You’ve ambled Amalfi.
You’ve ventured to Venice.
You’ve feasted in Florence.
You’ve roamed through Rome.
You’re not what we’d call a newbie to Italy. You’ve tasted Chianti in Tuscany. You’ve perused Pompeii with a private guide. You’ve gazed at the Blue Grotto off Capri’s coast. With so much Italy under your belt, the usual sights — Michelangelo’s David in Florence or St. Mark’s Square in Venice, — don’t compel you like they once did.
What’s left to savor in Italy for a return traveler? What delicious Italian destinations are hiding just off the beaten track? One of my favorite fall escapes in Italy is Umbria. Located just 90 minutes from the center of Rome, Umbria feels like you’re stepping back in time. Driving the countryside here, you’ll see medieval hamlets rising from the distance.
As Italy’s only completely landlocked region, Umbria brims with wooded glens and winery-draped hillsides. In the fall, the vineyards shift from green to bright red here — signaling the annual grape harvest. On Umbria’s many farms, you can meet the sheep whose milk makes regional cheeses like pecorino umbro or ricotta salata. And, in the region’s northern swathes, you can taste the famed salami norciani — dried, cured pork salami.
Are you hungry for a third or fourth helping of Italy? Discover Umbria in the fall, relishing a land of real traditions and spectacular scenery.
Below you’ll find 4 Delicious Activities You can only try in Umbria.
CHOCOLATE-TASTING TOUR (PERUGIA)
Sweet lovers from across the globe flock to the hilltop town of Perugia each October for the annual Eurochocolate Festival. But, sugar fiends in-the-know skip the festival’s long lines and crowded streets — visiting the town before or after the cocoa-fueled festivities. Perugia’s stone streets are home to both boutique chocolatiers and the world-famous Perugina chocolate company. With a local guide, travelers can go behind-the-scenes at family-run chocolate shops — observing how cocoa beans are transformed into that most decadent of dolci.
SALAMI & CHEESE MAKING (NORCIA)
Not far from Perugia, you will find the quaint countryside of Norcia. This area is famed throughout Italy and the world for its porky products — including salami, copa, prosciutto, and capocollo. While some are cured using nothing but salt and air, others are seasoned with local wine or pine juniper berries. Italians rarely eat salami on its own, preferring to pair it with a cheese. Food-loving travelers can spend the day farm-hopping in Umbria, enjoying a tasting of pecorino here and a nibble of prosciutto there — enjoyed, naturally, with a glass or two of local wine.
LACK TRUFFLE HUNT & PASTA
Far from the stone streets of Umbria’s towns lies one of the region’s most prized foods — the black truffle. Aided by specially-trained dogs, capable of sniffing out truffles that grow underground, you can hunt this famed fungus in Umbria’s lovely woods. After a brisk walk in the forest, you return to our guide’s rustic farm — with a bounty of truffles in tow. Once at the farm, you’ll make pasta by hand with the truffle hunter’s wife. Your sauce? You guessed it: freshly shaved truffles.
WINE, WINE, WINE
Grapes have been grown in Umbria since Roman times. Driving from town to town here, you’ll pass some of the most scenic wine country in Italy — dotted with hilltop towns and rolling vineyards. While the tannin-rich reds are largely made with Sangiovese grape, the whites from the Orvieto area are fruity-but-dry. Less well known to tourists than Tuscany, Umbria boasts countless family-operated wineries. In fact, you can enjoy tastings in Umbria’s private cellars — hearing about the history of wine production in this region from the vineyard owners themselves!
Which European escape are you craving these days? I’m here to take the stress out of trip-planning, helping you to experience the Europe locals love. Hit the Contact Me and lets get to planning.
PIZZA BY THE COLOSSEUM
Whether it’s your first or fourteenth visit to Rome, viewing the Colosseum never ceases to impress. In its hay day, this stone stadium could seat 50,000 spectacles for live battles and gladiator matches. With my help, you can enjoy a private tour inside the Colosseum with skip-the-line tickets. After your immersion in ancient history, you’ll be hungry for a taste of Rome. Nearby, I recommend Li Rioni Pizzeria – hidden on a non-touristy side street just a 5 minutes’ walk from the main ruins. Be sure to order here a wood-fired pizza, tomato-crowned bruschetta and the creamy house tiramisu!
