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Italy travel tips on money saving, personal safety, sightseeing, and enjoying your trip to the fullest from InfoHub suppliers and community members.

Best Places Southern Italy to taste local cuisine
Submitted by M16695 on 2007-09-26
- Tuccino restaurant in Polignano a Mare,
- Poeta Contadino in Alberobello,
- Frantoio Ostuni,
- Puritate Gallipoli,
- Acmet Pascia Otranto,
- Alle due Corti Lecce.
best wines from Southern Italy and Puglia
Submitted by M16695 on 2007-09-26
- Cantele - Amativo,
- Cantele - Teresa Manara,
- Consorzio Produttori di Manduria - Primitivo di Manduria,
- Masseria Monaci - Le Braci,
- Candido - Immensum,
- Candido - Aleatico,
- Azienda Agricola Vallone - ... view more Graticciaia,
- Tormaresca - Fichi Mori,
- Tormaresca - Torcicoda,
- I Pastini - Locorotondo.

best time to travel to Italy
Submitted by M16695 on 2007-09-26
Best time to travel to southern Italy is from September to June. I would avoid July and August when all the Italian tourists invade the most beautiful regions and when the weather gets too hot.

Southern Italy enjoys ... view more mild winter and from March to June and from September to November days are sunny and temperatures never gets below 15 degrees Celsius.
Dinner in a local restaurant
Submitted by M17175 on 2007-11-23
Around the villa and Villetta there are several typical Italian restaurants. A lot of culture from the Etrusken time. Old villages on top of a hill, and the hot water springs in the surrounding.

Italy itself is an ... view more open museum with special architecture seen all over the country. In the villa you will find a map with all the things to do and to see.
How To Get Joy & Value On Cooking School Tours
Submitted by M05151 on 2009-05-21
Enjoy these four tips on getting the most joy and value on your cooking school tour in Italy, gleaned from my 14 years experience creating and leading these tours in Italy.

1. Many cooking school tour members say, ... view more "I've eaten too much! There's too much food.”

Find out what’s on your menu so you can pace yourself and avoid eating a lot of one course only to find three more courses are coming and you don't have room for all the wonderful food. Sample a little of everything so you experience as many dishes as possible.

2. Some cooking school tour members say, "I didn't get enough time to cook hands-on in the lesson. The chef did too much of the cooking."

Get beside the chef and be assertive, “I’d like to do that.”

3. Some cooking school students ask, "Will I gain weight on my cooking tour with all the irresistible food?" Not if you're like this woman.

She lost 10 pounds on her cooking tours in Italy. Italians eat less junk food and more fresh, local foods than many of us. She drank water, no pop. She walked much more than at home.

4. Communicate in a direct, friendly way with your tour guide about what you want.

On your tour you may want to change the tour itinerary a bit. For example, you discover tempting leather shops in a Tuscan hill town and want to spend more time shopping and fore go your spa treatments on the itinerary.

Ask your tour guide how you can change activities. Most guides try to be as flexible as possible. After all, their job is making sure you enjoy yourself!

If you're not enjoying something on your tour, take your guide aside and give constructive, friendly feedback. Don't be like some people who say nothing about their disappointments until they fill out the evaluation form at the tour’s end when it's too late to help them.

If you're really enjoying an activity, ask your guide how you can do more of it. Tour guides love seeing you happy and will do all they can to delight you.

Buon viaggio!

Shipping Wine Home
Submitted by M19312 on 2009-05-12
I have found that shipping wine purchased during a wine tour is best accomplished by using a special cardboard shipping box with Styrofoam insert and checking it in as baggage. Boxes typically hold up to 12 bottles and ... view more are used by professionals all the time.
How To Get An Affordable Cooking School Tour
Submitted by M05151 on 2009-05-12
To get an affordable cooking school tour in Italy, ask for what you want.

If you see an Italian cooking school tour you like, but the price is wrong for you, ask the tour operator for what you want. Their yes answer ... view more may surprise you!

Here’s a true story. A Canadian couple was attracted to a four day cooking, wine and walking tour in Piedmont’s Barolo wine country in Italy. Even though the tour was based at a historic hotel and was for just the two of them, the price of 1620 Euros a person (about $2673 Cdn, $2187 US), was beyond their budget this year. They told the tour operator they liked the tour but wanted to pay half that price.

The tour operator asked them what was most important to them for their tour. She redesigned the tour so they stayed at a simple B&B, didn’t take a cooking lesson they weren’t interested in anyway, and had their farewell dinner at the B&B instead of an elegant restaurant.

The new price was 40% less at 1045 Euros (about $1724 Cdn, $1411 US). This time they said yes!

Affordable Cooking School Tours: Local Families
Submitted by M05151 on 2009-05-13
Take cooking school tours where you stay and cook with local families in their homes. You get a better taste of genuine Italian life and often spend less than for a comparable tour based at an elegant villa with a top ... view more chef.

Let's compare two cooking school tours at a lovely villa hotel and at a family's farm house in Tuscany's Chianti area.

