique town is well worth a visit any time of year, it truly comes alive during two immersive folkloric events.

If you and your friends travel to Caltagirone in May, you’ll be graced with the beauty of the Infiorata. The event, which typically extends from April 25 to June 2, is held in honor of the Madonna of Conadomini. Just before the Infiorata begins, locals carefully place vases of colorful flowers along the steps of the Scalinata to create intricate images and motifs that differ each year.

During the Infiorata, visitors can attend other events as well, such as music performances and pottery workshops. The locals also host a procession through the historic center of town complete with period costumes, colorful carts, and gifts for the Virgin Mary that are brought up to the Church of Santa Maria del Monte at the top of the steps.

As if the beauty of the Infiorata weren’t enough, Caltagirone’s other main religious feast is also a sight to be seen. On July 24 and July 25, the town’s staircase takes centerstage once more during the Feast of San Giacomo, Caltagirone’s patron saint. This time, thousands of colorful candles are placed on the steps to create an elaborate, illuminated image. In addition to the light display, called Illuminata, the locals celebrate with music, fireworks, and a procession through town.

Even if travelers aren’t religious or devout Christians, the events can provide a unique opportunity to live completely authentic and local experiences that are part of Sicilian culture. Outside of these events, Caltagirone amazes with its historic city center as well as the Norman Baroque Cathedral of San Giuliano, ceramic traditions, streets lined with artisan workshops, and archeological sites…then there’s still the rest of Sicily to explore!

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4. Participate in a cooking class at a typical Masseria in Apulia

Travel to the picturesque heel of Italy where time stands still and historic traditions are very much alive. As far as coastal destinations go, the region of Puglia seems to have it all: a long, rich history that began with the Mycenaean Greeks, dramatic cliffside towns suspended over brilliant blue water, tranquil countryside landscapes, iconic architecture, and, of course, one of the most distinct regional cuisines in all of Italy.

Venture into this legendary countryside with your friends to visit a rustic stone masseria (a traditional farmhouse native to Puglia) surrounded by centuries-old olive trees and coastal panoramas on the horizon. After taking in the atmosphere, you and your friends will begin a cooking class in the authentic setting of the masseria.

Follow along as a local culinary expert, such as a professional chef or a native grandma sharing her ancestors’ recipes, shows you how to prepare traditional dishes just as they were made in the past. With a culinary tradition as rich as Puglia’s, there are countless local dishes including handmade pasta, such as the typical orecchiette (a symbol of Puglia), as well as crunchy taralli crackers, divine fried panzerotti filled with tomato and mozzarella, or local focaccia flatbread topped with tomatoes.

No matter what delicious local specialty you learn to cook, after creating your culinary masterpieces you’ll share an unforgettable meal with your friends under the olive trees or another special corner of the masseria featuring the remarkable flavors of Puglia’s cuisine paired with locally produced wine. You’ll also have the chance to taste Puglia’s extra virgin olive oil, which is considered to be among the highest quality olive oils produced in Italy.

In addition to learning the secrets of Puglia’s cuisine, this remarkable region has plenty more to explore from the famous Trulli dwellings in Alberobello and the rest of the Itria Valley to the beautiful Baroque architecture of Lecce and the whitewashed skyline of Ostuni. Then, of course, there are also the region’s natural wonders, such as the Castellana Caves, and the inimitable charm of small coastal towns, such as Polignano a Mare. No matter how you choose to spend your time, you won’t regret a visit to sunny Puglia with your dearest friends.

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5. Share a private dinner at Villa del Balbianello in Lake Como

For an extravagant and unparalleled experience to share with your closest friends, look no further than the shores of Lake Como in Northern Italy. This picturesque lake is dotted with stately villas and expansive gardens. Among these, the gorgeous Villa del Balbianello is particularly renowned for its elegance. Villa del Balbianello’s location at the tip of a small peninsula makes it even more remarkable as the property, its gardens, and terraces are surrounded by water with stunning panoramas from every angle. Today, the villa is a museum that can be toured, and it can also be reserved for private events.

Imagine spending a few hours with your friends exploring Lake Como on a private luxury boat. Feel like the real jet set as you admire important historic villas and take in the most impressive views around the lake directly from the water. Afterwards, make your grand entrance by arriving at Villa del Balbianello’s dock in your private boat to begin the evening in style.

Within the luxurious setting of Villa del Balbianello, you’ll sit down for your private dinner party surrounded by rich collections of paintings, sculptures, and lavishly decorated rooms with period furniture. Feast on Lake Como’s refined local specialties consisting of fresh and flavorful ingredients. Admire incomparable views of the lake from the terraces of the villa and take an after-dinner stroll through the lush gardens. A private dinner with the best of company and particularly in this setting overlooking the lake will feel almost like a modern-day fairy tale.

Moreover, as the third largest lake in Italy, Lake Como still offers so much more to see. A trip to this area of the lake makes it ideal to explore other pearls, such as Villa Carlotta in Tremezzo as well as the historic city of Como, glamorous Bellagio, and tranquil Varenna.

The area’s natural beauty has also made it an idyllic shooting location for several films over the years. Villa del Balbianello’s exquisite scenery in particular has been featured in films such as A Month by the Lake (1995), Star War Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002), and Casino Royale (2006). More recently, in March 2021, Hollywood stars including Lady Gaga, Adam Driver, Al Pacino, Jeremy Irons, and Jared Leto were steps away from Villa del Balbianello to shoot scenes for the upcoming film House of Gucci directed by Ridley Scott. And, of course, George Clooney’s summer residence is nearby, meaning that A-list celebrity sightings are possible as the American actor often invites famous friends to his villa.

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If you’re looking for an exclusive, inimitable experience tailored specifically for you and your most intimate friends, Lake Como is calling your name.

We hope the activities on this list have inspired you to dream about the unique experiences that Italy offers. No matter your interests or travel preferences, there’s plenty for you and your amici to enjoy in Italy. The only hard part is choosing where to go!