As per usual, I must put my disclaimers in:
- I love to travel. Period. Therefore, it doesn’t matter “how” I’m traveling, the simple fact that “I AM TRAVELING” is an automatic “win” for whatever mode of travel I’ve chosen.
- Because I love the industry and am passionate about the positive effect travel has on people, my goal when I take these trips is to see the “good” things. I’m not about “picking things apart” because I feel like that is simply setting myself up for a miserable time right out of the gate.
- I’m a problem-solver. I like challenges. My goal is always to figure out ways to “tweak” a trip to work for me.
- I love Italy. Period. Therefore, if I'm in Italy, the simple fact that "I AM IN ITALY" is another automatic "win".
What is my preferred travel style?
- I enjoy intimate, small-group experiences, and I do need to be able to find “absolute solitude' at will.
- I appreciate good food, particularly desserts and “white” wines.
- I enjoy entertainment/activities/excursions that focus on “history”.
- Although, I do like to hit the “instagram-worthy” spots, my favorites are the small, out-of-the-way, best-kept-secret kind of places.
- Details matter hence my obsession with unusual manhole covers.
- My favorite thing about travel is making “connections” with like-minded individuals….“locals” AND the people I travel with.
My take on the Local Living Italy “Coastal Tuscany” with G-adventures tour:
- The intimate small-group experience criteria is met on every G trip I take. I’ve managed to make several life-long connections with G people; My BDM Kara Luchessi, who has become a good friend, confidant and supporter of Alegre Travel, every CEO on every trip I’ve taken with G and many of the people that were simply G-clients and happened to be on the same trips that I was on.
- Solitude? Bike rides in the morning on my own (or with some sheep?)...laying by the pool with my headphones in...sitting at the breakfast table-drinking coffee while pecking away on my laptop (it pays to be an early-bird)...yep, plenty of opportunity for quiet time!
- Good food is pretty much a given on any “local living” tour. Quite frankly, it’s difficult to have a “bad food” experience in Italy...because there is ALWAYS a gelato stand somewhere! What's a local-living tour in Italy without a cooking class? We learned, and helped make, homemade pasta (she who I shall not name, doesn't cook, but she did do a decent job of documenting the experience). We also made homemade Tiramisu (I did help with that!) and Kara showed us how to mix a mean Limoncello spritzer. Our villa was right next door to a winery...and we frequented that winery within minutes of arriving at our villa! (How lucky were we??)
- Visiting small, quaint, historical villages and landmarks is an expectation on any “local-living” tour, and this tour did not disappoint. History? Everything in Italy is historical. Instagram-worthy? Everything in Italy is exactly that. Pitigliano, check. Capalbio, check. The Saturnia Hot Springs, check. The somewhat “bizarre” Tarot Gardens, check. Catamaran sail out of Porto Ercole, check. Everything around us was absolutely gorgeous!
- Connections with peeps? Always a given on any G adventures trip!
This G-adventures tour met all of my OWN personal criteria. That being said, I do intend to do a write-up comparing the 3 “local living” tours I've participated in (as they have all been just a little bit different) at a later date.
I think it's important to point out, one of my favorite things about G, is they always come up with tours that are just a little bit “different” and somewhat "non-traditional". They do a good job of keeping their dollars in the places they visit, and I know that's something the locals have to appreciate. See the link below for more information on our walking tour in Rome.
This particular itinerary has been recently added to the G inventory and everyone on this trip was a travel agent. We were all asked for our input on how to tweak/add/subtract, in an effort to improve the itinerary. Our suggestions were given and hopefully our advice will be taken. However, even without any tweaks, aside from minor things, there really isn’t a whole lot of things that needed to be improved upon. The location was a little "out of the way", but as you can see from the pics the villa was gorgeous. The owner was friendly, helpful, accommodating and wonderful (thank you for the bike ride and the trip to the supermarket, Giulia!). Our CEO was not only drop-dead gorgeous, but she was warm, genuine, smart and super fun. (thank you for the fun, Veronica!) The excursions offered were also great. Aside from a few small issues with the transfer/shuttle service to and from the villa, it really was nothing but good.
It is important to note that this is NOT a tour that is meant for first-time travelers to Italy who are interested in seeing the "highlights" of this beautiful country. Even though the tour does begin in Rome, the tour does not stay in Rome for long. (One night, one short walking tour the next morning and you’re out of Rome and on the train to Capalbio in Tuscany). If you’ve never been to Italy and you are wanting to see the highlights in Rome...you will need to add on a few days before the tour begins. Yes, add-ons are ALWAYS an option, and I, myself, added a few days AFTER this tour to spend some time in my favorite Italian city of Florence!
It is also important to understand that one of the ways G keeps their tours affordable is by utilizing public transportation whenever possible. On this particular tour the group is transferred to Capalbio from Rome via the train. Participants need to know this because in true “Rick Steves” fashion, you will be responsible for schlepping your own luggage. You’ll want to make sure to pack light because there are no ramps for your “roller” luggage on and off of the trains and accommodations are often chosen because they are within walking distance of rail stations. Never fear; however, a few of us "lazy folks" pooled our money together and hired a taxi. Yes, this is ALWAYS an option, as well. :-) The lack of porterage may be an inconvenience to some, and if this a "deal-breaker" for you then you're probably going to want to stay away from a tour like this.