For six nights at a luxurious, four star villa hotel, enjoy three full menu, hands-on cooking lessons with a top professional chef in a state of the art kitchen for $2800 (March, November, December) to $3500 U.S. (May to October). The tour also includes transfers from Florence, welcome dinner, three meals after cooking lessons, picnic lunch, wine tasting, a light dinner, castle visit, half day walking tour and drive to Siena and San Gimignano where you explore on your own.

On a family style Chianti cooking school tour for five nights, stay in a family’s beautifully renovated farm house in a hill top hamlet in “at a friend’s home” style rooms. With the daughter you cook five multi-course lunches hands-on in their big kitchen with magnificent views over herb gardens, roses, olive trees and vineyards. Each noon you gather around their dining table with your cooking teacher and her charming 80ish dad.

Price for five nights all year round is 1555 Euros, about $2099 US at current exchange rates and includes five full menu, hands-on cooking lessons followed by big lunch, welcome dinner at a restaurant, four light dinners at home, two excursions with your cooking teacher to Chianti towns with wine tasting, and transfers from Chianti town of Greve to/from the family’s home.

The Chianti villa tour costs $466 (off season) a night to $583 US (May to October) a night while the Chianti family tour costs about $420 US a night all year round at current exchange rates. Both offer similar excursions but you get more meals with the family tour.

Don't miss on Venice at Night!
Submitted by M09434 on 2009-05-15
Venice ("Venezia") does not have clubs, pubs, bars with techno music! It does not need it. The magic is there, at night at every corner. Once the mainstream tourists reach their hotel and recover from a day of ... view more waiting lines, crowded streets, hassles and full vaporettos, the "real magic" begins!

Take a stroll in the empty streets, let yourself impressed by the magic lights and step into the magic of an Italian Opera, with a good map of course!

Experience Family Life In Italy: Agriturismo
Submitted by M05151 on 2009-05-18
If you’re planning to rent a car and explore the Italian countryside, stay in agriturismos farm accommodation in rooms with private bathrooms or apartments. To get the “agriturismo” designation, the owners must ... view more produce food or wine on their property. You find many agriturismos where they make wine and olive oil. You may even want to help pick grapes or olives at harvest time!

To make sure you get to know the owners, make sure they live on the property so you’ll run into them regularly and get a chance to start conversations that could lead to friendship.

For example, in southern Tuscany about nine km south of Montalcino, charming Alberto and Marzia offer two small apartment style rooms at their agriturismo in hills with marvelous views of valleys and Monte Amiata. They’ll share their passion for a wide range of exotic plants and trees and chemical free gardening as they tour you around their property. Their big passion is olive oil. From the olives on their trees, Alberto makes olive oil the traditional way using the big granite wheel and is only too happy to tell you everything you ever wanted to know about olives and olive oil.

This friendly couple makes your breakfasts and will also make dinner for you. Alberto is a fantastic cook!

Experience Family Life In Italy: Homestay Student
Submitted by M05151 on 2009-05-18
Take a course and ask the school for home stay accommodation.

In 1996 I took a month long Italian language course in Rome and asked the language school to get me a room with a family where nobody spoke English.

... view more
They matched me up with Lucia, a 45 year old high school art teacher, architect and single mother of two kids, aged 8 and 16 in their apartment near the Vatican. My room was small and plain. I used a cramped second bathroom that Lucia and her friendly kids used a bit, but I was open to new experiences and didn’t mind.

At first Lucia was surprised to see a woman her age arrive, not the usual 22 year old home stay student. In our month together, we discovered we had a lot in common, had many long conversations in her kitchen and became friends. For 12 years, I’ve visited Lucia, shared many meals around tables with her friends and taken trips to Naples and her country home in Le Marche with them.

Take a course and stay with a local family in your favorite Italian city! You never know what lovely surprises may come out of the experience!

Experience Family Life In Italy: Cooking Lessons
Submitted by M05151 on 2009-05-18
Take cooking classes in a cooking school tour or a one day cooking class with a family in their home kitchen and learn to cook their everyday and traditional dishes with them in their kitchen.

After your cooking ... view more lesson you dine on your creations with the whole family around their dining table and share laughs and good talks. You feel like a new friend in no time!

On some cooking school tours, you cook with the same family for all the lessons in your three to five day tour so you get to know the family well in a short but intensive sample of their every day lives.

On other cooking school vacations, you cook with three or four families on the same tour so you meet a wide variety of families and experience many slices of local life. For example in Tuscany you may cook with a couple with five kids on their farm who raise or grow most of the fruit, vegetables and meat they eat as well as making pecorino cheese or a charming woman and 80 something mum in their 14th century house in San Gimignano.

A cooking class for a day typically lasts for the morning with lunch of your creations or for the afternoon with dinner of all your plates so you have more time to do other non food activities like visiting museums, shopping or simply hanging out.

If you're traveling to many regions in Italy, why not take a cooking class with a family in each region so you experience different cuisines and family cultures?