Not far from the famous Spanish Steps, you’ll find a green jewel in the heart of historic Rome – the Villa Borghese Gardens. Built by the noble Borgia family (including a pope!) atop a former vineyard in 1605, the Villa Borghese Gardens were the largest green space built in Rome since ancient times. From this vast and manicured park, you can also access the Villa Borghese gallery – housing Renaissance masterpieces from artists such as Caravaggio and Titian. Bring art history to life here with a private visit alongside an English-speaking guide.
Rome is home to many sacred sites – including St. Peter’s tomb and the Vatican. It also boasts one of Europe’s oldest Jewish communities, which reside principally in the city’s scenic Jewish Quarter. In addition to vaunting kosher-friendly carbonara, this quiet cobblestoned quarter also houses some spectacular ruins – including Teatro Marcello. This theater dates back to 13BC and resembles the Colosseum (minus the crowds). Columns and remains of temples are scattered around this open-air theater. After wandering the Jewish Quarter’s back streets, walk to the nearby Isola Tiberina (Tiber Island) for a gelato at Tiberino Gelateria.
Rome’s stunning Trastevere quarter is located on the far side of the Tiber River – easily accessed on foot by crossing one of the city’s scenic bridges. Boasting cobblestone alleyways, Renaissance palaces and ivy-clad buildings, Trastevere bustles with local charm during the day and at night. It’s also home to some of the city’s most authentic Roman ristorante – including Trattoria Da Teo, Pizzeria Ai Marmi and Da Enzo al 29.
If you haven’t visited Cancun and the Riviera Maya in a number of years, you may not recognize it. Miles and miles of some of the softest white sand you’ll ever sink your toes into are filled with upscale resorts, thatched-roof palapas, Bali daybeds and picture-perfect beaches. But how many of Cancun’s numerous activities can travelers enjoy today? Surprisingly, a lot.
In late 2020, Quintana Roo, the Mexican state Cancun is in, upgraded its COVID-19 status. This upgrade opened up a world of options for travelers, as restaurants, historic sites, theme parks, golf courses, nautical activities, shopping malls and spas could now operate at 60% of normal capacity. There are all the safety protocol in effect at the resorts. Mask are worn by all the staff, sanitizer is available as well as plenty of space. Here are just some of the exciting, unforgettable and safe activities that await you in Cancun.
Explore Maya RuinsTake a day trip to the ancient Maya city of Chichén Itzá, one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. Be sure to climb the 91 steps of The Castle, El Castillo, for one of the best views in all of Mexico. Tulum, the photogenic ruin perched on a cliff overlooking the Caribbean, is also easily accessible from Cancun.
Dive into Cenotes Take a refreshing dip in one of the Yucatan’s most famous jungle sinkholes — Ik-Kil, a.k.a. the Sacred Blue Cenote. A grand staircase takes you down 85 feet to the surface of this pristine pool, festooned with hanging vines and waterfalls.
See Art UnderwaterFor an unforgettable museum experience, don’t miss the Underwater Museum of Art (MUSA). Whether you visit by glass-bottomed boat or scuba dive to the bottom for close-up view of the more than 500 pieces of monumental sculpture, MUSA is absolutely surreal.
Splash, Smile, RepeatCancun and the Riviera Maya are the ideal places to swim with dolphins, take an aqua dive tour, go on a whale shark excursion or simply cruise the calm sea on a beautiful yacht, sailboat, paddleboard or catamaran. However you dive in, the warm Caribbean waters will soothe your aching soul and have you smiling like a child in no time.
