Archive for Italy

Looking for More Adventure on Your Vacation? 01 Nov 2015

Many American travelers are demanding more adventure in their vacations. This ranges from exploring mainstream destinations in a non-ordinary way to thrill-seeking experiences. Whether you are a solo traveler, traveling as a couple, with friends or your family, all levels of adventure await you. A few considerations for soft adventures include:

  • Exploring a city like Paris or Rome by bicycle or Segway instead of on foot or by a coach bus
  • Tracing some of the Tour de France route on your own bicycle
  • Multi-sport vacations involving a variety of active experiences such as hiking, biking and kayaking–Backroads makes this possible in a number of countries as well as in the US
  • Exploring the Patagonia region of Chile and Argentina on horseback–Austin Adventures offers great itineraries to this area
  • Small ship cruising to explore the Galapagos Islands, Alaska or other destinations–tour operators such as G Adventures and Lindblad Expeditions offer both adult and family adventures
  • Hiking from lodge to lodge, or by train then a one day hike to the top of Machu Picchu
  • Expedition cruising to the Antarctic or Arctic Circle–even luxury cruises are available such as with Silversea
  • An African safari by jeep or on foot
  • Dog-sledding in Alaska or exploring Iceland’s tundra by snow mobile in summer

For those seeking more adventure, a few ideas include:

  • White-water rafting the Grand Canyon
  • Heli-skiing in North America and other parts of the world
  • Swimming with sharks or cage-diving in such places as South Africa, Belize, Fiji and other areas
  • Gorilla trekking in Rwanda, Uganda or the Republic of Congo–watch for my upcoming blog about Uganda soon!
  • Hiking Kilimanjaro-possible even for families through Thomson Family Adventures
  • Exploring Vietnam by Vespa
  • Hiking and camping along the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu–Austin Adventures can organize this with hot showers and gourmet cuisine

Looking for ideas for your next adventure? Call for a free 20-minute consultation, 602-923-1542.

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Italy: A Wellspring of Artistic and Historical Inspiration 11 Aug 2015

Whether you are a travel aficionado or someone who is just getting ready to step into the cultural diversity of our world, there is little doubt that you’ve heard of the beauty of Italy. Often listed among the most beautiful countries in the world, it is considered a top destination for any tourist.

If you’re the type to envision a classic, romantic setting with a dimly lit atmosphere as your ideal vacation, you’ll probably want to consider visiting Italy because it will surely satisfy your expectations. The country is overwhelmingly rich in art and history, as it contains the very city where Shakespeare set the famous tragedy of Romeo and Juliet— Verona.

Other than its capability to host romantic getaways, it can also excite history buffs, serve as a wellspring of inspiration for writers or painters, and entertain those who simply want to appreciate various architectural structures, sculptures, literature, and many more historic pieces of art; some of which include ornate, Baroque architecture, masterpieces by Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, and a Roman amphitheater.

From exploring the home to one of Europe’s oldest universities to the ancient ruins of the Romans, the many cities of Italy will provide you with such an exceptional sight-seeing experience, you’ll feel as if you’ve been teleported into the fifteenth century, during the Renaissance Age.

And if this wasn’t enough to pique your interest, it is also the home to one of the most iconic buildings you’ve seen in photos— the leaning tower of Pisa. It’s spectacular in pictures, but even more so in person.

As you explore the graceful, cobblestoned streets of Italy and, with every passing second, breathe in more of the rich aura of Italy, you may find this aura almost tangible as it seeps into every city and corner, permeating the entire country with its vivid artistic array.

It is no wonder it is considered by many people to be a dream location for their honeymoon, or anything romantic in that matter. When you’re both aiming for a passionate, candle-lit dinner, having one in this picturesque country won’t require much effort on your part, as Italy would act as a naturally tender atmosphere.

However, with all these mentions of different cities and cities to go sightseeing in, it may be difficult to plan your own schedule when you’ve decided to travel there. You’ll find yourself asking, “Which cities are the best options for me to visit? How will I know if I’ve missed anything special that I would have liked to see?”

Luckily, there are numerous agencies designed to provide you with a custom Italian vacation, where travel experts and managers will assist you in planning your perfect trip.