Choose The Right Italy Cooking School Tour: Tips 1
Submitted by M05151 on 2009-05-20
These tips tell you how to sift through the overwhelming choice of Italian cooking tours on the Net and find the right one for you, so you experience a trip of a lifetime, protect your investment in your trip and avoid ... view more disappointments.

Ask yourself these 10 questions in these three tips articles.

1. What is important to me in my Italian cooking tour?

List what's important to you in your cooking tour. Read tour itineraries critically. Here are examples of what may be important to you and what to look for in tour itineraries.

A. Lots of cooking lessons? How many lessons are in the itinerary?

B. Lots of wine visits? How many winery visits and wine tastings are in the itinerary? Where do they take place? In wineries with the producer? In wine shops with a knowledgeable staff member?

C. Lots of stimulating food visits? What kind? Cheese and olive oil producers? Truffle hunting? Make sure the itinerary has visits that make your mouth water.

D. Immersing yourself in Italian life? How many different local people do you meet and how many different towns or locations do you visit?

E. What kind of Italian cultural experiences delight you? Meeting an artist in his ceramic studio? Cooking in a family's home and dining with the family? Are these events in your tour?

2. What is my budget?

Tours generally run from three to seven days with prices from budget to luxury. Educate yourself on Italian cooking tour prices by looking at sites with a good choice of tours and decide on your price range.

3. What kind of accommodation is best for me?

Some people are happy in simple, clean rooms in B & Bs because they're rarely in the room. They prefer to spend their money on special food and wine experiences. Is this you?

Others want beautiful, four star hotels or country villas with magnificent views and historical charm. Is this you?

Questions continue in "Tips 2" in this tip list.

Choose The Right Italy Cooking School Tour: Tips 2
Submitted by M05151 on 2009-05-20
These tips tell you how to sift through the huge choice of Italian cooking tours and find the right one for you, so you experience your dream trip, protect your investment in your trip and avoid disappointments.

Ask ... view more yourself these questions in these three tips articles.

4. What kind of excursions do I want?

Is this your first time in this Italian region so you prefer sightseeing? Are you a foodie hungering for gastronomic adventures or a wine lover thirsting for winery tours? If you’d like a bit of it all, how much sightseeing and how many food and wine visits do you want?

Often cheaper tours offer mostly sightseeing where you explore and shop in medieval towns and admire beautiful country views. More expensive tours give you exclusive gastronomic visits where you watch artisan producers making cheese or tour wineries with owners who give you special tastings.

5. When do I want to travel in Italy?

Are you keen on the wine harvest? Food lovers swarm to Italy for the harvest in September and October when you have a lots of cooking tour choices so reserve early.

Is warm weather important? Generally in most parts of Italy, mid May to mid October are warm to hot. July and August in some parts of Italy may be too hot for you.

Would you like a quieter time when chefs and winery owners can give you more personal attention? You'll find a good choice of cooking tours in May and June.

In steaming mid August most Italian businesses shut for annual summer holidays. Cities empty out. Masses flock to the mountains or beaches. You'll find less cooking school choice in August.

6. How many people in my cooking class?

Six or eight? You'll get to prepare the whole menu. Ten or more? You'll join the "eggplant" or "tiramisu" team and not learn how to make the other dishes. But the more the merrier! A larger class also may give you demonstration style, not hands-on lessons. Which do you prefer?

Questions continue in Tips 3 in this tips list.

Choose The Right Italy Cooking School Tour: Tips 3
Submitted by M05151 on 2009-05-20
These tips tell you how to sift through the huge choice of Italian cooking tours and find the right one for you, so you experience a dream trip, protect your investment in your trip and avoid disappointment.

Ask ... view more yourself these 10 questions in these three tips articles.

7. What level of cooking teacher and class do I need?

You can enjoy unique experiences with great home cooks on their farms. If you're a gourmet cook, you may prefer professional level cooking lessons with restaurant chefs. Check cooking teachers' qualifications.

Ask about class level. Most classes are geared to tourists, from gourmet cooks to beginners. If the idea of cooking with people who can't separate eggs gives you nightmares, gather a group of good cooks for a private cooking tour.

8. What kind of cooking lessons do I like?

Hands-on lessons where you put your hands in the flour, or demonstration style classes where you watch the chef's expert moves?

9. Where do I eat on my cooking tour?

Do you want to eat in a variety of local restaurants, so you get a real flavor of different cooking styles and see more towns?

Or do you prefer meals at your country property, where the chef feels like a family member?

Less expensive cooking tours feature most meals at home, while more expensive ones take you to more restaurants.

10. What is included in the price of my cooking tour?

Some tour itineraries don't make it clear what's included. Some say "optional" excursions or lunch "on your own" which mean you pay extra. Some say "evening at leisure" which means free time and dining on your own.

11. Ask for references!

To feel reassured you've chosen the right Italian cooking tour, ask the tour operator for names and e-mails of past tour clients. Contact them to find out if the itinerary delivers on what you want to experience.

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