Travel to Italy is Back & Better Than Ever!
The 2021 travel season to Italy was short but sweet. During the 15 long months the Bel Paese was off-limits to US visitors due to Covid, our travel agent partners and their clients had time to dream and to plan. Whether a long deferred trip-of-a-lifetime or a spontaneous rest-and-recharge, Italy’s allure has never been stronger. It’s true that absence makes the heart grow fonder!
The season began in late May with a romantic honeymoon to Italy and Croatia on a Covid-free flight. It ended in December with a family’s festive holiday vacation in the Big 3 (Rome, Florence, Venice). And a road trip for a couple who are traveling with their globe-trotting cat. Read on for the trends that have animated pandemic-era travel to Italy this year.
Outdoor Destinations Instead of Art Cities
Italy tops the list of travel destinations of most everyone’s lockdown dreams. With its famously varied and invariably stunning landscapes, vacationing on the boot-shaped peninsula is pretty much as good as it gets. In 2021, we saw a pivot towards fresh-air locales instead of long stays in the classic art cities of Florence, Venice, and Rome.
Hiking in the Dolomites or the Cinque Terre, boat rides on Lake Como or to Capri. Exploring Umbrian hill towns or just relaxing by the pool in Positano. These are some of the activities our travel agent partners booked for their clients. By and large the most popular destination was the Amalfi Coast, but we also sent our first-ever vacationers to the sunny Tuscan island of Elba.
Multi-generational Family Trips
Some clients used travel as a way to reunite and connect with loved ones. In July, one Travel Experts’ client did just that. The multi-generational family of 13 flew in from California, Texas, and Connecticut for a week-long get together in a luxury villa in Positano.
Villas have always been popular with those seeking the ultimate in privacy, pampering, and isolation, but hotels and resorts held their own. Many of them made the most of the pandemic-induced closure by renovating or refreshing their rooms. Plus, people have been isolated long enough that they are craving the sense of normalcy a hotel can give.
A Visit to Their Ancestral Village in Calabria
In October the Badolato brothers from Missouri and Arizona took their families on a 2-week trip to Southern Italy on the trail of their roots in Calabria. What they found was Badolato, an ancient, 1000-year-old hilltop village overlooking the Ionian Sea.
Led by their enthusiastic tour guide, Carmela, they discovered that the Badolatos were a noble family in the Middle Ages. More recently, the town gained international attention for its generosity when, in the late 1990’s, houses were given away to 339 Kurdish refugees.
The Badolato family from the USA received a warm welcome too, and they’ll recall their visit here forever! This Christmas they gave out gifts of the best Calabrian extra virgin olive oil, bottled with a personalized label and a postcard recounting their marvelous day in Badalato.
And Some Exceptional Food & Wine!
Italy wouldn’t be Italy without its amazing food and wine. And even though people had to depend on carry-out or home cooked meals throughout the pandemic, hands-on cooking lessons continued to be popular in 2021.
Like the one given by our chef in Positano. His airy kitchen perched above the Mediterranean Sea is the stage for a 4-hour class where market-fresh ingredients are paired with local wines from his 3,000-label cellar. The lesson culminates in a mouth-watering meal on the panoramic terrace of his 12th-century villa.
Our chef demonstrates his impressive knife skills by breaking down a hunk of fresh fish for grilled tuna and avocado skewers on a bed of pesto. Participants must walk up 176 steps to get to his kitchen-in-the-sky but all agree that it’s well worth it.
A year and a half after it shut down, the Bel Paese is finally rebooting. Here’s hoping these stories and pictures will whet your appetite for proposing unforgettable Italian getaways to your clients in 2022!