By Cassandra Santoro
One thing I love about traveling Italy is that you get exactly what you need. This usually involves great food, wine, and breathtaking views. Whether you are walking through Piazza Duomo in Florence or taking in the views off the cliffs of Ravello, there is no place in the world quite like it.
Well, if you thought exploring Italy was already amazing then get ready for 2017. Italy is ready to show you another side of itself. This beauty is welcoming tourism in some of the places that were once filled with only locals. Even in the big cities they are starting to think outside the box and open up their own homes and farms to you!
As a travel expert and Italian trip planner here are my 4 suggestions on how to get the most out of your Italian adventure in the new year.
1. Pick One Region to Explore
Gone are the days of traveling from Milan to Sicily in a week. No my friends the time has come and my advice, stick to one area and savor it all!
Here are some tips, if you are flying into Milan then enjoy time in this fantastic city, maybe pass through Lake Como, Venice, Verona or Piedmont. For those planning to visit Tuscany, book a flight into Pisa or Florence and focus on the city center of these towns along with it's neighboring areas such as Umbria. There are so many amazing villages in the surrounding zone, it is worth staying around these parts for a few extra days and completely immersing yourself in the culture all around you. For those who would like to explore several regions I recommend a minimum of 2 weeks of travel.
Quick Tip: If this is a once-in-a-lifetime vacation and you just want to see the highlighted sites of Italy, that is a wonderful and you should do it! However, I highly recommend working with a travel professional for the best possible experience, especially if this is your first time visiting Italy. Think about it like this, if you are booking a 7-day vacation from the USA, you will be on a plane, bus, train, or car 4 out of the 7 of those days!
Also please keep in mind that public transportation in Italy is not 100% reliable, so map out a plan A and B on how you can you get from city to city without wasting time. That would be the key to enjoying your vacation!
2. Hire a Local Tour Guide or Travel Professional
For some reason, we have this idea that hiring a travel professional or licensed guide for your trip is looking too 'touristy.' You are afraid of being judged for not having time or energy to plan a trip on your own.
First of all, you are a tourist so who cares! Second, hiring a local guide is the best value for your money while exploring a new region. You get to see the best parts of the city, avoid the crowds, and get insider information without having to look at a book or your phone during the experience!
These guides are walking guidebooks and they are amazing. My tour guides here at Travel Italian Style are archeologists or have PhDs in History, are passionate about their Italian culture, grew up in the towns they are guiding (and are still friendly with the locals living there), are food and wine experts, boat captains, and have even led some famous CEO’s in the world on walking tours. For those who do not speak the language, this is obviously an advantage to hiring a guide as well.
When is come to the actual planning of the itinerary, if you are doubtful about hiring a travel professional for assistance keep in mind this fun fact. A recent study done by Business Insider explained that American's spend more time researching and planning a vacation than their retirement! That is a lot of time.
For those who love planning this is great, but for those who simply want this to be a relaxing vacation leave it to us experts to get you to the best places for the best value and allow you to fully enjoy the moment of exploring.
3. Include New Cities in Your Italy Itinerary
I have been visiting and working in Positano for over 8 years. I never get tired of this dreamy town. The bonus is when I visit I stay in the town center and explore the local regions. In Campania there are vineyards, beautiful handmade ceramics, spiritual villages, and amazing hikes. So why not base yourself there for a week and consider staying and exploring it's neighbors Ischia, Naples, Praiano, or Procida.
Visiting Rome? After exploring the main sites of Rome make a point to see Ostia Antica, the Island of Ponza, or even venturing into the suburbs of the city to towns such as Pigneto.
For those looking to visit new and upcoming regions, I would recommend Puglia, Sicily, Sardinia, and Calabria. These cities have beautiful white sand beaches, turquoise waters, natural thermal spas, the most amazing castles, history, and people. I may be a bit bias (being a Sicilian American) but I have never been in awe as much as I was when I first explored the south of Italy.
Besides the breathtaking hidden sights, I love being part of authentic Italian life. One example is during summer at about 11pm in the evening you can find families with their children out walking the piazza while enjoying gelato, the cool night air, music, food, and wine.
Quick Tip: Some believe it is too touristy in the south of Italy in the summer. While it is crowded it’s the most wonderful time to visit filled with great energy!
4. Explore your Family Heritage or Celebrate a Family Reunion Abroad
For those of you with Italian ancestors, 2017 is the year to participate in an Italian-Heritage Tours! This has been Travel Italian Style's biggest selling travel package already and 2017 has just started. It seems that many families are getting together to find out about their family tree and then go see the cities and walk the streets where it all started.
A basic Italian-Heritage Tour starts by working with a professional a genealogist who then passes the information on to a local tour guide. The local guide then researches and maps out some important landmarks in your history or even connects you to relatives if you were interested!
It doesn’t have to be the entire week on your trip, instead make it a one or two day highlight enhancing the meaningful, enriching, and family bonding experience.
For those who do not have an Italian background, it is becoming more common to rent a villa or castle all together as an annual family reunion. Holidays abroad are a major trend in 2017, kicking off with Easter!
Listen, no matter what you do or where you go in Italy it is going to be amazing but if you are looking to go a bit deeper into the culture and experience authentic Italian-living consider these tips that will help make memories last a lifetime!
Looking to visit Italy in 2017? Contact us to help plan your trip in 2017. Contact email@example.com!
Cassandra Santoro is the CEO and Founder of Travel Italian Style. As a personal trip planner and luxury small group tour operator, Cassandra is an expert in slow-travel and authentic and inspiring experiences throughout Italy. She also leads motivational talks and can most recently be found at
TEDx DHB Mannheim. Cassandra is currently writing her first book and lives between NY & Florence. Follow her adventures in Italy on Instagram.