Categories : Blog, Italy
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The Not-to-be-Missed “Lake District” of Northern Italy 10 May 2015

Visions of Italy for many include iconic art treasures, breath-taking historical sites, delicious wines and food, and scenic countryside for starters, but often overlooked is the majestic beauty of Italy’s numerous lakes, just steps away from Milan and Venice in the foothills of the Alps.  Each of the major lakes has its own unique character but all offer relaxation, beauty, a variety of accommodations, great cuisine, and a plethora of water and outdoor activities.  Having just spent a glorious week in this area, I invite you to consider seeing for yourself what these lakes have to offer.  In addition to experiencing one of the major lakes described below, you may want to explore some of the smaller lakes such as Lake Orta and its medieval village of Orta San Giulio.  Here is an idea of what you will find at the major lakes in this region…

Lake Garda, Italy, Northern Italy, lake districtLake Garda – is located farthest to the east and is the largest lake in Italy.  The water is clean and great for swimming, fishing and boating.  It boasts natural hot springs water that is piped to two villages on its shoreline.  One of these spa towns is picturesque and medieval Sirmione, located on a peninsula on the southern shore – less than one hour from beautiful Verona and next door to the Valpolicella wine region.   Consider the Villa Cortine Palace Hotel for a luxurious stay in a tranquil park setting with glorious lake views.

Lake Como, Italy, Northern Italy Lake Como – lies directly north of Milan about one hour by train or car.  Surrounded by beautiful mountains, it has the largest concentration of beautiful villas on its shoreline, which were largely built during the heyday of the silk business in this area.  The southern and middle portions of Lake Como are dotted with charming villages as well as the bustling town of Como to the south that has a lovely historic center, great shopping, two train stations, and plenty of great dining options.  This is the hub for the public ferry systems that run throughout the lake and even offers a seaplane port for transportation “uplake” or to nearby lakes and scenic sightseeing.  Great hiking trails abound all around the lake, some quite challenging.  Accommodations range from simple boutique hotels to luxurious villa hotels that you will not want to leave.

Lake Maggiore, Italy, Northern ItalyLake Maggiore – is the second largest of the lakes in this region and has several lovely islands, all of which are privately owned by the Borromeo family except one.  Two of their islands, Isola Madre and Isola Bella, have beautiful gardens open to the public, with Bella also offering a villa to explore – both of which are well worth a visit.  This lake is great for swimming and boating, as well as other water activities. Other activities include golf, a scenic train, shopping, hiking, and a visit to nearby Piedmont wine region.  The Villa & Palazzo Aminta awaits you if you are looking for a luxurious and relaxing stay.

These lakes are easily reached by car (Lake Garda from Venice or Verona to the east, Lakes Como and Maggiore from Milan to the south) or by train.  Driving is not for the faint of heart in this area, however, as roads are very narrow and many are very windy with lots of congestion (especially Lake Como).  You may want to consider arriving by train then having a private transfer or car/water taxi to your hotel.

Categories : Blog, Custom Tours, Europe, Italy
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10 Things You Didn’t Know About Versilia Coast and the Cinque Terre 27 Jan 2015

10 Things You Didn’t Know About Versilia Coast and the Cinque Terre

When you hear about traveling to Italy, a lot of people would think of Rome, Florence, Venice, or Milan. These are some of the most popular cities to explore in Italy but the country has more regions to offer.

Italy is a very beautiful country filled with historical sites worth visiting. There’s Rome, Venice, Florence, Milan, Naples, Verona, Turin, Bologna, Peruvia, and Genoa. These are considered the best places to go to in Italy being the most famous tourist destinations. However, there are smaller regions you can visit and explore while in Italy.

The Versilia Coast & the Cinque Terre are two interesting places just on the other side of Tuscany. The Versilia Coast has beautiful and expansive beaches while further south are the five cliff-sided villages of the Cinque Terre. You can enjoy these areas by traveling from village to village by train or by a walking trail.

Here are ten (10) things you probably didn’t know about the Versilia Coast and the Cinque Terre:

  • The name Versilia is derived from Vessidia, the ancient German word for water (Wesser/Wasser).
  • Climate in Versilia is usually temperate (mild). This makes it an ideal holiday destination by locals and foreigners visiting the city. Expect about 270 sunny days with pleasant warmth. During winter, it can be cold but you won’t experience any biting cold.
  • The most populated and most famous part of Versilia is Pietrasanta. It is located at the foot of the Apuan Alps, extending along the coastline, from South to North, starting at Stazzema and ending up to Marina di Massa.
  • The old or Historical Versilia consists of four places: Stazzema, Seravezza, Pietrasanta, and Forte dei Marmi.
  • Versilian territory includes both mountain and the sea. It boasts of the longest sandy beaches in Italy.
  • One of the impressive sights in Versilia is the whole range of mountains called the Apuan Alps. It spreads as far as the north-west of Tuscany. There are about 200 caves in the mountains and some of them tourists can visit with special guides.
  • Liberty Style in art is very much evident in Versilia. It started in 1905 but in 1917, Art Deco came to life. You’ll see examples of Art Deco style in Villa Arrighi and Villa Argentina.
  • You can enjoy a lot of local cuisines in Versilia: Luca, Pisa, Massa Carrara, and Genoa.
  • The Cinque Terre are situated in the region of Liguria. It is close to Genoa and the boundary of Tuscany. Cinque Terre landscape was formed by a series of folds that results when rocks were pushed, raised, and pressed together during the Tertiary period.
  • There are five villages forming the Cinque Terre: Riomaggiore, Manarola, Vernazza, Corniglia, and Monterosso.

