Will it be a summer of Plexiglass, social distancing and designer-bacterial masks as travellers hunt to find an oasis nearest them, when people travel to Italy again?
Italy is going through a downward trend in the dreaded COVID-19 to nearly zero in the majority of the regions. However the Demoskopika report estimates 2020 will have 143 million fewer tourists arriving in the Mediterranean peninsula. The region will suffer a loss of 18 billion Euros to the tourist trade.
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“We’ve been facing a very difficult time without precedent,” says travel consultant for a Milan-based travel agency, Valeria Bertalero. The effects of a three-month lockdown have taken its toll on many Italians. That includes the 38-year-old travel operator. Her core business is based on selling tours for her Italian clientele in exotic locations. “Thanks to a strong team spirit, we are gradually restarting and providing safe areas to visit.”
Tourists seek seclusion and isolation
European Union officials are scrambling to agree on who can visit the bloc based on how countries of origin are coping with new coronavirus cases. Canadians, so far, are not facing any European travel ban restrictions since the country is ranked 20. However there are the Canadian government’s travel warnings. For those wanting to travel to Italy and Europe one common-sense solution is to find secluded and isolated locations.
Europeans overall are saying Arrivederci to low-cost airlines due to the crisis. Maurizio Levi’s tour operations is a unique operator among the 2,000-strong tourist agencies in the Lombardy Region. They provide far-away destinations specializing in “Out of Africa” cultural tours. Now the Milan-based Tour Operator has added to their core business projects like “Out of Italy – unearthed beauties” for foreigner travellers.
“This period has been challenging in many ways,” says 33-year-old Project Manager of Out of Italy, Erika Locatelli. “We travel the world to bring guests to many remote areas. But we love Italy and know there are many far-away and off-the-beaten-track locations to offer.”
The Vatican is one of the must-see places in Italy and the tickets sell out quite quickly. Get cheap tickets on Hello Tickets so that you stay within your budget at all times, read more here. Here is a sampling of great spots to travel to in Italy, more remote compared to the Vatican:
A LadyHawke adventure among fortresses, pastures and ancient sheep tracks via jeeps, hiking and horseback.
Hollywood knows how to pick magical locations for fairytales. So the Abruzzo Region was the ideal setting for the medieval dark fantasy film – LadyHawke.
“Every moment you spend in the region, you will be envied by all,” says Locatelli. “It is an experience that should be tried at least once in a lifetime.”
Here you can find the highest fortress in Italy. You will see the multitude of landscapes of the Samnite Apennines. You’ll visit the places of the fierce battles that were engaged between the Samnites and the Romans. You’ll discover the Palaeolithic finds, the Roman settlement of Altilia. Go horseback riding along the rivers. There you will feel like you are a gallant knight.
In addition, you will discover the lifestyle of a humble shepherd. You will find the historical sheep routes. For thousands of years they have been bringing the shepherd’s flocks from the Abruzzo mountain pastures to the Adriatic sea. Moreover, you will meet the shepherds themselves. They will show you how to prepare the famous caciocavallo cheese. You’ll learn about ancient customs and traditions.
The starting cost for a seven-day adventure package with eight-participant minimum is 2,180 Euros ($3,345 CAD).
A very rich journey from a cultural, historical and naturalistic point of view if you want to travel to Italy that is well worth discovering – Calabria.
Located at the toe point of the boot, Calabria is perhaps the least known region of Italy. It’s a hidden treasure where you can find the aristocratic Altomonte and Morano villages clinging to the slopes of the Pollino. Calabria is also nicknamed the “devil’s bridge”. The visit includes the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Armi which is nestled in the mountain. There you can find the remains of the Greek city of Sibari.
What’s that sound? Hear Albanians conversing on the streets of San Demetrio Corone. Walk the green plateau of Sila and visit the three lakes Arvo, Cecita and Ampollino. Visit the Mancuso Village and its Swiss-style wooden houses, the medieval village of Santa Severina. Visit the solitary column of the temple of Hera Lacinia and Le Castella surrounded by the virgin sea. Check out the Norman and Byzantine art of Stilo and Gerace, and the Bourbon ironworks of Mongiana in Certosa hidden amongst the Serre. Then there is the emerald coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea with Pizzo, Tropea, Capo Vatticano and Scilla. There is also the enchanting guardian of the Strait – “the most beautiful kilometre in Italy” in Reggio, Calabria.
