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Is there a minimum participation required to make a tour a go? No. Nobody should stress out about whether their trip is a go because of the number of participants. All our customers need to focus on is getting excited about their trip and nothing else.
What will the weather be like? Italy is not considered to be a large country, especially compared to the USA: about the size of the states of Georgia and Florida combined. The weather doesn’t change dramatically from North to South, but there are differences still determined by the actual topography. For instance, the Alps are the highest mountain complex in Europe and the run like a wall from East to West at the Northern border of Italy. This so called “wall” protects Italy from a variety of storms and cold fronts coming from Northern Europe, giving it a mild climate throughout the year. The Appenini Mountains run from North to South of Italy, kind of like a backbone, also preventing storms coming from the East to make it to the Western part of the country, and vice-versa. Because of these mountain chains, it’s often a challenge for weather forecasters to have an accurate prediction about weather conditions, which may sometimes change dramatically within few hours.
Weather in Italy is very similar to Southeastern US - hot and humid summers, cold and rainy winters, typically with snow only in the mountains. Temperatures can vary during the day, but typically both late Spring tours and early Fall tours enjoy warm temperatures in the high 70’s during the day, into the high 80’s. At nighttime, the temperature can go down to the mid-50’s. Dress in layers so you can put a garment on or off depending on temperature variations.
Keep in mind that Italy is on Daylight Savings Time, so as we go towards the Summer months, the days get longer. D.S.T. usually ends at the end of October/beginning of November, cutting the daylight hours short.
Will I get to see sunflower fields? If you are traveling from mid-to-late June, July, and August and are visiting the Northern regions or Tuscany at this time, you have a very good chance of seeing them.
Will I get to see the grape harvest or olive harvest? If you go on most Nada’s Italy Tours during the month of September, you will definitely see farmers everywhere in the region harvesting grapes. Each winery decides when it is the time to pick the grapes, but this typically occurs during the first 2 weeks of the month for white wine, and the last 2 weeks of the month for red wine. The olive harvest occurs towards the end of November, which can be rainy.
Who will be in my group? Any tour may have a mix of couples and single travelers. Nada’s Italy staff do their best to keep a balance within a group (i.e. not place a single woman traveler in a group of only couples, or vice-versa). You will be receiving an email from our office with important reminders for your trip about 60 days prior to your departure. All group members’ names will be listed, along with the city/state they are from.
What is the average age of those in your groups? Our typical traveler is one who enjoys an active lifestyle and apreciates wine, food, art, history, and the Italian culture. 90% of our clients are between the ages of 40 and 70 years of age, but we also have an occasional mix of younger as well as older travelers.
How much walking will I do? In one word: yes. Although you must be in good physical health and be able to walk and stand for extended periods of time, Nada’s Italy tours are flexible enough so that you can skip some of the activities if you deem necessary. There is a certain degree of physical activity, so if this is a concern you should contact Nada’s Italy directly. For those who love the outdoors, there are walking trails around many of the properties we work with. As a general rule, you should wear comfortable shoes as you will be walking and standing at various times throughout the day, especially when visiting museums and exploring historical sites.
Why don’t you offer airfare with your trip package? There are several reasons why Nada’s Italy does not offer airfare. Our clients are from all over the United States, as well as Canada, Australia, and some parts of Europe. Therefore, we want to give our travelers the opportunity to choose their own flights. Many people have air miles they want to use to fly overseas or upgrade to first and business class. Several people choose to extend their stay in Italy and visit other cities, before or after the tour. If you need assistance in booking your flight, we can put you in touch with one of our affiliated travel agents.
How will I meet up with the rest of the group? Please make sure Nada’s Italy has a valid email address as we’ll be sending out various reminders about your trip, including arrival instructions, hotel names & local contacts, pick up times and detailed information on your first scheduled activities by email about two months before your trip begins. When you’re in Italy, your Nada’s Italy Tour Director will hand you a booklet with specific daily activities and exact meeting times.
