If you’ve decided to vacation in Italy, you may want to think about traveling with a tour group. Tour groups are not for everyone. Understood. But, it is a good idea to at least investigate using a professional tour group. Why? Well, first of all, most tour companies specializing in a certain region of the world tend to know the best places to eat in the area. They know the restaurants frequented by the locals and so often missed by most tourists.
In addition to enjoying every meal arranged by the tour company I used during my recent visit to Italy, I also found that using a tour group made my vacation a whole lot easier and far less tiring than it might have been otherwise. There’s just so much to see in Italy and so many great spots to visit that it can mean a whole lot of walking. For folks with mobility issues, this can be a real problem.
Well-established tour companies know all the ins and outs of getting around Italy with the least amount of walking. Most have tour buses that can get you as close as possible to each site you visit, which cuts way down on walking and may even eliminate the need to wait in long lines. It’s always important to speak with a representative of the company before paying for a tour package to find out exactly how much walking is expected.
Hotels in Italy do not always have the conveniences American’s tend to expect. Even top quality establishments may not have elevators. When you plan your own lodging, it is easy to choose a great hotel that seems perfect only to discover when you get there that your stay will require a lot of trips up and down stairs. A tour company should know where to make sleeping arrangements that will keep stair climbing to a minimum. And, with an organized tour, there’s no need to lug your suitcases around with you. Tour staff takes care of all that.
The scenery in Italy is breathtakingly beautiful and the country is seeped in history. As you probably know, Italy has had a prominent influence on art, architecture, and philosophy over the centuries. Celebrated painters Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were both Italian. Buildings like the Colosseum, Pantheon, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa are architectural marvels that revolutionized building techniques and guided most architectural styles.
But, if you enjoy good food, it will be food of Italy that will fill your dreams for years to come. There’s nothing like enjoying real authentic Italian food in Italy. The food is nothing short of spectacular!
During my recent visit, I encountered so many meal choices I wanted to try after seeing them in a menu or having them explained to me by a waiter. But you can only eat so much at one sitting. I was surprised to find out that Italian specialties are often unique to a specific region of Italy and may not be offered outside that particular area of the country. So, if there’s something you want to try, don’t wait. Order it when you have the chance.
The food in Italy is very different from what Americans tend to think of as “Italian food.” In fact, the Italian meal of “spaghetti and meatballs” so expected in the United States doesn’t even exist as such in Italy. At least, I couldn’t find the two actually served together. In Italy, meat balls are a separate dish. However, true Italians do tend to eat some form of pasta at least twice a day.
When it comes to breakfast, I was in for another surprise. Italians view the first meal of the day quite differently than those of us living in the United States. Mornings usually start with a rather light meal of coffee or expresso with some sort of pastry. Eggs are saved for the midday meal or dinner.
All cheese lovers must instantly fall in love with Italy. Cheese is very prevalent throughout the country and served with most meals. Of course, it really isn’t surprising that cheese is such a mainstay in Italy. After all, some of the world’s most popular and tasty cheeses come from Italy, like mozzarella, parmesan, and provolone as well as gorgonzola, Asiago, and Fontina.
Ordering beverages with meals was another learning experience during my visit. In a traditional Italian eatery or even in a home setting, wine and water are the only beverages you’ll see accompanying any meal. And age does not matter. It’s wine or water… period… whether you are 10 or 80. Milk is never, ever served with meals, which is actually a healthy way to go since milk is known to play havoc with digestion.Soda, juices, ice tea, and all the other typical beverages we so often drink with meals in America are never offered with a meal in Italy. Coffee is served… but only at the very end of a meal and only after every bite has been consumed. Expresso is much more common than plain coffee, but you usually can find an Americanized version of coffee.
* Just one "seasoned" (older) traveler's observations. Not to be considered a review or endorsement by Seasoned Times.