An eight-day package tour with a minimum eight participants starts at 1,550 Euros ($2,380 CAD).
The Old Man and the Sea Adventure. This is an eight-day sailing and archeology tour that takes you from the temples of ancient Paestum to the villages of Cilento. Then you continue sailing from Agropoli to Scario and beyond.
“Yes, Hemingway used to love to stay at the seaside village of Acciaroli,” says Locatelli. “It’s a great journey and much of the cape is unknown.”
The venture includes sailing around historical towns, visiting secluded bays and beaches accessible only by sea. The trip is ideal for snorkelling since the beaches have been awarded the Blue Flag for crystal clear water. Also, the tour also involves a guided excursion inland to discover the secret soul of the National Park – Paestum and the Valley of the Temples. In addition, the trip includes San Marco di Castellabate, a picturesque village that was featured in the Italian film Welcome to the South.
For those looking to travel to Italy, this eight-day sailing package tour with a six-participant minimum starts at 1,440 Euros ($2,210 CAD).
“A man who has been through bitter experiences and travelled far enjoys even his sufferings after a time.” – Homer, The Odyssey.
Near the Grotta di Tiberio and the archaeological museum, you will find the preservation of the valuable sculptures inspired by The Odyssey and the legendary Island of Eas. That is famous for having held Ulysses under the clutches of the Sorceress’ Spell.
“For many people, these places are still unknown when you mention places such as Sermoneta, Nifa, San Felice Circeo or Sperlonga,” says Locatelli. “But they have been the key in developing many famous legends.”
The mystical adventure takes you to the white-sand dunes of the seaside resort in Sabaudia (95 kilometres south of Rome). The tour also includes visiting the ruins of the Jupiter Terracina. It also includes the ruins of the Jupiter Anxur Sanctuary. There is also the mysterious Abbey of Valvisciolo, where it has been reported to have traces of the Knights Templar.
And for award-winning film director Folco Quilici, the uninhabited island of Palmorola is one of the most beautiful islands in the world.
A seven-day package for those tourists looking to travel to Italy starts with a minimum of eight participants costs 1,850 Euros ($2,840 CAD).
Naples – Discover the archeological wonders
Get ready to go into Selfie overdrive. Naples to Baia and Pozzuoli, from the Valley of the Temples of Paestum to the Amalfi Coast and Ravello, is a photographer’s dream.
Start off in the heart of Naples – a city filled with overwhelming attractions. Enjoy the splendors of the Royal Palace of Capodimonte and of Caserta which are the “Versailles of Italy.”
“You can feel the history,” says Locatelli. “Behind every stone pebble, there is a long, fantastic tale.”
Visit ancient Temples including the Paestum, the Charterhouse of Padula and one of the largest monasteries in the world. The irresistible magic of the Amalfi Coast and Ravello allow you to experience the journey. There is also one of the most fascinating regions in Italy: “Mare e Montagna” sea and mountains.
This trip features a long rich history that takes you to the remote Greek Parthenope. You pass through the Roman, Byzantine, Longobardo, Norman, French and Spanish landmarks. It’s a journey where you will discover a world distant in time and fascinating for its complex multicultural history.
An eight-day package tour with a six-participant minimum starts at 1,450 Euros ($2,225 CAD).
Puglia and Matera
“This tour can be intense, for the number of sites visited,” says Locatelli. “It is quite special to visit Puglia led by an expert tour leader with a profound knowledge of the area’s history.”
The tour goes from the baroque architecture of Lecce, to the breathtaking cliffs of the Adriatic coast between Otranto and Castro, overlooking a crystal clear sea. The journey continues to castles, archaeological remains and cave churches. Then it reaches the renowned characteristic town of Matera, in the Basilicata region.
Matera is an ancient city of cave-houses (known as sassi), dug from soft volcanic rock. It’s a true architectural jewel, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is deemed “the most outstanding, intact example of a troglodyte settlement in the Mediterranean region.”
This nine-day adventure for those looking at travel to Italy starts at 1,790 Euros ($2,750 CAD).
One of the largest islands in the Mediterranean sea, Sardinia has over 2,000 kilometers of a gorgeous coastline. There are sandy beaches and a mountainous interior filled with exciting hiking trails.