What happens if my flight is delayed and I miss my pick up time? Unfortunately, sometimes flights are delayed, and even when they are on time, your luggage may still be a few hours (or sometimes days) behind you. As a preventative measure, make sure you have at least 2-3 hours between connecting flights. If your flight is cancelled or you have arrived to the specified meeting point after the pick-up time, please be in touch with your Tour Director (you will receive their name and contact information by email prior to departure) and the main Nada’s Italy office staff. We will do our best to assist you, but it will be your responsibility to get to the accommodation from wherever you are and pay for any associated expenses. You will be given the addresses, phone numbers and emergency numbers before you leave home, so make sure to keep those handy as you travel. Consider purchasing a travel insurance policy to cover any unexpected or emergency expenses.
Can I bring my hair dryer or other electrical appliances? Most accommodations where the groups stay provide hair dryers. Please ask us about the particular accommodations in a specific tour package. Some hotels also have irons that guests can use. If you bring any electrical appliances (hair dryer, flat iron, electric razor, electric toothbrush, etc), you will need an adapter (Italy has 2 pin plugs). The electricity supply is 220 volts, which means your appliance should have a switch that you can turn to the correct voltage. If it doesn’t, you’ll need a converter because an adapter alone will not be sufficient. Laptop computers, camera chargers, cell phone chargers, iPods, and other electronics usually switch automatically to the right voltage.
What am I going to eat? Keep in mind that you are traveling with a group, so we ask that you are flexible and open to trying different foods than what you are used to at home. Most meals will not be based on personal menu preferences, rather on a variety of local seasonal specialties selected by the restaurant’s chef and Nada’s Italy. The meals provided on the trip will be typical regional dishes of the area you are visiting. Our focus is for you to experience the authentic local cuisine & wine, which sometimes may not be like the Italian food you grew up with. Italian food varies from region to region, often tied to historical influences and the kind of crops that can be grown in a specific soil. Generally speaking, in Southern Italy you’ll enjoy fresh seafood, vegetables, pasta, tomatoes, eggplant, mozzarella, shellfish (calamari, shrimp, mussels, clams), pizza, and grilled meats. In Central Italy you’ll have lots of bread-based dishes, bruschetta, soups, red meats, pork, tomatoes, leafy greens, fresh pasta, legumes, aged cow & sheep cheese, salame & cold-cuts. In Northern Italy you’ll often see risotto (rice), polenta, grilled meats and sausages, soft and semi-aged cheeses, mushrooms, beef stews, pasta, prosciutto & cold cuts, squash. Overall, Italian food is not spicy, natural and simple, using fresh local ingredients.
Some of the meals will be at the accommodations, some out in local restaurants that Nada’s Italy has selected for the tour. All accompanied by house wine, bottled water, and soft drinks included. Please consider that bottled water and wine will be given in limited amounts, so if you wish to have more, you can order more at your own expense. Also, if you wish to have a particular bottle of wine or other alcoholic beverage such as a cocktail with your meal, you will have to purchase it at your own expense.
Some meals will be served family-style, in large platters that will be passed around the table for guests to serve themselves.
Breakfast will be a variety of fruit juices, pastries, cheeses, bread, milk, coffee/cappuccino, tea, yogurt, fruit, etc. Eggs, bacon, or omelettes are not typically served in Italy for breakfast, but some hotels may serve them.
What if I’m vegetarian / have allergies / require a particular diet? Please notify Nada’s Italy if you are vegetarian or have particular food allergies as soon as you sign up for one of our tours so we can inform the Tour Director and various restaurants. Even though Italian cuisine specialties include salami, prosciutto, dairy products (cheeses), rice, pasta, fish, and savory meat sauces, there are typically vegetarian options and other non-meat dishes that our selected restaurants can offer. We’ll do our best to accommodate you, but Nada’s Italy won’t assume extra costs relative to special diets. If you have allergies, special dietary requirements, glucose or other food intolerance, if you are hypoglycemic, vegan, lactose-intolerant, diabetic, etc., or if you require specific foods not readily available, you will be responsible for purchasing at your expense any menu item that is not served during the included group meals or bringing your own ingredients.
Will my cell phone work overseas? Some wireless companies offer an international calling plan, which you have to request before you leave. Please check with your own provider to see if this is an option. We do recommend taking a cell phone with you so your family & friends can contact you while you’re away, but check with your provider to see if they offer coverage overseas as well as the charges, which can often climb up quickly when roaming. If you own a smart phone, make sure to turn your data plan off and turn it to “airplane mode” when you are not using it to avoid a painfully expensive bill. Many of the hotels Nada’s Italy works with have wi-fi, so you can use that to check emails and get online. You can also rent a cell phone through a third-party company.