Just Relax After the year we’ve all had, maybe the best thing to do in Cancun is simply relax. Lounge on the beach with a perfectly chilled margarita resting in your hand, watching your kids learn how to snorkel. Or transport your mind and body at one of the more than thirty Cancun spa resorts, many of which offer unique treatments that combine ancient Mayan healing rituals with modern stress-reducing techniques.
Thanks for this article go to Johnathan Herman for this great insight on Cancun. Being a part of Travel Leaders I have the opportunity to access some great information. I also had the fortune of being there just last month for my own great insight.
Walk so in Rome you can walk everywhere! Especially with a great hotel. You are going to walk in Rome and then walk some more and then a little more. No worries though if you have a great hotel to come back to after a long day of walking!
I never understand the oh it's just a place to sleep. NO NO NO it is not just a place to sleep. It is part of your experience in a destination. I am an over 50 woman who likes creature comforts. I have spent my life working and I am now an empty nester. I don't have small children, or college expenses I am on cruise control now. It's NOT just a place to sleep. It's part of my experience in a destination. It's part of the culture, the ambiance, and sets the tone for my travel. Yes as always the hotel matters. So I always choose an amazing hotel like the Inn at the Roman Forum which is walking distance to everything I want to see. I will definitely be walking Rome!
Vatican Museum is one of Rome's iconic stops but I is always crazy busy. It's packed and you and your 1000 closest friends are all viewing the Sistine Chapel ceiling at the same time. All the while being shushed by the Vatican Museum Policia. So why? Best thing here is a private tour and even better is an off hours private tour.
Trevi Fountain is free and you can stroll through Roman streets to get there. Yes, no visit to Rome is complete without tossing your coin into the Trevi Fountain and of course capturing that Instagram moment. BUT WAIT let's take it a little further and capture that moment with a professional photographer. You are in Rome at the Trevi Fountain for goodness sake. It's overflowing with memories you can capture and made 100 percent better by a professional. If you would be so kind to use my link I would definitely appreciate it. GET YOUR ROMAN HOLIDAY PICS
Piazza Narvona the place for people watching. Pick one of the restaurants they are all over priced but the view's are perfecto! This is what you are paying for. Sit down have a Aperol Spritz and enjoy my favorite pass time people watching.
Roman Forum history and Romans what more could you want? You can go with the peasants and do a basic tour but again why? You are in Rome and you are at the Roman Forum this has stood for century after century. Skip the line and go with a professional where you can discover the Roman Forum and walk along the path that countless others have journeyed.
The Tiber River Awe the Tiber the 252 mile long river that has witnessed a 1000 lifetimes of history and intrigue. Take a stroll along the peaceful river that I say it is the bain of the Reformation in that many are still crossing over. :)
St Paul Laterern outside the walls one of the 4 ancient, papal, major basilicas and not to be missed. Step into history and discover the story of the Apostle Paul. Not to be ignored and of course filled with the Papal photographs predicted to determine the end of the world.
Join friends for dinner and visit to a wine cellar next to the Pantheon . We had a chance to visit in February and scheduled this. It was a great evening with friends. We joined a whole table with others to experience great food, and company and of course wine. If you happen to be in Rome and want to do this Book it here. Wine Dinner. Now for a private dinner with a local you will need to contact me and I can arrange an amazing experience for you.
Visit the Pantheon at night is such a beautiful experience. So before your dinner stop in a gaze at the ceiling and imagine Roses falling from the opening. It is truly amazing. If you would like a tour at night again just follow the link Tour at night.
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Travel with Grace and Style is an Italy travel specialist and when
traveling to Italy there are 10 top things you should know. There are many more as this list could go on but these tips will not only save you time but may help you enjoy the experience.
Buy Tickets Prior..... If you do anything my top suggestion is to buy your tickets early and prior to your travel dates. This insures you are not standing in line waiting with the rest of the masses. Those who procrastinated or thought they would just wait and show up and buy their tickets in line are often shocked to see the lines. Save yourself and book ahead.
