By: Rose Boudreaux, Travel Central Expert & a native of Cefalu, Italy
Tourists have been drawn to Italy for ages, pulled by the country’s bustling cities, romantic coastlines and mouthwatering food. The crumbling Roman ruins transcend time, promising visitors a glimpse into millenniums gone by. Behind every gently rolling hill, Tuscany entices with wine and olive vineyards. Meanwhile, in Florence, miles of shopping await, while Venice moves slowly, holding your cappuccino and gondola tour until you arrive.
Italy is truly a land of wonders, playing host to scores of tourists with barely the blink of an eye. Those who go prepared spend every waking minute taking in the sights and sounds, savoring the flavors and living out their dreams. Those who don’t plan ahead are faced with five-hour lines, terrifying driving trips and countless hours and money lost in their attempts to “wing it.” Enlisting a knowledgeable travel agent can be the difference between the trip of a lifetime and a vacation of horrors.
Take the flights, for example. Any of your favorite airline search sites will show you the cost savings of roundtrip tickets in and out of the same city. But do you really want to spend your entire vacation in one place? Italy is long and skinny, with a lot of ground to cover—and even more gelato to eat. If you want to really experience it, you need to move around a bit, see the renowned glass blowers in Murano and the lace makers in Burano, take a bike tour through the picturesque countryside, prepare to be awed by Michelangelo’s statue of David.
Before you know it, your to-do list covers north to south, east to west, and now you’re having to carve out time to backtrack all the way around to the beginning. In the end, it’s rarely worth it, and you’re often spending more than you would have if you’d simply started with the right flights.
And what about the hotels? Three stars seem fairly good, right? Wrong. Did you know the hotels rate themselves? Some five-star hotels will take on a four-star rating to avoid extra fees, while other four-star hotels will make you wish you were back across the ocean in your own bed. After years of traveling Italy, I’ve compiled a list of tried and true gems—an indispensable asset to any tourist.
So let’s say you decide to travel around a bit, perhaps rent a convertible and enjoy the wind blowing through your hair while you cruise along the Amalfi Coast. A half hour into the drive, when the wind starts whipping your car around and your traveling companion is too busy cowering on the floorboard to enjoy the views,you’ll realize you should have let your travel agent book you a professional driver.
Or perhaps you’re on your honeymoon and you want to surprise your spouse with the most romantic restaurant in Italy. I’ve got you covered, and I can promise you, you’re going to love it. Got an itch to go Sicily, to visit Palermo where your great-grandparents called home? What are you going to do when you arrive and realize you’re lost in a big, industrial city with no idea clue as to where to go?
That’s where a travel agent can help. It’s what we were born to do, and why we’ve visited these locations more times than we count. Italy draws me back year after year. I too have visited my cousins in Sicily, but I also discovered the most amazing restaurants in the beautiful fishing town of Cefalu—only a 50-minute train ride away.
Admit it, you want to see it all, but you have no idea how. Relax. Take a deep breath and give me a call. Your vacation doesn’t start when you board your flight. It begins today when we start building your itinerary, and together, we transform the stress of planning a trip by yourself into the amazement of a vacation designed just for you. Are you bringing kids along? Let me set you up with a gelato-making session or an underground view of the Coliseum, where the animals and gladiators were held. Worried about overcoming jet lag? I have the perfect solution, personally tested multiple times. Hate lines? Don’t we all! But don’t worry, I’ll take you right to the front, so you can spend more time oohing and aahing at the Vatican and less time outside waiting and sweating in the sun. Looking for something a little different, maybe even a bit scary? I’ve got a few options for you to choose from, including one that looks like Dracula could come around the corner at any minute.