Will I need any vaccinations before leaving? Unless you’re going to other countries that require shots on your trip, Italy does not (at the time this was written). Some people may develop allergies to cypress trees, olive trees, and other local tree/plant pollens not common where they live. If you are susceptible to allergic reactions (if you get a runny nose in the Spring and Fall), it would be a good idea for you to bring some allergy medication. If you usually do not get allergies, be aware that you may develop some during your trip. If this is the case, you can purchase over-the-counter allergy medication in Italy, such as Claritin.
Is the water safe in Italy? Can I drink tap water? Absolutely yes! The water is very safe in Italy and you should not worry about this. You can drink tap water, but the taste may or may not be pleasant to you, just like some may or may not like drinking tap water at home. For this reason, bottled water and/or filtered water will be provided by Nada’s Italy during all meals throughout the trip.
What time can I check into the hotel? Hotel reservations are in each traveler’s name and they will require your passport at time of check-in. This is by Italian law. Check in is typically after 2:00pm, a national standard. The hotels we work with usually do their best to accommodate our groups earlier, but it’s not guaranteed because it depends on how booked the hotel is the night before and how late previous guests check-out (so they have enough time to clean and prepare the rooms). The best thing is to ask once you are there.
Do I need a passport? Yes! Make sure you get one if you don’t have it already, and make sure to check the expiration date. As recent regulations have changed, it takes longer for the US government agencies to issue passports, so give yourself at least 3 months to apply for one or renew the one you have. Current regulations require that your passport be valid for the entire duration of your trip and at least 6 months after your return date. Go to the U.S. Department of State's website to stay up to date with travel information.
If you’re not an American citizen, you may need a travel visa. Check with your country's Italian embassy or your own country's travel requirements.
Will I get my own bedroom/bathroom? Yes, each room has its own en-suite bathroom. By American standards, Italian bathrooms and bedrooms are smaller. Beds are also smaller and finding a king-size mattress is extremely rare. Most bathrooms in Europe have a box-shower instead of a bathtub. Some bathrooms have a bathtub with shower head.
Typically double beds are two twin-size beds pushed together. If you are traveling alone and do not want to pay the single supplement, Nada’s Italy will try to pair you with someone of your same sex to room with. While most bedrooms will have two twin-size beds, some accommodations only have beds that cannot be separated, so please keep in mind that you may need to share a room with a double bed plus a cot or pull-out bed.
Will I be able to get online and check my email? If you have a tablet, you can simply put it on airplane mode and turn on the wi-fi function, to avoid costly data bills. Most of the hotels Nada’s Italy works with offer wifi service. You will be able to take advantage of this if you have a laptop or smartphone as well.
What is the dress code (i.e. what should I wear)? Most of our tours encourage a relaxed-friendly-casual atmosphere, including during the excursions we take every day and our meals together. Wear breathable, comfortable, light-weight, casual clothing, possibly in layers, in case you get chilly or hot. Many day trips start after breakfast and end after dinner, so you don’t really have the chance to change into evening clothes. That said, there may be a few dinners when we like to take our travelers to a special fine dining experience. You can also bring extra clothes and shoes to leave in the van, if you wish. Perhaps the times that you want to wear something a little more elegant would be in Florence, Milan, Venice or Rome (the larger Italian cities), where people are more fashion-oriented.
Please note that you won’t be able to enter any of the main churches if you wear pants or skirts above the knee, and/or sleeveless shirts. The same goes for men! So, if you’re wearing a tank top, you may want to bring a light sweater or scarf that you can put over your shoulders so you can get inside the church. What matters is that you have a good time and that are comfortable, so the strongest memories of your trip are those of Italy as a beautiful country and not the pain that the stone streets gave you while wearing heels. Think lightweight, comfortable, quick drying, soft and nothing that will feel tight or not let your skin breathe.
Many people ask us what to wear so they can fit in and not stick out like a sore thumb. Just wear what is “you” and what makes you comfortable. As a general rule, Italians don’t typically wear bright colors or patterns, but stick to neutrals: blacks, grays, whites, and browns.
How much money should I budget for meals and items that are not included in tour package? Nada’s Italy tour packages include A LOT so you’ll find yourself spending most of your money on personal purchases. In general, we recommend calculating about 20-30 euros per person for each meal that is not included, plus about 80-100 Euros for gratuities for the entire stay, including those for your Tour Director and driver.