The tour includes a full trip, starting from the south, that crosses the whole island up to the granite plateaus of Gallura. From Cagliari, the tour takes you to precious finds of the Archaeological Museum and the ruins of the old city.
“We move onto the Su Nuraxi Nuragic complex which is certainly one of the most famous and important sites in Sardinia,” says Locatelli. “People’s jaws drop in amazement.”
The tour also explores Barbagia, a vast mountainous region on the sides of the Gennargentu massif. Explore its villages rich in history and tradition. Mamoiada is renowned for its characteristic costumes and folkloristic Carnival.
The island is filled with mysterious Bronze Age ruins shaped like beehives. One of the largest and oldest nuragh (a large tower-shaped stone structure) dates back to 1500 B.C.
For those Canadians looking to travel to Italy, this seven-day package tour with a minimum of 12 participants starts at 1,780 Euros ($2,700 CAD).
Home of the volcanic gods and mountain peaks. Here, hiking among the geological and naturalistic wonders of north-eastern Sicily and the Aeolian archipelago is an extraordinary experience.
Three distinct and spectacular natural wonders including Etna, Nebrodi Regional Park and the Aeolian islands. There you will find three active volcanoes: Etna, Vulcano and Stromboli.
Etna is home of the legendary gods. From its slopes to the top, take in the breathtaking views walking on the summit. Then you’ll explore the Valle del Bove. You will walk through the forests, caves and ancient lava flows.
In addition, an off-road vehicle will take the crossing of the Ducea of Admiral Nelson, along the ridge of the Nebrodi. This is a remote and wild area, featuring the highest wetland of the island.
Full of mystery and esotericism, it’s a life-changing experience at the zoomorphic and anthropomorphic megaliths of Argimusco, the “Sicilian Stonehenge.” You’ll head by boat to Panarea, and then to Stromboli. From the sea you will admire the sciara del fuoco (flying sparks) and the fireworks being displayed.
All departures include an expert local guide and an expert in volcanology and geology.
For tourists looking to travel to Italy, this eight-day package tour with a base minimum of eight participants costs 2,290 Euros ($3,500 CAD).
This is a journey in a vast and wild area which coincides with the Province of Grosseto. Despite its size and extraordinary attractions, it is unknown to most visitors who come to Tuscany.
A unique feature of the Maremma is undoubtedly the variety of its territory. There are green hills cultivated with vines and olive trees, lake and valleys, and crystal clear sea. Then there are the long beaches, mountains covered with thick forests. Those blend perfectly with archaeological sites, castles, villages. You will also marvel at the high towers, cathedrals and testimony of ancient civilizations.
Features include the mighty Medici walls of Grosseto and the wonderful medieval village of Massa Marittima. That village has one of the most beautiful squares in Tuscany.
A seven-day package tour with a minimum of eight participants starts at 1,700 Euros ($2,600 CAD).
Marche and Umbria
This trip features an itinerary that combines the natural beauties of the Marche region with the romantic and picturesque Umbrian villages. So this is a particularly popular option for those looking to travel to Italy.
Starting from Ancona, participants set off to visit the wonderful Karst caves of Frasassi. You will visit the Gole del Furlo Nature Reserve where the golden eagles nest. After having been absorbed with this cultural explosion, the tour continues on to see the enchanting city of Urbino (UNESCO Heritage). Then you will arrive at the green heart of the country, Umbria.
“Here we will discover the great cultural and historical heritage of this region. It is made up of castles, fortresses and villages perched on mountains and hills, where time seems to have stopped,” says Locatelli.
In this poetic journey, participants will visit small villages with narrow alleys and stone houses, where traditions are still well preserved. Included is vis-à-vis Gubbio, Spello, one of the “most beautiful villages in Italy”. There is Rasiglia, where streams cross to form into picturesque waterfalls. Also, the irresistible towns of Todi, Spoleto and Assisi (UNESCO Heritage) will enchant you for their magnificently preserved history. At Lake Trasimeno you will discover the islands and villages of this real Umbrian pearl. Finally, the return to the Marche region will lead you to a spectacular walk in the so-called “Grand Canyon of Le Marche.”
All excursions are led by expert tour leaders and local guides.
An eight-day package tour with eight participants starts at 1,980 Euros ($3,040 CAD).
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Vincent Towerpast is a writer based in Milan, Italy, and covers the European scene for Regarding Luxury.