An Ample Slice of Italy
With its rich culture and long history, Italy is a land that offers so much to see and do. In order to get the time we needed to take in the full range of sensations and history that Italy offers, we joined Albatross Tours’ Italian ‘Grande’ Tour. A tour with one-night stop after one-night stop just wouldn’t do.
The Italian 'Grande' Tour
Launching from the fashion capital of Milan, this tour gives you four nights at Stresa to sample the picturesque Italian Lakes before heading east to the ancient Roman fortress of Castelbrando. Next, you’ll enjoy five nights in the medieval Tuscan spa town of Montecatini Terme, followed by two nights in Umbria. Venturing south to the Amalfi Coast brings you to Maiori and Pompeii for three nights, and then you’ll swing north to finish your Italian experience in Rome.
Our free day in Montecatini Terme was unforgettable. Having the chance to take the funicular up to Montecatini Alto was lovely, while wandering through the spas in Montecatini Terme and sitting and watching the world go by, was very relaxing. Exploring the medieval hilltop towns along the route from Tuscany to Umbria was a treat, too; my favourite was San Gimignano. The buildings and towns are just radiating history.
There was also the stunning photo opportunities in Capri. The views of the ocean and the itself were amazing and it was here that I took my favorite picture on the tour.
Gelato in June
Pizza lovers will look forward to dinner at Castelbrando, where they bring out all kinds of different varieties to try. June’s weather convinced us of the need for a daily gelato fix, and with so many flavours to choose from, it was a challenge to try the same one twice. A tip from our Tour Manager was to look for the word artigianale, which means it was the real thing and not mass produced.
Of course, for wine drinkers, there’s plenty to celebrate, but as a non-drinker, I appreciated being offered a glass of soft drink so as not to feel left out.
One thing to watch for when eating at local cafés during free time is asterisks next to items on their huge menus, as this can mean the food is frozen. Instead of spoiling your mealtime with that, it’s worth trying a smaller trattoria where the locals dine. The menus are simpler and the offerings are fresh.
Sharing the Experience
Our group was wonderful, with fellow travellers spread across a wide range of ages. Everyone seemed to get along really well. We befriended a young newlywed couple on the tour around our age (late 20s), and ended up spending our free time together. We have even stayed in touch since returning home.
What to carry
Bring comfy shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Pompeii is especially dusty! Also, be sure to carry small change with you, as you’ll need to pay for almost every toilet visit outside of the hotels and restaurants.
If you’re thinking of joining this tour, book now! Combining the wonderful experience of staying in some charming towns with endless opportunities to take in amazing scenery, it is a fantastic way to get an in-depth understanding of Italy without feeling rushed.
Italian ‘Grande’ tours run through to October 2015. To find out more, please contact our friendly reservations team.