Want to visit Versilia Coast and the Cinque Terre? Contact Gateway Destinations and we’ll plan a custom tour just for you.

[SOURCES: 1, 2  [ [IMAGE: Davide Vadalà]

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10 European Destinations to Visit in 2015 20 Jan 2015

10 European Destinations to Visit in 2015

Another year is here once again. It’s time to carefully plan your 2015. Plot your adventures for a more memorable twelve months. If you haven’t traveled much last year, you can always make up this year and go to many places and gain new discoveries.

There may be a lot of interesting places in your state or country but it is highly recommended that you go out of your comfort zones. This year, take the chance of having an exciting experience in some of the top European destinations. Here at Gateway Destinations, we have excellent travel and tour packages to help you experience a wonderful girlfriend getaway, your dream honeymoon, memorable family vacations, or unique specialty tours.

Traveling is important because it gives you a new perspective and new ideas. Traveling will also give you a chance to meet new people, as well as, experience a time out from your stressful life.

So where will 2015 take you? We have listed the Top Travel Trends some of the more popular European destinations. We promise you a memorable trip to these places because we’ve planned them with interesting activities, great places to shop, new things to discover, and more.

Here are Gateway Destinations’ Top European Destinations to Visit this 2015:

1. The Alsatian Wine Route
Taste the crisp, clean wines and relish in the abundant natural beauty of the Alsace region. Its Germanic influence extends to food and architecture, serving up some of the most delicious foods in France and beautiful timbered houses and fortified castles. (READ: Discovering The Alsatian Wine Route)

2. Belle Provence, France’s Southern Jewel
Sunny skies, multi-colored fields, perfumed air, and charming medieval villages await your discovery in beautiful Provence. No other area in France, or Europe for that matter, boasts such a rich tapestry of history, delectable wines, abundantly varied cuisine, and inviting countryside. (READ: Belle Provence Tour: Discover France’s Southern Jewel)

3. Paris Couture & Country Châteaux
Begin your luxurious women-only journey into France exploring exquisite châteaux in the Loire Valley. Taste regional wines at a local vineyard and see how mushrooms are cultivated in limestone caves, while experiencing a regal life in the Valley of the Kings! (READ: 8 Travel Tips to Paris)

4. The Pays Basque & French Pyrénées
A mélange of colors awakes your senses in the Pays Basque and Pyrénées Mountains. Taste the clean salty air of the sapphire blue Atlantic, smell the freshness of the green forests and lush mountain valleys, gaze at vibrant building façades and festive clothing unique to the Basque people, and feel the strong deep traditions embodied in the ancient grey stone of this unique region. (READ: Bask In The Beauty Of Pays Basque & French Pyrénées )

5. Ancient Athens and the Greek Isles
Discover the mythological rich history of Athens with its prominent archaeological wonders of ancient times set in the midst of modern surroundings. Savor great food, enjoy abundant shopping and experience the lively atmosphere of this vibrant city.

6. Corfu & Crete, Greece
Corfu, Greece is a beautiful lush island in the Ionian sea on the west side of mainland Greece. It boasts inviting beaches and offers a variety of fine accommodations and great dining venues. (READ: Travel Tips For Corfu And Crete, Greece )

7. Italy’s Versilia Coast & The Cinque Terre
Spend relaxing days in the “other side of Tuscany,” the Versilia Coast, with its beautiful and expansive beaches. Venture further south to explore the five cliff-side villages of the Cinque Terre.

8. London Theatre & Shakespeare Country
Enjoy one of London’s infamous live theatre performances, contrasting it to a Shakespearean play in the countryside. (READ: London Theatre & Shakespeare Country Tour )

9. Sensational Sorrento & The Amalfi Coast
Bask in sunny southern Italy on the hillside of Sorrento as you enjoy this women-only tour. Enjoy stunning views of the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius from the lovely Hotel Bristol, your base for the entire week. (READ: Experience Sorrento And The Amalfi Coast )

10. Venice, Verona, and Lovely Lake Garda
Revel in the unique beauty of Venice with its impressive architecture and network of intricate and romantic canals. Visit the island of Murano, famous for its beautiful glass designs throughout the world. (READ: Visiting Venice, Verona & Lake Garda )

SOURCE: 1,2 

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