Your perfect first trip to the Mediterranean: Italy

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Doge's Palace Venice-847214-editedItaly is a country that sparks wanderlust in the heart of any traveler. For a seasoned explorer or a novice, there are few counties in the world that compare to it. Those considering their first European holiday almost always choose the vineyards, sea, mountains, and world-famous sites of Italy as one of (if not their only) stops. A trip to Italy is simply a must.

Times are incredibly difficult right now for all of us, especially here in Italy. And so many of our clients have put their travel dreams on hold because of the current global situation. What is fortunate is that this situation, however intense it might seem right now, will not last forever. Your future travel plans and dreams aren’t canceled, just postponed. And there is no better time than being cooped up in your home to start planning a trip to the faraway places you’ve always wanted to see.

This week, we are sharing some ideas for the first-timers trip to Italy. The possibilities in this breathtaking country are truly endless. When the current global crisis is resolved, there will be no country happier to have you again as guests. To show you true Italian hospitality. And to share with you what makes this country so incredibly magical.

A good length for your first trip to Italy is 10-12 days. This allows you to see quite a bit but also have time to relax and explore at your leisure. You don’t want to return from your vacation needing another one! Part of the Italian culture, “la dolce vita”, is the pleasure of seeing and doing things slowly. Savoring life and appreciating the moments and views you have before you. Choosing a few choice destinations means that you’ll maximize your time experiencing the magic of these cities without feeling like you spent your whole trip moving from place to place.

Gondola-in-Venice-Italy-1024x630-183926-editedVenice: 3 nights

Booking a flight “open jaw”, or with one arrival destination and a different departure destination, is an insider tip.  It will make your vacation so much easier if your travels take you around a country. Flying directly into Venice’s airport, your private transfer will bring you by car and water taxi (there’s no better way to arrive in this amazing city in the water) to your accommodations. As with all of our destinations, Bella Vita hand selects our favorite properties, from luxury 5-star hotels to charming, cozy bed and breakfasts.

Your first evening of arrival, your private guide will meet you at your hotel for a Cicchetti or “Venetian tapas” tour. Here, your local guide will take you to some of her favorite hangouts for Venetians to relax with a glass of wine and sample these local snacks. Though you will certainly be tired, this is a great way to immediately immerse yourself in Venetian culture. A great introduction to some cute spots you can visit for the rest of your stay.

The next morning, your private guide will meet you at your hotel. Your day will begin with him/her showing you the sites in this magical city in the water. Afterward, a private boat trip to the colorful islands of Murano and Burano located in the outer parts of the lagoon.

Our more active guests might enjoy trying their hand at rowing down the grand canal this evening. One of our most popular tours is a rowing class on a small boat where you will try your hand and rowing down the winding canals of the city.

Your last day allots free time for you to explore the city at your leisure. But we do also love a small group tour of the secret passages of the spectacular doge’s palace. It’s short and a great way to see this UNESCO site.

Guests with more time can opt to add in a wine tour of the nearby Valpolicella wine region (Amarone, anyone?). Or even a trip to the world-famous lake district on your way to your next destination.

Cooking-Class-in-Tuscany-ItalyFlorence: 3 nights

From Venice, it’s an easy high-speed train ride south to the cradle of the renaissance, beautiful Florence. This tiny city is incredibly walkable, like strolling through a museum! Both first time and repeat visitors fall in love with this Tuscan gem. It’s also home to some of our favorite accommodations, with sweeping views of the Arno river, or located in the historical center just steps from the most important sites.

Here in Florence, we could arrange a half-day private city tour with our local art historian guide. It also includes a visit to the museum of your choice. (Florence has some of the most famous museums in the world!). Or perhaps a private cooking class of Tuscan specialties along with a market visit to shop for the freshest products that day?!

Duomo_RooftopsFor clients with a bit more time to spend on their trip to Italy, we could even add on a few nights here to explore the countryside of Tuscany. With 2 or 3 days at a charming bed and breakfast, you can explore the rolling hills and taste the spectacular wine of the region. For those of you with less time to spare, it’s also an easy day trip from Florence. We can tailor any tour around your interests. Some ideas include wine tasting with a private driver and sommelier, a bike ride through the breathtaking olive groves and vineyard laced roads, or even a memorable private hiking tour through the colorful, tiny villages of the National Park of the Cinque Terre – our backyard!

Rome: 3 nights

From Florence, you will take the high-speed train south to the Eternal City of Rome. Once you arrive in this incredible city, there is an endless choice of activities we can arrange for you. But there are certainly some sites that new visitors and even returning clients still want to see again and again.


Your first evening is a great time for our perpetual client favorite food and wine tour of the historical center. Introducing food lovers to an area of Rome comprised within the Piazza Navona, Pantheon, and Campo de’ Fiori triangle. Participants can taste typical artisan specialties, like freshly roasted coffee, chocolate, bread products, and pizza “al taglio”, plus prime quality cured meats and cheese, typical Roman fried snacks, gelato, and many other characteristic local delights. This all ending, of course, with a local beer or glass of local wine.

For your first full day, our Private Tour through Ancient Rome cannot be missed. You’ll meet your private expert guide at what was once considered the “downtown” of the Eternal City. You’ll see Capitoline Hill, the most important of the seven historical hills. Then proceed into the Roman Forum, from where the Romans ruled their Empire. Your visit will finish inside the glorious Colosseum, and (if available) access to the newly reopened underground.

ColesseoAnother tour that is an absolute must is our “Early Morning Vatican Tour”. This extraordinary tour offers you a more personal Vatican experience.  It also gives you the opportunity to avoid the noisy crowds and visit the Sistine Chapel at a more solitary, reflective hour. Take the chance to relish the beauty of Michelangelo’s frescoes and the Last Judgement as they should be: in peace with the company of our expert, private guide. The tour will conclude in St Peter’s Basilica to admire Michelangelo’s Pietà. With our guide, you are able to access the Basilica straight from the museums avoiding the sometimes endless lines.

Your private driver will bring you to the airport directly from your hotel on the morning of your departure, making sure your last day goes seamlessly.

For those clients with extra days on their trip to Italy, we can suggest several ideas. Perhaps a few days exploring the fascinating and vibrant city of Naples with a trip to the marvel of Pompeii? Some sun and beach time on the glittering Amalfi coast? For those who want to see, even more, a short flight to the region of Puglia and it’s whimsical “trulli”?  Or the island of Sicily and the culture, sites, and beach that make this island so spectacular? The possibilities are truly endless! Italy really does have something for everyone.

Though right now we might be physically staying at home, our minds and hearts can still wander to the dream trip we will take in the not-so-far future.  If these suggestions sound like the perfect first trip for you, contact us to start weaving together a tailor-made to Italy, our marvelous home!

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