Off Season Travel.....Italy is my favorite travel destination along with the million other's who visit her yearly. In the height of the summer season it is almost packed beyond comfort. Travel off season if you can. In the late spring time the weather is just starting to be lovely but you still may need a sweater. Fall is often beautiful in Italy. Winter the crowds are thinner and unless it is during Christmas holidays your experience will be much less crowded.
Weather....Italy has decent weather any time of the year. Although summer in Rome in August can be brutal according to most, many Italians head out of the cities during this time. Winter yes it can snow, especially in places like The Dolomites and Lake Como and even Rome but the weather is definitely doable. The Average temperature in Rome in February is 52/42 not too bad for a visit. Rainiest month tends to be November for Rome.
There are very few toilet seats...… Yes in and throughout Italy there is a common known problem of toilet seats or the lack there of in public facilities. I will leave it at this.
Coffee... Often enjoyed al banco or at the bar with Cappuccino in the morning, a macchiato for an afternoon pick me up and an espresso after dinner. Quick pointer milky coffee in the morning only.
Breakfast....is often a lite meal consisting of small pastry and cappuccino of course "al banco".
Sundays......in Italy are for family. A day spent relaxing and having brunch after Mass.
Transit... Italy has a very good transport infrastructure. The rail network is extensive, especially in the north, and it includes a high speed rail network that joins the major cities of Italy from Naples through northern cities such as Milan and Turin.
Pick pockets will be in all the tourist sites. They are good. Keep watch and always keep your belongings close. Just as you would do in any other major city.
Hotel...….The hotel is not just a place to lay your head. It's not just a place to sleep. The hotel is part of the experience. The place you return to after a long day viewing the amazing city and countryside and should never be just a place to sleep. It should be part of the experience, part of the journey, and part of your incredible visit to Italy.
So please if you are planning a visit to Italy I would love to assist you. Italy is one of Teresa @ Travel with Grace and Style specialities. My own personal knowledge is fueled by my passion for Italy itself.
Our trips are specifically designed down to the finest detail around your tastes and interests. We will listen to what you want and then carefully design an individual trip to match, working within your budget and with an absolute commitment to quality. We have true experts for each and every one of our destinations, our expertise comes from having traveled to the destination and securing specialized partners in each of our selected destinations. Our curator will design a trip around you, show you the highlights in a different light, and introduce you to places and experiences that others might miss. Everyone has a different style and the experiences we curate are exactly designed with that in mind. From group travel, to individual, to faith based we have a commitment to excellence. I would love to help you discover Italy just fill out the form.
We were headed to Europe for April and while we were going to be close we chose to take two river cruises along the Danube River. The first portion was one of a really short duration of 4 days 3 nights. It was on Avalon Waterways. They give the option of doing a cruise tour type vacation but for this we chose only the cruise portion. Meaning we opted not to do the on site stay at the hotel portion. The Danube is Europe’s second largest river and is definitely a river cruise to take if only for the picturesque beauty of the region.
The air is crisp and the scents of spice and roasted chestnuts are in the air as you walk through the village inspired Christmas scenes. As you glance around you notice Christmas lights fill the streets with a soft warm glow where bobbles, bows, candy and special treasures await. It’s an old world style atmosphere, markets are often at the center of town squares beneath the spires of the local parish church steeples. Laughter and music fills the air as shoppers pass by snuggled in their winter coats. There is just something about Europe’s Christmas Markets that I don’t feel we have quite captured in the United States. Perhaps it’s the community aspect, the gathering together sipping mulled wine as you let go the stress of the day. Perhaps it’s people coming together and catching up as they experience the warmth of Gluhwein and nibble on delectable pastries. Europe’s Christmas Markets are simply Magical.
It’s the start of Holiday Season as during the first weekend of Advent Christmas Markets begin to pop up throughout Europe. This annual tradition has been bringing happiness to locals and visitors alike for centuries. It’s almost like you have been transported back in time to a place of happy memories and the warmth of the season. Christmas carols surround you as you experience your first glance of the sparkle of snowflakes as they gently fall around the merchants selling their wares. Many of these markets can take over blocks and blocks and are filled with everything Christmas.