Italy is consistently in the top five luxury travel destinations for American Express Vacation clients. Italy is full of history, beginning with the ancient Roman Empire, to the rise of the Vatican, to the Italian renaissance. Traveling to Italy requires certain tips to make your luxury travel vacation enjoyable, and hassle-free.
Though traveling to Italy is quite safe. However, it’s advisable and useful to gather some basic Italy travel tips. There are hundreds of small luxury hotels of the world and the cities of Italy have plenty to choose from. Some Italian hotels, and nearly all hotels in Rome, have at least one staff member who speaks English. Search out this person to ask for additional tips, such as great dining spots, local sights, public transportation and shopping areas. Staying in touch with family and friends can be expensive in Italy, especially if you call from your hotel. Keep in mind that American cell phones will not work without special international services or devices. And since hotels tend to overcharge for long-distance and international calls, it is best to make such calls from public phones, using international calling cards. Staying in a luxury hotel is quite fun, but if you have already been there and done that, it’s never too late to consider a luxury world cruise!
One big draw for Italian tourists on a luxury travel vacation is the shopping tour. Consider booking one of these guided tours, instead of charging off on your own. These shopping tours offer travelers a more comfortable way to shop ’til you drop. Most of these tours include transportation to several different shopping districts and stores. Your guide will speak both English and Italian, in order to mediate your shopping experience. Yes, your major credit cards, such as American Express, Visa and Master Card, will work. But keep in mind that most American credit cards will charge a hefty currency fee, and use the most unattractive exchange rates. The best way to be safe and save money would be to use a combination of Euro Travelers Checks, Euros in cash and a credit card. Pick Pocketing can be an unfortunate reality of modern travel, so spreading the type of money you carry is the best choice.
On many trips to Northeastern Italy, my passion is to discover delicious local specialties and amazing wines of these regions; each area has their own unique style and story. Finding wineries to visit that reflect the culture and traditional wines of each area I visit is one of my goals during my research trips; my preferred producers are off the beaten path, small, and family operated, using varietals little known outside the region. Here are some tips based on my travels, for those of you who want to do some exploring on your own!
1. If you are serious about finding small, family run producers, do your homework.
Using wine guides such as Slow Foods, Gambero Rosso, and the internet can help you identify some of these, and learn a little about them. Get their names and street addresses. Keep in mind if you want to taste, you are looking for the cantina. In some cases, the cantina is located at the vineyard, but not always.
Another good place to start is with the Strade del Vino, or Wine Roads, in Italy. We often incorporate these into our bike, hike or walking tours, and there are plenty of wineries all along these routes to visit. These are official routes located in wine regions all over the country. They are well marked, and wind their way through the vineyards of a particular region.
2. The local tourist office is a great source of information.
Just take care to check the hours; they are not always open every day, and often only in the mornings. They will have maps and someone who speaks English that can recommend a route.
If you are a beach lover looking for good Spain travel deals, you must make the trip to San Sebastian. The city is among the most beautiful areas in the Basque region, and is home to La, Concha, a beach that is widely thought to be one of the best In Europe. La Concha is a paradise for surfing and swimming in the summer months. If you choose to travel during this time, do keep in mind that the area is very crowded in the months of July and August. Because of the larger crowds, it is best to book well in advance if you want to get a good deal on accommodation in the area.
If you would prefer to avoid the crowds, San Sebastian still enjoys fairly mild weather outside of the main tourist season. You will certainly enjoy walks along La Concha beach during most of the year. In addition, there is a long promenade along the beach that is quite popular with cyclists. Aside from spending time at La Concha, you will also enjoy a visit to one of San Sebastian’s historic churches, and a tour of the area museums. The naval museum is among the most popular of these attractions.
In addition to some inexpensive touring and relaxing at the beach, San Sebastian is also the place to go if you are looking for good Spain travel deals on high quality, and delicious meals. Indeed, many people would agree that the Basque region offers some of the best food that the country has to offer. Tourists to the region will be quite happy to learn that good food is available at all budget levels. Tapas bars offer one of the least expensive and most enjoyable meals that the region has to offer. Tapas plates, also referred to as Pintxos in the Basque language, can be thought of as dishes of hot or cold appetizer like fare that are usually served in a bar with a drink. Some tapas plates are actually quite hearty, and can be a full lunch on their own.