From the snow-peaked Italian Alps in the north to the turquoise blue waters of Sardinia and Sicily in the south, the landscape of Italy is about as diverse as it gets. There are a lot of features of this great country that many tourists don't even realize, so in this post we're giving a quick review of a few of the regions where we can offer guided culinary tours so you may become more familiar with your options.
Let's start with some of the better-known regions:
Emilia-Romagna – This region is one of the wealthiest in Italy and is known for the cities of Modena, Parma, Ferrara, Bologna, and Ravenna. Spanning almost the entire width of the Italian Peninsula—from the Adriatic coast on the east to nearly the Tirreno coast on the west—there's a lot of diversity in this region. Here you'll find some of Italy's famous products, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati cars, Ducati motorcycles, as well as balsamic vinegar, Prosciutto di Parma (or Parma ham, as you prefer) and "the king" Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, not to mention Sangiovese and other regional wines.
As a tourist, there's practically something here for everyone. Whether you fancy touring luxury car museums or taking one for a drive on the test track, or even sampling and touring where some of Italy's most iconic food products are produced, Emilia-Romagna has plenty of options to fill your agenda and your stomach.
Umbria – Umbria's proximity to Tuscany and its similar stunning landscapes, culinary delights, and rich culture make it another of Italy's highly visited regions. Some of the well-known attractions here are the cities of Perugia and Assisi. Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis and it is considered a holy place by many pilgrims and a sacred destination.
Umbria is sometimes called the country's "green heart" because of its dense forests, quintessential medieval hill towns, and regional cuisine, which includes foraged black truffles, extra virgin olive oil, and unique wines such as the superb Sagrantino di Montefalco.
Veneto – One of the most northern regions of Italy. Its capital is Venice, with its magnificent canals and bridges, an iconic symbol of the country. Prosecco, one of Italy's finest white sparkling wines, is a product of this region and the most-known Italian wine. And while Venice is one of the most visited cities in the region, Verona—the setting for Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet—also calls Veneto home.
Planning a trip to Italy inevitably comes with what can be a high cost of traveling, but it doesn't have to be so financially out of reach as you think. With some savvy planning, you can find options for traveling to Italy that are much more affordable than you might expect.
If you're dreaming of planning a trip to Italy, here are some tips about how to save on airfare so you have more funds left to work with once you get there!
Avoid Peak Travel Times
You can save a lot on airfare if you simply choose to travel during times when most other tourists aren't. In Italy, the peak tourist season begins toward the end of May and goes through the end of August or early September (depending on the area).
Consider planning your trip in a "shoulder season" to score big on airfare savings—look into April or early May, or toward the end of September or early October. You'll still enjoy fantastic weather and beautiful scenery. For even bigger savings, look into off-season travel from November through March. As an added perk, you'll also avoid all of the big crowds and long lines too!
Flexible Travel Days
The cost difference between buying a ticket that departs on a weekend compared to one that departs on a Tuesday or Wednesday can be significant! If your schedule allows, consider purchasing your ticket with a departing and return flight on weekdays rather than a weekend.
Certain travel websites will display a calendar with the associated fares on particular days for an easy visual comparison.
Consider Unlikely Routes
You might be surprised just how much you can save by altering the route you take getting to your destination in Italy. It's typically less expensive to fly into bigger hub cities on major airlines. But if your final destination is a small city in Italy, consider purchasing a ticket on a major airline to a larger Italian city and taking alternate transportation by train or bus to your final destination.
Or as another option, you could consider flying into a major European hub such as London, Paris, or Amsterdam, and then purchasing a ticket on a less expensive budget airline that flies into smaller cities more affordably.
Investing a little bit of time in research can potentially save you lots when it comes to purchasing airfare to Italy. We hope these tips help!
No trip is complete without bringing a piece of it home to remember forever. When you travel to Italy, you're bound to get inundated with a plethora of offerings of things to take home with you. To save yourself the money (and the luggage space!), here's a quick guide of some of the best souvenirs to watch for:
What better way to remember the vineyards and vistas from your Italy trip than to open a bottle of wine you purchased there several months or even years after returning home? Italy has some of the world's best wine, which makes it a great souvenir to take home with you.
If you opt to bring wine home with you, remember that it will need to be placed in your checked luggage. Certain countries and states have customs requirements for the amount of alcohol that can be brought in and some may be subject to taxes.
The tastes and flavors of Italy are so fantastic that of course you will want to bring some home with you. Some of the best options are the food items that are hard to come by when returning home—fresh olive oil, specialty cheeses, olives, balsamic vinegar, etc.
As long as you're not carrying fresh produce or meat, you will be able to enter through most customs checkpoints hassle free.
The Functional Souvenir
Souvenirs are more meaningful if they are serving more of a purpose than just collecting dust on the shelf. Items that are both useful and a good reminder of your trip make great souvenirs, and Italy has lots of them to offer.
A pair of Florentine leather gloves, a belt, handbag, or shoes will be a great reminder of your strolls along the Arno River. An eloquently painted pasta bowl can bring back memories of the views you saw along the Amalfi coast. Or a Venetian vase can help you reminisce about your leisurely gondola ride every time you place flowers in it.
If a picture says 1,000 words, then photos make some of the best souvenirs from your trip. Plus the bonus is they don't take up any luggage space!
In Italy, it's not difficult to find a beautiful view or background, and you're sure to come home with a lot of display-worthy photographs. Don't just leave them on your smartphone or sitting in a computer file. Print them off, frame them, or even make them into a gallery wrap canvas for an extra special way to showcase your trip around the house.
We hope these tips help you find some great souvenirs in Italy that will help you remember your trip for years to come!