In these challenging economic times the savvy traveler can still take an unforgettable holiday, holding down the costs by “Thinking Outside The Box”. The opportune traveler can reduce his cost by examining some alternatives to the traditional Italian destinations of Venice, Florence and Rome. In keeping with EB’s philosophy that luxury is more a state of mind than the size of your wallet, if you are open to suggestion and guidance, we have the experience and knowledge to lead you through the maze of possibilities for a true Italian experience that will fit both your budget and your interests. Some of our favorite seasonal specials and cost savers follow.
Because of our nearly four decades of personal and professional partnerships with Italian providers, we are able to not only offer our clients premium value for these indelible Seasonal Specials experiences but also the opportunity to savor them in a highly personalized luxury manner. Whether you are a budget minded traveler or one with Platinum travel tastes, let Endless Beginnings create a luxury custom journey to fulfill your dreams.
Consider planning your holiday during the “off season” for the greatest savings. This varies by area but customarily if you will visit the art cities, Venice, Florence, Siena, Rome, Naples, Bologna, Milan and others, in the winter or the summer months of July and August you will receive lower rates. For these areas, the highest of the high season is normally Spring and Fall as well as the holidays like Carnival, Easter & spring breaks or Christmas & New Year. For the coastal areas like the Riviera, Amalfi coast, Puglian coast or the countryside, the summer months are the high season. The coastal areas will be lower priced, as a rule, October through April (except for Carnival or Easter) while the rates for the countryside drop only for winter. The real beauty of traveling during the off season is that you avoid the large crowds of tourists who overwhelm these destinations. The one exception is in August when the weather is at its hottest, other than the coasts, Italy is almost shut down with their national holiday merrymaking as storeowners and restauranteurs flee the cities to take their own vacations. Services in the cities will be minimal but the museums are still open.
Consider staying in towns outside of the main destinations. While Italy’s major city destinations, Venice, Florence and Rome ,will always be the main event, particularly for a first time traveler, they are more expensive than their countryside counterparts. And the most expensive properties are those centrally located in the heart of the city so unless you are willing to reduce the level of property, perhaps downgrading from a deluxe hotel to a superior first class or a first class hotel to a superior tourist, there aren’t too many alternatives open to you. While we do have contract rates which offer discounts at the majority of hotels in the major cities, you can save even more if you are willing to stay in residential areas or outlying parts of the city where there is good, efficient transportation into the heart. But for the more adventurous visitor, or a return trip, why not consider staying in some of the nearby towns? You’ll enjoy a more authentic experience that a village stay can offer, seeing the Italian people in settings that invite you to participate in their lives. Places like the Castelli Romani or Sabine hills outside of Rome, the Chianti countryside or Mugello hills surrounding Florence, the Brenta canal area on the Italian mainland across the Venetian lagoon are all less expensive and have beautiful small hotels and villas. Making some of these choices offer the pleasures of village life, a walk to a small trattoria, the peaceful countryside, a slower pace in addition to access to the larger cities. And if you are driving a rental car, you generally have parking provided as a plus.
Visit the lesser known areas like western Tuscany, northern Umbria, Lazio countryside, Cilento coast, Puglia or Veneto towns. For the experienced Italian traveler, consider planning a holiday in one or several regions less well known than places you may have visited previously and you’ll be rewarded with some new discoveries. In Tuscany the Chianti hills between Florence and Siena or the Val d’Orcia southeast of Siena are all better known than nearby Maremma or the western shore of the province. A delightful vacation can be found between Pisa and the southern border of Tuscany where you can visit the SuperTuscan wine region that surrounds Bolgheri, the beautiful hilltop towns of Volterra and Massa Marittima, ancient Saturnia, Pitigliano and Sovana as well as the lesser traveled, wild coast near Talamone and Castiglione della Pescaia. The towns of northern Umbria’s Upper Tiber Valley like Umbertide, Citta di Castello, Montone all offer beautiful scenery, great meals, culture and history in an area few tourists have enjoyed. The same can be said of Rome’s province, Lazio, where you find the early origins of the Romans, beautiful abbeys, gardens and scenery. And for the beach lover, the Cilento coast just south of the far more famous and crowded Amalfi coast, has broad stretches of sandy beach, ancient Greek ruins, great food and wine and some terrific hotels at prices far lower than their Amalfi coast counterparts. So, if you’re looking for a savings, go off the beaten path and try some of Italy’s lesser known but up and coming destinations like Puglia & Basilicata, the Veneto hilltowns, Emilia-Romagna’s small villages and alpine towns of the Trentino and Alto Adige for their unique and beautiful sites.
While most of Italy’s hotels offer breakfast as part of their accommodation fee, a true bed and breakfast accommodation in Italy can often be a memorable, and less expensive, alternative. There are many properties which have not been officially ranked or designated with stars and are outside the hotel category which can be striking accommodations and experiences for a lower price tag. You might stay at a magnificently restored castle in Tuscany where no request is to large for the hosts, a palazzo from the 17th century in Venice, a countryside inn near Sicily’s northwest seaside or an ancient masseria in Puglia. The choices are many and varied but all sharing one common thread, hospitality. Or, if a countryside, back to nature is more to your liking, there are a myriad of farms, or agriturismi, which are ready to welcome your visit. The families are well versed in their own regions and can make suggestions or help with arrangements for your local excursions. If you like to paint, hike or explore, this might be the perfect holiday for you, again, at a more reasonable price than traditional touring while still meeting the Italian people where they live and work.
Another cost cutter is to rent your own apartment in a city or a villa or farmhouse in the countryside, using it as your base for touring both in and around your rental. And there are a wide range of properties from the humble to the extravagant, some with pools, fully staffed properties, usually offering a large savings over comparable hotel rates. The normal rule of thumb, although there are exceptions to every rule, is that you must stay a week, from Saturday to Saturday.