On Location in Italy
May 2017 | By Susan Milne | 6 minute read |
TFL Tours, our On Location Partner of the Year for 2016, provides a wonderful array of opportunities for travelers. We caught up with Managing Director, Federica Tucci, to find out the latest on travel to Italy.
Q: Tell us about the travel services you offer for visitors to Italy.
At TFL Tours we offer all possible travel services in Italy (ground and accommodation).
Our specialty is creating tailor made packages for the individual travelers (families and friends) or for groups.
We focus on the quality of our services by selecting
- friendly, skilled, and reliable drivers for transfers
- knowledgeable and personable guides
- unique experiences to let you become part of the local culture (wine tasting sessions, cooking classes, lunches in private villas, truffle hunting, cheese making demo, special visits to museums and gardens)
- art and artisans tours
- Jewish tours
- shore excursions
- pre and post cruise stays.
Q: What are the highlights of each season to consider when planning a visit?
Without doubt Spring (April, May, June) and Fall (September and October) are the best seasons of the year to visit Italy. The weather is usually warm and nice and it is pleasant to be outside in the open air. Sights can be particularly crowded when there are many people visiting museums and churches. This is also why I suggest visiting Italy in the off season.
August is usually very hot and the cities of art are not so crowded (most of the locals are on holiday to beach destinations). Therefore, if you don't mind high temperatures and humidity August can be a good month to come too.
Winter months can be cold but never too cold for a visit of the cities of art (temperatures in Venice, Florence or Rome rarely go below zero centigrade). We can have pleasant sunny days and not so many tourists around. Therefore, you will enjoy the quietness of our museums in November, December or January.
At Christmas, our cities are adorned with lights and decorations and the atmosphere is very pleasant and lively.
Q: Italy has so much to offer. What do you consider the top sights not to be missed?
Venice, Florence, Rome and the Amalfi Coast
These places are on the bucket list of most of the first-time visitors to Italy and we agree that all these areas should be seen at least once in a lifetime.
Other top sights are for sure:
Tuscany with its stunning countryside and top wines and extra virgin olive oil is a must for foreigners.
Sicily for the beauty of its archaeological sites, its delicious food, charming towns, and villages.
Q: What about hidden gems? What places off the beaten track do you highly recommend?
Umbria for its many historical towns and hills with vineyards and olive trees. The local products are as good as Tuscan ones (wines, extra virgin olive oil, cold cuts) but the prices of the accommodations are much lower than Tuscany.
Puglia has always been a summer destination for Italians who flock to the beaches in August, but foreigners have only begun visiting in recent years. Don't go in July and August but in Spring and Fall the region is fantastic and very quiet. Food is amazing and people are very warm. Puglia has plenty of beautiful towns ideal for wandering around including the trulli of Alberobello (bunches of hobbit-like, whitewashed, dome-roofed houses, whose origins are anyone's guess), the whitewashed streets of Locorotondo and Ostuni, the sophisticated seaside towns of Otranto and Gallipolli, and Lecce, one of Italy's most Baroque beautiful towns.
Q: What are your favorite regions of Italy and things to do there?
I'm Tuscan, so, with no doubts, I would say Tuscany. It is such a various and charming region where you can find extraordinary museums (Accademia in Florence to see David is just one example) and cities of art (Siena, San Gimignano, Volterra, Lucca, Pisa, Cortona, Montepulciano and Pienza), excellent cuisine and wine and stunning landscapes (Chianti hills are famous all over the world).
I also love Sicily. The island offers the perfect mix of history, archaeological sites (The Valley of the Temples, Segesta, Selinunte, the Greek Theater in Taormina) culture, and many beautiful towns (Taormina, Palermo, Syracuse, Ragusa).
The Campania region with the Amalfi Coast is undoubtedly one of the most charming areas in the world. Positano, Capri, Amalfi and Ravello will leave you speechless.
Q: Tell us about your most popular culinary vacations and events for visitors?
At TFL Tours we specialize in culinary vacations which will be organized according to the wishes and taste of our clients.
Each region of Italy offers its unique food and wine experiences:
- Wine tasting / extra virgin olive oil sessions in Tuscany, Umbria, Piedmont, Liguria, Veneto and Sicily, as well as the visit of the estates and the production
- Hands on cooking classes in Rome, Florence, Tuscany, Milan, Amalfi Coast, Emilia Romagna, Liguria and Sicily
- Truffle hunting in Tuscany and Piedmont
- Pesto making lessons in Liguria
- Balsamic vinegar, Parma ham, Parmigiano cheese tasting sessions (including the visit to the production) in Emilia Romagna
- Grappa tasting in Tuscany
- Cheese making demo and tasting at an organic farm in Tuscany
- Gelato making demo and tasting in Rome
- Pizza making in Florence and in Naples
Q: What special events can you arrange tickets for?
In Siena: we have a great selection of seats on bleachers, private balconies, or windows to watch the Palio Race (it's perhaps Italy's most famous annual sporting event. But Siena's Palio is as much about pageantry, civic identity and Sienese pride as it is about a bareback horse race that lasts, on average, just 75 seconds).
In Milano: we have access to private fashion shows all year around and special events and shows during the Fashion week in September and February.
Q: Are there any aspects of the services you offer through Ensemble Travel Agents you would like visitors to be aware of?
What we do to secure hotels, transfers, and guide services:
- All the suppliers are carefully selected and monitored
- For every service, there is a written order and a clear confirmation
- A day before, every service is reconfirmed with the driver and the guide to be sure that all the details are correct and we are all on the same page.
Q: Shore Excursions:
At TFL Tours we have decided not to apply any fee if you have booked a shore excursion with us and this has to be cancelled last minute due to bad weather conditions. This means that if the ship skips the port we will refund you and your client. This is a policy that we apply only to Ensemble agents as an incentive to do more private shore excursions with us.
Wine-tasting in the Barossa Valley, swimming with the whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef, and heli-hiking over glaciers in New Zealand? Yes please!