NOTE ON THE ACCOMMODATION TAX:
The Italian government recently passed an accommodation tax, which was gradually implemented throughout the country during 2011. Unfortunately we have no control over it as it is a new Italian law. One of the rules about this new imposed tax is that it must be paid in cash by guests directly to the hotel, therefore Nada’s Italy is unable to include it in its tour packages. The hotels will specify how much you owe upon check-in, but as a general guideline, it will range anywhere between 1-6 Euros per person per night in cash, depending on how many stars the hotel is rated.
What is the typical wake up time and how early do our day-trips start? The average daytrip starts anywhere between 9:00am and 11:00am, depending on what is planned that day. We keep a balance between full days and easy days so you always have some free time to relax or use at your leisure during your trip As far as the return back to the hotel, depending on where we have dinner, it could be as late as 11:00pm.
What kind of hotels will we be staying in? We pride ourselves in seeking and selecting unique upscale accommodations and working with hotel owners/managers to reserve their most comfortable rooms for Nada’s Italy groups, as they know we value our clients’ opinion very much and will not tolerate poor or inconsistent service. In general, we do not work with chain hotels and the accommodations are mostly small family-owned establishments. Location is very important to us, as is polite & friendly service, privacy, refined decor, and outstanding cleanliness is certainly paramount. Often the lodgings are located within a historical building (medieval castles, villas, farmhouses, ancient palaces, etc.), best representing the local style and architecture. Please let us know if you have specific questions regarding the accommodations on a specific tour.
The Italian government rates hotels in Italy on a 1-5 star system, but this can be very misleading because it is merely based on the number of rooms and bathrooms, not on service or design. More often than not, the smaller, historic hotels with fewer stars are cleaner and more charming than the big 4 & 5-star hotels, which often lack the friendly service and intimate atmosphere. Air conditioning and heating may not always be available. Some rooms are on upper floors only accessible by stairs, let us know if you have mobility issues so we can do our best to accommodate you on a lower floor.
As with many historical sites that have been restored, the strongest intent is to respect and preserve the original structure as much as possible. The Italian government also dictates certain rules that do not allow for many modifications to historical buildings, so we ask for your patience and flexibility as some of the fixtures may not be brand new or in pristine shape as in a modern hotel. Most rooms will be different in size, layout, and view (which is not guaranteed. Also, if you are staying in a hotel located within a city center, please know that there may be a certain degree of noise that is higher compared to other accommodations in more remote areas. You may hear cars, pedestrians, mopeds, and other noises that are typical of most urban settings.
NOTE: We ask that you please do not communicate directly with the hotels, as it could cause misunderstandings and double-emails. If you have particular requests or concerns, please let us know and we’ll make sure to notify the hotels. Thank you. Based on availability and within what is feasible, the hotels usually keep their best rooms available for our groups, so you can rest assured that you will have comfortable and charming rooms.
Are the accommodations in walking distance to town centers? The hotels we select in major cities will be in the historical center, within short distance of most major sites and museums. However, there are some tour packages that include lodging in rural areas, such as a villa in the Tuscan countryside or a traditional farmhouse in Sicily. Please contact us if you have questions about the accommodations included in your tour package. Hotel names and contact information will be emailed to you about 60 days prior to departure.
What type of transportation will be used during the tours? Nada’s Italy hires licensed professional drivers and private transportation for our day-trips and group transfers. Depending on the tour as well as geography of the region you’ll be visiting, we may use to travel with a luxury 16-seater coach or two 7-seater Mercedes vans.All drivers are locally licensed and possess proper permits to drive within traffic-limited-zones (ZTL) and historical centers, which most other vehicles cannot access. Separate travel arrangements and transfers can be scheduled for travelers before or after the tour, but additional fees will apply. Contact Nada’s Italy if you need private transportation if you decide to extend your stay.
What is the best way to exchange money? To avoid high exchange fees, Nada’s Italy recommends that you order Euros from your local bank before your trip rather than exchanging US Dollars or other foreign currency once you’re there. Your first expenses may include: a taxi ride (taxis do not take credit cards), a snack, bus ticket, etc. so having some cash handy is a good thing. For the record, the Euro is the ONLY currency used and accepted in Italy.
USE YOUR ATM CARD
ATMs are the best way to take cash out once you are in Italy, but notify your bank that you’ll be gone before you leave. Also, verify that you can use the same pin number overseas and the daily withdrawal limit (which can be smaller on foreign withdrawals).
IF YOU DO NOT HAVE A DEBIT CARD
Nowadays, you can easily get a pre-paid VISA and charge it with the amount you think you’ll need during your trip. You could also open up a temporary checking account to use for your trip, then close it once you return home. This is good for security reasons as well, in case your card goes missing, it’s not tied to your main checking account.
USE YOUR CREDIT CARD
Italy is mostly a cash-based society and items such as coffee, snacks, and small purchases cannot be charged. MasterCard and VISA are the most commonly accepted cards.
What happens if I need to cancel my participation? As much as we hate to have travelers miss out on such a wonderful and unique experience, we understand that unexpected things can happen. Please carefully review our Cancellation Policy in the Trip Registration Form (can be downloaded from www.nadasitaly.com or requested by email) regarding refunds in the event of a cancellation on your part. Purchasing a Travel Insurance policy is strongly recommended by Nada’s Italy for unforeseen circumstances such as cancellations, missed flights, inclement weather, health emergencies, etc. This will not just cover the cost of your trip, but it will also give you peace of mind. There are many companies out there and we strongly recommend that you shop around and research the coverage that is right for you. To get a quote from Insureandgo, please go to our home page www.nadasitaly.com and scroll down until you see the link for Insureandgo on the right-hand side.
Is there a limit to the luggage I am allowed to bring? Even though Nada’s Italy does not have a luggage limit on our tours, airlines do. You should also be considerate of others traveling with you. Please only bring what you need and make sure to leave plenty of space in your bag for items you may purchase during your trip. Please read our Traveler’s Checklist for guidelines on packing.
Are washers or laundry service provided by the hotels? Some accommodations have on-site washers that guests can use for a fee, while others have a third-party laundry service that returns your items washed and pressed within a couple days. If you have a question about a particular accommodation, please contact us: firstname.lastname@example.org.
How far in advance should I book my flight? If you are planning on using frequent flyer miles, the sooner the better. The longer you wait, the more you will run into black-out dates, seat unavailability, or having to make multiple connections. If instead you are buying your ticket, the typical “ideal window” for best airfare deals is between 5-3 months prior to departure. Nada’s Italy has industry partners that can assist you in making your flight arrangements. Please let us know if you’d like us to put you in touch with someone who can help.
IMPORTANT: All flights from the U.S.A. to Europe are overnight flights, so you will arrive the day after your departure. Make sure to book your flight accordingly. When you return, you’ll arrive back in the USA on the same day you leave Europe.
Example: to arrive in Italy on Friday (the first day of the tour) you will need to leave Thursday from the US. On the way back, you’ll leave on Monday (last day of tour) and arrive in the US on the same day.
Also, keep in mind that some tours start in one city and end in another.
Italy is 6 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time (USA).
When do I need to be at the airport? International flights require that you be at the check-in line no less than 2 hours prior to departure. Because of new regulations and tightened security measures, travelers may find longer lines, so Nada’s Italy recommends that you are at the airport 2 and ½ hours prior to your departure time on international flights. If you have a layover in a European city (such as Munich, Frankfurt, London, etc.), then you need to be at the airport 90 minutes prior to departure time.
When is the balance due for the trip? All balances are due 60 days prior to the tour. A reminder email will be sent about 3 months prior to the tour with your invoice. If you have requested additional nights or other services, the charges for these will need to be settled with your balance payment.
What if I want to arrive a couple days early or stay a few extra nights? Whether you’re flying in a few days before the tour or extending your stay afterwards in the same city or other Italian cities, we’ll be happy to assist you in making those arrangements for you. To insure availability at the hotels, please get in touch with us as soon as possible with the number of nights and dates so we can provide you with a quote and take care of those reservations for you. Please email email@example.com and someone will get back to you as soon as possible.
What if I want to see other parts of Italy? To extend your stay in Italy with a fully customized package, such as booking museum tickets, private guides, and additional services, please contact our Nada’s Italy ByDesign department by calling our office or emailing ByDesign@nadasitaly.com, and a travel consultant will be in touch with you as soon as possible.